Illogical Book Covers

Illogical Book Covers

Book covers are the most important aspect when it comes to choosing which books to add to my TBR (To Be Read list/pile/sea). The graphics, font and title are the first impression books rely on, their only voice calling “pick me!” But covers can be misleading and these are covers that had me totally confused.

 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

A narcissistic girl who has a fun, free life frolicking in fields trying to catch birds.

What it’s actually about

An inspirational, unexpected but ultimately doomed romance.
My review

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The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

Hikers discover a putrescent body in an abandoned cottage.

What it’s actually about

An eclectic group of people whose lives interconnect in a small Alaskan village.

My review

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Live Through This by Mindi Scott 

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

A girl who grew tired waiting for her blind date who was supposed to bring the picnic basket for a night picnic under the stars.

What it’s actually about

Sexual abuse with a heart-wrenching twist.

My Review

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Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

A dancer who is in an abusive relationship.

What it’s actually about

A thriller about two girls who go missing and when one returns she has no recollection of what happened.

My review

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The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

A town that will never forget a tragic accident which occurred while ice skating on the frozen lake.

What it’s actually about

A girl whose father has PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) after returning from Iraq war and its effect on their family.

My review

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Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

Some kind of pyromania, perhaps pretty girls burnt at the stake after being forced to write suicide notes to their families.

What it’s actually about

it’s a mystery thriller with toxic friendships, secrets and conspiracy.

Goodreads   Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Book Depository   Loot.co.za

 

 

Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

Tea parties and family picnics

What it’s actually about

Historical fiction set during the aftermath of WWII featuring domestic abuse and xenophobia.

My review

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Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

Friendship and the dynamics between three best friends.

What it’s actually about

An American socialite, a courier for the Polish resistance movement and a German doctor are flung together during WWII.

My review

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The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

Illogical Book Covers

 

What I thought it was going to be about

Hearts impaled by nails…? Someone in the construction industry who assumes a different identity – possibly in witness protection.

What it’s actually about

A girl forced into a strict, religious re-education camp to stamp out her homosexuality.

Goodreads   Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Book Depository  Loot.co.za

 

 

Puck by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes

Illogical Book CoversWhat I thought it was going to be about

A girl, nicknamed Puck because of her aspiration to be a world cup ice hockey champion, looks to heaven for guidance from her dead father/best friend.

What it’s actually about

A contemporary retelling of Midsummer’s Night Dream about a rebellious girl in foster care is sent to a rehabilitation wilderness camp.

My review

Goodreads   Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk   Book Depository   Loot.co.za

 

Did any of these covers mislead you? Do you judge books by their covers?

Top Ten Tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Noteworthy

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

It’s the cover and/or author that is my overwhelming deciding factor when I add books to my TBR. Choosing by cover love is really unfair and it often means I miss out on some really good books. But Noteworthy is a happy exception! I don’t know the author and the cover is a bit bland and musical for my tastes. I am also not musical in any way (totally tone deaf) and seldom read fiction where music plays a significant role. So why I took a chance on requesting a review copy I don’t remember, but I am glad I did.

As I stood there in that derelict husk of a theater, I felt like I’d gotten lost in between my lives, and the road ahead looked long and strange and poorly lit.

Sounding like a light heart-hearted musicy book I expected to fly through the pages, write a quick review and then forget all about the story. I was so wrong. This book surprised me by creeping right into my heart.

The world, I thought. The whole world, gathered up in my arms.

The characters so far removed from the paper doll characters I despise. Real, genuine characters flaws and all. Actually, I think their flaws made me like them even more. Diversity is the current buzz word and all for the right reasons, but sometimes books are written around the diverse characters and don’t allow them space to be who they are. Noteworthy is not one of these books. With some unpredictable surprises, the characters revealed themselves in their own time. Naturally and beautifully.

All I understood about sexuality was it’s uncertainty, discovering your way through yourself day by day, stepping tentatively, hitting on some term that seemed to fit and hoping it stuck.

The story is centered very much on music, but this didn’t distract from the story and I don’t think I missed out on not really understanding or appreciating the terminology… well I suppose I will ever know if it would have made a difference: but it’s already got a 5/5 rating from me.

It was impossible to feel alone in a room full of favorite books. I had the sense that they knew me personally, that they’d read me cover to cover as I’d read them.5 Star

 

 

Title: NoteworthyNoteworthy

Author:  Riley Redgate 

Publication Date: 2 May 2017

Publisher: Amulet Books

Source: Review copy

 

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It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped … revered … all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.   — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my advanced review copy and may not appear in the final version.

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Why I’ll Never Choose That Book: The Science of Book Appeal

Why I am never going to choose that coverWhy I’ll Never Choose That Book

Why I’ll Never Choose That Book: The Science of Book Appeal. Continuing from Why I’d Choose that Book last week These are the random things that totally put me off reading a book (without a HUGE recommendation from trusted bookworms)…

I am never going to willingly pick up these books:

Ugly Covers

Cover art is a fickle thing and, shallow though it may be, it means everything when I choose which books I read. As these are difficult to put into words I’ve included image examples.

Why I'll Never Choose That Book

Previous posts on cover love or the lack thereof:

The Complexity of Book Covers

When Bad Covers Happen to Good Books

Book Covers I’d Frame as Pieces of Art

A controversial new cover for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Apocalypse/Dystopia

I have read these before and even like some of them, but I feel that is genre needs an originality injection. The stories tend to run almost to a script and although I have no idea how authors could come up with a new way of saving the world, but until then I will be avoiding these stories.

Horror

I love psychological thrillers, but horror is just not for me anymore. I once adored this genre, with Pet Sematary by Stephen King a favourite, but they no longer appeal.

Zombies & Pirates

I just don’t get it.

Steampunk

Tried it – hated it.

Manga

No interest at all even though *hangs head I have never even tried it.

Short Stories

Short stories are not bad and I have read and loved them before, especially those with unpredictable twists such as Roald Dahl and Jeffrey Archer are famous for. But I prefer to get my teeth into a bigger slice of story.

Autobiographies

A huge mistake any author can make when telling their own story is to embellish and deny. I have read far too many sanctimonious versions to attempt another.

Hardcovers

I rarely purchase hardcovers, not only are they expensive but awkward to hold. The most recent hardcover that I refuse to buy is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. There is only one reason why it’s expensive and only available in hardcover and that’s to shamelessly exploit Harry Potter fans.

Author Self-Rating/Review

This is such a turn-off, but many authors are desperate enough to give their books a 5-star rating on Goodreads. One author actually wrote “Well, you didn’t think I would rate my own book badly did you?” under his 5 beaming stars. I wouldn’t read his book if he paid me!

Top Ten Tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

 Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

…the dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around.

Strange the Dreamer is… well strange and I can’t decide if it’s a good strange or a bad strange. It’s not what I expected… and I am not completely dazzled.

“The library knows its own mind,” old Master Hyrrokkin told him, leading him back up the secret stairs. “When it steals a boy, we let it keep him.”

But then, my expectations were exceptionally high. I am in love with the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. Every single book in the trilogy is brilliant. A bubbling, melting pot of irresistible words spinning heartbreakingly beautiful tales. So strange (the good amazing strange) that the weird, endearing characters fit right inside my heart. The heartbreaking twists still keep me awake in the early hours. I think it’s safe to say the Daughter of Smoke and Bone and its sequels Days of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters (links to where I flail about in wonder that is this series) are my favourite fantasy books, surpassing Narnia and Lord of The Rings. So with all that expectation, I shouldn’t be surprised that I didn’t fall instantly in love with Strange the Dreamer.

There were two mysteries, actually: one old, one new. The old one opened his mind, but it was the new one that climbed inside, turned several circles, and settled in with a grunt – like a satisfied dragon in a cozy new lair.

I started the book the day it released and my pre-order arrived in my Kindle. I devoured the prequel – a delicate tasty morsel that I would be craving for the rest of the book. I read through the first chapter thinking, it’s going to be good, it’s going to be great. Halfway through the second chapter, my thoughts turned to what…? I left it for a while – so it could think about its problems – but didn’t pick it up until a week later on Shannon’s (It Starts at Midnight) reassurance that it does get better. Armed with this advice from a trusted blogger friend I plundered on. And yes, it does get better – slowly, achingly slowly, until almost at the end when it broke through ok to good. Then the ending… I’m not even going to go there – you all know how I feel about cliff-hangers.

On the second Sabbat of the Twelfthmoon, in the city of Weep, a girl fell from the sky.

But I can’t stop thinking about the prequel and how it fell into its place in the story and so the inevitable three star I was planning to give bumped up to 3.5 stars. But I have never given half stars before and it deserves more than a three but not quite a four…

That was the year Zosma sank to its knees and bled great bouts of men into a war about nothing.

In the end, it was the two annoying typo’s that confirmed the result. Forgivable in an advance review copy but not so much in a book published by a respectable publisher and one I paid full price for.

… with his nose that had been broken by fairy tales…

Lazlo is a difficult character, one whose weaknesses are his strength, and I didn’t like him at first. He grew on me slowly, although he will never be as real to me as the Sarai is. She and her makeshift family are the characters that give the story life and I wish they had more space in the book.3 star

 

Title: Strange the Dreamer
Series: Strange the Dreamer #1 Strange the Dreamer
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: 28 March 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Source: Purchased

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The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around – and Lazlo Strange, war orphan, and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?  — Abstract from Goodreads.com

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Why I’d Choose THAT Book: The Science of Book Appeal

Why I'd choose that book

 

Why I’d Choose that Book: The science of book appeal. Actually, there is nothing scientific about it at all. It’s more like a gut-feel. Which is not always right. But I am sticking with my reasons because as weird as they might seem, they are mine.

 

Science of book appeal

Insta cover-love

I am pretty fussy when it comes to covers and it means everything in my judgment a book’s worthiness.Bonus points for originality and featuring real people – even if it’s just a hand or the top of a head.

 

Science of book appeal

The author

There are a few authors that I auto-buy. This sometimes backfires It’s foolproof.

 

Science of book appeal

Recommendations

From a very short list of trusty people- like these bloggers.

 

Goodreads Ratings

Yip, I live for those little red stars.

 

Science of book appeal

Genre

If it’s one of these I am in hot pursuit.

 

 

 

 

 

Especially psychological thrillers

Science of book appeal

 

 

 

 

 

But they have to be World War II.

 

 

 

 

 

Especially if they include these non-random themes – death (I like them dark), depression, road trips, ballet, brothers and/or sisters

 

 

 

 

 

Preferably dark magic, faerie, elves and dragons (But I am fussy with fantasies and I’ll reject any of these with an ugly cover.)

 

Science of book appeal

YA vs Adult

I choose YA over adult most of the time for reasons highlighted here.

 

Top Ten Tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren

The Last Thing You Said

The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren

 

Told on alternating PVO’s (point of view) – which I love – The Last Thing You Said is simply a beautiful story.

Separated by their grief, Ben and Lucy share slithers of Trixie with the reader. In addition, the Trixie stories, interspersed throughout the book, bring her vividly to life. Sara Biren writes from personal experience and empowered by her words with their emotional triggers I sank into sorrow, joy, and hope. All the feels in one book!

I slip my hand into the pocket of my jeans. It’s there – Ben’s agate, smooth, cool to the touch.

I make notes while reading review copies and looking back today at The Last Thing You Said’s notes scrawled across saved screenshots I was plunged right back into the story. In my own hardly legible scrawl… I want to live in this book and have the characters as my best friends…

… I pull on my ratty army-green Rapala hoodie. An image comes to me, and I suck in a breath: Lucy wearing it, standing on the rocky shore of Lake Superior, orange streaks of sunrise glistening on the water behind her.

This is an excellent book to use for bibliotherapy as it explores grief and dealing with the death of a friend. In addition, the author has helpfully provided contacts to the National Alliance for Grieving Children at the back of this book, if only for those in the US. Open to Hope is available for international support.

She closed her eyes and willed all their sorrows and fears from their hearts to her own. Her heart was heavy and she staggered from the weight of it…5 Star

 

 

Title: The Last Thing You Said

Author: Sara BirenThe Last Thing You Said

Publication Date: 4 April 2017

Publisher: Amulet Books

Source: Review copy

 

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Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.   — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Disclaimer: The quotes are taken from my advanced review copy and may not appear in the final version.

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Beware! Paper Doll Characters

Paper Doll Characters

Paper Doll Characters

Characters as flimsy as paper

Paper dolls are the characters in a book so shallow they don’t seem real. They are the ones given the bare minimum of soul, just a surface skim of who they are – no individual quirkiness.

These are the characters where you’re left thinking they are as thin as paper without the rich layering *thinking of chocolate cake* that makes them come alive.

Clogging up the story

Some paper dolls do have descriptions, sometimes realms of information about their looks, what they are wearing and their day-to-day activities. But unless these are vital for the storyline it’s just useless information adding unnecessary weight and clogging up the story.

Paper doll characters are a mortal sin for books

Paper doll characters are a mortal sin for books. A sure-fire way to fail. These are the books usually either marked DNF (did not finish) or given a low rating. They are the ones that don’t stay in the mind of the reader nor on their bookshelves.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you!

What is it about School Libraries?

school Libraries

What aspect makes them essential?

Is it the librarian’s ability to pass on the necessary information literacy to staff and students?

Is it the relevant reading material (in all formats) assessable to both?

Is it just a quiet space for study, or a venue for presentations and meetings?

Is it the enthusiasm and love of reading (both librarian and students)?

or is it more…? A safe place, a haven, therapy, a world of wonder…

The closing of a school library . . .

I received sad news recently, the school library I worked in for 9 years has temporarily closed. Doors shut until possible renovations occur later in the year. The same renovations that were on the table every year, but never materialised.

The library’s size, utilities, and decor may not meet the expectations of an elite private school, but it was functional. And has been functional for two decades.

Update 4 April 2017: I have just heard that this school’s library will remain closed indefinitely following the management’s decision not to fill the school librarian position.

The school library world . . .

While I try hard not to take it personally – that despite my efforts my role was superfluous and the library’s potential may never be realised. I can only hope that reason will dawn on the school management before it’s too late and hundreds of children miss the opportunity to be wowed by stories.

A world where their school librarian, who reads the books they read, can participate in, and instigates book chats. Where the librarian takes recommendations from the students as well as making recommendations, not just to the class as a whole, but to the individuals whose reading needs are unique. Where learning difficulties and the need for spot-on  bibliotherapy is are not only understood but actively catered for.

Fight for it . . .

To any parents and teachers who face a school library closure. Fight for it. Fight for the rights of your children who will only know what they are missing once they no longer have access, once it is too late and reading for pleasure is a foreign concept.

Reach out . . .

To the students who temporarily use the library as a safe haven from toxic friendships and bullying, those who need a space to come to terms with family troubles, to reflect quietly on their troubles they may not be ready to confide, please know someone cares. Reach out and find an alternate safe place.

Undiscovered school librarians . . . 

The lack of suitably qualified school librarians in your area is not an excuse to close a school library. All that is needed is to find someone (perhaps a parent?) with the enthusiasm and passion for reading and children. Someone who is who is willing to learn. Give them the opportunity afforded me, a former nurse, send them on training courses, encourage formal study (by correspondence if necessary) and make active cooperation with other school librarians possible. It can be done. Even if it’s a temporary solution.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval

There’s more to life than staying safe…

Caraval promised so much, and as with all books with tremendous hype, I was nervous going in. This was justified. The plot has brilliant potential, that just fell flat. I actually like whimsical writing and flowery similes, but some of the similes in this book were just too much.

The spray smelled of daisies and urine…

The pace is slow – the first 100 pages occur before the game even begins – and it’s very repetitive. Much of the story is just Scarlett’s angst and she wasn’t a character I felt much for. In fact, the characters are very stereotypical and with little substance to entice me to want to root for any of them.

Once inside you will be presented with a mystery that must be solved…

The world-building is flimsy and unsubstantial, giving the impression that, like cardboard, it could all blow over with the slightest breeze. This contributed to my difficulty in becoming more invested in the story.

… but the taste of his blood remained.

There were a few elements of the game that were good (look out for Nigel) and the twists were all unpredictable, but they were extremely confusing and unmemorable. I know I will not remember the ending – a dreaded cliff-hanger –  when it comes to the sequel.

The world tasted like ashes and lies…

The story comes across as juvenile and I think (minus the romance and abuse – which would be an improvement) this would be better suited to middle-grade readers.

He tasted like midnight and the wind, and shades of rich brown and light blue…

It is difficult not to compare Caraval with The Night Circus where Erin Morgenstern cleverly uses its confusing plot as an advantage and The Game by Diana Wynne Jones which is my favourite middle-grade fantasy.

3 star

it’s not all bad, but for me – it is just an okay story.

 

Title: Caraval
Series: Caraval #1
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publication Date: 31 January 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Source: Purchased

 

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Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.   — Abstract from Goodreads.com

 

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Days

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

For the most part, you don’t hold the people you love in your heart because they rescued you from drowning or pulled you from a burning house. Mostly you hold them in your heart because they save you, in a million quiet and perfect ways, from being alone.

From Jeff Zentner, who writes about grief as if it were his own, Goodbye Days is a beautiful book, fraught with emotion.

A liquid rose-gold warmth – whatever color is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the color of aloneness – fills me briefly.

I wish there had been more insight into the individual personalities. I didn’t feel as though I really knew Mars, Eli and Blake.

Life is everywhere. Pulsing, humming. A great wheel turning.

In particular, I would like to have had the chance to understand Adair’s perspective, to get to know her and her relationship with her brother.

A movement evading my notice. The sun crossing the sky. It crept into my heart like vines overgrowing a stone wall. It caught me like a river rising and swelling.

In essence, this is a book that should be on the shelf in all high school libraries and brought to the attention of healthcare providers offering grief counseling.

4 Star

 

 

Title: Goodbye Days
Author: Jeff Zentner
Publication Date: 7 March 2017Goodbye Days
Publisher: Crown Books
Source: Purchased

 

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Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?   — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my advanced review copy and may not appear in the final version.

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