Friday, 31 December 2010

UK ARC Review: Mistress by Midnight - Maggie Robinson

First comes seduction…

As children, Desmond Ryland, Marquess of Conover, and Laurette Vincent were inseparable. As young adults, their friendship blossomed into love. But then fate intervened, sending them down different paths. Years later, Con still can’t forget his beautiful Laurette. Now he’s determined to make her his forever. There’s just one problem. Laurette keeps refusing his marriage proposals. Throwing honor to the wind, Con decides that the only way Laurette will wed him is if he thoroughly seduces her…

Then comes marriage…

Laurette’s pulse still quickens every time she thinks of Con and the scorching passion they once shared. She aches to taste the pleasure Con offers her. But she knows she can’t. For so much has happened since they were last lovers. But how long can she resist the consuming desire that demands to be obeyed?

Courtesan Court Trilogy:
Not Quite A Courtesan (Lords of Passion Anthology)
Mistress by Mistake
Mistress by Midnight
Mistress by Marriage
Master of Sin

For more information visit Maggie Robinson's website

Review:
Con and Laurette were childhood friends who became sweethearts and had plans to marry.  Plans that were ruined when Con was forced to marry for money to save his estate and the lives of the people who relied on him.  10 years later Con's wife is dead and he is determined to have a second chance with his one true love but Laurette isn't sure.  She may still have feelings for Con but so many things have happened and she has a big secret she needs to protect.  Con is prepared to go to any lengths to get Laurette back, the trouble will be convincing her he's right and getting her to believe that they were meant to be together.

I loved the first book in this trilogy Mistress by Mistake so I was really excited to get hold of an advanced copy of Mistress by Midnight.  I have to say that Con didn't make it easy for me to like him at first, the way he has behaved in the past and the measures he takes to get Laurette back into his life don't show him in the best light and made me feel quite sorry for Laurette.  However, as the story progresses and you find out more about his history you realise that he has been a victim of circumstances as much as Laurette and his wife were.  Although he didn't steal my heart in quite the same way that Bay from Mistress by Mistake did I was definitely hoping for a happy ending for Con and Laurette.

Laurette is a strong character and one who has suffered a lot because of Con's family.  Her life hasn't been easy but Con is determined to make up for the past and he wants to give her the future she deserves.  I liked the fact that she stood up for herself and wasn't a weak character who just welcomed Con back with open arms.  She only agrees to spend time with him to protect her brother which makes her a better woman than me because I think in the same circumstances I'd have left my brother to clean up his own mess!

It was nice to get a glimpse of life on Jane Street, especially as there was a bit of a crossover from Mistress by Mistake so you get to see things in the first story from a different point of view.  I also loved the chemistry between Con and Laurette, things may be a mess between them but they definitely get along just fine in the bedroom.  I'm looking forward to reading the final story in the trilogy Mistress by Marriage and will be keeping an eye out for more of Maggie Robinson's work in the future.  If you're a historical romance fan I'd definitely recommend giving this series a try.

Source: Thanks to Maggie Robinson for sending me this ARC

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

UK Only Giveaway: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer - NOW CLOSED

* UPDATE - THIS GIVEAWAY HAS NOW ENDED - Winner announced here *

I wanted him to kiss me - wished he could smell the desire that I knew was pouring off me.  You can't Calla.  This boy isn't the one for you.

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Witches War Series:
Shadow Days (Prequel Novella)
Nightshade
Wolfsbane (July 2011)
Bloodrose (2012)

Check out Andrea Cremer's website or the UK Nightshade website for more information

I'd like to say a massive thank you to publisher Atom for offering 2 copies of Nightshade by Andrea Cremer to giveaway to 2 lucky UK blog readers.  Nightshade is one of my top picks for 2010 - you can read my review here - so I am really excited to host the giveaway.

Giveaway Details:
  • Atom have offered to give 2 lucky UK winners a copy of Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.
  • All you need to do to enter the giveaway is enter your name and email address in the form below.  One entry per person, multiple entries will be deleted.
  • You can get extra entries if you like but that's entirely up to you.
  • If you would like to comment on my review of Nightshade you can find it here, you can also read Andrea's fab guest post here.
  • You have until 14th January to enter the giveaway and I'll announce the winner on my blog soon afterwards.  The lucky winner will then have 48 hours to email me with their full address details or another winner will be chosen.
  • The books will be sent to the winners by Atom so the winners will have to give permission for me to pass on their address.

Author's Animal Antics - Andrea Cremer


Author's Animal Antics is a regular blog feature here at Sarah's Book Reviews where I'm very excited to have some fantastic authors come and chat to us about their pets or share animal related stories.  I'm thrilled to introduce the lovely Andrea Cremer as my guest today...

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The Horse Who Gave Me Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

When first asked to do this post, it was suggested that I might have a good animal story having to do with wolves. I wish I did. Sadly I have no wolfy tale to share. What I do have is a story about a horse – a horse who is responsible for Nightshade’s very existence.

Like many girls are, I was obsessed with horses when I was young and I worked on a horse ranch in the summers from age 10 – 18. I still love horses, but rarely have the time or opportunity to ride. In the summer of 2008, I had just finished my first year in my new job teaching history at Macalester College. This was after many years of post-graduate study where my entire existence consisted of reading history and researching in archives. I was determined to spend the break getting back to the things I loved but had neglected because of work and school. Horseback riding was the first thing on my list.

On a lovely June day I went out to ride a horse named Romulus and after I had him all tacked up and ready to head out things went very wrong. As I was leading him out of the barn another horse spooked him and he jumped. But he didn’t just jump up – he jumped toward me and I didn’t get out of the way. All his weight came down on my right foot, crushing it.

My horseback riding adventure that never happened left me with broken bones and the inability to walk for twelve weeks. Since I was stuck on my sofa I had to rethink the way I would spend my summer. That was when I decided to try something else that I’d always longed to do, but had been afraid to give a real chance: writing a novel.

Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop. It was as if a switch had been flipped on inside me and all I wanted to do was write. I knew my life had changed forever and that pursuing writing professionally was something I had to try.

Despite the misadventure of a skittish horse and broken bones, without these animal antics Nightshade might never have been. So thank you, Romulus, for stomping on my foot and changing the course of my life forever

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Thank you so much for visiting today Andrea, I have to say a big thank you to Romulus too because I loved Nightshade!  Andrea Cremer is the author of Nightshade which has already been a huge success in the US and was released in the UK on the 28th of December.  Nightshade is a fantastic start to a new young adult paranormal romance series and one I'd highly recommend reading.  You can read my review of Nightshade here, and my review of Shadow Days (a free Nightshade prequel novella) here.  I'll be posting a UK giveaway later today thanks to Atom.  I think the wait for Wolfsbane - the second book in the series which releases in July 2011 - may just kill me!

Find out more about Andrea and her work here - Website / Blog / Twitter / UK Nightshade Website

For more information about the Author's Animal Antics feature click here

Quick Review: Shadow Days - Andrea Cremer

Shadow Days is a free Nightshade prequel that can be downloaded for free from Amazon here.

The story introduces us to Shay and gives a snapshot of his life in the couple of weeks leading up to the beginning of Nightshade.

Witches War Series:
Shadow Days (Prequel Novella)
Nightshade
Wolfsbane (July 2011)
Bloodrose (2012)

Check out Andrea Cremer's website or the UK Nightshade website for more information

Review:
Shadow Days is a free prequel novella set the weeks leading up to the beginning of Nightshade.  This is Shay's story and I enjoyed reading from his perspective.  Shay has just turned 18 when he receives a call from his uncle telling him he has to move from Portland to live in the family estate in Vail, Colorado.  Not at all happy about having to leave his friends Shay is dreading making yet another move and having to fit in at a new school for his senior year.

When he arrives at the family estate Shay feels isolated as he doesn't know anyone so he uses facebook and his blog to keep in contact with his friends from Portland.  As he waits to start his new school he spends his time exploring the creepy estate and sharing what he finds via his blog.

This is a great prequel that I'm sure any Nightshade fan will really enjoy.  I feel like I know Shay a lot better now and I like him more because of that.  It was great to get more information about the Rowan estate and it makes things clearer about how and why Shay had broken into the forbidden library.

If you've already read Nightshade I'm sure you'll enjoy reading Shadow Days and if you're not sure if you want to try the series or not I'm sure this will help you make your mind up.

Source: Downloaded for free from Amazon (click here to get your copy)

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Review: Nightshade - Andrea Cremer

I wanted him to kiss me - wished he could smell the desire that I knew was pouring off me.  You can't Calla.  This boy isn't the one for you.

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Witches War Series:
Shadow Days (Prequel Novella)
Nightshade
Wolfsbane (July 2011)
Bloodrose (2012)

Check out Andrea Cremer's website or the UK Nightshade website for more information

Review:
Calla is a Guardian (werewolf) and has always known that it is her destiny to mate with Ren and form a new pack.  They will then fulfill their role of protecting the Keepers (magic users) from the Seekers (their sworn enemies).  The world she lives in is dictated by the Keepers, their word is law and they are the ones who make the decisions about everything - the Guardian's have no say in their own destiny but that is the way it has always been so it is never questioned.  When Calla comes across a hiker who is being attacked by a bear she knows it is forbidden to save him but she goes against everything she knows she should do and risks her life to protect him.  Nothing will ever be the same for her again and she will be forced to question everything she has ever been told.

First of all I have to say how much I loved Nightshade, this was a must read book for me & one I would highly recommend.  I was captured from the very first page and drawn so far into the story that I didn't want to stop reading for anything - I just had to know what would happen next.  I still can't quite believe that this was a debut novel and I can't wait to read more from Andrea Cremer in the future.  The world she has created is complex and interesting, it may not be a comfortable one - in fact it is a harsh world with extreme punishments for any Guardian who dares to question the Keepers - but it is one that draws you in completely and leaves you wanting more.

Calla is everything I like in a heroine, she is smart, strong, loyal and brave - everything you'd expect from an alpha.  As the alpha of the young Nightshade pack it is her duty to mate with Ren (the alpha of the young Bane pack) and between them they will form a new pack who will help to protect the Keepers.  Calla may not be completely comfortable with her future but she has never questioned it - she knows that is the way things are meant to be and has accepted it.  Well that was before she met Shay (the hiker she saved) who helps her look at things from a different point of view.  Shay helps her open her eyes to the way the Keepers control the Guardians and make her question whether things should really be like this.  She is torn between loyalty to her pack, the future she know she was born to live and the life that she would choose for herself.  How can she decide what would really be for the best?

The love triangle between Calla, Ren and Shay is extremely intense and this book has enough sexual tension to make you spontaneously combust.  Ren is a perfect match to Calla in every way, they were born to be together and oh boy did I want to see more of them together.  At times Ren's arrogance could be irritating but there is more to him than that and the more I saw of him the more I liked him.  He is very protective of his pack and of Calla and will do whatever it takes to keep them safe.  Some of my favorite scenes in the book were when Calla and Ren were together - put those two alone in a room and the heat levels would be enough to create a sauna.  When it comes down to who I would personally choose I have to confess that I'm on team Ren, he is one hot wolf and very alpha male.  When it comes to who I think Calla should be with I'm a little more cloudy, I want to say Ren but I don't think it would take much to sway me to team Shay.

Shay is a human orphan who has just moved to the area with his uncle who is an important figure amongst the keepers but we're not sure exactly how or where he fits into the picture.  Shay is sweeter than Ren but there is still something about him that draws you to him and I enjoyed the tension between him and Calla.  As an outsider Shay sees the bigger picture when it comes to the Keepers and the Guardians and he forces Calla to see things in a new light.  What she discovers will be extremely uncomfortable for Calla and will have massive repercussions on her future.

I have to mention how much I liked the interactions between both of the young packs, each of the wolves are loyal to their alpha (either Calla or Ren) but are wary of each other even though they will become a pack one day.  You get to know each of them throughout the book and I liked them all but I have to say Bryn (Calla's second) and Ansel (her younger brother) were particular favorites of mine.  Watching the two packs together made for interesting reading, you have all of the usual teen dramas but also pack bonds playing a big part.  I'm looking forward to spending more time with them throughout the series.

Nightshade is a book I'd highly recommend, definitely one of my favorite reads in 2010 and I can't wait to get my hands on Wolfsbane.  The cliffhanger ending nearly killed me and I have so many questions left unanswered but I think the wait for the next installment will only make reading Wolfsbane that much sweeter when I get hold of a copy.  If you're looking for a refreshing take on the werewolf genre I'd suggest getting hold of a copy of Nightshade as soon as possible - I'm sure you won't regret it!

Source: Received from Atom in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
I Swim For Oceans
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Review: Her Warrior Angel - Felicity Heaton

Einar is one of Heaven’s best hunters and he’s on a mission to uncover why an angel was working with demons. When he finds the first demon fighting a beautiful woman named Taylor, he intervenes and saves her life. Taylor has spent her whole life protecting London from the lowest demons and she’s not about to let an angel waltz into her city and take over her job, and she’s certainly not about to fall in love with him, even if he is gorgeous. The reason why she can’t is simple—she’s half demon.

There is no love in this world more forbidden than that between an angel and a demon.

Sense tells Taylor to get out before she gets her heart broken, but she winds up convincing Einar to partner with her instead. Einar is certain that working with Taylor is a bad idea, and not only because he can’t focus when he’s around her, but he can’t let her go. The mission leads them deep into the city’s underworld, where old flames burn Taylor while new flames of passion and fear of the consequences consume them, and the threat of Einar’s demons hangs over them both.

Can a love so forbidden ever have a happy ending or are they destined to break each other’s hearts?

ALL OF THE STORIES IN THE HER ANGEL SERIES STAND ALONE, JOINED BY CHARACTER AND WORLD ONLY, AND DO NOT NEED TO BE READ IN ORDER

Her Angel Series:
Her Dark Angel
Her Fallen Angel
Her Warrior Angel
Her Guardian Angel
Her Demonic Angel
Her Wicked Angel
Her Avenging Angel
Her Sinful Angel

Visit Felicity Heaton's website for more information

Review:
Einar is an angel but he's also a hunter, one of the best at tracking down demons who are causing trouble on earth.  He has been sent to find 3 demons who have been the cause of multiple human deaths but he gets more than he bargained for when he finds Taylor.  Taylor was born half demon and half human but she spends her life hunting the demons who prey on humans and other weaker demons.  When Einar tracks down one of the demons he has been searching for he finds Taylor fighting it and is drawn to her strength and skill.  The attraction isn't one sided but they both know that there is nothing more forbidden than love between an angel and a demon.  With Einar needing Taylor's help to track down the remaining demons can they resist each other and what will happen to them if they don't?

Her Warrior Angel is the 3rd story in Felicity Heaton's Her Angel series and although it's the last book currently available I really hope we will get to read more about these characters in the future.  I'm sure there is more to tell & I'm looking forward to meeting more of these sexy angels (have you seen the covers for this series - you can't tell me they're not hot!).  Although the stories in this series can be read as a stand alone story I'd still recommend reading them in order - you really won't want to miss any of them.

Although Einar didn't quite manage to steal me away from Lukas (the hero of Her Fallen Angel) he came pretty close.  He is an alpha male at his best and I'm sure he'll capture plenty of hearts.  Taylor is probably my favorite of the heroine's in the series so far and is an ideal match for Einar, they are both physically strong and determined to stop demons from hurting others.  Both are courageous, protective and have serious fighting skills which leads to a more action packed story than the first two novellas.  The story is fast paced and will keep you gripped from the very beginning, Felicity has proved that she can write a good fight scene that will make it easy for you to picture every move made as you are reading.

Even though the story is full of action there is still time for the romance and I continue to be impressed with how well Felicity manages to round out her characters in a novella.  I didn't find any of the romance unbelievable which can often be a problem with shorter stories and I can't wait to see what she can do with a full length novel.  This series is one I'd definitely recommend to fans of paranormal romance, especially if you like them to include a scorching heat level.  This is a series not to be missed.

Source: Received free from the author in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
Clover Hill Book Reviews
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Review: Her Fallen Angel - Felicity Heaton

Annelie fell for Lukas the moment he walked into her pub three years ago. He’s stunning, his vivid green eyes lending to his otherworldly beauty, but he’s seriously out of her league. When he tells her that she’s beautiful and confesses that he wants her, she can’t resist him and his passionate kiss. She unleashes her desire and seizes the moment and Lukas with both hands. But Lukas has a secret, one that will test Annelie’s love for him and threaten to tear them apart.

He’s an angel.

Annelie can’t believe it when Lukas says that their feelings for each other aren’t a sin, but she can believe his pain when he tells her the reason he’s on Earth. He is fallen, cast out of Heaven as punishment for a crime he didn’t commit. Lukas isn’t about to give up and accept his fate though. He’s determined to prove both his innocence and his love for Annelie, and to show her that the intense passion they share is real.

When Lukas and Apollyon discover who framed him, will he be able to stop them from going after Serenity and Annelie? Will he be able to protect the woman he loves and fly away with her into their forever after?

Her Angel Series:
Her Dark Angel
Her Fallen Angel
Her Warrior Angel
Her Guardian Angel
Her Demonic Angel
Her Wicked Angel
Her Avenging Angel
Her Sinful Angel

Visit Felicity Heaton's website for more information

Review:
Annelie has has a crush on Lukas since he first started visiting the bar she runs 3 years ago but she didn't realise that she loved him until he disappeared for 3 weeks.  Lukas is a fallen angel who was framed for a crime he didn't commit, he is desperate to prove his innocence and have his fallen status revoked.  The only thing keeping him sane over the last 3 years has been Annelie and he has fallen for her in a big way.  Never in her wildest dreams did Annelie think that her feelings could be returned by this gorgeous man but when he comes to the bar and is obviously upset she wants to comfort him and make him smile again.  She offers to drive him home as he has been drinking and her life will never be the same again.

Now I loved Apollyon in Her Dark Angel and didn't think Felicity Heaton would be able to top him but I'm sorry Apollyon, Lukas has totally stolen my heart!  I'm not sure how she can top Her Fallen Angel but I can't wait to read Her Warrior Angel to see if she manages it.

Things between Annelie and Lukas may heat up quickly but it doesn't feel at all rushed, you can tell they both have feelings for each other and oh boy can Felicity write a hot, frantic love scene (I'm surprised it didn't melt my ereader!)  You could feel the urgency between the characters and it made for intense reading - I was definitely left in need of a cold shower.  I absolutely loved the chemistry between Lukas and Annelie and was completely unable to put the book down.

The mystery of who had set Lukas up was interesting and I loved the fact that we got to see Apollyon and Serenity again when Apollyon agrees to help Lukas discover who is behind the plot.  Poor Annelie is in for a shock when she discovers that Lukas is an angel and understandably this makes her unsure if she should pursue a relationship with him.  I felt her feelings were realistic but was glad Serenity was able to help her work through her issues.

If I had any complaint about this series it would be that I'd love to see all of these characters star in a full length story - I don't think I could get too much of them, especially Lukas! - but I'd still highly recommend these novellas.  Although the series doesn't need to be read in order I would recommend reading Her Dark Angel first as I really enjoyed both stories.  I'd definitely recommend Her Fallen Angel to anyone who loves a good paranormal romance or erotic read.  These stories are great for when you're looking for a quick read but be warned you will want to read them in one sitting so make sure you have enough time to do that.  I can't wait to see what Felicity Heaton comes up with next.

Source: Received free from the author in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Quick Review: Her Heart's Divide - Kathleen Dienne

Lila was a faithful, loyal wife.

Ryan was her sexy, loving husband.

And so was Jack...?

Jack, however, was her boss, not her husband-why was he claiming her as his own? Lila had been passionately happy with Ryan for more than seven years. Yes, there'd been a moment when she'd first been attracted to Jack, but then she'd met his best friend, Ryan. They'd fallen in love and married. Jack claimed that in his world, their attraction had led to the altar.

And now she was caught between two men-two husbands-in the wildest situation Lila could ever have imagined. But what she wasn't imagining were the two men touching her, pleasing her, caressing her...

Visit Kathleen Dienne's website for more information

Review:
Lila and Ryan are happily married but one day their friend Jack comes home from work convinced that Lila is his wife not Ryan's.  Lila and Ryan don't know what to make of Jack's claims but he knows things about Lila that he shouldn't possibly know.  What if Jack's claims are real in an alternative reality?  While they try to figure out what has happened Lila finds herself drawn to both men but should she persue her fantasy to be with them both?

Her Heart's Divide is a novella and with just 66 pages I wasn't sure how well it would be able to draw me into the story but I found myself pleasantly surprised.  Although I would have loved to see this made into a full lenght novel it was an enjoyable erotic read.  I liked all of the characters and would have liked to get to know them better (I want to know what happened in the alternative world!).  This was a quick read but a steamy one and I really enjoyed the menage with Lila, Ryan and Jack.

I'd definitley recommend this ones to fans of erotic romance and menage scenes.  Kathleen Dienne was a new author for me but I'll be looking out for more of her work in the future.

Source: Received for review from publisher via NetGalley

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Monday, 27 December 2010

News: Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles Blog Tour


If any of you read my review of Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles earlier this year (click here if you want to read it now) you'll know what a massive crush I have on the main character Alex Fuentes.  I was very excited to find out that it was the first book in a trilogy and that we would be getting to read both of his brother's stories.  On the 6th January the second book in the series is releasing in the UK and I was absolutely over the moon when I was offered a review copy and a chance to join the UK blog tour.  I've already read Rules of Attraction and let me just say the second Fuentes brother Carlos has stolen my heart away from Alex - I really didn't think that would be possible!

You're going to have to wait until the 15th of January to read my review so all I'm going to say now is that I loved it even more than Perfect Chemistry!  I'll also be posting an extract from Rules of Attraction for you to read, believe me you want to make sure you check back then.  Simon & Schuster have got a great tour lined up including fab guest posts from Simone so make sure you check out all of the tour stops.  I've included links to each of the blogs below to make it easier for you.


Where are the tour stops?

Review: The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove - Lauren Kate

A steamy Southern beauty makes one fatal mistake

Natalie Hargrove would kill to be her high school’s Palmetto Princess. But her boyfriend Mike King doesn’t share her dream and risks losing the honor of Palmetto Prince to Natalie’s nemesis, Justin Balmer. So she convinces Mike to help play a prank on Justin. . . one that goes terribly wrong. They tie him to the front of the church after a party—when they arrive the next morning, Justin is dead.

From blackmail to buried desire, dark secrets to darker deeds, Natalie unravels. She never should’ve messed with fate. Fate is the one thing more twisted than Natalie Hargrove.

Cruel Intentions meets Macbeth in this seductive, riveting tale of conscience and consequence.

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove is due for release in the UK on January 6th 2011 but it looks like Amazon UK already have it in stock so you might be able to spot it in the shops early too.

Visit Lauren Kate's website for more information

Review:
Natalie is obsessed with being crowned the next Palmetto Princess and wants her boyfriend Mike to be her Prince.  She has worked hard to make sure she is the most popular girl in school so she will be chosen but Mike's lack of interest isn't going to help him win votes.  Mike has competition for the role of Prince in Natalie's enemy Justin and Natalie will do whatever it takes to stop Justin taking the crown.  When a prank goes horribly wrong and Justin ends up dead Natalie is going to be forced to take drastic measures to ensure that she doesn't lose everything she has worked so hard for.

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove is a modern re-telling of Shakespeare's Macbeth but as I've not read the original story I can't really compare the two.  I have to be honest and say that this book and I just didn't get along.  Perhaps it's because I'm not familiar enough with Macbeth to understand all of the references but my main issue was the fact that I just couldn't stand the main character.  I don't think I've ever come across a heroine I disliked as much as Natalie Hargrove.

She is self centred and utterly obsessed with becoming the Palmetto Princess, it is the only think she cares about and she doesn't want to talk or even think about anything else.  Every single thing that she says or does has been thought out carefully in advance to make sure she will gain something from it.  Although Justin's death was an accident the way Natalie behaved afterwards was appalling and made me think she deserved everything she had coming to her and then some.

Although we do get some insight into why Natalie was so obsessed with proving her popularity I didn't feel that it excused her behaviour in the slightest.  Just because she grew up on the wrong side of town and used to be poor before her mother re-married doesn't give her the right to act as if the world owes her a favor.  For her everything is about being rich and popular and it doesn't matter who she has to climb over or betray to get what she wants.  She reminded me a lot of a spoilt child throwing a temper tantrum to get her own way.

Her boyfriend Mike has always been rich and popular so he doesn't see what the big deal is when it comes to being the Palmetto Prince.  He doesn't understand why it is so important to Natalie and really can't be bothered with the whole thing.  At times I felt quite sorry for him but then he'd do or say something that made me think he brought it all on himself.  Justin was probably the most interesting character for me but unfortunately we don't get to see much of him apart from in the memories of others.  The whole issue of his death was sad but it was a tragic accident and had Natalie or Mike been thinking clearly and just come clean at the beginning then the ending could have been very different.  As it was I didn't like either of them enough to really care what happened to them and I spent most of the book hoping that they'd be charged with murder!

There was something about the story that kept me reading though, I wanted to see how it ended and if Natalie and Mike would be punished (not so much for the prank but for their behaviour and cowardice afterwards).  I have to say that the ending wasn't what I was expecting but it did feel like they got off lightly under the circumstances.

I think if you've read the original tale of Macbeth you would probably enjoy this one more than I did.  I would also say that if you're interested in reading about the popular kids at school and seeing the lengths they are prepared to go to earn that popularity then again you'll probably enjoy it.  It isn't something I'm interested in and I'm glad that I didn't have to suffer through the whole homecoming dance / prom King & Queen thing at my school when I was younger.  I really like Lauren Kate's Fallen which is a book I'd highly recommend, the writing was as good in The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove but it was the subject matter I wasn't keen on.  I'm looking forward to continuing the Fallen series though and will be reading more of her books in the future.

Source: Thanks to RHCB for sending me this book for review

Other reviews of this book:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

News: Blog Tour for Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling

I'm really looking forward to taking part in the blog tour to celebrate the release of Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling on the 6th January.  This sounds like a great story & I can't wait to read it as soon as my copy arrives.  I have a fab guest post from Curtis Jobling that I'll be posting on the 14th of January along with my review so don't forget to check back then to read them.  Puffin have lots of things planned for the tour so make sure you check them out - I've included links to the blogs taking part to make it easier for you.  In the meantime check out the book blurb & trailer below, sounds good doesn't it?!  You can also check out the Wereworld website for more information.

'YOU'RE THE LAST OF THE WEREWOLVES SON. DON'T FIGHT IT . . . CONQUER IT.'

When the air is clear, sixteen year-old Drew Ferran can pick up the scent of a predator.

When the moon breaks through the clouds, a terrifying fever grips him.

And when a vicious beast invades his home, his gums begin to tear, his fingers become claws, and Drew transforms . . .

Forced to flee the family he loves, Drew seeks refuge in the most godforsaken parts of Lyssia. But when he is captured by Lord Bergan's men, Drew must prove he is not the enemy.

Can Drew battle the werecreatures determined to destroy him - and master the animal within?



Where the tour is visiting:

Happy Christmas


I'm a bit late posting this message but I hope you're all having a wonderful Christmas.  I had a very relaxing day with family eating far too much turkey and chocolate :o)

What did Santa bring you all?  I didn't get any books yet - my family know I own so many that they never know which ones are safe to buy - but I did get money so I can choose my own :o)  I also got a Tassimo coffee machine (which I'm over the moon about as my old one broke a couple of weeks ago) and some lovely new clothes. 

The next few days will be spent visiting more family & friends which I'm really looking forward to.  Even if you don't celebrate Christmas I hope you're all enjoying the holidays!

Mo's not impressed with all the fuss...

...but Cassie seems quite tempted to try climbing the Christmas tree!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Review: Once Bitten, Twice Shy - Jennifer Rardin

I'm Jaz Parks.  My boss is a guy called Vayl, born in Romania in 1744.  Died there, too, at the hand of his vampire wife, Liliana.  But that's ancient history.  For the moment Vayl works for the CIA, doing what he does best - assassination.  And I help.  You could say I'm an assistant assassin.

Yeah...you could say that.

But then I'd have to kick your ass.

Vayl is the CIA's top assassin.  A master of black ops, he has never failed.  He's also a 291-year-old vampire.  Assigned to protect Vayl, if such a formidable creature can be said to require protection, is Jasmine Parks - 'Jaz' to her friends.  A young lady with exceptional talents and secrets of her own.

In a world where the bad guys aren't always human and the CIA needs some very specialised help...

Jaz Parks Series:
Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Another One Bites the Dust
Biting the Bullet
Bitten to Death
One More Bite
Bite Marks
Bitten in Two
The Deadliest Bite (2011)

Visit Jennifer Rardin's website for more information

Review:
Jaz has been working as an assassin for the CIA for 6 months when she is given a new assignment.  She has been partnered with Vayl - a 300 year old vampire who happens to be the CIA's top assassin - as his body guard.  Something about the partnership doesn't ring true to Jaz - after all how can such a powerful vampire need a human body guard? - but she doesn't have much choice but to go along with it unless she wants to lose her job.  Their latest assignment is to take out a plastic surgeon who has known links to a terrorist organisation, it sounds simple enough and they are expecting to get the job done quickly and be home in a couple of days. But that was before they overhear a conversation and uncover a terrorist plot that could have devastating consequences if they don't find a way to stop it in time.

This is one of those books that I randomly picked up when browsing in the library, the comment on the back cover by author Patricia Briggs stating "Bond meets Dracula" was enough for me to add it to my must read pile and I'm so glad I stumbled across the series.  I'm surprised I'd not already heard of Jennifer Rardin and am looking forward to getting stuck into the rest of the series.  Although not perfect Once Bitten, Twice Shy is a promising start to an urban fantasy series and one I'd recommend trying if you're like me and hadn't heard of it before.

Jaz is quite a flawed character, she has a snarky attitude and was quite funny at times but she often speaks without thinking which tends to get her into trouble.  She wants to be good at her job and is prepared to do whatever it takes to protect Vayl but I think she probably has quite a lot of learning to do even though she is capable of standing up for herself.  She has had a tough time over the last couple of years and events from her past have had a massive effect on her present.  It's only as the story unfolds and we learn more details of these events that we get to see why she is the way she is and I started to understand her better.  I'm intrigued to find out more about who and what she is and am looking forward to seeing her work through her issues.

Vayl is an intriguing character but there is just something about him that really drew me in.  Most of his past is shrouded in mystery and we're never quite sure why he requested to have Jaz as his partner but you can tell he cares about her and there is definitely chemistry between them even though this hasn't been acted on yet.  I definitely have plenty of questions regarding the bond between them but I just want to spend more time with the pair and see how things develop.

The plot moves quickly and smoothly to the finish line and although they win the battle they certainly haven't won the war.  We have been introduced to some likable secondary characters who I hope we'll get to see more of in the future (I particularly liked tech geek Bergman and Jaz's Dad Albert) and I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of situation Jaz & Vayl will get themselves into next.  I'd definitely recommend the series to urban fantasy fans.

Source: Library

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here

Friday, 24 December 2010

Quick Review: A Peyton Family Christmas - Moira Rogers

Holiday Cheer, Southern Arcana Style

A free short story set after Crossroads and before Deadlock.

Life has settled down for Nicole Peyton and Derek Gabriel. They've fought battles and won, but friends and family still struggle with the scars. During their first Christmas together, surrounded by the people they love most, Derek and Nick give each other the less tangible gifts that matter most--and the too tangible gifts that mean forever.

This story contains major spoilers for Crossroads. Read with caution!

This story can be downloaded for free on Moira Rogers' website click here for more details

Southern Arcana Series:
Crux
Crossroads
A Peyton Family Christmas (free short story on Moira Rogers' website)
Zola's Pride (free short story on Moira Rogers' website)
Deadlock
Two Weddings (and One Near Funeral) (free short story on Moira Rogers' website
Cipher
Impulse
Enigma

Visit Moira Rogers' website for more information

Review:
I'm not going to give any details on the plot as it is a short story & I don't want to ruin it for you.  I would like to point out that this story will include major spoilers for Crossroads so I would strongly recommend reading Crossroads first.

I love getting to see a glimpse of a couple after they get their happy ending and it was great to see how Derek and Nick are spending their first Christmas. The story is set not long after the ending of Crossroads so they are still trying to deal with the aftermath of previous events but they are still crazy about each other.  With both of them being very family oriented they are looking forward to spending Christmas with their loved ones and it was good to see Michelle and Kat to find out how they are coping.

It's aways nice when authors offer free short stories & I often read them before buying an author's books to see if I think I'll like their writing style.  However in this case I'd strongly recommend reading the previous 2 books in the series first - at least read Crossroads as this would really give away the ending of the book if you decide to go back to that one later.  Moira Rogers do have other free reads on their website that don't include spoilers though so you could check those out if you want to get a taster of their writing.

I really love the Southern Arcana series and would definitely recommend giving it a try if you haven't already.  A Peyton Family Christmas is a nice addition to the series and a great way of getting into the Christmas spirit.

Source: Downloaded for free from Moira Rogers' website

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here

Review: Crossroads - Moira Rogers

Derek Gabriel was born human in family of psychics, aware of the supernatural world but never a part of it...until a rogue shapeshifter took humanity from him in a vicious attack. He's spent two years struggling to adjust, not just to a change that's driven many insane, but also to the prejudices of a culture where transformed wolves are considered inferior. A serious struggle, indeed, when the woman who attracts the man and the wolf inside him is the daughter of the most powerful wolf in the country.

For Nicole Peyton, nothing is more important than escaping the stifling confines of elite shapeshifter society, an old-fashioned world where women are valued only for their bloodlines and bank accounts. In New Orleans, she has a bar she loves, friends she cares for, and a smoldering, unspoken tension with an unsuitable but incredibly attractive man.

Neither could predict how quickly forbidden longing would erupt into burning need, but Nick and Derek have more than themselves to think about when Nick's sister arrives in the city with a shapeshifter strike team hard on her heels. The only way Nick can save her sister may be to play by the Conclave's rules--but it will mean giving up the man she's falling in love with, unless he's willing to risk everything in a challenge that will shake the foundations of their world.

Southern Arcana Series:
Crux
Crossroads
A Peyton Family Christmas (free short story on Moira Rogers' website)
Zola's Pride (free short story on Moira Rogers' website)
Deadlock
Two Weddings (and One Near Funeral) (free short story on Moira Rogers' website
Cipher
Impulse
Enigma

Visit Moira Rogers' website for more information

Review:
Derek and Nicole (Nick) have both had feelings for each other for a long time now but the time has never been right for them to act on it.  Derek was turned into a werewolf after a vicious attack a couple of years ago and since then has been trying to deal with his new supernatural abilities.  It hasn't been easy for him to come to terms with his inner wolf and he has always been afraid of losing control and hurting Nick.  Nick's father is an Alpha and also the head of the Conclave which is basically the council for American werewolves.  This means Nick is like a princess in the world of born werewolves but she wants nothing to do with politics and has escaped from New York to New Orleans where she is happy running a bar.  Nick wants nothing more than to be with Derek but as far as the born werewolves are concerned the turned werewolves are second class citizens and any relationship between them would be looked down on by her family. 

Just as they are starting to think that they might be able to have a future together Nick's sister Michelle turns up and she's in big trouble.  As a powerful magic user (known as a seer) Michelle's life has always been under the control of the Conclave, it's only the fact that her father is so powerful that she wasn't killed as a child.  Michelle is forbidden from having any kind of relationship but she has fallen in love with her bodyguard Aaron and is now pregnant.  The Conclave want to see Aaron killed for treason but Nick will do anything to protect Michelle & her family - even if it means giving up the love of her life.

Crossroads is book 2 in the Southern Arcana series and although it can be read as a stand alone novel I'd strongly recommend reading Crux first - this really is a series that you don't want to miss out on!  Although this is a paranormal romance it is one that straddles the lines with urban fantasy and I'd recommend it to fans of both genres.

We were first introduced to Nick and Derek in Crux so we know they both have feelings for each other and I for one was eager to see them together as a couple.  They actually get together quite quickly which I was pleased about and the passion between them was steamy to the extreme.  It isn't just sex though and although their mating instincts play a role you can tell how much they mean to each other.  Nick is a strong heroine and one who will do anything to protect those she cares about - her twin sister in particular.  She feels guilty that life has been so hard for Michelle and wants to see things work out for her even if it means sacrificing her own happiness to achieve that.  I admired Nick for the way she cares about Michelle and was desperate to see how things could work out for them both.

Derek is a great hero and perfectly matched to Nick.  He also cares a great deal about his family and immediately offers to do anything he can to help Michelle and Aaron.  His life has been hard since he was turned into a werewolf and he is sick of being considered a second class citizen by the Conclave and other born wolves.  He has no idea how ruthless the Conclave are prepared to be in order to get what they want but he's about to learn the hard way.  Derek is not going to leave Nick to face them alone though and is prepared to do whatever it takes to help both her and Michelle.

Crossroads is a fast paced read and one I read in one sitting because I couldn't bear to put it down.  The romance was hot enough to leave me needing a cold shower and I both laughed and wanted to cry as I was reading - it really did have everything you could ask for.  I enjoy spending time in the world Moira Rogers (writing duo Bree & Donna) have created and I'm relieved that I don't have too long to wait until the next installment (Deadlock) will be released.  The series includes a strong cast of secondary characters and I'm looking forward to reading each of their stories - Andrew & Alec's in particular - it was also nice to get to see Mackenzie and Jackson again (the main characters from Crux).  If you haven't already started the Southern Arcana series then I'd strongly recommend you get hold of Crux as soon as possible.

Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Review: Monster High - Lisi Harrison

Fitting in is out.

Welcome to Monster High, where freaky is about to get fabulous.

The monster community has kept a low profile at the local high school, but when two new girls enrol, the town will never be the same. Created just fifteen days ago, Frankie Stein is psyched to trade her father's formaldehyde-smelling basement lab for parties and prom. But with a student body totally freaked out by rumors of monsters stalking the halls, Frankie learns that high school can be rough for a chic freak like her. She thinks she finds a friend in fellow new student Melody Carver - but can a 'normie' be trusted with her big secret?

Monster High Series:
Monster High
The Ghoul Next Door (April 2011)

Check out Lisi Harrison's website for more information

Review:
Frankie may be only be 15 days old but she can't wait to get out of her parents lab and start high school.  Having spent her life being constantly praised by her parents Frankie is confident and knows she'll easily fit in at school and make friends but that's before her parents drop the bomb shell.  Before she can go to school she must cover up her mint green skin and hide her bolts and seams - the normies at school wouldn't accept her if they knew she was a monster.  The RADs (Regular Attribute Dodgers as the monsters like to call themselves) live amongst the normies (humans) in secrecy, blending in to avoid a witch hunt but Frankie thinks it's time for things to change.  She wants the RADs to show the world their real selves - but is the world ready for them?

I was in the mood for a light hearted, fun read so Monster High seemed like the perfect choice and in a lot of ways it completely lived up to my expectations.  It was funny, different from anything I've ever read and had a whole host of interesting supernatural characters.  I really enjoyed trying to figure out which of the students at the school were RADs and what type of monsters they might be, a few of them were fairly obvious but there were a couple I didn't get until they revealed themselves. 

I liked the fact that Frankie was so confident and proud of who she was, I completely related to her wanting to show her real self to the world and prove the normies had nothing to be afraid of.  I was annoyed on her behalf by the attitude of the normies to the monster sightings and wanted to see things change.  Frankie isn't the only new girl who starts at Merston High though and half of the story is told from Melody's perspective.  Melody is a normie who has just moved into town with her family.  She is looking forward to a new start and finally finding some friends since she never really fitted in at her old school.  In a lot of ways Melody is the opposite of Frankie, she isn't comfortable with herself and doesn't feel she fits in with the rest of her family.  I got the feeling that the two girls would have got along really well so I was disappointed that they didn't really speak to each other until right near the end of the book.

There were a few things that I didn't enjoy so much but to be fair that is probably more because I'm way out of the intended age range for the book than because of the story.  I don't mind some teen speak in a story but in this case it completely took over and really started to irritate me.  I also struggled with the amount of designer brands that were constantly name dropped, but again I've never been particularly interested in high fashion so that's probably down to personal taste.  I was a bit disappointed with the abrupt ending too, I love reading series and even enjoy a good cliff hanger but Monster High seemed to stop just as the story line was starting to get interesting.

Although this wasn't my favorite read I enjoyed it enough to be looking forward to reading the second book (The Ghoul Next Door) when it releases next year.  I think this series will be particularly popular with younger teens but it is one that can be enjoyed by any age as long as you're not put off by the teen speak.  Monster High is the kind of story that is easy to read in one sitting so if you're looking for some light entertainment it's definitely worth giving it a try.

Source: Received from Atom in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

News: Entangled by Cat Clarke Blog Tour

I'm very happy to announce that I'm taking part in the blog tour for Cat Clarke's debut novel Entangled.  This is a book I've been looking forward to reading since meeting Cat back in May so I can't wait to start reading my copy.  Make sure you stop by on the 3rd of January when I'll be posting a guest post by Cat, my review of Entangled and a giveaway.  You don't want to miss out!

The tour has already started so make sure you check out the previous stops - I've even included links to the blogs taking part so you don't have to go searching for them!


Where the tour is visiting:

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

News: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer Blog Tour

I'm very excited to be taking part in the UK blog tour to celebrate the UK release of Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.  I read this book a couple of weeks ago & absolutely loved it - if it's not already on your wish list you need to add it now!  Don't forget to stop back on the 30th December when I'll be posting a fab guest post by Andrea Cremer, my review of Nightshade and a fantastic giveaway courtesy of Atom!

The tour started a couple of days ago on the Atom blog so make sure you don't miss anything.  There is lots going on so check out the poster below for more information (click on the picture to see a larger version).  I've included links to each of the blogs taking part to make it easier for you to find all of the tour posts.


Where the action is happening:
  • 20th Dec - Atom Blog - Tour Launch
  • 21st Dec - So Many Books, So Little Time - Extract: Chapter 1, Part 1
  • 22nd Dec - Words and Pieces - Extract: Chapter 1, Part 2
  • 23rd Dec - Dot Scribbles - Extract: Chapter 2, Part 1
  • 24th Dec - Once Upon A Bookcase - Final extract and meeting Shay
  • 27th Dec - My Favorite Books - Werewolf Mythology & Inspirations guest post by Andrea Cremer
  • 28th Dec - Atom Blog - Publication Date Celebration & Casting Calla Contest announcement
  • 29th Dec - I Want To Read That - Q & A with Andrea Cremer
  • 30th Dec - Sarah's Book Reviews (right here!) - Author's Animal Antics guest post by Andrea Cremer, Nightshade Review & UK Giveaway
  • 3rd Jan - Burn Bright - The 4 big questions Q & A with Andrea Cremer (sorry I couldn't find a link for this one)
  • 5th Jan - Book Chick City - Where Stories Are Made guest post by Andrea Cremer
  • 8th Jan - Rhiana Reads - So I Say Thank You for the Books guest post by Andrea Cremer
  • 10th Jan - Crooked Shelf - UK Style guest post by Andrea Cremer
  • 12th Jan - Pewter Wolf - The Writing Process interview with Andrea Cremer
  • 14th Jan - Atom Blog - Casting Calla Competition winner announced along with a sneak peak at Wolfsbane

Review: The Darkest Kiss - Keri Arthur

Dark secrets. Dangerous seduction. It all begins with a kiss...

With a werewolf's uncanny instinct for danger - and vampire blood coursing through her veins - Riley Jenson is an officer for the Directorate of Other Races, an organisation created to police supernatural beings. Now she's hunting for a killer who is targeting the rich and the powerful of Melbourne's society...

But for Riley the case takes a chilling turn when a second killer - a crazed young vamp - starts leaving a trail of mutilated bodies of his own. Riley knows she's got the skill and cunning to catch two serial killers at once, until one of them strikes inside her own tight-knit clan - and a sexy beast of a vampire re-enters her life to aid the hunt. His name is Quinn. He's lived forever, shed blood and shared pleasure - and he's the only man over whom Riley has absolutely no control...

Riley Jenson Guardian Series:
Full Moon Rising
Kissing Sin
Tempting Evil
Dangerous Games
Embraced by Darkness
The Darkest Kiss
Deadly Desire
Bound to Shadows
Moon Sworn

Dark Angel Series:
(This is a spin off from the Riley Jenson Guardian series)
Darkness Unbound
Darkness Rising
Darkness Devours
Darkness Hunts
Darkness Unmasked
Darkness Splintered
Darkness Falls

For more information visit Keri Arthur's website

Review:
Although this review won't contain spoilers for The Darkest Kiss as this is book 6 in the Riley Jenson series it will probably include spoilers for previous books. If you're new to the series or haven't read this far then I'd recommend checking out the reviews for book 1 Full Moon Rising. It is definitely an urban fantasy series that I'd recommend though.

This book picks up with Riley a couple of months after the ending of Embraced by Darkness and we find her still struggling to deal with a broken heart after her break up with Kellen. She is still working as a Guardian and when a politician is murdered she is called in to investigate. Soon she has a trail of bodies and realises she has a serial killer on her hands but before long it becomes clear that there is not just one killer on the loose. As if that wasn't enough to deal with Quinn is also back on the scene - can she capture the killers and protect her bruised heart at the same time?

This is a series I've enjoyed from the beginning but I have to say that I think it really is getting better with each new instalment. Riley has come a long way since Full Moon Rising and although I've always liked her I'm pleased to see the changes in her. She still has her snarky, kick ass attitude but whilst nursing her broken heart she has become less interested in casual sex and she seems to have grown up more. She will always enjoy flirting - and has more than a few men who are interested in that and more - but she wants to find a partner who she can actually care about. It was also nice to see more about the new abilities Riley has started to gain, although they didn't help her much in this book I'm curious to see what happens next.

I wasn't sure how I felt about the fact that Quinn would be making an appearance, I really liked him at first but then his attitude started to annoy me and I'd completely gone off him. However, I was really pleased to discover that he has also changed since the last time we saw him. With his attitude adjustment and Riley's new outlook I can actually see a future for them again and it was nice to be reminded of what attracted me to him in the first place. I'm now back to being interested in seeing how things play out with them over the rest of the series.

As I've come to expect from Keri Arthur the plot was well thought out and kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next. I was on the edge of my seat at certain points mentally screaming "nooooooo please don't let this be happening" but I can't really say more about that without giving spoilers so you'll have to read the book to find out if I was happy at the end or not. If you're a fan of the series then I'm sure you'll enjoy this instalment. I'm looking forward to picking up Deadly Desire and finding out what happens next.

Source: Library

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

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