Books: 2nd Edition

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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby AJAiken » Jun 09, 2017 7:26 am

ValiantArcher wrote:What authors did you have trouble finding in Canada? I know there were some books that we read and enjoyed while in the UK that can't be found here...

I don't remember seeing Cornelia Funke, or any of the other authors who are published by Chicken House in the UK. I don't remember seeing Eoin Colfer. I think what struck me so much was how different the range was. I don't remember Arthur Ransome, Beatrix Potter - the standard British children's authors, I suppose. In terms of actually sourcing books I think I either waited until Christmas, when I went home for a couple of weeks, or bought them on Kindle ... (I've just checked my Amazon orders from back then, and yes I did buy books on Kindle - a book of Scottish myths and legends, The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt, and Nicking Time by T Traynor.)

ValiantArcher wrote:Re: McKinley's The Hero and the Crown: I'm in the minority as I read The Hero and the Crown and hated it so much that I never picked up The Blue Sword. AJ, I think you might be the first person I've come across who disliked it too (though for different reasons, it sounds like). ;))

Yet though I dislike it, I LOVE The Blue Sword. :D I hope you give it a chance!

The Mind of the Maker sounds really interesting. I will put it on my growing list of books to read ...

After not liking The Colour of Magic a friend told me to read The Thief of Time and Going Postal, both which I loved. Another friend then made me read the Night Watch books. I've read Making Money and Wyrd Sisters too, now. Any other Pratchett recommendations? Or are the rest all good, and it's just the first couple that aren't?
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby shastastwin » Jun 09, 2017 9:30 am

I've only read The Colour of Magic (which I enjoyed though it was a bit rougher to read) and Hogfather (which I adored) of Pratchett's Discworld books. I have several more I've been meaning to read. Definitely pick up Hogfather some time!
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby daughter of the King » Jun 09, 2017 11:07 am

Valia wrote:Is Snuff the last Pratchett book?

Snuff is the last in the Watch series, but he did publish a few more in other series.

AJAiken wrote:Any other Pratchett recommendations? Or are the rest all good, and it's just the first couple that aren't?

Here is a handy guide to Pratchett. If you've already read all of the Watch books I would recommend reading the Death series next. If you go in the order they were published instead of by series they definitely get better over time. Reading by series lets you skip ahead to the best parts.
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby Arwenel » Jun 10, 2017 4:22 am

So i read the first Ashtown Burials book ...

I think i'm just going to have to accept that N.D. Wilson isn't for me.

I want to offer up some positives, because clearly it kept my interest enough that i finished it, but i just don't know what there was that i liked. Cyrus and Antigone were slightly more interesting and less irritating to me than Henry and Henrietta, but i still didn't close the book feeling all that invested in them. I know i liked the introduction -- though, like 100 Cupboards, that interest mostly came from the setting which quickly proved to be unimportant to the rest of the plot.

Speaking of the plot, though ... what was it? Cyrus and Antigone escape the burning motel, flee with the lawyer to the Ashtown Burials, and then the main point of the novel gets a little lost. I can think of two potential plot lines, but the first - find and rescue their brother and later mother - is taken out of their hands almost immediately and resolved mostly by accident, and the second - meet the special standards to join the Order of Brendan - is only half dealt with, and then wrapped up in the ending. Apparently the process of magically learning all those difficult skills in just a few months wasn't interesting enough to warrant description?

I have to say, i am baffled at how Wilson can invent these worlds and organizations, and then spend so little time developing them. What is the Order of Brendan's purpose? What do its members spend their time doing? How does someone join, and why would they wish to? I'm sure there's at least partial answers to these questions in the text somewhere, but i missed them. And the whole "some people are immortal and bad" is introduced somewhat early on ... and then never explained! Neither Cyrus nor Antigone even mention it or ask about it! Seriously, how does this get set aside in favor of the various interesting but not really important stuff we get instead? Then there was the whole reveal about their mother, which also goes totally unexplained, and the people most affected by it don't seem too curious about it, either. I'm not sure why he introduces these things if his characters aren't going to react to them; if they don't care, why should i?

The Treasure Island references were somewhat amusing to begin with, but when Big Ben Sterling turned out to be Long John Silver, i was annoyed; partially with myself for missing it, but mostly at the author for including it. I love a good shout-out myself, but taking as many elements as Wilson did starts to blur the line between 'reference' and 'whole plot homage'. There's not anything wrong with a whole plot homage, either, but i don't think it's what he was going for.

The ending is mostly a blur for me, as by that point i had started skim-reading. It's an annoying habit of mine, but if i'm actually engaged in the story i'm reading, i'll notice i'm doing it, stop, and go back to make sure i'm not missing anything. Here i wasn't skimming because i was that excited about what was happening, i was doing it because i didn't care, and just wanted to get to the end.

I have the other two books in the series. I don't know if i'm even going to try to read the next one.

One thing i can say for Wilson: there's something about his books that made me really want to get my thoughts organized and actually written down. I can't believe i've managed to review all of them.
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby Meltintalle » Jun 11, 2017 2:08 pm

Valia wrote:Mel, do you think Ashtown is more logical, or is still rather intuitive?
More logical, yes, but if there's a half-way point between intuitive and logical, I don't think it crosses that mark. ;)) I got the sense that there were guidelines for what would end up attributed to the Order of Brendan and so on, but other elements of the plot are drawn from far and wide.

Speaking of intuitive vs. logical, the second Miss Silver mystery, The Case is Closed has the heroine driving her very logical fiance to distraction with her leaps of deduction. (Since it's a mystery, it has a very logical feel to it, but it's delightful the way the heroine insists it has to be a certain character even when all the available evidence points to another one.) I'd highly recommend this one. The characters are delightful, the mystery isn't easily resolved, and it's got a bit of depth to it.

Arwenel wrote:There's not anything wrong with a whole plot homage, either, but i don't think it's what he was going for.
Really? Can you pin that down more specifically? My impression was it was all a very deliberate homage to Treasure Island--and was disappointed when the following books didn't include a similar element. I also missed who the Long John Silver character was (for whatever reason I'd convinced myself it was Nolan). It's not like the clues weren't there for his identity, so... I think it was actually pretty good that it was a recognizable homage but also had enough of an original character that his role wasn't immediately obvious.

I'm so glad you have been able to review all of the books! It's good to get another perspective. :D


When I visited the library this week I picked up two books: The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican by J. P. Gallagher, about an Irish priest in Rome during WWII who was part of a network of people hiding those wanted by the German occupation (it's really good so far! :D ), and Merlin's Blade by Robert Treskillard, which is a retelling of the King Arthur story. I've seen various references to it since it came out, but never been quite intrigued enough to track it down. Since it was on the shelf, however... :p
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby AJAiken » Jun 12, 2017 1:11 am

Mel, I have seen the TV movie The Scarlet and the Black, starring Gregory Peck, which is an adaptation of the book. It's a wonderful story, and I think the film was fairly historically accurate. I didn't realise there was a book.

Dot and stwin, thanks for the recommendations!
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby Arwenel » Jun 12, 2017 1:58 am

Meltintalle wrote:Really? Can you pin that down more specifically? My impression was it was all a very deliberate homage to Treasure Island--and was disappointed when the following books didn't include a similar element.


What i mean by whole plot homage is like Treasure Planet -- telling the same story with the same characters in a new setting with a few minor changes. It's been a long time since i've read Treasure Island, but i'm still familiar with the basic plot. The Dragon's Tooth didn't seem to have any more in common with Treasure Island than the opening and the Long John Silver/eavesdropping while eating an apple part.

Meltintalle wrote:I'm so glad you have been able to review all of the books! It's good to get another perspective. :D


Well, that's something good out of all this, then.

I started reading the second Ashtown Burials book, buuuut then i ran into one of the elements from the first book that still hadn't been explained in any detail, got frustrated, and put it down again. I might still finish it, from a lack of having anything else to read if nothing else, but i doubt i'm going to like it any better.
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby shastastwin » Jun 12, 2017 6:42 am

Time for a reading update.

I am about to start the second Ranger's Apprentice book, having finished the other two audio books I checked out with that one. I already shared my thoughts on Six of Crows (sadly, the library doesn't have audio of this one yet). Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger had a lot of promise in the premise, but its ensemble cast felt too scattered and out of focus for most of the book. There were some fun explorations of psychic phenomena and what effect being sensitive to that sort of thing might have on people but as a mystery it just didn't hold up for me.

We went to the library this past Saturday to pick up more books for Samwise, which led to me getting two more audio books to listen to, as well as a print book (which I almost never check out anymore do to having plenty of unread books at home. ;)) )

Audio: Dracula The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt -- this one's been on my reading radar for a while. Dacre is Bram's great-grandnephew, so this is considered an "official" sequel. I've seen some mixed reaction to it, but I picked it up because why not?

Sea of Shadows by Kelly Armstrong: I know absolutely nothing about this series except the titles/covers looked nice and the back cover blurb sounded interesting enough. ;)) (I didn't actually intend to get any books this time, but I can't help myself.)

The print book I picked up is Mary Robinette Kowal's standalone Ghost Talkers, a supernatural mystery set in WWI. I'd enjoyed Kowal's debut novel, Shades of Milk and Honey and I try to keep an eye out whenever she published a new book. Ghost Talkers follows a medium in the Allied Spirit Corps, a secret military group who collect information from the spirits of the dead soldiers before they pass on. It's very steeped in the spiritualism of the age while still keeping a level head on its shoulders. I'm enjoying it so far, and the style is very easy to read. She's already surprised me with the twists the story has taken, and I'm only about 1/4 through the book.

Similarly, I'm also reading Mercedes Lackey's Phoenix and Ashes, part of her Elemental Masters series. This is the fourth book in the series (counting the largely unrelated debut novel, The Fire Rose) but it's the first to really connect with a previous volume. The series is a set of fairy tale retellings set in late 1800s-early 1900s England (The Fire Rose being the exception, set in San Francisco); Phoenix and Ashes is a "Cinderella" retelling. My reaction to this series has been a bit mixed. I enjoyed The Fire Rose, loved The Serpent's Shadow, and was generally disappointed with The Gates of Slumber. I'm hoping Phoenix and Ashes will redeem the series for me, as I still have two more books in the series on the shelf (though there are about a dozen all told now). The opening of this one has been a bit rough, with lots of flashback info dumps in the first couple chapters, but once the stage is set, we seem to be moving along nicely. This one is also set in WWI, and I'm enjoying the contrast in the two books' styles and stories. They both deal with shellshock (both for the soldiers and those treating them) in some way, but Phoenix and Ashes is primarily a book about coming home from war and the deprivations the war caused for those left behind while the men were fighting, whereas Ghost Talkers is set in the midst of the war.
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby Meltintalle » Jun 15, 2017 10:17 am

re: Pratchett: I've been working my way through his books haphazardly, but my favorites of the ones I've read have been Hogfather and Going Postal. I've got Soul Music and Monstrous Regiment marked as ones I'd like to read sooner or later.

AJAiken, you are not the only person to mention The Scarlet and the Black when I mention reading the book, so clearly I'm going to have to find this movie and see how it compares. ;))

Arwenel, I see your distinction between Treasure Planet and The Dragon's Tooth. I suppose I went in with a similar mindset to reading a fairy tale retelling and expected all the 'extra frills' to tie in later to the rest of the story--rather like Marissa Myers Lunar Chronicles. :)

At long last, my hold on Thick as Thieves came in! I finished the book this morning. I'd seen a couple of spoiler-ish comments, so
SHOW SPOILER "Thick as Thieves"
Gen being the kitchen boy who bit the cook was obvious at least as soon as the scroll was mentioned, but I was suspicious about the extra-ness of the second biting incident. :p I don't think I'd seen any mention of Nauhseresh not being dead, but I was considering it as a possible twist at least by the time the caravan was attacked.

I'm fond of books where the characters spend a lot of time wandering across country, so TaT was very enjoyable in that regard. I can't remember which interview it was mentioned in, but I recall MWT saying she ended up writing TaT as a quest story and it didn't work until it was from Kamet's perspective. So going in with that in mind, it was interesting to discover that Kamet, the narrator, was the quest object. ;))

The biggest 'spoiler' I thought I saw was a tumblr post that sounded an awful lot like the willful denial going around after Rogue One came out; and I was anticipating something a bit more... dramatic for the climax even if it later seemed the first post was entirely serious. (Not that I didn't enjoy Costis falling down the well and his dramatic re-appearance, and the helpful stranger who turned Kamet around...)


I am curious as to what others thought about the helpful stranger being a Mede trickster figure. (And Costis recognizing him!) Does this mean all the gods are in accord? Do they appear in different guises to the different people groups? (After QoA I would have thought the answer was no, since it was implied the goddess was an Attolian one... or, since it's now implied that Gen was already interested in the Mede Empire, was she Mede???) Did that feel part feel weird, with the gods taking such a direct and obvious hand in things? Are they getting closer to the story as Gen becomes more distant?
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby ValiantArcher » Jun 15, 2017 8:19 pm

AJ, we can get Eoin Colfer and Beatrix Potter in the states, though they may not be as popular. Arthur Ransome is hard to find (mostly in library booksales and used bookstores!) and I don't know if I've ever seen Cornelia Funke over here. (Edit: Mel jogged my memory and, yes, we very much have Cornelia Funke books over her; I was apparently thinking of someone else. :ymblushing:) We also don't really have Enid Blyton on the shelves.
I'll keep your recommendation of The Blue Sword in mind, though I have so many books to read and it's still very low on the list, so I can't say I will get to it. ;))

Gotcha, re: Snuff, Dot. Thanks! :)

Mel, your thoughts about Ashtown not making the halfway mark between intuitive and logical makes sense. ;))
The J. P. Gallagher book sounds very interesting! And the title marks it as something right up your alley. ;) ;))

Arwenel, I understand the plot nods towards Treasure Island bugging you in The Dragon's Tooth - I remember them rubbing me a bit funny too. :P ;)) I'm sorry you haven't liked either 100 Cupboards or Ashtown, but I understand your reasons; they just haven't bugged me the same way or the same extent. (Then again, there have been a number of books my friends have LOVED that I absolutely hated. :P *looks guiltily at Mel*)

I finished The Mind of the Maker! :D It was very good; I think I probably still mostly learned about authors, but that's not all bad. ;))

I recently read Phantoms in the Snow by Kathleen Benner Duble, which is fictional, but with the historical setting/hook of the Tenth Mountain Division in WWII (I had never heard of them, but apparently they were skiing soldiers who were involved in driving the Germans out of Italy? At least that is what I gleaned from the book). I struggled with the book - the premise of a pacifist boy being sent to live with his uncle (a soldier) after being orphaned was intriguing, but I felt like it never really found its footing. The pacifism aspect was brought up and dropped several times without really explaining exactly WHY his parents were pacifists or Noah's own thoughts on it; the pieces were there, but never really handled well. I also thought the ending was a bit rushed... But, to a certain extent, it served its purpose as I checked out a non-fiction book about the Division from the uni library. ;))

In working through the stack of books I got from the library booksale a couple months ago (only six more to go! :D), I also read The Riddle of the Ring by Karin Anckarsvard this week. It's kind of a children's adventure/mystery book from the mid-1960s. Overall, I thought it was pretty fun - the mystery wasn't overly heavy, and the characters were pretty nicely drawn. It felt a bit heavier, almost, than what I was expecting (not in a bad way, just there was a bit more depth than I thought there would be) - I'm wondering if this was because it was translated from Swedish...? I'd be curious to try to track down some more books by the author, but I don't know how much success I'll have with that. I'm thinking of asking a Swedish colleague if she's heard of the author and/or possibly read any of them growing up... ;))

I went to the uni library on Saturday and checked out a good stack of books. Incredibly enough, Arcanum Unbounded was not only actually in the library but also on the shelf where it belonged. ;)) After picking it up, I wandered over to the WWII non-fiction section, as I had a list of call numbers written down to try to find; I think I found two of them, but picked up a good half dozen other books that looked interesting (out of many!). *looks innocent*
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby Rivulus » Jun 18, 2017 4:59 pm

Arthur Ransome is also available in new paperbacks in the US, if you know where to look: http://www.godine.com/series/swallows-and-amazons/

RE: Thick as Thieves
I know there's been some discussions about the Mede gods over at Sounis, but personally the unexplained parts of their involvement didn't really bother me. I guess I've always felt that MWT was going for an impression of an organically developed mythology with fuzzy and not necessarily logically consistent edges, rather than a clearly defined and explained one? The relationship between the old/new gods within Sounis/Attolia/Eddis has never been completely clear either, I don't think.
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Jun 18, 2017 5:12 pm

In time out of memory, Mel wrote:Rose, I've read a few steampunk-type stories...

G.K. Chesterton's The Ball and Cross is an early example and has more meat on its bones than some. Airships! Duels! Frenemies!


You had me at Chesterton. ;)) Finally had a chance to pick this up after finishing LotR! (Which I loved, but it took me a while because I've been busy, and for some reason when I am busy I'd rather pick up a nonfiction than a fiction. I think it's because I'm already pretty absentminded as it is, so I am reticent to allow myself to be spirited away with a book when I have practical things that need doing. :P)

The Ball and the Cross quickly reminded me of why I have enjoyed everything else that I've encountered by Chesterton... so many good characters and so many interesting philosophical threads running all throughout. :D And this one is just pure fun, or at least it is if you don't mind reading the debates of an atheist and a Catholic and the gaggle of odd and interesting characters they encounter on their curious adventure. (I certainly don't!) I'm about three-fifths through after picking it up a few days ago, and I'm excited to see how it all ends, as I have no idea at this point. ;))
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby AJAiken » Jun 19, 2017 1:10 am

Oh dear. Sounds like I didn't have a good local bookstore, or there's a big difference between the books in Canada and the US, or I simply wasn't paying enough attention. ;)) One thing that is certain is that the publishers and covers can be very different ...

Keeping the Canadian theme, I have just read Anne of Green Gables for the first time. I began reading it after watching a couple of episodes of the new Netflix show. I've had it on my shelf for years; it's one of my mum's books. And yet I've not read it until now. I would have loved it when I was younger. I feel there's a similarity to Little Women in the combination of humour and tragedy. It's a lovely book.
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby SnowAngel » Jun 28, 2017 8:38 pm

ValiantArcher wrote:SA, nope, haven't read Death by Living; just have enjoyed other works by the author and have heard lots of good recommendations for it. ;))
I'm glad the Nikki Boyd books were tolerable at least, though it's too bad they're not keepers (though, maybe not too bad for your bookshelf space ;))).
Hurrah for the book box to give away or resell! :D Yay also for your sister reading Ashtown! :D I hope she's enjoying it! And glad to hear you're enjoying Wilson's new one! :D
I finished Death By Living a couple weeks ago, it was really good. :)

Well, if we ever have time to go to the bookstore it will be awesome. But since we don't have plans to do that...I am thinking about seeing if my church would be willing to put some of them on a giveaway shelf. It's an idea at least.

After my sister finished Empire of Bones first thing she said was she really wants to read book four, me too. :)

Meltintalle wrote:I just finished The Song of Glory and Ghost myself, SA! :D It's a very exciting read, though I think it doesn't have the multiple layers that make Ashtown Burials or 100 Cupboards so appealing. I was rather surprised when I found I'd reached the final third already; I'd been expecting all the adventures so far to be set-up (which they were) but not as many twists and turns as usual. My favorite bits were the parts with Cindy and Speck and the two second description of the lady with chandelier earrings.

Also, I picked up A Match of Wits by Jen Turano after you mentioned the author... I grinned pretty much the whole way through and am looking forward to reading others in the series. It's a nice change of pace from my usual fare of heavy drama. :)
I can't think of specific part of The Song Of Glory and Ghost that I really liked, I also didn't notice the few layers in the story as I wasn't able to read large portions of the story in one sitting. But I am sure you are right. I think Ashtown will always be my favorite, as matter a fact I'm going to them to my book shopping list. :)

I think I have read 4 of Jen Turano's books so far, the first in 2013, they have all been fun to read. I was hoping to catch up on her books this summer, but I haven't had the time to get them from the library yet. There is always something new catch my eye first, such as To The Farthest Shore by Elizabeth Camden and The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter that I read this past week or Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin that waiting to be read.

In addition to reading High As The Heaven by Kate Breslin for my next review, I also have bookmarks in two library books that siblings just read - Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace and The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey. I am all of ten pages into Ben-Hur after two days, I might be lucky if I finish it before it is due back at the library.

I am just reached the half way point on my book goal for 2017, so proud of myself. 8-| ;) I was hoping to be past 55 books at this point in the year, but with everything that's been happening in life and as many evenings I have spent watching TV shows with my mom and sisters instead of reading, I should just be grateful I have reach 55 books already.

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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby Meltintalle » Jul 01, 2017 2:25 pm

Valia wrote: I'd be curious to try to track down some more books by [ Karin Anckarsvärd], but I don't know how much success I'll have with that.
B-) I've got one! It's called Rider by Night and was acquired because it's a horse story... I haven't read it in ages but I do remember that it was a bit more nuanced in character interactions; stuff like sneaking out had consequences, etc. Mine's a cheap paperback, so I would assume there must have been multiple printings/she was a popular author?

Glad you're enjoying Ball and Cross, Rose-Tree! :D (How is it as a steampunk novel, though?)

I slogged through and finished Merlin's Blade. It turned out to be a book where I should have listened to my first impressions... there was nothing outstandingly awful about it, but nothing to really set it apart from the crowd either. There's something nagging me about the interaction between the spirit and natural worlds, too... I went in fully expecting to accept the premise that God's plan will carry the day in the end and awful things might happen in between, but somehow it ended up being very passive and selective; almost reactive to the evil. :-\

SnowAngel, I've been working my way through Ben-Hur since before Christmas, so you're doing better than me. (I should probably nibble off another couple of chapters.)

JoHobbit and coracle both recommended that I read some Enid Blyton, so I did some hunting and found a few Secret Seven books. I've read one so far, and it was very enjoyable. :D
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Re: Books: 2nd Edition

Postby SnowAngel » Jul 05, 2017 8:53 pm

Meltintalle wrote:SnowAngel, I've been working my way through Ben-Hur since before Christmas, so you're doing better than me. (I should probably nibble off another couple of chapters.)
I read about 60 pages on Sunday in between watching the first and second half of the 1959 movie. I really enjoyed the part about Judah's mood after speaking with Messala (around page 69), my older brother absolutely acts like that. I need to speed up my reading if I am going to get it in the next couple weeks.

I am not enjoying High As The Heavens. It's been disappointing. I don't understand why a book published by a Christian publisher has Catholic main characters. And that was not disclosed in the book's description.

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