NaNoWriMo editing…

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NaNoWriMo editing…

I made a promise to myself that after the final day of NaNoWriMo 2012, I would not look at my completed work until I had finished my University degree. Well, I made it! My degree is over and I have spent two blissful weeks reading some of the books that are precariously balanced on my over-flowing bookshelves, downloading yet more Kindle books published by indie authors, and writing short stories and flash-fictions, finally indulging the pounding plot bunnies that have been thumping around in my mind for the last few months. But now, after catching up on some much needed sleep and deserved time of lazing around, the real work begins.

Having a look at the calendar on my wall, I joyfully crossed out in bold red ink the dreaded Dissertation deadline and Positive Psychology exam date, and then flicked to the month of June to see what was looming overhead.

Yep, and then I saw it…that terrifying date.

“30th June 2013 -NaNoWriMo Createspace discount ends.”

The one thing that I both hate and love about NaNoWriMo is that you have to write under pressure. Unless you are one of those amazing authors that I worship who can whip out 5,000 – 10,000 words a day, writing 50,000 words in the space of 30 days is a touch challenge. However, last year I surprised both myself and my cosmic sister, who is also a writer, by thundering through the words at an extroadinary pace, and at the end of November gave a huge sigh of relief thinking; “Well that’s the hard bit done.”

And now comes the editing.

From what I hear from my twitter and facebook writerly friends, editing is the worst part of writing. I’ve always agreed. Over the last three years I have loathed the proof-reading and editing of my University essays, where after too long every comma looks like it is in the wrong place. So I sat down with my freshly printed NaNoWriMo in front of me, preparing myself for the great slog.

So maybe it is just the euphoria of proof-reading and editing something that does not in any way relate to psychological measurements, stress effects on memory or dreaded spreadsheets of statistics data, but I am loving every minute of this editing experience.

Having taken a break of six months between writing and editing my novel, I have come back to it with a fresh mind, and I instantly remembered why I loved writing it so much. By spending time away from my characters and the situations that they face, I can now see them in a new light and find it easy to cross out whole paragraphs of interactions and replace them with some more appropriate.

My only worry is finishing the editing and formatting of the novel before the end of June, but other than that lingering worry, I can honestly say that this has been one of the most inspiring writing experiences of my life.

‘The Soul and Beauty Within’ by Ahmad Saeed ~ Chapters 5 and 6.

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‘The Soul and Beauty Within’ by Ahmad Saeed ~ Chapters 5 and 6.

Chapter 5 ~ The Eyes Repose. The Water of the Mountains the Kunhar: http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/332276-soul-the-beauty-within-silence-speaks-to-silence?chapter=5

Chapter 6 ~ Silence in Pain: http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/332276-soul-the-beauty-within-silence-speaks-to-silence?chapter=6

 

For links to earlier chapters, see here: https://oldvictorianquill.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/the-soul-and-beauty-within-by-ahmad-saeed/

 

Book Review – ‘Beautiful Mess’ (Bailey’s Boys #1) by Lucy V. Morgan.

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Beautiful Mess by Lucy V. Morgan.
(Bailey’s Boys #1)
Genres: Romance, Contemporary.

Beautiful Mess (Bailey's Boys #1) by Lucy V. Morgan


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SYNOPSIS

Warning: contains pet rats, hot YouTube celebrity roommates, and one spurned girlfriend about to get even…

Working in a wedding cake shop sucks when you’ve just been dumped.

Bailey Frost has a recipe for disaster: one cheating ex, one big glass of liquor, and three well-meaning male friends who think her lack of a sex life is funny. Before she knows it, she’s confessed that she’s never had an orgasm with a man.

Now Bailey has to navigate sappy couples at work, while her friends are hell-bent on helping her get revenge on evil Craig…by dressing up as werewolves, on YouTube.

And one of those friends – the tall, shy-but-gorgeous Linc – might just want to help Bailey with that other little problem…

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Book Review – ‘Beautiful Mess’ (Bailey’s Boys #1) by Lucy V. Morgan ~ 3.5 Stars.

This was a fun quick read that took about an hour to finish, and it was great fun to slip away in Bailey’s troublesome life for an hour and laugh along at her and her roommate’s antics.

Bailey’s relationship with her roommates was so much fun, and the way in which Lucy Morgan wrote the interactions between the three of them was superbly done. I felt she perfectly depicted the type of relationship a girl would have with her two male roommates, with the harmless and not at all serious flirting as the boys exit the shower wearing only a towel to protect their modesty, and in turn the serious protectiveness the boys feel towards her well-being, and their desire to hurt anyone who has hurt her. This was heartwarming to read, and I laughed out loud at some of the embarrassing discussions that the boys managed to lure Bailey into.

However, there were a few issues that made me rate this book a little lower than I would have liked to. I know that this was only meant to be a short story, but I felt that in order to lower the word count, some of the backstory to the characters wasn’t given the attention it needed. You have to be so careful with shorter stories because the time-frames can seem really rushed, which I felt was the case in the development of Bailey and Linc’s relationship. Not knowing anything about Linc’s other than that he is good friends with Bailey’s roommate Olly and hangs out with them. I would like to have been given a little more information about Linc that explained just how close he and Bailey were as friends, and whether they did in fact ever spend any time together alone before the time-frame of the novel. However, I thought the decision to skip four months was an excellent device which allowed us to see from Bailey’s monologue that her and Linc’s relationship wasn’t all sunshine and daisies when they first got together. I would have preferred to see a longer story which included these moments in the present tense, rather than just having them thrown in as an afterthought because I would have loved to have seen how Bailey’s confidence developed from the end of her relationship with Craig and the beginning of her relationship with Linc.

Overall though, this was a fun read that had me laughing and awwing in equal measure. 3.5 – 4 stars.


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Book Review – ‘Back to You’ by Natalie-Nicole Bates.

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Back to You by Natalie-Nicole Bates
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Back to You by Anna Nicole Bates


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SYNOPSIS

Twenty years ago, Nick Lincoln broke teenager Lynsey Reznor’s heart when he decided to marry another. Now she is back, along with a chance to reclaim her love. But Lynsey wants answers from him that he may never be able to give out of duty and guilt.

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Book Review – ‘Back to You’ by Natalie-Nicole Bates ~ 3.5 – 4 Stars!

This was a fun, quick read that I really enjoyed. I always like stories where we see characters reunite after years apart and have to come to terms with the decisions they made in the past and how they can overcome their problems to start fresh. This was a wonderful story that not only showed the relationship between childhood one-time lovers, but also the relationships that they have with their family and childhood friends which was lovely to see.

This book started off really well, and I liked seeing how the characters developed from the start to finish. I also really enjoyed being given information into what the characters relationships were like when they were younger, gradually, almost as though we were slowly given pieces to the puzzle that was their past. But whilst the first two thirds of the book were well written with good solid storytelling, I felt a bit let down by the last third as I felt the end of the story was rushed in order for it to fit a lower word count. I didn’t feel like there was closure for all of the issues that had arisen in the story, and there were some characters that I would have liked to have seen how their story ended, particularly Suzy’s who I felt didn’t get the ending she deserved.

There was also the issue where Lynsey felt that Nick wasn’t a particularly experienced lover, and planned to teach him herself, but then this wasn’t addressed as Nick suddenly seemed to have higher standards in the next few chapters.

However, overall this was a good, fun quick read, that you can while away an evening with if you’re looking for a teensy bit of angst and a happy ever after. I’d give it a solid 3.5 – 4 Stars.


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Natalie-Nicole Bates

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The Soul and Beauty Within by Ahmad Saeed.

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The Soul and Beauty Within by Ahmad Saeed.

A dear friend who I met through goodreads is currently writing a beautiful memoire of his journey to the Kaghan Valley. I’ve been privileged enough to read his chapters before he is posting them, and offering any feedback I can on spelling and grammar. It is an incredibly beautiful ongoing piece of writing which will speak to anyone who has a deep love for nature and the world we live in. I will be posting links to his goodreads page everytime a new chapter is posted. Please do give it a read.

Here are the links to his work so far:

Chapter One: http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/332276-soul-the-beauty-within-silence-speaks-to-silence

Chapter Two: http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/332276-soul-the-beauty-within-silence-speaks-to-silence?chapter=2

Chapter Three: http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/332276-soul-the-beauty-within-silence-speaks-to-silence?chapter=3

Chapter Four: http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/332276-soul-the-beauty-within-silence-speaks-to-silence?chapter=4

Book Review – ‘Awaken’ by Jaime Guerard.

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Awaken by Jaime Guerard
(Awaken #1)
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Romance.

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SYNOPSIS

Three things run through my mind at this very moment…

ONE, my life as I once knew it will never be the same.

TWO, the person I’m in love with might not even exist.

THREE, the deception that has unfolded before me has the power of life and death.

Sixteen year old, Breanna Davis, has heard the saying; life isn’t always what it seems…well, that saying rings true now more than ever. As horrifying visions appear before her, revealing tragedies that will forever change the fate of those she loves, she realizes that she may be the only person who can stop them from becoming reality.

Amongst the chaos of this new discovery, Bre is faced with a stranger, Eve, who moves in on Bre’s friends and begins to follow her every move. As Eve’s true motives begin to surface, Bre must fight against, not only the visions, but the dangers Eve holds close.

There is another secret kept- Collin, a boy held captive in Bre’s dreams, the boy she is secretly falling in love with but isn’t sure he even exists. As she tries to make it work with Austin, an old friend who could possibly be more, Bre battles against her feelings for Collin.

Bre is faced with an almost impossible decision, to choose her life or follow her destiny. If she doesn’t intercede, people will certainly die. If she does, her own life could be at stake. In the end, if she fails, she’ll lose everything.

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Book Review – ‘Awaken’ by Jaime Guerard ~ 5 Stars!

Wow! What an incredible read! The storyline was fascinating and I really connected to the characters (especially Collin #TeamCollin fangirl right here).

Jaime Guerard’s writing style was electric and I found myself reading for hours at a time before realising it was about 3am. Bre was a wonderfully complex character, and from the start I found myself wanting the best for her, first when it came to her relationship with Josh and then when it came down to her wanting to spare the feelings of Austin when she fell in love with his brother.

The characters had amazing depth and I loved seeing how their relationships with each other formed. The relationship that Bre had with Austin was beautifully written and I felt so heartbroken for Bre that she was caught in the middle of two men who she really loved. Austin had been there for her after she’d broken up with her boyfriend, and showed her that she deserved to be treated better in life, and their friendship was so strong that I felt bereft knowing I don’t have a friend who I am so close to. That Austin believed Bre, even when any sane person probably wouldn’t believe that she could see the future before it happened, was something that really strengthened their bond. However, when the story began to suggest that Austin and Bre should be together, I couldn’t identify why that made me feel awkward. When Collin arrived however, I really began to see that whilst I love Austin, and his relationship with Bre, I saw him more as a brother and confidante, and couldn’t really see the two of them in a romantic relationship.

Collin was a great character and when he first arrived in the book I immediately felt that with him Bre could reach her full potential. Whilst with Austin she would be safe and happy, with Collin she could reach for the stars so to speak.

The character of Eve was one that really drew me in. I loved the way her storyline added in a psychological thrill to the mystery Bre was trying to unravel, and I can’t wait to see more of her character in the next book.

The last book that I became so engrossed in the drama action scenes was ‘The Hunger Games’ and I can only compare my feelings when reading ‘Awaken’s’ car-chase scene with the thrill and adrenaline that I had whilst reading ‘The Hunger Games’ action sequences. I was literally on the edge of my seat, and everytime the car bumped, I’d tense up as though I too was in the car. Extroadinary story telling!

Overall, this was a fantastic debut, and I can’t wait until the next book is released as ‘Awaken’ had an evil cliffhanger!

5 stars and a definite recommended read.


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Jaime Guerard

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Book Review – ‘The Sea of Tranquility’ by Katja Millay.

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The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: As of 2014 – Simon and Schuster.

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SYNOPSIS

I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

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 Book Review – ‘The Sea of Tranquility’ by Katja Millay ~ 100 Stars!

The Sea of Tranquility has been sitting on my Kindle for far too long. Everyone has been raving about how brilliant it is, so I made myself a deal that I would wait until I’d finished University to read it so that I could really throw myself into the story without any distractions.

I can quite honestly say that ‘The Sea of Tranquility’ is one of the best books I have ever read, if you know my love for Harry Potter and I say that this book was up there on my scale of 1 to amazing, then you’ll know just how much I loved it (a clue: it was a lot). It is very rare that you read a book that speaks to you in such a way that you feel as though your heart and soul is being scrutinised as you turn each page. Reading Nastya and Josh’s story was very much like that. It was a beautiful reminder that no matter what you are going through, there is someone who will be there for you. It was so true to real life and that made the journey all the more wonderful. Everything about this book was pure genius and it was one of those stories that will stay with me forever.

Katja Millay’s writing style was beautiful and so clever. When we first meet Nastya, her narration is short and to the point. Her sentences are rarely longer than a few words, and straight away I knew we were being introduced to a character who was deeply emotionally scarred. I was so deeply engrossed in Nastya’s inner turmoil, that I didn’t even notice the most defining thing about her. It was stunningly clever writing, and I honestly had chills as I read.

“I am so sorry. You must be Nastya.”

This time I nod.

“You don’t talk.”

The transition of the style of Nastya’s monologue’s was incredibly moving to see, as she grows stronger in herself, and finds herself a home and family with Josh and Drew that her descriptions become more colourful, her sentences longer, and the blunt, daggered tone that we first saw from her became softer and gentler.

I loved the relationship Nastya had with both Josh and Drew. At first I was expecting to greatly dislike Drew, having the suspicion that his respect for Josh wouldn’t be enough for him to stay away from Nastya, so I absolutely loved how Drew, whilst still flirting and generally being his typical male self, really wanted the best for Josh and Nastya. The way Drew seemed to see himself as Nastya’s older brother was wonderful to read. In these kind of books we often get swept up by the main romance of the story, but Nastya and Drew’s relationship was a beautiful reminder that true friends will be there for you, no matter if they are your boyfriend, brother or friend. The Leighton’s kindness to Nastya, by inviting her to Sunday dinner was a real golden lining in Nastya’s world. She is so submerged in pain and rage and anger at what another human being did to her, that she found it hard at first to accept the selfless generosity and kindness that the Leighton’s gave her.

Nastya’s relationship with Josh was such a beautiful journey that had me crying, smiling, laughing, sobbing and just generally an emotional wreck. Their connection because of the trials of their past was heartbreaking, and it was wonderful to see how they both opened up to each other in ways that they couldn’t to anyone else.

“There’s no reason to keep hiding in the bathroom. Hide here. There’s a force field, you know.” He lowers his voice when he says it, like he’s telling me a secret and then just barely hints at a smile that no one but me would catch before he puts it away and sobers, adding quietly, “No one will bother you.”

There story was a rollercoaster ride, but one that had true meaning in its ups and downs. The scenes when we saw them together, when in Josh’s garage, eating ice cream, wishing with pennies at the fountain, was perfection. Even the scenes when they are arguing or furious with each other, I never felt that it was uncalled for. Everything was placed perfectly.

Let’s just say that after reading such utter perfection, I put my Kindle down and had a long cathartic sob. It was such an incredible piece of writing that took me on a wonderful journey through the highs and lows of life and reminded me to be lucky for what I have, and to never take advantage of it.

And the ending line, wow! Let’s just say that summed up the whole novel in two words. Go and read it to find out what those words were.

A stunning piece of perfection is the only way I can describe this book. I can’t wait for it to be released in Paperback, because this is definitely one that I will be rereading for the rest of my life.

It seems kind of devastating that I can only rate this 5 Stars! In a perfect world, with a scale of 1 to 100 stars, this would rate at 100.


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Book Review – ‘On Demand’ by Justine Elyot.

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On Demand by Justine Elyot
Genres: Adult, Erotica, Romance

On Demand by Justine Elyot


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SYNOPSIS

Brief encounters in the bar, seductions in the pool or a menage in the elevator – this haven for the hedonistic promises as much heat, steam, lust and excitement as those who pass through it can handle. Conferences end with a bang; a gym instructor offers extremely personal training; illicit liaisons abound and flourish in the luxuriously appointed rooms. The daring sexual exploits of the staff and guests are often seen through the eyes of the Receptionist, who is on her own quest to snare the attentions of the charismatic Manager. Does the woman who offers a discreet venue for the indulgence of every secret desire and fetish – from satin sheets to rubber masks – have anything to offer him?

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Book Review – ‘On Demand’ by Justine Elyot ~ 3 – 3.5 Stars.

I had read so many good reviews for this book and was really excited to read it as it had an average rating of 4.02 stars on Goodreads, and everyone was raving about it. Maybe it was because of the high expectations I had for this book that made it not quite reach the mark. It’s difficult for me to describe what I thought about this book. There was nothing wrong with it per se, as it was a well written fun read, that was just what it said on the tin. The author’s writing style was good and I liked how the little glimpses we were given into not just the main character Sophie’s life, but some of the guests at the hotel.

However, it might have been just me, but I felt the story didn’t flow so well, as the story constantly jumped from describing the lifestyle of one character to another which left me unable to connect to any of the characters as they were only met briefly. As this was a book set in a hotel, I can understand that it might have been the author’s intention to do this, to emphasise the ever busy and changing hotel lifestyle, but for me I felt this detracted from the main characters and their own inner thoughts.

The main character Sophie has an infatuation with her manager Chase and whilst she does end the book happily with another man, I didn’t feel that Sophie’s feelings for Chase were resolved. Neither was there any indication given on what Chase thought of Sophie. I thought the relationship between Sophie and Lloyd seemed quite rushed and very out of place as there wasn’t any lead up to it, in fact I hardly recall Lloyd even being mentioned in any important context before the group night at the pool. A bigger build up of their relationship would have probably drawn me into the story more easily, as well as making me sympathise with Lloyd more and not feel like Sophie ended up with the consolation prize because Chase didn’t want her.

Despite this, I thought it was a well written, intriguing story that I would recommend to others who enjoy this genre of book.
I’d definitely read from this author again as her writing style was great, but due to the problems I felt it had with story flow and the way the characters stories were not resolved, I couldn’t quite give it 4 stars.

3 – 3.5 stars.


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Justine Elyot

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Book Review – ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins.

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
(The Hunger Games #1)
Genres: YA, Dystopian

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SYNOPSIS

Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

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Book Review – ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins ~ 5 Stars!

So when everyone was getting all excited for the release of ‘The Hunger Games’ film, I was sitting there thinking ‘OH GOD NO!’. From what I heard it was going to be the ‘New Twilight’, and quite frankly, I couldn’t think of anything worse. Whilst the Twilight books were quite good, the films were the worst things I had ever seen in my life, and I couldn’t bare to think of another seemingly good book go down the drain.

But anyway, a friend bullied me into it, and I downloaded Hunger Games on my kindle.

It was devoured in the space of 24 hours and then Catching Fire and Mockingjay were immediately downloaded and yet again devoured in the space of 48 hours.

Suzanne Collins’ writing style is electric, and I honestly could not put this book down. What I loved most is that Katniss is not your typical heroine. She isn’t a particularly nice person when it gets down to it. She is loyal to her family, and to her that is all that is important, which is a wonderful trait for her to have, particularly given the dangerous and poverty stricken life she lives.

Peeta was a wonderful character that I took to straight away. Whilst it is probably true that Gale would be better suited to Katniss in temperament, I really loved how strongly Peeta felt for Katniss, and how he was willing to give up his life to keep her safe. They were complete opposites, but they seemed to fit perfectly, like two sides of a coin. Katniss’ returning feelings for Peeta were wonderful to read, as we know that she does not love him in the same way, yet that is OK. We know that Katniss would never fall in love easily. She is too stubborn and level-headed to believe that love would help her in any way, so it was wonderful for her to realise that love does exist and that maybe she could one day be capable of giving it.

The story of the capitol and the games was tragic. It gives us a reminder at just what the future could hold for the planet, should repression of rights continue as it is in some countries. How far will the leaders of the world go in a bid to maintain order? A thoughtful and quite frankly scary idea, but so cleverly put into writing.

5 stars and a definite recommended read!


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