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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/30/18 8:34 P

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Shane by Jack Schaefer (5*)
The archtypal Man of the Old West becomes flesh and story to save the poor homesteaders from the rich and powerful greedy rancher and his thugs in this unforgettable short novella. This morality tale was a fast read, beautifully written in the flowery prose of its day, and jam-packed with greatness.

Edited by: LADYCALICO at: 7/30/2018 (20:41)
Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/30/18 3:20 P

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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (5*)
An anxiety plagued teen girl with OCD reluctantly reconnects with an old acquaintance to try to solve the mystery of that boy's missing billionaire father, because her best friend can use the reward money. This is a well written and developed story and characters but it is not a pleasant read. Someone with an anxiety disorder can be uncomfortable company, even in a novel. Green does a masterful job of putting the reader into her shoes and processing life through her eyes, although often in a bizarre manner when her obsessions run amok. There's a fair amount of philosophizing as she tries to get a grip on her pain and ameliorate the damage from her out of control thoughts and emotions, which results in some very wise and thought-provoking observations and conclusions by the protagonist and those trying to help her cope. Will this subject appeal to teen readers, maybe not. It will certainly interest those who've struggled with emotional issues, have a mentally ill relative or friend, or are considering a career in counseling. Although characterized as a YA novel because the main characters are in their teens, the subject matter is mature and worth reading, as well as pausing often to digest the material.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/29/18 1:41 A

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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (4*)
Young Flavia's father is refusing to be blackmailed, but first comes a dead bird with a postage stamp impaled on its bill, then the body of the blackmailer is found in the garden. This cozy, humorous mystery is the first of a series and is an entertaining little read with a skillfully crafted plot and characters as eccentric as any you could hope to find in a 1950's English hamlet. Our protagonist is a neglected, vindictive 11-year old brat, wannabe chemist, and all-round obnoxious smart aleck, who finds life becoming much more interesting when she has a chance to employ her arcane fund of knowledge to solve murders.
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Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/27/18 11:29 P

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Promise at Dawn by Romain Gary (5*)
I was expecting this to be a book about WWII aviation, and there was a lot about that in the later chapters of the book, but it was very much more about the tribulations and joys of the author's young life as the center of his devoted, formidable mother's universe. It proved to be a wonderful book that I enjoyed immensely. The author is a marvelous writer, and this book has motivated me to seek out English translations of his fiction. Yet, I wondered throughout about the ironies of Gary's life. This man, who exalts in the loving devotion from his mother, was an indifferent, negligent parent to his own son, who was relegated to the bottom of his priorities. This man, who fought through several near death experiences because he couldn't bear to think of his mother mourning his loss, later committed suicide, lacking enough interest in his own child to wait to see what kind of man he would become, whom his boy would marry, or meet his grandchildren. Whatever his mother's faults and mistakes, it is difficult to imagine her copping out on him in the same way he did to his own son and his own life. In his attitude toward her grandchild, he does his mother's memory little honor.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/27/18 10:44 P

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The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (4*)
Little girl cousins' lives are upended when Bonnie's wealthy father hires a previously unknown relative as governess and chatelaine while he takes his sickly wife on a lengthy voyage. The criminal co-conspirators have arranged for the parents' demise and use forged papers to dump the girls in a cruel orphanage and take over Bonnie's house and inheritance. This YA book is filled with danger, clever writing, interesting characters, evil villains, and humor set in an "alternative history" Dickensian Britain in order to create a fantasy of historical fiction in a history that never was. I found it to be a cool little fairy tale, in which it takes the children to save the day. It could be scary, but not nearly as grim as most traditional fairy tales.

Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken (4*)
Since Simon was my favorite character in the first book, I followed the redoubtable gooseboy's story into this next volume. The author, having decided to pursue the series through another 10 volumes, gives more focus to the job of world building this alternative history of Britain and fleshing out her characters. In this complex tale 15-year-old Simon arrives in London to pursue his art studies, but his patron Dr. Fields has mysteriously vanished, so Simon, with the impulsive waif Dido and resourceful old friend Sophie, must save the Kingdom and their friends. It was a well-developed convoluted tale of foul conspiracies, maybe a bit too convoluted, and a very fun and engrossing read. I liked it even more than the first.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/21/18 12:22 A

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True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (5*)
If colorful, revered/reviled Australian folk hero/villain Ned Kelly had a daughter and left her his version of his life and crimes, this would be it. I hesitated to read this book because I knew a little about Kelly, how it would end, and that it would be sad, and it was, but I still appreciated reading every bit of it. I did some fact checking as I read and was impressed by how well Carey tried to stick to the documented facts while still retelling the events as Kelly's surviving writings, mixed with Carey's imagination, indicate how Kelly would have seen them. This is not only the tale of Kelly's crimes but also the crimes of the corrupt police, wealthy ranchers, politicians, and judicial system in nineteenth century Australia, who personally saw to it that the poor had no power, no chances, no hope, and that all of life's goodies were theirs alone. I doubt that the arguments over who were the real heroes will ever be settled because indeed neither side was. Glad to finally have read it.


Edited by: LADYCALICO at: 7/21/2018 (00:31)
Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/18/18 9:46 P

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Summer by Edith Wharton (4*)
A pretty, self-absorbed, snotty ward of a bitter, arrogant widowed lawyer in a remote New England small town feels she is meant for better things. After an ill-fated affair with a young architect visiting the area, she learns the hard way that she isn't. This novella was not my favorite Wharton work, not that I didn't find it quite engrossing, as well as intelligently formulated and written. Anything Wharton is worth reading, this just wasn't a favorite. The novella format did not allow the same intimacy with the characters and subtleties of Wharton's longer works. No major character in this story was drawn to be likable or sympathetic. Wharton is not known for happy reads but if the painful themes in her larger works could be likened to many taps of a tack hammer adding up, this work was more like being smashed with a sledge hammer. Most editions of this book have glam romantic covers; don't be mislead, the contents are not glam and romantic.

Tinkers by Paul Harding (4*)
The last eight days of a dying sweet old man are intertwined with the story of the hard-scrabble life of his father. I loved this book, yet I didn't. I loved the beautiful lyrical writing and the atmosphere the author could create with it, I loved the flawed, unique, and sympathetic characters, and very much loved the human drama and pathos of the death story of the old man superimposed on the life story of his poverty plagued epileptic father. I even liked the more abstract contemplation on time, memory, life represented by tinkering with clocks. But then the author decided to keep distancing the reader from the warm human drama of life and death by shoehorning in even farther-out postmodern alternative reality crap--I hate that stuff. I imagined the author pausing in his writing and saying, this is too good, too warm, too real, better add some weirdo crap or I won't win a Pulitzer."

Edited by: LADYCALICO at: 7/18/2018 (21:51)
Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/17/18 7:34 P

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I Am Regina by Sally M. Keehn (4*)
Two German immigrant sisters in eastern PA are captured by Indians during the French and Indian War and are separated when they go off to different tribes. 11-year-old Regina is taken by a Shawnee into Ohio from 1755-1764, along with a toddler whom she must tote and care for. This is a pretty engrossing story that caught my attention since it is a true story that took place in the area where I used to live. It is a YA book written in a direct, simple manner that reads true, as if a young girl is telling the story. I can call it a good book but not a good YA book because I would not consider the level of violence, death, rape attempt, and sexual innuendo as entertaining or desirable reading for the younger end of that spectrum.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (5*)
A so very proper favorite son of late nineteenth century NYC high society has just announced his engagement to an equally respectable female counterpart of the best social standing when he falls hopelessly in lust with her scandal-tainted cousin, who has just returned from Europe after leaving her unbearable royal reprobate husband. This elegant tale is far from a simple one but is like a placid river surface of serenity and decorum, under which treacherous currants roil. This is Wharton's home turf, her intimacy with it oozing from every detail, and the milieu of her best writing. I loved how skillfully the canniest society matrons managed to rein in the more wayward impulses of the male of their species lest they lead to *shudder* gossip and scandal that would diminish the family's social prestige. Wharton outdoes herself with her subtle descriptions of the characters and nuanced interactions and maneuvers in the plot. This is truly one masterpiece that has merited its Pulitzer.


Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/15/18 1:58 P

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The Hours by Michael Cunningham (3*)
Here we have intertwining stories of three insecure women that involve the book, Mrs. Dalloway: Virginia Woolf writing it in 1923, a neurotic California housewife reading it in 1951, and a fussy NYC lesbian in the 1990's who is nicknamed Mrs. Galloway and is planning a party like her novel namesake. This book is a fast read because the author is an impressive wordsmith, the writing is pretty with a swift and steady flow, and the book is short. However, the characters are weakly drawn, unlikable, unsympathetic stereotypes who so embrace a culture of death that I wished they'd find their beloved death sooner rather than later so the book would be even shorter. The death-loving characters' attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors, were so often out of left field unrealistic that they didn't make sense nor ring true. This book might be well-received by some of the pretentious urban elitist set who find it oh so existential, but real people, with an attitude of gratitude for God's gift of life, who know the adult sense of accomplishment from sweating out a tough living, loving family and friends, and volunteering for projects and missions to make their communities better places to live, probably won't relate to reading about the whining of spoiled, entitled characters who wallow in self-pity because they preferred to keep their lives so empty that they can't find purpose and satisfaction except for the joy of contemplating suicide. I could only roll my eyes and say, "get a life!"

Edited by: LADYCALICO at: 7/15/2018 (14:57)
Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/13/18 10:35 P

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Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald (5*)
A tot sent from Prague to Wales in the opening days of WWII finds his suppressed memories breaking through in middle age, leading him to travel around Europe trying to find his story and his parents. This book is not for everybody, in fact it's not for me. The story in the book's summary sounds great, and it is, but it makes up only a fraction of the book, the rest consists of Austerlitz's digressions into architectural history, natural history, the push/pull of time constructing then deconstructing our memories and connections to the humanity preceding us, the fragility of life and identity, etc., that the narrator listening to his story calls "abstractions" and abstract they were and boring. In another mood I might have found them fascinating, but they weren't what I wanted to read. I wanted the protagonist's human story. So I am giving 5* to a book I didn't really enjoy because I admire its literary brilliance even if it wasn't the flavor of tea that I wanted. Glad I read it, but I am even more glad that I am done with it.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/13/18 10:01 P

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In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (5*)
In 1959 the well-admired Clutter family of small town Holcomb, Kansas, were murdered with no apparent motive and few clues, a crime that might never have been solved but for the killers overlooking one person who could ID them. The police were misreading the scene because the murders were so needless and senseless. The savagery indicated hot-blooded revenge by an acquaintance with a grudge when they were in fact committed by misinformed strangers in very cold blood. Doing extensive interviews and research with the perpetrators, the investigators, and the townfolk, Capote writes a masterpiece of investigative journalism so well-written and organized that it reads like a fine and engrossing work of literature. I always hesitated to read this book since the story sounded so dismally sad, which it is, but it is also so gripping that once it got hold of me, it wouldn't let go. The book is the gold standard that subsequent True Crime novels hope to meet.

Edited by: LADYCALICO at: 7/13/2018 (22:03)
Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/13/18 9:18 P

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Carrie's War by Nina Bawden (5*)
A young girl and her little brother are evacuated to a dysfunctional family in Wales during WWII. She finds herself with too much responsibility, too few functional adults, and erroneously misreading complex situations and difficulties that are beyond her level of understanding and maturity. As a 40ish widow who's been gob-smacked by her husband's death, she visits the village where the very significant events happened to her, which she relates to her own children. But people she thought long-dead still remain, with knowledge that things aren't always as they seem, so don't be too quick to judge, others or yourself. This brief YA book is suitable for adults and is a remarkably nuanced tale jam-packed with goodies--a gripping war story, a bit of mystery, a touch of paranormal, and human pathos, with its unusual characters well-drawn and realistically flawed.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/8/18 2:46 P

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Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne (5*)
If you are a history nut, you will be saying, "wow, what a book!" It is somewhat repetitious but I needed that repetition to keep straight the many characters and events in the 40-year war between America and the Comanches which serves as the frame for the story of Indian Captive Cynthia Ann Parker and her half-breed son, Quanah Parker, the last war chief. You may think you know a little about Texas history and the Indian Wars, but this is history like you never knew it. The research involved was daunting. I thought I was reading a 375 page book only to discover the ending on page 318--the rest is footnotes, bibliography, and index, which are voluminous. The writing is clear and often gripping, but I still found it a slow read because the density of material that it summarized was so much to take in.



Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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7/7/18 11:59 P

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The Christmas Wish - Nora Roberts (3 stars)

Actually two Christmas stories. The first about two twins wishing for a Mom and the second about a young woman returning home to open an antiques shop.

Both were very predictable and advanced very quickly. Sweet.

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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/6/18 12:20 A

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Spoke in the Wheel by Renate Wind (5*)
I think if you could read only one book about Bonhoeffer, this would be the one. It is not only the shortest, but it covers essentially what you might hope to remember from reading the longer more detailed biographies, if your brain is a leaking sieve like mine. The material in this book is highly concentrated but graspable and retainable. It takes essentially a three prong approach: the salient events in the life of Bonhoeffer, the progressive rise and escalating tyranny and horror of the Nazis, and the evolution and sometimes drastic changes in Bonhoeffer's theology as he collected experiences in his brief, intense life that he then worked to reconcile with his concepts of the relationship of God and man. The theology in this biography may not fit an individual reader's taste, opinions, or interests, but one can not grasp what the life of Bonhoeffer has to offer us today by just the facts without examining the motivating force of his beliefs as well.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/2/18 11:02 P

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The Auctioneer by Joan Samson (4*)
A newcomer moves into a small NH farming village and sets up a series of auctions to fund expansion of the one-man police force--then hires the lowest creeps in the area to provide himself with an army of goons on the locals' dime. As the auctions draw the wealthy from Boston and huge profits, he takes whatever he wants from the now desperate farmers as his traps and terrors are skillfully built. I am drawn to old books that sold bunches in their day only to then fall forgotten into obscurity. This one is a most gripping thriller, if you just go with the flow and don't think too hard. Even so, the author did an admirable job of gradually escalating the theft, tyranny and terror, as the human spider slowly and carefully builds his web to entrap the village before he starts sucking its life out. It is an amazing work for a first time novelist, whom cancer deprived of the chance to see how far her considerable talent would take her.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/1/18 7:30 P

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The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (5*)
The sweet old witch in the forest keeps finding abandoned babies whom she takes to happy villages to be adopted, unaware that an evil witch in the sad isolated village feeds off its sorrow, so she created a myth about a deadly forest witch who must be appeased by the yearly offering of the village's youngest child. One year the forest witch accidentally infuses magic into a baby girl whom she now must keep and raise. This was a rather enjoyable fairy tale, told in a pleasantly cheeky tone that kept the story entertaining even when it bogged down at times when nothing much was happening. Those spots were my one major criticism of the book because a little abridgment would have made a great tale even better. A must read for fantasy fans.

Edited by: LADYCALICO at: 7/17/2018 (19:54)
Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


 current weight: 177.0 
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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
7/1/18 8:03 A

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Please share your reading with the other team members. Let's help each other find interesting books to read, including fiction, non-fiction, plays, novellas, and short story or poetry anthologies.
Please post and rate every book members read during the month and tell each other a little about them. Please list title, author, and a 1-5* rating.
If you choose, please follow with a brief summary of what the book was about and what you did, or did not like about it.

1 star--* hated it!
2 star--** bad but not the worst, some positive attributes.
3 star--*** A good read, entertaining but nothing spectacular.
4 stars--**** A great read, above average.
5 stars--***** An awesome read, among the best!

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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