Writing Progress: May

This a summary of the highs and lows of my writing this month.

Editing Ocean Heart

Maybe I’m too ambitious but I’ve not achieved the word count I wanted to. I had a few days feeling rundown and a few days where the heat gave me a killer headache.

And, editing isn’t something you can rush. I’ve worked on 4 chapters that needed a lot of work. They are important chapters in the novel so it was vital they made the right impact.

I’ve edited 25k words and my total is now 52k words edited. I’ve reached chapter 18 (or 21 in the original draft). I’m just over halfway through.

World Indie Warriors Brochure

This month I started work on the new look for the summer brochure. It’s the third edition and due to be released by end of June.

I’m please to report the brochure is mostly done. I’m just waiting for certain Indies to confirm their section is correct and waiting on a special feature. The deadline is end of May, so if they don’t reply I’ll just do the final touches and ensure it’s released at the end of June.

Lockdown, Furlough & Home Schooling

At the end of April I went on Furlough. It hasn’t freed up my time to write more but it has alleviated pressure where my kids are concerned.

The extra time does make me miss those I can’t visit more and wish I could take the kids somewhere fun or go our for a nice meal with my husband. But, being more available helps make homeschooling more enjoyable for my son and easier for me. Plus, I’m getting more time with my little girl.

The Government are trying to get kids back into school. One year group chosen to go back is my son’s. He’s just settled into homeschooling and I don’t want to unsettle him again when in a few weeks it’ll be the school holidays. So, for now, I’ve chosen to keep him home.

But, we are all safe and healthy and that is most important.

Learning New Skills

There are lots of opportunities to learn at the moment. OU & Google have collaborated together to create a FREE Digital Marketing course.

I have not had time to look anymore at the course or content. Once the brochure is done, I’m hoping I will have some free time to appreciate my access to this fabulous course.

Summary

For someone who felt like they didn’t achieve anything, I can see that I actually did make progress. I just wish I’d managed to fit in more editing as I want to reach the next step on my publishing journey.

If you enjoyed this, check out: 

Why I chose to self publish

Progress February

Progress January

My big plans for 2020

To discover more ways to connect, click my link tree. 

Book Review: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

This is the book I’ve been waiting for someone to release! It won’t come as a surprise that I can’t wait for more and I’m pleased to say there is another book coming. Bring on Sorceress of Flame.

This review does include spoilers but the short version on Good Reads and Amazon doesn’t.

The Beginning

Some short chapters are told through the point of view of a secret character revealed later on. The MC is Tory. She’s starting a new school, meets Pepper and instantly become friends.

Pepper introduces Tory to her circle of friends. One friend is Kylan, an older and attractive male friend. Tory likes him but worries about the age gap. Pepper encourages her to go for it but just as they are about to get it on, Kylan takes off, leaving Tory very confused.

Another night, Tory is home alone and gets spooked by a potential intruder. She calls her new BFF who quickly hurries over. Pepper arrives with Kylan to check the house is safe. This forces Kylan and Tory to talk and get things back on.

Sarah, a mysterious girl, invites Tory to her party. Tory asks Pepper and their friends to come with her. Unfortunately, it turns out the host is actually Sky, and her hungry vampire party is a trap for Tory.

Tory runs and hides until Kylan finds her. Her new friends fight the the vampires and rescue her. Tory sees things, horrific things and now she knows her new friends aren’t human and one is now dead. Is she even safe with them?

The Middle

Tory learns her friends are vampires and faeries, working for the guard, a secret organisation to protect Sorceresses. Tory never knew but she is a Sorceress.

She learns that:

1. Pepper and Kylan are her appointed guardians and purposely infiltrated her life. This casts doubt on whether Kylan genuinely liked her.

2. Kylan is a vampire and feeds on Pepper, a fairy, which gives him a psychic link to her. This makes Tory feel jealous and thinks about him feeding.

3. Kylan isn’t a little older, he is 100s of years older. Tory’s concerns about the age gap are magnified.

Tory has a lot to come to terms with. An official from the guard comes to interview everyone to find out what happened at the party. It soon becomes apparent that this is bigger than they thought.

Kylan takes Tory to meet an ancient vampire that might have answers about things they don’t. The vampire takes them both to his abode where they must stay for their safety.

Lucas slowly reveals history and his secret agenda. He throws parties for his guests, gets Tory alone and kisses her. The kiss ignites something more powerful than desire within Tory. She runs from Lucas to her room and cries. The sensation is undeniable and complicates her feelings for Kylan.

When Kylan finds Tory upset he wants to know what happened. She tells him about the kiss and he storms off. When he finally returns to their room he doesn’t sleep in their bed. The next morning, Lucas casual drops into conversation that Kylan spent the evening with his ex Mary.

Kylan insists he and Mary just talked. Tory insists that Lucas’ kiss meant nothing. The trust between them is wafer thin but they forgive each other.

With Lucas’ help they learn that Tory isn’t any ordinary Sorceress she is the daughter of Arch Angel Michael. They also discover the guard has been compromised and somebody within the house isn’t on their side.

Tory is desperate to get out of the Church where they are staying and Lucas grants them leave on the condition they take one if his vampires with them. He appoints Mary.

They visit the house. Tory is keen to catch up with Pepper but doesn’t get the chance. Whilst walking the grounds with Mary she starts to like her. On their way back, Mary detects danger but it’s too late. They are knocked out whilst trying to escape.

The End

Tory comes to and finds herself with Mary in a secure room. Soon they discover that Sky is behind their capture. They also discover how deep the corruption of the guard goes.

Sky is trying to awaken a demon and needs Tory. A ceremony begins and the demon comes forward, entering Tory’s mind.

Luckily their friends and Lucas’ army arrive in the nick of time. There is a big fight, they stop the demon entering our world, and they rescue Tory and Mary.

The book ends with the immediate danger being averted. Tory, Kylan, Pepper and Mary set off in a car but not before Lucas gives Tory a passionate send off. Leaving a steamy question mark over her relationship with Kylan and an opening for the next book in the series.

Final Thoughts

I’m a fan of love triangles. I enjoy the double romance action and the complexities. I was very much team Kylan. But…the more we got to know Lucas, and felt the hot passionate chemistry, the less certain I became about my team choice.

A pet peeve is info dumping and heavy world building but Jodie is a master at gently weaving the details into the story, so, I was discovering the world alongside Tory. Whilst on the topic of World Building, I love what Jodie has done bringing Vampires and Faeries together, and loved the history of angels and demons.

Tory is a great main character. She has insecurities, and makes mistakes, but it makes her all the more likeable. Her actions are believable and I was with her all the way, even when she felt lost and confused in the new world she was navigating.

I read a paperback copy which was beautifully formatted. There are little details that add to the story like the mirrors, feathers and symbol. All are secrets you unlock in the novel making this decorative feature a special touch.

[kofi]

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Behind the Book: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

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Behind the Book: Lanterns in the Sky by Pagan Malcolm

Book Review: The Practice Boyfriend by Christina Benjamin


Click my link tree to discover more ways to connect with me:

Behind the Book: Lanterns in the Sky by Pagan Malcolm

This book by Pagan has been on my To Buy list for way too long. Here’s the Trailer so you can add it to your list (or basket) too:

You launched your book and it became a best seller. When did you start marketing it?

Before it was even signed with the publisher, if I’m being honest. I was already sharing teasers and talking about it because I knew people had to be excited by the get-go. I haven’t really stopped marketing since and I probably never will—though now, I tend to market the series as a whole because I have more books out to catch reader interest.

This book is traditionally published. How did you get signed – can you share your pitch?

I got signed with The Parliament House from Twitter’s #PitMad event in December 2017. This was the Tweet I pitched that got their attention:

You share what you have learned to support fellow authors. Can you tell us about some of your courses and coaching?

I sure can.

A great starting point for new authors is my membership community, The Authorpreneur Kingdom, which is where I do quarterly trainings (and you get access to a vault of past masterclasses on topics ranging from book marketing to publishing to mindset work). We also do weekly coaching calls in there and the authors find it very helpful to stay accountable each month.

I also have two courses that I launch twice a year.

Storyteller Academy is my course helping authors to write their novel and build success habits for full-time authorship, and Storyseller Academy helps authors with book launching, marketing and brand building. Both are self-paced, come with a range of bonus resources, and have direct access to me via a group community.

Please share a snippet or teaser from Lanterns in the Sky?

“Hey! Hey, wake up!”

Someone was shaking me. When I first opened my eyes, everything blurred together. I blinked to adjust them to the night sky. I could hear crickets chirping somewhere. Hovering over me was the face of a boy with emerald eyes and brown hair. I stared at him — my mind was scrambled, and pain throbbed in my temple. Between that and my momentary amnesia, I couldn’t really concentrate on much else.

“Are you okay?” he asked in a smooth voice, his brow furrowed in concern. “Do you need me to call someone?”

I slowly sat up, which prompted the pounding in my head to intensify. I hissed and raised a hand to my forehead.

“What… happened?” I groaned, trying to recall the moments before I’d blacked out.
He rocked back on his feet to give me some space. Still crouching, he folded his arms as he said, “You tell me.”

I shook my head, thinking hard. It came back to me in pieces. I remembered the dread I had felt … the light…

“I was hit… I think,” I told him as my memories slowly came together, but I wasn’t sure. My head swam and the throbbing pain in my head was distracting me.

“By who?” he asked, furrowing his brow.
I shook my head again. It sounded stupid, but I was certain of what I saw.

“It wasn’t a who… it was a light.”

The boy frowned, his mouth twisting. “A light?”

What did you enjoy most about writing your fantasy novel?

Wrecking havoc in my characters lives! Mwahahaha!

But also, building the plot. That was a lot of fun too.

What was hardest about writing your fantasy novel?

Making sure the plot was consistent, fixing plot holes and reducing the amount of side plots from my first draft back in 2011. It took me 18 drafts to get this story right.

What inspired you to write Lanterns in the Sky?

Well, it actually started as a psychological horror novel—but then I realised that was not for me. It was only when a friend convinced me to keep writing because she liked the concept of the stars being lanterns in the sky that I was able to adapt some of my newer, fantasy ideas into the story (e.g. the princesses, the magic, etc.) and kind of did a 180 with the story to bring it to life.

Which novel do you love and wish you wrote?

Honestly, none of them. I love so many books and there are definitely writers I wish I could write as well as, but I also love my own writing style and my own stories. Their stories are theirs and that’s why I could never come up with their ideas.

Tell me about a typical day in the life of author Pagan Malcom?

On most days, I’m actually working on my business, Paperback Kingdom—but I sprinkle in time to market my book, send out a few emails, and do the authorly stuff that needs doing. On a true writing day though, I can be at the kitchen table (which is where I enjoy writing most lately) for hours on end. I spend a lot of weekends like this with cups of tea and some kind of snack.

Where can we find out more about your coaching, courses and buy your books

For my books, check out psmalcolm.com (you can also find the membership site there—but you have to be a Patreon supporter of mine for access).

For my coaching and courses, check out paperbackkingdom.com.

[kofi]

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Behind the Book: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

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Behind the Book: World for the Broken by Elexis Bell

Elexis recently released World for the Broken. Doing another interview was a wonderful way to end our series on interviews. And, Elexis agreed.

How are your coping during C19?

I feel guilty, but I’ve been enjoying this. I get to stay home from a dangerous job that I don’t exactly enjoy, with a built in excuse not to socialize and tons of time to work on my books.

At first, it was nerve-wracking, because it took three weeks to get an unemployment check and money is a huge stressor for me. But we finally got it sorted, and now I can relax on that front.

What inspired World for the Broken?

The trailer for a high end, medieval erotic film. Lol. Which is ironic, since it includes nearly every trigger except a sex scene, even though part of the plot revolves around a brothel.

What’s your top post-apocalyptic book or film?

This one is hard to narrow down, so here’s a few favorites.

  • Book series: The “Partials” series by Dan Wells
  • Standalone book: “The Pulse” by Scott B. Williams (This may be a series, but I read it as a standalone.)
  • Short story: “The End of the Whole Mess” by Stephen King
  • Video game: Fallout 4. I’ve been getting into Fallout 76 since they added NPCs, though.

What three things could you not live without?

As far as apocalypse survival is concerned, food, water, and warmth. Not in that order. Lol. Otherwise…since we’re talking things and not people…idk. I’m fairly adaptable and can usually make do. I have habits and things I prefer to surround myself with, but if it comes down to what I can and can’t do without… I can make do with what I have. My imagination is usually enough to get me through a rough patch.

Could you survive in your broken world?

If the apocalyptic situation were similar to the one in my book, probably. I mean, I can’t say yes, without a doubt, because there’s always the chance for some unknown, but my husband and I have bug out bags, food stores, weapons, and a pretty decent ammo cache.

We live near a nature preserve, so hunting and fishing wouldn’t be a problem. And we’re in a small town. Fewer people means fewer people that could be terrible. It also reduces mob mentality.

Plus, I’m at a decent build/weight for the apocalypse. Strong with decent stamina. A bit of insulation to carry me through between meals, but not so much as to slow me down if I need to move.

I may have thought this through a bit too much.

Tell us a little about the three main characters?

Well, Chloe is a survivor. She’s independent (sometimes to a fault) and resourceful. She’s skilled in combat and handy with a gun. Growing up on a farm showed her the value of hard work, but tragedy pushed her away from other people. Now, after the apocalypse, she has to decide if she can let someone new in.

Christian grew up in a broken home. He tried to spare his brother pain at the hands of their parents, and now beats himself up over the monster his brother turned into. And his death.

Karen was once a bright, optimistic preschool teacher. She had a happy home as a child, and wanted to provide a similar life for her own son. But then, the apocalypse saw her forced into a brothel and beaten by the husband she once adored. And her spirit started to break.

Can you share a snippet?

“So, you’re just giving those antibiotics to me? And helping me…without expecting anything in return?” I ask, allowing some of my skepticism to show through.
“No. I’m asking for something.”
Chloe’s response unsettles me and eases my mind at the same time. After all, it is the end of the world. Everyone expects something in return. For some reason, I’d just been hoping she was better than that.
Somewhat wary, I ask, “What do you want?”
“Don’t make me regret this.”
Five very simple words, ordinary in every way and wholly within reason. But something in her eyes makes me believe she’s taking a much bigger chance on me than just helping out a stranger in the apocalypse.
Where can we find out more and buy your book?

My website has information and links for all my published works, as well as little tidbits about my WIPs. My blog is chock full of (blunt) writing advice and updates on all my work.  

Visit:  www.elexisbell.com

All my books are available on Amazon, and can be found on my Amazon author page.

Visit:  www.amazon.com/author/elexis_bell

Universal amazon link:
mybook.to/WorldForTheBroken

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Where To Find The Best Indie Books

How I did my book foot stack photo

Have you seen my #footstack pic on Instagram? Check out the feed @Nic_Reads_Inheels for my heel stack inspiration.

I only discovered #footstack very recently. It is a pic of someone balancing books on their shoes. When the #CampNanoWIW prompt was a #shelfie pic, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to give it a go.

I had so much fun doing this. And, when I posted it people asked, are they your legs, your books, your pic, how?

The answer is Yes and this is how.

The original pic

I wasn’t going to share this pic but here you go.

Unedited #FootStack

The books I bought from Amazon, Book Festivals or won on Instagram. They are all from my never ending TBR pile.

Since having children, I don’t have many heels. I also tidied away the ones I did have and have no idea where I put them. These shoes are my work ones from Clarks.

The red stockings were bought years ago from Ann Summers, back when I felt more daring, and haven’t been seen outside the bedroom. 😉

I did need help to get this pic. My husband stacked the books whilst I giggled upside down and tried to hold steady. My selection was rather ambitious and I realised this was my limit… no more books.

He then took the pic for me. He actually took quite a few as we tested my balancing skills at different degrees of steepness. We found it looks better the straighter my leg are. Posing like this was a full on workout.

How I edited the pic

Pic Monkey App

I used the Pic Monkey App to remove the background using their Cut Out, Smart, tool. It was super easy.

Unsplash

Unsplash is my favourite site to get free photos. I found this photo of a pretty yellow wall by Mona Eendra from Copenhagen. Yellow is one of my brand colours so this was perfect.

Pretty yellow wall from Unsplash

Photoshop Mix App

This app enables you to layer images together. I created a project and added the wall as my first layer, then my cut out image as the second layer. I then cropped it to a square and adjusted the two layers until I was happy with the positioning.

I had never used this app before and it was very straight forward. I figured it out without watching the tutorials. But, I’m going to return to watch them later to discover more.

Instagram App

The final edit was done using IG’s filter Clarendon. Then, I added my comment and tags and posted it.

If you give this a go, please tag me. I’m @Redfae on Instagram. I’d love to see your book stacks too.

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Book Review: Mermaid School

This review is of an ARC copy of Mermaid School by Lucy Courtenay from Net Galley. My review has not been influenced and is my honest thoughts.

For starters, I know I am not the target audience for this book but here are two truths about me:

  1. I love mermaids.
  2. I love books for kids.

This is an early chapter book and doesn’t take long to read. The text is broken up with sketches of what is going on in the story.

Beginning

The main character is Marnie. She is feeling nervous about her first day at school. Marnie tries to hide who she is to fit in.

Certain teachers assume Marnie will be trouble due to her wild aunt Christabel’s reputation . Her aunt is also a radio celebrity which earns Marnie cool points with some students.

By the end of day one, Marnie has succeeded in making her first friend, Pearl, and her first enemy, Orla.

Middle

Marnie’s mum and aunt give her advice on handling Orla. Somehow their advice gets Marnie into trouble. Now Marnie has to muck out the seahorse stables.

Orla’s bad attitude is not making her popular with any of the other mermaids either. During an outburst, Orla reveals what her problem with Marnie is. Orla’s sister is missing in a dangerous storm and wouldn’t have been working there if Christabel had played the demo tape as promised.

Marnie decides she wants to help Orla. She goes to the studio with Pearl to look for the demo tape but can’t find it.

End

Things get worse. Orla’s sister is found – yay – but, now Orla is missing. Marnie has an idea, and together with Pearl they rescue Orla.

Marnie realises where the missing demo tape is. She finds it. Christabel plays it and offers Orla’s sister a job.

There’s also an extra chapter that reveals a final secret. Shh!

Thoughts

There are lots of fishy puns that reminded me of a YA novel I read called Forgive My Fins. The puns worked better in this MG book due to the age of the characters.

The story gently deals with issues like fitting in, bullying, friendship and being kind. The fantasy setting is brilliant. A lot of thought has gone into the sort of classes a mermaid would have and the way their world operates.

It’s a sweet story and will likely appeal to young girls looking to read their first chapter books.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

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My Favourite Vegan Perfume

I am a big fan of Eden Perfumes in Brighton. One day I’d love to visit the store.

In store you can create your own perfume blend using vegan ingredients.

The Ugly Truth of High Street Perfumes

Regular high street perfumes have lots of peculiar things in them like:
  • Civet: Anal secretions from a cat like creature.
  • Ambergris: sperm whale secretion from the bile duct.
  • Musk: animal anal secretions.
  • Castoreum: beaver anal secretions (aka artificial vanilla).
  • Hyraceum: fossilised badger urine.

I don’t know about you but bile, urine, and anal secretions do not appeal. I discovered what these ingredients are whilst hunting for an organic perfume.

Welcome To Eden

Eden Perfumes are organic where possible, but 100% cruelty free and because they are vegan they don’t have any of those questionable ingredients above.

If like me you can’t get to the store they are able to recommend perfumes similar to a high street perfume you may already know. This makes buying online easier.

Chloe was my favorite perfume so the first thing I did was search for something similar. They recommended:

085: Chloey

It smells as good as the designer one, if not better. Since trying this, I haven’t looked back.

The price for all this goodness is very reasonable at only £18 for 30ml or £24 for 50ml.

If you’ve not checked them out I highly recommend you do.

They used to do mini bottles spray bottles which were perfect for trying a new scent or for travelling.I was disappointed to find they aren’t currently doing this as I thought it’d be fun to try something new.

Well, I managed to track some down on the associated shop for the Cruelty Free Beauty Box.

I bought:

015: Adore Women similar to J’Adore by Dior

017: Light Blue Woman similar to Light Blue Women’s by Dolce & Gabbana

These minis cost £7.50, full size is £18 at the associated shop for the Cruelty Free Beauty Box. They had more scents available too.

I’m a fan of both these designer fragrances so it was no surprise I liked the vegan equivalent at first whiff. It was tough to choose which to buy full size, but I went for 015 and treated my hubby to 151.

151: Light Blue Man similar to Light Blue Men’s by Dolce & Gabbana

I love Eden Perfumes and won’t buy high street again. I’m tempted to get get more minis so I have a variety.

My only complaint is that the bottles look identical so I can’t tell at a glance which scent is which.

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Camp NaNo Progress

This is an update is on how day 21 to 30 has gone.

It hasn’t been great. I wasted two evenings watching Extraction, another watching Last Kingdom and baking breakfast muffins.

On top of that I had some connection issues with Virgin Media (and I use Google Docs), and one evening I even forgot to charge my laptop so it was dead.

And, when I have gotten down to writing, I’ve procrastinated. Working from home on my laptop during the day, then editing on my laptop in the evening has felt never ending and it’s taken its toll.

Carry on reading to discover how my Camp NaNo April 2020 ended. I promise it wasn’t pointless.

#CampNaNoWIW

I am in the World Indie Warriors cabin (now called groups). On Instagram they’ve set a photo challenge:

I haven’t had time to keep up on IG but my team spirit won’t let me let it go. So, I decided to post my pics every 10 days on my blog.

#SnippetTuesday

Favourite part of the writing process

My favourite part is definitely the creating. I love coming up with story ideas and characters.

#Worldbook Day – Shelfie time!

Best writing advice you’ve ever been given

Successful authors are writers that never gave up.

Publishing is not easy and I easily could have quit my dream long ago.

A lot of time has been spent on my manuscripts, on creating queries, synopsis, blurbs and pitches. Only to be rejected. I’ve developed a thick skin and learned to use feedback to help me grow rather than take it personally.

Sometimes the task feels too big, never ending. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve learnt from my mistakes. I wrestle with my self doubt and imposter syndrome. And, I’m becoming a stronger writer all the time.

I will publish. I know I will. I’m never going to quit.

Campfire audience: who do you write for?

Me. Initially, I write for myself, for fun. This is super important as novel writing is a marathon. Can you imagine spending that long working on something you don’t even like?

My target audience is anyone that enjoys YA Contemporary Fantasy. I’d especially like teen girls to enjoy it and be able to relate to my MC, despite her being a mermaid.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I work at a college but most of my free time is spent with my kids. I wanted to be a mum for a long time. They’re hard work and wear me out but I love them so much.

We love by the sea, nearby woodland walks and lots of farms within driving distance. When this lockdown is over, I will be taking my kids out to enjoy the great outdoors.

Favourite out of genre book

My favourite GCSE book was An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestly. It’s a period play. I wouldn’t choose to read it but had to and ended up loving it.

It was about how a family had caused a woman’s death. Independently their actions were small but collectively they had a massive impact on her life. I also enjoyed the twist at the end.

#TeaserTuesday

Cliffhangers: yay or nay?

Last day of camp – how did you do?

Jodie taught me how adjust my goal to make it more realistic. I lowered it to editing 25k words.

I started day 21 with my editing up to chapter 7. I finish Camp Nano on day 30 by editing chapter 10. That’s a total of 27,403 words edited this month. That makes me a winner!

It definitely could have gone better but I have developed a realistic editing goal. May, I’ll try to edit another 15 chapters, and June, I’ll edit the final 12. That’s rough 30k words a month.

Yesterday, I started Furlough for 3 weeks. Hopefully this will help my motivation as I won’t be staring at my laptop all day and it’ll alleviates some pressure so I won’t be as tired.

I would love to see your answers to the above. Let me know if you are taking part on IG or posting somewhere else.

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My Books

My To Be Read Pile