Blog Tours

Blog Tour: My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel (Excerpt!)

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Synopsis:

A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives

A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?

Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a
Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack.
She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously
throws herself into her new job and friendships.

But is Alexa all she claims to be?

As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates
truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?

In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances
and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-
provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for
you.

Excerpt:

I was brushing my teeth the next morning when Alexa called, crying over another nasty phone call from her ex. I was running late as it was but was unable to stop her barrage of insults against a man I didn’t even know the name of.
‘He’s driving me absolutely insane. I’ve really had enough,’ I heard her shout, the heels of her shoes clicking on the pavement. She was clearly on her way to work while I was only slipping my feet into my shoes. It had been her second frantic call that morning.
‘Listen. Alexa, calm down. I understand you’re upset but I’ll be late if you don’t stop.’
‘I’m there for you when you need me but when I’m the one in need for once, you fob me off. Great, really nice, thanks.’ She hung up, leaving me in an angry sweat. I was her polar opposite – organized and calm – but lately I felt out of kilter myself. I’d missed out on seeing my mum because, for one reason or another, Alexa managed to ambush my
attention.
When I eventually rushed through the office door, Alexa was looking up at me indifferently, in deep conversation with Jack, who tapped his watch with pursed lips and raised eyebrows. I lowered my eyes, my stomach heaving with repressed fury. Alexa had crawled under my skin yet I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why and how it had all come about.
I hid in the ladies’ toilets, panic rising to my throat, and utterly lost for words. I realised that if it had been Alexa running off, I’d have made sure I was giving her moral support, coaxing her back to work. Where was she now that I needed her? Was I getting hysterical, losing the plot?

About the Author

HA Leuschel
Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate
in Journalism &Communication, which led to a career in radio and
television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her
husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of
Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind.
When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and
teaches Yoga.

Author Links

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

www.heleneleuschel.com

Buy it here

Tour organised by:

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www.rrbooktours.com

-Books&Belle xx

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Reviews

Blog Tour: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare (Spoiler-Free!)

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Synopsis

When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
– They will be husband and wife by night only.
– No lights, no kissing.
– No questions about his battle scars.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And unlimited teasing.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

Review

I’m one of the stops on the blog tour for The Duchess Deal, which I’m really happy about! The synopsis really intrigued me, so I couldn’t wait to start reading. It took me roughly two days to get through this book, and I found it to be a really enjoyable read.

The two main characters, Emma and the Duke, were wonderful. Emma was my favourite, though. She was nearly everything I love in a character, selfless, strong, caring and loyal. The only thing that I didn’t like too much about her was her naivety when it came to men. But the reasoning behind her being this way is revealed later in the book, so I was able to overlook it. The Duke was… a bit of a grey area for me. He was injured at war, and was left scarred, and very bitter at the world.  But by the end of the book, the parts of him I wasn’t keen on at the start, I ended up finding endearing, and I understood why he felt and acted in certain ways a lot better.

The plot was very fast paced, which is good if you’re looking for a fast read. I felt it was lacking a bit in terms of excitement, but it was still a good read. There are a few erotic scenes, but they’re not overdone, and I didn’t have to skip them like I have with previous books due to them being too cringey. In fact, I felt that they helped show the audience why Ash was the way he was.

Overall, I enjoyed The Duchess Deal, and I’d recommend it if you like period romances, and a fast paced plot. I give it four stars.

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I’d like to thank Mills & Boon for sending me a copy of The Duchess Deal in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

-Books&Belle xx

Reviews

Book Review: Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (Spoiler-Free!)

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Synopsis

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

Review

As soon as I heard about this book, I knew it was one I wanted to read. With a Muslim teenage girl who faces Islamophobia as the main character, I thought it was really relevant to todays society.

I thought Ahmed’s writing style was really good, she kept me hooked, and I thought the little snippets from the mystery person at the end of each chapter were really intriguing. The Islamophobia was also well written. It made me so angry to read, I genuinely couldn’t comprehend how some of the characters could think that way about someone they’d known their whole lives. The fact that it made me, the reader, feel this way shows just how well represented it is.

Maya was such a sweet character. Most of the time! I really felt for her with her struggle between doing what she wanted with her life, and doing what her parents had plannedfor her. Her determination was admirable. I think any person who has to deal with bigoted, racist, ignorant a**holes in their everyday life is a very strong person, and to see Muslims and their struggles being represented in YA books is wonderful.

The only downside to this book, for me, was the romance. It was about 50/50 romance and then Maya’s problems with her parents. The balance was good, but I didn’t like how she didn’t have any problems with having secret meetings with a guy who has a girlfriend. It was just a bit of a no-go area for me. Other than that, I really enjoyed the romance.

Overall, I liked this book a lot. It’s the second book I’ve read that has a teenage Muslim as the protagonist, and I can’t wait to read more. (If you know of any, feel free to comment!) I think that the issues this book covers are so important, as is the representation. I give this book 4 stars.

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I’d like to thank Readers First for sending me a copy of Love, Hate & Other Filters in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Tags

This Or That Tag

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I haven’t done a tag in a while, so thank you Ash for tagging me!

The Rules:

  • Mention the creator of the tag (Ayunda @ Tea and Paperbacks).
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you!
  • Choose one of the options, you don’t have to tell the reasons why you chose that but you can also do them if you want to.
  • Tag 10 other people to do this tag to spread the love!

Without further ado, the tag.

THE QUESTIONS:


Reading on the couch or on the bed?
I don’t mind either, but I am more likely to read in bed. There’s nearly always people in the living room, and I can’t read when the TV is on or if I can hear people talking, as it distracts me.

Male main character or female main character?
Female. I think it’s because I can relate to them easier than I can to a male character.

Sweet snacks or salty snacks when reading?
Hmm. I’d say that depends on what I’m in the mood for!

Trilogies or quartets?
Trilogies.

First person point of view or third person point of view?
Either one is fine by me, I’m not too bothered as long as the book is well written.

Reading at night or in the morning?
I never have the time in the morning! I’m up at 7, and out at 8 in the week, and then on weekends I either lie in, or I’m busy. So definitely night.

Libraries or bookstores?
Bookstores. I know this makes me sound terrible, but I actually rarely go to the library. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love them, how could I not, they’re full of books! But I like to keep my books. I guess you could say I’m building up a library of my own.

Books that make you laugh or make you cry?
Again, this depends on my mood!

Black book covers or white book covers?
Never really thought of this before, but I guess black. I don’t really have a reason why. Although Ash did make a good point, white books get marked quite easily.

Character driven or plot driven stories?
I like my books with a bit of both. If I can’t connect to the characters, I don’t feel attached the the book. But if the plot isn’t the best, then it’s just not memorable.


 

I Tag:

Anyone who wants to do this tag!

-Books&Belle xx

Me

Reading Slumps – Aren’t They The Worst?

For any bookworm, getting stuck in a reading slump feels similar to how I imagine torture would feel. I want to read, I really really really want to read. I just can’t. When I’m in a reading slump, anytime I pick up a book I get distracted by something else. For example, Grey’s Anatomy, or I’ll decide I’m hungry, or I’ll decide it’s a good time to go argue with my younger sister. The smallest things will distract me! In the last few months, I’ve been in a few reading slumps. So for this post, I thought I’d tell you how I get out of them, and hopefully it’ll be helpful.

1. Set myself targets

The first thing I’ll do is set myself small targets. Even if it’s just a chapter or two a day to get myself back into the flow of things. More often than not, this works for me, as when I start a good book, I need to know what happens.

2. Read a small book

I often find reading a small book helps. They nearly always have a faster pace, so I’m less likely to get distracted by things going on around me as less time is spent reading ‘filler chapters.’

3. Browse Goodreads

Whenever I go on Goodreads, I end up adding a book to my TBR. I find adding even more to that ever growing list often makes me want to get through it a bit faster, so I’ll turn back to my reading.

4. Read one of my most anticipated reads

A lot of my anticipated reads are already on my shelf. For example, Children of Blood and Bone and Love, Hate and Other Filters. But, I just haven’t gotten around to reading them yet. So picking up one of these usually gets me back to reading.

5. Give myself a few days

If all else fails, I’ll give myself a few days of not reading. This always works for me, as I know I’ll be back to devouring book after book within a week!

 

I hope some of my methods might help some others in the future. What do you do to get out of a reading slump?

-Books&Belle xx

Reviews

Book Review: Aaru by David Meredith (Spoiler-Free!)

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Synopsis:

“…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.

Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

Review

Warning: there are mentions of sexual assault and pedophilia in this book.

I’m going to start off by saying this was an interesting read. When I first read the synopsis, I was certainly intrigued by the concept. Living forever in a paradise free from disease, death and despair? Definitely sounds like the place to be. So, whilst I didn’t fly through this book, needing to read just one more chapter, it was a good read.

The plot was a good pace. It didn’t jump straight into it, but it also didn’t long it out more than was necessary. I also liked the switching of the point of views from Koren’s perspective in real life, to Rose’s perspective in Aaru, and the mysterious ‘Magic Mans.’ It was interesting to know what each of them were thinking and feeling, and the mystery surrounding the Magic Man’s identity and intentions was really well written.

The plot, whilst a little predictable at some points, was also great. It’s certainly unique, and I, personally, haven’t read anything like it before. The only thing that did catch me off guard and make me a bit uncomfortable was the way Koren Johnson, a thirteen year old girl, was described by certain characters. I know there is a major problem with the sexualising of young celebrities, so I suppose highlighting that issue was necessary to make the plot more realistic. However, it went further than that, and I do wish I had known beforehand. If this is something that might be triggering to you, I’d give this one a miss. However, there is a lot more to the story line, and if mystery, fantasy and technology is your thing, you might like this one.

Before ending my review, I want to applaud David Meredith on creating such an interesting concept with Aaru. I think writing a character like the Magic Man would’ve been incredibly challenging, so the fact that he was able to create a character like him that inspires so many emotions (hatred, for me) is brilliant. Whilst Aaru wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, it was certainly a memorable one.

Overall, I give this book 3 stars.

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-Books&Belle xx

I’d like to thank David Meredith for sending me a copy of Aaru in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Reviews

Blog Tour: A Week To Be Wild by JC Harroway (Spoiler-Free!)

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Synopsis

A daring game of temptation

She’ll play his game-but only by her rules!

Alex Lancaster is an adrenaline junkie. He’s also a sexy British billionaire who should come with his own warning signs. When Libby insists she is done with men who live on the edge, Alex coaxes her out of her comfort zone-professionally and very, very personally. Libby’s taking a high-stakes gamble, but the pay-off could win her everything…

 

Review

So, I’m one of the stops on the blog tour for A Week To Be Wild! I’ll start by saying that there are both things I liked and disliked about this book. I read it over the course of a week or so, so it definitely wasn’t a page turner, but it was an overall enjoyable read. There is quite a bit of sexually explicit writing, so if that bothers you, I’d give it a miss. Going into this book, I knew that there would be some. But if I’m honest, I found it was a bit rushed and I actually had to skip those parts the majority of the time as I found it a bit too much and it made me cringe a bit. That’s just me though, if erotica is your thing, then this is the book for you!

I did like the characters, Libby especially. I liked how she was powerful without a man, she was successful and I think that’s great. However, it seemed like her professionalism just went out of the window after taking one glance at Alex Lancaster. Just didn’t seem very realistic in my opinion. Other than that, though, I really liked her and thought she was an interesting, well-written character. Alex was intriguing too. Not the stereotypical English billionaires you get in books at all. I usually get bored of them, and he’s certainly not a character that inspires boredom.

I found the plot a bit slow, but it was pretty interesting once the pace picked up a bit. I do wish that we had been able to get to know the characters a bit more, however.

Overall, A Week To Be Wild is the type of book I’d recommend if you like the billionaire trope, erotica, or just want a quick read. I give it three stars.

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-Books&Belle xx

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I’d like to thank Mills & Boon for sending me a copy of A Week To Be Wild in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Reviews

Book Review: Evalene’s Number by Bethany Atazadeh (Spoiler-Free!)

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Synopsis

Everyone in Eden is assigned a Number, tattooed on their neck, which determines their value and place in the world.

On her Numbering Day, Evalene Vandereth anticipates joining the élite. Born in an upper-class family, she knows exactly who she is and what she is worth. Even as the needle breaks her skin, she is blissfully happy. She never considers another outcome, until it’s too late.

Now 18-year-old Evalene lives in fear, struggling with her new identity, stripped of her freedom and basic human rights. Can she escape her Number? Is anyone else asking the same question?

Fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent will love Evalene’s Number and its incredible dystopian tale.

Review

I was sent this book to review a while ago now, and I wish I had read it sooner, because I loved it. I read it in only three sittings. There were definitely similarities to The Hunger Games, however, Evalene’s Number is without a doubt unique. The plot and characters were both written really well, and I loved Atazadeh’s writing style.

The point of view switched between Evalene and Jeremiah, which I liked, as it allows the reader to see the dystopian world that they live in through the eyes of more than just one character. Evalene was definitely my favourite character in the book. You can see clear character development from when she was the child of a high Number before the age of 13, to being the 18 year old she is now. What made her so likeable to me is her strength. It must take incredible willpower to keep going after everything she has faced. The mistreatment, neglect, and betrayals would have, in my opinion, brought most people raised the way that she was down. Jeremiah, I liked for the same reasons, his strength and bravery. He was still kind, despite everything that he had endured, which I know can be rare, seeing as hurt people, hurt people. The relationship between these two characters is promising too, and I’m hoping to see more of it (desperately, desperately hoping) in the next book. I also want to mention Olive, she is the type of friend that I want. She’s lovely!

The plot kept me hooked, too. The suspense at certain points was almost unbearable. I had to actually put the book down and take a break as I was so worried at one point! I came back to it pretty quickly, however. I needed to know what happened. I think the way that inequalities between the Numbers is written is so relevant to inequalities in our own society, too. Oh, and the ending! I’ve been left on a massive cliffhanger, and honestly? I just want to jump off if it’ll mean finding out what happens next. It’s safe to say I am very eager to read the next book, Pearl’s Number.

I give this book 5 stars. This is the second book this year I’ve given five stars to, I think that might mean 2018 is going to be a good reading year for me!

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Bethany also signed my copy of Evalene’s Number, which I was really happy about!

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-Books&Belle xx

Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal – Rafferty Lincoln Loves… by Emily Williams

So, I am very happy to be one of the bloggers revealing the cover of Emily Williams’ newest book, Rafferty Lincoln Loves… This is my first ever cover reveal, so I’m really excited. So, here we have it, the cover!

The Reveal

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Amazing, right?!?! The little paper horse is so cute! If you read the sentence at the top, you’ll see that this book is supporting a charity, The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre. If you wish to support this charity, click here.

Some more information about the book:

The synopsis of Rafferty Lincoln Loves…

Rafferty Lincoln doesn’t like horses. Not one bit. But when the popular high school girl of his dreams, Liberty Ashburn, pulls him into a world of lead ropes and horse brushes, who is he to say no? Except this isn’t any old horse. This is the missing racehorse, Profit’s Red Ridge. The horse Rafferty and three of his friends are hiding from the world. And Liberty Ashburn isn’t just any ordinary high school girl. How far will Rafferty go to win her over?

An intense, witty and powerful coming of age story with startling
consequences.

About the charity ‘The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre’

 

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The proceeds from the novel ‘Rafferty Lincoln Loves…’ will be donated to The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre.

BTRC is dedicated to improving and promoting the welfare of retired race horses through education, retraining and suitable rehoming in order to ensure that our Thoroughbreds have a rewarding and valuable life after their racing careers have ended.

Each year thousands of horses leave racing, some because they reach the natural end of their career and others through injury or lack of ability. Established in 1991, The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre was the UK’s first charity dedicated to ex-racehorse welfare, retraining, rehoming and protection for life.

I am thrilled to have written this novel for the BTRC and to be donating the proceeds to such an important and dedicated charity for the welfare of retired racehorses.’ Emily Williams

Author Bio

Emily Williams lives by the seaside in West Sussex with her family and a
menagerie of small pets. After graduating from Sussex University with a BA in
Psychology, Emily trained as a primary school teacher and teaches in a local school.

Rafferty Lincoln Loves… is her first YA novel after the success of her debut
adult novel, Letters to Eloise, released in 2017.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this cover reveal, and I’m sure you love the cover just as much as I do!

-Books&Belle xx

Reviews

Book Review: A Cactus In The Valley by Olivia J. Bennett (Spoiler-Free!)

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Synopsis

When withdrawn Terra Lombardi wakes up in a smoking airplane in the middle of the remote Arizona desert, she realizes the only other survivor is the arrogant Wyatt Hartman. Clouded with the uncertainty of how they crashed, the two strangers head west, in pursuit of civilisation  Amidst the environment and dangerous animals against them, they must band together to survive, and even thrive in the rocky, sun-drenched Southwest. However, the elements force them to confront their inner demons.

Told through dual points-of-view and intermittent flashbacks, teenagers Wyatt and Terra brave the sun and sand alone. But it is through the hardest times in which we grow the most.

Review

Warning: there are mentions of sexual assault and pedophilia in this book.

So, last night I sat down with a cup of tea and this book, intending to spend half hour or so reading the first few chapters of A Cactus In The Valley. This, however, did not happen. Instead, I plowed through the whole book in the space of four hours, only taking breaks to use the loo and make myself more tea. I can say with the utmost certainty that I enjoyed this book.

If I had to use one word to sum up A Cactus In The Valley, it would be intense. From the first page, I couldn’t stop reading, having to know what happens. This is definitely no slow-burn book, it jumps straight in to the plot. It switches point of view between the two main characters, Terra and Wyatt, allowing the reader to know what the both of them are feeling and thinking. I couldn’t help but put myself in their situation. Stranded in the middle of nowhere with someone you’ve never met before? No thanks! Doing this definitely helped me connect with both Terra and Wyatt though, and I was preying that they’d make it home alive.

While both characters inspired a lot of feelings in me, Terra was the one I felt for the most. She’s hasn’t had an easy go of life so far, and now a plane crash? I was wondering what she had done in her previous life to deserve what she had dished out to her. Despite this, she is still so hopeful and optimistic and I just love her character so much. I think with Wyatt, if I hadn’t read from his perspective, I wouldn’t have found him so likeable. However, knowing what he was thinking and feeling makes it very easy to end up rooting for him. He’s definitely a little damaged, but he still manages to be selfless and protective, so I admire him for that.

The things these characters had to overcome in terms of the plot were astonishing. They’re both broken yet still brave and determined to make it home to their loved ones. This book had me feeling so much! Hope, fear for the characters, pity, happiness, sadness and about a thousand other things. Bennett truly has a gift for story telling and I can’t wait to read any work of hers in the future.

Overall, I give this book 5 stars. I’d give it 6 if that was a thing.

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I’d like to thank Olivia J. Bennett for sending me a copy of A Cactus In The Valley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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