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Cookie Break

Writer, stationery addict & occasional cat pillow. Adorer of all things cute. Tea and pasta fanatic.

Review: Witch Infernal by Holly Evans

Reviews

Witch Infernal (Infernal Hunt #3)

by Holly Evans

The city’s been quiet since Evie and her friends closed the hellmouth. The lycans and Sidhe are on their best behaviour, the witches haven’t been heard from, and Evie should be enjoying the break.

Evelyn Hawke wasn’t made for the quiet life. She’s bored.

Luckily for her, things start going wrong, and she’s expected to fix everyone else’s problems. A trio of celestials task Evie and her friends with the job of tracking down the witch who opened the hellmouth and putting an end to her. Little do they know that the witch has big plans and a far-reaching influence.

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What I thought:

Because I devoured the first two books in the series I broke my vow not to buy more books until I’d gotten through my tbr pile, and bought Witch Infernal. (Don’t judge me, we’ve all been weak)

I instantly felt back at home within the first page. I’ve grown attached to the characters over the last two novels, and it was nice to have Evie’s treasured sarcasm back! It was especially nice to see Evie coming to terms with magic not necessarily being a bad thing early on, since she’s always been extremely prejudiced against everything magical. Best of all, Witch Infernal showed her fragile side and allowed her to be weak (in private, behind locked doors, you’ll understand), which made her all the more likeable.

I also loved the group dynamics. Evie was worried that she was slowly being excluded for not embracing magic and ultimately not adding as many skills to the team as the others, but I don’t think she needs to worry – her tight group of friends was as close as ever, and I loved that they had a boy’s night in. Her friends teased her mercilessly (and I mean mercilessly) about Lysander which was a fantastic natural addition to the banter.

Something else I really liked was the change in Elise. I liked her before but she didn’t really stand out to me, whereas I felt like she came into her own in Witch Infernal. She has grown into the voice of reason – who will cut you if you look at her funny.

As I mentioned above Evie is heavily suspicious of anything magical, so it was great to learn a bit more about the other races inhabiting Evans’ version of Prague. There was some extra insight into the lycans and their rituals and habits, and I loved receiving much of that info through Raif.

The only things that bugged me were the many repetitions, and the smaller mistakes like missing words or letters. I expect every book to have some mistakes, but I was taken out of my reading flow several times. Mind you, I’ve become a compulsive editor over the last year, so take that for what you will. It might not bother you as it did me.

Despite that I still really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the conclusion, which will be published in November. And have you heard the whispers of a Quin and Kadrix standalone?? Yes, please!❤

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Have you read Witch Infernal, or would you like to? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

Discussion: Character Diversity

A Writer's Musings

Since the last few discussions went so well I thought I’d host another!🙂

Today I’d like your opinions on character diversity! Allow me to specify. Character diversity is something we as readers and writers come across all the time – and today I would like to chat about all kinds! Meaning strong female characters, bisexual characters, black characters – and every other character you’d like to talk about.

I’ve seen some strong opinions recently, such as: Every book needs a strong female character. Every book needs a weak male character. Every book needs a black character, or else the author is racist.

The two most baffling opinions were a review which rated a book low because the white male lead was too white and too male (to be fair, he was white and male), and a post saying that female characters shouldn’t be expected to be strong and defend themselves because real women aren’t strong and can’t themselves, either. (in case you were wondering – the latter was written by a woman)

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My opinion is apparently controversial, because I disagree.

I love seeing strong female characters, but I don’t think any of the above should be in a book just for the sake of it. It needs to fit the story. Not every female character can be strong and empowered, and not every male character should be weak and in need of rescuing. Neither are going to stand out as something a little different if everyone’s doing it. They’re all people, and as such unique. Some are strong, some are weak – that applies to both genders. What does it matter if a female character is shy and naive, and a male character strong and saves the girl? I want variety! If every book I picked up had empowered feminists and crying boys I’d lose interest quickly.

What are your thoughts as readers and writers? Do you feel that all female characters should be empowered, and that every good books needs a black character? Do weak female characters and strong male characters offend you? Or do you feel that it should depend on the setting and the characters’ personalities?

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All my gifs come from giphy.

For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

Promptspiration #2

Monday Inspiration

Happy Monday, everyone!🙂

This week’s prompt was given to me by Mahriya, who blogs over at My Bookish Life.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that my routine was about to be turned upside down? For the most part my routine has been fine, but it did mean that I had a lot less time for this prompt! So, for once, I’m releasing it in its first draft state. Apologies for any mistakes up ahead🙂

If you’d like to submit a prompt, you still can! Comment here with the prompt you’d like me to do, and take a look here for the original call for submissions.

Happy writing, everyone!

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Clinging on to her last hope.

 

Gwynn didn’t look back, even when the sound of nearby gunfire made her want to dive into the nearest shrub and stay there until her world was back to normal again. If she stopped now, it would all have been for nothing, and then Mandy and Jona’s deaths would have been pointless.

The thorns and branches of the bushes she was crawling through stung the bare skin on her arms and legs. At least down here they wouldn’t see her if they ran past now – unless they stepped on her. Gwynn really hoped they wouldn’t step on her.

Just a few more steps… It’s right there, across that large exposed patch of grass.

Did they really stand a chance? They needed to get into the shed, without being seen, and either call for help or activate the automatic defence system. If Jona were here with her, he could have done all that.

Wishful thinking wouldn’t bring him back.

Gwynn could see the abandoned, unassuming shed at the other end of the meadow. It was old, overgrown with vines and god-knows-what. The sounds of gunfire and orders being shouted had ceased a little. Maybe there was a chance, after all.

It was two in the morning, and cloudy. It was about the best cover she would get now.

Gwynn got up, and ran. How had she become the last hope for her little group? Their god – whoever he or she or it was – had a terrible sense of humour. She couldn’t even cook a good spaghetti carbonara properly – how was she supposed to fire up an old space ship and get them all off this planet?

Right by her feet, the soil exploded. They’d found her. Another shot barely missed her legs, and another got so close to her cheeks that she could feel its heat on her skin.

Nothing was as important as getting into that shed, but if she stayed here they would kill her before she even saw the blasted ship. She ran around the crumbling building, feeling her way along its sides as best as she could. If they wanted to shoot her now they would have to catch up with her first. Unless they had a grenade launcher or something. Gwynn really hoped they didn’t have a grenade launcher.

At the back of the shed was a door. It didn’t look to be in great condition and was just as overgrown as the rest of the small building, but it didn’t budge when Gwynn through herself into it.

Come on!” Was this how it was going to end? They’d been hunted for weeks, chased through the landscape for the last two days, and she’d be defeated by a door?

The night had gone silent once more, but she wouldn’t be fooled twice. They were merely waiting for her to show herself, or they were sneaking around the shed to corner her.

Gwynn threw herself into the wooden door, and it finally gave. She fell through the frame and caught herself just before crashing face first into the ground.

She hated the darkness of night in that moment. She couldn’t see anything. If there were lights in this place they had long since stopped working. She could just about make out a reflective surface ahead of her. If she just reached out-

It was cold, and smooth. Her heart skipped a few excited beats. She had found their ship. Now all the needed to do was activate the defences and-

“Hold it!”

Gwynn froze. It couldn’t end now. She was too close to freedom to die now!

“Turn around, nice and slow.”

She recognised the voice. It was the same man who had given the orders regarding her torture. Turn up the voltage. Cut her thigh. Beat her up. Her body was still aching from his methods.

Gwynn didn’t have much of a choice, and she doubted he was alone. If she tried to run for it now he’d gun her down before she’d left the shed. She had no idea how to even get into the ship; there was no way she’d just hop into it and close the doors on him.

Careful and shaking, she turned around. Her knife felt heavy by her side; a wonderful reminder of how she wouldn’t be able to defend herself. The cut on his face hadn’t healed well from the last time she had gotten close enough. She wouldn’t get anywhere near him this time.

He smiled, and she cringed. If she could burn that terrible expression of his smug face, she would.

“That’s it. Down on your knees. Hands behind your head.”

She glared at him, but did as he said. She needed to buy time somehow, but she was out of options. He’d kill her if she as much as twitched her little finger.

“There’s a good girl.” He pulled his radio out of his pocket. “Boss, we-”

The unmistakable sound of wooden plank against back of head sounded through the small shed. It wasn’t a loud crunch by any means, but terror had a way of sharpening your senses.

He went down, and lay in a crumbled heap on the floor.

Gwynn bolted for him, and kicked him in his ribs. “You asshole! You-”

Someone’s wrist grabbed her, and she froze. Of course whoever had taken down her torturer was still there, but he had saved her. She figured he couldn’t be all bad, and kicking her torturer where it hurt had seemed more important.

Gwynn spun around, prepared to headbutt her saviour if he wore the wrong colours. She was surprised that he first moved with her, then let her go completely. She had been prepared for the sudden movement to hurt her wrists. Instead, she was free.

For the third time that night, she froze. “Jona?”

He grinned his wonderful, alive smile at her. “Yup! Alive and kickin’! Faked my own death. Pretty convincing, huh? Come on, let’s get off this rock.”

Gwynn broke into a similar, and slightly manic, grin. It was about time she saw her home again.

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For all other writing prompts, check here.

For CookieBreak’s homepage, click me.

All writing belongs to the author, Sarina Langer

Review: This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab

Reviews

This Savage Song

by V. E. Schwab

“There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.”

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What I thought:

Look at this stunning cover! Look at it! I really wanted the cover to do the story justice, and it delivered on all fronts.

Because I didn’t love ADSoM and AGoS as much as most other people did, I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. Maybe that helped, but more likely it’s just a really good book which won me over on its own terms!

Where do I start?

I really liked the characters. I wasn’t convinced at first, but once Kate and August met I was hooked. They are very different people, and both interesting in their own right – Kate, who tries so hard to be as ruthless as her father, dying for his approval, and August, who is a monster clinging on to whatever humanity he can grasp.

The writing was also phenomenal. I made a note of so many paragraphs or single phrases that stood out to me, which I think says everything. But let’s have the writing speak for itself, shall we?

Whatever he was made of – stardust or ash or life or death – would be gone.

Not with a bang, but with a wimper.

In with gunfire and out with smoke.

And August wasn’t ready to die.

Even if surviving wasn’t simple, or easy, or fair.

Even if he would never be human.

He wanted the chance to matter.

He wanted to live.

The world Schwab has created is intriguing and the perfect setting for the characters. The different kinds of monsters alone, and how they are created, were interesting to read about, especially Ilsa. Her quiet nature coupled with power (not wanting to say too much here) makes her one of my favourite characters, and I loved learning more about her as the plot progressed.

I couldn’t help but compare This Savage Song to A Darker Shade of Magic. I know I shouldn’t, but I couldn’t help myself. While I enjoyed ADSoM I also felt meh about it at the same time, and I was worried that the same would happen here. I really wanted TSS to excite me, and I’m really happy that it did. I can’t wait for the sequel.

I’ll leave you with another one of those beautifully written moments, the name removed because of spoilers, just in case my review wasn’t enough to convince you:

What came to the surface of the Sunai’s skin, Kate couldn’t process. It was light and darkness, glow and shadow, starlight and midnight, and something else entirely. It was an explosion in slow motion, tragedy and monstrosity and resolve, and it swept over [his] skin, and wove through the monster’s smoke, tracing the outlines of a boy-like shape inside the shadow like lightning in a storm.

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Have you read This Savage Song, or would you like to? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

WWW Wednesday 14th September 2016

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This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Why not join in? Just answer the following three questions in a post and then put a link to that post in the comments over at Taking on a World of Words.

WWW WednesdayThis meme will be categorised together with my book reviews. All links will get you to the book’s Goodreads listing, as always🙂

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What I’m currently reading

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Why, oh why, am I struggling with this? It’s funny (the book, not my finding it difficult – that’s weird and unnatural), the writing is smooth and flows easily, but for some reason I can’t put my finger on I’m struggling to get into it.

I wasn’t sure what to read next (is there such a thing as too much choice when it comes to books? Hmm…) so my SO picked this one for me. I’m not very far into it yet but so far I’m enjoying it. I’m hoping to get a good chunk of it read this week.

Blurb:

According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter – the world’s only totally reliable guide to the future – the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just after tea…

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What I recently finished reading

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The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

This was a slow start for me – it’s a huge world with no map to help me put places into perspective, and a lot of history and information was poured into the first hundred pages – but once I got my head around everything I really loved it. The writing style was different to anything I’ve read before, and as I said, it’s a huge world with a lot of history – the world building is fantastic!

So, while it was a slow start for me it’s become one of my favourite books this year. I’ve made a note of a lot of quotes, and will include a few favourites in my review🙂

Blurb:

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.

and…

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Witch Infernal

I really enjoyed Witch Infernal, and my review is already live on Goodreads if you fancy checking it out now – if not, it’ll be up here next week🙂

Blurb:

The city’s been quiet since Evie and her friends closed the hellmouth. The lycans and Sidhe are on their best behaviour, the witches haven’t been heard from, and Evie should be enjoying the break.

Evelyn Hawke wasn’t made for the quiet life. She’s bored.

Luckily for her, things start going wrong, and she’s expected to fix everyone else’s problems. A trio of celestials task Evie and her friends with the job of tracking down the witch who opened the hellmouth and putting an end to her. Little do they know that the witch has big plans and a far-reaching influence.

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What I think I’ll read next

There are a couple of books I’d like to read next, but Crooked Kingdom is going to be out very soon, and I will read it as soon as it pops through my door! I don’t want to have to put another book aside for it, but I’ll see how quickly I get through Good Omens. I’ve received a few books for review recently and some of them are quite short, so I might read one of those while I wait for Crooked Kingdom to arrive.

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Have you read any of these and would like to chat about it? I look forward to hearing from you if you do – just leave a comment below and we can get this book club started!

My (Revised) Editing Routine

A Writer's Musings

Over the last few months I’ve put a lot of thought into how I want to approach my next edit. Things went well enough when I edited Rise of the Sparrows, but I knew it was going to be tight, and while I met my self-imposed deadlines I was also exhausted by the end! Ever heard of writers burning out? I’d rather avoid that. I hear it’s not pleasant.

With Relics of Ar’Zac #2 now left to proof, I’ve put together a revised editing routine. I learned a lot from my first edit, and this time I wanted to go in with a real plan I could stick to.

Edit 0.5: I’ll go over every chapter, briefly, and will summarise each in one, no more than two, simple sentences, so I’ll have a list where I can see at one glance how my book progresses. I’ll also add notes of where I might add chapters, or how I could move some.

Edit 1: I’ll correct spelling mistakes, and will scan my draft for words I know I overuse, like window (don’t ask me to explain, I’ve got nothing). The first merciless cuts will happen here, too.

Edit 2: This will be the biggest of them all! I’ll read through the entire draft, and will make the first changes as I go. I’ll also make a note of the bigger changes which will take longer to apply, and of other chapters I could add. I’m hoping that this will make what’s to come a little less painful, but who knows? This is only the second draft of a battle plan, after all!

Edit 2.5: I’ll add all my new chapters.

At this point, I’ll leave it to proof again. Some big changes will have been made by this point, and I want to make sure that I distance myself again (as much as is possible, anyway) before I begin the next edit.

I don’t know yet how long I’ll leave it for. No less than two weeks, but probably not another full month.

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My editing essentials – the current RoAZ notebook, highlighters, sticky notes, my trusted red pen, and tea!

Edit 3: I’ll print everything out – if you’ve been here for a while you might remember that this was my first step with Rise of the Sparrows – and will go over everything with a red pen. This took a while when I edited Rise of the Sparrows, but I’m hoping that my previous edits will make this step a little more effective this time. Once I’ve gone over everything on paper, I’ll move it from Scrivener to Open Office (I’m dreading the transition already) and apply the changes in my document.

Next – you’ve guessed it – I’ll leave it to proof again. Not for long this time, just a week or two.

Edit 4: I’ll read over everything again, from the beginning (my prediction is that I’ll get sick of seeing it at this point), and will repeat as necessary. I’ll likely also change the font and background colour since that gave me a new perspective last time, and helped me see my draft differently.

With sentences I’m really not sure about, I’ll isolate them to stare at them on their own. I find when I share tweets for #1lineWed, or when I share small excerpts here, I suddenly see everything I need changed, so I hope this will help me fix more persistent buggers. In fact, I might just pretend with every chapter that I’m about to share it! You can’t argue with results, right? Right.

Edit 5: Betas to the rescue!

Edit 6: Off to my editor!

It’s going to be a lengthy process, but I hope that this will result in a tighter draft for my betas, and overall a better finished product.

As I go and make changes, I’ll also adjust the chapter summary list I mentioned in step 0.5 so that it stays accurate throughout.

How do you edit? Do you have a plan that works well for you, or are you a pantser when it comes to your editing? Are there any methods that have proved invaluable to you? Get a tea, treat yourself to a cookie, and let’s chat!

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For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

‘I’ve Finished the Draft!’ Free eBook Promo

So much excitement in one title!😀

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And what better way to celebrate than with a free book?😉

Better yet, this isn’t a giveaway – all you have to do is pop over to Amazon, and download my eBook for FREE this weekend!

If you know somebody else who might like to treat themselves to a free book (and who doesn’t? It’s free!) tell them about it, spread the word – and enjoy!

Happy reading, everyone!🙂

Progress Update – The First Draft is Finished!

A Book's Progress 3

Exciting news, everyone! Yesterday, I finished the first draft of Relics of Ar’Zac Book 2!

To celebrate I’ll make my eBook FREE on Amazon over the weekend, so keep an eye out for that😉 There’ll be an actual announcement in a moment, too.

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That means that I’ve now written two books! Allow me a second to wrap my head around that…

Nope, but I’ll get there eventually :’)

Book #2 is now proofing, and won’t be touched again for at least one month🙂 In the meantime, I’ll fix up my revised editing routine, and I’ll dive fully into my other two WsIP, Immortals (temp. title) and Soul of the Heart. I’ve really missed my immortal girls and my treasure hunter, my mist walker and my sacrifice, and can’t wait to get back to them.

I hope to have a title reveal for you soon, too,but before that I’ll have a map for you encompassing more than just Rifarne😉 I might also share my revised editing plans with you if you’re interested since they’ve changed a lot since the last time I posted them.

Book 2 will need a lot of editing, so I’ll mostly use this month to prepare myself for a fierce battle with unnecessary words and sentence structure.

But until then, feast your eyes on this:

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All content belongs to the author, Sarina Langer.

The gifs came from Giphy

For all previous updates on my books’ progress, click me!

For Cookie Break’s front page, take a look here.

Review: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Reviews

I, Robot

by Isaac Asimov

“The classic collection of robot stories from the master of the genre. One of the Voyager Classics collection, now I, Robot is a major Fox movie starring Will Smith. In these stories Isaac Asimov creates the Three Laws of Robotics and ushers in the Robot Age. When Earth is ruled by master-machines, when robots often seem more human than mankind, the Three Laws ensure that humans remain superior and the robots are kept in their rightful place. But an insane telepathic robot results from a production error; a robot assembled in space logically deduces its superiority to non-rational humanity; and when machines serve mankind rather than individual humans, the machine’s idea of what is good for society may itself contravene the sacred Three Laws… Amazing and timeless robot stories from the greatest science fiction writer of all time.”

WWW 17082016.2What I thought:

I don’t know why this is so hard for me to review. I always take notes when I read a book, but I’ve got nothing for this one!

I, Robot was my first sci-fi read, and I really enjoyed it. It was a fantastic introduction to the genre for me, and because it’s a collection of short stories I felt like I was getting through big chunks quickly.

I don’t usually read collections like this one, but I think the style worked well for it. The short stories are interrupted by brief intervals, where Robopsychologist Susan Calvin talks to a reporter about her career. That’s what the short stories are – important points in the history of robots working alongside humans, a history she’s played a big part in. Despite this she doesn’t feature in many of the stories herself.

All of the stories revolve around one or more robots malfunctioning, and humans needing to fix them before bad things happen. I’m being vague on purpose here because those things aren’t always people dying. As such, most of the short stories have different main characters, although some of them feature in more than one story and there’s no hero like we’re used to. Controversial, perhaps, but I think it’s really worked well for it and have enjoyed the different style.

Some of the short stories worked better for me than others, but overall I enjoyed them all.

And, of course, this is the book that introduced the world to the Three Laws of Robotics! Asimov has influenced so many people with this book that I already knew the three laws long before reading I, Robot.

As I said above this was the perfect introduction to the genre for me, and I’m excited to read more! It made me smile, it made me think, and most important of all I enjoyed it. It’s also a very short read – my copy only has 249 pages, so if you’re thinking about reading sci-fi but aren’t used to the genre, why not start with one of its Masters?

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Have you read I, Robot, or would you like to? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

For all other book reviews, please take a look here.

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