Book Talk: The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Book Talk: The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye WaltonThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Published by Candlewick on 2014
Genres: YA Magical Realism
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Ava, a girl born with wings, was also born to a family line who has experienced pain and loss along the way. Ava brings us her story but first tells the stories of her grandmother and mother who paved the path to where she is. Her grandmother is closed off and distant. Her mother is forever heartbroken. And Ava, the girl born with wings, has been isolated in her house away from people until, at 16, she decides she wants to find out where she could fit in with the world as a girl with wings — unprepared how others will regard her and her wings or the motives of an obsessed man who thinks she is an angel.

ALERT: as I type this the book is $1.99 for Kindle!!

a2

twirl

*me falling in love with magical realism all over again*

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Book Talk: Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Book Talk: Underwater by Marisa ReichardtUnderwater by Marisa Reichardt
Published by Farrer Straus and Giroux on January 12, 2016
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Morgan survived a horrible tragedy — one that she feels partly guilty for because of an act of kindness she did that day. Racked with fear and guilt, Morgan has not been able to leave apartment she shares with her mom and brother and truly move forward after everything that happened. She’s lost her friends, attends high school via the internet and her therapist comes to her home once a week to try to work through this with her. And then Evan moves in next door and she’s confronted with the life that she’s missing and his presence starts to stir in her a desire to see the outside world again.

a2Very heavy book, oof. Need something happy next!!

a4

One of the worst feelings is finishing a book and just not really feeling what you know you probably should have. Which is really sad because there were moments in this book that were great and really affected me.   I should be overwhelmed with emotional connection given the content of this novel but I just wasn’t in the grand scheme when I finished. In small moments, yes. I was there. But when I finished I was like I was left wanting more overall.

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What I’ve Been Reading Lately – Mini Book Talks

I read quite a bit in December and have quite the backlog but wanted to at least let you know what I read!

 

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Panic by Lauren Oliver

About In A Sentence (ish): The two main characters lives intersect as they play, each having their own strong reasons for participating, in their town’s yearly high stakes game called Panic that is judged by two anonymous people and gives dangerous and potentially deadly challenges to complete.

Thoughts: MAN, I love Lauren Oliver. LOVE HER. But this book was not for me at all. It had such a good premise (high stakes game played by high school students!) but the execution lacked for me in many ways. I was bored despite the fact it was high stakes and had mysterious aspects (that I found so predictable). One romances was great and the other was so weird and forced. The characters never felt real to me. I honestly would have quit it pretty early on had it not been a book club book. To be honest, it could be a really cool movie but I just couldn’t get into it in any way. It was a fairly quick read so there was that and probably the only reason I was still reading was to see how one of our main characters would fare and also what kind of seriously crazy challenges the judges would throw out next.

 

Rating:

RATING-Not-a-fan

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Book Talk: The Unquiet by Mikaela Everett

Book Talk: The Unquiet by Mikaela EverettThe Unquiet by Mikaela Everett
Published by Greenwillow Books on September 2015
Genres: YA Science Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

There are 2 earths — duplicates of everything on this parallel earth. But one earth is failing because two can not exist in the universe and a mission has been created, by people of the failing planet, to invade the other and take it for themselves. They’ve been training kids, like the main character Lira, to become cold killers and sleeper agents until the big invasion happens. So Lira finishes her training and is brought to where she must kill her duplicate and then assume her life while she waits for the time when all the sleeper agents are in place and the battle to take this planet for themselves will happen.

a2OH EM GEEEEEEE.

a4The Unquiet was one of the most unsettling and unflinching books I’ve read this year for sure. I expected it to go in a certain direction and it absolutely didn’t and I was left like DAAAAMN I SEE YOU, BOOK. Predictable it was not at all! It was also a very unique science fiction read — unlike anything I’ve read personally!

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Book Talk: An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Book Talk: An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa TahirAn Ember in Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in Ashes #1
Published by Razorbill on April 2015
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Laia and Elias both live in a world controlled by the Martials –a  brutal, sadistic regime who rules by force and will kill for the smallest infraction. Laia has grown up poor with her grandparents and brother and is part of the Scholar class that is persecuted by the Martials. Elias is from a powerful family and goes to one of the best military schools, Briarcliff, where he trains to be a Mask and is at the top of his class but he really plans to desert because he hates this way of life and doesn’t want to be a killer. Laia’s brother is taken away and accused of treason and Laia tries to make a deal with some rebels who promise her that they will help release her brother if she goes undercover as a spy at Briarcliff where she will be the slave to a brutal and powerful woman. It is there at Briarcliff that Laia and Elias meet and come to learn just how intertwined their destinies are.

a2*tries to catch breath and calm down*

a4

Upon finishing the book someone asked me what I thought and my reply was that 1) that I super enjoyed it and 2) it was sosososososo intense and brutal.

High intensity factor: seriously this book had me on the edge of my seat pretty much from the start until the nail-biting and explosive end. If you are looking for a book that has high stakes, espionage, traitors, magic, betrayals and so much action….I can’t recommend this enough. I felt like the action just kept being upped, without sacrificing too much character development, and I could NOT read fast enough to find out how it would end.  There’s a lot at stake for both of the main characters and I loved watching their stories converge in such an intense manner. They both are in seemingly impossible and desperate positions and it sure becomes a page-turner.

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Book Talk: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

Book Talk: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovernA Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern
Published by HarperTeen on October 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Emily sees Belinda, a girl from her school who is developmentally disabled, getting attacked under the bleachers and fails to act to help her. But she wasn’t the only one — a football player named Lucas also saw and did nothing to help her. The two are punished by the school when everything comes to light and are required to do community service at a classroom with disabled adults. Meanwhile, Belinda decides to come back to school after staying home for a while after the attack and is confronted by her old classmates and how things have changed in her absence.

a2Well, that was cute and heartwarming. Also, made me think a lot about the kids who I used to work with when I did Best Buddies in high school (is that still a thing in high school today??) and wonder how they were doing.

a4

I though this was really enjoyable and heartwarming for the most part!

What I liked:

  1. Belinda: I LOVED the chapters that were Belinda’s. IMO she WAS this book for me. Belinda is developmentally disabled and I was glad to see her actually have POV in this novel rather than her just be a main character seen through Emily. I LOVED getting to know Belinda — she was definitely one of those characters that jumped off the pages for me which was nice because the other two main characters were a bit bland for me. There was so much I loved about Belinda and I enjoyed watching her learn some important lessons just as Emily and Lucas do. My heart broke for Belinda with everything she had been through and her hurt and confusion after what happened. I hated the microaggressions against her (even by adults!!) and the way she was laughed at by classmates or not given a fair chance because she was developmentally disabled. I worked with Best Buddies in high school and got to know a lot of the students in the special education classes and I wanted to rip throats out to anyone who was unkind to them or tried to get these students to things for a laugh or just didn’t treat them like people. I wish all students were required to spend time with these students so they could see them as PEOPLE.
  2.  The romance was cute: It wasn’t anything spectacular but I tend to enjoy romances where people don’t necessarily like each other at first or have misjudged one another and then SEE each other for who they are rather than who they were thought to be. I liked their conversations and their awkwardness.
  3.  “The message” — I hate calling it THE MESSAGE because like it sounds so cheesy. But I really did love how the story helped the characters learn some important lessons: like how wrong your judgements  about a person can be, to be kinder to those who you presume are different or whom you don’t understand, to stand up for what is right, how dangerous silence can be and how complicit you still are in that, and how important it is to stand with and up for those whose voices are silenced by society, are marginalized or not taken seriously. While sometimes all this was preachy and like HERE IS A LESSON, I genuinely did feel like Emily and Lucas did learn from Belinda and the classroom they had to volunteer in and it was shown in a thoughtful, realistic manner. It was a good reminder for myself to even think about how I treat people and think of people.

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Book Talk: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich // My Halloween Read

Book Talk: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich // My Halloween ReadThe Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Published by Little Brown Books For Young Readers on September 2015
Genres: YA Horror, YA Mystery, YA Thriller
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

I don’t want to say too much but it is about: a reopened case about a suspicious fire at a school 20 years prior, a discovered diary that talks about the tragic night , a girl who claims she really is two people (Carly who lives in the day, Kaitlyn who lives at night), the people who believe her and the people who don’t,  a disappearance and a sinister dark house — all told by a mishmash of diary entries, police interview transcripts, video transcripts, notes and more!

a2WAIT WHAT?

a4Wow, I could NOT put it down. Reminded me of how I loved horror and stuff like this as a teen. Everything was so interesting to me and the mystery thrilled me, I loved the format and, while not scary, the creepy & sinister vibe was totally rocking my world. And then things at the ending happened (the ending itself + some parts really started dragging) and I don’t know how I feel it. I’ll get to that in a spoiler section further below but first we will get to the good.

Here’s what kept me reading on the edge of my seat:

1. The format: I love interesting and unique storytelling and especially when it integrates visual stuff. The book was told in diary entries, police reports, transcripts of video footage, interviews with various characters with the police. The diary entries definitely added to how I felt reading the story because we are in Kaitlyn’s head and I felt just as paranoid and trapped as her.  Having all these things helped put me in the story as if I were trying to figure out the mystery myself. I was pouring over all the evidence.

 

2. The way the mystery kept me flip-flopping what I thought was going on the whole time: So the main character Carly? For as long as she can remember she has had another soul in her, named Kaitlyn, and Carly exists in the day and then at night they switch and Kaitlyn lives. So, as a reader, it’s like okay — does she have this dissociative disorder in which she her mind has created this alter ego like her therapist thinks plus maybe some other underlying mental disorders? Or is there something evil going on inside her? Is everything she says real? Is it not? The unreliability of Kaitlyn/Carly adds to the flip-flopping I did plus some of the other characters seemed a bit unreliable as well. Is it all in her head or is something happening? Because if everything was really true than WOWSER some truly sinister stuff. Did she have the disorder or not? What happened to make her create Kaitlyn and why has she said she was always there? THERE WAS JUST SO MUCH TO COMB THROUGH WITH THIS MYSTERY. I kept doubting my instincts. I’d start to believe something but then doubt it all.

 

So now it’s time to talk about where some things fell apart for me but it’s all spoilers soooo:

View Spoiler »

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ the plot, the storytelling, how it kept me engaged & on the edge of my seat
–  the ending, romance

Re-readability: No, though I’d be tempted to reread the beginning to see if anything makes more sense to fill in some holes
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No

a5people who like interesting storytelling, fans of horror/psychological thriller type books, people who like a good mindf*ck

a8The Dead House was just what I needed for my Halloween reading — creepy, dark and sinister (wish it had been a little scarier) and unique storytelling that really hooked me and made me eager to put together the pieces from the diary entries, video transcripts, interviews and police reports. A compelling book but I’m still really unsure about how I feel about the ending which definitely was a minor buzzkill to my overall feelings toward the book.

review-on-post-itThe Dead House

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
PLEASE TELL ME YOUR THEORIES IF YOU READ THIS. Please mark spoilers!

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

What I’ve Been Reading Lately – Mini Book Talks

Times have been busy so it’s time to just let you know what I’ve been reading with a little bit about what I thought!

 

Brightly Woven

 

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

About In A Sentence (ish): After 10 years of a drought in Sydelle’s town, rain falls and with it brings a wizard who takes Sydelle, who has never left her small town, along with him as an assistant as they trek across their country so he can stop a war that could ravage the land and hurt her family. Along the way Syd learns there is so much more than the wizard has reveals about this journey.

Thoughts: I liked this one! It was a fun adventure with magic, curses, epic battles & duels, wizards and a world I got lost in pretty quickly. I was SO absorbed in their journey and cause and getting to know the characters as they got to know one another. It was one of those things where it was refreshing to find a standalone fantasy but I (and book club) wondered if there was meant to be another book because there were some things that never seemed to get wrapped up or at least seemed to indicate maybe another book…and then there wasn’t? I LOVED the romance (though the change from hate to feelings was whiplash quick for me) and their banter and I loved that their feelings were there but they progressed in a way where you clearly still felt the danger and the severity of their situation. It was just such a unique and refreshing fantasy read for me and I just loved as bigger pieces of the story and the mystery were revealed along the way — things I did NOT guess at all in the beginning. Totally want to know more about certain things but overall really enjoyed this fantasy! Can’t wait to read her latest series!

Rating:

RATING-reallyliked

 Fans of the Impossible Life

Fans Of The Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

About In A Sentence-ish: Mira and her gay best friend Sebby have been attached at the hip since they met at the hospital — her for severe depression and him for self harm — and they’ve tried to create this life so fantastic and big that their problems and the crap of the world won’t be able to penetrate them. Jeremy, an outcast after an incident at school, is mesmerized by them and joins their duo.

Thoughts: MAAAAAN. This was one I was excited about it and I just didn’t connect with it as I had hoped or really feel all that much in general towards it. I mean, I kept reading enough because I was interested where the relationships would go and how certain things would turn out and therewas this slightly addictive quality to it  but I just felt like *I* was missing something within the pages or IT was missing something. I also, from the tagline, thought this was going to be about a boy who was in love with a girl and her gay best friend and that was not it. He loves them both but he is only IN LOVE with one of them. I did NOT like the way the POVs were done — one was in first, another in second and another in third — and it drove me nuts and maybe was some of my disconnect. That said, the friendship dynamics and the characters were so DIFFERENT than anything I’ve read and each character was fleshed out really well . There’s tons of diversity so that’s a plus as well! Despite the way it hooked me with some things, it just left me with an overall “eh that was just okay” feeling instead of any real emotion which was sad because people have been obsessed with it and I just don’t get what happened to meeeee despite enjoying things about it.

Rating

RATING-OKAY

 

Underneath Everything

Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul

About In A Sentence-ish: For the past year, Mattie and her friend Kris have carefully steered clear of high school parties, most of the people and especially Jolene, a girl who was once her best friend, after the events of sophomore year. But suddenly her senior year she is drawn back into the intoxicating web that is Jolene and her world….but had she really ever left it?

Thoughts: WOW this book was so messed up in the best way. I don’t want to say too much but the toxic friendship and the way we find out everything that went down and why Mattie had this split from Jolene is all so wonderful. I was SO drawn into this book and this all-consuming relationship Mattie and Jolene had and the web that is spun between this group of friends. It was just SO GOOD and reading it I was constantly a nervous wreck. I can’t say I really LOVED the characters but I’m not sure how necessary that was for me in this case. Loved the writing!!!

 

Rating:

RATING-reallyliked

 

 

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Book Talk: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Book Talk: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnisA Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Katherine Tegan on October 6, 2015
Genres: YA Historical Fiction, YA Mystery
Also by this author: Not A Drop To Drink
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

With a pregnant belly and family secrets buried in the depths of her mind, Grace Mae finds herself in an insane asylum in the late 1800’s. She keeps silent but her sharp mind is always alert. When she has a violent outburst she finds herself locked away in the darkest depths of the asylum next to a man who becomes her ally, as he can tell she’s a great mind, and helps her escape with a doctor who is dabbling in criminal psychology. They flee to an asylum in Ohio where they embark on their work and Grace finds friendship and strength in this new home of hers.

a2PERFECT FIRST HALLOWEEN-ESQE READ! Also, yesssss to loving another Mindy McGinnis book!!

a4I loved Mindy McGinnis’s Not A Drop To Drink so I was SO here for this book about something so completely different than that one…and I have to say I’m just so ready to read ANYTHING Mindy writes after experiencing both of these stories.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and could not put it down. It was a PERFECT October/Halloween read for those who don’t want scary but like a little mystery and an atmospheric setting that is equal parts dark/brutal (the mystery, Grace’s family secret, the conditions at the insane asylum) as it is heart-warming (Grace’s friends).

Specifically what I enjoyed:

  • Blend of historical fiction and mystery: I love historical fiction so I was definitely excited for this setting in the late 1800’s in Boston and small town Ohio. I hadn’t really read the blurb because I knew Mindy McGinnis + insane asylums + historical fiction was all I needed to know so I was pleasantly surprised by the thread of mystery in this one. Thornhollow reminds me of a quirky Sherlock-esque kind of character and I was so interested in their search for the killer and their delving into how the murderous mind works. I don’t want to say much but OH MAN for how the mystery ended up…not only who did it but how it all works out. GAH.
  • Insane asylum setting: Wow did Mindy McGinnis do a phenomenal job with the setting. I could picture these asylums — the cold, dark cells and the sounds of the patients. It was chilling. I just am so thankful to not have been alive in a time where it was so easy to throw women in these places for any reason that a man could say and it is their word vs the woman’s. We see two different asylums, the one from before she escapes and the one she and Thornhollow head to,  and they were pretty different from each other and I’m so glad that the bulk was spent in the more ethical asylum because the Boston asylum and their practices were just awful and I couldn’t handle Grace being there any longer.

[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: City Love by Susane Colasanti

Book Talk: City Love by Susane ColasantiCity Love by Susane Colasanti
Published by Katherine Tegan on April 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: All I Need
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Three girls move in together to an apartment in NYC the summer before their freshman year and gear up for their first taste of freedom and being on their own.

a2

a4I wanted to love this one so much. It had the makings to be a total Jamie book — great NYC setting, set the summer before college, new friends/roomies — but it just wasn’t at all. In the first chapter or so I was digging the “look at all the possibilities spread out before us/yay grand new adventure” vibe and all the traipsing across the city was making me want to be back in New York. And then I kept reading and it just wasn’t at all what I thought it was going to be.

Here’s why:

1. I was honestly bored through most of it — I was expecting this to be a whirlwind summer of new adventures and just trying to figure your shit out. I eat that stuff up. Instead I just found it dragging on and didn’t really find myself enjoying it. I should have put it down but I didn’t bring another book to the pool so I was COMMITTED. I will say that closer to the end things got REALLY interesting to the point I was devouring it but most of the book I was just bored. I mean, the timeline for this book is really short so it’s not like SO MUCH STUFF is going to happen but that’s also why I felt iffy about how much the romances dominated everything in that short time which I’ll talk about below.

2. I thought there was going to be a greater emphasis on the friendships but no: I was really thinking there were going to be some good friend dynamics with this roomie situation and honestly most of this book was about random boys they meet in like the first 5 days they are there and fall hard for (wow how lucky that all 3 just happen to find these dudes so quickly. THAT NEVER HAPPENED TO MY FRIENDS AND I). I can understand that sometimes people are just your roommates and you aren’t bffs with them but the vibe I got from the summary would lead me to believe it was more about the friendships, too. But it also did seem to act like the friendships between the roommates were so great but we got such a shallow view of it in my opinion of it. So, this was more of an expectation thing that let me down. I thought it would be a great friendship  book but no.

3. Ugh the romances: I love romances and love stories and the swoons. YOU KNOW THIS. But none of these inspired any swoons or anything other than UGH. Like at least if I didn’t get the friend dynamics I was hoping for I was hoping I’d at least get some good romance if that was what it was going to focus on. The one romance DID take a turn for the interesting but I just still wasn’t invested much at all. I don’t mind insta-love or attraction in lots of cases because I find it to be very realistic (I mean I thought I was in REAL LOVE like 100 times as a teen let’s be real) but I think I just really didn’t dig that the romance was the MAIN THING going on in this novel when there was so much other stuff to explore and the romances didn’t even feel like anything special enough to incite any feels in me.

4. The 3 POVs blended together so much for me: The 3 girls had such different and interesting backgrounds and stories but honestly when I was reading their voices sounded the same. For how different they all were, their voices were not distinct in my mind at all. At certain points I had to really thing like, “okay which girl’s chapter is this??”

 

a6RATING-Not-a-fan

factors+ NYC setting, the concept of this novel (and planned series)
–  expectations of what I got vs. what it was, not shipping any of the romance, blending of the main characters voices, finding myself bored

Re-readability: No
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No
Do I plan on reading the sequel?
Probably not unless I hear AMAZING things. I do want to know what happens just out of curiosity but not enough to read it.

a5maybe people looking for a really, really fluffy romance for the beach (but bring a backup just in case!), people looking for a book set in NYC, younger teens maybe (maybe it will seem more glamorous and romantic than it did to this lady?)

a8It pretty much comes down to my expectations for what I thought this novel was all about –new adventures, taking a stab at independence, friendship, that moment in time before college where there are infinite possibilities, some romance — and what it actually was/how it was executed which was basically a whole lot of romance and pretty skimpy on the other stuff I had hoped for. I knew to expect romance (what I am so normally there for) but I expected more than JUST that. In addition to my expectations,  I just didn’t even enjoy the romance storylines and found the POVs to blend too much together. I think there’s so much to explore with the concept of this series but the first book just didn’t do it for me.

review-on-post-it

city love susane colasanti

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
Based on what I had HOPED this book would be like, do you have any recs?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

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