Reincarnation Blues

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 23 Oct 2017

Member Reviews

I couldn't put this book down. "Reincarnation Blues" by Michael Poore is a witty, humorous story of a man named Milo who's lived nearly 10,000 lives. If I believed in reincarnation, this is how I would imagine it. Each life is supposed to teach a lesson, and ultimately, people are supposed to achieve a "perfect" life. Milo, has lived more lives than any, and yet he still hasn't received perfection. His afterlife is also complicated, as he is involved in a forbidden love.
 
 Each chapter of the book is about one of Milo's lives or his time in the afterlife in-between his lifetimes. At first, I wasn't sure I was going to like this book. For some reason, the first few pages, I just didn't care for Milo. But as I got further into his story, I really came to enjoy reading about all of Milo's lives. And no, Milo doesn't always come back as a human. Poore mentions his lifetimes as animals, but doesn't commit whole chapters to these lives. Milo's lives jump from the ancient past to the far off future, so it's hard to define what sort of genre this book falls into. There are fantasy elements, futuristic sci-fi, modern day, Poore brings so many different worlds to life. 

I don't want to give too much away, but I enjoyed reading this book. Poore has a interesting and sometimes brutal way of story-telling that is funny but also heart wrenching. Milo is a flawed man, but he tries so hard, I couldn't help but keep wishing better for him.

This is a great work of fiction that I think has a broad audience, for sci-fi and fantasy fans. I've not read anything like this, so it's hard to define a definitive group of readers that would enjoy. If you don't like Milo at first, give it a chapter or two, and I think you will warm up to the guy, like I did.
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Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late August.

Reincarnation Blues is told from the standpoint of a reincarnated soul named Milo, who has lived over and over again with the theme of fighting evil, gaining superpowers, and loving Suzie, the personification of Death. They meet back at the end of each lifetime in some form of the afterlife, its beauty and livability depending on how much good they had been able to accomplish. And his lifetimes range anywhere from being one of the Burning-Man-style EarthPeople in a dystopic 2025 before a comet hits Earth, a UK college boy in the 3400s, a Buddhist man in 500 b.c., an Iowa farmer in the 1900s who takes a strange pleasure in driveby shootings, and a Beat-Poetry-esque kooky fishy surfy undefined future.
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Note: I received this book from Netgalley & the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Out today, Reincarnation Blues follows Milo, a soul who's been reincarnated thousands of times and is still trying to achieve something big and positive enough to end his lives. There's one complication: if he achieves enlightenment, he will lose Suzie, an incarnation of Death that he has fallen in love with in between lives in the afterlife, which isn't making him super motivated to achieve it.

I really really really enjoyed this novel a lot. It's an offbeat, darkly comic fantasy and I really loved it a lot. The book takes you through various of Milo's nearly 10,000 lives and also fills in his love story with Suzie and his times in between his lives. The afterlife/purgatory Poore has created is wonderfully built and fun to discover. I always like seeing peoples' takes on such things. Not only is this backdrop well built and delivered on, Milo's lives also vary in wonderful ways. They range from futuristic sci-fi worlds to historical events and cover many things in between. Each one feels like a self-contained short story, but they're still obviously linked by Milo and his soul. Despite their differences, Poore has still created a very cohesive narrative.

Milo is an old soul, so he's unexpectedly wise--until it comes to figuring out how to achieve Poore's version of enlightenment. When he rails against this, and fights it so he can be with Suzie, he's somewhat immature, but understandable. You'll definitely be in his corner, rooting for him. The other supporting characters are also well developed: Suzie is an interesting incarnation of death, and Milo's other caretakers are also wonderfully their own people.

Overall, I found this novel enjoyable and funny. I loved the stories of Milo's lives, and found myself looking for the moment where he achieved what he needed to move on from reincarnating over and over. While I loved the individual stories, I also enjoyed that they told a cohesive whole, in which I really cared about what happened to the characters. If you like offbeat fantasy, you'll really enjoy this novel!
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Death Be a Lady Tonight
By Bob Gelms
          Well, I have to pass this along. According to Michael Poore in his latest, Reincarnation Blues, the whole “death” thing is nothing like we have come to expect it to be. First off, the moment you die you get an escort and not, surprisingly enough, the Grim Reaper, Death, the Pale Rider, or Satan.
	In this case, Death is a woman named Susie who isn’t scary at all and her job has been greatly exaggerated. She escorts you to see two old women, Mama and Nan. It is they who decide whether or not you have used your life to become one with the universe, gain total wisdom, or get it right. Apparently, you get 10,000 opportunities and then awaiting you is eternal oblivion.
          Our hero, Milo, is eaten by a shark this time around. Milo had already used up 9,995 lives and Nan and Mama were more than a little impatient because Milo still hadn’t figured it all out. They had a strong suspicion that he was doggin’ it because, you see, Milo was hopelessly in love with Death……sorry……Suzie.
	Nan and Mama figured Milo liked dying so he could be with Suzie for a while before he had to go back and try for total enlightenment one more time. He only had five chances left. Nan and Mama were so upset they started sending him back as a bug and other humiliating things but Milo kept putting himself in harm's way.
	 Among other methods of dying, Milo had had a steel girder dropped on him, was executed three times, beheaded in China, hanged, shot, crushed, speared, run over by a chariot, and died 14 times in combat. His favorite death, however, was when he was captured by the Turks and flung by catapult back over the wall at Vienna. Awaiting him at the end was his true love, Death…..I’m sorry….Suzie. She was always waiting for him. 
          If you believe in evolution, please note: you don’t come from dust, no matter what they say. You come from water and you go back to water when you die. Milo woke up by water virtually every time he died and Suzie was there waiting. She loved Milo. Together they hatched a complicated plot where they would go back together and live happily ever after. That wasn't working out too well. So, Suzie was prepared to quit her job. She was the only Death. There was no precedent.  
          As I hope you have guessed by now, this is a wildly imaginative novel after the fashion of a 20th century master, Kurt Vonnegut. In my opinion, Mr. Vonnegut’s best novel is Cat’s Cradle and Mr. Poore’s book has a lot of the same themes in it. They both have different styles and Mr. Poore does not try to be Kurt Vonnegut. They both have very different strengths. They are both exceptionally funny. I laughed out loud a few dozen times at Reincarnation Blues, mostly at Milo’s mischievousness. The book is an unequivocal joy to read.  
          I’m not sure Mr. Poore was saying anything cosmically profound through the characters of Nan and Mama, though come to think of it maybe he was. They seem to take the place of God. Death could very well be a woman and God could be two old biddies. Anything at all beats the portrayal of God in the Old Testament. Who the hell am I to say?
          Milo is supposed to represent all humans and Death….sorry…Suzie represents part of immortal beings we know nothing about. After reading Mr. Poore’s book I no longer believe in Death. I do however believe in Suzie. She is everything I want the Grim Reaper to be. I might, if I could, point out the obvious: there is absolutely no mention of hell anywhere in the book. None of the characters seem to have read Dante’s Inferno. 
          Nan and Mama are the caretakers of humanity, surely a better job for God than the Supreme Threatener, the Almighty Smiter of Cities, the Celestial Bringer of Floods, or the Cosmic Vendor of Hellfire and Brimstone.
          It would be utterly pointless for Mr. Poore to write a sequel, as this book is as close to perfect as you can get. Everything works astonishingly well and “a good time is guaranteed for all.”
	Enter at your own risk; Reincarnation Blues will not leave you alone. It will keep poking you in the chest until you finish it and then it will live on in vivid Technicolor inside your head.” What a long strange trip it’s been.”
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The blurb made me curious and I also wanted to see how the worldbuilding would play out in this story since so many cultures have a form of reincarnation within it's mythology narrative. While it was an interesting story, it did not really follow any specific religious views which I think was a good thing. However, it also touched so lightly on various cultural views it ended up not really having one of it's own and I'm not totally sure it was purposeful in doing that. Most people will not come to this story for that specific cultural view so this will be a minor niggle to most but I personally wanted it to go a bit deeper. Personal preference only but I also was glad it didn't so it didn't become preachy or religious at all.

I wasn't quite certain what the theme of the book was as he was continually pushed for "perfection" or enlightenment (which I think was interchangeable here) but it was never truly defined and he did find perfection within imperfection (say that 3 times fast). The romance was actually quite light in this book and was really the motivation for our hero to achieve perfection. The timeline flows back and forth through time with historical characters we know and futures we have yet to experience. It was an interesting journey and his lifetimes were interesting within itself. The ending is satisfying as is the epilogue but it does pose a philosophical question which I will not reveal since it would end up being a spoiler. You'll just have to see if you feel the same. *evil laugh*

I would have also liked to have followed "death" or Suzie more and I think that would have made the romance stronger. It was not strong within the story as most would expect but I did believe it and rooted for both of them to be together.

I give this book 3 stars. I did enjoy the fantasy of many lifetimes and even though I would have liked a stronger and more depth to the worldbuilding and romance I still found our hero Milo's journey to be interesting in how he learned and grew.
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Milo is an old soul. In fact, he’s the oldest soul in existence. To be exact, he’s lived 9,995 lives. Milo has yet to achieve Perfection, the one thing that would send him along to “The Oversoul” in the “Everything,” but Milo isn’t interested in anything but his one true love Suzie, aka Death. Milo soon learns, however, that a soul is only allowed 10,000 lives. Milo has five more tries to achieve Perfection, otherwise he’ll be automatically sent into “Nothingness” with no chance of being with Suzie ever again. Now, Milo will have to live his last five lives to the fullest looking for that which would make him Perfect, while at the same time figuring out how this can include an idea like Suzie.

I’m pretty much a sucker for a good love story, and the star-crossed love story of Milo and Suzie in Reincarnation Blues hit all the right spots for me. Technically, they shouldn’t be together. While not necessarily frowned upon, definitely a relationship that cannot, in the end, go anywhere. Yet Milo and Suzie’s determination to defy the odds is endearing, and the stuff great romances are made of.

With that said, however, what really takes the cake in Poore’s Reincarnation Blues are the varying ideas about life and the afterlife. Seeing Milo in all sorts of different situations—from the mundane to the frightening, a simple past to a horrifying look at the future—Michael Poore really makes vivid portraits of belief, yet doesn’t get preachy with it either. It’s very fluid and slightly generic, but in the best way possible. He delivers the ideas about the afterlife in a clear and cohesive way that could make anyone appreciate it and understand it on any level.

For all that there are definitely some lives of Milo’s that are disturbing to read about, for the most part Michael Poore keeps things from feeling too weighted by seriousness all the time mainly by coupling Milo’s quest for Perfection with the love story. The love story, as unlikely as a relationship between a mortal soul and Death is made to appear, represents a thread of hope. You can see this hope transcend not only into wanting Milo and Suzie to be together in the end, but into many of the lives Milo inhabits throughout time. The one thing that keeps people going.

The setting drifts back-and-forth between Earth and the Afterlife, with the latter being, in my opinion, far more interesting. Probably because I enjoyed the conceptualization of the Afterlife more than that of future Earth, which is what is dealt with in the majority of Milo’s lives that we experience. Also probably due to the fact that the times spent in the Afterlife were relatively brief scenes, whereas the Earth scenes tended to drag on a little too much for my tastes.

I’ve been seeing Reincarnation Blues pop up on quite a few sci-fi/fantasy lists lately. Presenting interesting ideas about life and Death as well as a love story that defies time and space, Reincarnation Blues was an overall enjoyable read for me.
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❝ He had always kind of thought he would go into death like an explorer, in a golden flash of peace and wholeness, and here he was being chewed up like a ham. His last words were "No! Fuck! No!".❞

Reincarnation Blues has to be one of my favorite books I've read this year. It keeps you entertained from beginning to end with all of the amusing, frustrating, and heartbreaking flashbacks of Milo's past lives.

Milo has lived for quite a while and hasn't really taken his journey to "Perfection" seriously. He's always assumed he'd have forever to get it right when he gets a rude awakening and finds out he only has five lives left or else risk becoming nothing.

For the first third of the book, it's mostly Milo remembering his past lives and the lessons he learned. Like the time he became a cricket, saved his village, or was thrown from a catapult. This is the super fun part of the book because even though Milo is planning out his next life and thinking about how he'll achieve perfection the book just lets you enjoy the humor of his human struggles.

This book had me laughing and smiling pretty much from beginning to end. It makes fun of life and the vastly silly things humans waste their time worrying about as much as it pokes fun at death, so if dark humor is your thing this is definitely a book you want to check out!

❝ "Love means being torn in two," he was known to tell young people on their wedding day. You shouldn't say things like that to young people. He had to live a penalty life as a catfish, after that.❞

Romance was a big part of this book, maybe not all of it, but a good chunk. It was about Milo and Suzie finding ways to be together even though everything and everyone wanted to keep them apart.

It's during the second third of the book that the story starts to focus more on specific lives Milo goes through rather than just rushing through different ones. I really liked this change because it felt grounded. It really became about Milo and the voices in his head (his past lives) really trying to find perfection. They gave him advice, helped him along, and even silently disapproved whenever he made costly mistakes.

This is where Milo stops trying to achieve perfection in the way he sees others have, and he really starts to question what it means. He starts to form his own idea of it and starts making some serious progress toward his end goal.

I think Suzie had her own journey to go through as well (although it was a smaller part of the book). Her sections were interesting because of the perspective she brought to it. I loved learning about her first years on the job and how much emotion she could show. She tried her best to learn from and understand humans, even rebelled about the cosmic soul for a while but. in the end, she was held back by fear just as much as anyone else.

I loved how she took a chance halfway through the book, and how she decided to take one last gamble with Milo at the end. It was all or nothing.

Another big plus from the book was how it explored both the best and worst that people were capable of doing onto one another. There were some hints at sexual abuse, violence, and things like that which Milo experienced or witnessed in his various lives. It never went into graphic detail or anything---like I said, it was more alluded to than anything---but it's just something to be aware of.

I'm not going to talk very much about the ending here just because I don't want to spoil whether or not Milo ends up figuring out the whole perfection thing, but I will say that just overall the book was awesome and I highly recommend this one for people who enjoy dark humor.

This amazing book hits the shelves on August 22, so please, please, please go check it out!
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If Neil Gaiman, Terry Prachett and Douglas Adams had a meeting of the minds and together wrote a fictional work about reincarnation, it would be this book. Often hilarious, sometimes dark and a bit disturbing, but always witty and full of some surprising insights it reflected many aspects of my own personal views on reincarnation and the purpose of a soul's continuing to return.  I absolutely loved this book!
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I recieved an e-copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. Unfortunately I picked up this book when I didn't really feel like reading so that may have affected my rating. I know everyone gets that way so I won't go into too much detail about the story. 

Did I find the book enjoyable?
Yes

Did I like the concept of the book?
Yes

Would I read more by this author?
Yes

Do I think this book could be one of the best this year?
Yes

Do I think you should read it for yourself and see how you feel?
Yes
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Beautiful,  unique and touching both in style and substance. I was drawn in to the soul that is Milo as he strives for perfection before he is out of second chances. One of my favorite books of the year. Go. Read. Now.
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This is a hard book to choose a star rating for.  It reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five,  except it makes a little more sense. It's a book that requires suspension of disbelief, but I have had absolutely no problem just going with some of the absurd aspects of the premise, because it is really well written. It's written in an episodic way, and some of the parts where amazing, while others were pretty good. 
I think my favourite thing about this book was the descriptions of meditating. As someone who is currently struggling with trying to learn to meditate, this was actually very helpful. Don't worry, it's not a book about meditating, it just comes up in passing.
The book lost one star from me because I felt it could have ended one chapter before the end, rather than finishing as it is.
All in all an interesting read. it would be a good book to read with others - for example at a book club, because there is a lot to think about and discuss.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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A fun and engaging book ... highly recommended. While I think it went on a little too long, for the most part I found myself not wanting to put it down, always eager to read what life Milo would be born into next. This book was reminiscent of something that Neil Gaiman might have written. Totally enjoyable.
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Reincarnation Blues was sold as a light-hearted look at the reincarnation process and one man's struggle to achieve purity and the release from life. There are many small retellings of some of his attempts and some of them were interesting, though I didn't find them humorous. However, those are just decoys because the only lives where Milo comes close to succeeding are lives where he is raped, tortured, exploited, and many of his companions are maimed and killed. Apparently the only way to enlightenment is through suffering and pain. And (semi-spoiler alert) even after he supposedly is done, he continues to recycle through lives. Many of his lives are not as people, which just seems a cheat: Does a slug really have a chance to achieve a higher level of consciousness? I found this to be increasingly depressing as the book went on. Maybe your definition of whimsical is different than mine, but I was disappointed.
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The concept for this story immediately grabbed my attention. I expected to - wanted to - love it, but mostly I felt... meh. 

Milo is an interesting guy. He has lived almost 10,000 lives, and only has a few more tries to reach perfection before he fizzles out into nothing. This, for me, is the compelling aspect. I wanted the immediacy and desperation of this struggle. Unfortunately, we don't get much of that because, through most of the book, we are going back and experiencing Milo's past lives. Of course, in each life Milo was an entirely different person, and so we wind up spending time with a whole lot of different Milos. These vignettes are all out of sequence and mostly have nothing in common. 

Early on, we're told that time is not linear. Consequently, Milo's other lives encompass ancient history all the way through future times. Many of the lives we explore in-depth are futuristic, with a strong sci-fi  feel. This wasn't what I expected, and it's not a genre I have much interest in. That further complicated my ability to get lost in the story.

The humor is fun, though it also makes the content feel more satirical than serious. 

I actually found Suzie, otherwise known as Death, more interesting than Milo. Her plight felt more immediate and emotional. 

I know that all the past lives were meant as lessons for Milo, and that was the point of us reliving those lives with him. But, for me, the execution felt disjointed, with too much detail on some lives and not enough on others. And the current timeline lost the intensity because of all the bouncing around.

As with any review, my grumbling is all specific to me. If this book appeals to you, ignore me and give it a try.
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I found the idea of this book completely intriguing however my interest started waning by the end. Milo and Suzie's relationship was the high point for me to though and I loved coming back to it!
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This was a unique idea and it was nice to read something very different from what I'm accustomed to. For some reason when I was around 50% finished, I started to lose interest and was not as engaged by the ending as I was at the beginning.

This is the love story of Milo and Death, although she prefers to be called Suzie. In the early chapters, I was reminded of the TV show Dead Like Me from 2004. I loved that show and was sorry it only lasted two seasons. The comparison to the book is the dark humor and the juxtaposition of Suzie reaping souls for a living, but otherwise experiencing very human emotions and characteristics. The idea is great and opens up lots of room for imagination, but Reincarnation Blues goes into a few places that went on a little too long for me. Milo is just a regular soul who seems like kind of a slacker and has been reincarnated nearly 10,000 times. Some chapters take place in the afterlife, some follow Mill's experiences after he is reborn. Sometimes he's reborn several centuries after the present day, other lives are what we know as the past. Reincarnation does not follow any chronology. I think this is at the root of why I lost interest toward the end. I enjoy historical fiction, but there are long chapters that take place is dystopian future societies and I have never really been a fan of dystopian fantasy fiction. There are a couple of long chapters that take place in this setting and that's when I struggled with getting through the book. I'm sure there are other people who were as disengaged in the historical fiction chapters as I was in the dystopian. If you enjoy both and aren't put off by variance in chapter length, this may be a perfect book for you! I enjoyed it for the most part, but got stuck in some long chapters that seemed like they would never end. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy for review.
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This book isn’t exactly what I would normally pick up, but there was just something about the cover and blurb of Reincarnation Blues that caught my attention and made me want to read it. Reading books out of my comfort zone can go either way, but all in all this novel by Michael Poore turned out to be a little gem. The first thing that stood out when I started reading Reincarnation Blues was the writing style. I fell in love almost immediately with the way this story was told and I found myself completely absorbed into this piece of speculative fiction with a sci-fi twist. This story is about a man called Milo who is reincarnated through many many lifetimes set both in the past, present and future. He is now about to start life number 9.996… Just when he finds out he only has five more lives to get it right and reach Perfection. The chapters are a mix of what happens during these lives, what happens in between and how he fell in love with Death herself.  Some lives are told in more detail while others seem less important, but they all help develop his character in a very fascinating way. Basically you can say Reincarnation Blues is a collection of connecting short stories about the different lives Milo lives and how his actions influence his next life. The romance is subtle, very well done and didn’t bother me at all; the wordbuilding of the different world in between fascinating. I personally didn’t enjoy some of the chapters set in the future (for example chapter 14, which is set in a prison in space) as much as the rest of the story, but that could have been just me not being into full-blown science fiction in the first place. The wonderful writing and rest of the story in general mostly made up for those feelings though. Reincarnation Blues isn’t for everyone, but it is a truly fascinating read that I can definitely recommend if you think this sounds like your cup of tea!
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Reincarnation Blues is an enchanting tale of a soul trying to achieve perfection despite his very human flaws. I found the tone to be reminiscent of Douglas Adams’ work, and thus greatly enjoyed it (there were times where I couldn’t stop thinking of Arajag and his struggles). 
	Warnings first: It goes without saying really that there’s a lot of death in this book. Sometimes it’s graphic, sometimes not. Animal violence and death also occur, but at lower frequencies. One of the lives portrayed experiences rape, abuse and slavery (which life it is becomes quickly evident, if that helps). 
	The title is both fairly accurate and descriptive in this case, as Milo struggles to figure out how to be perfect within the maximum number of allotted lives (ten thousand, for anybody that’s curious). One would think that many attempts would be more than enough, and based on the reactions of others around him, Milo has well exceeded the average attempts it takes a soul. I think that’s the very reason Milo is so relatable – he’s so human and has human flaws, including failure (obviously). 
	Despite the overall upbeat tone of voice for this story, the material covered at times does make it a bit of a heavy read – after all, in order for Milo to live again he must die, and not all of his deaths are easy (to read or experience, I imagine). 
	When I first realized I would be reading about multiples lives of Milo, I was concerned about two things: would the constant retelling become tedious (not enough variation, covering the same thing again and again) or would they make the character too different each time? I was surprised, but very pleasantly so, by the way Poore handled things. The perspectives for Milo’s multiple lives changes starting points (usually skipping childhood, unless there’s relevant information there), starting right in on where the character’s relevant events occur (basically, showing us the reason Milo chose that life, and what he was attempting to do with it). 
	I particularly enjoyed Milo’s last two lives – I won’t go into excessive detail about them, as I believe they are better told in the context of the story. With so many attempts already told, Poore had to present us with final attempts that upped the ante while still being entertaining. He did so with great success, wiping away any concerns I had about the conclusion of the novel.
	Up until this point I haven’t mentioned one of the important characters of the novel, Suzie (aka Death, but she doesn’t like that name, so I would advise against calling her that). I felt that Suzie was a perfect foil for Milo. The connection the two of them had with each other was both their strength and weakness. A fact that becomes more and more obvious throughout the book. I think it’s the reason I liked the two of them together so much.
	I have not read anything else by Michael Poore, but if Reincarnation Blues is an example of what he comes up with in that brain of his I’m very much interested in keeping an eye on his works from now on.
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I enjoyed this book so much. The characters were developed so well that I felt like I was a part of their world. The only reason that this was not 5 stars for me is because at some points it felt a little rushed but that is just me being picky.
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