Tag: Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 9 September, 2014 by in General / 8 Comments

This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is top ten underrated authors/books from [X] genre. I’m going to go with what I know and the really specialised topic of Arthurian fiction. You may choose to view this as an offshoot of fantasy…

  1. The Table of Less Valued Knights, by Marie Phillips. I actually read this recently, and it’s pretty new, but still, I think it deserves some attention. It’s a bit Gerald Morris-ish in tone, I think, but more mature.
  2. Idylls of the Queen, by Phyllis Ann Karr. I loved this. It gives pride of place to a more minor character (Sir Kay), and gave me a whole ton of evidence for my dissertation topic. It’s a fun read, and I think it adapts Malory really, really well.
  3. The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, by John Steinbeck. I should repost some of my reviews of this here sometime. He’s one of the very, very few writers that can make me sympathetic to Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere, all at once. Possibly the only one who really made me feel that love triangle. He never completed his work on this, and it shows in the early parts, but some of the writing is amazing and breathtaking.
  4. The Killing Way, by Tony Hays. A solid murder mystery using an Arthurian setting, trying to be authentically historical rather than fantastical in this case. If you liked Bernard Cornwell’s Arthurian trilogy, this is definitely worth a go. Plus, I’ve had some good conversations with Tony Hays, and he’s sent me some signed copies of his books — I really, really need to get round to catching up with reading them.
  5. Camelot’s Honour, by Sarah Zettel. There’s actually a whole quartet of these, and it does make more sense to read them together, but I loved this book for going to the Welsh roots of the tales to pick out some less used elements. The books are very much romances, in both the medieval and the modern sense. They also have strong female protagonists.
  6. Under in the Mere, by Catherynne M. Valente. Another one which pulls a lot from Welsh sources, particularly in the portrayal of Kay/Cei. It’s very distinctively Valente’s work, and if you know what I mean by that, you’ll know whether you’re going to like it in advance, I suspect.
  7. Exiled from Camelot, by Cherith Baldry. Okay, I had some problems with this one where it came to the portrayal of women, and it’s definitely not culturally accurate to just about any pre-modern stage of Arthurian literature, but it’s fun, and if you read for characters and relationships, it’s all about the strong bonds there. Kay is a key figure, again.
  8. Hawk of May, by Gillian Bradshaw. I’ve enjoyed most of Bradshaw’s work, so I guess this recommendation is no surprise. It’s Gawain-centric, with pretty human characters all round — very few complete villains, and fewer complete heroes.
  9. Child of the Northern Spring, by Persia Woolley. Sort of in the Mists of Avalon tradition as regards portraying women’s lives and Celtic culture, but much less awful and more readable. Guinevere is central.
  10. The King’s Peace, by Jo Walton. Sort of alternate Arthuriana, focusing on a female warrior in Arthur’s band. Looking for the correspondences is interesting, though it can get in the way of the story.

So! Link me yours, especially if they’re on fantasy or SF. I’m waiting!

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 2 September, 2014 by in General / 4 Comments

This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is apparently the back to school edition: top ten characters I’d have sitting at my lunch table. Given I was the deeply unpopular kid in a tiny school, I rarely ended up sitting with anybody except the other deeply unpopular kid, so I’ll choose to believe that I get to pick who is at my table and they can’t say no, even if they’re way cooler than me.

  1. Mori, from Among Others. Because she actually is one of the less popular ones, and we have a lot in common.
  2. Bran, from The Dark is Rising. Because being Welsh and an outcast, he has plenty in common with me and Mori.
  3. Cath, from Fangirl. I haven’t actually read all of this yet, but Cath’s anxiety issues and fangirlishness mean we have plenty in common too.
  4. Harriet Vane, from Dorothy L. Sayers’ Peter Wimsey Mysteries. Because omg, Harriet.
  5. Peter Wimsey, from Dorothy L. Sayers’ Peter Wimsey Mysteries. Because he’d be hilarious and wouldn’t give a fig about me being unpopular.
  6. Steve Rogers, from Captain America. In skinny!Steve mode, he fits in with this group pretty well. Post-serum, he’d sit with us anyway because arbitrary stuff about cool/uncool people is not fun.
  7. Bucky Barnes, from Captain America. Because how exactly you’d have Steve without Bucky following somewhere behind, I don’t know.
  8. Peeta Mellark, from The Hunger Games. Because he seems pretty nice.
  9. Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games. Silent, glaring, and sticking close to Peeta.
  10. Susan Pevensie, from The Chronicles of Narnia. Because she gets a raw deal from her family in the end, who dismiss her for not fitting in with the rest of them. God knows I don’t have much in common with Susan, but she went to Narnia once. She must be a good person.

Okay, what’s everyone else thought of that will undoubtedly make my list look uncool?

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 26 August, 2014 by in General / 24 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a la The Broke and the Bookish, is “top ten books you really want to read but haven’t got yet”. Which is difficult, for me: I tend to pick up what I want right away, because I am terribly prone to needing instant gratification. Still, I’m doing better lately, and there’s some books I haven’t got as ARCs despite all my hankering after them.

  1. Maplecroft, by Cherie Priest. I’ve enjoyed most of Priest’s work, and even when I haven’t loved it, I’ve thought it was interesting. So I’m very much looking forward to this one.
  2. The Just City, by Jo Walton. I love the sound of it; the whole concept of setting up Plato’s Republic for real and seeing how it works? Yeaaah. Plus, it’s Jo Walton: I’ll read anything she puts out.
  3. The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin. I don’t even know what it’s about, I just know I want it when it comes out. Jemisin’s never let me down yet.
  4. The Galaxy Game, by Karen Lord. I wasn’t totally bowled over by The Best of All Possible Worlds, but I did enjoy it, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Lord develops the minor characters of the first book, and where she goes with developing the universe she’s set up.
  5. Dreamer’s Pool, by Juliet Marillier. I generally enjoy Marillier’s work, and this sounds like an interesting one. In a way, I think I can kind of predict what’s coming, but I still think it sounds interesting, and Marillier’s writing and characters are an important part of the package, too.
  6. A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab. This is the first one on this list where I haven’t read anything by the author before! I’m intrigued by the summary, the various parallel Londons it mentions. I may be kind of a sucker for alternate Londons like Neverwhere and Un Lun Dun.
  7. Batgirl, vol. 1: Silent Running, by Scott Peterson & Kelley Puckett. I like Gail Simone’s run on Batgirl with Barbara Gordon; I’m interested to dig into other characters, though, particularly as Cassandra Cain has specific limitations. Although, what’s with Batgirl having disabilities and being magically healed?
  8. Heraclix & Pomp, by Forrest Aguire. I’ve been interested in this since reading Dan’s review.
  9. Dangerous Girls, by Abigail Haas. Everyone makes this one sound amazing. I’m hoping to win a giveaway for this book sometime soon, but otherwise, I’m definitely looking to pick it up somewhere.
  10. Hammered, by Elizabeth Bear. I like the idea of the middle-aged heroine, the world sounds interesting, etc. I may not end up picking this one up if I don’t like the work by Elizabeth Bear I’ve already got somewhere, but for now I still have my eye on it.

What about everyone else?

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 12 August, 2014 by Nikki in General / 8 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is “Top Ten Books I’m Not Sure I Want To Read”, which is an interesting one. Here goes…

  1. The Firebrand, Marion Zimmer Bradley. I’m fairly sure I don’t want to read this anymore, with all the stuff that’s come out about Bradley’s child abuse, enabling of paedophilia, etc. And I know I loathed The Mists of Avalon. But it’s Cassandra of Troy, and that gives me this tiny spark of hope, because I haven’t read enough about her… but yeah, probably a bad idea.
  2. So You Want to Be a Wizard, Diane Duane. For no big reason, it’s just — they’ve been on my to read list for so long, and have never yet caught my attention and said “read me, now”.
  3. The Angel’s Game, Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I know I’ve read books of his before, but the ones in this series haven’t really stuck in my mind, and I’m not sure I have the interest anymore.
  4. The Body at the Tower, Y.S. Lee. I read the first book ages ago and thought it was okay, but… the fact that I never went on to the second or third books, and I mean not even within two or three years, doesn’t really encourage me to go back and try them.
  5. Snobbery with Violence, M.C. Beaton. Did noooot get on with her Agatha Raisin books.
  6. Avempartha, Michael J. Sullivan. I liked the first book well enough, but it’s another where I just didn’t pick up the next.
  7. Empress, Karen Miller. I loved what she did with characters in the Innocent Mage duology, but some of the plot was just… argh, cartoon villains and such slow development of events. And other people have said they didn’t think she did a good job with the characters here.
  8. The Many-Coloured Land, Julian May. I tried these when I was younger and never got into them… Sorry Mum.
  9. The Better Angels of Our Nature, Steven Pinker. Mostly just because it’s so dauntingly long.
  10. Lord Foul’s Bane, Stephen Donaldson. Sorry again, Mum! This is just one that’s never appealed to me that much, especially because of the way the character behaves very early on. (The description of his leprosy, etc, didn’t bother me at all; while others think that’s a slow beginning, I liked the way it set him up. But his behaviour? Ughh.)

So, what about everyone else? And if you tell me The Lord of the Rings, we need to have words. (You are allowed not to like it, I swear.)

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 5 August, 2014 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is “Top Ten Books I’d Give To Readers Who Have Never Read X”. This is kind of a tough one, because I’m not really sure what to go for. My taste is pretty broad, but I know most people’s isn’t, so… (On the other hand, if I picked comics, it’d be Batgirl, Captain America, Spider-man and Young Avengers, and then I’d be running out.) So instead I decided I’d go for ten different values of X.

  1. Regency romance: The author is unquestionably Georgette Heyer, but which book…? Well, I started with The Talisman Ring, and adored it: I was a convert on the spot. I also enjoyed The Grand Sophy very much.
  2. Superhero comics: Ultimate Spider-man. It’s fun, you don’t need to know any back story, and it does start to bring you into the Marvel universe, with appearances from other characters like Daredevil, the X-men, Human Torch, etc.
  3. LGBT YA: David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy. So bloody adorable.
  4. Medieval-ish fantasy: While I love Tolkien, I think I have to award this spot to the more accessible Robin Hobb. She has a great narrative voice and a knack for characters you will love. Start with Assassin’s Apprentice; you may wish to skip the Liveships trilogy entirely, as I found that more uneven and full of characters I didn’t want to spend time with.
  5. Renaissance fantasy: Yep, ha, a technicality. Scott Lynch is my recommendation here, especially if you like the loveable rogue. Main downside is how long it takes for us to even see the most important female character of the series: she isn’t in the first two books.
  6. Golden Age crime fiction: Dorothy L. Sayers is my pick, without a doubt. I found that I needed to read a few books to get really into the character of her detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, which may be a problem. I might almost suggest beginning with a later book, perhaps Strong Poison. But if you’re willing to let a character grow on you, start at the beginning with Whose Body?
  7. Alternate history: Jo Walton’s Small Change trilogy wins hands down. Farthing is, for bonus points, a loving pastiche of Sayers’ work, although it is also a serious and harrowing tale of appeasing the Nazis and the world that creates.
  8. Speculative fiction: I’m going to go for something a little off the beaten path here. Try The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach. It completely enchanted me.
  9. Cheesy space opera: Philip Palmer. Or at least, Debatable Space, Artemis and Version 43. High octane fun! I found a lot of fault with these, but I also had a whale of a time.
  10. Non-fiction (science/history): The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The ethical issues this raises are well worth grappling with.

Somewhat random list, I know…

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 29 July, 2014 by Nikki in General / 10 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is “how many books do you own the most from”. I’m gonna be totally unscientific here and just take some wild guesses.

  1. Jo Walton. I own all her books, often in several formats. I think this one’s a safe bet.
  2. Ngaio Marsh. I have all those omnibuses. Omnibii?
  3. Robin Hobb. I’ve been reading everything she writes since I was, uh, thirteen ish?
  4. Guy Gavriel Kay. Again with the multiple formats.
  5. Ursula Le Guin. I don’t own everything she’s done, and I don’t usually have multiple copies, but I think she might still outnumber eveeeryone else. She’s just so good, I’m willing to try anything she’s done.
  6. Steven Brust. This is Jo Walton’s fault. I haven’t even read most of them yet.
  7. Tanya Huff. This is a guess, but I’m pretty sure I’m right. I’ve bought most of her books, though I haven’t read them all yet.
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien. Everything bar the twelve volume history of Middle-earth, I think. Multiple editions.
  9. The Gawain-poet. Whoever he (or she?) was. I own so many translations — probably at least nine?
  10. The Beowulf-poet. I’m not quite as big a fan as I am of the Gawain-poet, but still. I’ve got a facing translation one, Heaney’s, Tolkien’s… the list goes on.

So, what about everyone else? Strangely, Dorothy L. Sayers does not make the cut, because I borrowed my copies to read.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 22 July, 2014 by Nikki in General / 16 Comments

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is the kind of thing I’m usually bad at, but I’ll have a go. “Top ten characters I’d want with me on a desert island”, gogogo. Including comics characters in this list because I review comics here too!

  1. Aragorn, from The Lord of the Rings: Because he has all the camping skill and life experience. He’d totally be able to find us shelter and figure stuff out. If he can manage hobbits, he could take care of me. For one thing, I don’t eat as much.
  2. Tony Stark, from Iron Man: Because he’d think of a way off the desert island, using random scrap if necessary.
  3. Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games: Again, she knows her survival stuff. And she can hunt, if the island is big enough.
  4. Will Stanton, from The Dark is Rising: Because then I’d never be lacking a conversation partner, at least.
  5. Cath Avery, from Fangirl: Because, well, fangirling. And we could bond over social anxiety.
  6. FitzChivalry Farseer, from Assassin’s Apprentice: He’d be able to make sure we didn’t poison ourselves, he could communicate with animals for us, and my mum would be totally jealous.
  7. Nighteyes, from Assassin’s Apprentice: Who knows when a wolf might come in handy — and besides, you wouldn’t want to separate Nighteyes and Fitz; they’re a package deal.
  8. Sabriel, from Sabriel: Again, she’s competent, capable of looking after herself, she might be able to whistle up a Paperwing to fly some of us out of there or go into Death to send a message for help or something, and in the first book at least she’s close-ish to my age — younger, but mature. So we’d have stuff in common, I think.
  9. Billy Kaplan, from Young Avengers: He can alter reality with his mind. ’nuff said.
  10. Gwaihir the Windlord, from The Lord of the Rings: I’m sure if we were nice to him he’d fly everyone off the island, or at least go for help. Maybe he should’ve been my #1.

Well, that’s… probably a fairly unusual list, though I bet other people have said Katniss!

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 15 July, 2014 by Nikki in General / 18 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday is a bit different this week — top ten movies or TV shows. Hmmm. I don’t actually watch much TV, and getting round to watching films is hard for me, so you might find this list surprisingly outdated.

  1. Iron Man 3: Tony Stark has panic attacks. Pepper gets superpowers. I love the way they handle the racist trope of the Mandarin.
    “I’m cold.”
    “I know.”
    “How can you tell?”
    “Because we’re connected.”
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier: On your left! Because I love the comic, I love the way they adapted it, I love the politics of it, and I love what the MCU does with Steve’s character. He can be a dick in the comics, but in the film, he’s a good guy struggling to reconcile his morals with a drastically changed world, and he does it while making me want to hug him. Also: who the hell is Bucky?
    “Can any of you boys direct me to the Smithsonian? I’m here to pick up a fossil.”
  3. Howl’s Moving Castle: It cuts a lot of aspects I like from the book (like the whole fact of Howl being Welsh), but I still really love it. It’s one of my comfort films. Calcifer is just… <3
    “She likes my spark!”
  4. Spirited Away: I don’t think I have a pithy quote from this one, I just love it all.
  5. due South: Childhood nostalgia. Fraser was my first squish. And just… <3 Also, one of the few successful major actor-swaps between seasons I know of.
    “She shot me in the hat, Ray.”
  6. Stardust: Again, it’s not a perfect translation of the book, it definitely changes things, but it makes a great adaptation.
    Would I be correct in thinking that you can neither see nor hear me? Then I’d like to tell you that you smell of pee. You look like the wrong end of a dog. And I swear if I don’t get my Tristan back as he was, I’ll be your personal poltergeist!”
  7. Apollo 13: I have a lot of feelings about this film. The first time, it made me cry, even though I knew they were going to get safely home.
    “We just put Sir Isaac Newton in the driver’s seat. “
  8. Firefly & Serenity: Yeah, of course they’re on this list. I love the crew, I love everyone, and I hate Joss Whedon. Understood? (Well, really, I hate Fox.)
    “I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you.”
  9. Castle: More Nathan Fillion! Also, best father-daughter friendship in the ‘verse. Beckett’s kickass too, but for me, the relationship between Rick and Alexis is centre stage.
    “He’s like a 9 year old on a sugar rush.”
  10. NCIS: This is part because it’s awesome, part because Grandad loved it and now when I watch it I think of him. His favourite character was Abby. “She’s crazy,” he’d say. “I like her.”
    “I’ve never experienced Gibbs without his morning coffee. We’re in uncharted waters here, Kate.”

And now I should get ready for my volunteering shift, but I’ll be back later to see what everyone else’s talking about!

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 8 July, 2014 by Nikki in General / 20 Comments

I was bad at participating in this one last week — I did my own post, but I don’t think I commented on any others. I meant to, but stuff kept happening. I feel like a bad book blogger! And on that note, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is “top ten blogging confessions”.

  1. I’m starting to have trouble getting round to reading longer books/series because I feel like I should be reviewing more often. This was totally encouraged by GR’s reading challenge and stuff like that. I’m trying to be more sensible about it, but it’s strange; I used to rip right through even really long books, but now that I worry about not being able to do so, somehow I have a problem.
  2. Sometimes I equivocate far too much writing a review because people whose opinions I respect liked the book, and I just didn’t. Or an editor/publisher I normally think is great, or want to support, put out the book. Or I know the author a bit on twitter and I’m afraid they’ll find it. (N.B. In that case, I usually go with rating it with my gut feeling, but the review will probably talk about why it wasn’t my thing instead of me saying anything bad about the book itself.)
  3. I find it hard to be social with other book bloggers. I have a pretty broad range of interests, so that makes some meme posts and so on really weird — I might know some of the books they’re reading, but often they won’t know any of mine, or they don’t even venture into whatever genre I’m currently most into. Then I feel awkward and not sure if I’m really having fun interacting, or just doing it to get page views. (Given the number of books I’m finding through blogs, though, I’m pretty sure it’s the former.)
  4. My mother reads my blog. You see “alc3261” commenting? Yeah. Hi, Mum.
  5. I am way, way behind on reading/blogging about ARCs. I really need to have a ban on asking for any more, but as soon as I make that resolution, something awesome shows up.
  6. I don’t like anyone else trying to dictate the content of my blog. So if someone’s publicist sets up an interview with them or something on my blog, I get pretty twitchy when they start saying that I have to link to certain things, say certain things, not say others. Sometimes I’ll work around that (it’s natural to remind me to link to a pre-order page or something!); other times, it might end up making me not want to work with the company again.
  7. I keep starting new books before I’ve finished the old ones. And buying new books, too. Ahem. I’ve been trying to work on this, but honestly having the full list of books I technically have in progress might be putting me off. Time to weed it out?
  8. I have no idea what people will find interesting, most of the time. Like, memes, well, people are doing those, so maybe they’ll provide some relevant content. But when I write about the stuff that really matters to me (mental health, access to reading after sight loss, or my interview with Carrie Patel, just for example), I get fretful about whether it gets hits/comments, etc.
  9. I rarely have more than one post scheduled. I could get really organised and sort out some of my meme posts weeks in advance, but I’ve always been more one to play it by ear. Although I’m doing better at remembering to do this stuff than I ever did at remembering my homework.
  10. I go through phases. I tend to have a fairly cyclical approach to my hobbies. The main five, I guess, are reading, writing, gaming, running, and crochet. I’ve been on more of a reading phase for quite a while now, but writing and gaming are in the ascendent right now. This may mean fewer posts… It probably won’t, though, because reading is always my dominant hobby.

Don’t forget to link me to your TTT posts, people — or anything you’ve written in the last week that you think is interesting and would like some eyes/comments on!

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Top Ten Tuesday

Posted 2 July, 2014 by Nikki in General / 2 Comments

This is gonna be a really quick Top Ten Tuesday post, because it’s now very early on Wednesday, and I’m a very sleepy Nikki. I’ll be commenting on other people’s posts tomorrow; for now I’m just turning in my work, doing this post, and going to bed!

So this week’s theme is ten classic books, either favourites or going to read. I’ll go with ‘going to read’, and pick from the Fantasy Masterworks series by Gollancz, because I actually a) own a bunch of those already and b) need to finish reading them.

  1. The Book of the New Sun, by Gene Wolfe. I already know I enjoy Gene Wolfe’s work, even if it’s prone to making my head spin with the complexity/weirdness. I’ve had these books for a while now, since I read some really good reviews of them; now it’s just getting over the fact that I know it’s going to make my head spin!
  2. Little, Big, by John Crowley. I’ve been meaning to read this for even longer than I’ve been meaning to read Gene Wolfe. I think someone recommended it to me back when I read Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I’m not sure if it’s actually similar, or if there’s just similar themes, or if this person just knew I read a bit of everything anyway.
  3. Suldrun’s Garden, by Jack Vance. Yet another that I’ve been meaning to read forever. I think I originally picked it up just because of the reference to Lyonesse, wondering if it was Arthurian at all. Since then I’ve just heard it touted as some of the greatest fantasy ever. I doubt it’s going to topple my favourite (go on, guess), but that’s a promising lead-in.
  4. Lud-in-the-Mist, by Hope Mirlees. This list is mostly showing me how far behind I am on my reading list, since this is another I’ve been planning to read for ages. I’ve actually glanced at the first few pages before, and it looks like fun…
  5. The Compleat Enchanter, by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt. This hasn’t been on my list that long — just sense I read 100 Must-read Fantasy Novels, I think. I like parallel world stories.
  6. The Worm Ouroboros, by E.R. Eddison. Tolkien was a fan. Next?
  7. Was, by Geoff Ryman. I keep looking at this and feeling unsure. It being based on linkages between people based on L. Frank Baum’s Oz books gives me pause.
  8. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, by Patricia McKillip. I love Patricia McKillip, I don’t care what she writes about, I’m gonna read it. She writes so beautifully, and creates really interesting worlds.
  9. Replay, by Ken Grimwood. This intrigues me because when I was a young teen, my mother prompted me for a story with a similar plot. I’m wondering if she ever read this and the idea just stuck in her mind, or if it was a coincidence.
  10. Time and Again, by Jack Finney. Time travel! And an author I admire recently mentioned this on twitter — I can’t remember who, but I know it brought the book to mind again. I think I already own a copy, so that’ll shuffle it up the list.

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