Book Reviews

Review: Happier Thinking by Lana Grace Riva

37926277Summary: Changing how you think is possible. I wasn’t always so sure that was true until I experienced it myself, but I know now we don’t have to just accept unhappiness. Not always anyway. This book is my collection of tips and suggestions that have helped me achieve happier thinking. It’s sort of a gym for my mind. I’d love to tell you it was easier than the real gym but well… it’s not really. It takes time, effort, and practice but it’s absolutely well worth the rewards.

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thanks to Lana Grace Riva for the opportunity!*

My Thoughts: I love a good self-help book.  I am a generally happy person, and love using books like this one to help re-inspire me.  Happier Thinking is a super easy and fast read (it’s only about 40 pages), and was a perfect little pick me up amid the stresses of every day life.  Riva clearly states that she is not a psychology expert, but a normal person who has dealt with negativity and unhappiness and discovered some tricks that worked for her.  The book focuses on training your mind to dwell on the positive instead of the negative thoughts that can take over our minds, and she gives several ideas for how you can start that work (some of which I found that I already try to practice myself).  She has some really great ideas and insightful thoughts, all in a hilarious and relatable voice.  She makes the information fun and accessible, while bringing awareness to our thoughts and the control we actually have over our own mindsets.  This booklet is, by no means, an in depth study or discussion on the how and why of mindfulness, but it is a great starting point for anyone looking to brighten their thoughts.

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Three Bookish Things Tag

a baby shower for amelia

I was looking for a tag to do for this week, when I saw this one on Ally Writes Things and thought it looked like a fun one 🙂

Three Read Once and Loved Authors

  1. Morgan Matson: I read Save the Date and fell completely in love with the Grant family and Matson’s writing.  I definitely plan to read the rest of her stuff.
  2. Rainbow Rowell: Carry On is now one of my favorite books, and I really want to read Fan Girl too see what inspired it.  My sister is also a huge Rainbow Rowell and recommends so many of her books.
  3. Stephanie Perkins: I finally read Anna and the French Kiss, and I don’t know what took me so long.  I’m really excited to read the rest and hope they are just as good.

Three Titles I’ve Watched But Haven’t Read

  1. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks: This movie is just perfection in my opinion, and I just don’t need to read the book.  I’m too attached to what I have in my mind now.
  2. Room by Emma Donoghue: The acting in this movie was incredible, and the plot made my heart race.  I would definitely still be interested in reading this book, even though I know how it ends, because I hear it was incredible.
  3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: I was forced to watch this before reading the book with a group of friends, and now I have no desire to read it since I know the twists.  It did give me an excuse to cuddle with my now boyfriend for the first time though, so I can’t complain.

Three Characters You Love

  1. Aelin from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas: Aelin is such a badass, and I love that she is so complicated and imperfect.  One of my favorite heroines to date.
  2. Sookie Stackhouse from the Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris: I just can’t help but love Sookie.  She is so delightful and sassy and different from other main characters.  She is strong and independent while still being super girly and sweet.
  3. Emma Woodhouse from Emma by Jane Austen: Emma is my favorite classic so far that I have read during my Classics Club Challenge, and it’s because of the main character, Emma.  I totally connected with her and watching her meddle was so entertaining.

Three Series Binged

  1. The Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman: This series.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  I put off reading it for a while, and then when I finally jumped on the band wagon, I couldn’t stop.
  2. The Sookie Stackhouse Series: These books are just so quick and fun, and I love all of the characters so much.  I have one more book left to read after bingeing the rest of them, but I can’t bring myself to read it because I am not ready to be done.
  3. A Court of Thorns and Roses: I discovered this series when I first started blogging, and luckily I started it right before the third book came out and I didn’t have to wait at all.  I absolutely loved it and it was one of the series that made me fall in love with blogging.

Three Current Favorite Book Covers

I had a really hard time thinking of these because there are so many that I love.  Here are three that immediately came to mind when thinking about covers.

Three Goals for the Year

  1. Read 10 classics for my classics club challenge (I’ve seriously been struggling on this one)
  2. Get my Netgalley percentage up to 80%
  3. Read 100 books

I tag anyone who wants to do this fun tag! ❤


Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Books My Roommate Recommends


My roommate, Joey, and I are both book fanatics, and we love sharing and talking about our current reads.  He is a HUGE fantasy nerd, and last year he read 36 fantasy books alone.  This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme from That Artsy Reader Girl was a freebie, so I decided to get Joey’s Ten Book Recommendations.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman


I loved how weird and quirky it was.  I have never read anything like it.  The cast of characters is amazing and widely diverse.  As someone who predominately reads series, it was unusual for me to find a standalone that was so fulfilling (although I’m pretty sure Gaiman has a sequel in the works now).

The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King


Stephen King is one of the best authors out there and, in his own words, this series is his Magnum Opus.  It is literally perfect and brilliant.  There are no other words to describe it.

The Dragon Bone Chair by Tad Williams


This book/series is just classic high-fantasy and is done in a way that doesn’t feel cliche.  There are also a ton of plot twists that really surprised me.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke


I’ll be the first to admit that this book was an undertaking, and one I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to finish, but in hindsight it is an incredible book.  It is like if Jane Austen and Charles Dickens wrote a magical book together.  I loved the dynamic between our two main characters, as well as the system of magic in it.

The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan


This is such a classic fantasy series and provided inspiration for a lot of fantasy authors, and I don’t think you can call yourself an avid fantasy fan without having read this series.

Interview With a Vampire by Anne Rice


This book (and series) is my favorite take on vampires out there.  It has the most in depth and introspective look into the vampires psyche and how complicated it is to be one.  Also Lestat is dreamy.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren


I rarely get to see a good love story between two men, and this is such sweet romance.  It was so nice for me to see that representation in a young adult novel.

Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling


A horrible, trashy, gay, fantasy series.  What more could you ask for?

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo


I loved the system of magic in this series.  I thought it was super fresh and unique.  It also really didn’t shy away from the heroes’ dark pasts, which I appreciated as it gave them all more depth.  It was nice to see the protagonists not be so chivalrous.

The Silo Series by Hugh Howey


It’s just another YA dystopian novel, nothing groundbreaking, but it is lesser known and just as well written as the more popular books of its kind.

Book Reviews

Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

7728889Summary:  Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

My Thoughts:  Wow.  I’m still reeling from this book.  It is completely engrossing.  It has a dark and creepy vibe, a scary villain, and unique, vibrant, and diverse characters.  I really connected with Evie (I’d also love to play her as an actress), but all of the characters were really interesting and had very distinctive personalities.  The pacing is spectacular and I could not put it down.  Not only does this book have a heart-racing plot, but it established the over-arcing mystery for the rest of the series which really impressed me, and made me so excited to find out more.  There were small mentions that seemed insignificant at first, that really helped to develop and establish the world of the series.  I loved the 1920’s Manhattan setting (which was well researched and very clearly painted) and the mystical elements were so unique and fascinating.  Sometimes the dialogue seemed a little much with the exaggerated 1920’s slang, but I found it entertaining, and it was a great juxtaposition to the dark aura of the rest of the book.  I don’t know what took me so long to pick this up, especially since I was madly in love with Bray’s Gemma Doyle Trilogy, but I’m SO glad that I finally did.  It was really fantastic and I cannot wait to see what is in store in the next book.  Definitely one of my top reads of the year.

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Discussion Posts

Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #6

I joined Goodreads a few years ago, way before I started blogging, so my profile is kind of a mess.  I really want to clean it up so I can make better use of it.  I thought what a better way to do that than to join the Down the TBR Hole meme started by Lia @Lost In a Story! I am going to do it once a month instead of weekly, and hopefully make my Goodreads a pleasant place to be again.

Here is how it works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner

80536Rebecca Rothstein-Rabinowitz is a plump, sexy chef who has a wonderful husband, supportive friends, a restaurant that’s received citywide acclaim, a beautiful baby girl…and the mother-in-law from hell. 
Kelly Day’s life looks picture-perfect. But behind the doors of her largely empty apartment, she’s struggling to balance work and motherhood and marriage, while entering Oliver’s every move (and movement) on a spreadsheet, and dealing with an unemployed husband who seems content to channel-surf for eight hours a day. 
And Ayinde Towne is already on shaky ground, trying to live her life to the letter of a how-to guide called Baby Success, when her basketball superstar husband breaks her trust at the most vulnerable moment in her life, putting their marriage in peril — and their new family even more in the public eye. 
Then there’s Lia Frederick, a Philadelphia native who has just come home, leaving Los Angeles behind, along with her glamorous Hollywood career, her husband, and a tragic secret, to start her life all over again. 
With her trademark warmth and humor, Weiner tells the story of what happens after happily ever after…and how an eight-pound bundle of joy can shake up every woman’s sense of herself in the world around her. 
From prenatal yoga to postbirth sex, from sisters and husbands to mothers and mothers-in-law, Little Earthquakes is a frank, funny, fiercely perceptive Diaper Genie-eye view of the comedies and tragedies of love and marriage.

My Thoughts: I’m sure I would probably like this book, but right now it’s just not capturing my attention.  I have way too many books that I’m dying to read, that I most likely will never get around to it anyways.  VERDICT: TOSS

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

Holly couldn’t live without her husband Gerry, until the day she had to. They were 366522thekind of young couple who could finish each other’s sentences. When Gerry succumbs to a terminal illness and dies, 30-year-old Holly is set adrift, unable to pick up the pieces. But with the help of a series of letters her husband left her before he died and a little nudging from an eccentric assortment of family and friends, she learns to laugh, overcome her fears, and discover a world she never knew existed.

The kind of enchanting novel with cross-generational appeal that comes along once in a great while, PS, I Love You is a captivating love letter to the world!

My Thoughts:This movie is one of my favorites, and when I saw it was based on a book I immediately added it to my list.  Since I already know what happens, and I am happy with the movie, I don’t think this book is high on my priority list.  VERDICT: TOSS


Bookends by Jane Green

22649Catherine Warner and Simon Nelson are best friends: total opposites, always together, and both unlucky in love. Cath is scatterbrained, messy, and–since she had her heart broken a few years back–emotionally closed off. Si is impossibly tidy, bitchy, and desperate for a man of his own. They live in London’s West Hampstead along with their lifelong friends, Josh and Lucy, who are happily married with a devil-spawn child and a terrifying Swedish nanny, Ingrid.

All’s well (sort of) until the sudden arrival of a college friend–the stunningly beautiful Portia, who’s known for breaking hearts. Though they’ve grown up and grown apart from Portia, the four friends welcome her back into the fold. But does Portia have a hidden agenda or is she merely looking to reconnect with old friends? Her reappearance soon unleashes a rollicking series of events that tests the foursome’s friendships to the limit and leaves them wondering if a happy ending is in store.

Fortunately, Cath has plenty to take her mind off Portia’s schemes–like her gutsy decision to leave her job in advertising to fulfill her dream of opening a bookstore. And then there’s James, the sexy real-estate agent who keeps dropping by even after the bookstore deal is done. With his irresistible smile and boyish charm could he be the one to melt Cath’s heart? 

Told with Jane Green’s captivating wit and flare, Bookends is above all a story about friendship–its twists, turns and complications–and how it weathers the challenges of love, ambition, marriage, and, most of all, growing up. Warmhearted, sophisticated, and full of delicious surprises, Bookends is Green’s most dazzling novel yet.

My Thoughts: This sounds really fun, and while it will probably remain low on my list, I still think I am interested in it for now.  VERDICT: KEEP

Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

Addie Downs and Valerie Adler were eight when they first met and decided to be best 6066819friends forever. But, in the wake of tragedy and betrayal during their teenage years, everything changed. Val went on to fame and fortune. Addie stayed behind in their small Midwestern town. Destiny, however, had more in store for these two. And when, twenty-five years later, Val shows up at Addie’s front door with blood on her coat and terror on her face, it is the beginning of a wild adventure for two women joined by love and history who find strength together that they could not find alone. 

My Thoughts: I went in thinking this was gonna be a for sure toss, but the summary interested me.  I also am a sucker for a good friendship story.  VERDICT: KEEP

Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes

9011Plum Sykes beguiling debut welcomes readers to the glamorous world of Park Avenue Princesses, the girls who careen through Manhattan in search of the perfect Fake Bake (tan acquired from Portofino Tanning Salon), a ride on a PJ (private jet) with the ATM (rich boyfriend), and the ever-elusive fiance. 

With invitations to high-profile baby showers and benefits, more Marc Jacobs clothes than is decent, and a department store heiress for a best friend, our heroine known only as Moi is living at the peak of New York society. But what is Moi to do when her engagement falls apart? Can she ever find happiness in a city filled with the distractions of Front Row Girls, dermatologists, premieres, and eyebrow waxes? Is it possible to find love in a town where her friends think that the secret to happiness is getting invited to the Van Cleef and Arpels private sample sale? And how is she going to deal with the endless phone calls from her mother in England demanding that she get married to the Earl next door?

With enormous wit and an insider’s eye, Sykes captures the nuances of the rich and spoiled in a heartwarming social satire, featuring a loveable “champagne bubble of a girl” who’s just looking for love (and maybe the perfect pair of Chloe jeans).

My Thoughts: I’m really on the fence with this one.  I’m sure it would be entertaining, and I know when I added this book to my TBR it was my favorite kind of read, but I don’t read as much chick-lit as I used to… hmmm. VERDICT: TOSS (for now)

Well, we’re still in the depth of my 2011 chick-lit obsession, but we’re whittling it down slowly, but surely.  Even the ones I kept will probably have low priority on the list, but they still sound good to me.  What do you guys think about my choices this time? Let me know in the comments! ❤

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Wintry Reads to Curl Up by the Fire With


Now that winter is in full swing, what could be better than curling up by the fire with a good read?  Unfortunately, I don’t have a fireplace in my apartment, but we have a lot of candles and the Netflix fireplace, so that will have to do for now.  This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is 10 Cozy/Wintry Books.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest

Murder On the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Monthly Wrap-Ups

November 2018 Wrap-Up

MonthlyWrap - Up

I cannot believe how fast this month flew by.  It seems like just yesterday I was packing for my month away from the city, and now I’m back in my cozy apartment preparing for my next adventure.  This month started off in Sonoma, CA with my Bullets Over Broadway family, where we celebrated one of our own with the most beautiful wedding.  I also got to see my boyfriend, who is currently on tour, after a couple months apart.  After the wedding, I flew home to Wisconsin to spend the rest of the month and the Thanksgiving holiday with my family.  It was the first time all 5 of us have been together in a while, and it was so nice to have that quality time.  Since I was super busy this month, my reading was a bit slower, but I’m glad I used that time to be with my loved ones.

My December is about to start off with a bang, as I begin rehearsing for the National Tour of Cats on Monday! I am incredibly excited, and cannot wait to get started on this dream come true.  Since I will be deeply in the rehearsal process, my blogging is going to take a bit of a back seat.  I am going to try to keep up as much as I can, but bear with me as I try to balance it all.

Books Read:

The Towering Sky by Katharine McGee  ★★★★★

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins ★★★★★

The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso ★★★★

The Diviners by Libba Bray ★★★★★

Favorite Book of the Month:


Currently Reading:



Goodreads Challenge: 74 of 50

A to Z Challenge: 17 of 26

Classics Club Challenge: Once again… 4 of 50.  No progress. Whoops.

Broadway Book Chat: Jeff Brooks


November Reviews

When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins • The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso •

November Posts

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Backlist Books I Want to Move Up the List • Down the TBR Hole #5 • Top 10 Tuesday: Bookish Merchandise I’d Like to OwnNope! Book Tag • Top 10 Tuesday: Thankful for Recommendations • Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Platonic Relationships in Books •

Broadway Book Chat

Broadway Book Chat: Jeff Brooks

Broadway Book Chat

As an actor, every job you do, you make a new family.  There is something special about theatre and it’s ability to bring people together in a way that is unlike any other.  I have made so many amazing friends throughout my career, and many of them share my love of books and literature.  Since theatre brings stories to life, I thought I would feature some of my favorite performers (my fabulous friends and cast mates) and see what their bookshelves look like! Welcome to my Broadway Book Chat!

Jeff Brooks


Currently on tour with Fiddler on the Roof

Instagram: @bathrobedbrooks

What are you currently reading?

Just about to start Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn.  Let it begin.  I’m going down the rabbit hole.

What is your favorite book series?

Anyone will tell you that I’m an ENORMOUS Lord of the Rings fan.  I’ve read the entire series 9 times.  Once for each member of the Fellowship.  Or each of the Nazgûl.

Who is your favorite author? IMG_6790

Without a doubt JRR Tolkien.

What book inspires you and why?

I’d be hard-pressed to choose between Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Anthem by Ayn Rand. Both are hypnotic metaphors for the state of Society.

Which literary character would you like to play?

I’d love to take a swing at Louis from Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice.  Newly turned, still figuring it out, hanging with a vampire god.

If you could be friends with any of the characters you have played, who would it be and why?

Gaston, definitely. Nobody pays when they drink with Gaston.  Literally.  No one ever pays.  For all those drinks.  Not a cent.

What book would you like to see made into a musical/play/movie?

I’d love to see a miniseries of RA Salvatore’s Dark Elf Trilogy. People would eat Drizzt Do’Urden up.

IMG_6785What is the next book on your reading list?

Shadows of the Empire by Steve Perry. Love me some Star Wars Expanded Universe!

Have you ever thought about writing yourself?

I used to write short sci-fi stories, but never anything with real depth. Mostly just putting my technicolor dreams on paper and giving the characters cool names.

What show are you currently in, and what was the last show you were in and who did you play?

I’m currently on the road with the 1st National Tour of “Fiddler on the Roof” where I play the Constable. Last year at this time I was also on the road, but with “The Sound of Music”.

What is your favorite show you’ve been a part of and why?

“Bullets over Broadway” was such an amazing experience. A beautiful piece mixed with some wickedly-talented people.

See Jeff and the rest of the cast in Fiddler On the Roof all around the US!

I feature a new performer every month! I would love some suggestions for questions you would like to ask, or things you want to know!  Leave them in the comments and I will add them to future interviews! Shout out to my wonderful friend, Jeff, for sharing with us! ❤

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Platonic Relationships in Books


We all love a good romance, but we rarely celebrate the other, non-romantic relationships that many books have.  This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is all about our Favorite Platonic Relationships.

Kate and Tully from Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

I love their life-long friendship, and all of the trials they dealt with only made them a stronger pair.  They were so different and yet completed each other.

The Grant Family from Save the Date by Morgan Matson

I want to be a Grant.  Their family dynamic was so endearing and amazing, and I couldn’t get enough.  I loved the focus on family in this book.

Rhys, Azriel, and Cassian from A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J. Maas

The best trio of bros you could ask for.  Each one of them is unique and they have their differences, but they work so well together.

Sookie and Pam from The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris

Sookie and Pam’s relationship is so weird, but I love it.  Seeing it progress throughout the series was really fun and their banter is hilarious.

Bridget, Carmen, Lena, and Tibby from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

This series was one of the first series I really fell in love with, and these girls feel like a part of my family.  I love how all four of them are so different but are soul mates all the same.

Kvothe and Auri from The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Their relationship is so sweet and strange, you can’t help but love it.

Kelsea and The Mace from the Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Mace was my favorite character in this series, and his fatherly care of Kelsea mixed with his gruffness was the perfect combo.  Their relationship was loving and perfect.

Jamie and Fergus from The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

I love how Jamie took Fergus into his family.  Their father-son relationship is amazing and continues to grow in each book.

George and Lennie from Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Ugh this book wrecked me.  George and Lennies tragic friendship is just incredible.

Harry and Hermione from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

How could I not include Harry and Hermione?

Book Reviews

Netgalley Review: The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso

34219880Summary: In the Raverran Empire, magic is scarce and those born with power are strictly controlled — taken as children and conscripted into the Falcon Army. 

Zaira has lived her life on the streets to avoid this fate, hiding her mage-mark and thieving to survive. But hers is a rare and dangerous magic, one that threatens the entire empire.

Lady Amalia Cornaro was never meant to be a Falconer. Heiress and scholar, she was born into a treacherous world of political machinations. But fate has bound the heir and the mage.

War looms on the horizon. A single spark could turn their city into a pyre.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book.  The writing is elegant and beautiful, and it had a fascinating concept which was very strongly developed.  Those with powers, or the “mage-marked,” are taken in at a young age when their powers are discovered, and trained to be “falcons” in the country’s army.  They are linked to a “falconer” who binds their powers, trains with them, and protects them.  Our main character and narrator, Amalia, is the heir to the throne and mistakenly gets bound to a rogue falcon, Zaira and drama ensues.  Learning all about the organization of the falcons was super intriguing and was a great vehicle for these relationships.  I really liked all of the characters in this story.  They were complex, strong, and unique.  Amalia was especially interesting, and I loved the growth she had throughout the story.  Marcello Verdi, a leader for the falcon army, was super likable, but I wish there would have been a bit more chemistry between him and Amalia.  I liked their romance development, but there was some spark missing for me.  Zaira was super feisty, with some great one-liners, and I can’t wait to see what becomes of her in the rest of the series.  The plot is super political, and there was a lot going on.  At first it seemed a bit disjointed, but the more I read the more it all began to click together and make sense.  All of the separate points set up the mystery really well, and led to a huge plot twist that I did not see coming.  The last quarter of the book was nearly impossible to put down, and I immediately put the second book on my TBR.  I really was pleasantly surprised with this book, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a story full of political intrigue and magic.

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