THE TURN OF THE KEY by Ruth Ware

August 11, 2019

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This is Ware’s fifth published book. All are centered around different themes; all quite engrossing and generally impossible to put down without finishing them. “The Turn of the Key” is no different in the sense of being a well written, well thought out book that quickly captures and holds the reader’s interest. It is a ghost story complete with strange sounds, eerie settings and things that go bump in the night.

Rowan Caine works at a large child care center in England and has just been passed over for a promotion that she feels she deserves. While glancing at help wanted ads, she comes across one that lists an opening in a remote area of Scotland. The job is to become nanny to four children. It lists a very high salary, residence at the home with food and board paid. She applies for the job and is asked to travel, expenses paid, to the home.

She is pleasantly surprised when she is offered the job, accepting it and relocating to the house. This is the first surprise for her. The house, owned by two architects who run their own business from home, has been rebuilt with every modern and computerized piece of equipment that can be imagined. Everything is automatic and managed via cell phone making Rowan ecstatic by her good luck.

Bill and Sandra, the architects, indicate that a necessary business trip has come up and they are forced to leave Rowan alone with the children at once. Rowan takes it in stride, but soon regrets the quick departure of her employers. On her first night alone with the children she hears strange sounds which appears like someone or something walking on the roof of the house. Next night a sudden and loud blast of music coming over the loudspeakers wakes everyone up and supplies the great fright when the cause of the music being turned on can not be found. Rowan than finds out that the previous owners of the home many years ago had a child of theirs, a young girl, die from eating something poisoned.

All the factors do make the case for a haunting and Rowan, with the aid of the resident handyman living on the property, attempts to get through her own trepidation and protect the children in her care from whatever is out there. There is a well done ending after which the reader can gasp for breath, realizing that Ware has done it again and looking forward to book six from this versatile author.

8/19 Paul Lane

THE TURN OF THE KEY by Ruth Ware. Gallery/Scout Press (August 6, 2019). ISBN 978-1501188770. 352p.

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THE PERFECT WIFE by J. P. Delaney

August 10, 2019

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The novel opens encountering Abbie awakening from a deep sleep and finding her husband Tim by her side. He is there to take her home and care for her there.

When they arrive at their home, he relates an incredible story to Abbie. What she must grasp is that five years ago Abbie disappeared suddenly. Tim became completely distraught and finally began looking to fix the problem as only he is able to. It seems that Tim owns a company that has made millions via the building of robots for various uses by people. He looked to fix his problem by creating a robotic Abbie to live with him. A fascinating concept and of course the basis for a great read.

But there is more making the story even better. The story narrated by the artificial Abbie begins to build by slowly creating an image of Tim as not quite the man he pretends to be. In examination the reader will realize that there is much more to be told and will continue to read and change opinions about what is really going on several times.

Delaney, in an afterward, indicates that he and his wife have an autistic son that they are raising as best they can and continually looking for advances in treatment. Abbie, before her disappearance, and Tim have an autistic son and are doing in the fictionalized account everything possible to work with him. The robot Abbie has many of the original’s memories implanted and does encounter a maternal feeling for the child continuing to care for him.

Without delving further into the plot of the book (in order to not spoil it for the reader) I can only indicate that is a fascinating novel and one that will keep the reader glued to the pages until finished. Certainly the idea is a different approach to writing a book and one that will keep any reader on the lookout for further novels by Delaney.

8/19 Paul Lane

THE PERFECT WIFE by J. P. Delaney. Ballantine Books (August 6, 2019). ISBN  978-1524796747. 432p.

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CAGING SKIES by Christine Leunens

August 8, 2019

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There is no doubt about the fact that Leunens novel is a fabulous book. It makes any reader feel that. How can anything else be possible?

The story opens in Vienna, Austria at the time when Austria entered into a union with Nazi, Germany allowing Hitler to take control of the Austrian government. Johannes Betzler, a young man enters into the spirit of what the Nazis espouse by immediately joining the Hitler Youth movement and attempting to get his parents to do what the Nazis think everyone should do.

At an initial point of the story Johannes stumbles on the fact that his parents are actually hiding and protecting a Jewish girl. The author does an excellent job in describing Johannes’ mixed feelings and why he ends up doing what he does. As the reader is drawn into the story he or she learns about Johannes and Elsa’s reactions to both the radically changed political climate and the fact that Jewish people and other selected minorities are used as scapegoats by Hitler to move Germany into war.

Leunens utilizes hard hitting prose, sarcasm, and black comedy to bring out a book that will be impossible to forget. That it is an all-nighter is a natural for writing that drags in any reader that picks it up. The novel is in the process of currently being developed as a motion picture and is at this writing available in 16 countries. A major literary talent has emerged and I for one, am anxiously awaiting her future novels.

8/19 Paul Lane

CAGING SKIES by Christine Leunens. The Overlook Press (August 6, 2019). ISBN 978-1419739088. 304p.

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WAITING FOR TOM HANKS by Kerry Winfrey

August 7, 2019

8/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WAITING FOR TOM HANKS by Kerry Winfrey. Berkley (June 11, 2019). ISBN  978-1984804020. 288p.

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THE RIGHT SWIPE by Alisha Rai

August 6, 2019

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From the publisher:

Alisha Rai returns with a sizzling new novel, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

– Nude pics are by invitation only

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

– Protect your heart

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears.

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…


Rhiannon. I know it is a popular name but when I hear it, or read it, all I can think of is Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac and the song (see YouTube below. You’re welcome.) Luckily, I love that song. I also loved this character. She was strong, feisty bordering on aggressive at times, and definitely a woman in charge of her own destiny. That worked for me.

We know that Rhi has experienced some trauma in her life that affects her professional career, and eventually we get most of the sordid details. So she definitely has baggage and she creates rules to protect herself. She also knows that sometimes rules can be broken.

Samson also has baggage. Not only is he a former professional football player, he comes from football royalty, with both his father and his uncle former NFL stars. But he lost his father and more recently, the uncle he took care of. He hasn’t really dated in years and his first attempt is a disaster. But Samson has a bigger problem than lack of dating skills; he doesn’t think he’s capable of a relationship because everyone he’s ever loved has left him.

The chemistry between these two is palpable and I couldn’t help rooting for them to get together. The very hot sex just adds to the fun. When they are thrust together in business, they realize they have a lot more blocks to get past in their personal lives. But this is a romance so happily ever after is a requirement.

Rai once again gives us a charming read with humor and pathos. She also tackles some important topics like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, sexual harassment in the work place, and the prejudices towards women-owned businesses, especially in the tech industry. She handles all of that beautifully, exploring these issues in a very personal way. This was a very enjoyable read and I highly recommend it.

6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE RIGHT SWIPE by Alisha Rai. Avon (August 6, 2019).  ISBN  978-0062878090. 400p.

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SAY YOU STILL LOVE ME by K.A. Tucker

August 6, 2019

8/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SAY YOU STILL LOVE ME by K.A. Tucker. Atria Books (August 6, 2019). ISBN 978-1501133442. 384p.

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About K.A. Tucker

K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge.

She is the USA Today bestselling author of 17 books, including the Causal Enchantment, Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series, He Will Be My Ruin, Until It Fades, Keep Her Safe, and The Simple Wild. Her books have been featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, First for Women, and Publisher’s Weekly. She has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance 2013 for TEN TINY BREATHS and Best Romance 2018 for THE SIMPLE WILD. KEEP HER SAFE made Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2018 list for Romantic Suspense. Her novels have been translated into 16 languages.

K.A. Tucker currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her family.

Keep up with K.A. on all platforms:

Website ➜ http://www.katuckerbooks.com/
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LIFE AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES by Kristan Higgins

August 5, 2019

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BLOG TOUR

I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for Kristan Higgins’ latest; it is simply unputdownable! Plus read on to find out how you can win a copy of her last book, Good Luck with That!

From the publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Good Luck with That comes a new novel about a blue-blood grandmother and her black-sheep granddaughter who discover they are truly two sides of the same coin.

Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley.

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help?


REVIEW

Higgins brings her characters to life on the page and creates a memorable family saga in her latest. Like all good family tales, there is drama galore and enough angst and laughs to keep the pages turning.

Family matriarch Genevieve London has not had the easiest life, so even though she is definitely the antagonist of the story and makes some really horrible choices, we can’t help but feel a little bit badly for her. Emma is our heroine, and I really loved her relationship with her daughter Riley. As close as they are, and as distant as Emma and Genevieve are, it really speaks to the kind of mother she is that she allows Riley and Genevieve to bond. I also loved how independent Emma is, and her willingness to stand up to her grandmother and speak her truth.

There is a bit of romance here between Emma and Miller, a neighbor of Genevieve’s who is a widower with a very difficult three-year-old daughter, Tess. I hate to say Tess provides some of the comic relief, but she definitely does at times. She also made me want to hug both my kids and tell them how fabulous they are.

The family relationships here are all fraught, but it makes for compelling reading. This was a one night read for me as I really couldn’t put it down. I must say I really love Higgins’ writing, she hits the perfect pitch for each character and the story in general. Great beach reading or for any kind of escape you may need. Don’t miss it – I loved this book!

8/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

LIFE AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES by Kristan Higgins. Berkley (August 6, 2019). ISBN 978-0451489425. 448p.

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To win a copy of Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins, please send an email to contest@gmail.com with “GOOD LUCK” as the subject.

You must include your U.S. street address in your email.

All entries must be received by August 31, 2019. One (1) name will be drawn from all qualified entries and notified via email. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age in the United States only. Your book will be sent by PenguinRandomHouse.

One entry per email address. Subscribers to the monthly newsletter earn an extra entry into every contest. Follow this blog to earn another entry into every contest. Winners may win only one time per year (365 days) for contests with prizes of more than one book. Your email address will not be shared or sold to anyone.


Read an excerpt of Life and Other Inconveniences :

When I called Genevieve back and told her we were coming—including Pop, who would be staying elsewhere—there’d been a long pause. “Thank you,” she finally said.

“On one condition, Genevieve,” I said. “You do not mention money or inheritance to Riley. Not a whisper, not a hint. I don’t want you dangling your bank accounts in front of my daughter and snatching them away if she uses the wrong fork.”

“By which I assume you’re referring to the fact that I didn’t fund your teenage folly.”

“Teenage folly? You mean your great-granddaughter? Yes. This summer isn’t about the money. It’s us giving you a chance to make amends, and you making me Hope’s guardian.”

“How very gracious you are, my dear,” she said, and I heard a slurp. Five o’clock somewhere.

But she agreed, and here we were.

My clients, the ones I saw in person, were fine with me leaving for two months. I’d TheraTalk with most of them; two were about done anyway, and said they’d call me if they needed me. I’d had to give up my office space, though; luckily, a classmate from my PhD program had sublet it. Once I got back, I’d have to find another space, but I’d deal with that later.

Pop had found himself a little apartment over an antiques shop on Water Street. I was unspeakably grateful that he’d be nearby. He’d always hated Genevieve, who had viewed my mother as insufficient wife material for her wretched son.

Then again, she had a point. My mother had taken her own life. Maybe Genevieve had sensed something, even back then. She was many things, but she wasn’t stupid.

We crossed the Connecticut River, then the Thames. “There’s the Coast Guard Academy, Pop,” I said, pointing. He was an Air Force man himself, but he nodded. We went through Mystic, and I remembered going to the aquarium with Jason on a date. Or a field trip, maybe, but we’d held hands. Kissed in the dim light of the myriad fish tanks, and it had felt like the most romantic thing in the world.

He knew we were coming, of course. He was excited, he’d said on the phone. Talked about being separated, wasn’t sure where things were headed there. The boys couldn’t wait to meet Riley in person, though they knew her from Skype and phone calls.

My heart leaped into overdrive when, just before we hit Rhode Island, Charles exited the highway and entered the land of stone walls and gracious houses, tall oaks and two-hundred-year-old farms. The woods and fields gave way to narrower streets, and we went over the bridge that led to the borough.

Welcome to Stoningham, the sign said.

I found that I was holding my grandfather’s thumb, same as I had when I was little, back before my mother died, when seeing my grandparents was the happiest thing ever. He gave my hand a squeeze.

“Oh, my gosh, this town is so cute!” Riley said.

And it was. The sky was Maxfield Parrish blue, the lights of the Colonials that lined the streets glowing in what seemed to be a welcome. People were out, walking their dogs. At the library green, some kids tossed a football. As we came onto Water Street, Riley exclaimed over the little shops and restaurants. “There’s a café, Mom! Hooray! Oh, and an ice cream place! Even better!”
I smiled, but my stomach cramped again. It felt like I had never left.

The town hadn’t changed much. Still adorable with its colorful buildings and crooked streets. I caught glimpses of Long Island Sound as we drove, smelled garlic and seafood. Would Genevieve have dinner for us? Would she hug me? I swore if she made Riley feel one iota of shame, we’d be out of Connecticut forever.

Charles turned onto Bleak Point Road, where the most expensive houses in town sat like grand old ladies, weathered and gracious. All had names, which Riley read aloud as we passed.

“Thrush Hill. Summerly. Wisteria Cottage. Cliff View. Pop, we have to name our house when we get back!”

“Name it what? Crabgrass?” Pop asked.

“That’s kind of perfect, actually,” I murmured, having gone to war many times with weeds in our small yard.

“Oh, Sheerwater! We’re here!”

The iron gates (yes, gates) opened, and we turned onto the crushed shell drive. Sheerwater had ten acres of land, the very tip of Bleak Point, and it looked like a park, with beautifully gnarled dogwood trees on either side of the driveway, their intertwined branches making a tunnel of white blossoms. Spring was late this year.

We rounded the gentle curve, and my hands were sweating now.

“Holy guacamole,” my daughter breathed. “It’s even prettier than the pictures!” In the rearview mirror, I saw Charles smile. Beside me, Pop stiffened. He’d never been here, of course.

There it was—my grandmother’s twenty-room cottage, pristine and gracious and lit up like the fires of hell.


About the Author

 


ASYLUM by Jack Adams

August 4, 2019

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Nathan and Adam are two 10 year old boys that are best friends. They stay together, play together and explore the area they live in completely together. Near their homes there is a huge facility that is known as the Lunatic Asylum. And that in spite of its non politically correct designation it was. It was a hospital dedicated to the care and treatment of mentally disabled individuals.

One day, when coming near to the fence surrounding the institution, the boys spotted a man sitting on the other side and ventured over to talk to him. He sounded quite lucid, told them his name was Joe and the three struck up a relationship that continued for quite a while. They visited the spot where Joe was at and among other things found that he was an artist before he was sent to the asylum. Even while there he drew many things including the happenings occurring in and the people residing in the institution.

One day Joe did not meet them and they didn’t see him again. The meetings were forgotten and the boys grew up, forgetting Joe and eventually opening an office together. One had become a private investigator due to several years of employment as a police officer and the other a psychologist after university training. They hired a secretary and began doing business when out of the blue a letter from a solicitor was received asking to meet with both boys, now men.

Meeting with him they had the most pleasant surprise of learning that Joe, the man they had talked with at the asylum had remembered them. Not only remembered them but left them each a large sum of money. It seemed that Joe had been a successful artist and made money selling his paintings. His memories of the boys were very pleasant

One favor was asked in return – to investigate happenings at the asylum and about Joe. This favor throws them into discovery of the most heinous breach of ethics and normal behavior possible. How they go about this and where it leads, how is Joe involved form the real meat and bones of the novel. This book is Adams’ first published one and showcases the entrance of a gifted author allowing his readers to pick up and enjoy his forthcoming novels. Very well done.

8/19 Paul Lane

ASYLUM by Jack Adams. Atlas Productions Pty Ltd (August 2, 2019). ISBN 978-0994182203. 310p.

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LADY IN THE LAKE by Laura Lippman

August 3, 2019

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From the publisher:

The revered New York Times bestselling author returns with a novel set in 1960s Baltimore that combines modern psychological insights with elements of classic noir, about a middle-aged housewife turned aspiring reporter who pursues the murder of a forgotten young woman.

In 1966, Baltimore is a city of secrets that everyone seems to know—everyone, that is, except Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz. Last year, she was a happy, even pampered housewife. This year, she’s bolted from her marriage of almost twenty years, determined to make good on her youthful ambitions to live a passionate, meaningful life.

Maddie wants to matter, to leave her mark on a swiftly changing world. Drawing on her own secrets, she helps Baltimore police find a murdered girl—assistance that leads to a job at the city’s afternoon newspaper, the Star. Working at the newspaper offers Maddie the opportunity to make her name, and she has found just the story to do it: a missing woman whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake.

Cleo Sherwood was a young black woman who liked to have a good time. No one seems to know or care why she was killed except Maddie—and the dead woman herself. Maddie’s going to find the truth about Cleo’s life and death. Cleo’s ghost, privy to Maddie’s poking and prying, wants to be left alone.

Maddie’s investigation brings her into contact with people that used to be on the periphery of her life—a jewelry store clerk, a waitress, a rising star on the Baltimore Orioles, a patrol cop, a hardened female reporter, a lonely man in a movie theater. But for all her ambition and drive, Maddie often fails to see the people right in front of her. Her inability to look beyond her own needs will lead to tragedy and turmoil for all sorts of people—including the man who shares her bed, a black police officer who cares for Maddie more than she knows.


One of my favorite books back when I was in junior high & high school, was Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk. Wouk is much better know for The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, and War and Remembrance, despite the fact that Morningstar was made into a so-so movie starring Natalie Wood and Gene Kelly. I’m telling you this because apparently, it is also one of Lippman’s favorite books and it is the inspiration for The Lady in the Lake. Morningstar was a stage name, the protagonist was a nice Jewish girl named Marjorie Morgenstern who eventually marries Milton Schwartz, as does Lippman’s Maddie Morgenstern Schwartz. Hope this isn’t too confusing!

So a couple of the characters have the same/similar names to the Wouk book, and the timeline is similar but the real similarity is that both women, Marjorie & Maddie, want more out of life than to just be a suburban mom. In the mid-twentieth century, women didn’t have many opportunities do do more than that, but these women did.

Maddie leaves her husband and teenage son (who refuses to move in with his mom) and tries to figure out what she wants to do with her life. She fakes a robbery to collect the insurance money, has an affair with a black cop, finds a dead body and pushes her way into a job at the local Baltimore newspaper. One of the themes of this book was the struggle female journalists had in reaching any level of success in the profession back in the 1960’s; racism is a bigger theme.

I really like the way Lippman gets into every character’s head, most have at least a chapter told in their voice so you really know what they are thinking, it adds a lot to the story. Cleo’s voice is especially compelling, especially as the story moves on. They mystery is tight but almost secondary to the characters.

Sometimes, when an author writes a series, I’ve noticed I sort of take the writing for granted. That becomes especially apparent in this standalone; it is a brilliant piece of writing from one of the best writers out there. Don’t miss it. (And check out Terry Gross’s interview with Lippman on Fresh Air, and Lippman’s essay in the CrimeReads blog. See links below.)

7/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

LADY IN THE LAKE by Laura Lippman. William Morrow (July 23, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062390011.  352p.

Listen to Terry Gross interview Laura Lippman on Fresh Air

Laura Lippman: My 35-Year Love Affair with Marjorie Morningstar

 

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THE WHITE FEATHER KILLER by R. N. Morris

August 2, 2019

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A Silas Quinn Mystery, Book 5

This is the fifth Silas Quinn novel written by the author. While much of the fleshing out of Detective Quinn was done in the previous books it will not deter the reader to come across the character as he appears here. Quinn is picked up just after his previous assignment in which he was required to go under cover in a lunatic asylum in order to solve a case. He arrives back at his headquarters just at the time that England has entered the first World War. The country was in turmoil gearing up for the war with thousands of men volunteering for the army. Quinn’s previous assignment has been changed and he is put under the supervision of another detective who is depicted as incompetent for the job.

Making use of the plot of the book “The Four Feathers” by A.E.W. Mason, Morris sets up the handing out of white feathers to men not in the uniform of their country and deemed cowards during the opening period of WWI. A young girl is found murdered and a white feather is found set into her mouth. Quinn’s new supervisor is shown to be incompetent when he arrests a butcher, innocent of the crime but having a German parent. The man is placed in prison and subject to extremely harsh conditions until Quinn manages to get himself involved as supervisor to the case.

The novel becomes involved with the solving of the crime working within the turmoil of the first two months of WWI. The description of the period shows a great deal of research with several factors built into the novel. There is first, the use of taking fingerprints, a science only a few years old. There is also the introduction of Vernon Kell who is credited with the founding of MI6. Kell notes the fine detective work by Silas Quinn and will probably take a more active role in future novels featuring him.

The writing style does not lend itself to grabbing on and finishing it in one read, but is sufficiently interesting to make it an attractive draw and a well done portrait of detective work in a setting 100 years before our time.

8/19 Paul Lane

THE WHITE FEATHER KILLER by R. N. Morris. Severn House Publishers; First World Publication edition (August 1, 2019). ISBN 978-0727888853. 288p.

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