Review + Blog Tour: Unraveling by Sara Ella

Welcome to the:

Thomas Nelson’s Young Adult Summer
of 2017 Feature

It’s a blog post today all about the stunning contemporary YA/Fantasy sophomore novel from Sara Ella: Unraveling. Read on for my review, a book excerpt, and GIVEAWAY info! Or, you could just take my word for it and preorder this book now. It’s not one to be missed!

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About the Book
Title:  Unraveling
Series: Unblemished, Book 2
Author:  Sarah Ella

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date:  July 11, 2017

Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy

In the second installment of the Unblemished Trilogy, YA author Sara Ella asks, “What happens when happily ever after starts to unravel?”

Eliyana Ember doesn’t believe in true love. Not anymore. After capturing the Void and saving the Second Reflection, El only trusts what’s right in front of her. The tangible. The real. Not some unexplained Kiss of Infinity she once shared with the ghost of a boy she’s trying to forget. She has more important things to worry about—like becoming queen of the Second Reflection, a role she is so not prepared to fill.

With the Verity intertwined with her soul and Joshua finally by her side, El is ready to learn more about her mysterious birth land, the land she now rules. So why does she feel like something—or someone—is missing?

When the thresholds begin to drain and the Callings, those powerful magical gifts, begin to fail, El wonders if her connection with Ky Rhyen may have something to do with it. For light and darkness cannot coexist. She needs answers before the Callings disappear altogether. Can El find a way to sever her connection to Ky and save the Reflections—and keep herself from falling for him in the process?

Find it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Review

Where do I even begin?! This book is such an adventure from page 1, with multiple twists I didn’t see coming (especially the one at about the 30% mark). Continuing with themes of sacrifice, self-confidence, and even the power of true love, Unraveling delves deeper into the story world and deeper into the characters as they face unforeseen challenges to their world. The world-building alone is fascinating as we learn even more about these parallel worlds with Eliyana.

Side note: I think this book could be read out of sequence, but it would be best to start with book 1, Unblemished.

The hold-on-to-your-seat adventure contained in this story is amped up by the constant, elusive battle between good and evil and the soul-deep ties Eliyana has to the people surrounding her. Contrasting the serious themes, though, are pop culture references aplenty. They are included in a manner which makes the contemporary setting of the story shine brightly against the castle and pirate ship locations(!!!). The Disney references make me happy inside — from straight-up mentions to clever plays on words, chapter titles, or similar themes. And, the MUSIC and movie references are a bonus. (The Count of Monte Cristo or Shania Twain, anyone?)

This book progresses the romantic storyline just enough, building on the (very-plausible-because-fantasy-reasons) love triangle established in book one. It still serves as a usable plot device because it contrasts the battle between good and evil in oneself, and the way opinion is influenced by individuals. I appreciate that Eliyana is not a back-and-forth, I-love-both person, yet a genuine individual who knows her choices have an impact on many people, including her choice of a confidant and romantic interest. By story’s end, I think the direction this situation will take is firmly in place, and I’m totally happy with it. But Sara IS known to throw surprises at us readers! The waiting will be agony (insert Into the Woods musical number here).

Like with the first book, I am intrigued by the symbolism showcasing the battle of good vs. evil, or the Verity and Void, as it’s termed in this series. When this story is examined closely, an observant reader will see detailed Biblical parallels with elements of faith, the power of light to overcome darkness, and even a mirror of the creation story and Eden. I think this book raises important questions about choices and human nature — how much of our life is defined by our own choices or free will? How much because of other people’s influence? Will you choose to embrace the Source of light and truth or “feed” an evil nature?

From dimension-travel to pirate ships and deserts, Unraveling covers the bases of adventure and the young adult genre while still maintaining an overarching plot with elements of faith. I haven’t even mentioned the fun and mysterious secondary characters OR the fairies! And the troll. This is one stunning, well-developed story that should appeal to fans of YA, fantasy, adventure, Disney fairytales, or even contemporary YA romance. I seriously can’t WAIT to find out what happens in the conclusion of the series come book 3!

Thank you to the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for the review copy of this book for the purpose of this tour. This is my honest review. 
Excerpt
Taken from “Unraveling” by Sara Ella Copyright © 2017 by Sara E. Larson. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.

Prelude

I’m not ready for this.My shoulder is going to rip from its socket. My bicep is a torch, igniting my forearm. His fingers are sliding from mine, and I can’t hold on any longer. All I see is the gorge below, the beads of sweat dewing his temples.

He shouts, “Hold on!”

But the cliff crumbles with each passing blink. If we remain this way, we’ll both be swallowed by the chasm below.

I loosen my grip, my clammy palm slipping.

His eyes plead. Beg. Implore. “Don’t!” His cry echoes.

The river crashes and curls. Waiting to swallow. Devour. Obliterate anything entering its territory. But it isn’t the river I’m afraid of. It’s the black hole beyond it. The beginning of the end.

I know if we disconnect he might be lost forever. “I love you” is what I want to say. Instead I ask him, “Find me?”

His expression corkscrews, a mask of raw emotion. “Always.” His voice is weak, his energy drained. He’s not strong enough. Because of me.

So my fingers splay.

I let go.

About the Author

Sara Ella is the author of Unblemished, book one of the Unblemished Trilogy. Once upon a time, Sara dreamed she would marry a prince and live in a castle, and she did work for Disney! Now she spends her days throwing living room dance parties for her two princesses and conquering realms of her own imaginings. She believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away.”

 
CONNECT WITH SARA:  website ⎸facebook ⎸twitter ⎸pinterest ⎸instagram ⎸youtube
 
 
Giveaway

(3) Winners will each win a finished hard copy of Unraveling by Sara Ella, courtesy of the publisher, Thomas Nelson Publishers. Giveaway ends June 2, 2017 at 11:59 PM EST.

Tour Schedule

5/22 – Melony Teague (Author Interview)

5/23 – Thorn & Vine (review) & Between the Pages of This Bookish Life (Spotlight)

5/24 – A Baker’s Perspective (review), Singing Librarian Books (Spotlight) & YA Book Divas (Spotlight & Excerpt)

5/25 – My So Called Chaos (review) & Thinking Thoughts (Spotlight)

5/26 – Reading is My SuperPower (review)

5/27 – The Green Mockingbird (review)

5/28 – Bookworm Mama (Spotlight)

5/29 – Just Commonly (review)

Review+Book Snippet: “Reclaimed” by Jennifer Rodewald ~ Blog Tour

Review+Book Snippet: “Reclaimed” by Jennifer Rodewald ~ Blog Tour

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Today I’m happy to be a part of the Singing Librarian Books tour for Reclaimed by Jennifer Rodewald, a contemporary Christian release from Rooted Publishing. Read on for my review, a snippet from the book, and GIVEAWAY + blog tour details.

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reclaimed-kindle-coverGenre:
 Christian, Contemporary
Publisher: Rooted Publishing
Publication date: February 28, 2017
Number of pages: 346

Left wounded by a marriage cut short, Suzanna Wilton leaves city life to take up residency in a tiny Nebraska town. Her introduction to her neighbor Paul Rustin is a disaster. Assuming he’s as underhanded as the other local cowboys she’s already met, Suzanna greets him with sharp hostility.

Though Paul is offended by Suzanna’s unfriendliness, he can’t stop thinking about her, which unsettles his peaceful life. A hard-fought friendship slowly kindles something more, but just as Paul’s kindness begins to melt Suzanna’s frozen heart, a conflict regarding her land escalates in town. Even in the warmth of Paul’s love, resentment keeps a cold grip on her fragile heart.
Will Suzanna ever find peace?
***2014 Olympia Winner***

GOODREADS | AMAZON

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Reclaimed  is the kind of story that settles into your heart after the final page. Engaging from the start, it is an amazing story of finding unfailing love, peace, and belonging that seriously had me laughing and crying multiple times.

Jennifer Rodewald has a beautiful writing style that is prose-like at times and to-the-point just when it needs to be. One paragraph could make me smile from the humor or an endearing nickname and the next paragraph could tear my heart out and bring deeper emotions to the forefront.

The hard-working yet relaxed pace of country life is painted as a perfect backdrop for the characters’ journeys, because this book is all about the characters. It centers on a painstakingly subtle transformation; a “reclaiming”, if you will, of heritage, faith, and dreams (with the addition of a sweet love story).

The main characters’ personalities are vibrant and endearing!

Suzanna is someone I just want to hug! She needs it. She starts off as a prickly, though always likable, person who is deeply hurting over some things from her past. She often reacts in anger toward others to stave off the pain or prevent further rejection. As her story slowly comes to light, she begins to change because of the encouragement and no-strings-attached friendships that grow from her new neighbors, Paul and his sister, Andrea.

Paul! He’s the quintessential country gentleman: a humble person who finds joy in his work and a man with integrity who loves his mama (and dad). Not to mention the humor and flirting he’s capable of ❤ …. But, he is not without his own flaws or difficulties. His current attitude is one resulting from growth, though, having dealt with his own struggles with pride to find peace and be settled with his home. I enjoyed the genuineness of his perspective.

These two emotional perspectives – Suzanna’s and Paul’s – are contrasted in a way that makes them even more understandable — one outlook of questioning, searching, and subsequent pain/anger and the other of a seasoned wisdom and hope. Paul really believes in Suzanna, something that no one has done for her in far too long. He exudes a kind and grace-filled spirit, understanding the need to slowly break through her walls.

The faith thread is never overstated, though central to the story. At the root of Suzanna’s problem is her disconnected idea of and relationship with God. When these encouraging personalities discover that this is the heart of Suzanna’s struggles, they understand it has to be addressed before healing can take place. And the way Paul — and his sister and a few other precious secondary characters — prove to be the hands and feet of Jesus in guiding Suz to Him plays out beautifully.

I really appreciated the way this entire story thoroughly points to the fact that only God can make one whole. That knowing Jesus is not the same as having religion. That the truth is as simple as a freely offered relationship with the Savior of the world. All of this is combined with the sweetest story of romance born of friendship to make this one of my favorite books I’ve read so far this year. It’s my first novel by Jennifer, but it won’t be my last!

Thank you to Singing Librarian Books and the publisher for providing a complimentary review copy for the purpose of this tour. This is my honest review.

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jennifer-rodewald_4_origJennifer Rodewald is passionate about the Word of God and the powerful vehicle of story. The draw to fiction has tugged hard on her heart since childhood, and when she began pursuing writing she set on stories that reveal the grace of God.
Jen lives and writes in a lovely speck of a town where she watches with amazement while her children grow up way too fast, gardens, and marvels at God’s mighty hand in everyday life. Four kids and her own personal superman make her home in southwestern Nebraska delightfully chaotic.
She would love to hear from you! Please visit her at https://www.authorjenrodewald.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorjenrodewald or email her at write2edify@gmail.com.
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Suzanna felt shock contort her face. Paul Rustin? The neighbor who had been kind to her even when she’d been horrible to him? She studied him, unable to picture him as anything other than the gentleman he’d shown himself to be.
Warmth shaded his complexion crimson. “See, not a very good story, right?”
“Why?”
“Why did I do those things?”
She pressed her lips together, wondering why she pushed him but nodded anyway.
“I don’t really know, Suz. I was just angry, and I’m not even sure why. I didn’t want to live here, I didn’t want to be nothin’, and I couldn’t see anything beyond myself. I didn’t have a real reason.”
“What happened?”
Paul’s eyes softened, and a smile crept over his features again. “I didn’t graduate from Rock Creek—I went to Boys Town in March of my senior year. My grandpa came to Omaha to visit me in April with a proposal. If I studied and got my GED, I could come out and live with them. I would have to work like a ranch hand, but they’d keep me on until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.
“It wasn’t the out I was looking for. I didn’t want to come back to Rock Creek. I thought, man, give me some money and let me go find a life. But Boys Town wasn’t exactly Park Place, and it didn’t look like I’d be passing GO anytime soon, so I agreed.
“I must have thought it would be like visiting my grandparents when I was a kid. You know, farm breakfast at nine every morning, Grandma always ready with a cookie, and I’d collect eggs or do some trivial chore as a token of work.”
Paul chuckled and rubbed his neck. “Nope. My grandpa meant some w-o-r-k. I stayed in the bunkhouse, which was nothing more than a tin can trailer. If I wanted breakfast, I had to get up at six to eat with them because Grandma had things to do. They paid me what they would have paid a hand, and out of my earnings came the cost of rent, electricity, and food. When I slacked off that winter, my bunkhouse got awful cold because Grandpa didn’t pay me enough to cover both heat and food.”
Suzanna’s eyebrows rose. “Seriously? Your grandpa put you out in the cold?”
He laughed. “Tough love, Suz. I found out later they’d set a threshold on the thermostat of around fifty degrees so the pipes wouldn’t freeze, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought. But it felt awful cold. I hated it. And then… I didn’t.”
He stopped, and Suzanna puckered her eyebrows. His attention wandered toward his place south of hers, and she wondered if the scenes unfolded in his mind as he recounted them.
“It came time for calving, and Grandpa said it was my responsibility.” He rubbed a hand against his jeans, and the apples of his cheeks lifted. That look said it all—he loved his work. “I was so tired, but I knew he’d hold me responsible if something went sour. I wound up with a couple of bucket calves, and somewhere in between the late nights and early mornings while checking heifers and feeding orphans, I found myself. I found who God had made me to be, where I needed and wanted to be. It was right here the whole time.”
Bronco shifted under her, and Suzanna slipped a hand around the saddle horn. Fierce rebellion melted away while Paul fed a few cows?
“As simple as that?”
Paul’s gaze fell on her, his relaxed countenance contradicting his story. He looked toward the spring, then the trees, and finally to the hill rising before them.
“Not simple.” He returned his attention to her. “That’s the short version, but it wasn’t simple. I wrestled everyone, including God, for things I thought I wanted. There was a whole lot of humbling that had to happen before I made peace with life. Pride made me useless; selfishness made me difficult.”
His explanation created more questions than it offered answers. Suzanna longed for answers. His story, his life, looked nothing like hers, sounded nothing like hers, but he had peace.
Peace eluded her. She hadn’t found it in church, not the lasting kind. She hadn’t secured it in sacrifice. It wasn’t in love. Love had made her ache all over again.
Where had Paul found this peace?
“Shall we take the hill, Pickle?” Paul gathered his reins and nodded toward the rise.
The mare perked her head, and Bronco followed. Opportunity slipped away, like the waters that rose from the depths of the earth and tumbled down the creek. Suzanna swallowed, pushing a smile across her lips. At her nod, Paul took the lead.
Peace remained hidden with the secret of Rock Creek.
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Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

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April 17–Faithfully Bookish Fiction Aficionado
April 18–Book by Book | Paulette’s Papers
April 19–The Green Mockingbird Singing Librarian Books
April 20–Cafinated Read | Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
April 21–Zerina Blossom’s Books | Remembrancy  | A Baker’s Perspective
April 22–Soulfully Romantic Reading Is My SuperPower

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The Thorn Bearer by Pepper D. Basham Blog Tour

The Thorn Bearer by Pepper D. Basham Blog Tour

 

 

The Thorn Bearer Tour BannerWelcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Thorn Bearer by Pepper D. Basham! Read on for my review and tons more info.

About the Book

The Thorn BearerSeries: Penned in Time

Genre: Fiction, Historical, Romance, Christian

Publisher: Vinspire Publishing, LLC

Publication date: May 7, 2015

Number of pages: 362

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Other books in the series:

#2-The Thorn Keeper (coming February, 2016)

#3-The Thorn Healer (coming TBD)

When Ashleigh Dougall’s fiancé leaves her eight months before their wedding, the unexpected blow ignites a battalion of insecurities stemming from her father’s intimate betrayal. In an attempt to escape her shame, Ashleigh boards the ill-fated Lusitania to cross the war-torn waters of Europe. Much to her dismay, she isn’t traveling alone. 

Sam Miller is always making up for his best friend’s mistakes. Determined to help his childhood friend, Ashleigh, he offers his compassion and companionship as she ventures across a perilous sea. With the faint hope of renewing his lost love for Ashleigh’s sister, Sam never expects to find the woman of his dreams in the love of his childhood friend. 

Neither are prepared for the life-altering and heart-breaking journey of their friendship.

Purchase on Amazon

About the Author

Pepper D. Basham

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus, and proud AlleyCat over at a group writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. Her debut historical romance novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015, with the second arriving in February 2016. Her first contemporary romance debuts in spring 2016.

Pepper Basham Author Promo Video from Dan Phillips on Vimeo.

 

Website/blog: www.pepperdbasham.com
FB Author page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pepper-D-Basham
Twitter – https://twitter.com/pepperbasham
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/pepperbasham/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13561411.Pepper_D_Basham
AmazonAuthor Page – http://www.amazon.com/Pepper-Basham/e/B00W0IZ1F4/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Book Snippet

The last remnants of the thick morning fog clung to the horizon, but with a bright sun overhead it promised a full evaporation within the hour. A mixture of relief and fear washed over her. Land. With the warnings of torpedoes, nothing looked more reassuring, but with landfall came a closer step to Catherine- and Ashleigh’s next conflict. What price would she have to pay to convince Catherine to be with Sam? Were there other romantic options in Edensbury besides her faithless sister?

“Are you alright?”

Sam’s voice broke through her thoughts.

“Why didn’t you bring your plate camera? Didn’t you say it made clearer photos?”

“It’s with my luggage.” He shook his head and placed his palm over his heart. “My pride and joy and much too nice a camera to toss around on the deck of a ship.”

His gaze held hers until she returned his smile. The power the man had over her was unnerving. Her stomach twisted at the thought. Another man with power over her? She stepped toward the railing and looked out toward the coastline. A gray-green mound broke the line of the horizon. Sunlight sparkled across the waves. She blinked her eyes open against the sun’s reflection on the horizon. It was easy to see God in the vastness of the sea and the strength of those waves. A frown pulled at her bottom lip. So where was all that power years ago? Did He even hear her cry for help? She closed her eyes to the sun’s warmth and breathed in the salty air as it sent her well-kept hair into chaos. Her thoughts almost formed into a prayer, years of habit and necessity. But He didn’t care.

“Ash, come take a look at this view.”

She pushed away her thoughts and walked to Sam’s side. Carefully she leaned close to the small leatherbound box on its precarious tripod perch. Sam hobby had grown into a little business back in Millington, even finding some of his photographs of Appalachia in a few magazines, but Ashleigh had never grown adept in working the tiny device. Her hand reached to steady the instrument and brushed against Sam’s fingers. She attempted to pull her hand back, but he captured her fingers and placed them on the side of the camera, firming his palm over them.

“Hold it like this.”

He stood behind her now, his arms hemmed her in on each side to steady the camera and his breath warmed her ear. She swallowed, or tried to, but her dry mouth wouldn’t cooperate. Stop these feelings, Ashleigh. Ignore them.

She forced the rising heat in her chest to chill and took a deep breath, attention fixed on the site through the lens. It was remarkable how one could frame a piece of the world. The monstrous ocean wasn’t as frightening in such small doses. In fact, the angle at which the sun glazed the water held a magical, almost hypnotic quality. So vast and mysterious, and yet as beautiful as starlight’s reflection in a pond.

“It’s beautiful. It truly frames the world.”

“One of the many reasons I’m obsessed with it, I think.” Sam’s voice smoothed past her ear. He guided the camera to a different scene, nearer the coast. She ignored the influence of his closeness to the chaos in the pit of her stomach. “Can you see the coast now?”

“Oh yes, it’s lovely.” She pulled back and smiled up at him, but hadn’t calculated his extreme closeness.

His face hovered just above hers, eyes so intense, she thought he might read her rebel thoughts. His brow tilted upward, slightly, as if he was searching for an answer to an unvoiced question.

She didn’t have an answer. She couldn’t have an answer.

As if drugged, she drew her attention from his and back to the camera lens. The sea rumbled out to meet the distant shore, waves as confused as the emotions crashing about in her heart. She couldn’t wait to get off of this boat. There would be plenty of opportunities to flee Sam’s closeness in Edensbury. She knew all the hiding places at her mother’s home.

As a child, hiding had been a survival skill honed to near-perfection.

She blinked the framed scene back into view. A strange stream of bubbles broke into her line of vision making a surprisingly straight path through the waves. A fish? Whale? Whatever it was, it moved fast.

“Sam, look here. There’s some strange fish coming up from the water toward the ship.”

His lips quirked into a doubtful smirk as he took the camera. “A fish coming toward the ship?” He peered through. “I don’t know of any fi—” His breath caught and his body stiffened. “No.”

His exclamation pierced through her and echoed from her own lips. “What, Sam? It can’t be—”

“Torpedo on the starboard side!”

The shout rang down from a place above her followed immediately by another from somewhere else on the boat. A chill trembled down her spine. Sam’s gaze locked with Ashleigh’s and everything slowed. Sounds muffled except for the thrumming of her heartbeat in her ears. Sam pushed his camera aside and took hold of her shoulders just as an explosion sent them staggering like ragdolls toward the railing. Ash and dust flew into the air and rained down upon them, a few pieces stinging against her back. No, dear Lord. We’ve been hit.

Review

My thoughts: This story has it all – it incorporates truth, complex yet imperfect characters, a historical setting that definitely captured my interest, drama, spunky secondary characters, banter between the hero and heroine, and a message of redemption.

Pepper’s style and turn of phrase is beautifully prose-like at times and concisely humorous at others. For example, look at these two quotes: “He laughed and the affection for her pinned into a deeper place in his chest.” or “Ash, your grandma is the picture of gentility and temperance, but we both know she has the persuasive abilities of a cattle prod.”

Because Sam and Ashleigh have a history and established friendship already, it lays the foundation for their relationship to progress romantically. And their romance is so sweetly portrayed in the story! But they face plenty of physical and emotional obstacles as they are swept into the conflict of WWI and deal with their own baggage and old scars.

Ashleigh’s relationship with her sister, Catherine, reminds me just the slightest of a couple of the sisters in A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman. While connected by family and blood, they are worlds apart by choice and a difference of perspective. While reading, we see glimpses of Catherine’s viewpoint and can understand her misguided motivations. I think that really encouraged empathy for both her character and Ashleigh and set up what’s to come in book 2.

Best of all, I enjoyed this story because of its message. Each character, even the secondary ones we meet and gain perspective from, has to deal with various choices, consequences, and decisions of forgiveness. Most prominent is Ashleigh’s past abuse and her reconciliation of it as something that doesn’t have to control her future any longer. Also, I liked that some of the initially unlikable people were changed through the story and not written off (and I’m excited we get more of their story in the next book!). Everyone is in need of grace, none deserve it, yet that is the gift we have through salvation in Christ.

Thank you to Singing Librarian Book Tours, Vinspire Publishing, and Pepper D. Basham for the review copy.

Giveaway

Click to enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

January 25–Reading Is My SuperPower
January 26–Toni Shiloh Prayerfully-Lifted Romance
January 27–Bookworm Lisa | Singing Librarian Books
January 28–Griperang’s Bookmarks | The Green Mockingbird
January 29–Just Commonly | The Artist Librarian
January 30–Fictionally

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