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July 25, 2015

"Well Written" ~ The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory


The King's Curse

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author behind the Starz original series The White Queen comes the story of lady-in-waiting Margaret Pole and her unique view of King Henry VIII's stratospheric rise to power in Tudor England.

Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII's claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter - Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret's contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.

After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret's world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and "holiest" woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.

"enjoyable and thought-provoking" ~ Kirsten

"Worth every second of reading time." ~ Innkeeper

"One of Gregory's very best." ~ Elaine K. Bly







Buy The King's Curse at Amazon


Cover and summary from Goodreads.com. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


July 24, 2015

Review: Malee: A Tear in the Ocean by William V.M. McAllister III

by Elisabeth Scherer


Malee A Tear in the Ocean

My review this week is for Malee: A Tear in the Ocean by William V.M. McAllister III. The book brings us along with the main character, Michael, as he travels to the far east with promise of a new business opportunity and hope of putting his broken marriage behind him. The story is the journey with him through the emotions of a very unconventional relationship and the ups and downs of the relationship.

I am including this book as part of the Friday56 meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. To be part of this meme you just open the book you are reading to page 56 or to the 56% from your e-reader and share. Here is the excerpt I chose which is so perfect I think...
As they were laughing and flirting over these two rounds, a young woman emerged from the dilapidated shack that O’Neill’s offered up as a restroom. She wore a blue blouse and a sheer, flowing skirt that came down four inches below her knees. She had long, shimmering black hair that flowed down to her lower back. She had a wholesomeness that emanated from her that none of the other girls came close to. Even slightly unsteady she walked with natural grace. It was an intoxicating motion that took Michael’s breath away. As she approached, she looked uncommonly pale, and at first Michael thought she had OD’ed on whitening cream. Anything to make your skin whiter was good in Thailand, Michael thought, remembering that the ads on the TV soaps that Wan watched more often than not featured products that promised to make your skin lighter. Not so unlike in the U.S., he mused, when a foreigner watching TV there would assume that all Americans were obsessed with cars, beer, and their medical ailments. This girl’s whiteness, however, stemmed from another cause. She had just thrown up.
“This my sister, Malee,” Joy said.
-Excerpt from page 56 of the book

What I thought:

Initially I read this book expecting a romance. I was intrigued by the exotic location and thought it would be a great, light book to read after my last few books.  I wasn’t quite expecting the emotional roller coaster that this book was. Michael is a generous, warm hearted character. I liked him through most of the book. It is an interesting point of view for a romantic fiction book. I haven’t read many that are told solely from the male perspective.

What I liked was the way Thailand is described. I feel the congestion, the things to see, and how someone would feel the first time they visit. Cultural differences, language barriers, and distinct different economic classes make this book interesting to read. It does get very depressing so if you are sensitive to that, you might need to find a different book to read. I was compelled to finish to find out what happened to Michael and Malee.

Overall I would give this book a 3 out of 5.

If you decided to read this book, and you want to read something I think is quite similar in tone you might also like Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.

Buy Malee: A Tear in the Ocean at Amazon


Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (275 pages)
published: February 2015 by Intrinsic Books
genre: fictional romance
audience: best for adults as there is part of the culture of Bangkok that would be best for mature readers
source: Publicist
read: June 2015



A free book was provided for this review. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.



July 23, 2015

Tips for blog posts while vacationing

by Donna Huber

In my part of the world there is a month or less until the start of the school year. For those whose family or professional life are dictated by a school calendar, you may be trying to fit in one last trip out of town. If you don't want your blog to be a ghost town while you are away I have a few suggestions.

If you blog only once or twice a week, you may just close the virtual doors for the week. I do recommend letting your readers know that you are on vacation and not disappearing for good (it happens).

Topics

Old is new again
Take a look at your past posts. Do you have a post that did really well but hasn't been seen in a while? If the content is still relevant then copy. paste, and schedule. Now you have a "new" post to go out while you are gone that didn't take much time. If you have a bit of time consider polishing it up with any updates - new links, deleting irrelevant content, etc.

Perhaps you reviewed a book that is now a television show or recently released movie (added to Netflix/Amazon Prime or newly out on DVD). Again copy, paste, schedule! Update the book cover if there's a new one since you reviewed.

Lists
This is my go-to for easy posts. What books are you packing with you on vacation? You can actually do multiple lists like this if you have kids as you can do a list of 'books that keep my 6 year old entertained in the car', etc.

If you want to have a little fun, find books about where you are going and have your readers guess. You can do a list in as one post or you can give "hints" in a new post each day you are gone. You might have one book with a character from there, another book set in the place, and a book featuring something well known about the place (ie. if you are going some where with a famous lighthouse, you may find a book where a lighthouse play prominently in story even if it isn't the lighthouse where you are going).

Blog takeover
If you have some time to plan and you know several authors, you may see if they want to do a blog take over one day while you are gone. They can write up a guest post and then have them share it out and monitor comments.

Promoting

Automatic feeds
What's the point of having new blog posts scheduled while you are on vacation if there is no promotion happening? Thankfully there are ways to automate the sharing of posts so that you don't have to manually go in during your vacation and do that daily.

If you use Hootsuite, go to settings and then RSS/Atom. clickthe + button and fill in the info. You can set it you post to any or all of your social media networks (you will need to have the networks set up in Hootsuite first) and you can custom write a message that goes out with the post.

Your RSS feed manager may also offer this option. I have mine set up with Feedburner to auto-post to Twitter. And my blog (it's with Blogger) is tied to my Google+ account and auto publishes there.

Triberr
If you are already part of a tribe(s) then you blog post will automatically feed there, but be sure to fill up your sharing stream before you leave on vacation so you are still sharing everyone's posts while you are gone.

Ask friends
Do you have some blogging friends or avid readers who follow your blog? If so, you can ask them to check in on your blog while you are gone and share your posts to their social networks and perhaps leave a comment or two on a post. This can be unreliable as people get busy and forget so I would do this in conjunction with one of the methods above.

Comment Moderation

If you typically moderate your comments, you may need to turn this off while you are gone. I don't moderate comments. I do require the commenter to sign into an account (no anonymous comments). I get a couple of spam comments a month. I don't think the spammers will suddenly find you in the few days you are gone.

If you are moderating for other purposes other than to reduce spam comments, then you may need to just turn off comments while you are gone.

Whether you turn off comments or continue to moderate, you will want to note in each post that you are on vacation and comments may not be approved or turned off until you return.

What tips do you have for when you go on vacation?

Remember to take pictures while you are away that may come in handy in future blog posts, especially if a book you reading on vacation will later be reviewed on your blog.

Have a great trip!



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July 22, 2015

READ, CLEAN, WRITE, REPEAT (@KathleenMBarker)

by Kathleen M. Barker

Most authors I know are also voracious readers.  We love beautifully crafted words that paint rich tapestries.  Yet life intrudes, in the form of jobs, families, and the day-to-day minutia that consumes us, leaving little time for us to pursue our own writing much less enjoy that of others.

I tend to get involved in books that are series, most recently Diana Gabaldon's Outlander (2004, Dell, Amazon).  After devouring roughly ten thousand pages, I felt lost when the most recent book ended.  Stories on a grand scale are what I want most, and my next reading project is Winston Graham's Poldark (2009, Sourcebooks Landmark, Amazon).  I'll let you know when I resurface from the complete 12-book narrative.

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up
Needing a short fix while waiting for the Amazon Stork to Prime-drop Poldark, I discovered an unlikely candidate:  Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (2014, Ten Speed Press, Amazon).  How on earth could a cleaning book make the New York Times' best seller list?  Why would anyone want to spend more time than necessary on cleaning, much less read about how someone else does?  There had to be a reason.

I have not finished testing her methods yet, but Kondo's weird little ideas are resonating with readers who have adopted her mantra that the things you own must give you happiness.  If they don't, you should get rid of them.  As I begin my journey of shedding decades of accumulated "stuff", I find myself happier.  Gone are the categories of clothing that were jammed in my closet...the fat clothing, the perfect size clothing (which is never quite achieved), and the sentimental items that haven't been worn since college.

Kondo's description of her younger self sounds downright obsessive-compulsive, as she searched to fine-tune her skills.  Her near-desperation feels foreign to the possession-loving Western world.  Yet it is these very things that make us dread the cleaning and organizing that those ever-growing amounts require.  It made me think of comedian George Carlin's routine about organizing our "stuff" so that we could make enough room to go out and buy more "stuff".

As a cleaning consultant in Japan, Ms. Kondo has lists of clients who wait breathlessly for their turn to secure her guidance in their own homes.  I WILL eventually reach my goal of possessions that spark joy, but I cannot do it all in one fell swoop as she recommends.  A dark 18th century Englishman from Cornwall beckons, promising his own sort of joy, and I'm answering his call first.  













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July 21, 2015

Review: The Devil's Kitchen by Alison DeLuca

by Donna Huber



Devil's Kitchen
First Chapter, First Paragraph


The Night Watchman train swayed and chugged along through the countryside. Miriam stole a look at Simon's grim profile, sighed slightly and tried to shift into a more comfortable position. Since they sat on a floor made of dimpled iron, this was next to impossible. The windows in their carriage were boarded up with planks of roughly hewn wood, so there was no way to tell what time it was, or whether it was even still dark outside.







The Review

I really loved the first book in the series, The Night Watchman, and was looking forward to reading the next installment. The Devil's Kitchen pretty much picks up where The Night Watchman left off with Miriam and Simon.

I didn't think this one was as action packed as The Night Watchman. Or perhaps I just liked Neil more. Whatever the reason I wasn't as thrilled with The Devil's Kitchen. I did enjoy it; it just felt like something was missing.

I like DeLuca's writing. She draws the reader into the story and has life like characters and I want to know what happens to them. All the character involved in Simon's imprisonment were a bit crazy and a whole lot creepy - all in a good way. I'm not sure if the children act their age as I'm having trouble discerning Simon's and Neil's ages. I want to say Miriam is 11 or 12, but I'm not sure. Part of the reason is the setting. During the time period that the series is set, kids weren't kids as long. But I still have to wonder if a kid in that time period would have acted the same as these kids do.

As it is a middle grades/young adult novel, I did have to wonder about some of the references. I know that kid movies often put jokes and references that go over the kids' heads, but that adults find funny. I wonder if that was what DeLuca was doing in this novel. I didn't notice it in the first book.

You can see an example here:

A photo posted by Donna (@girl_who_reads) on

Oh and the Barbara wanting to seduce Simon was a little creepy too. I wonder what my nephew thought about these things.

As a lot of the plot points seemed to be wrapped up in this book I wonder what the next two books in the series is about. And I'm liking the steampunk genre (this is the first books I've read in that genre) and will be trying out some more books (I have a steampunk audio book in my review queue that I'm looking forward to).

If you like steampunk, The Devil's Kitchen is an enjoyable read for adults and young adults.


Buy The Devil's Kitchen at Amazon


book info
available formats: ebook and print (250 pages)
published: November 2012 by Myrddin Publishing Group 
ISBN13: 978-1939296184
genres: steampunk, fantasy 
target audience: middle grades/young adult
source: author
read: June/July 2015


Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.



July 20, 2015

Meet author K. Webster

by Heather Kirchhoff


What made you decide to start writing? 

I actually went to a book signing to see Colleen Hoover with a friend. It was the first signing I ever attended and was completely nervous. My friend mentioned that she was writing a book. It was always something I had thought of doing but hearing that she was gave me the courage to start one. Ten days later, I’d written Moth to a Flame.

Was this something you always thought you’d do? 

Yes, ever since I was a child, I figured I would write. At the time, I imagined writing more of a memoir of my life since it was littered with traumatic events. However, I soon realized people prefer the world of fantasy…as do I.

How do you come up with your characters or story ideas?

Sometimes it is simple. For instance, with Alpha & Omega that releases February 16th, I came up with the title first. The big craze is alpha males so I thought it would be funny for the character to be named Alpha…he goes by Al for short. Alpha seemed like a name a Greek god or angel would have and thus my character was born: a hunky, badass, alpha angel. The story fell into place at that point. Most of my stories play out as movies in my head and I simply record them. I even had a story idea while watching the Bubble Guppies cartoon. They were stuck in an avalanche. I thought, what if I had a couple of characters who also got stuck in an avalanche. However, instead of it being fun, it would be awful: Surviving against the elements, trying not to kill each other, oh and did I mention they are going through a divorce? That story is one of a second chance romance.

How do you get inspired to write? 

I usually read or watch a movie to get inspired. I barely make it twenty minutes in before I’m twitching to get back to my stories.

What do you do while having writers block?

Unfortunately, I have writer’s diarrhea…meaning the stories JUST WON’T STOP! LOL! I have had blocks on my stories though and I tend to work them out in the shower. The shower is the only place I can free my head from distractions and think it out. Oftentimes, I will talk it out with the hubby and he’ll help me get past a road block.

What kind of stories do you write? 

I actually write all sorts. However, they all have a romantic theme. I have a paranormal romance, Apartment 2B, that’s already out and carries the most five star reviews. I also have two different series that follow different couples. One is a rock star series that people seem to love. I’ve written suspense stories. Cop drama. An angels/demons story releases next week. And, I just finished a STEAMY historical novel. Also, up my sleeve, I’m writing a horror novel under a pen name. I even have a sci-fi story in my head lol.

Who are your favorite authors? 

My favorites are Colleen Hoover (amazing chick with amazing stories), Ella Fox (she is my mentor), and Pepper Winters (I’m in love with her dark, poetic writing.)

How long have you been writing?

I started writing in November of 2014. Since then, I have published 11 novels…the 12th comes out next week. I’ve completed fourteen total and keep on plugging away.

What are your books about? 

Moth to a Flame
Moth to a Flame – A girl on the run from a stalker settles into a small town and falls in love with a home builder with secrets. My Breaking the Rules series follows a bunch of steamy stories of an architect firm. My Vegas Aces series is about broken, emotional rock stars that kick their bad boy ways for love. Love and Law is about a female cop who goes undercover to take down a huge drug ring and ends up falling for the main bad guy. Apartment 2B is about a woman that escapes the awful abuse of her mother and falls in love with a mysterious man in her new apartment building despite all of her OCD and past issues. Erased is a co-written book with Elle Christensen that is about a woman that must throw out her life for a new one when her father’s job puts her in danger…of course she will fall for her caretaker. And Alpha & Omega, coming soon, is about an angel that falls in love with someone destined for Hell. :D

What are you currently working on? 

I just finished book one in my Becoming Her Series which is historical romance set in the late 1800s in London. Becoming Lady Thomas is about a woman that is set to marry her childhood sweetheart. But, when her father informs the family of his mountains of debt, she soon learns that he negotiated for Lord Thomas to take the hand of one of the daughters of his choosing in marriage. Elisabeth is devastated when he chooses her and that’s where it becomes complicated. He whisks her away to the city and she soon realizes that unplanned love is oftentimes what is meant to be versus the kind of love we think we want. IT IS THE STEAMIEST STORY I HAVE WRITTEN…so don’t let the time frame deter you. I’m hoping to put this one out for free!

What do you do when not writing? 

What? There is such a thing? Just kidding. I am quite obsessed with graphic design and you’ll see me making teasers and covers in Photoshop when not writing. My husband and I also love going to concerts…big rockers! Mostly, my husband, kids, and I just sit at home and chill. We’re kind of boring lol. All the action takes place in the books!

Buy Moth to a Flame at Amazon


About the Author:
K. Webster loves my husband of 11 years and sweet kids. Her passions include reading, writing, graphic design, and shopping! She absolutely loves social media and the power of how it connects people all over the world. You can usually find her easily on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads!
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The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect thos of Girl Who Reads. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

July 19, 2015

The Oracle #ReadAlong & #Giveaway: Chapters 12-22 @KBHoyle_author

by Donna Huber

So what did you think about the middle of the book?

A photo posted by Donna (@girl_who_reads) on
We left off last week with Tellius's whispered words about The Oracle, but as we start chapter 12 things look to be pretty calm and perhaps Darcy will forget about what Tellius said. We get to see the animals again as the six are allowed out on the castle grounds.

As these books are for young adults, I have wondered if the reference to Mr. Ed was lost on the target audience.

I really liked this passage on page 116 (remember I'm reading the 2010 edition so page numbers may be different if you are reading the 2012 edition).
She still didn't fully understand the Alitheian concept of Pateros: the mysterious bear/eagle/stag creature that had created all of Orodreos, brought humans from her world to this world, and gifted all of humanity with hereditary magic; the character who had created the first gateways, given humans the ability to create them but had forbidden them to do so, and the one who was apparently in control of all of their destinies. The Alitheians regarded him as being some sort og god, she knew, and of course he must be if he could do all that, but she still didn't know quite what to think if him herself. He was good, she knew that; he had saved her life last year, after all, but why was he so distant from them? Her life sure would be a whole lot easier if he would appear once for them and let them ask him a few questions.
It serves the purpose of providing some background reminders - things we learned in The Six. But it also poses interesting questions that people ask of the Christian God. I know that Hoyle was inspired by and wanted to pay tribute to C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. In his series, he weaved the Christian message into his story. And in much the same way Hoyle has done that here. As with the Chronicles of Narnia, I wonder how many people missed this message.

Chapter 12 also propels us into the meat of the story as a man falls from the sky.

What do you think about the man having "Follow Me" etched into his skin?

It kind of goes with the thought I had last week about how time really works at Cedar Cove (I'm going to refer to the world the six come from as Cedar Cove as it will be easier to delineate between the two worlds) and what happens to Colin when the six goes through the gateway. Rubidius has an explanation of the veil between the worlds being thin and that someone on Alitheia's side can see into Cedar Cove.

Do you think Rubidius is right?

Does that mean they have a traitor amongst them still as there are wards and protections around the point with the gateway?

Any hope we had that Darcy had learned her lesson last year goes up in smoke in chapter 14. At least she did think about ask Sam to look at the book so I guess that is some progress, too bad she didn't think to wait for Sam before trying out the Invocation.

Though still younger than Darcy, Tellius shows much more maturity. He wants to invoke the Oracle, presumably he read the same passages as Darcy (maybe even more thoroughly), but he didn't just try it out as far as we know. Instead he sought out wise counsel. I think this is when I first started falling in love with Tellius (and it sounds kind of wrong for me to say that since he's 12 and I'm an adult, but I mean it in the if I was a kid kind of way - I hope that makes sense).

At at least people know the Darcy screwed up early on so they can help her with it. And she gets the individualized attention she was whining about last year in regards to her magic and talent. But in Darcy's defense 14 is an awful young age to feel like your life is planned for you and you have no control of anything.
This is just getting worse and worse, Darcy thought miserably. She was achy in mind, body, and spirit and beginning to wish that she had not come back to Alitheia, but that wasn't really up to her in the first place. it just seems like my whole life has been laid out for me, and when I try to do something to regain some measure of control over it, I end up in this situation! page162
I think the first time that I read The Oracle I  didn't really know what to think about Rubidius's oracle riddle. And alchemy was a pretty foreign topic to me at the time. What did you think about it?

We get a bit of levity as they prepare for their journey and the boys realizing they should have kept active while they were home. We see growth in all the six in chapter 17. No one is shutting anyone out and they are all being more understanding. I liked these gradual growths in maturity and the bonds of their friendship.

Darcy's also going to get some combat training. Since it is a female nark doing the training and knowing they don't let human girls train, I'm assume most people are against these lessons. Did you think that was what Veli and Vesa were arguing about? Or do to you think it is about what he doesn't tell Yahto? We get a hint that something isn't quite right when Sam is inspecting the 12.

And there are DRAGONS! in Alitheia. Though no emotions are really contributed to Darcy when Voitto tells her there are giant lixards, I'm pretty sure there was at least a hint of excitement in her voice.

I found it kind of funny that an alarm clock came out of Sam's bag. I guess it was better than a nark coming around the clock to make sure Darcy took the potion.

I love the interaction between Darcy and Tellius in chapter 18 as she is about to head out to find the oracle. While Darcy is being all sarcastic about it, I think Tellius is genuine in his regret.

If you have been following the read along discussion you know I have wondered when Tellius fell in like with Darcy (cause they are too young to call it love). Does he care for her because she is suppose to help save Alitheia and we know Tellius is devoted to his people? Or is he just a nice guy that cares for people in general? Or does he care for her because he knows it is his duty (we know he takes his role as the future leader seriously) as she is to be his wife? Or is there a part of him that is already falling in love with Darcy? What do you think?

Did anyone else feel uneasy as we are introduced to the traveling party? My main thought was who isn't going to come back.

I'm pretty sure Sam was beside herself when the bone whistle came out of her pouch and it was for Perry. I don't remember what the note Lewis gave to Darcy and I don't know why she hasn't read it yet. I would have pulled it out the first stop we had.

We get some more background on the Alitheia and the royal line. And a bit about where Tellius and Cadmus were hiding during the first book (we haven't seen much of Cadmus this book). It is hard to believe that they are the last three in the royal line. Why hasn't Tullin married and had children?

And what is up with all the T names. I think that is why I have trouble keeping some of the character straight. In my head I'm always confusing Torrin and Tullin.

And my lack of fantasy/mythology knowledge shows a little bit in this chapter. I had to look up Charon to figure out who that was. And I kind of think they should have had Sam come along. What if this ferryman isn't trust worthy? Veli just finished telling Darcy about the unchanged. What if he is one?

Every time we get to know one of the 12 better I worry he'll be the one to die. So far I'm most worried about Terra, Badru, and Tokala. Hoyle has given us enough details about them that we now care about the character so their death would have a bigger impact.

And then there is the whole business between Yahto and Veli. I love the way Hoyle made these characters. We automatically fall in love with Veli and probably feel like giving Yahto the cold shoulder. It really makes what happens later in the series so impactful.

And if I didn't already love Veli this exchange would have had me falling in love with him,
"But why was it so important for you to come that you would risk destroying your reputation as a nark?" Darcy asked insistently.
"Why - you, my friend."
Who else groaned when we read Darcy is practicing her talent to pass the time? Another case of not thinking through the consequences or maybe she doesn't really understand the danger they are in.

We end up this week's discussion with quite the thrill - the 12 are being chased by a pack of wolves and then there is the strange darkness that engulfed them in the valley.

While at this point I don't care much for Yahto his speech in chapter 21 is quite epic and totally called for. He hits the nail on the head with the following and I hope Darcy thinks about what he says.
"You really think this is all about you, don't you? he retorted. "it's always been about you - who you have to marry, what your future looks like, what makes you happy. You're so absorbed with yourself that you don'y even think before trumpeting your talent about to the entire animal kingdom!
So what did you think about these chapters? What were some your favorite moments?

Next week we will finish up The Oracle.


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