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I Belong

Review: Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong

April 26th, 2017 Kaitlin Posted in Review No Comments »

Empire of NightTitleEmpire of Night

AuthorKelley Armstrong

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Age of Legends (Book #2)

Publication Date: March 8, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 448 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062071289 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062071286 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin

Synopsis:

SISTERS MORIA AND ASHYN ARE THE KEEPER AND SEEKER OF EDGEWOOD.

OR AT LEAST, THEY WERE. Their village is gone. Their friends have betrayed them. And now, they are all but prisoners in court, forced to watch and wait while the Emperor decides whether to help the children of Edgewood, who remain hostages of the treacherous Alvar Kitsune.

But when the emperor finally sends the girls on a mission to rescue the children – accompanied by Prince Tyrus and a small band of men – the journey proves more perilous than any of them could have imagined. With lies and unrest mounting in the empire, Moria and Ashyn will have to draw on every bit of influence and power they possess to unite their people and avert an all-out war.

Quick & Dirty: An excellent, pulse-racing installment to the series.

Opening Sentence: In retrospect, Moria should not have pulled her dagger when she was attempting to pass through the imperial city unnoticed.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Moria and Ashlyn, Keeper and Seeker of Edgewood, have returned. This time they don’t have to only deal with angry spirits, but they have to rescue a whole village of kidnapped children and defeat a tyrannical sorcerer, all while juggling their own problems. Their enemies are not always visible, and snaking through the perilous political gossip of court will be a challenge of its own…

The first novel of this series for me was alright. Fine, not brilliant, but good. I picked this up wondering how it was going to fall on the spectrum for me – higher or lower than it’s previous installment – and ended up being pleasantly surprised. I will admit it took a little bit to get into this one, and there was a decent stretch towards the beginning where I was bored, but once it picked up I was hooked, racing through not only this one but the next within a few days. You definitely need to read the first to understand this one, and I had read it so long ago I needed to do a quick reread/skim of the first novel to understand what was happening in the next.

Both sisters are badass in their own rights. Moria is the typical girl-turned-warrior, with her edgy, bold personality that turns heads. She has a sharp tongue and wits that keep the book interesting. Ashlyn is more shy, more reserved. She’s still a powerful girl, but she is the opposite of her twin in many ways, and helps to moderate Moria when her brashness gets them into situations less than favorable. I enjoyed them both for their flaws and their strengths, and found I could see growth throughout the book as they developed. Although, they never lost theirselves or the spunk that made them interesting in the first place!

The boys, the romances, caught me off guard. I was awfully worried about a love triangle, which aren’t my favorite, and was relieved about the absence of a big one. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some sexual tension and questions in our characters minds, but it doesn’t distract from the most pressing plot points or occupy most of the pages. I liked how the romances worked out a lot, actually. Not too fast, not too slow, and I found myself actively supporting both couples.

The book had a wonderful atmospheric tone that spoke of clashing kingdoms and rising magic. I love it when authors can create dialogue that sounds straight out of the time period and setting they are trying to convey, and Armstrong nailed it, right along with her glowing imagery and the gorgeous sensory experience she crafted with her keyboard. There was no lack of tension, suspense, or even romance in this story; the chapters also alternated between Moria and her sister, but I found that I was always hooked to both of their stories. Reading through the pages now, trying to get a grip on what kind of review to write, I only find a longing to reread. Definitely would recommend.

Notable Scene:

“Do you love him?” Guin asked as they rode.

Ashlyn started to say an abrupt know, then stopped herself and said instead, “That’s a complicated question.”

“No, it isn’t. You do or you don’t. It’s that simple.”

“It is?” Ashlyn looked at the young woman. “I used to think so. I’m not sure anymore. It isn’t like lighting a candle, which either catches or it doesn’t.  It’s like trying to light a fire. Sometimes you get a spark and you aren’t sure if it’s enough. It might start the fire. Or it might just sputter out.”

Age of Legends Series:

1. Sea of Shadows

2. Empire of Night

3. Forest of Ruin

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FTC Advisory: HarperTeen/EpicReads provided me with a copy of Empire of Night. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Magic For Nothing by Seanan McGuire

April 25th, 2017 Roxanne Posted in Review No Comments »

Magic for NothingTitle: Magic For Nothing

Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Incryptids (Book #6)

Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Format: Paperback, 368 Pages

ISBN-10: 0756410398 (DAW/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0756410391 (DAW/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

Improbable, adjective:
1. Not very likely to happen; not probable.
2. Probably not a very good idea anyway.
3. See also “bad plan.”

As the youngest of the three Price children, Antimony is used to people not expecting much from her. She’s been happy playing roller derby and hanging out with her cousins, leaving the globe-trotting to her older siblings while she stays at home and tries to decide what she wants to do with her life. She always knew that one day, things would have to change. She didn’t think they’d change so fast.

Annie’s expectations keep getting shattered. She didn’t expect Verity to declare war on the Covenant of St. George on live television. She didn’t expect the Covenant to take her sister’s threat seriously. And she definitely didn’t expect to be packed off to London to infiltrate the Covenant from the inside…but as the only Price in her generation without a strong resemblance to the rest of the family, she’s the perfect choice to play spy. They need to know what’s coming. Their lives may depend on it.

But Annie has some secrets of her own, like the fact that she’s started setting things on fire when she touches them, and has no idea how to control it. Now she’s headed halfway around the world, into the den of the enemy, where blowing her cover could get her killed. She’s pretty sure things can’t get much worse.

Antimony Price is about to learn just how wrong it’s possible for one cryptozoologist to be.

Quick & Dirty: Antimony Price is on the deadliest assignment yet.

Opening Sentence: Antimony sat cross-legged in the middle of the room, one hand pressed hard against her thigh and the other held open in front of her, palm up and fingers spread.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Antimony is mad at Verity, she has just outed them to the whole world. No longer does the Covenant believe the Price’s are dead and gone. What’s worse, she declared war on them and North America off limits. So because Antimony doesn’t look like the rest of her family, she actually looks like a Price, not a Healy, she is asked to go undercover into the Covenant and find out what they are up against. It’s a mission of utmost importance and the stakes are high, she could pay for this with her life.

Once Antimony arrives in London she heads to the “recruitment” center, and meets Leo Cunningham. The heir to the leader of the Covenant, and while he flirts with her Antimony isn’t the least bit tempted. She knows he would never leave the Covenant, and she will never believe as they as do. Posing as a member of the Black Carnival, Antiomy puts her skills to use and soon she finds that the Covenant wants her to go undercover for them in America. She is playing a dangerous game with only Mindy (her Aeslin mouse) on her side. Although while in London, Mindy finds the Lost Colony and when Mork joins Antimony and Mindy, the Aeslin mice are setting up a way for them to help the lost colony escape the Covenant.

Once Antiomy arrives at the Carnival she faces another extreme amount of tests in order to get in and the anger of a young man named Sam. Soon Antimony is on the trail of the member of the Carnival who is making people disappear, and all the while she keeping the Covenant away from the Carnival. It becomes clear that it is all going to go wrong, especially when Antimony finds herself unable to fight her attraction to Sam who just happens to be a Monkey. Will she be able to save the people in the Carnival? Will she find the killer without disappearing herself?

Oh my word, this series just reached a new level with this book. It is my favorite. I was almost in tears at the end, I loved Antimony even more than Verity or Alex. She is the youngest of the three siblings, and in this book, she faces situations that are much more terrifying than what the others have faced. She grows up, she falls a little in love and makes heartbreaking decisions. Seanan is on the top of her game, I didn’t think I would ever be as invested or love this series as much as October, but it just took reading and connecting with Antimony to put this series on par with October’s.

I didn’t know if it would work for me switching viewpoints every few books, but I have to say that I love each one of the siblings in a different way. Alex is thoughtful and wary of violence, Verity is like a force of nature, and Antimony is just, I don’t even have the words for her. I was blown away, on the edge of my seat one minute, biting my nails the next, laughing out loud, and on the verge of tears and I immediately wished this wasn’t the latest book, so that I could run out and read the next one right away. I can’t believe I have to wait a whole year…

Notable Scene:

For all that I was basically going through my paces for the Covenant of St. George, I was excited by the opportunity to move. Endorphins are as addictive as anything else and I’d never gone this long without a decent workout. If being potentially useful as a field agent meant I got access to this room while I was doing recon, I’d take it. Letting myself get out of shape for the sake of maintaining my cover would just make it harder to escape when the time came.

The InCryptids Series:

1. Discount Armageddon

2. Midnight Blue-Light Special

3. Half-Off Ragnarok

4. Pocket Apocalypse

5. Chaos Choreography

6. Magic For Nothing

7. Tricks for Free

glitter crown

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FTC Advisory: DAW/Penguin provided me with a copy of Magic For Nothing. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Chaos Choreography by Seanan McGuire

April 24th, 2017 Kristie Posted in Review No Comments »

Chaos ChoreographyTitle: Chaos Choreography

Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: InCryptid (Book #5)

Publication Date: March 1, 2016

Format: Paperback, 368 Pages

ISBN-10: 075640813X (DAW/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0756408138 (DAW/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Kristie

Synopsis:

Fifth book in Seanan McGuire’s funny and fast-paced urban fantasy InCryptid series featuring ballroom dancer and monster expert Verity Price.

Verity Price is back on the West Coast and getting back into the swing of the family business: cryptozoology. She’s rescuing cryptids from bad situations, protecting them from monster-hunters, and generally risking life and limb for the greater good, with her ex-Covenant partner/husband, Dominic, by her side. Her ballroom dance career is behind her—or so she thinks. When Verity gets the call from the producers of Dance or Die, the reality show she almost won several years before, she finds the lure impossible to resist, and she and Dominic are off to L.A. for one last shot at the big time.

Of course, nothing is that simple. When two contestants turn up dead, Verity will need every ally she can find with the investigation, without blowing her cover…

Quick & Dirty: Funny, dark, action-packed and with a guest appearance by Verity’s grandma Alice. This book is the best in the series so far!

Opening Sentence: “When we took the stage at the start of the season, twenty dancers stood before you, ready to dazzle you with their talent, strength, and personalities.”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Chaos Choreography is the fifth novel in the InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire. After being away from Verity for two novels we get back to her for this dance-filled murder mystery. I think the most exciting thing for me with this novel was that Verity gets to team up with her infamous/famous grandma Alice! I’ve been waiting to meet her since the beginning of this series. You could honestly pick up this novel and not have read the previous novels in the series. There is some background information that might be useful for characterization but otherwise it doesn’t spoil any previous books.

A year has passed since Verity and Dominic left New York for Verity’s home in Oregon. She has finally determined that she will follow the family’s cryptozoological mission instead of dancing. As she is settling down into domestic life, she gets an opportunity that she thought she would never get again, to dance. Dance or Die, the reality show that launched her dancing career, wants Verity back on the show to dance against past contestants. Verity agrees only because she along with her family know she will always think ‘what if’ if she doesn’t do it.

Dance or Die ends up being quite literal in its name when Verity discovers past contestants die after being eliminated. It is only by accident that the bodies were discovered otherwise the scheming would have went undetected. Verity’s grandmother Alice is sent to help out Verity once it is discovered that she would need some very powerful backup to help fight. A snake cult is behind the deaths and they are extremely powerful with magic to help them in their quest to bring a mighty snake god into this world.

Verity had already made her decision to follow her family instead of dance but being drawn back into the dancing world she was beginning to wonder if she had made a mistake. What I really liked about this story is how Verity’s emotions are finally resolved on this issue even as it leads to its heartbreaking ending.

I loved finally seeing Alice on the page and how crazy, funny and potentially deadly she is and especially to see some of her secrets.  I really hope I can catch up on some of the short stories that Seanan has written in this series because I’m sure Alice shows up in those more. Alice is a character I hope to read more about and I hope her story ends better than her family thinks it will.

This novel kept me guessing from beginning to the ultimate climax of the story. I never saw that one coming, I figured it was someone else the entire time. I really like that when the author can surprise me with who the bad guy or gal is in the end. This novel kept me in suspense the entire time.

Overall, this novel was my favorite so far in this series. The ending was crazy and I can’t wait to see how these events play out in the overall series because nothing will ever be the same for the Price family from here on out. I am really looking forward to finally getting Antimony’s story in the sixth book.

Notable Scene:

She gripped the bottom of the garage door and hauled upward. I moved to help, and she shot me a grateful look as the door slid up, revealing a garage packed stem to stern with boxes, piles of yard equipment, and old, tangled Christmas lights. A space had been cleared off to one side, the scrapes in the dirt on the floor showing how quickly the job had been done. There was a motorcycle parked there, old and battered but still sturdy-looking, like it had been driven a long way to get here, and was more than ready to drive back.

“There she is,” said Alice. “California has helmet laws, right?”

“Right,” I said uneasily. I’ve never been a big fan of motorcycles. They seem like an even faster route to a horrible death than the usual cars. “I like helmets. They’re like exoskeletons for your skull. Please tell me you have helmets.”

“I have helmets,” said Alice. She reached into the pile of boxes, withdrawing two brown lumps that looked like they came from roughly the same era as the bike itself. Privately, I resolved to walk home. “Don’t make that face. They’re not cute, but they’re street legal, and they’ll protect your head. Not that I’m planning to have an accident. Road rash isn’t my idea of a good time.”

“Grandma, your idea of a good time involves gutting things.”

“True enough,” said Alice, apparently unoffended. “Blood is good for your hair, and internal organs are good for your skin. Put your helmet on, and don’t talk back.”

I rolled my eyes, pulled off my wig, and put the helmet on.

The little ghoul was still playing tea party when the motorcycle came zooming down the driveway, my grandmother leaning forward to reduce our wind drag, me clinging to her for dear life. The little ghoul raised a hand in a wave. To my dismay, Alice returned it. I hugged her tighter, and she laughed, and drove on into the night.

The InCryptids Series:

1. Discount Armageddon

2. Midnight Blue-Light Special

3. Half-Off Ragnarok

4. Pocket Apocalypse

5. Chaos Choreography

6. Magic For Nothing

7. Tricks for Free

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FTC Advisory: DAW/Penguin provided me with a copy of Chaos Choreography. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire

April 23rd, 2017 Roxanne Posted in Review No Comments »

Pocket ApocalypseTitle: Pocket Apocalypse

Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: InCryptid (Book #4)

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

Format: Paperback, 368 Pages

ISBN-10: 0756408121 (DAW/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0756408121 (DAW/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

Endangered, adjective: Threatened with extinction or immediate harm.

Australia, noun: A good place to become endangered.

Alexander Price has survived gorgons, basilisks, and his own family—no small feat, considering that his family includes two telepaths, a reanimated corpse, and a colony of talking, pantheistic mice.

Still, he’s starting to feel like he’s got the hang of things…at least until his girlfriend, Shelby Tanner, shows up, asking pointed questions about werewolves and the state of his passport.  From there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to Australia, a continent filled with new challenges, new dangers, and yes, rival cryptozoologists who don’t like their “visiting expert” very much.

Australia is a cryptozoologist’s dream, filled with unique species and unique challenges.  Unfortunately, it’s also filled with Shelby’s family, who aren’t delighted by the length of her stay in America.  And then there are the werewolves to consider: infected killing machines who would like nothing more than to claim the continent as their own. The continent which currently includes Alex.

Survival is hard enough when you’re on familiar ground.  Alex Price is very far from home, but there’s one thing he knows for sure: he’s not going down without a fight.

Quick & Dirty: Meeting his girlfriend’s family, hunting some werewolves and taking a trip to Australia… All in day’s work!

Opening Sentence: “Alex eased himself around the open stable door, his heart beating so hard it felt like it was going to break in two.”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Alex is back with book 4 picking up not too long after the end of book 3. Shelby has come to him and asked him about werewolves, and then she follows it up with asking him to come to Australia to help with the werewolf problem. Alex is more than a little worried, because werewolves can infect any mammals. The potential for spreading widely and quickly is unparalleled. As he packs up his most needed items and several of his Aesin mice, he worries that this could all go badly.

Once in Australia Alex meets Shelby’s highly hostile family. They make no bones about how much they dislike him, he even has to use the Aeslin mice to prove who he is. As he tries to update the thirty-six society on werewolves and how it spreads he is met with more hostility. When he goes on a supply run with society member Cooper that ends with Alex being bitten and Cooper ending up dead, things go from bad to worse.

However, Alex is shocked when his mice inform him that he is not sick, it turns out that years ago the Aselin mice experienced a werewolf outbreak with an older member of the family, and as they pass down all knowledge they passed down the scent information as well. Later, when Alex and the rest of the Tanner family are out and attacked by weresheep, he knows that they are dealing with a much bigger problem. Will he be able to help them figure out what is going on? Will he be able to stay alive?

I have to say I was a little shocked when reading book 3 and switching to Alex’s pov, but he grew on me. While he isn’t like Verity at all, he is interesting and just as resourceful if not more than Verity. I must also mention that I sincerely adore the Aeslin mice, they just might be my favorite characters in these books. They aren’t but they are pretty dang close, their religion, their speech, the feasting, their bravery. I can’t get enough of them, kudos for such a small add that really makes the story unique.

I wonder if we will eventually get a book from Antimony’s pov? I have a feeling she will be very interesting. I can’t wait to read the next book, I have missed Verity and I am looking forward to reading about her and Dominic again! If you haven’t read this series than look no further. There may be a lot of heavy stuff, but Seanan deals it out in this series in such a light-hearted way that you just have to sit back and enjoy the ride!

Notable Scene:

Aeslin Mice are small and have limited natural defenses, but they’re also smart, and surprisingly good at surviving, considering the massed forces the world has rallied to kill them off. I sat down on the edge of the bed and pulled out my laptop, trusting the mice to take care of themselves.

The InCryptids Series:

1. Discount Armageddon

2. Midnight Blue-Light Special

3. Half-Off Ragnarok

4. Pocket Apocalypse

5. Chaos Choreography

6. Magic For Nothing

7. Tricks for Free

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FTC Advisory: DAW/Penguin provided me with a copy of Pocket Apocalypse. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire

April 22nd, 2017 Kristie Posted in Review No Comments »

Half-Off RagnarokTitle: Half-Off Ragnarok

Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: InCryptid (Book #3)

Publication Date: March 4, 2014

Format: Paperback, 356 Pages

ISBN-10: 0756408113 (DAW/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0756408114 (DAW/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Kristie

Synopsis:

When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn’t expect people to start dropping dead. But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend—Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats—is starting to get suspicious.

Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone…

The third book in the InCryptid series takes us to a new location and a new member of the family, as Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary. Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner.

Of course, so do the talking mice.

Quick & Dirty: Book three is a wild, crazy reboot to the series as it jumps to the brother’s story.

Opening Sentence: Alex knelt in front of his new terrarium, peering through the glass as he searched for a sign of his latest pet.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Half-Off Ragnarok, the third novel in the InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire, offers up a completely new perspective in this wildly funny and crazy urban fantasy novel. This series follows the Healy/Price family as they protect humans from cryptids and protect cryptids from humans. Verity’s brother Alex gets his turn to tell his story as a guest researcher at the West Columbus Zoo. If you haven’t read the previous two novels then you really don’t have to in order to jump into this one but it does continue the story of Sarah, a cryptid who continues to heal after the events of the last book Midnight Blue-Light Special.

A few months have passed since Verity’s showdown with some Covenant members in New York City, Sarah is now living with her “mother” in Ohio. Alex, Verity’s older brother, is living with his grandparents while he is working at the West Columbus Zoo as a guest researcher for reptiles but in actuality he is studying the reproduction cycles of basilisks and the local cryptid population. When Alex isn’t busy with his research, he is dating a hot Australian zookeeper named Shelby Tanner, it is a relationship that he doesn’t expect to last but he is having fun while he can because not everyone can handle knowing that cryptids are in fact a real species.

A human is killed at the Zoo and it could only have been a cryptid that could have done it. Alex must find out who or what is killing humans because it could cause a whole bunch more cryptids to die when the Covenant comes to town. During a scene that could only be described as highly dangerous, incredibly insane and hilarious, Alex and Shelby learn that they actually have more in common than they thought. Together they put their relationship on the line along with their lives in order to take down the creepy creature that is turning people into stone.

Alex is the older brother of Verity and Antimony. He doesn’t quite have the skills that his sisters have but he has spent a lot of time studying reptiles. I really liked Alex although it did seem weird at times that I was reading from a man’s point of view since all the other books I’ve read from Seanan have female leads. Alex has an awesome pet, a church griffin, which is basically a cat with wings. I want one! It is a cross between a Maine coon cat and a raven but I still want one.

Shelby Tanner is an Australian zoologist with a specialty in big cats. She has some similarities to Alex but it is her since of humor and her ability to adapt to the situations that she and Alex get thrown into that make me really like her. Although I do feel Shelby’s and Alex’s relationship is a little too convenient considering they both went into it knowing it wouldn’t last.

In the end, I really like this world of hidden monsters that Seanan has created. I also like how close knit this family is even if they may seem mentally unstable at times. (I only say this because of the decision making they must go through when dealing with the cryptid population.) They stand up for their own morals and principles even at the potential cost to their own lives. I highly recommend this series for people who like a touch of paranormal with their dose of normalcy and also for characters who have a quirky sense of humor.

Notable Scene:

“I’ve got it!” shouted Dee, just as the lindworm’s head flashed past my position, and my blood went cold.

Its eyes were granite-gray from side to side, with no pupil or sclera.

“You’re not going to be able to stun it!” I whirled, firing twice more into its side. The lindworm hissed horribly and whipped around again, jaws snapping shut on the place where I would have been standing if Frank hadn’t effortlessly yanked me out of the way. I fired at the lindworm again. Thanks could wait until we were no longer in immediately danger.

There was a whoop, and Shelby was abruptly sitting on the lindworm’s back, straddling it like a cowgirl riding a bucking bronco at the rodeo. She hooked the fingers of one hand under the broad scales at the back of its skull, drawing a gun from her waistband with the other hand. Her grin died as she glanced my way, meeting me eyes.

Clenching my jaw, I nodded.

The InCryptids Series:

1. Discount Armageddon

2. Midnight Blue-Light Special

3. Half-Off Ragnarok

4. Pocket Apocalypse

5. Chaos Choreography

6. Magic For Nothing

7. Tricks for Free

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FTC Advisory: DAW/Penguin provided me with a copy of Half-Off Ragnarok. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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