Angus Donald : Bloods Campaign (Review)

Blood’s Campaign (2019)
(The third book in the Holcroft Blood series)

book cover of Blood\'s Campaign

In the theatre of war there can only be one victor….

August 25, 1689

The English Army is besieging Carrickfergus in Ireland. Brilliant but unusual gunner Holcroft Blood of the Royal Train of Artillery is ready to unleash his cannons on the rebellious forces of deposed Catholic monarch James II. But this is more than war for Captain Blood; a lust for private vengeance burns within him.

French intelligence agent Henri d’Erloncourt has come across the seas to foment rebellion against William of Orange, the newly installed Dutch ruler of England, Scotland and Ireland. But Henri’s true mission is not to aid the suffering of the Irish but to serve the interests of his master, Louis le Grand.

Michael ‘Galloping’ Hogan, brigand, boozer and despoiler of Protestant farms, strives to defend his native land – and make a little profit on the side. But when he takes the Frenchman’s gold, he suspects deep in his freedom-loving heart that he has merely swapped one foreign overlord for another.

July 1, 1690

On the banks of the River Boyne, on a fateful, scorching hot day, two armies clash in bloody battle – Protestant against Catholic – in an epic struggle for mastery of Ireland. And, when the slaughter is over and the smoke finally clears, for these three men, nothing will ever be the same again….

(Review)

Ive been a fan of Angus Donald since i got my hands on a little paperback 10 years ago called “Outlaw”, it was the beginning of something totally new, a total rewrite of the Robin Hood Legend, a robin hood meets the godfather, and when it ended after 8 amazing tales i really wondered if he could top it as a series, and for me he did, the beginning of the Holcroft Blood series “Bloods Game” was something truly different because while it followed the norm of taking a hero from childhood to adulthood, it did so with a boy that was different, Angus introduced us to Holcroft Blood a boy who lived with Autism, something they would not have known back then, but surely existed, it took a boy on the ride through dangerous politics and Machiavellian plots, where those around him could consider him to be too simple to understand due to his lack of social skills, but under that quiet exterior lurked a highly intelligent, boy then young man.

Bloods Campaign finds Holcroft a grown man, with his beloved Artillery regiment, an officer and a gentleman of some skill, as always he is front on centre in the action and mired in a personal battle with his nemesis Henri d’Erloncourt a french officer and spy, and the battle for Ireland.

Angus Donald writes in a style that is very character driven and has a talent for introducing lots of well rounded and fun side characters, like Enoch the aged artillery man, and in this book Hogan an Irishman, a brigand and an all round chancer, but one with his own moral code and skills, I love a good side character, and loved the addition of Hogan, a man who could star easily in his own book. We travel the length and breadth of Ireland galloping over bogs and rivers, there are sieges and battles, there are sneak attacks, betrayals, spies, bravery, stupidity in action and so much more. I tore through this book in a single day, so far this is easily my favorite book that Angus Donald has written, a total adventure from first page to last, with some beautiful scenes and scenery. My Favorite is the meeting near the end between Holcroft and the man who is alleged to have cuckolded him, so well written and so beautifully showing the growth of Holcroft from the start of the book to the end.

I highly recommend this book, and all of Angus Donalds books

(Parm)

 

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Steven A McKay: Warrior Druid of Britain (Review)

book cover of The Druid

(The Druid)

Northern Britain, AD430

A land in turmoil. A village ablaze. A king’s daughter abducted.

In the aftermath of a surprise attack Dun Buic lies in smoking ruins and many innocent villagers are dead. As the survivors try to make sense of the night’s events the giant warrior-druid, Bellicus, is tasked with hunting down the raiders and thwarting their dark purpose.

With years of training in the old ways, two war-dogs at his side, and unsurpassed skill with a longsword, Bellicus’s quest will take him on a perilous journey through lands still struggling to cope with the departure of the Roman legions.

Meanwhile, amongst her brutal captors the little princess Catia finds an unlikely ally, but even he may not be able to avert the terrible fate King Hengist has in store for her.

This, the first volume in a stunning new series from the bestselling author of Wolf’s Head, explores the rich folklore and culture of post-Roman Britain, where blood-sacrifice, superstition, and warfare were as much a part of everyday life as love, laughter and song.

As Saxon invaders and the new Christian religion seek to mold the country for their own ends one man will change the course of Britain’s history forever….

….the Druid.

book cover of Song of the Centurion

Song of the Centurion

Autumn, AD 430. After the Princess Catia’s disappearance, and Bellicus’s adventures trailing her Saxon abductors south to the fabled Hanging Stones, the giant warrior-druid is finally returning home.
Battle-scarred, and mourning the loss of a loved one, Bellicus has learned from bitter experience that the gods rarely make things easy. Even if he can evade Horsa’s vengeful pursuit and get back to the North safely, his troubles may be far from over…
In a land beset by the rivalries of petty warlords, Dun Breatann has stood solid and secure for untold generations. Trouble brews though as King Coroticus has cracked under the pressure of his daughter’s abduction and, as well as starting a war with the neighbouring kings, he has become jealous, suspicious, and often blind drunk. When the king’s rage finally boils over during a winter feast, Bellicus finds himself with two choices – accept exile, or complete another seemingly impossible undertaking.
So much for the returning hero…
Accompanied by his massive war-dog, Cai, and the ever-loyal former centurion, Duro – who has his own painful issues to contend with – Bellicus must somehow survive a journey east into enemy-held lands. There, he will need to use his gods-given talents to the full if they are to survive the winter frosts and carry out the mad king’s orders without being captured or killed by the men of Dalriada.

 

Review:

I read both of these books back to back (i’m a little late with The Druid), and so thought it best to review together. Its an interesting experience reviewing more than one book in a series because you can see more of the story growth, the character development and get a better feel for the story arc. Also with these books i was interested to see what Steven McKay could do that was away from his Robin Hood series.

Bellicus the druid is a clever and interesting character, and i like the way that the author avoids or explains away the tricks that would be considered supernatural, things that are all about knowledge and training and superstition. The first book a hunt for a little girl (a princess), to recover her from the bad guys (The Saxons), and bring her home… but for me the books (both of them) really come alive when Duro joins the plot, a retired Centurion, a man who thought that his fighting days were gone, who had retained his skills but not the body that allowed him to use them, i laughed along with his exploits as he was forced to shed the weight he gained as a baker in his retirement, and enjoyed the fact that he showed how after the Romans left there were still remnants there, not just the houses falling down that you get in some books, but real people, with real knowledge and skill. The two main characters Duro and Bel bounce off each other perfectly and allows the author to give a fuller picture of the worlds they both live in… a Druid seen from a personal level and also from an external one. As usual he throws in friendships, love and betrayal… and weaves a clever story. Im still undecided if i like the introduction of Merlin and Arthur… but im interested to see where he goes with that in book 3… as always with Steven Mckay, the books draw me back and keep me hooked which is recommendation enough i think and i’m always interested in what he will write next, his skill as a writer grows with each book…

(Parm)

 

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Mark Lawrence : Dispel Illusion

 

book cover of Dispel Illusion

Dispel Illusion (The third book in the Impossible Times series)

Sometimes being wrong is the right answer.

Nick Hayes’s genius is in wringing out the universe’s secrets. It’s a talent that’s allowed him to carve paths through time. But the worst part is that he knows how his story will end. He’s seen it with his own eyes. And every year that passes, every breakthrough he makes, brings him a step closer. Mia’s accident is waiting for them both in 2011. If it happens then he’s out of choices.

Then a chance 1992 discovery reveals that this seeker of truth has been lying to himself. But why? It’s a question that haunts him for years. A straw he clings to as his long-awaited fate draws near.

Time travel turns out not to be the biggest problem Nick has to work on. He needs to find out how he can stay on his path but change the destination. Failure has never been an option, and neither has survival. But Nick’s hoping to roll the dice one more time. And this new truth begins with a lie.

Review

Somehow Mark Lawrence always manages to surprise me, having reviewed books for about 30 years you do find at times that you get a little jaded with the same ideas reworked, but there are still authors out there who manage to write something new and surprising, something that has you guessing, that challenges the mind, that entertains and takes you on a journey out of your own head. Mark Lawrence seems to manage to do this with every single book he writes, and Dispel Illusion is right up there with the best he has written.

The book challenges your understanding of time and space and paradox, whilst at the same time pulling you into the simple world of friends and love. Impossible times has all the hallmarks of a major TV series, there is so much in it that at times i felt that the book was just skimming the surface of possibility for the series, the multiverse, the avoidance of paradox and the use of D&D to explain and navigate some of the key elements of the plot was just genius.

This final book in the series had me guessing all the way to the end how the author would tie up the story, how we could have a satisfactory ending, one we could enjoy and believe, and he managed it beautifully…

With all the heavy and detailed books i read in Historical fiction and Fantasy, its been amazing to read a series that is highly entertaining, incredibly complex with time travel and paradoxes and also at the same time so simple and easy, real life friendships and love that we can all relate too… its one of my fav series and one for everyone to read because its genre free….

Very Highly recommended

(Parm)

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Garth Nix: Angel Mage (review)

Garth Nix

Garth Nix's picture

Garth Nix was born in 1963 in Melbourne, Australia, to the sound of the Salvation Army band outside playing ‘Hail the Conquering Hero Comes’ or possibly ‘Roll Out the Barrel’. Garth left Melbourne at an early age for Canberra (the federal capital) and stayed there till he was nineteen, when he left to drive around the UK in a beat-up Austin with a trunk full of books and a Silver-Reed typewriter.

Despite a wheel literally falling off the Austin, Garth survived to return to Australia and study at the University of Canberra. After finishing his degree in 1986 he worked in a bookshop, then as a book publicist, a publisher’s sales representative, and editor. Along the way he was also a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve, serving in an Assault Pioneer platoon for four years. Garth left publishing to work as a public relations and marketing consultant from 1994-1997, till he became a full-time writer in 1998. He did that for a year before becoming a part-time literary agent in 1999. In January 2002 Garth went back to writing full time again, despite his belief that full-time writing explains the strange behaviour of many authors.

Garth currently lives in a beach suburb of Sydney, with his wife Anna, a publisher.

 

book cover of Angel Mage

 

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than 19, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

It’s a seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding. Four young people hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, a glory-seeking musketeer; and Dorotea, icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet but do not suspect their importance. And none of them know just how Liliath plans to use them, as mere pawns in her plan, no matter the cost to everyone else….

Review:

I have to admit to never having read Garth Nix before, so i wasn’t sure what to expect, what i did know was that Christian Cameron recommended his writing (which is a good indicator) so i got stuck into Angel Mage..

I had my doubts about this book, to begin with while i was impressed with the scope of the magic system and the world, i felt that the info dumps to bring the reader up to speed over shadowed the characters, i didn’t gain any warmth for them, i wasn’t invested in them, not until the 4 main characters started to coalesce together, then they started to come alive, and the story blossomed.

As a whole its a good slid story, a clever magic system , but i didn’t love it… I felt the good story and good characters were marred by complexity…info drops. That said, im saying this in comparison to some really great books….im glad i read it… and i would read more set in this world, i think the foundations have been built for some truly excellent stories….especially the musketeers…who doesn’t love a musketeer tale!!

(Parm)

 

 

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Miles Cameron: Bright Steel (Review)

Image result for miles cameron

Miles Cameron is a fantasy novelist who currently lives in Toronto, Canada. He is a military veteran and has a degree in Medieval History.

His debut novel (The Red Knight), first in The Traitor Son novels, was one of the most acclaimed fantasy debuts of 2012 and nominated for the David Gemmell Morningstar award. It is followed by The Fell Sword.

He also writes highly acclaimed historical fiction under the name Christian Cameron.

book cover of Bright Steel

Every war comes down to the flash of bright steel, even when the air is full of magic . . .

Aranthur and his friends have come together across different continents and realms with one purpose: to strike back against the forces which have torn a hole in the heavens and threaten to rip the world beneath them apart as well.

With time running short, and treason at home, there are battles to be fought on the field, in the magical arena, and in the ever-deadly realm of politics, and they must succeed on every front or everything will fall. Victory will require enemies to trust one another, old foes to fight together, spies to reveal the truth and steadfast allies to betray long-corrupt rulers.

Is Aranthur, a twenty-year-old student, really the master strategist to bring it all together? And can he and his friends overcome aeons of lies when their plans inevitably fall to pieces? Do they even know, for sure, who the enemy is . . . ?

Review

The end of another stunning trilogy/ series.  Miles / Christian Cameron as you all know is my favourite writer, he is the smartest man i know and i’m lucky enough to call him a friend… but id still call him out if the plot was bad…. fortunately it never is because he has an easy going authentic style that draws you into his world and his characters. When you add in his huge depth of knowledge in history, fighting skills, arms and armour and geo politics and so much more you start to understand why what he writes feels so real, he imbues his writing with more than imagination, he adds in the real, what does it feel like to fight in armour, how do you use a sword or a bow, what logistics are involved in moving an army etc… all this is something the author has done in real life, so every tale is an education as well as an adventure… but carried but so subtly that you don’t notice that you have been subtly educated, you’re to swept up n the grand scale and world of the story.

Bright steel brings an end to his latest series, a tale where once again the dungeon master has woven us into a new time, a new world, a unique magic system, a set of new nations and protagonists. Once again he has made us fall in love with new people in new worlds, showing the horror and futility of war as well as the beauty and skill of the swordsman and the camaraderie of the soldiers. men and women fighting side by side heroism and arrogance on all sides, political maneuvering at a small and nation level… that winning is never the end, only the start of something new, as is losing…what ever the outcome the world keeps turning, but can you influence or change the way it turns?

With the last 2 series as Miles Cameron i believe that the author has cemented himself as one of the key authors in the fantasy genre (along side his mastery of the Historical Fiction genre), his world building is second to none, but more than that his ability to create a world spanning plot that is both intricate and also realistic is something few authors can accomplish, his tales have the complexity and breadth of authors like GRRM, but he keeps the plot tight and fast and easy to read, avoids getting windy about side plots, whilst teasing us with a myriad of tales that could still be told. We stick with our reluctant hero Aranthur and his group of “Cold iron” and follow as the plot unravels to reveal the bad guys and the mysteries of the world, its magic and its politics, until the story is told to a satisfying conclusion…. yet at the same time leaving you wanting more of the side tales and sub plots, to have those tales of other key characters payed out as well, to enjoy time with those favorite characters.

I’d struggle to say which of his series i loved the most…. i believe Masters and Mages was the easier read, because the scope of Traitors Son was just beyond compare, making GRRM look unambitious… but both series share that same engaging reality and amazing people.

There is i’m sure more to come from this world, as there is from Traitor son cycles world…. but Miles/ Christian also loves to bring something new to the table, the man seems to have an inexhaustible imagination.

This is again a series that belong on the Collection Shelf of any reader, Fantasy or Historical fiction, it doesn’t matter… its just writing and imagination at its best. A must buy/ Must read series.

(Parm)

Traitor Son Cycle
1. The Red Knight (2012)
2. The Fell Sword (2012)
3. The Dread Wyrm (2012)
4. A Plague of Swords (2016)
5. The Fall of Dragons (2017)
Traitor son cycle series: Books 1-4 (omnibus) (2018)
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Masters & Mages
1. Cold Iron (2018)
2. Dark Forge (2019)
3. Bright Steel (2019)
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Series
Alan Craik (as by Gordon Kent)
1. Night Trap (1998)
aka Rules of Engagement
2. Peace Maker (2000)
3. Top Hook (2002)
4. Hostile Contact (2003)
5. Force Protection (2004)
6. Damage Control (2005)
7. The Spoils of War (2006)
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Tyrant
1. Tyrant (2008)
2. Storm of Arrows (2009)
3. Funeral Games (2010)
4. King of the Bosporus (2011)
5. Destroyer of Cities (2013)
6. Force of Kings (2014)
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Long War
1. Killer of Men (2010)
2. Marathon (2011)
3. Poseidon’s Spear (2012)
4. The Great King (2014)
5. Salamis (2015)
6. Rage of Ares (2016)
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Tom Swan and the Head of St George
1. Castillon (2012)
2. Venice (2012)
3. Constantinople (2012)
4. Rome (2013)
5. Rhodes (2013)
6. Chios (2013)
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Chivalry
1. The Ill-Made Knight (2013)
2. The Long Sword (2014)
3. The Green Count (2017)
4. Sword of Justice (2018)
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Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade
1. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part One (2014)
2. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Two (2014)
3. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Three (2014)
4. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Four (2015)
5. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Five (2015)
6. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Six (2015)
7. Tom Swan and the Siege of Belgrade: Part Seven (2015)
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Tom Swan and the Last Spartans
1. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part One (2016)
2. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Two (2016)
3. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Three (2017)
4. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Four (2017)
5. Tom Swan and the Last Spartans: Part Five (2017)
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Commander
1. The New Achilles (2019)
2. The Last Greek (2020)
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Novels
Cauldron of Violence (2000) (as by Gordon Kent)
Washington and Caesar (2001)
The Falconer’s Tale (2007) (as by Gordon Kent)
God of War (2012)
A Song of War (2016) (with Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, S J A Turneyand Russell Whitfield)
Tudor Knight (2019)
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Pierce Brown: Dark Age (Review)

Pierce Brown's picture

Pierce Brown spent his childhood building forts and setting traps for his cousins in the woods of six states and the deserts of two. Graduating college in 2010, he fancied the idea of continuing his studies at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a magical bone in his body. So while trying to make it as a writer, he worked as a manager of social media at a startup tech company, toiled as a peon on the Disney lot at ABC Studios, did his time as an NBC page, and gave sleep deprivation a new meaning during his stint as an aide on a U.S. Senate Campaign.
Now he lives in Los Angeles, where he scribbles tales of spaceships, wizards, ghouls, and most things old or bizarre.

 

book cover of Dark Age

He broke the chains. Then he broke the world… .

A decade ago Darrow led a revolution, and laid the foundations for a new world. Now he’s an outlaw.

Cast out of the very Republic he founded, with half his fleet destroyed, he wages a rogue war on Mercury. Outnumbered and outgunned, is he still the hero who broke the chains? Or will he become the very evil he fought to destroy?

In his darkening shadow, a new hero rises.

Lysander au Lune, the displaced heir to the old empire, has returned to bridge the divide between the Golds of the Rim and Core. If united, their combined might may prove fatal to the fledgling Republic.

On Luna, the embattled Sovereign of the Republic, Virginia au Augustus, fights to preserve her precious demokracy and her exiled husband. But one may cost her the other, and her son is not yet returned.

Abducted by enemy agents, Pax au Augustus must trust in a Gray thief, Ephraim, for his salvation.

Far across the void, Lyria, a Red refugee accused of treason, makes a desperate bid for freedom with the help of two unlikely new allies.

Fear dims the hopes of the Rising, and as power is seized, lost, and reclaimed, the worlds spin on and on toward a new Dark Age.

Review

I hate reading Sci-Fi, always have…. yet since book one this series has totally captivated me, it may be set in space, but this is (to quote the author) a tale of Hi-Tech Romans and Space Vikings…. that’s me sold immediately. Its all the passions, intrigue, back stabbing, political maneuvering and bloody violence of the great Empires of earth, thrown into space with the most imaginative weapons, alliances and more, mixed with the age old failings of mankind, a society built on history but always doomed to not learn its lessons.

Each  book in the series has been packed with intrigue and surprises, but they all pale into insignificance to Dark Age, every time you thought you had a handle on what was going to happen, the whole world of possibility and salvation was blown up in your face, no characters is safe, all can die, and most only cling to life due to the imaginative medical advances that are needed in this galactic pit of violence and Machiavellian politics.

So i still hate Sci-Fi, but i utterly love this series and its characters, i’ve lost sleep, i’ve lost patience, i’ve been astounded and amazed. This is a series that i will simply never forget and sits proudly on my shelf of all time greats.

I can give this no higher recommendation than, DO NOT MISS THIS, put down what ever you are reading and pick up book one and enjoy the ride, because its amazing.

(Parm)

Bibliography

Red Rising
0. Sons of Ares (2018) (with Rik Hoskin)
1. Red Rising (2014)
2. Golden Son (2015)
3. Morning Star (2016)
4. Iron Gold (2018)
5. Dark Age (2019)
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Nicholas Eames: Kings of the Wyld & Bloody Rose (Review)

Nicholas Eames's picture

Nicholas Eames was born to parents of infinite patience and unstinting support in Wingham, Ontario. Though he attended college for theatre arts, he gave up acting to pursue the infinitely more attainable profession of ‘epic fantasy novelist.’ Kings of the Wyld is his first novel. Nicholas loves black coffee, neat whiskey, the month of October, and video games. He currently lives in Ontario, Canada, and is very probably writing at this very moment.

book cover of Kings of the Wyld

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best, the most feared and renowned crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.

Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk, or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help–the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.

It’s time to get the band back together. 

(Review)

 

 

 

book cover of Bloody Rose

Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.

When the biggest mercenary band of all rolls into town, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants – and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.

It’s time to take a walk on the wyld side. 

(Review)

Ok so i may seem a little late to the table with these two books, but that’s because i wanted to read them when i could really enjoy them, to spend time on them, and am i so glad i did, this is a truly excellent new series. Its been a long time since i’ve read anyone who reminds me so much of James Barclay (an author who deserves to have been sooo much bigger). The characters and new , fresh, funny, a team dedicated to each other over and above any mission or cause, friends and family come first, even if you need to cross the most dangerous land and battle an entire horde to get there….

What won me to these books is the easy comradeship, the conversation and the gallows humour, i chuckled all the way through these books and i read them both twice, something i almost never do, there is an easy reading qulity to these while containing complex and very real characters.

There is no need to analyse every person or place in this review….. simply if you love reading go buy these books, they are awesome , Nicholas Eames has with 2 books jumped onto my MUST read pile and must collect book shelf.

beyond Highly recommended … you would be mad not to buy these

(Parm)

 

 

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