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BOOK REVIEW: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

BOOK REVIEW: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid KemmererA Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
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Synopsis:

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

 

*ARC Provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Rhen puts his hands on my arms and leans in. When he speaks, his voice is very low, very quiet, just for me. “My father is dead, my lady. My whole family is dead.” He pulls back, meeting my gaze, but his voice doesn’t change. “That monster killed them all.”

This book is everything I knew I wanted and needed in my life. And, also, this book is everything I didn’t know I wanted and needed in my life. Yes, it’s a Beauty and the Beast re-telling (the most used and, in my opinion, most successful Fairy Tale retelling) but it was far different than anything I could have hoped for or anticipated.

This is the most reckless thing I’ve ever done.
Wait. No. The most reckless thing I’ve ever done was attack a guy on the street with a tire iron. So I guess this is fine.

In many ways I did long for the more traditional approach, such as hanging out in the castle together, etc., but, from what I can tell, the author was trying to accomplish something far greater for our two heroes and I think it would have came off as boring, comparatively. Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t want them to have more time together, because I felt that, sometimes, we lacked that. But, as a whole, this book made my feels go crazy and I was on the edge of my seat the entire story.

This feels like the cruelest season of all, to present me with a girl with the fierceness to stand at my side—yet with a home and family she needs to return to so badly.

Every moment was just so beyond addicting, such as it always is with Kemmerer’s writing, but there was something just so cool about her writing a fantasy-a fairy-tale retelling from the woman who creates the most deliciously tortured male leads, like, ever. Declan is a BBF I will NEVER forget, and now Rhen is way up there for me, as well. He was just so alone. My poor lonely soul *tear*

I give her a nod and turn for the door.
“Rhen,” she calls after me.
I pause in the doorway and face her.
“I’m not going to fall in love with you,” she says. Her words are not a surprise.
I sigh. “You won’t be the first.”

And the dynamics between Rhen, Grey, and Harper? Oh my gosh, words cannot even describe how strongly I fell for this trio. My heart, my soul, and my entire being longed for this story to never end because there could never be enough of their story. For real, though-my biggest complaint with this story??? I. NEEDED. MORE.

More Rhen and Harper. More Rhen and Grey. More Grey and Harper. More. More. MOAR. I cannot stress that fact enough-I’m starting another book tonight, but my heart remains with these characters, this curse, and the love that might or might not have blossomed between Rhen and Harper. And this is really hard for me to talk about, because I don’t want to spoil anything…so I can’t say why I wanted more. It just….I need it.

Rhen has made it to his feet. “You cannot harm her,” he says. “You swore.”
“I swore not to kill them,” Lilith says. “I swore not to interfere with your attempts at courtship.” She steps closer to me. “That,” she says, “is all I swore.”

And can we talk about that torturous storyline? I’m not exaggerating. I absolutely ADORED when Lilith (I hate her but loved what she brought to the table) came around to bother Rhen. Many of you will call me a sicko, but I was a sucker for the struggles Rhen faced and how Lilith tested his limits and went over his boundaries. There’s something about a character in the worst moments of their life that make a story more candid-and I lived for these moments…for better or worse. And why couldn’t I have gotten that oneeee thingggg I realllyyyyyyyy wanted at the end?! GRR. I kind of did…but it was toned down and boo.

I stay close to Rhen and keep my voice low. “Do people always do everything you want?
“Not always.” He turns to look at me, his expression inscrutable. “Clearly.”

I’ll leave most of the story alone so as not to spoil it, but I want to draw the comparisons between the Fairytale and this book, because I actually found them wonderful. Rhen was the beast, obviously. Grey, I believe, was Lumiere. Lilith had to be a mix of the witch/the mirror. Harper’s brother and mother were Belle’s life (the mother was the father in this case, but she had a true sickness, she wasn’t mad as they said the father was). There was dancing!

Adorable. Harper was clearly Belle (I know, Captain Obvious), and the curse was the same-to find true love to break the curse….but with a HUGE, nasty twist for poor Rhen: Instead of being a beast full-time, at the end of every failed season, he turns into a beast (a different one every time) that ravages those around him and all his people, only to come to after the fact with blood staining his clothes and hands…and everything resets for the next season. Rinse. Repeat. For eternity. Yikes. But no library. That sucked haha.

This story was about Harper making him see what he can do to save his people. It was about finding who you were meant to be, no matter the cost, and it was about a Prince who never could find true love…until a girl called him on his games and demanded more. Sincerity. Love. Kindness.

This early in the season, the other girls would sit by the hearth and gaze at me over crystal goblets, while I’d pour wine and tell stories with just enough devilishness to make them blush.
If I put a crystal goblet in this one’s hand, she’d likely smash it and use the shards to cut me.

I loved this book. So much. Is that not clear? There were a few moments that got to me, though, and the one that sticks out the most is this trigger: View Spoiler » And that was the only specific moment it showed-what purpose did this serve? To make me madder? Well, it succeeded. Other than that, I loved what Rhen had to go through, but that bothered me.

A sound chokes out of my throat. I want to weep for an entirely new reason. The burning pain has reached my head, and my eyes begin to cloud with stars.
“You are responsible,” she says, her terrible voice fading away. “You, Rhen. You alone will destroy them all.”

I sometimes thought that Grey and Harper’s relationship got more time developing than her and Rhen’s…and I’m not sure that was ever not true. But his relationship with Rhen was also a big part of the story, and it just showed how truly wonderful Grey was in every way

-he was such a comedic relief that I lapped up in every moment. I wondered if this was going to be a love triangle…and it wasn’t? As time passed nothing arose that worried me in that way, but, in the end, I was thinking-so…was I right?? Did he like her?? That was a bit odd, as well, I will say. And I fear people will say she had more chemistry with Grey, but I am ride or die for Rhen and Harper and it didn’t effect me one bit-I just know how fickle we readers are and I fear this is a reaction I will see from many of my friends or other reviewers. I’ll deny them wholeheartedly, of course, but that doesn’t make it true for anyone other than me.

I step closer, until her skirts brush my legs, and I rest a hand on her waist. “I am inviting you to dance, not dragging you behind a horse.” I sigh dramatically. “Must you look so tortured?”

Okay. This review was not what I wanted it to be at all-this is in part because I wrote my review at work and people kept interrupting me and it made me severely scatter-brained…and partly because I am a bit confused on my feelings toward the end. I. WANTED. MORE. Lol. Clearly.

And this is totally Rhen-Sorry not sorry.

**********

Okay. Okay. So….I pos-i-tute-ly LOVED THIS….but that end??? Like-I don’t-What?

Tell me there’s more? Because my thirst cannot be quenched when it comes to my baby Prince Rhen and my baby Grey!!!!!!!!!! I NEED MORE!

RTC.

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BOOK REVIEW – More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

BOOK REVIEW – More Than We Can Tell by Brigid KemmererMore Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

With loving adoptive parents by his side, Rev Fletcher has managed to keep the demons of his past at bay. . . until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue's parents are constantly fighting, and her only escape is the computer game she built from scratch. But when a cruel online troll's harassment escalates, she not only loses confidence but starts to fear for her safety.

When Rev and Emma meet, they're both longing to lift the burden of their secrets. They connect instantly and deeply, promising to help each other no matter what. But soon Rev and Emma's secrets threaten to crush them, and they'll need more than a promise to find their way out.

From the author of Letters to the Lost comes a new compulsively readable story for fans of Nicola Yoon.

Review:

More Than We Can Tell was an emotional book that was the perfect mixture of heart-wrenching and oh so sweet.  So I definitely wasn’t surprised that I had tears in my eyes, when I was only a few chapters into this story.  It was a testament to how easily these characters captured my heart.  And while this can be read as a standalone, I recommend picking up Letters to the Lost too.  That story first introduced us to Rev, and it was one of my favorite books from last year.

I think of the girl beside the church.
You’re afraid.
I’ve spent years learning how not to be afraid. And now, with a few short sentences, my father has sliced through all my defenses. – Rev

Confession time – I had already fallen for Rev Fletcher in Letters to the Lost.  He was Declan’s best friend, and we saw what an amazing man he was.  He was always there for Declan, had so much compassion in his heart, and was such a good guy.  Even though it was obvious that he suffered from his own personal demons.  So to start off the book with his world exploding?  Oh.  My heart ached so badly for him.  And it was all because he received a letter from his biological father.  The man who raised him till he was eight, and who physically and mentally tortured Rev.  All in the name of God.  And from just that one letter, Rev started to spiral down into a dark abyss.

I keep worrying about my father, wondering when something is going to snap inside me. Wondering when I’m going to turn vicious and cruel, just like he did. – Rev

While Rev found himself sinking into a horrific darkness, he met someone who was suffering too.  Emma Blue.  Within that first interaction, they shared a tiny piece of what they were feeling.  I loved that with just a few words, they felt that connection.  They made each other not feel so alone in the world.  And from there, each time they ran into one another or met up, they let each other in just a little bit more.  It was such a beautiful progression to watch their friendship blossom.  They listened, they offered advice, they confessed and they found solace in each other.  But within it all, was butterflies and the possibility of a first love.  

I block him.
Then I slam my laptop shut. I flip over in bed and scream into my pillow.
I scream so loud and so long that I forget what silence is like.
I scream until I run out of breath. – Emma

I was so thankful that Emma met Rev.  Because it felt as though she had no one at times.  She struggled in her relationships with her parents.  They weren’t supportive of her, weren’t around, and they treated her like an inconvenience.  On top of that, she seemed to be drifting away from her best friend.  As if that wasn’t enough, she suffered from horrific online bullying.  And while I loved how outspoken and tough Emma could be at times, I did struggle with her.  She had a habit of pushing others away or saying hurtful things.  And the few times she did that to Rev, well it hurt me too.  Even though I saw where she learned that behavior from, and I got why she did it, I still didn’t like it at all.  But thankfully Emma made up for it again and again.

“Thank you.”
“For what?”
“For seeing me.”
Then he turns, jogs across the street, and disappears into the darkness beyond.

There were so many beautiful messages in this book, that I believe are extremely important.  They ranged from bullying, to trusting the wrong people, to discovering solace in the ones you love and to also finding acceptance within yourself.  And on top of the messages, there were other people that added so much heart to this story.  Such as Declan, Rev’s adoptive parents and Matthew!  Ahhh I can’t say anymore, but I’d love to read Matthew’s own book someday *fingers crossed*!  So I found myself closing the book extremely happy with how it all ended.  It’s a fabulous read, and I definitely recommend it!!

PS If you want to read my 5 Star Review of Letters to the Lost, the book the first introduces us to Rev, you can read it here.

*ARC kindly provided by Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

BOOK REVIEW: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

BOOK REVIEW: Letters to the Lost by Brigid KemmererLetters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

 

So…I’m not going to lie-I read this before my daughter was even born. And, if you don’t follow me or my life (Which I’m sure I many many people do not), that happened in the middle of March. Yeah. I know. Shame on me. Because this book? It was SO SO good. It deserved all the pre-praise it could possibly get and I failed it. I got the ARC, loved it, devoured it, even, and didn’t get a chance to write this review (as my baby girl was born-oops (and YAY)). But, instead of giving it up because I read it so long ago, I’ve always known I’d come back and (eventually) write a review for it-I respected it THAT much. I’ll warn you, though-this is as far back as I’m going for reviews of books when I was too pregnant and too tired to write reviews. I cut it off here.

Anyway, onto the book. I’ll be candid here-When I received this I was not only shocked but…disappointed? I hadn’t really looked into this much and was not expecting to be granted access, and frankly I was behind on way too many reviews-I wasn’t being as picky as I should have been for as slow as my review output was. But the minute I finally picked this up…it immediately drew me in. And damn if I wasn’t shocked.

What starts out as a young girl working through her grief by writing letters to her mother’s grave becomes a heartfelt story about being heard, understood, and, ultimately, not so alone once a boy who works in the cemetery writes back to Juliet on her note. Understandably our MC is upset that someone invaded her personal privacy by writing back to her, but after responding through an angry rant, she and this mysterious person begin an online friendship (HA. SEE. I’m HOPELESS for these types of books) that makes them closer than ever through their shared grief. What they don’t know is: They literally are each other’s worst nightmare, in real life.

Total opposites, these two grow closer and closer, not realizing that the person they crave talking to most every day is one of their worst enemies. Dark, misunderstood Declan and popular, uppity, miss goody-two-shoes (so he thinks) have found the ultimate connection. But in real life, they continue to clash.

Declan takes every opportunity to push Juliet away when she tries to let him in. See, he is the dark, broody guy that everyone whispers about when he walks by, but she starts to run into him more and more (literally…ha) and tries to be nice, to let him in, but he isn’t having it…at least, not at first.

I can’t even begin to explain how wounded Declan is, how tough he tries to act, but he’s that total package guy who would do anything for you-just a completely misunderstood guy-but it’s not like he helps himself. Juliet tries to be nice to him continually, but he always ruins it by snapping at her, by judging her before understanding her, knowing her…but then he begins to see there may be more to her than meets the eye-and is there a connection between her and his dream girl he’s been chatting with day and night?

They both begin to see little similarities, never really knowing who they quite are falling in love with online, but don’t want to ruin what is blossoming between them at school, at Rev’s house-they like each other, but what if they lose their pen pal in the process?

I’m tired and not doing this review justice, but just, I really loved this, okay? Declan and Juliet were beyond cute-I was obsessed with them, especially Declan. He was dark and broody, but utterly loyal. He was tortured and lonely (Besides his one good friend, whom I ADORED) and just wanted a real connection, to be away from his asshole stepfather and to be understood for who he really is. He made mistake after mistake concerning Juliet, and he does pity himself a little too much (if I am remembering correctly) but he gets his shit together and he made me swoon like no other-not like I wasn’t before that, but that’s beside the point. And Juliet had her issues, too, like not seeing that some things aren’t what you want them to be, that reality isn’t always as pretty as the dream, but she was fun and sweet and relatable. And we need more YA heroines like her. She had ambition and I admired her for that-so pick this book up. I think its more than worth the read.

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BOOK REVIEW – Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

BOOK REVIEW – Letters to the Lost by Brigid KemmererLetters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

Review:

Letters to the Lost was emotionally breathtaking and beautifully crafted. The story that unfounded was filled to the brim with pain and heartache. I don’t even knew how many times I found myself with tears in my eyes, my heart in my throat and with the incessant need to make their lives filled with love. But I held out hope that over time, they would help each other find not only strength, but love too.

Do you believe in fate ? Sometimes I want to. I want to believe that we all walk some path toward . . . something, and our paths intertwine for a reason. Like this, the way we’ve found each other. The way you told me the right story when I so desperately needed to hear it. – Juliet in her letter to Declan

It all started out from a letter Juliet left her mother, at her gravestone. And Declan came across the letter, while he was getting ready to mow the cemetery’s grass. For his court ordered community service. That letter resonated deep inside of Declan, so he simply wrote back “Me too”. To let the girl know that she wasn’t alone in her thoughts and feelings. And from there, their communication slowly escalated over time. The found kinship, they found someone to release their most secretive thoughts with. They no longer felt alone. Yet they had no clue who the other was, even though they went to the same high school.

Half-broken breaths are coming out of me in short bursts. – Juliet

I loved the path this story took, and I loved even more that it wasn’t easy. That nothing was glossed over. That we got to see their varying shades of pain, and that it was splattered everywhere for us to witness. Especially since not everyone in their lives knew their darkest, deepest thoughts. But we did. And Juliet Young and Declan Murphy knew that about each other too. When I started this book, I didn’t think it would have as dark of a feel to it as it did. But the words they wrote to one another and their feelings they talked about sometimes felt as though I was drowning in an endless abyss with them. It was powerful, and their pain was so acute.

“What are you afraid of?”
I look at Declan , but he’s still staring out at the rain. His voice has gone quiet, and he’s not half as threatening as he was.
“I don’t know,” I say.

While they were still teenagers, they both had so much growing up to do. Juliet could at times be cold and judgemental. And she compared herself to her dead mother, which always made her come up short. Yet, I loved this girl. Especially when she would contemplate her word choices or how she treated someone. And that had a lot to do with Declan. Because not only did the letters make her question how she acted around others, but when her and Declan ran into each other in person, it had a similar affect. Not at first of course, but slowly over time. And when they did interact in person, it was explosive. If only they knew who they were baring their soul to………

I need her. More than anything right now. I need her. And because of everything between us, I can’t have her. – Declan

Declan was dark, his own worst enemy, and he was so tortured from his past. Especially since he placed the blame of an event on his own shoulders. Not only was his home life troubling, but he was an outcast at school. Yet he had this ability to radiate power, and he was sexy as hell. So Declan easily broke my heart, while also making me fall for him. And when he was completely honest in his letters to Juliet, he took my breath away with his words. It was so different than how he acted around so many others.

I can’t look away from that last line.
Now write back and tell me you’re all right.
He cares. About me. – Juliet

Letters to the Lost alternated between Juliet, Declan and their letters to one another. While the book seemed to move at a somewhat slower pace than I’m use to, I loved it. We got to witness their interactions with not only every single letter, but we also learned everything about their home and school lives, and also their friends. It gave me a deeper sense of knowing them. Letters to the Lost was definitely an emotional book, and I can’t wait for Rev’s book next year! He was Deacon’s best friend, who I absolutely adored, and I think you’ll fall for him too!

*ARC kindly provided by Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

BOOK REVIEW – Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer

BOOK REVIEW – Thicker Than Water by Brigid KemmererThicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers….Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…

Review:

Thicker Than Water started out as an intriguing mystery that morphed into a paranormal story that had a sinister twist.  I easily fell into Thomas and Charlotte’s world, and their first few interactions had so many feelings floating around in me.  Sympathy for Thomas being convicted as his own mother’s murderer, especially since he was the one to find her.  Anger for how he was easily judged and convicted within others eyes.  Curiosity for Charlotte and if she would be his saving grace.  And anticipation if they would eventually become something more.  But while I quickly flew through the pages, some things made me pause and not allow me to be entirely immersed in the story.  So I’m left torn, because this was such a fun, quick read yet I did have some issues.

A storm is coming, but still we stand here. “I saw her,” he says. His voice is hollow. “That night.
I saw what happened to her.”
“I know,” I whisper.

Thomas was definitely my favorite thing about this book.  I have a huge soft spot for tortured males, and he fit that part perfectly.  With his broken heart and the whole town against him, he quickly pulled me in and always left me wanting to know more about him, since the book alternates between the two of them.  But when he was around Charlotte, he was a mixture of confident and self-conscious which easily made me melt.  Thomas was sexy and alluring without ever trying.  And those are always the sexiest men in my eyes!

His lips curl into a slow smile.  “Penny for your thoughts.”
“They’re not decent.”
I. Did not. Just say that.
His smile widens, and he looks genuinely amused. “Really. What if I offer you a dollar?”
I put my hands over my face.
“Can we please just pretend this moment isn’t happening?”
“Absolutely not.”
“Shush, you. Eat your food.”

Charlotte was more of a gray area for me.  I loved how she would try to help our believe in Thomas, but her inner thoughts of contemplating whether he was a murderer or not irritated me.  I mean yes, by all means please be cautious with this new boy whose situation is insanely questionable.  I definitely would.  But don’t lead him alone into the woods to talk, when you’re going to picture him as a murderer once you two are truly alone.  Granted, she was young and extremely sheltered, so I gave her way more passes than I normally would, because I did like her.  And just a heads up, Charlotte does have a sex-obsessed best friend.  But I found Nicole to be entertaining and utterly ridiculous while still being adorable.

“No one knew her. No one cares about her. No one cares about finding out who did this. They just care about how much they hate me.”
I have to stop talking. I’m going to lose it right here in the parking lot.
Arms go around my neck, and I stiffen in surprise. She’s hugging me. Charlotte is hugging me.
I can’t remember the last time anyone hugged me.

To be honest, I’m a little torn over that ending.  I liked how some things worked out, but another part of it left me so conflicted.  It wasn’t what I wanted, and I was left wondering if everything would truly work out, even after that final page.  You see, Thicker Than Water was nicely setup for a possible second book. There is closure in the final pages, but there is also a lot up in the air.  So I was left with questions and I really wish I had those answers.  But I have to say that the twist was amazingly done!  Wow!

Thicker Than Water was a quick book to devour whose mystery kept me stuck to the pages.  The paranormal element was different, in the fact that it didn’t play a large part, but looking back you can see how it was laced throughout the story.  And even though it did leave me with questions, I can’t deny that I absolutely adored Thomas.  So I will try her Elemental Series down the road, and hopefully we will mesh up much better.  Plus I can’t wait to see what male character she has created in that story!

*ARC kindly provided by Kensington Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

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