Author Archives: Alka

Book Review: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Book Name: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Author: Agatha Christie
Pages: 288
Publication Year: 1926

After And Then There Were None, I really doubted if any other book was going to meet my high expectations. However, I still wanted to give other books of Agatha Christie a try and so I picked up The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I have tried my level best to write this book review without doing any more comparison with the former one.

As such, Agatha Christie has never disappointed me and Hercule Poirot was my favorite detective at one point in time. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is yet another gem of a piece for all to read. Set in the right pace with the suspense music at the right turns (oh yes, I imagine the scenes in my head as if those were rolling on big screen and it’s fantastic), the reader is flabbergasted to find out the murderer. The book has many characters where any one can be the murderer or the blackmailer? Are both same? Or different? And is it a coincidence that the timing somehow matches? And I think I will read this again in future to find out if the clues were all along and really so easy that Mr. Poirot could solve or is he literally a genius. Now shhh. No more spoilers from my end!

To get to know the mystery and human psyche in this suspense thriller, grab your copy today and get the time rolling.

Keep watching my blog for more of Agatha Christie books.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
In the village of King’s Abbot, a widow’s sudden suicide sparks rumors that she murdered her first husband, was being blackmailed, and was carrying on a secret affair with the wealthy Roger Ackroyd. The following evening, Ackroyd is murdered in his locked study–but not before receiving a letter identifying the widow’s blackmailer. King’s Abbot is crawling with suspects, including a nervous butler, Ackroyd’s wayward stepson, and his sister-in-law, Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, who has taken up residence in the victim’s home. It’s now up to the famous detective Hercule Poirot, who has retired to King’s Abbot to garden, to solve the case of who killed Roger Ackroyd–a task in which he is aided by the village doctor and narrator, James Sheppard, and by Sheppard’s ingenious sister, Caroline.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is the book that made Agatha Christie a household name and launched her career as a perennial bestseller. Originally published in 1926, it is a landmark in the mystery genre. It was in the vanguard of a new class of popular detective fiction that ushered in the modern era of mystery novels.

About the author:
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature – Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple – and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan. To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club. In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commande.

Twitter: @agathachristie
Website: www.agathachristie.com

Rating: 9/10
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Book Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Book Name: And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie
Pages: 264
Publication Year: 1939

I used to wonder why it was that I still remembered the Bollywood movie Gumnaam even though it is more than a decade since I last watched it. In the book And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, I finally found the answer. And it’s not that I haven’t watched any thrillers – Bollywood, Hollywood etc since then, or I haven’t read any books. Funnily though, I don’t even remember the movie story.

But this book simply blew me awake. What is a perfect murder and that too of a serial kind when no one can figure out the mode it was carried out. And brilliantly, it’s revealed in the end by a letter sent to the Investigation Department by none other than the murderer. I have been a fan of Agatha Christie books during my school days which I continued to be for initial couple of years in college and even though I had not completed reading all books of hers, I moved on to other authors. I still wonder how I missed reading this book, probably I can curse the internet for not being so readily available that point in time.

Brilliant. Intelligent. Masterpiece. No other words. I can keep on examining each and every page and design of the murder, but I am doubtful that I might give something away. So please please please do pick this book and start it off right away.

Keep watching my blog for more of Agatha Christie books.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
First, there were ten – a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal – and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

About the author:
Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature-Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple-and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and was occasionally published under the name Agatha Christie Mallowan. To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club. In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commande.

Twitter: @agathachristie
Website: www.agathachristie.com

Rating: 10/10

Book Review: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Genre: Young Adult
Book Name: Anne of Green Gables
Author: L.M. Montgomery
Pages: 336
Publication Year: 1908
Publisher: Kindle

It so happened yesterday that one of my friends asked me to write for a poetry competition, but having lost that urge to write anymore, I was still sparked. And so, there goes my book review, this time in a poetic verse, short and sweet:

Pitter-patter comes the rain
And here comes Anna with an ‘e’ in all her vain
She imagines this and that
In all her dreams power packed

She makes the kids of her age laugh
And even the stoic old people smile
Everyone is so happy and gay
While she cares with all her might owning all her terrible slights

And this will make you as a reader smile
While reminding you of ah,
Those good old happy times
So pick up this one and start right away

And I think my poem more than summarizes the book review with a little imagination put into the mix which by the way is inspired by Ms. Anne of Green Gables.

P.S: Since it is available free of cost on Amazon Kindle version, shop and enjoy…

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Eleven-year-old orphan Anne Shirley has just arrived at Green Gables, and already her guardians want to send her back. First, she’s not the boy the Cuthberts expected. Second, she talks too much. And even with her generous spirit, the redhead’s a trouble magnet. She gets the neighbor drunk and nearly poisons the pastor!

Still, despite a rocky start, the fiery Anne wins over her guardians and her new community. She enjoys life at Green Gables, excels in school, and earns a coveted scholarship. But when tragedy hits, Anne must choose between her dreams and the only home she’s ever known.

In this beloved coming-of-age story, Lucy Maud Montgomery drew from her own experiences growing up in Canada during the nineteenth century to introduce generations of readers to one of literature’s most original and inspiring characters.

About the author:
The author of the famous Canadian novel Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery, was born at Clifton, Prince Edward Island. She came to live at Leaskdale, north of Uxbridge Ontario, in 1911 after her wedding with Rev. Ewen Macdonald in Prince Edward Island. Her three children were born at Leaskdale, and she wrote close to a dozen books.

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin

Genre: Young Adult
Book Name: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Author: Kate Douglas Wiggin
Pages: 380
Publication Year: 1903
Publisher: Kindle version

So here is the second book of my promised reading series this week – Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin.

Chirp chirp chirp cooed the birds, and there is Rebecca sparkling the driver in the opening scene. So you as a reader, you are attuned to what is going to happen in this book.

You may ask me why I necessarily picked this book out of all available options. But this one was simply recommended as one of those wonderful books a kiddo going to a hostel for the first time may like, by a person who simply excels in picking up books for every group age. How wonderful is that, right? I would want to live in her neighborhood, but here I am kilometres away, just wiling my time going through all her posts and blogs to find the right content for me.

Coming back to the book in hand, it is the story of an adventurous girl, but who is tied down by rules, relatives and societal pressures. An amazing book, no doubt, but it is so much compared with Anne of Green Gables that it loses a little context here and there. Not that it seems as if the author has picked up anything from the other book, but trying to tie down a unnecessary romantic angle in this book was not up to my linking, especially for a children’s book.

Point to note: The girl in the book has a flair of writing, not very potent, but she is shown chances of improvement. Oh how I wish I could also have been encouraged once!

P.S: Since it is available free of cost on Amazon Kindle version, shop and enjoy…

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
When ten-year-old Rebecca Randall leaves Sunnybrook Farm to go and live with her aunts, Miranda and Jane, in Riverboro neither she nor her aunts know quite what to expect. And with Rebecca around, it’s usually the unexpected that happens anyway. In fact it is this gift for the unexpected that means that life is never quite the same again for anyone with whom she comes into contact.

This classic story of a young girl growing up in the American state of Maine at the end of the l9th century follows Rebecca’s life, education and escapades through the next seven years until the day, as the new mistress of her aunts’ old brick house, she begins her adult life.

About the author:
Kate Douglas Wiggin was born in Philadelphia in 1856. The author of travel and educational books as well as children’s literature, she was a leading American kindergarten proponent. In San Francisco, she helped establish the first free kindergarten west of the Rocky Mountains. Her best known books are The Story of Pasty (1883), The Birds’ Christmas Carol (1887), Polly Oliver’s Problem (1893), A Cathedral Courtship (1893), The Village Watchtoer (1896), Marm Lisa (1897) and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903).

Rating: 7/10

Book Review: The Youngest Girl in the Fifth by Angela Brazil

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Youngest Girl in the Fifth by Angela Brazil

Genre: Young Adult
Book Name: The Youngest Girl in the Fifth
Author: Angela Brazil
Pages: 288
Publication Year: 1914
Publisher: Kindle

From serious to light reading books, I have now moved to books for teenagers and those classic ones, which gives an altogether different taste of book reading. The next three books are going to be of those girls who are trying to adapt in an unlikely setting. And reading these one after the other reminded me of one series that I had loved reading – What Katy Did during my teenage years, even when the pages were torn from the sides and a few were missing probably because of years of mishandling at my grandparents’ home.

The first selection in this book series that I have started off is The Youngest Girl in the Fifth by Angela Brazil. The book explores how the well-meaning intention of teachers having kids jump one class makes it emotionally challenging for them to adjust. Don’t we all remember our neighborhood Sharma ji ka Beta during our childhood days, who always used to excel in school and skipped one class because of his exemplary performance? The same story is written here although the girl is really brilliant (probably so was that Sharmaji ka beta, but we were too naïve to acknowledge then) and smarts in adjusting to the hatred of her classmates. Now let’s not spoil the complete story for you, but it was a time where the stories were supposed to be all about teaching moral science lessons, so you can expect the end.

It’s an enjoyable read and I recommend this book for girls in the age of 7-12. And yes, I am going to read few other books written by Angela Brazil.

Watch out my blog this week for other books for this age group.

P.S: Since it is available free of cost on Amazon Kindle version, shop and enjoy…

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Gwen! Gwen Gascoyne! Gwen! Anybody seen her? I say, have you all gone deaf? Don’t you hear me? Where’s Gwen? I-want-Gwen-Gascoyne! The speaker-Ida Bridge-a small, perky, spindle-legged Junior, jumped on to the nearest seat, and raising her shrill voice to its topmost pitch, twice shouted the “Gwen Gascoyne,” with an aggressive energy calculated to make herself heard above the babel of general chatter that pervaded the schoolroom. Her effort, though far from musical, at any rate secured her the notice she desired. “Hello, there! Stop that noise! It’s like a dog howling!” irately commanded a girl in spectacles who was cleaning the blackboard.

About the author:
Angela Brazil is often described by readers as “the first author of modern girls’ school stories,” and her publisher Blackie once claimed, in a bit of promotional hyperbole, that she had originated the genre! While not actually true – the genre predates her by some time, and other authors of modern girls school stories were publishing before she was – Brazil was certainly immensely influential, in the genre’s move away from a didactic, moralistic model, towards one aimed more at entertainment. Her books are told from the perspective of her girl characters themselves, and were immensely popular with young readers, both in her own lifetime, and afterward. All told, she published close to sixty children’s novels, most of them girls’ school stories.

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks

Genre: Romance
Book Name: The Guardian
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Pages: 400
Publication Year: 2003
Format: Kindle

There comes a time when you read so many books, one after another that penning down book reviews becomes difficult especially for the first book that you had read. That’s what happened with me for this book The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks, while on a holiday trip to Pachmarhi.

However, I distinctly remember having the feeling of first few pages having read somewhere. Probably because I had actually read it before or it seemed similar to other Nicholas Sparks books who usually writes on the agony of separation of one of the partners. But but but. The story took a twist for the better and I concluded that yayyy, this is a virgin book and I hadn’t read it before.

Brilliantly written, although a little predictable, the story takes you through the 3-angle love predicament or not so while the protagonist struggles to choose one of the two – a friend or a stranger, both supposedly head over heels over her. So, who do you guess would win? Read it and find out! Oh but I forgot to mention the title of the book is named after the pet dog, so the book is recommended for every pet lover with a heart.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Julie Barenson’s young husband left her two unexpected gifts before he died: a Great Dane puppy named Singer and the promise that he would always be watching over her. Now, four years have passed. Still living in the small town of Swansboro, North Carolina, 29-year-old Julie is emotionally ready to make a commitment to someone again. But who? Should it be Richard Franklin, the handsome, sophisticated engineer who treats her like a queen? Or Mike Harris, the down-to-earth nice guy who was her husband’s best friend? Choosing one of them should bring her more happiness than she’s had in years. Instead, Julie is soon fighting for her life in a nightmare spawned by a chilling deception and jealousy so poisonous that it has become a murderous desire.

About the author:
Nicholas Sparks is one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. All of his books have been New York Times bestsellers, with over 105 million copies sold worldwide, in more than 50 languages, including over 75 million copies in the United States alone.

Sparks wrote one of his best-known stories, The Notebook, over a period of six months at age 28. It was published in 1996 and he followed with the novels Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember (1999), The Rescue (2000), A Bend in the Road (2001), Nights in Rodanthe (2002), The Guardian (2003), and the list goes on. Many of his books have already been adapted into movies.

Website: nicholassparks.com/
Facebook: facebook.com/NicholasSparks
Twitter: @NicholasSparks

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

Genre: Fiction, Classics
Book Name: The Canterville Ghost
Author: Oscar Wilde
Pages: 126
Publication Year: 1887

After completing a short horror story, it was time for me to pick up another. And since I am already impressed by Oscar Wilde’s writings, why not a light humor induced ghost story is what I thought.

It’s a general notion that people are scared of ghosts. However, in the book, we see a family comprising mother, father, 1 son, 1 daughter and twins, who have specifically chosen to live in such a place with the ghost. And all this made this into a fun light reading. It has the typical Oscar Wilde style writing, though I must say I preferred the books I had read before – The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband.

Set in the 19th century, The Canterville Ghost spelt the differences between American and England cultures, while having a romantic interlude in between. However the book may not be considered truly mind blowing since now we have TV channels flooded with petty comedy shows.

Recommended for fans of Oscar Wilde and lovers of classic books.

P.S: It is available free of cost on Amazon Kindle version. So what you waiting for! Shop and enjoy…

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
This is Oscar Wilde’s tale of the American family moved into a British mansion, Canterville Chase, much to the annoyance of its tired ghost. The family, which refuses to believe in him, is in Wilde’s way a commentary on the British nobility of the day and on the Americans too. The tale, like many of Wilde’s, is rich with allusion, but ends as sentimental romance.

About the author:
Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. His novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), and social comedies Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) established his reputation. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being Earnest.

As the result of a widely covered series of trials, Wilde suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years hard labour after being convicted of “gross indecency” with other men. On his release from prison, he lived in obscurity, and died in poverty.

Website: www.cmgww.com/historic/wilde

Rating: 7/10

Read reviews of other books by Oscar Wilde on this blog – The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband.

Book Review: Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

Genre: Young Adult
Book Name: Daddy Long Legs
Daddy Long Legs #1
Author: Jean Webster
Pages: 249
Publication Year: 1912
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

What happens when you complete a book but don’t write a review immediately after? Certain things that have impressed upon you while reading is lost forever. And if you don’t write, how are you going to review it later if some day you want to re-read only happy books?

With this thought, I have started writing this post as soon as I completed Daddy Long Legs and rated it on Goodreads. The book is comprised all of letters written across the college years of an orphan girl having a benefactor (referred to as Daddy Long Legs) to send her to college. Reading the letters written by Judy reminded me of mails I used to send to a friend in college on a regular basis without even knowing him in person. Oh what days were they, so innocent!

The book has a humorous take on daily nilly-willies of a teenage girl and will make you smile even if you could not reminisce about your own college life that way. There is some blabbering here and there, but it is just to give a touch of how a girl’s mind work since letters are all that is there to progress the story. And to top it, Judy wanting to get a book of hers published is all I still keep dreaming of, only if those personal mails were still available!

Especially recommended for girls who are going to stay in hostel for the first time in their life.

P.S: Since it is available free of cost on Amazon Kindle version, shop and enjoy…

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
When Jerusha Abbott, an eighteen-year-old girl living in an orphan asylum, was told that a mysterious millionaire had agreed to pay for her education, it was like a dream come true. For the first time in her life, she had someone she could pretend was “family.” But everything was not perfect, for he chose to remain anonymous and asked that she only write to him concerning her progress in school. Who was this mysterious gentleman and would Jerusha ever meet him?

About the author:
Jean Webster (pseudonym for Alice Jane Chandler Webster) was an American writer and author of many books including Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy. Her most well-known books feature lively and likeable young female protagonists who come of age intellectually, morally, and socially, but with enough humor, snappy dialogue, and gently biting social commentary to make her books palatable and enjoyable to contemporary readers.

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: The Basement by Chad P. Brown

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Basement by Chad P. Brown

Genre: Horror, Short Story
Book Name: The Basement
Author: Chad P. Brown
Pages: 13
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Three Crows Books

Are you scared of horror stories? No? But are others around you? You can then read/ see all on your own or find a very pleasurable person to give you company for the movie. I, for one, literally scared of such things, had a weird notion in early college days that once I fall in love with a guy, I will go and watch a horror movie with that person on big screen. Luckily, I fell in love, and did not try any of these antics, even at home!

On my recent flight, but, I did pick up such a book, highly recommended, but a mere 10-20 pages story. And I was like – why not give it a try after so many years. As if me being afraid has stopped me in doing something! The latest example being para-gliding. Coming back to writing about the book, huge praises to the author for putting together just the right amount of everything – no romanticism and no blowing things out of proportion. But call it my overactive imagination, I could imagine the scenes rolling out on big screen and the end, oh let me not spoil it for you now.

For the people who love scary books, series or movies, this may not be up to their standard. But tell me, what is that one thing that haunts you and can you face it? And if you ask me, shhhhh…

P.S: Since it is available free of cost on Amazon Kindle version, shop and enjoy…

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
On a dare from her best friends, Heather goes inside the town’s haunted house, where Frank Blackwell killed his wife and then hung himself in the basement. But while in the house, Heather is confronted by a ghost from her past, her mother who died accidentally one year ago. Now, Heather must not only escape from the evil lurking inside the house, but from the demons of her own past.

About the author:
Once Chad P. Brown outgrew his childhood fears of haunted houses, clowns, and toy monkeys with cymbals (although those still creep him out a little bit), he discovered a dark love for writing and an affinity for macabre and eldritch matters. He holds a Master’s in Latin from Marshall University and is an Affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association. In October 2011, he released his first horror novel, The Jack-in-the-box. He has written many gothic, zombie and dark fiction books till date.

Website: www.chadpbrown.com
Twitter: @chadbrown72

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Twenty-eight and a half wishes by Denise Grover Swank

Genre: Chick-lit
Book Name: Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes
Rose Gardner Mystery #1
Author: Denise Grover Swank
Pages: 374
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Bramagioia Enterprises

Keep on doing random search for free books available on Amazon Kindle and you will end up saving so many books on your own device that in only a few days, you will stop keeping a track of what you are reading. Like me, on most days, rather nights, I start a new book just to leave it incomplete mid-way. In fact, the book Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes started in a similar way.

Barring grammar mistakes and editing misses here and there (only in a few places), the book seemed ok, a light-read to forget work woes. A chick-lit with a mystery and murder thrown in, the book was something not out of the ordinary or exemplary, but just what I needed this week for a break. As the name of the book suggests, the protagonist prepares a list of 28 things she wants to do in the coming few days, and in your mind, one too starts preparing a similar list. For me, the list goes on like – do bungee jumping, go para-sailing, go on a trip with friends only for reading solely, and other stupid stuff which cannot be disclosed publicly. Just kidding! Have fun reading this one but do not expect much.

P.S: Since it is available free of cost on Amazon Kindle version, shop and enjoy…

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
For Rose Gardner, working at the DMV on a Friday afternoon is bad even before she sees a vision of herself dead. She’s had plenty of visions, usually boring ones like someone’s toilet’s overflowed, but she’s never seen one of herself before. When her overbearing momma winds up murdered on her sofa instead, two things are certain: There isn’t enough hydrogen peroxide in the state of Arkansas to get that stain out, and Rose is the prime suspect.

Rose realizes she’s wasted twenty-four years of living and makes a list on the back of a Wal-Mart receipt: twenty-eight things she wants to accomplish before her vision comes true. She’s well on her way with the help of her next door neighbor Joe, who has no trouble teaching Rose the rules of drinking, but won’t help with number fifteen – do more with a man. Joe’s new to town, but it doesn’t take a vision for Rose to realize he’s got plenty of secrets of his own.

Somebody thinks Rose has something they want and they’ll do anything to get it. Her house is broken into, someone else she knows is murdered, and suddenly, dying a virgin in the Fenton County jail isn’t her biggest worry after all.

About the author:
New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank has released over thirty novels and novellas and has sold over two million books. She writes mysteries with romance, humorous romance, light-hearted young adult romance, and urban fantasy. She lives in Blue Springs, Missouri with her three naughty dogs and six imaginative children.

Website: www.denisegroverswank.com
Facebook: facebook.com/DeniseGroverSwank
Twitter: @denisemswank
Email: denisegroverswank@gmail.com

Rating: 7/10
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