On Creativity – Tropes and why we love them

A ‘trope’ is a recurrent literary theme, motif, or structure of a plot when it comes to writing novels and stories. Most tropes are presented by authors again and again, in differing formats and story-lines, and yet, though readers generally recognize them and sometimes even preempt certain happenings and resolutions, they still continue to prefer the same type of story-line and continue to read and enjoy such books and stories again and again.

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Most tropes are over-used, and yet, they still sell. Why? I must admit that I myself find that I tend to gravitate towards reading familiar tropes, especially when I’m in a certain mood where I need a nice comfortable reliable story… and yet… is writing a novel and basing it on this much-recycled outline acceptable? I mean – where is creativity?? And what about originality?

Take for example the Rags to Riches trope – here the main character is usually a young unknown person who, through some circumstance or other, ends up becoming rich and famous. Some well-known examples include Cinderella, Pretty Woman and Slum Dog Millionaire.

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Another well-known trope is the Love Triangle – this one actually needs no explanation does it? Everyone enjoys a good love story, but throw in some unrequited love, a couple of misunderstandings, a pinch of jealousy and heartache, and there it is, the usual popular T.V drama series cocktail!

A third trope, which never gets old, is what I call the Ugly Duckling story-line. Think about My Fair Lady, The Princess Diaries, Miss Congeniality or The Devil wears Prada, and you have it. Basically this kind of story also usually ends up becoming a ‘moral lesson’ = Unkept girl has a make-over and transforms into a beauty, then realizes that looks are not everything… but she still looks pretty now anyways.

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Want another one? How about the Unknown Hero who saves the World trope? I guess I don’t even need to give examples for this one… *cough*Spiderman*cough*Superman*cough*Marvelingeneral*

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And what about all those post-apocalyptic dystopian teen-movies which seem to add up all of the above?! The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Divergent, The Giver… ugh! I read the books before there was even a hint of any movie, and I realized early on that they were all the same, and yet I still gobbled them up! Why!?

I guess we all love the familiar, we all dream of becoming rich, popular heroes and that never changes.

Yet, artists, BEWARE. Writing/creating something familiar while portraying it in an entirely new and creative manner is one thing, re-writing the same thing over and over and over again, is another. ‘Familiar’ is a tricky word, since it is most often dangerously close to ‘mediocre’, not to mention ‘boring’. 

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How I deal with Depression

When I’m in a bad place (emotionally speaking) I always turn to things which comfort me. This summer, I could not turn to comfort food, since I am trying to keep track of my calories. I did turn to my one and only, however I really did not want to be too clingy – the poor guy needs his space after single-handedly taking care of all the house chores, etc for the past two and a half-months, so I had to lay off in that sense. And that, of course, left ‘comfort-books‘!

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Some books are a guilty pleasure. As the years roll by, I read them again and again at studious intervals, associating certain books or book series to certain mind-sets. Now, don’t laugh at me, but I actually have a book which I like to read each year when the first big storm hits after an arid summer. The book in question is ‘I Capture the Castle’ by Dodie Smith. There is also a series of books I read when I’m feeling particularly witty or frolicksome (mainly Neil Gaiman), and books I just love to read at Christmas-time, because, you know, they put me in the mood. Whenever I am about to travel on holiday, I also try to find books with a story based in that particular country, and I always manage it! I really had a field day when I went to Venice (why do books set in Venice always seem to be erotic romances?), and of course, the UK is easy. And so on.

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Since this summer was a terrible one for me, as I had to spend most of it in bed and in pain due to health issues, I obviously gravitated towards those books which comforted me. The 10-book part series I read, is the one which first introduced me to epic fantasy books, and the one which made me fall in love with that style of writing when I was 13 years old. I am speaking about David Edding’s Belgariad (first five books) and Mallorean (another 5 books).

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Recently I discovered that these book series are considered to be YA. They were actually written in the 1980s, a time when the term and concept of YA novels wasn’t thought of yet. So even though some readers may consider them to be YA, I do not, as they are certainly not as vapid, mediocre or predictable as YA books usually are (yup, you got me, I hate YA books in general, though there are exceptions).

The plot is basically a bildunsgroman, that is, a coming of age story. We see Garion, a naive boy living on a farm, realize that the world, and the people around him are, and were never, what he believed them to be. The world is complicated, mysterious and wonderful, and Garion finds that he himself is a very special person, destined to change the course of the known world forever. I am not going to go into any more details as I do not want to give any spoilers. Suffice it to say that I really love the cast of characters presented by Eddings. Their repetitive banter may irritate one after a while – still I read all the 10 books in around 3 weeks (remember I’m house-bound here), so one must take that into account. The books are not as lengthy as the tomes I am used to, and the old Maltese Pound price tags attached to the covers make me even more nostalgic, remembering how happy I was about buying these first books out of my own pocket money. Books which, for the first time, no one had chosen for me because they were ‘what children read’, but which I had chosen for myself, deviating from the norm. 

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If you haven’t read the Belgarion and the Mallorean, I strongly suggest you do. They are not as popular or well-known as book series like Robert Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Time’ or George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ (Game of Thrones), but they are still worth a read. Then again, I’m biased, hehe…

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Dear Neighbours, I would really like to report you to the Police because…

Dear neighbours,

I appreciate that you are passing through a rough patch, which is why you find it necessary to fight, scream and swear obscenely at 5.30am each morning as soon as you wake up and see each others’ faces. I also appreciate the fact that you on the other hand don’t like to hear our T.V, which is why you reported us to the police some time ago. I can also understand that all this fighting while at the same time having one’s nose in other people’s business can take up a lot of one’s time, which is perhaps why you ignore your sick daughter who has been coughing her head off for two weeks, while you bicker and screech at each other. So, can you please give me a tip? I’ve got the police station on the line – should I report you for disturbance of the peace, domestic abuse, or child neglect?

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You’ve been fighting ever since we moved here (and were here to hear you), which is since last September. Personally, I’m not being nosy. I don’t need to be to hear you, since my bedroom is right over your internal yard and your door is always open. You make no effort NOT to be heard, if you know what I mean lol. Which is why I know a lot about what is going on with you, since the shouting matches take place every day.

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You reported us coz our TV irritated you (and this at only 9.30pm when most ppl watch TV), instead of keeping your issues behind closed doors and shrieking them at everyone at 5.30 in the morning. The police were laughing their heads off when they came. They themselves had not heard anything because the TV was NOT loud.

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Truly, you dont need us to create more problems for you, since you obviously have enough hatred and anger pent up inside you for a million people. If you hadn’t been such hypocritical assholes, I’d have thought nothing of it, even though I have to hear your bull everyday as soon as I wake up in bed, but seriously, I cant understand how you can complain about us, while creating this racket all the time.

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And what about your older son and his friends, who create another racket every weekend at 2am when he comes home after having been out drinking and carousing? They stay outside your door in the street for half an hour shouting and having ‘mock’ fights. I could report that too if I wanted to as could anyone in this street. How can you not hear them but be all over our TV?

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Anyways thanks again for waking me up this morning, and for the free entertainment. Makes me feel so much better knowing that I don’t have to face either of you in my bed as soon as I open my eyes! In a way you really make me feel better about myself and my life. Anything is better than having yours lol.

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P.S I didn’t actually report them… YET!!

 

 

The National Book Fair Sucks… sorry. This is my opinion.

People I hardly know tag me on book-related stuff on Facebook (and I love it). Friends have ceased to ask me why I always have books in my handbag. People who hardly know me identify me because unless I’m talking to someone, there’s always an open book in front of me.

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Let’s face it, everyone knows that I’m a Book-addict/Bookaholic/Bibliophile/Nerd/Bookworm/etc. I think books, breathe books and live in books in my mind most of the time. For me, the characters I’m reading about at that moment in time are more real than ‘real life’, and even though I try to rein it in to ‘appear like a normal human being’ on the surface, it just seeps through.

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So, I’m guessing with the opening of the National Malta Book Fair this afternoon, I am ‘expected’ to go into an orgiastic frenzy and tear everything in my path until I’m standing right there buying everything in sight. I admit, that was the case once. But unfortunately, things change.

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I’m going to come out and say it, and I don’t care who takes offence, because it is my right as a person to say what I think. THIS YEAR I AM NOT GOING TO THE BOOKFAIR BECAUSE IT SUCKS!

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It wasn’t always like this. Up until around four/five years ago, it was great. One of the most anticipated weeks of the year (for me), but all that slowly ground to a halt as I realised that the fair was becoming more and more crappy each year. What happened?

Well, first of all people go to a fair to find bargains. It’s the truth. We rush there hoping we’ll ‘find’ something we couldn’t normally purchase, or that we find something cheaper than usual, which is why we’d be especially waiting for the fair to buy it. In the past, this applied to the bookfair as there were many bargains depending on the different stalls. Many of them offered a ‘buy two books, get one free’ deal, while others offered paperbacks for very cheap and worthwhile prices.

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Nowadays, the prices are the same as those found within regular stores, and sometimes more expensive than the prices of books bought online – so in that case, why bother?

In relation to the books themselves, I used to go ‘hunting’ for books which one does not normally find in stores too. Like old editions of fairytales for example, or novels written by obscure authors I had never heard of, but which were brilliant nonetheless. Today this is no longer possible, simply because ADULT NOVELS in ENGLISH are only a very small portion of the books on offer during the fair. This is because the fair has mostly become a publicity stunt to show how our society is trying to promote reading for children. This is not a mistake at all per se, as it is obviously important for the powers that be to provide opportunities for new readers, however the bad thing is that by doing so, they are NEGLECTING already developed readers. By focusing only on children’s books, the bookfair is neglecting adults who like to read!!

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Another thing is the overly obvious promotion of books in the Maltese language. Personally I do not like to read in Maltese, preferring English as this complements my state of mind more. This does not mean that other people don’t love to read in Maltese, obviously. I also understand the importance of promoting and creating opportunities for writers of Maltese, as well as books about Malta, to take a prominent role within the National BookFair. It is a matter of course. What I DO NOT get is why lately, the bookfair is offering only:

  1. Books for children
  2. Novels and other books in Maltese
  3. Historical books about Malta

WHERE are the novels/books in the English language for adults??

I don’t mean to say there aren’t any, but there are VERY FEW on offer, and these are quite mainstream and found in shops all year round, not to mention online. So, why on earth should I need to go to the bookfair to get a hold of them?

Considering that in Malta, both the Maltese and the English language are ‘official languages’, one should be as important as the other!

Last year, I asked the relevant Facebook page pertaining to the bookfair whether there would be a good assortment of literature in English. The answer I got was that there would be books in English, just as there would be books in Italian and French. For shame! English is one of the two official languages of Malta, why is it being relegated to a ‘third language’ status?
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I’m sure many will not agree with me and that is not a problem. However, these are the reasons why I personally, will not be going to the National Bookfair this year. I simply know I will not find anything that will interest me there. As I didn’t find anything (except boredom and wasted time that is) last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. Thank you very much for nothing, I will continue buying my non-mainstream and new, yet inexpensive books online.

End of rant. You may like to start kindling your fires and sharpening your pitchforks now.

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ANNIVERSARY of Edgar Allan Poe’s Mysterious Death!

I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity’ – Edgar Allan Poe

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Technically, this was yesterday, but I only realized today.

Edgar Allan Poe, his works, and his life, have always had a special fascination for me. He is the daddy of the horror genre and the supernatural mystery. His poems especially are so full of dark romantic agony, that they called to my trembling brimful heart from a very young age. Poe, who married his cousin a child bride of 13 who died only 2 years after the marriage (she was 15). Poe, who forever after wrote sad poems lamenting his pure innocent lost love. Poe who was given to bouts of depression, took laudanum and was a drunk, but published brilliant detective stories, the first of their kind. Poe, who always had a kind of mythological terror of cats, because for him they symbolized the dark wild part of himself, and who feature again and again in small ways in almost all of his prose-work.

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Poe who mysteriously and inexplicably died 166 years ago, yesterday.

Most people erroneously believe he died of his alcoholism but that is not the case. First of all, though he was a known alcoholic, he is reported to have not touched a drop for ages. Also, the person who found him, alone, confused and wandering, in the dark a week after he had disappeared from his home on the way to New York, said he looked sick but not drunk. Secondly, let us keep in mind that the person who wrote Poe’s biography after his death, Rufus Wilmot Griswold was a hated rival who was trying to portray him as badly as possible. He said he was ugly, dirty and unkept, a drunk, a brute and a savage. To which others, Poe’s doctor included, attested he was not. Unfortunately, there was no autopsy done on Poe’s body, and all his medical documents were ‘lost’, so there is no record of what actually took place.

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Theories abound. Some say he died of a heart-attack. Some that it was suicide (he had already overdosed on laudanum once), which is not possible since he was ‘found’ wondering the streets. Some say it was diabetes or tetanus.

Like Poe’s marvelluous detective mysteries, his death too, remains a mystery. Still he played and still plays a big influence on my mode of thought, not to mention my writing and my tastes. ALL HAIL EDGAR ALLAN POE – MASTER OF TERROR!

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Btw this is a very good article on his death – http://www.openculture.com/2015/10/the-mystery-of-edgar-allan-poes-death-19-theories-on-what-caused-the-poets-demise-166-years-ago-today.html

Enjoy 🙂

Three Years – Changes in my Life and the House of Parliament… lol

Three years ago, the Maltese government started building a new House of Parliament in Valletta, our capital city. At the time, I used to work near this new construction and would walk past it twice almost every day. Three years seemed so far away during March 2012, and I used to wonder where I would be when the new House of Parliament was finished in 2015, and what would have changed in my life. It seemed a lifetime away.

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Well, here we are. The new Parliament building is finally ready and it will start being used later on this month. So much has changed in my life since the moment it started to be built! I am not even the same person any more! I look back and marvel at the fact that this has been the most productive, important and evolutionary part of my life, and it happened at the same time as this building was being constructed. I wonder if before I die, I will see its destruction as well.

Morbid thoughts aside, in March 2012 I was still a child. Now, I am an adult I guess, but still with a faerie look about me, if you know what I mean 🙂

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1. I fought my way to freedom and became independent – in other words, I left the parental jail (or ‘that hellhole’, if you prefer even more honesty), and finally started to live on my own.

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2. – I went up the career-ladder – I’ve earned two promotions during the past 3 years. Needless to say, my position at the moment is much better than it was, not to mention my salary.

3. – I found my soul-mate – In March 2012 I was dating someone else, a person who definitely was not my match in many things, and being also aware that we did not actually have a future togather, the relationship was quite pointless. Later on that year however, I met someone whom I was to really click with, and after two years and a half now, we are in the process of buying a place together too. THAT’s a nice jump right!?

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4. I got published! – Although I have not totally abandoned the mentality and fear that once a story/poem is out, your heart has lost it forever, at least now I am writing freelance for a local magazine, as well as for a Polish tourist website. So, no I have not published any books yet, but am slowly getting there… I hope!

5. Self-esteem – All these experiences have led me to become a stronger and more determined person. While before I was more conscious of what other people thought of me, and how society viewed me, I am very happy to say that today I literally could not give a damn. Of course, I appreciate the companionship, advice and thoughts of loved ones, but I am not so gullible, naive, and pliant as I once was. I carry myself proudly and am happy of who I am. And whoever does not like it, can bite me 😀

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La Disparue

The girl without a face sat in a chair.
The walls, sporting streaks the color of dried blood, leered at her, but she could not see them.
The floor pushed itself up against the soles of her rough-shod feet, but she did not care.
The noise outside was deafening in its lusciously torrid invasion, but she could not hear it.

Colorless, she waited for the Imprinting.
She knew it would happen, because she felt it. She had always known. Inside, where it was dark, and moist, and silent.

The Imprinting would come suddenly and without warning. It would arise from all sides at once. Strangely cruel in its violent obscenity. Change everything forever. Make her forget. The Imprinting would give her a voice – one she could not choose. It would make her see things which were not really there. It would let her hear undiluted sounds of plundered senses and raped thoughts. It would come on its own, no one would force it. It was inevitable.

Blank, she shifted on the hard seat, waiting… and waiting again.

The Imprinting was free; it only cost her wings.

She couldn’t use them inside anyways. She had never gone out of the room.

If it was even a room.

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Women = You are a Blatant Disappointment!

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150226/local/fifty-shades-of-grey-breaking-local-records.557723

Really? Are most Maltese women as misguided and bereft of any kind of intimacy as all that? This novel/movie is wrong on so many levels that I really don’t know where to start. Let me at least try to scratch the surface:

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1. The writing is CRAP. As a book-lover and writer with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Masters in English Contemporary Literature, I can say this with professional and experienced detachment – it is TURDS ON TOAST, and that’s that.

2. It was originally written as a fan-fic of Twilight… which says it all. Love Twilight? Love soft-porn? Here you got a mixture of the two!

3. It’s not even real BDSM!! And believe me, I know what I’m saying! The novel is about a girl who doesn’t know her cunt from her ass, meeting a ‘pshycologically hurt’, not to mention inept, guy, who thinks he wants to play Master, while all he wants is a girlfriend without the title.

4. It wrongly promotes the idea that people who find BDSM kinky and titillating, like it because they are emotionally disturbed in some way. That they get excited by whips and leather because there is some big dark secret pointing towards neglect or violence in their childhood or youth = WRONG

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What does the fact that it is such a big success say about Maltese women and women in general??

1. These women know NOTHING about BDSM.

2. They know nothing about REAL RELATIONSHIPS, or the ups and downs one really encounters when trying to build something permanent with a partner.

3. They are starved for sex.

4. They haven’t got past the ‘I’m a 14-year old gushy gushy oh-so-innocent version of femininity just waiting to be plucked’ stage.

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5. They know nothing about literature, realistic plot-lines, characterization and they know NOTHING of the human psyche!

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Don’t like my summary? Bite me!

And yes I have obviously read the the book… tried to must be more like it. The cheesiness, and plain stupidity in every page made me want the vomit. Point being – I don’t write about or criticize something I know nothing about, which is why I made the effort. I wasted hours of my life and numbed my brain for THIS.

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Fortunately for the ‘author’ (for want of a better word) many people don’t need to numb their brains to accept and ‘love’ this story, since their consciousness seems to be naturally numb already.

Book Review – The Retribution of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

Personal Grading – 4 stars

Considering how cheesy and ultra-‘Twilighty’ this trilogy was when it started, I’m glad to say that it did not continue to play out that way. As I wrote in the book review to Book 2, the story evolves, the characters develop, and in Book 3, we are finally presented with a specific explanation and ending. I am not sure I am totally satisfied with the ending itself, however one could easily think that Michelle Hodkin could be thinking about writing a continuation, so I’ll let it lie for now.

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That being said, I loved the veiled references to the Goddess Maat, not to mention the various jokes and innuendos referring to various movies and books. Michelle, I like your reading list! ;p

Strangely enough perhaps, it’s the character of Noah which I like less. He is too perfect, too hot, too awesome at anything he does and is. I get it – he’s the HERO, but really… I’d have preferred Jaimie. With his weird-humored t-shirts, his badass remarks, his assholish behavior at times, his unswerving friendship and loyalty, not to mention his smartass attitude – he’s so much more realistic and present than Noah – with his neverending litany about courting death, for absolutely no reason that the reader can fathom.

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That being said, I really liked this book, though again, I think it was too short and abrupt. But then, every good novel is ‘too short’ isn’t it?

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Book Review – The Evolution of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

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I just finished ‘The Evolution of Mara Dyer’, and I must say, it was SOOOO MUCH BETTER than the bad review I gave on here – https://ddmoonsong.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/the-unbecoming-of-mara-dyer-michelle-hodkin-book-review-spoilers/  with regards to the first book.

Well done Michelle Hodkin, you managed to improve yourself a lot since your first novel, which was, let’s face it, pretty tripe in a nice packaging.

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The second installment to the trilogy not only had be hooked, but contained some really interesting revelations. It focused a bit on the love story, but also explored the realm of the psychological, not to mention revealing more stuff about the characters, making them well-rounded and believable. I also simply adored the ‘past lives’ angle, and it was a really good idea for Mara’s power to be genetically inherited – makes a lot of sense and is very plausible.

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Not wanting to give any spoilers, I will try not to write anything else, apart from illustrating how much I am looking forward to the third installment of the trilogy. I honestly never encouterd any trilogy I had such a low opinion of while reading the first part, while being totally engrossed in the second, since usually the second book in a trilogy is the one which lags the most.

So, surprised and pleased me, gives you the over and out 😀

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