#Review : A Family By Christmas by Viv Royce #AFamailyByChristmas

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A Family by Christmas by Viv Royce
Publication Date: October 14th 2019
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Genre: Romance
Pages: 200
Stars: ★★★★☆

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Chocolatier Emma Miller has a new business selling bonbons to the residents of the quaint town of Wood Creek. When a tiny visitor stops by her shop with an interesting request, Emma is intrigued. The young girl needs chocolates that will help her widowed dad fall in love, preferably with her teacher. What Emma didn’t count on was Casey’s ever so charming and handsome dad, Grant, stepping into her life. She has to remind herself to be cautious because the one thing she learned in foster care is that people always leave.

Pilot Grant Galloway is touched by his daughter’s gift and is curious about the person who made the world-class chocolates. But when he steps into Emma’s shop full of delicious smells and tasty morsels, he forgets to breathe. And it has nothing to do with his favorite dessert. She’s pretty and kind, and when she has to deal with a difficult client, his protective instincts kick into high gear. But he risked his heart once. When his wife died, it left him broken. He’s just now beginning to pick up the pieces, and he and his daughter will be leaving town once the holidays are over.

Thanks to some Christmas wishes, though, these two might discover that their carefully laid plans are about to change.

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to author and publisher. ***

A family by Christmas was chocolaty sweet romance that revolved round Emma, Grant and his lovely family in small town. It was about new venture in small town, family, love, belongingness, following your heart and gut feeling.

Characters-

Emma was nice person who wanted to keep her customer happy and survive her business in new town. She was too gentle and generous but I liked her sentiments and outlook towards her business totally opposite of what she was taught. Her thoughts and feelings were realistic and heartfelt. I loved her even more for selflessness.

Grant was her polar opposite. While Emma was cautious by nature, loved her sanctum of shop and home, Grant loved freedom, life-risking adventure and his old pilot job. He was caring and lively person. His feelings for his daughter was lovely.

Casey the little girl of Grant was sweet adorable child. All side characters were nice and supportive.

What I liked-

Writing was great, east to follow and atmospheric. Setting was vivid filled with Christmas spirit that gave festive touch to the story. I loved Emma’s shop, Wood Creek town, Galloway nursery and Christmas fair. The story was third person narrative from Emma and Grant’s perspective. It worked nicely here giving the parallel view of their thoughts and feelings.

It started with a little girl trotting in Emma’s Chocolate Shop placing a cute special order for her daddy. She wanted Emma to make chocolates that help her dad, Grant, fall in love with her teacher. On receiving such delicious chocolate gift, Grant was curious why owner of the chocolate shop was giving it away and so he visited her shop. He wanted Emma to befriend Casey, spend Christmas with her so she can build bond with new people, come out of her shell and enjoy Christmas before they live the town when he get new job. Emma was hesitant at first but she loved Casey and didn’t want to spend Christmas alone. But could she stop the feeling that has started growing after meeting Grant? Can she save herself from heartbreak when both Grant and Casey left the town?

Both had one thought, enjoy it and have fun till it lasts but as they spent more time with each other, friendship turned into deep feelings and blossoming love. It complicated their situation. Emma wanted to stay while Grant wanted to leave on first opportunity. I was curious to see when he will realize his true feeling for Emma and what he will decide after that and will Casey agree to leave her grandparents and Emma with whom she was attached now and have formed strong bond.

Emma’s loneliness being a foster kid touched my heart. It was admirable to see her standing on her own feet, running a shop by heart with so much love and dedication. I was happy for her when she got connected with Grant’s family and all the support she got from town and other shop owners. I knew it will be her best Christmas this time. I liked her attitude and the way she handled her feelings not spoiling new formed bond with Grant’s family. I loved her even more for her selfless advices even though it hurt her.

I liked Grant’s perspective. I could understand Grant’s dream and wish to get job after getting over his loss. It looked like selfishness from certain view but I didn’t feel so. Everybody needs to live for themselves, for something that make them happy and flying was his need and happiness. But I liked him for thinking about his daughter at the same time. His dilemma was realistic.

I loved getting answers to all questions. I liked the message in the book about, trusting your feelings and working out a way that is best for everyone not what you want and your family wants. End was sweet and filed with happiness.

Why 4 stars-

No villain, no drama, no misunderstandings that equals to no twist which made it a tad predictable.

Overall, I enjoyed this family by Christmas. It was charming, cozy, and delightful Christmas read filled with festive feel. Do I recommend this for your Christmas reads? Righto.

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Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and review? Have you read this book already? Are you going to add it to your Christmas TBR? Recommend me your all time favorite Christmas read.
Fun Question- Which is the best Christmas gift you have received so far?

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#Review : Currently by Sarah Mensinga

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Currently by Sarah Mensinga
Publication date: December 27th 2018
Publisher: Chattersketch Press
Genre: Fantasy / Steampunk / Sci-fi
Pages: 364
Stars: ★★★★★

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Every year, Nerene’s village shelters in Varasay City while the surrounding lands flood. Yet Varasay only protects those who obey its laws, and after Nerene’s boyfriend Sande starts a riot, he’s in danger of being cast out. Nerene manages to contact Lord Osperacy, a traveling thief with enough power and money to save Sande, but he’ll only help Nerene if she agrees to work for him.

Eager to save her boyfriend, Nerene takes the job. Yet working for Lord Osperacy means leaving Sande behind in Varasay City. It also means tolerating Lord Osperacy’s children who have a supernatural ability to make others do as they wish, an ability the family uses to manipulate and steal.

Just as Nerene begins to despair that she’ll never see Sande again, she meets Cressit, a wealthy, charming musician. Cressit offers to help Nerene reunite with Sande, but she’s not sure he can be trusted. He has a strange interest in the Osperacy family, and he seems to know more about Nerene than he should.

Even worse, the more time Nerene spends with Cressit, the less she thinks about Sande…

*** Note: I received this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Sarah for this beautiful book. ***

Currently was mix of steampunk, fantasy and mythical creature. It revolved around Nerene, her survival in the world filled with slavery, trickery and injustice, her love for her boyfriend and dangerous journey she boarded to keep him safe. It was about social injustice, survival, power, politics, trust, betrayal, friendship, and love; and Siren lore.

That synopsis was perfect. It covers enough without giving away what you are into and its best that way. The book was slow burner and steady paced. It took its time in world-building, characterization and their development. Writing was great. Easy to follow, gripping and filled with emotions. The world-building was best in the book. I loved all the places, unique name and social structure. The description was vivid and impressive. I wish there was a map of Varasay city and the rout they followed.

The book was told from Nerene’s captivating voice and was divided in three parts-

First part was about Nerene and her boyfriend, Snade. Village they lived in, their struggling poor life, how they survived the tide when their village was flooded and their shelter up on the mountain in Varasay city; the priests who called themselves God, their many unfair rules and injustice towards deeplanders (people like Nerene dwelling in villages that are flooded every year); Snade’s protest towards the slavery they were forced into and how that changed their life.

It was emotional to read Nerene’s story and her situation. I felt for her and I could see why she was always cautious, tried to follow rules, and wanted safe and certain life for her and Snade. While Snade was her antipode- rash, reckless, lawbreaker who wanted to run away with Nerene from Varasay, and for that he would do anything. I liked him in this first part. He was brave and bold, spontaneous and smart. It was sad to see what happened to both of them after his stunt in factory. Story took interesting turn from this point.

Second Part was all about Nenrene’s journey through various cities and ports with Osperacy family. I was curious to know more about Osperacys. Melily, Lord Osperacy’s daughter was spoilt teenager, moody, selfish, and her tantrums were difficult to handle. It was Nerene’s job to keep her in control which was amusing. It got her into lot of trouble and also led her to Cressit. Cressit was superstar musician and singer who was filthy rich, selfish but not as much, and tricked Nerene to get what he wanted. There more to both of these character. As I read more about Melily I understood she mostly acted bad to Nerene out of jealousy. She yearned for love and companion. Nobody paid her attention or talked to her about her feelings. While Cressit was actually nicer. As I was reading through Nerene’s eye, I had my doubts towards all characters but Cressit always felt good, no matter what his intentions were or how much the emotions around him was fake or real. What I liked most in this part was Osperacy’s secrets and many illegal things he and his family was involved in, and their supernatural abilities.

Third part and climax was not that separated. Many things were included in this part. Escape plan, Villains following their trail, survival, action. It was tense, exciting, nuanced, and filled with emotions. Characters developed a lot by this point and we see lot of change in them. Most amazing was, Melily’s development. I loved the strong bond formed between her and Nerene, and some more interesting things related to her abilities. It was life altering for characters and I loved the way story took turn from this point till the end.

The insight was great. I found Nerene’s unwavering nature commendable. It was at some point unbelievable, if I was in her place I wouldn’t hesitate from harming the villain but she was such a righteous, law abiding person who followed her conscience all the time. That’s what it said about the story and characters- doing right thing, following conscience takes courage. They wouldn’t be in this situation if Snade has not started riot or Cressite came out clean and many more, there is always an alternative to the rash and reckless path that didn’t involve harming and hurting other or even worst killing; It tells about the power and its greed and manipulation.

I didn’t like Nenrene’s step just before end. Her reason was understandable but it didn’t feel satisfyingandthat End was shocking. I actually expected a closure, but now it left me curious, thinking of all possibilities. An epilogue would have ended it but I guess there might be a continuation and I may get some back and future story in next book, if author decides to write it.

Overall, it was interesting and wonderful novel with impressive world. If you like to read book involving Sirens, you would want to read this. I definitely recommend this book to fantasy and steampunk lovers.

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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What do you think about the book and review? Have you read this book already? Have you read a book featuring Sirens or flooded world? Which is your favorite steampunk book?

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#Review : Best Kept Secret (The Clifton Chronicles #3) by Jeffrey Archer

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Best Kept Secret (The Clifton Chronicles #3) by Jeffrey Archer
Publication Date: March 6th 2013
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 381
Stars: ★★★★☆ (4.5)

The third novel in Jeffrey Archer’s compelling saga, the Clifton Chronicles

1945. The vote in the House of Lords as to who should inherit the Barrington family fortune has ended in a tie. The Lord Chancellor’s deciding vote will cast a long shadow on the lives of Harry Clifton and Giles Barrington.

Harry returns to America to promote his latest novel, while his beloved Emma goes in search of the little girl who was found abandoned in her father’s office on the night he was killed.

When the General Election is called, Giles Barrington has to defend his seat in the House of Commons and is horrified to discover who the Conservatives select to stand against him. But it is Sebastian Clifton, Harry and Emma’s son, who ultimately influences his uncle’s fate.

In 1957, Sebastian wins a scholarship to Cambridge, and a new generation of the Clifton family march onto the page. After Sebastian is expelled from school, he unwittingly becomes caught up in an international art fraud involving a Rodin statue that is worth far more than the sum it raises at auction. Does he become a millionaire? Does he go to Cambridge? Is his life in danger?

Best Kept Secret was most dramatic in The Clifton Chronicles series so far. It revolved around Clifton and Barrington’s life after dispute on inheritance of Barrington estate. New phase, new obstacles, and new enemies in their life. There was bit of everything, family drama, rivalry, court room drama, revenge, family support and love, loss, suspense, entertainment, politics, money and art fraud.

What I Liked-

The writing was amazing, I’m getting used to author’s style and I know what to expect from his books. Again the story was divided in time period tht started from 1945 and ended in 1957 narrated by Harry, Sebastian, Giles and Fisher. What I love most in this series is narration from antagonist. It spiced up stories in each book and so in this.

Book started from where the previous one ended. There was little overview on what happened in previous books, enough to catch up if you are picking book after a little gap but I suggest you read this book in order to get the clear picture.

The prologue concluded who inherited the fortunes of Barrington estate, which was satisfactory and relief for readers. Emma and Harry started their new life, Harry’s was now popular author and was on his journey to Time’s bestselling author; Emma started looking for Jessica, her half-sister and was planning to adopt her; Giles was quite successful, going to fight election for MP and was engaged. You would think what can go wrong! But by this time I should have known Barringtons and Cliftons are never ever short of troubles. There was loss of beloved family member that sparked the fire of trouble. And that trouble came in form of Giles’ wife, Lady Virginia and old nemesis Fisher. Not just that but Harry and Emma were facing their own parental issues.

Virginia and Fisher was dangerous combination. I couldn’t wait to see what they were up to and how Giles and other family member were going to fight them. Things were getting so dramatic, juicier, and entreating. I literally couldn’t put down the book. And just when one problem was solved, Seb got himself into bigger trouble, was caught in net of criminal and art fraud. It was exciting to read how Emma and Harry were going to save their son and what would be Seb’s future.

Character were developed and were growing wise and clever in as the series progressed by experiencing different phase and problem in life. I loved Jessica and Seb’s bonding. Seb was much clever, smarter and mature for his age. Martinez’s introduction and his life story was brilliant and even Virginia was mind-blowing. Emma never cease to awe me. She was fabulous in the book. Both old and new characters shined throughout the book.

The setting was perfect and I loved historical aspects in the book. Harry’s narration told about the publication industry, different publications styles in UK and US, mentions of famous authors and actors of the era. Emma’s narration told about the struggle of educated women, beginning of their rights and position in various industry. Gile’s story told about the politics, political system, thoughts about change in divorce law, election battles, and voting system during that time. I’m not big fan of politics but author’s writing style made it intriguing. Seb’s part dealt with art fraud which covered whole third half of the book. This was big surprise and very exciting portion, and I could figure out which secret title was referring to in this part. It will be best you don’t know much about it.

Twist and turns, climax it all was great. There were many surprising, tense, and edgier moments that kept me flipping pages. I can’t believe Clifton and Barrington made a new enemy who was deadlier than Virginia and Fisher combination. End was big cliffhanger. I can’t wait to read what this new enemy is going to do to next.

Why 4.5 stars-

Just small issue- Things were overly dramatic at some points. Seb’s teen trouble was given a bit more portion. I must say I liked second book more than this one.

Overall, it was dramatic, entertaining, suspenseful family saga with many twists and turns and interesting historical aspects. I really enjoyed this book.

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Affiliate Link: Book Depository

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and my review? Have you read this book already or any in this series or any book by Jeffrey Archer? Are you going to add it to TBR?  Are you fan of historical fiction? Recommend your series favorite in this genre? Nothing Ventured, first in William Warwick  series is released this month. The main character of this new series was mentioned throughout Clifton Chronicles. What do you think about it? Are you going to read it?

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#Review : Neither Here Nor There by Miriam Drori

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Neither Here Nor There by Miriam Drori
Publication Date:
May 17th 2014
Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing Ltd
Genre: Fiction / Jewish Literature / Contemporary
Pages: 180
Stars: ★★★★☆

Love in an exotic setting.

Esty’s life was laid out for her from birth. She would marry one of a handful of young men suggested to her and settle down to raise a large family in a tiny space within the closed community of her parents, near to and yet far from the modern world. But Esty has decided to risk all by escaping while she still can. Will she make it to the other side? Mark, who is struggling with his own life changes, hopes that Esty will find a way through her troubles. He is fast falling in love with her. Separately and together, in Jerusalem and London, Esty and Mark need to overcome many obstacles in their endeavour to achieve their dream.

So much more than a romance. A tale of transformation.

*** Note: I won this book in giveaway ***

Neither Here Nor There was simple romance that was made beautiful because of its setting in Jerusalem. Story revolved around Haredi Judaism, Esty’s struggle who left the orthodox ways, challenged its beliefs and lifestyle to live life of secular that can have meaning, freedom, and love. It was about struggle of transition in lifestyle; orthodox vs tradition, secular and extremism; strength and determination; going against the flow; understanding different culture and adopting the best in it.

What I Liked:

Book started with Esty leaving her parents’ home, culture she knew and grew up in to discover new life, life of secular, a life in which she can have freedom to make choices, actually live it and enjoy it rather than getting married, take care of house and giving birth every year. But it was never easy, she was in middle situation, Neither Here Nor There, after leaving her family. What challenges she will face in this in-between path? Will she able to cross it and transform into lifestyle of other side? Can she cut off with her family and friends? How her decision will affect her family? Will she discover new friends and true love? It was great to discover answers to all these Esty inner turmoil.

I believe she was lucky to find good people on her way towards new lifestyle. It wouldn’t be this easy for all.

I loved theme of this book. Author portrayed lifestyle and belief of orthodox people so well. It was not just about differences between orthodox, secular, and traditional but was about extremism. Being extremist is most dangerous and not just for orthodox but for secular as well and this controversial matter was well conveyed here.

Esty learned many things through her observation of secular world, different lifestyle and people she met. The doubts she had for what she was taught in schools and by community before leaving the old world proved right, she saw secular world is not that bad as she was taught, she could see how people in her community are following their belief not because they fear God or because they were pure and other are malign but because they want to please others in their community.

Every chapters ended with the question, doubts Esty and Mark had regarding their life and relationship that made me think about the situation, about community and their age-old beliefs, religion along with them. Characters turmoil, struggle and emotion was the central part of the story.

Romance was simple. It didn’t have that juicy drama or complicated issue we usually read in romance novel but it was nice to see both Esty and Mark evolve, taking baby steps in their relationship. They had some simple and realistic issues, Esty trying to adopt new world and Mark trying to go slow and let her grow out of her discomfort but I liked how they both made efforts to strengthen their bond.

Turns in the book were good. It made story interesting. I did guess those endings but it didn’t affect the ending. I liked the happy ending.

Why 4 Stars:

As I said things were comparatively easy for Esty. In real life there might be lot of problems and I was little annoyed character didn’t see things realistically. She should have expected the problems she faced and when her sister thought to follow her footstep she felt wrong about it! Come on, that’s clearly selfish.

Overall, it was interesting, insightful and unique but simple contemporary fiction that dealt with controversial subject. I recommend this book. It is short, fastpaced that you can finish in one sitting.

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon
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What do you Think about the book and my review? Have you read this book already? Have you read book dealing with controversial or religious issues? Which are they? Recommend me your favorite book in this theme or genre.

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#Review : Fractalistic by Gerardo Delgadillo @Gero_Delgadillo

Fractalistic by Gerardo Delgadillo
Publication Date:
July 9th 2019
Publisher: The Parliament House
Genre: Contemporary / Fiction
Pages: 308
Stars: ★★★★★

After moving to Mexico with her parents, Winter Gutan had been hoping the local alternative medicine doctor would cure her mother’s illness. When her mother does not survive his controversial treatments, Winter’s life spirals in despair. Her father, a software engineer, insists his computer program, Fractalistic, will enable them to communicate with her mother’s spirit. But as his sanity begins to slip, Winter confides in her friend Rafa, a computer wizard, who tells her he’s found information about using fractal technology to treat false memories—nothing paranormal about it, leaving Winter confused and without hope. Will she lose her mother forever?

Suspecting her dad is hiding a deep secret, Winter runs Fractalistic behind his back, unveiling a sea of computer-generated imagery swirling on the screen. Her mother appears to her…begging for help! But is this all just Winter’s imagination?

Fractalistic may enable Winter to communicate with her deceased mother, but it might also unleash more mysterious memories buried within Winter’s mind. To figure it all out, Winter must hack into her father’s system to uncover a horrifying truth…or remain in the dark forever.

Previous books I read by the same auhtor:
1) Bacon Pie (co-author)
2) Summerlypse

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. ***

Fractalistic was YA contemporary that revolved around Winter’s life after losing her mother. I will not limit it to just contemporary as there was good portion of book related to fractal theory and experiment so one can call it mix of Si-Fi, contemporary and romance. It was about grief, coping with loss of loved ones, shock and depression that affect mind and alters memory and behavior, trying to bring closure and move on in life.

Characters-

Winter was great in this book. Her voice was realistic, emotional and touching. I could feel her and could empathize with her. I and she are really opposite- I will not hesitate to confront anybody if I felt they were hiding something or lying. So I actually wanted to shake her a little and tell her to go ahead girl and find out the truth asap. But I could also understand her love for her father. Her development was gradual and like the way she cope with fears and grief and strength to face the horrible truth.

I liked secondary characters in the book. They all were great. They all tried to help her, lifted her spirit, made her to see the world she thought she will never like after leaving America, helped to see her mom and to find out, what really was happening with her, and loved her unconditionally.

What I liked-

The title and cover was eye-catching. I didn’t know anything about fractal theory before reading this book. It was interesting to see how it was used here in story.

Fractalistic was written from Winter’s perspective. Writing was amazing, easy to follow, page-turning, and description of characters and setting was vivid. The small Mexican town, language and life-style was lovely. I have read previous book by author so I knew there will be Spanish in the book. I cannot read it, of course, but those sentences were translated in English so it was relief for me.

Book started with Winter describing sadness and grief engulfed her house after losing her mother, her angst and frustration of new place and culture that she didn’t feel connected to after leaving America, her worry for her father who was obsessed with IFVI, fractal app he invented, whose sanity was slipping and was not loving her the way he used to.

But when she attended academy, made new friends, she got to know more about IFVI and other secrets. What was her dad hiding, why he was lying to her or so secretive about his app, were her friends genuinely trying to help her or there’s some hidden agenda? Was that app really working, helping to see her mom or was it all her imagination?

First few chapters were disjointed. I could not correlate them with each other- fractals used to communicate with her mother, then she got to know it was used to treat false memory, Julia insisting her to drink tea while watching fractal that sounded fishy, her dad’s horrible behavior towards her friends and then Chucho the dog and Misifus-cat. Lot was happening and I didn’t have clue where this was going, who to trust. Because of it I first thought I will rate it 4.

But as I read more, I could see it was meant feel disjointed, it was written in that style to show the mental status of Winter, the way she processed things. It all made sense when one by one I got answers to all question, fog of confusion lifted and horror of truth and reality was revealed.  

I liked to read Winter’s relation with other characters– her father, Rafa, Julia, Bel and her dog and that Misifus cat. All these relations evolved beautifully throughout the book. It was first complicated, there was secrets, mistrust and fights but as I read more I could see it strengthening gradually. Young love of Rafa and Winter was quite cute. It was not the strongest, but I like to read this portion. It gave breathing space between depressing and poignant story of Winter.

Turns in the book was nicely placed. I could guess what might have happened after 40% of the book but I was curious to see how it happened and how Winter was going to discover it. End was satisfactory and liberating.  I liked this even more than my previous books by the same author.

Overall, it was emotional poignant and heartfelt YA contemporary and those who has suffered loss will feel it intensely. I surely recommend this book.

Author Bio:
Hello! I’m Gerardo Delgadillo. Originally from San Francisco and raised in Mexico, I live in the Dallas metropolitan area, which means, my house is somewhere in a distant suburb nobody’s heard of.
My stories gravitate around fifteen-to-seventeen-year-olds, venturing into Mexico, or living in Mexico. I consider my writing contemporary and realistic. Well, as realistic as it can be. Truth to be told, real life can be quite boring.
I spend my days writing, either at my day job coding high-tech software, OR typing YA novels surrounded by lots of caffeine.

Author Social Media Links: Blog | Author Page | Goodreads | Twitter

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Affiliate Link: Book Depository

Let’s discuss!

What do you Think about the book and my review? Have you read this book already? Do you read many contemporary fictions? Have you read books based on loss and grief? If so, recommend me your favorite in this theme or genre.

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