Book Review: White Stag (Permafrost #1) by Kara Barbieri

White Stag by Kara Barbieri

Jenneke is a human who’s been living amongst the goblins in the Permafrost since they raided her village a hundred years ago. When a fight between two powerful goblins leads to the death of the Erlking, a hunt ensues: the goblin who fells the escaped white stag (the embodiment of the goblin king’s power) will become the next Erlking.

Jenneke accompanies her master Soren on the hunt. Though he is one of the most powerful of goblins, Soren has treated Jenneke as more of a friend than subservient. But Soren’s biggest rival is his uncle Lydian, an appallingly brutal sort who has inflicted tortures on Jenneke that continue to haunt her. Jenneke is torn between her hate for the goblins for the destruction they caused her family and the kindness she feels toward Soren, who has done nothing other than protect her. To make matters worse, Jenneke discovers she may be transitioning into one of the monsters she hates most—a goblin. But can she accept becoming that which she hates most, and must she give up her last shred of humanity to do so?

White Stag (Permafrost #1) is an epic, fantastical journey ensues, ripe with battles and creatures. But the one thing I found was that, while the concept is rich, the world-building was not. I wanted more details, more to anchor me into the world and make me feel as if I was right there alongside the characters. Some of the dialogue also felt a bit stilted and lacked a natural rhythm.

Kara Barbieri has a brilliant concept, but sadly I was hoping to love this book more than I actually did.

 

*I received an ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) courtesy of Wednesday Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Author Spotlight: C.M. McCoy

Name: C.M. McCoy 

Author of: EERIE

From: Alaska

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?  It was a “descriptive paragraph” assignment from the 5th grade. My teacher, Mrs. Brady, was so excited about my stinky hamster paragraph, she made me read it aloud to the 3 other 5th grade classes. I was mortified, dead scared, and actually vomited. Worst reward ever.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? It was after I’d retired from the Air Force and after I’d retired from engineering. I’d written a memoir and signed with a literary agent. After that, I caught the fiction bug, and the rest is mystery. Writing is a funny profession in that one never stops pursuing it. The market is ever changing; agents and editors come and go, and one misstep on social media can rally the review trolls–effectively torpedoing your paycheck. Sometimes it feels more like the pot at the end of the rainbow than it does a career.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author? There have been many who’ve been the proverbial lighthouse in the channel. Too many to name really, but agent Michelle Johnson tops my list of advisers/supporters during my journey to publication. She was extremely generous with her time and wisdom, and I’m forever grateful for her unwavering support. In addition, I have been blessed with the world’s best critique partners, who helped me hone my craft and who helped me shape up the structure of what would be my debut novel. Quite honestly, after paying thousands for professional editors who offered little to nothing in the way of actual editing suggestions, I found critique partners were far more adept at recognizing and suggesting edits for structural shortcomings, character arcs, plot holes, and craft mistakes. Sarah Adair, an unpublished author who shies away from social media, was especially helpful. I found her through Maggie Stiefvater’s Critique Partner Match-up several years ago.

Do you exclusively write paranormal or have you written in other genres? I also write YA and Adult thriller, speculative, and Picture Books. I’ve dreamed of writing a contemporary, but something urgent and usually monstrous seems to always pop up on those opening pages. I’m sure there’s something psychologically avoidy (that’s totally a thing) is happening there, but I’ve never dug deep enough into my psyche to figure it out.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? Good lord, it’s hard to find quiet time between mom-ing and wife-ing and agent-ing. I love my family to pieces, and I’m acutely aware of one thing: when I’m on my deathbed, I’ll never regret “missing out  on writing time,” but I’ll sure as hell want more play time with my husband, my kindergartener, my sister, my mom and dad, etc. I’ve had enough close calls to know what’s truly important in life. And so I sneak writing time in when everyone’s asleep. Getting up at 0330 helps. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? First drafts–this varies from 2 weeks to 7 months for me. Revisions continue until I perform the “good enough” nod. My husband, who piloted the Space Shuttle back in 2006 and whose mission rewired the Space Station, has this saying he picked up from one of his commanders at NASA: “better” is the enemy of “good enough.” For me, here on Earth, it means to mind your resources–an author’s time and energy are finite quantities, and spending them on an endless pursuit to make one MS “better” (which is a moving target) means the next MS never gets written. Recognizing when a MS has reached “good enough,” even if it’s “good enough for now” means moving forward. Getting stuck in the “it needs to be better” loop can stall a writer’s career. Some MS’s won’t sell (for now) no matter how many revisions an author makes, and it’s okay to put that MS in a drawer and call it good enough for now.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book? Most of my preparation involves daydreaming. I have to know my main character through and through before I begin a draft. I may scribble out snippets of dialogue or a scene here and there, but most of my prep stays in my head. As for research, I find and interrogate people who share an experience or hobby or career or personality trait that one of my characters shares. I also research maps, chemistry, medicine, murder, mental health, engines, thermodynamics, string theory, bacterial growth rates, etc…you know, the usual.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? Nope. 😀

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list? I spent 7 days canoeing through the no-kidding Alaska bush. Out of cell phone coverage, far from roads and people, and on a deadline to reach to a checkpoint near the Yukon river so that I didn’t miss my scheduled bush-plane pick-up. It was refreshing and terrifying at once, and it truly helped me shape the setting of EERIE and of my YA thriller, both of which are set in part in the Alaska bush.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? I usually find inspiration from staring at the back of my eyelids after an exciting day. I can say that I remember an acute moment of illogical tree fear while camping one winter night, and that may have fed into EERIE’s carnivorous tree problem…

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? I’m a mood reader who switches between nonfiction and fiction of most genres. I rarely get into a literary phase, and high fantasy isn’t my jam, but for the most part, I’ll read anything that tickles my neurons.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Oh yes. *evil grin*

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Yes to both. Some characters are a mash-up of different friends, and some are inspired by chance encounters with complete strangers.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater. I absolutely adore that book.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. A BEDTIME STORY by LC Moon. This was a steamy Beauty and the Beast retelling by an indie author who, sadly, hasn’t published the sequel. I’m still hoping though…

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? No, but I do have a Google news alert set up, which sends me the strangest emails. For example, just a couple weeks ago, I learned a very beautiful actress would portray a fictional me in an upcoming film starring Natalie Portman.  *shrugs*

As a writer, what animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? Tough choice. I’d say a snow ember. Or a snarling Yeti. Tough choice…

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Am I constantly answering questions that aren’t asked? Yes. Yes I am. Which is not as much a struggle as it is an annoyance. I should be more focused. I should take my own advice.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? Don’t quit. (that’s 2 words)

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Don’t quit. Many authors have such an unfulfilling and even discouraging experience after their first book publishes, that they stop writing altogether. Don’t quit.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I mentor. In 2017, I mentored an author in #PitchWars, and prior to that, I’ve mentored in contests like #NoQS and Query Kombat. I sneak into support groups and offer encouragement whenever I can. I lead workshops at schools and online. I’m still a work in progress myself, and I appreciate the reciprocation in this wonderful community. Now that I’m a literary agent and building my list, I try to be as specific and encouraging in my feedback as I can. I hate rejection. It stinks. Having received over 300 rejections for my own work before finding an agent, I can appreciate the sting I now send out, and I’m always thinking of the person on the other end and hoping they persevere in their journey to publication. <3

Would you like to know more about C.M. McCoy?

Eerie

The sensational teen paranormal romance featured in PEOPLE Magazine and on INSIDE EDITION! 

Hailey Hartley has just enrolled in the world’s premier supernatural university. It’s a school she’s never heard of, located in a town called The Middle of Nowhere, and run by a creature that’s not supposed to exist. But at least she got a scholarship…

Hailey’s dreams have always been, well…vivid. As in monsters from her nightmares follow her into her waking life vivid. When her big sister goes missing, eighteen-year-old Hailey finds only one place offers her answers–a paranormal university in Alaska. There, she studies the science of the supernatural and must learn to live with a roommate from Hell, survive her otherworldly classes, and hope the only creature who can save her from an evil monster doesn’t decide to kill her himself.

Get Eerie on Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

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Author Spotlight: Laurie Bell

Name: Laurie Bell  

Author of: The Butterfly Stone (Wyvern’s Peak Publishing)

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? I think it was a Choose Your Own Adventure story, about a female Doctor Who. I wrote it with a writer friend after school, (I still have it too). But I know I was writing stories well before then, this is just the one that sticks in my memory. I probably wrote fan fiction too… I loved the book The BFG when I was little so I would not be surprised if I wrote something along those lines.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? Seriously? About 5 years ago, but I have been writing since I was a little kid and then when the internet came along I was writing online in various chats, message boards and blogs all the time. A lot of fan fiction stuff and a lot of my own musings, bits and bobs and things that made me happy. LOL I was an angsty teenager, so probably a heap of that too.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author? I did a lot of research online and I have a really good friend, who was also going through the author journey at the same time. We helped and still help each other a lot. Once I got onto the online writer community on Twitter things really took off. I have met some wonderful and supportive writers online, met some fabulous CPs (Critique Partners) and editors and friends. You sort of learn things together and help each other out. One person who really was fabulous was a fellow writer (who is also with my publisher). Lauren is an amazing writer and super supportive of her fellow authors.

Do you exclusively Sci-fi/fantasy or have you written in other genres? I mostly write Sci Fi and Fantasy. I’ve also dabbled in Supernatural Contemporary, but I am certainly more comfortable amongst spaceships and magic. It’s my one true love so to speak. When I was little my Poppa read me a book of short stories over and over about knights, witches, dragons and trolls… I got my first taste of fantasy sitting on his knee listening to him read.

 What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? HA! Work life balance? What’s that? I work full time, so I mostly write on the train, at lunchtime and in coffee shops on the weekend. I aim for a chapter a week… sometimes I get more, sometimes less. Depends on the stage of the book I’m at, and, if I’m at the beginning, middle or end or if I am editing.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? First draft usually takes about 6 to 8 months. Then up to a year of edits, depending on if I actually like the first draft or if I end up doing a major rewrite. I also send it to my CP’s for things I miss. My CP’s are the best in the world!

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book? As my books tend to be sci fi or fantasy, it’s not so much research as it is worldbuilding. But I do google a lot, read as much as I can, A lot of non-fiction science mags and books too. I enjoy learning and sort of absorb a lot as I read. It finds its way into my stories. In the end, my stories are about the people. Families and friends, so I also look around me at the way people interact with each other. The world is research if you sit back and look. (and a lot of TV and movies… As far as I am concerned… everything is research).

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? Hmmmmm do I want to tell you? Haha, I don’t know that they are embarrassing, but yes quirky perhaps? I hand write my first draft (and I have awful handwriting… when I’m in a flow it’s hard to actually read my draft back. When I type it all up I can stare at the page for a good ten minutes trying to figure out what it was that I wrote!

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list? I’d love to go to NASA one day. There is also a space array in WA, Australia that I would love to visit… or Hawaii, when there is not an eruption taking place (Mind you…. How amazing are the pictures? Mother nature at her most violent and beautiful.)

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? Oh…. It’s funny. Sometimes it is a view, or an overheard phrase. With The Butterfly Stone it was actually a prompt. I wrote a short story based on a random prompt I read and loved the character so much I wanted to tell the rest of her story.

For Blood Fever (my upcoming novel) I can remember writing parts of it in my little rental on my recliner but I can’t remember the prompt. I know I wanted a female James Bond in space. Secret Agents and spaceships, who wouldn’t want that.

For White Fire (Jan 2019) well… I wrote that when I was 17 (way way way back in the past… and I wrote that because… well… Star Wars (originals). The Empire Strikes Back was my favorite movie. But I wanted Princess Leia to be Han Solo (In my head she was). So, I wrote the Star Wars movie I wanted to see when I was little. A kick ass hero who could rescue herself, defeat the bad guys and save the galaxy.

My newest WIP well… hahaha that came to me on the train.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? Sci Fi and fantasy of course. Anything by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Chuck Wendig. And fan fiction novels… you know, the novelisations that continue a TV show or move once it’s been cancelled? I LOVE those.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Oh yeah, I have references all the way though, but mostly to amuse myself. IF people reading them find them and get the reference well, that’s like an added bonus!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Yes and no, my characters – my main characters – are all based on who I wish I could be. (Brave, dangerous, awesome…)

Otherwise, mostly they are completely made up… though White Fire does have a few people in it that my friends know about 😊

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. Do you have a couple of years? Hahahaha. Honestly, there are so many indie books that people just don’t know about. I am always giving friends recommendations of books I love. (For sci fi fans… you have to read The Illuminae Files) for Supernatural Noir (The Burned Man series)

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. Oooooooo Pride and Prejudice. But I kinda wish Lizzy had told Darcy to go…. *rest of sentence deleted for inappropriate content*

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? Absolutely. Hahahah there is an American Footballer with my name so unless I put in “writer” or “author” in the search field I am always disappointed!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? I like to believe it would be a wolf or eagle… Something about being a protector of the pack (but also a loner), but somehow I think it would probably be a house cat, like a Burmese 😊 (At least that’s what my partner would say)

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Grammar, OMG I’m not even trying to hide that one. And show… show show show *Sigh!*

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? Don’t give up. Stick at it and ignore the people who tell you not to bother or that it is a waste of time and energy for little return. If you love it… do it anyway.

And to understand that rejections are not about YOU as a person. It’s a hard one to learn, but once you understand that, it’s a lot easier to accept a rejection and keep on keeping on.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Don’t stop writing… ever.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I love reading, I will read anything anyone sends me (provided I have time). I love to read, so if you ask and if I have time, I will read anything for anyone and offer suggestions. I’m also happy to listen. It’s a tough business, sometimes just being there is enough.

Want to find more about Laurie?

The Butterfly Stone (The Stones of Power, Book 1)  

“DON’T LET THE SHADOW TOUCH YOU.”

Beware! Something is after Tracey Masters, a Mage-kind teen in a mostly non-magical world—a world where people like Tracey are often feared, and oppressed. Add to this stress a crazy family life, the schizo pressures of school, friends, and bullies, and working a boring job as an assistant at her uncle’s detective agency for magical types, and life isn’t just hard, it’s chaos! That is, until a mysterious woman walks through the door with a case about a missing necklace known as the Butterfly Stone.

The case seems to be the big break Tracey is looking for to prove herself and her abilities as Mage-kind. But she unexpectedly finds herself dangerously connected to it when the evidence takes a turn that reveals secrets from Tracey’s past, and places her friends and family in mortal danger.

She also discovers that she’s being hunted by a shadow that senses her magic is the key to unlocking the power it’s after.
The magic within the Butterfly Stone is too powerful to be contained, but if Tracey doesn’t learn how to control it, and escape the threat of the shadow that surrounds it, she could lose everything and everyone she cares about … beginning with her younger sister, Sarah.

Laurie Bell’s first young adult novel is fresh, fast-paced, and fun. It’s filled with what makes life interesting, hard, and yet, worth living. You’ll believe in magic again, but you’ll also remember that the magic of family and friendship is where life is best lived.

 

Get The Butterfly Stone from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

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Author Spotlight: Kim Chance

Name:  Kim Chance

Author of: Keeper; Seeker (coming Fall 2019)

From: Flux Books

 

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

The first piece of original fiction I remember ever writing was a short story about a girl named Katie and a boy named Barry who fall madly and love and get married. It was about three pages long. I was very much into romance and fairy tales when I was younger! I still have it somewhere, though I think I’d be slightly horrified to read it! Can we say insta-love? LOL! 

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I majored in Journalism in college, so I was already on the path of using writing for my career, but I never occurred to me to pursue fiction writing until after I had graduated. I was 22 and newly married. My hubby was deployed and I was living in a brand new town with no friends or family nearby. I started dabbling in fanfiction just for fun, and when a friend suggested I write my own story, I decided to give it a try! The rest, as they say, is history!

 Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

 Not really. I sort of fumbled way through it on my own, to be honest. I did a lot of research and read a lot of craft books. Now, I’m part of a wonderful writing community and I have some amazing people in my corner. However, when I first started this journey, it was pretty much just me, my laptop, and a dream!

Do you exclusively write fantasy or have you written in other genres?

I’ve not written in other genres yet, but I’d like to in the future. I really don’t want to limit myself or put myself in a box. I know they say that writers should stick to one genre, but I’m not sure I agree with that. I plan to tell whatever story I’m most passionate about at the time, regardless of genre. Fantasy is definitely a soft spot for me, so I’m sure I will continue to write those types of stories, but I’d love to branch out as well.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

My schedule is 100% unpredictable. I have two school-age children and a baby. That in itself is a recipe for chaos! J I do the majority of my writing at night once the littles are asleep. It’s not ideal, but it’s the only time I can truly focus without interruptions. I do try to squeeze writing time in during the day if I can (i.e. while the baby naps), but I usually have other responsibilities to manage during that time (laundry, cleaning the house, paying bills, etc.) as well. It is VERY difficult to juggle everything, and honestly, I’m not sure I’ve yet to figure out a true work/life/writing balance yet. I’m constantly working towards that though. I think the key is readjustment and trial and error. Just keep changing things up until you find what works for you!

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

FOREVER. I’m seriously the world’s slowest drafter. When I wrote Keeper, I wasn’t agented and I didn’t have a publishing contract, so I wrote on my own timetable. It took me about three years to write the draft that ended up being the published book. For Seeker, the sequel to Keeper, I’m on deadline with my publisher. I have a little less than six months to write and turn in the draft. No pressure! Revisions tend to go much quicker for me because I enjoy the revision process so much more than drafting. I’ll likely get about two months or so to revise Seeker before it gets sent off for ARC printing.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I’m a big plotter, so I do an extensive outline and character profiles before I begin each book. If there’s research to be done, I typically try to do as much as I can ahead of time, but stuff always comes up while I’m drafting too.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Haha! No, not really. I’m pretty boring! I do need music and hard candy though (jolly ranchers are my fav!).

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

Unfortunately, not. I’ve never been outside of the US, which is something I hope to remedy soon! There are so many places I’d love to see and visit—especially for writing inspiration!

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

For me, I don’t think it was one specific thing that inspired the story in Keeper. There were many things! I do remember the moment when a certain plot twist popped into my head. It changed EVERYTHING I had already written, but it was so exciting, I didn’t mind!

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I’m a pretty eclectic reader, but fantasy and historical are my favorites!

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

I didn’t do that in Keeper, nor do I have anything like that planned for Seeker. However, I do have another WIP that I plan to finish after Seeker is turned in. In that book, there are multiple easter eggs!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Yes and no. Most of the characters are entirely their own people, but there are some bits and pieces I pulled from real like. For example, Lainey’s name comes from my middle name which is Elaine. I’m named after my grandmother and wanted to honor her in that way. Also, Maggie, Lainey’s best friend, is very similar to my real life best friend, Carrie. Carrie isn’t a comic book nerd, but she is fiercely loyal and protective of me and always has my back—just like Maggie always has Lainey’s! I also used my husband as inspiration for the villain of the story, the Master. That sounds really odd, doesn’t it? Lol! My husband has a pretty dry sarcastic wit and so does the Master. That’s where the similarities stop though!

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer. It’s her adult sci-fi and it’s one of my favorite books of all time. It’s so undervalued and appreciated, which is a shame because it’s an incredible book. I can’t recommend it enough.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Twilight, of course! (Also, by Stephenie Meyer)

 Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

 Not very often, but I have done it before!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

 I would definitely choose a fox! I think they’re cute and clever!

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Characterization. I always feel like I need to dig a little deeper with my characters. I usually get there, but it takes a while to really get inside their heads.

 What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

 Don’t be your own worst enemy. Writing a book is a difficult process, and it’s very easy to succumb to self-doubt and fear. Don’t stop yourself from doing what you love just because it’s scary. Keep writing and never stop. You can do it!

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Don’t read your reviews. I know the temptation is there, but don’t do it. Reviews are for readers not for authors, and while the good reviews are awesome, negative reviews can really hamper creativity. Have someone else send you the good ones, but stay away from the bad ones. Protect your creative headspace!

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

Helping other writers is super important to me! That’s why I started my YouTube channel so that I could share what I’ve learned on my journey with others. I post weekly writing advice videos on my channel. I also host a monthly twitter chat to help writers connect with other writers under the hashtag #Chance2Connect. The chat is on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 9pm CST.

Want to find out more about Kim?

 

Keeper

When a 200-year-old witch attacks her, sixteen-year-old bookworm Lainey Styles is determined to find a logical explanation. Even with the impossible staring her in the face, Lainey refuses to believe it—until she finds a photograph linking the witch to her dead mother.

After consulting a psychic, Lainey discovers that she, like her mother, is a Keeper: a witch with the exclusive ability to unlock and wield the Grimoire, a dangerous but powerful spell book. But there’s a problem. The Grimoire has been stolen by a malevolent warlock who is desperate for a spell locked inside it—a spell that would allow him to siphon away the world’s magic.

With the help of her comic-book-loving best friend and an enigmatic but admittedly handsome street fighter, Lainey must leave her life of college prep and studying behind to prepare for the biggest test of all: stealing back the book.

 

Get your copy of Keeper from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

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