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Archive for the ‘Norah Jones’ Category

june2020SOUNDTRACK: NORAH JONES-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert # 65 (August 17, 2020).

Norah Jones is a musical force.  Even though her songs are simple and tasteful, she has pretty much conquered or at least dabbled in many genres.

The blurb notes:

I’ve always wished to hear just her voice and her piano in a room. The unfortunate circumstances of our times have given us something beautiful. For this Tiny Desk (home) concert, Norah Jones sits in her music room; it’s just Norah, her upright piano, her poetry, and that golden voice.

I don’t know these songs (I’m sure they are lush), but even with this simple old-school piano, they sound lovely.  All four of these songs are from her seventh record, Pick Me Up Off the Floor.

“How I Weep” and “Heartbroken, Day After” are pretty songs with lovely melodies.

My favorite song of the set is “I’m Alive,” which she co-wrote with Jeff Tweedy.  I don;t know if it’s the Tweedy connection, but I love the melodies in this song–both vocal and musical.  I’ve been hearing this on the radio a bunch and while I do prefer the full on recorded sound, this stripped down version is quite nice.  “I’m Alive” is

a song that at once feels the pain of politics and a pain that is personal.

“You feel your soul / Get hollowed-out / While the world implodes / You just live without.” Yet the refrain is what lingers, “Oh, I’m alive / Yes, I’m alive / But I’m alive / Oh, I’m alive.”

“To Live” sounds like an old spiritual.

Jones is not very animated in this session.  Indeed, if her hat didn’t keep falling off (why not just leave it off?), she’d have very little to talk about.

But I assume one doesn’t listen to Norah Jones for wild storytelling.

[READ: August 4, 2020] “Terrace Story”

This story started out with a young couple moving out of a beloved apartment and into a smaller one.  The couple (Annie and Edward) had a little girl, Rose, and they talked about many things as if they were Proper Nouns: the tree outside the window was Yellow Tree, the place where the pigeons landed was Pigeon Tunnel.  But the most pressing new Noun was Closet Mystery.  The mystery was what would fall out of the tiny closet the next time you opened it.

Annie worked with Stephanie. Stephanie took on some of Annie’s work while she was having the baby.  Annie wanted to thank her, so she invited Stephanie to their tiny apartment.

Stephanie was delightful and funny.  And when she opened the door to Closet Mystery, the door opened onto a Terrace–a terrace that obviously had never been there before.

The terrace was gorgeous–amazing views, plenty of room, a grill, fantastic weather.  It was fantastic.

When Stephanie left, Annie and Edward tried to recreate the Terrace in so many ways.  But it only happened when Stephanie opened the door.

So they invited her over a lot.

They had a great time on the Terrace.  They told Terrace Stories which were stories that were not really true, but it didn’t matter because the Terrace didn’t really exist either.

But soon, Annie grew suspicious of Stephanie.  She felt that the stories Edward was telling Stephanie were more intimate, more detailed (even if false) than they should have been.

Edward told her he would never lie to her outside of the Terrace.

But on the Terrace, the lies were growing too big.  Stephanie started calling Edward, “Eddie” and Rose “Rosie,” and Annie felt that Stephanie was trying to take over their lives.  Annie had once been Anne until someone had started calling her Annie.

It didn’t help that her boss at worked continued to give Stephanie more and more of Annie’s work.

Just what was going on with this Terrace and why oh why couldn’t Annie find it on her own?

I was really delighted in the way this story turned surreal and wonderful and yet still seemed realistic.

 

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[CANCELLED: July 31-August 2, 2020] Newport Folk Festival

Last year we took the whole family to two days of the Newport Folk Festival.  It was a fun experience for the most part.  Both kids were exhausted and my son decided he’d rather stay in the hotel than go on the second day.  However, this year he said he;d like to go again, so since the 2020 Festival was cancelled, maybe next year all four of us will go again.

I was not surprised that the Festival was cancelled. But it was still a shock when it happened on April 29th.

Here’s the formal message

Dear Folk-

This is the letter I was praying I wouldn’t have to write, feeling we need the healing powers of live music more now than ever. It is with the heaviest of hearts we announce the cancellation of the 2020 Newport Folk Festival. As devastating as it is to write those words, it’s balanced with a renewed sense of, well, HOPE. It’s Rhode Island’s motto for good reason and it’s also the feeling you, our festival family, constantly exudes when we come together in good times and perhaps more importantly, in difficult times as well. This community is truly unlike any other in music, and I believe we can emerge from this hardship stronger and more connected than ever before.

However, while your safety was at the core of the present decision, your support will be at the core of our future viability. Our ability to produce this festival in 2021 – and continue making a lasting difference in the lives of artists, students and music lovers like yourselves – is in your hands. Quite simply, we need your help.

Due to the financial and institutional uncertainties we find ourselves in, we believe the most trusting and direct course of action is to let the ticket holders decide where their ticket dollars should go. We have sent all ticket holders an email mapping out three options: 1) donate all or a portion of your ticket that will go directly towards ensuring our festival for 2021 while continuing our support for artists and educators; 2) apply your refund towards a 2021 Revival Membership – a new and one-time offer we’ve created specifically to ensure our future and provide these members with 3-day tickets to the 2021 festival (remaining memberships will be offered to the general public directly after the request period); and 3) receive a 100% full refund if desired.

For those of you who didn’t have tickets for this year, PLEASE consider making a tax-deductible donation. Help us continue these festivals, support year-round music education initiatives, and provide grants to artists in need.

I want to personally thank our founder George Wein, our staff, our Board of Directors, the City of Newport, and the DEM for their continued efforts. And, offer a personal note of gratitude to Rhode Island Governor, Gina Raimondo, for her leadership and counsel in prioritizing our well being in making the decision to cancel the festival.

Although we won’t be able to gather at the Fort this summer, rest assured we have invited ALL the announced artists to join us next year. In the meantime, we promise we will all commune one way or another on our festival weekend. As always, we have some secret surprises in store as well, so stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks. Until then, stay strong and folk on.

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SOUNDTRACK: PUSS N BOOTS-“Jesus, Etc.” (from WILCOvered, UNCUT Magazine November 2019).

The November 2019 issue of UNCUT magazine had a cover story about Wilco.  It included a 17 track CD of bands covering Wilco (called WILcovered or WILCOvered).  I really enjoyed this collection and knew most of the artists on it already, so I’m going through the songs one at a time.

This was my introduction to Puss N Boots, a group consisting of Catherine Popper, Sasha Dobson and …Norah Jones?  They’ve been getting some buzz lately (of course) and it’s interesting to have my first exposure to them through this cover of one of my favorite Wilco songs.

This has a great slow rocking sound.  It’s got minimal instrumentation (no drums), just electric guitars and bass.  The women harmonize really nicely.

I really like this version, although whoever is singing lead (Catherine or Sasha) has that weird thing that singers seem to be doing now where it almost sounds like a speech impediment on the letter r.  The way she sing skyscrapers so it almost sounds like skyskwrapers.  And cry sounds like cwry.

It’s a thing that I’ve heard a lot lately and I can’t quite wrap my heard around it.  It’s not an accent, but what is it?

Regardless, I do like this version.  The opening electric guitar is great and their voices work very well together.

[READ: February 19, 2020] Princeless: Volume Two

I like the artwork y in this book so much better than the first.  I feel like Emily Martin brings a whole new level of greatness to this series.  The coloring is also much more vibrant.  It’s possible that the printing I had for book 1 wasn’t very good, but this book is fantastic.

The book opens with Adrienne’s father speaking to the bravest knights of the land: Sir Rocks the Mighty; Sir Gahiji the Hunter (who wears a wolf head on his head); Sir Raphael the Handsome (a poet and a vampire); Sir Walsh the Braggart; Sir Zachary the Pure (who serves the gods); and The Black Knight, the king’s fiercest of friends.  They have been summoned to kill the knight who made off with Adrienne’s head and bring the head of her dragon.  Whoever can do so will win his daughter’s hand in marriage.  (Which daughter? someone whispers).

Devon is angry that his dad is doing this so he goes to talk to his mom.  But she has plans–she is leaving and going to visit her parents.  He can’t believe she is running away too.

Back to our heroines.  We see them flying on Sparky, with Bedelia hanging from a rope and swiping food from the cart of a thief who stole the food in the first place.  But Sparky isn’t the most coordinated of fliers and soon enough, Bedelia and Adrienne wind up in a tree.  Again.

They manage to regroup and are sitting near a fire eating their plunder when a dandy prince shows up.  His name is Roderick Lovelorn and he is a poet.  He calls her fair lady and i love that there’s a running joke that she is not fair–fair means pale and she is not pale, she has brown skin (and kinky hair) thank you very much.  He is heading home to his muse.  The lady whom all seek to see but none dare to touch.

As he goes on like this, Adrienne gets annoyed because she realizes that he is talking about…her sister Angelica. (more…)

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wrenchiesSOUNDTRACK: FOO FIGHTERS-In Your Honor Disc Two (2005).

Foo_fighters_in_your_honorSo disc two is an all acoustic collection (and is actually a little longer than the rocking side, bring the total time to about 85 minutes).  Because of the guests, I tend to think of this as a less than exciting collection of songs.  But it is actually quite solid.  And even though I have always preferred Foo Fighters’ louder songs, Grohl’s voice is well suited to acoustic songs and his songwriting withstands stripping away the noise.

“Still” is a mellow acoustic opener.  Grohl’s voice is gentle.  It’s the kind of opening that on later records would lead to a big loud chorus, but this album is all mellow.  I like the way the song unexpectedly shifts chords about half way through.  The song also has keyboards done by Rami Jaffee (I believe a first for a Foo Fighters record).  It’s 5 minutes long and perhaps a little samey.

But the album perks up with “What If I Do?” a brighter song with a catchy chorus.  It is also 5 minutes but doesn’t feel long. It’s followed by “Miracle” a lovely ballad with a great chorus (and John Paul Jones on piano).  I really like the entire composition of “Another Round,” the clear guitars and the bright chorus.  And John Paul Jones plays mandolin on this one!

“Friend of a Friend” is done on just a quiet acoustic guitar. It’s a lovely, dark song.  Although it is always tempting to assume Grohl’s songs are about Kurt Cobain, this one apparently was.  According to Wikipedia, this was the first acoustic song Dave Grohl had ever written.  “The song was written by Grohl in 1990 (and recorded in secret the same year), and it was about his first impressions of new bandmates Kurt Cobain, and Krist Novoselic.”  The way it is so sparsely recorded was a really good choice.

“Over and Out” has a cool and interesting riff and a nice big chorus.  “On the Mend” has some lovely acoustic guitar pairings.

Then comes “Virginia Moon.”  It has a slow jazzy feel, a shuffling drum sound and really delicate vocals.  The biggest surprise of course is that Norah Jones (no relation to John Paul Jones) sings a duet with him.  It’s a pretty song and, while I wouldn’t want a bunch more songs like this, it works well as a one off.  The next song “Cold Day in the Sun” was written by drummer Taylor Hawkins.  Evidently they tried to make a rocking version but it never really came off so they made it acoustic.  Hawkins sings lead vocals (and has a raspy Peter Criss type of voice–is that a drummer thing?) and Grohl plays the drums.  It’s got a super catchy chorus.

“Razor” ends this disc with a neat hammering guitar line.  Josh Homme plays rhythm guitar on this song.   It’s a very pretty song, although I feel like Homme is underutilized.

For an 85 minute album, this is mostly really quite excellent.  I tend to forget about it in the Foo’s discography but there are a number of stand out tracks here.

The band did some acoustic shows following this album, and made a CD and DVD from them.

[READ: January 20, 2015] The Wrenchies

Most of the First Second books I had been reading were either for kids or young adults. This one is squarely in the adult category–and I feel you can tell that by the rather ugly style of drawing on the cover.  (First Second does an admirable job of getting books that are pretty as well as ones that are ugly).

Dalrymple has a broad spectrum of styles in this book.  He has excellent realistic characters (warts and all) but he also has really nice pretty sections as well–where the characters are quite beautiful.  The fact that he chooses to pick the uglier style more is likely a matter of the location–a post apocalyptic hell–than anything else.

This story is (obviously) quite dark.  In fact I can see a lot of readers being turned off right from the get go with how dark and violent it is.  It’s also a little confusing because the post apocalyptic world that we are introduced to is not really explained.  There are also riffs on T.S. Eliot-with lines like “In the room the children a come and go.”

The story begins with Sherwood and Orson entering a cave. It all seems rather idyllic until we see just what kind of creepy thing lives in the cave–and what it does to Sherwood. (more…)

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chunkySOUNDTRACK: FOO FIGHTERS-In Your Honor Disc One (2005).

Foo_fighters_in_your_honorIt took another couple of years before Foo Fighters’ next album came out.  Grohl was unsure what to do with the songs he had been writing.  He originally thought perhaps a film score.  But when he realized he had a whole bunch of acoustic songs, he decided to do a double album–one heavy and loud and one acoustic and mellow.

The rocking side opens with some fast guitar and Grohl’s voice kind of deep in the mix.  He is screaming as the song continues unabated.  And then about two minutes in, the song doesn’t change but the drums kick in and the song grows quite dynamic.  The song pauses near the end so that Grohl can take a breath and give a big scream to end the song.  “No Way Back” is the first great song on the album.  It’s got a fantastic opening riff and a big chorus.  It’s followed by “Best of You” a wonderful single that’s a big song with a super-sized chorus.

“D.O.A.” has a unique guitar sound for the Foos.  Not heavy metal but more punk.  Then there’s the big chorus that kind of quotes Jim Morrison “No ones getting out of here alive.”  I had this chorus in my head for a couple of days last week.  “Hell” is only two minutes long but it feels like a much more complete song–big choruses and really fast verses elevate this from what could have been filler.

“The Last Song” has a very punk feel (especially the pounding snare drums in the opening and verse).  It’s followed by “Free Me” one of my favorite Foo Fighters deep cuts.  The riff is awesome and Grohl totally unleashes as the song progresses.  There is something about the way the song seems to get busier and louder as it ends that is really cool.

“Resolve” is a nice come down from the intensity of “Free Me.”  It’s not quite as mellow as the stuff on disc two, but it definitely slows things down.  And is still very catchy.

The final two songs don’t run out their welcome (it could be that this disc is only 40 minutes, not 55 like their more recent ones)–these songs don’t drag.  “The Deepest Blues Are Black” has a cool transition from loud bashing into really grooving chorus.  It’s quite a heavy song but it’s really melodic too.  And “End Over End” is another song that gets stuck in my head over and over again.  It’s not terribly original, but it rock and is catchy as well.  I find it to be a far more successful album ender (with it’s repeating outro) than “Come Back.”

I tend to forget about this disc because the news (and guests) of disc two tended to overshadow the solid songwriting of disc one.  But this is a great Foo Fighters disc, no question.

Tomorrow’s post: Disc Two

[READ: August 29, 2012] Goodbye, Chunky Rice

I’ve read a few books by Craig Thompson and enjoyed them quite a lot.  And this one, with the strange title and cute looking characters on the cover seemed like a sure fire hit.

As the story opens, we see a deer mouse riding her bike to visit her friend, a turtle.  The turtle hops on the back of the bike and off they go.  They have a great time at the beach (we even see a heart form over the turtle’s head as he watches her in the water).

And then we learn that the turtle is Chunky Rice and he is leaving.  He asks the mouse to come with him, but she says she cannot, and that they are to have no more tears while they are together.

The scene cuts to a human guy telling the Eurydice story to a bird (we hear “doot doot”).  The man has found the bird, who was injured, and has brought him back to his place.  He has named it Merle. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BELLE & SEBASTIAN-Write About Love (2010).

I’ve enjoyed Belle and Sebastian’s music since their debut album all those years ago.  For some reason I didn’t get into this album as much as previous releases.  In part it’s because the band has morphed quite a lot from what they used to do.  It’s true that I have really enjoyed their more rocking songs on their more recent albums, and this one is full of them.  It’s also true that a band needs to evolve, but somehow this album just never really gripped me.  I think it’s because the album takes so long to start.  The fade in is like 20 seconds!  But I’ve listened again with renewed interest recently and I’m changing my mind a bit about it.  There are plenty of great songs on this disc. 

“I Didn’t See It Coming” is a classic B&S song (after that awful delay).  It’s a wonderful duet with Sarah Martin (this is how to do a duet, guys–the ending is fantastic!).  “Come on Sister” is one of the great faster B&S songs.  The “gotta have a little FAITH” line is great and then the unexpected shift into the third part of the sing is just stunning.  I also love “Calculating Bimbo” first because who would every have thought there’d be a song with that title but also because Murdoch sings it so wonderfully.  I generally don’t like slow music, but there’s something about slow B&S song that I find myself leaning in instead of tuning out.

“I Want the World to Stop” is another wonderful “rocker.”  It’s a fast paced little ditty with great backing vocals (and it always makes me go “two, three, four” before the chorus kicks in–always the sign of a great song).

“Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John” slows things down really far.  Possibly too far for me. It’s a duet and it reminds me just a little too much of a Beautiful South duet (not a particular song, just their style).  And I have to say that The Beautiful South would have done it better.  After looking at the liner notes I realized that Norah Jones is the duettist here.  I like that Jones has been providing her services across a wide spectrum of music (Foo Fighters, OutKast etc) but I really just don’t have anything good to say about her.  The melody is nice though.  I also didn’t realize that the sing came out on Norah’s disc before the B&S disc.

The album quickly redeems itself with “Write About Love,” a great keyboard fueled rocker (with backing vocals from Carey Mulligan who I don’t know, but who nails the song “I haaate my job”).  “I’m Not Living in the Real World” has lots more keyboards and oooh vocals (it reminds me of a Who songs from Sell Out) and it’s sung by Stevie. 

From the there, the disc kind of slows down.  “The Ghost of Rockschool” is the least memorable song on the disc for me (although the horn section is nice).  “Read the Blessed Pages” is so quiet (even for B&S) that it kind of gets lost on the disc.  (The instrumental break is pretty though).  “I Can See Your Future” opens with a catchy horn blast that kind of wakes you from the slumber of the previous song.  “Sunday’s Pretty Icons” opens with a cool guitar riff, but it’s not all that memorable either.   While these last few songs are fine, they’re not as strong as the beginning of the album.  They kind of meld together. 

So I guess what I’m saying is that the first half of the disc is great and the second half is okay.  The  good songs are worth it though.  I’ll stop being so hard on the disc.

[READ: January 5, 2012] Machine Man

Don’t worry if you’re suffering from Barry blog overload, this post is about Barry’s new novel, which I just finished.

I have enjoyed Barry’s previous novels quite a lot.  They typically deal with corporate skewering and this book is no exception.  Except that the corporate skewering takes a back seat to the major sci-fi elements of the story.  Before I mention the story itself, I wanted to mention the origin of the story.  In the Acknowledgements at the end of the book, Barry explains that his fans had been nudging him to write something.  And while he had been doing projects, he hadn’t written a book in a while.  So he decided to write the book online.  He wrote a few hundred words a day and posted them online.  And then he sat back and waited for the comments to come in.

He talks about how he’s basically showing everyone his rough draft of a story and letting people tear it apart.  But he found that his fans were supportive and even offered ideas (which he then callously stole, muhahaha).  And so the story online is actually rather different from what appeared as the final draft.  (No, I’m not going to read the online version, but you can.  It’s available here).

Anyhow, as the story opens, Dr Charlie Neumann (I just got the bad pun of that name, shame on him and shame on me for not seeing it sooner) loses his phone.  He feels totally cut off without his phone.  The scene seems a little over the top (he checks his car while wearing only a towel) but it shows how technologically dependent he (and we) feel most of the time.  This kind of mild slapstick scene resolves itself in a shockingly brutal way.  When Dr Neumann gets to his office (he’s an engineer at Better Future) he finally sees where he left his phone.  Unfortunately, he has already started an industrial vice and he’s distracted by his phone long enough to have his leg crushed by said vice.

When he wakes up in the hospital, he is surrounded by people trying to help him–nurses, doctors, therapists, but he’s really just distraught about the loss of his leg.  And then he sees Lola Banks, who is bringing him a pile of artificial legs.  Lola is quite possibly the first woman who Charlie has ever spoken to who seems in any way empathetic to him (Charlie is, admittedly a pretty cold and cerebral individual). She shows him some prosthetics which he’s not too thrilled by.  But when Lola reveals that Better Future is paying for top of the line stuff for him, she shows him the highest end of the high end legs.  And Charlie falls in love (with Lola and the legs). 

Lola Banks proves to be an interesting person.  Not ony does she not recoil from Charlie and his handicap (it is her job), but she seems to almost admire Charlie for seeing the beauty in the prostheses.  Lola proves to be the kind of woman who falls for certain kinds of men, but with Charlie it’s different.  Really, it is.  Shut up, it is.

Although Charlie does see the beauty in the prostheses, he can’t help but see how they can be improved (he is an engineer after all).  And so, he sets out to make the artificial legs not just replacements but better than their human counterpart.  Better Future is on board with helping Charlie recover (which is quite nice, and somewhat unexpected coming from corporation hater Barry), but we see that Better Future knows what it has with Charlie–a single-minded, focused engineer. A man who only wants things to be more efficient.  So when Charlie starts outfitting the prosthetics with motors (and considers putting in wifi) the company is kind of impressed.  And so is Charlie.  The leg is heavy and a little unwieldy, and it’s not very pretty (it has hooves), but it sure works. 

The problem, as Charlie sees it, is that his intact leg is holding back his new invention.  How can he fully test the artificial legs if his human leg is less than the prosthetic? (more…)

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Gsimon
SOUNDTRACK
: PEEPING TOM-Peeping Tom (2006).

peepingPeeping Tom is one of the many side projects that Mike Patton (known mostly as the vocalist for Faith No More) has created in the last few years.

As Faith No More moved past “Epic” into their later releases, it became increasingly clear that Mike Patton was one wacky little monkey.  And as he moved into projects like Mr. Bungle and his solo releases, he really let his freak flag fly.

Peeping Tom has Patton collaborating with all kinds of people.  And it is a surprisingly accessible record (even though it is still pretty unusual).  The album has a sort of hip hop feel to it with loud pulsing drums on most of the tracks as well as collaborators like: Kool Keith, Amon Tobin, Doseone, Kid Koala, and uh, Norah Jones.

“Five Seconds” starts as a pretty straightforward song, but the chorus of him counting/shouting 1 second, 2 seconds… faster and faster, takes on a new meaning of sinister.  “Mojo” has fun with Britney Spears, although the fun is in lyrics only, as the song is a heavy blast of illicit substance references.  The third track “Don’t Even Trip” continues this carnival of dementia with the wonderful lyrics, “I know that assholes grow on trees, but I’m here to trim the leaves.”

The middle of the album is less manic, it slips into some really catchy trip hop moments with the guests taking some control of the songs.  Kool Keith raps on “Getaway” allowing Patton to take charge on the choruses, while “Caipirinha” sounds very smooth and jazzy, as any song with Bebel Gilberto should.  “Celebrity Death Match” has a very funny vibe to it, not unlike Kid Koala’s tracks. The final track “We’re Not Alone” says it’s a remix, although it’s not a remix of any tracks on the disc.  It returns to the heaviness of earlier in the album.  And near the end it sounds not unlike a Foo Fighters track (despite its slow-paced and falsettoed verses).

But probably the most fun/giddy song on the disc is “Sucker.”  In it, a whispering, sultry, derisive Norah Jones sings the line, “What made you think you were my only…lover?  Truth kinda hurts, don’t it mother…fucker?”

There are many many moments on this record that seem borderline commercial, yet the schizophrenic nature of Patton’s songwriting means that those moments are quickly replaced by something else.  Compared to say Fantomas, this is a very commercial disc, but fear not, Patton fans, there’s enough weirdness on here to keep you coming back.

Plus, the album packaging is really cool. You pull open the tab on the right side and the disc slides out on the left side. There’s a keyhole cutaway that reveals different layers as the package opens, too.  Very cool.

[READ: November 22, 2008] Free Range Chickens

I had forgotten my book for lunch time reading today, and I didn’t want to start anything big, so I was thrilled to see that we had gotten in Free Range Chickens (at my request, of course).  It was the perfect lunchtime book as I finished the whole thing in 40 minutes.  (This may be a warning not to buy it, unless you intend to re-read it). (more…)

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