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  1. #41
    Senior Member Hearing Voices bugen's Avatar
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    Thank you RJ. A different book, and definitely good - with the 2 stories so unique in tone I can see why some people liked the first story, Demons, better than the more psychological Undercurrent.

    I ended up finding a good deal on the CD lettered, and it's awesome! A little small, but with a great, fine grain, blood red leather. Love it!
    “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
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  2. #42
    Senior Member Hearing Voices bugen's Avatar
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    Summer Knight (Dresden Files book 4)Jim Butcher
    The noise was deafening, and no one could have heard me anyway as I let out my own battle cry, which I figured was worth a shot. What the hell.
    “I don’t believe in faeries!”


    Book 4 of the Dresden Files, this one follows our wizard as he tries to uncover the motives for a high profile magical murder, which in turn reveals a plot to pit the summer faeries against the winter faeries in a battle that would tear the world to pieces.

    This book begins, and stays for quite some time, in a world of political intrigue with very little action as the stage is set for the story. The writing was fine throughout the book, but it wasn’t until near the second half of the story that Mr. Butcher picks the pace back up to that for which we recognize him best. From this point on the tale proceeds at the normal, breakneck speed as the mystery gives way to action and pyrotechnics.

    Harry Dresden is a wreck from the events of the preceding novels. He’s always been an underdog. At least in his mind he’s always lost, and this has taken its toll as he wallows in misery–even more so than usual. He does, however, perk up when there’s a job to do, everyone’s lives are on the line, and he has no hope of winning once again. It’s kind of like The Rockford Files–he can’t win but he’s a good guy and good guys keep trying despite the constant beatings from adversaries.

    This time he’s actually paralyzed by politics of the magical world. It’s probably Mr. Butcher’s attempt to add more serious, complicated and plot-bending mystery elements into a story fairly early in his career, and it works but bogs down somewhat in the first half. It’s a positive direction the author is taking and surely is further polished and streamlined throughout the long-running series.

    Summer Knight is another good book that has plenty of the sly witticisms and ironic humor of the earlier works, but its attempt at a more complicated plot seem to slow it down slightly in the beginning.

    3 stars

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    Last edited by bugen; 08-09-2016 at 07:28 AM.
    “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
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  3. #43
    Senior Member Hearing Voices bugen's Avatar
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    Mass for Mixed VoicesCharles Beaumont
    “I just lie awake at night and thank God that I’m bald.”

    Making your way through this gigantic book brings with it a revelation. You are not reading a book, you’re staring directly into the imagination of one of our best speculative fiction writers, one of our best situational thinkers. As the book moves along you’ll slow down. The stories get better and better, but you’re reading the largest collection of the author. Finite–as in ‘soon to be finished,’ and it’s scary. The book would remain unfinished if not for the discovery of Subterranean’s A Touch of the Creature, a much smaller production with no double-ups.

    That’s how good this book is–so good that were it to be a complete collection of the author’s short stories you’d never finish it, because it would be almost like the end of the universe.

    Beaumont possesses a style that is everything at once, but contains no fat. His stories can meander slightly or cut straight to the matter. He can write of dirt or of rocketships, beauty or pain, race relations or the loss of a child as if it’s right in front of him. With his imagination, maybe it is. He is fully accredited in the realm of speculative fiction, having written a number of the original Twilight Zone episodes, and this is one of the best collections you can read of any author. There is only one other to whom he might be compared, and that’s the (incomparable) Richard Matheson. Lovers of short stories owe it to themselves to read everything either have written–they just cannot be beaten.

    Everyone has heard of “The Howling Man,” and that’s a terrific story. Some, including Mr. Ellison who introduces the story here, find it to be Beaumont’s best work. While certainly a possibility, there are plenty of other tales contained within shining at least as bright. “Appointment with Eddie,” “Last Rites,” “Fair Lady,” “Gentlemen Be Seated,” “Perchance to Dream,” and “The Neighbors” are stories in the vein of ‘as good as it gets,’ because they just can’t get any better–by anyone.

    Finishing the final story in Mr. Beaumont’s definitive collection deserved a high quality scotch accompaniment; pick it up if you get a chance. It’s pricey but a superb Centipede edition through and through.

    4 stars

    (my edition unsigned)
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    Last edited by bugen; 08-09-2016 at 07:29 AM.
    “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
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  4. #44
    Senior Member Hearing Voices bugen's Avatar
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    The Blade Itself (The First Law, book 1) – Joe Abercrombie
    “I’ve settled a few scores in my time, but it only led to more.”


    The fantasy world of blood and decay on display here, populated by the downtrodden and the corrupt, could possibly be called Anti-Fantasy. You don’t look to this world like you might many others in the genre, with faces raised to the sun and to bask in the glory of battlefield honor, of beautiful elven folk, fairies and wondrous sprites sparkling glitter everywhere. You look to this world for injury and dirt, grim determination, fatalistic pessimism and no small portion of truth. In this type of fantasy our worst is written on every page, and our best gets only the slimmest chance to survive.

    A master fighter of old, a crippled interrogator from the Inquisition, a haughty young noble learning to fence, a mysteriously fierce young foreigner and The First of the Magi are centered at the core of this tale as their paths weave together and eventually collide. Violence takes center stage, though the book is not a constant fight. But when characters aren’t fighting they’re talking about violence, reeling from the impact of it or scheming to perpetrate or (sometimes) avoid it. Mr. Abercrombie’s twitter name is LordGrimdark, and it’s perfectly fitting. There’s no summery warmth in the story.

    What it lacks in natural warmth it makes up for in friction. Trust is a rarity. The initial companions of our main character, ‘The Bloody-Nine,’ or Logan, are pretty much the only characters capable of trust and unity, and this group would probably be considered the bad guys in any other fantasy tale. The camaraderie we’re used to in fantasy as a band works together to accomplish a task isn’t present here. There are small groups of companions, but most of the time they’re at each others’ throats and only working together out of necessity or in order to open up opportunities for future back-stabbing.

    This is a long book and has very little of the feel good elements of fantasy. It is, however, an excellent read and full of promise for the sequels in a very interesting storyline. You don’t read this and see your characters live happily ever after; you follow them to their fates.

    4 Stars

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    Last edited by bugen; 08-09-2016 at 07:30 AM.
    “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
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  5. #45
    Senior Member Hearing Voices bugen's Avatar
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    Just finished I'm Not Sam thanks to the earlier review from RJ. What a frighteningly disturbing read! Thank you RJ for reviewing it; I might never have read it otherwise.
    Last edited by bugen; 07-26-2014 at 09:46 PM.
    “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
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  6. #46
    Senior Member Lobotomized Martin's Avatar
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    Great read!
    Quote Originally Posted by bugen View Post
    Just finished I'm Not Sam thanks to the earlier review from RJ. What a frighteningly disturbing read! Thank you RJ for reviewing it; I might never have read it otherwise.

  7. #47
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    http://newsok.com/book-review-shatte...rticle/5071788

    Another review. It was a tough one as I didn't really enjoy the book all that much (mainly because of the flow - the jumping around between characters, the tedious approach), so this one took some work to highlight the major ideas. I also don't like reviews that contain spoilers so it's more of a general synopsis. And it doesn't look like much here; the paper and online versions always look better than plain old text.



    “Shattered (Iron Druid Chronicles)” by Kevin Hearne (Del Rey, 352 pages, in stores)

    As a Druid who has lived for more than 2,000 years, Atticus O’Sullivan has seen no small amount of trouble in his life. That’s not surprising, given that his circle of friends and enemies includes werewolves, vampires, elves, Fae (fairies) and even the ancient gods and goddesses themselves.

    “Shattered,” the newest installment of The Iron Druid Chronicles (seven books and a novella), opens with Atticus helping his former teacher and mentor adjust to the modern world. Eoghan O’Cinneide (Owen Kennedy) had been held in stasis for two millennia on a Time Island and was recently released by Atticus. Finding himself two-thousand years ahead of his time requires a fair bit of adjustment, to say the least, and many of the results straddle a line between humorous and precarious.

    There are only three Druids left in the world: Atticus, Owen and Granuaile, former apprentice of Atticus who is now bound to the earth and a full Druid.

    Trouble is brewing once again, and Atticus and Granuaile each have their issues to deal with. Atticus is beset by assassins on an almost regular basis. Somebody has it in for him, but who? He and Owen work on trying to determine who keeps sending the killers.

    Meanwhile, Granuaile heads to India at the urging of Laksha, an Indian witch. Granuaile’s real father, an archaeologist, has found and opened a strange clay vessel and is now possessed by a demon intent on spreading pestilence. Laksha believes they can overcome the demon if they can get the help of the goddess Durga.

    Atticus discovers a consortium of sorts amongst some of the deities. They are willing to offer advice and assistance when they can — and as long as it serves their interests, too. Atticus is told that a familiar foe is the instigator of his recent troubles, and Owen’s inquiries lead him to suspect that someone in the Fae Court may be involved, as well.

    Inevitably, lines are drawn, threats are made, and battle is met. Resolutions are rarely perfect, however, and a success today could very well become a stumbling block tomorrow. Kevin Hearne has given us another skillfully crafted story layered in magic and action and blanketed in webs of deceit. A last-moment surprise will have fans of the series clamoring for more.
    Last edited by marduk; 07-27-2014 at 11:41 AM.

  8. #48
    Senior Member Hearing Voices bugen's Avatar
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    Thanks for the review, Marduk! It's a fine line you're walking when reviewing a book that didn't quite resonate with you but yet highlighting some of the positives for others. Well done.
    “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
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  9. #49
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    Thanks! It was also a challenge because they don't really like "first-person takes", which is generally what I tend to do. Next I'll be trying my hand at a non-fiction book.

  10. #50
    Senior Member Hearing Voices bugen's Avatar
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    The Angel’s GameCarlos Ruiz Zafon
    “Every book has a soul, the soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and dream about it.”


    A young writer who was introduced to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books through our favorite booksellers, ‘Sempere & Sons,’ is tasked to write a specific, dangerous book by a mysterious benefactor and finds himself entangled in a web of love and betrayal, mystery and murder as he attempts to understand what’s happening around him.

    The Angel’s Game has everything, including a high degree of complexity. While plot intricacies threaten to harm the story toward the end the author deftly brings things into focus so it’s teetering like a car on two wheels while taking a corner too fast, but ends up right back on all fours rocketing ahead of where it would have been if driven more safely. A strong supernatural element is present, and while there’s no James Bond here our protagonist is run ragged all over Barcelona, creating a slight action element as well.

    The characters of David and the elder Sempere are so fully developed there might be something missing in your soul once the story is complete. It’s a rare storyteller who can enhance our lives with his characters over the course of a book and make us acutely feel their loss when the book is finished. We never want a good book to end, but the best of them leave a wound-like hole behind when completed–like this book does.

    At over 500 pages it’s a long, rich read, and the quality of the physical book from Subterranean Press matches that of the story. Some are going to feel this standalone prequel eclipses even the author’s beloved The Shadow of the Wind.

    An absolute masterpiece combining literary fiction, historical fiction, romance, mystery and horror, this book comes with the highest recommendation.
    5 stars

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    Last edited by bugen; 08-09-2016 at 07:31 AM.
    “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
    -John Barth

    https://bugensbooks.com/

  11. #51
    Senior Member Hearing Voices bugen's Avatar
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    Where the Summer EndsKarl Edward Wagner
    “I was your friend, Curtiss.”
    “Writer’s don’t’ have friends. Only deadlines.”



    This is an excellent, dark collection that comes at you from an unsuspected angle, often due to a sense of gravitas permeating the stories. A black and white picture early in the book reveals about 9,000 truths of the writer in a beautiful and tragic way. In this picture you can’t help but notice a deep intelligence, tempered by the accumulated pain of a life felt perhaps too deeply. Awe, pity, and the highest respect to the man shown here, and high marks to the photographer.

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    Containing some of his most famous stories including “Sticks,” a Lovecraftian slow-brewed horror story, “The River of Nights Dreaming” about a female prison escapee who finds herself a prisoner again in a house with 2 other ladies, “.220 Swift” and “Where the Summer Ends,” there were two other standout tales stealing center stage in this volume 1 collection: “The Fourth Seal” provides a scathing and unapologetic look at our medical profession, and “Neither Brute Nor Human” lifts the curtain for us to see part of the private lives of authors struggling to succeed and has this author’s own struggles written all over it.

    There is a sadness present, and this might be one of those volumes that is best read in spurts, here and there. It’s not happy horror, but the weight of the author’s voice over the course of these tales really shouldn’t be missed. Reading this will temper thoughts on the art of writing, and this slight shifting of view will always be with you.

    4 stars

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    Last edited by bugen; 08-09-2016 at 07:31 AM.
    “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
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  12. #52
    Senior Member Hearing Voices bugen's Avatar
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    North American Lake MonstersNathan Ballingrud
    "Mankind had acquired an appetite for dying; doctors were merely shephards to the process."


    Consisting of 9 short stories, North American Lake Monsters won the 2013 Shirley Jackson award for best collection in May 2014. Particularly notable is the fact it beat Michael Marshall Smith's Everything You Need for the award, a collection not to be underestimated.

    All stories within are solidly written in easy, accessible language and each page flows effortlessly into the next. There seems to be an accelerating trend over the last few years of not ending the tale, ostensibly giving the reader opportunity to view the story as a ‘slice of life’ of the characters. The technique works here, but it’s not something everyone looks for in short stories. It’s kind of like channel surfing. You can switch to a channel and view a few moments of a story, either well or poorly done, and by the time you see a commercial switch to another channel for another slice of a story. If well done you did just enjoy the few minutes you saw but moved on too quickly to for any deeper meaning. Not all the stories in North American Lake Monsters behaved this way, but enough of them do to give this impression.

    Despite a little trouble with the non-endings, the high quality of personable writing moves the reader through the book very quickly. Even with no intention of doing so the slick style of writing may compel you to finish this book in a single sitting.

    Clocking in at about 200 pages, it’s a quick, award winning read.

    3 stars

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    Last edited by bugen; 08-09-2016 at 07:32 AM.
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  13. #53
    Senior Member 1st Electroshock Session
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    Quote Originally Posted by bugen View Post
    Just finished I'm Not Sam thanks to the earlier review from RJ. What a frighteningly disturbing read! Thank you RJ for reviewing it; I might never have read it otherwise.
    Glad my review got you to check the book out and that you enjoyed it! Frighteningly disturbing is right!
    WARNING!!! WARNING!!! DO NOT VIEW THIS SPOILER! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!
    Spoiler!

  14. #54
    Senior Member Hearing Voices bugen's Avatar
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    Horns - Joe Hill
    “Maybe all the schemes of the devil were nothing compared to what men could think up.”

    On the anniversary of his girlfriend’s sadistic murder, a young man finds himself growing horns which cause those around him to speak more candidly and act much closer to their base instincts than allowed in civilized society. As events accelerate our protagonist must come to terms with his own developing nature.

    The author’s second novel is so full of promise you may be disappointed with the way the final events play out. Not that there was any kind of a bad ending, just that you may find yourself hoping for something it’s not. Horns is a small tale involving a small group of characters, whereas based on the premise you might hope for epic tale involving all the devilry in the world. Philosophical questions are presented occasionally, but this could have been the very heart and soul of the story. Religion is such a massive part of our everyday lives, whether we believe or we don’t, this area remained relatively untapped considering the theme. Our devil character is not grappling with phenomenal cosmic powers with the potential to crack the Earth. He is wallowing in misery and doubt, following the breadcrumbs of his girlfriend’s murder that everyone thinks he committed. Still, everything works in this story and conflict abounds.

    Mr. Hill is an excellent writer and is fully capable of employing brilliance (see 20th Century Ghosts). He has not yet peaked, and that can only be a good thing.

    Horns is a well written, highly enjoyable read with a pace that careens the story to its climax. Smaller in scale than you want? Sure. But The Devil’s work begins slowly.

    3 stars

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    Last edited by bugen; 08-09-2016 at 07:33 AM.
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  15. #55
    Senior Member Lobotomized Martin's Avatar
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    Totally understand your point. The story did not meet your expectations.
    Quote Originally Posted by bugen View Post
    Horns - Joe Hill

    “Maybe all the schemes of the devil were nothing compared to what men could think up.”

    This is a difficult review as there may be only one person on the planet who will fully agree despite having never read the book (Hi, Ma).

    On the anniversary of his girlfriend’s sadistic murder, a young man finds himself growing horns which cause those around him to speak more candidly and act much closer to their base instincts than allowed in a generally civilized society. As events accelerate our protagonist must come to terms with his own, developing nature.

    This second novel is so full of promise I was disappointed by the way the final events played out. Not that there was any kind of a bad ending, in fact I liked it, but I wanted this book to be something that in the end, it was not. It’s a small tale, involving a small group of characters, whereas based on the premise I had hoped for epic tale involving all the devilry in the world. Philosophical questions were presented occasionally, but this could have been the very heart and soul of the story. Religion is such a massive part of our everyday lives, whether we believe or we don’t, and I felt this area relatively untapped here considering the theme. Our devil character is not grappling with phenomenal cosmic powers with the potential to crack the Earth, he is wallowing in misery and doubt, following the breadcrumbs of his girlfriend’s murder that everyone thinks he committed. Still, everything works in this story and conflict abounds.

    Mr. Hill is an excellent writer, and is fully capable of employing brilliance (see 20th Century Ghosts). He has not yet peaked, and that can only be a good thing.

    A well written, highly enjoyable read with a pace that careens the story to its climax. Smaller in scale than I wanted? Sure. But the Devil takes over slowly…

    3 stars

  16. #56
    Senior Member Hearing Voices bugen's Avatar
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    No, it didn't quite meet my expecations, though I still liked it a good deal and would recommend it. I just can't gush over it like some other books. Admittedly, my hopes may have been a little unrealistic, based upon a killer theme and an author who is gaining serious momentum.

    It was tough and I almost didn't write it because Mr. Hill is becoming a much beloved author and I don't want to be critical of our heroes. But I told myself I'd try this for 6 months and need to be honest if it's going to work, even with successful books from the heavyweights.
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  17. #57
    Senior Member 1st Electroshock Session Sock Monkey's Avatar
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    Bugen, you are not alone in your mixed feelings about Horns. I recently read this myself and while Hill's prose was top notch (some of the descriptions are just beautiful ), I found myself completely disconnected from present-day Ig's character. I felt for the character in the various flashbacks but once the story started following him in the present again, I just couldn't find that connection, at least not in the way that I could with Terry and the other characters. To me, there just seemed to be a coldness in personality that made sense in the context of the story, but also kept me at arm's length.
    Last edited by Sock Monkey; 08-07-2014 at 03:50 PM.

  18. #58
    Senior Member Lobotomized Martin's Avatar
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    I always look at reviews as simply someones opinion. The only time I take issue with a critical review is when the writer bashes the author for reasons beyond their opinion of the story. With the said I do not think your review was critical at all. I take it as 'you liked the story but had higher expectations'.
    Quote Originally Posted by bugen View Post
    No, it didn't quite meet my expecations, though I still liked it a good deal and would recommend it. I just can't gush over it like some other books. Admittedly, my hopes may have been a little unrealistic, based upon a killer theme and an author who is gaining serious momentum.

    It was tough and I almost didn't write it because Mr. Hill is becoming a much beloved author and I don't want to be critical of our heroes. But I told myself I'd try this for 6 months and need to be honest if it's going to work, even with successful books from the heavyweights.

  19. #59
    Senior Member Hearing Voices bugen's Avatar
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    Martin I think I used the wrong word with critical; the book was certainly a positive experience and I'm glad you read my comments that way. I know there are huge Joe Hill fans here and I didn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable by the review that was 'merely' good, so it felt just a little harder to write than some others.

    Sock Monkey I combined the present and past Ig into one character when thinking about the story as a whole, but now that you mention it that's an excellent point. I also felt drawn to the past Ig, and it was the present Ig/devil character that was harder to reach.

    Thank you guys for your comments, they are very much appreciated!
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  20. #60
    Senior Member Lobotomized Martin's Avatar
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    I count myself among the big Joe Hill fans. I felt your review was a fair representation of your opinion on the story.
    Quote Originally Posted by bugen View Post
    Martin I think I used the wrong word with critical; the book was certainly a positive experience and I'm glad you read my comments that way. I know there are huge Joe Hill fans here and I didn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable by the review that was 'merely' good, so it felt just a little harder to write than some others.

    Sock Monkey I combined the present and past Ig into one character when thinking about the story as a whole, but now that you mention it that's an excellent point. I also felt drawn to the past Ig, and it was the present Ig/devil character that was harder to reach.

    Thank you guys for your comments, they are very much appreciated!

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