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Book of the Month

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Book of the Month
Cafe_Chat on Jul 27, 2017 23:34:40


Posts » 23


Currently reading The Count of Monte Cristo right now. The- Introduction and Notes by Luc Sante, and Consulting Editorial Director, George Stade edition. At the moment I'm on chapter LIV, titled The Trial. When I'm finished I would like to finalize my thoughts on this version.

I love this version for its notes and overview so far. Recommend it if any readers out there want to pick up a copy of Monte Cristo for the first time. When I started the book in the middle of the month I was addicted. What about you? Have you read it yet? What did you think about it or are you considering picking it up?

This is a place to share what you're reading or recently have finished reading. You can comment your thoughts and reviews here.

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Re: Book of the Month
Nona on Jul 28, 2017 06:47:00


Posts » 916


The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite book of all time. I read it about three years ago, and I'm still obsessed. I read a different version the first time, though, so I'll have to try the version you have when I go to re-read it.

I've found that most books from the same era bore me, or I simply can't get through them; but The Count of Monte Cristo had me reading late into the night.

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"Peace is our gift to each other" - Elie Wiesel
"Wait and Hope" - Alexander Dumas
"The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself" - Thales
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Re: Book of the Month
Libby_VanHelsing on Jul 29, 2017 08:17:28


Posts » 223


???Wait, versions? Isn't there just one book?
I haven't read the book but I have seen the movie and even though I know the ending is totally different than the book, it still made me interested in reading the story.

I'm currently reading the tenth anniversary edition of Vampire Academy. Bonus stories! I just finished the spinoff series Bloodlines. It was good but not as good as the VA series.

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The Roman Empire always Reigns in my world. Romitri is life.


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Re: Book of the Month
Cafe_Chat on Aug 08, 2017 12:03:07


Posts » 23


Hi, Nona. I know how you feel, this is my second version of the book and both have been beautifully expansive and immersive. This book will never get old and the Count, himself, will always drift enigmatically through the pages.

Greetings, Libby_VanHelsing. Most of these classics have different versions because their original print is in another language. That means that they might differ in translation. There are also abridged and unabridged versions. In abridged editions, they shorten the length of the book, while trying not to lose the main structure of the original plot. Sometimes it's difficult to translate things, like phrasing, from an exclusive language that might not make sense in English. Different versions try and come close to the original while changing certain things to better explain the plot. It also makes for twisting original text and eliminate what might be considered repetition. Unabridged editions are complete versions of the book. With the most comprehensive translation to the original if in another language.

The one I just read was 618 pages, not counting the notes and endnotes. I read a 900-page version before but in both, the main plot is still the same!

Which Monte Cristo movie did you see? I saw three of them but I only liked two. The one made in 1934 and the one from 2002.

I'll need to read Vampire Academy, Libby! I love vampire themed books a lot.

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Re: Book of the Month
Cafe_Chat on Aug 09, 2017 08:52:28


Posts » 23


Warning, there are spoilers ahead!

The Count of Monte Cristo, Introduction and Notes by Luc Sante, and Consulting Editorial Director, George Stade edition. Final thoughts, notes, and ramble.

This edition is lovely and refreshing. It has removed several pieces of repetition from an earlier version I had read. Although, in this edition, two chapters were removed that described more of the Count of Monte Cristo's characteristics. That I, personally, felt were important. In this publication, the Count is viewed as a phantom of revenge. Despite his calm and collected nature. He displays a small fraction of bitterness and coldness toward his rivals, behind the scenes and with minimal care. While remaining neutral in the presence of other characters.

In the other edition I have read, the Count was expressed in a way where readers could identify with him and his situation. He was at times conflicted with his plot of revenge, his morals, and reflects on the innocent nature of his former self, Edmond Dantès. These missing chapters were packed with emotion and gave more substance to the character. While I liked the poetic and almost extrasensory nature of the Count in this book. As it focuses more on his enemies and their emotional distress. The Count, orchestrating their torment as a friendly gentleman who happens to marvel as he goes. I also liked the idea of the Count, shutting himself in his study, mulling over his motives. Recalling the young man he used to be and the young man his late, beloved father had always seen him as. That version would make a wonderful marriage with this George Stade edition.

It's not to say that the George Stade edition was void of emotional consequence. Most of my favorite chapters involved beautiful translations of it. Wave after wave. Haydee, conveying her tragic life choked me up still. Valentine and her poisoner had significant weight. My favorite chapter was Chapter XIX, The Treasure Cave. Dantès is alone on the island of Monte Cristo, he thinks back on his escape and journey. His close associates had betrayed him, he had denounced God as his only friend and yet, on the sandy loam, with the stars twinkling in the sky. The island glowed like a divine message. It was breathtaking to read. With every step Dantès took, the island came alive for him. The fluorescent creatures scattered in his path, casting a faint light on the dew accumulating the ground and foliage. The nocturnal life around him amazed him and he grew more confident that the majestic island was a miracle. His transition lasted until dawn, and the Count emerged. Heart pounding read!

This edition also lacks the development of the romantic relationship the Count has with Haydee. Taking her in as a daughter, though she loves him outspokenly. Toward the closing, he gives himself the opportunity to love again. Declaring his chance at a romantic life with her. It's spontaneous and concluding over a few pages but manages to work with the amount of reaction and sentiment. Slightly climactic and dramatic. The apologetic Count relays to her how she was his only beacon in his duty of loneliness. Despite there being small pieces of conversation between the two characters throughout the book. Whatever time they did secure for themselves, they were treated with closeness and tenderness. It tied together in the end.

I greatly recommend this edition of The Count of Monte Cristo. It holds up for being abridged and in comparison to other versions.

The notes by Luc Sante offer a lot, for the times and style this classic title took place in. The historical precision and political conditions.

Here's an example.

Chapter V, The Deputy Procureur Du Roi.
under the usurper's reign, old officers who had deserted their posts to join Conde's army,


The note.

The Prince of Conde led an unsuccessful royalist uprising against Napoléon.


On a note of my own. The cover design of this specific book is by Dulton & Sherman and the cover art, Portrait of Belvèze-Foulon, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.

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Re: Book of the Month
Cafe_Chat on Aug 09, 2017 09:28:43


Posts » 23


Book(s) of September


I'm going to be busy for the rest of August but I did pick up Schindler's List again, for a random read. It's been a long time. Not sure if I'm going to do a review but we'll see.

My September picks are Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Unabridged from Collector's Library, that established in September. Only fitting!

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Re: Book of the Month
Libby_VanHelsing on Aug 21, 2017 16:42:32


Posts » 223


Yeah I saw the one from 2003 with a young Henry Cavill. They did great casting him with Jim Caviezel.

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The Roman Empire always Reigns in my world. Romitri is life.


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Re: Book of the Month
Charlotte on Aug 21, 2017 23:38:18


Posts » 87


I got this book for free a while ago and finally read it!
It's called Diving Makes the Water Deep and it is really good. <3
It's written by a poet who visited my undergrad about his life dealing with terminal cancer and it was so touching. <3
The cover art is cool too, has a little bird man on it.

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Re: Book of the Month
Libby_VanHelsing on Aug 24, 2017 14:23:22


Posts » 223


Two book series I've recently enjoyed is the Vampire Academy series and a independent series called Seeds: It's a spin on the myth of Persephone and Hades.

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The Roman Empire always Reigns in my world. Romitri is life.


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Re: Book of the Month
Cafe_Chat on Sep 08, 2017 13:48:23


Posts » 23


@ Libby_VanHelsing: Yes! It was so good and I hardly recognized Henry Cavill, they did make a great casting pair. I'm actually looking into the Vampire Academy series right now. I don't read romance that much but if I do start it would definitely be of the supernatural/paranormal realm. Guilty pleasure!

Is Seeds a volume series by M.M. Kin? I looove Greek mythology.

@ Charlotte: Hi, Charlotte! I looked it up just now and it does sound fascinating. Raw material in that kind of genre is always a beautiful experience. Thank you for sharing, I'm absolutely going to give it a read! Zach Savich sounds like such an impressive author, too. Nice to read that he teaches in the BFA Program for Creative Writing. Poetry is a wonderfully vast form of literature, I've so much respect for. That cover art is incredible! <3

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Re: Book of the Month
Libby_VanHelsing on Sep 10, 2017 02:02:27


Posts » 223


Yes! It is. I really enjoyed the series. Vampire Academy isn't just a romance series, there's also girl power and the friendship between Lissa and Rose. I just tend to focus on the romance between Rose and Dimitri. I really enjoyed the series because it wasn't like the vampire series that are out there. Mead did a lot research for it. There's also a Bloodlines series which is a spinoff but I don't think it is as good.

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The Roman Empire always Reigns in my world. Romitri is life.


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Re: Book of the Month
Cafe_Chat on Dec 12, 2017 04:13:10


Posts » 23


@ Libby_VanHelsing: I actually just ordered these and can't wait to dig in, urban fantasy and girl power are truly my thing. <3

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Re: Book of the Month
Cafe_Chat on Dec 12, 2017 04:30:49


Posts » 23


Quick rundown on my September picks!


I have always found Wuthering Heights to be an interesting novel. Emily Bronte's only novel, written between October 1845 and June 1846.

Wuthering Heights was published in 1847 under the pseudonym "Ellis Bell"; Brontë died the following year, aged 30.


Publisher: Thomas Newby
Note: Before the success of her sister Charlotte's novel, Jane Eyre.

Contemporary reviews for the novel were deeply polarized; it was considered controversial because its depiction of mental and physical cruelty was unusually stark, and it challenged strict Victorian ideals of the day regarding religious hypocrisy, morality, social classes and gender inequality.


Personally, I have always been captivated by this story’s complex and bitter-sweet portrayal of emotion. In intrinsic to the theme, despondency most primarily. The striking beauty of pessimistic motifs, colliding with adoration and raw sensibility. Various expressive passions that I greatly appreciated in Emily Bronte, on this work. There aren’t really any heroes or heroines but flawed characters that have sincerity to their assessments and ethics. Regardless of their distinctive objections.

An example would be that of Heathcliff, an archetype of the tortured, wistful romantic. Heathcliff is presented in a way to attract sympathy. Described as a "dark-skinned gypsy in aspect” and mistreated for his nomadic origin. His upbringing was one of resentment, and he was seen as an interloper under the roof of his new home. Later he is a servant boy who works the fields, which creates Heathcliff's lifelong anger and bitterness. His entire childhood was unfortunate, and one cannot dismiss his need for retaliation so easily. He becomes the hero and villain, both are intertwined as necessary and misguided. When Heathcliff liberates himself from the wrong against him, he unavoidably destroys both himself and those around him in the process.

I love Emily Bronte’s seemingly underlying approach to the elaborate form of human nature. That those molded into a malicious individual still have the right to dispute their injustices. The discussion chooses Heathcliff to pivot his life of punishment at the hands of others and openly express his inability to forgive. As a reader I found myself captivated by the idea that not every fictional character plagued by conflict can find a moral happiness that resolves everything in the end. In the end Heathcliff wasn’t any less of a bitter person but he was the most human and he understood hurt far beyond any of the other characters. While other characters absolved themselves in disingenuous tones and were often used to guilt characters, like Heathcliff, into fault and disappointment. So, Heathcliff’s unpleasantness grew, staying true to both his nature and legitimate sentiment.

Catherine Earnshaw herself seemed unsure of who she was and what she wanted out of life. She was spoiled, and hated situations where she couldn’t get her way. Although, carrying a similar theme of authentic natures, this sometimes made her appear bold. Someone who was wild, lived for the moment and never bothered wasting her time on things that distraught others. Believing that they were too caught up on events, rather than living them out to value the moment as it was. She was also a woman ahead of her time, and the story does well to immerse the reader into considering these times and integrity. Catherine’s choices are her freedom to do so but how they affect others compromises her character too. Another beautifully layered affirmation of emotional complexity. Emily Bronte makes you feel like you’re reading a story of actual people who aren’t so staged to carry a plot from beginning to end. Eventually, Catherine Earnshaw’s flaw was surrendering to culture and status, rather than becoming her own person. Therefore, this challenged her identity and had fateful consequences for other characters around her. As a reader, one can come to understand in what ways influences bring about change. Most importantly, self-identification in the process of experience.

The novel ends in the year of 1803, where the next generation has finally put an end to the cycle of revenge and loathing from the parties involved.

This part of the novel introduces self-thought as a distinctive characteristic. New characters break away from traditional teachings and upbringing to redeem their names as idiosyncratic personalities. When the plot destroys the idea of the conventional interpretation of love, with the element of humanized flaw. It also regains the idea of hope without dishonoring previous characters and their settled natures. Characters like Heathcliff don’t have a change of heart for plot requirement or a livelier conclusion. They are left unchanged as they were. This also challenges the idea that cultural distortion can lead to a corrupted disposition, and contrast with personal cogitation.

I think Emily Bronte had significant attention to detail. The moorland farmhouse, Wuthering Heights. Was as comfortable and as frightfully striking as its inhabitants. Reading this in Autumn was such a pleasant feeling. With the Moorland, an endless field of colorful flowers and refreshing winds in the Spring. During Winter, a wonderland of ice and a landscape as pure as the chill. The long trek to the Heights manor was welcoming to the warmth of fire and the smell of spices, and brew in the kitchen. Despite the cold and uninviting residency. Mr. Lockwood plots himself down for a rest in front of the old hearth and the illuminating glow is solely the only means of kindness from within. There is a sudden flood of engrossment, where one’s shelter from the elements is a primary need. Moments, such as this, can pull the reader in for quite the ride.


Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights stands the test of time and I recommend a read of this novel during Autumn or Winter for the “cozy effect”.

There is so much more I can say about this book but that will no doubt leave this an incoherent mess of overwhelming emotions. If you’re interested in the genre of Tragedy and the exploration of cognition in fictional characters or purely the journey of tragic romance. Give this one a try!

Another venture to take in this novel is how “women's fantasy" was criticized in the era of its publication. Bronte did not shy away from certain character’s physical acts of cruelty and abuse. Substantially toward women and the mistreatment of people of color. For many years these themes were called unrealistic and a plot mechanism for women’s views on disagreeable romances. Today some continue to disregard the cultural and social times of the content and the inability to assimilate Emily Bronte's antipathy for what was considered acceptable in her time. Labeling relevant awareness as leitmotifs in women’s literature. In early reviews, critics were baffled and confused by her characters having savagery and selfish tendencies, as well as articulating women’s struggles. Some called it “evil” and “blasphemous” for a woman of morals to write about these things so openly.

And-


Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. Complete and Unabridged from the Collector’s Library.

A little information about this book:

In September 2003, The Collector's Library series was published. By October 2005, fully fifty-nine volumes had been printed. Each unabridged volume is book size octodecimo, or 4 x 6-1/2 inches, printed in hardback, on high-quality paper, bound in real cloth, and contains a dust jacket. The edge of the pages is gilded in a gold leaf.

Cover illustration by Sir John Gilbert, hand colored by Barbara Frith.
Introduction by Robert Mighall.

What I truly like about Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, is the circumstances and conditions of dreadful things happening to good people. Hamlet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare, set in Denmark. The play dramatizes the revenge Prince Hamlet is to wreak upon his uncle, Claudius, by the ghost of Hamlet's father, King Hamlet. Claudius had murdered his own brother and seized the throne, also marrying his deceased brother's widow.

Here we have the speculation of validity, morality and consequences of action in the face of inequity, corruption. Hamlet himself, acting largely in self-conflict over justice, love and his namesake. Prince Hamlet is often disregarded as brash and irrational by a few other characters. This is ironic considering he fabricates madness for justification, while in mourning and is therefore besmirched and is approximated as amoral. While others murder, commit adultery, spy and gossip under misinformation and false pretense.

To further address Hamlet’s integrity, when he thinks about suicide, his divergence is that of right and wrong. His newly and sudden dislike of “womankind” comes from his mother’s shameless act of marriage. After the sudden death of his father and to have shared her bed in such a haste. He has authentic moments of depression due to his plot in circumstance, leading to extreme misanthropy. His father’s ghost haunts him to avenge him of a “murder most foul”. The taking of another life.

At times, Hamlet’s despair looks like insanity to others. A theme within the tragedy is the failure to recognize and feel sympathy. As Hamlet himself was the only to truly mourn the good and generous King Hamlet.

What I like most is how human of a character Hamlet is. He weighs the heavy consequences of his actions and even as he is being wronged, he struggles with rectitude. He meditates and prolongs the death of Claudius, in the doubt of his willingness to kill. A misconception Ophelia has, later guilts Hamlet into that of her heartbreak and when she dies by her own doing, he is heavy with grief.

Ophelia herself is a tragic character. Neglecting Hamlet’s suffering for that of her naivety in romance. When Ophelia, in turn, begins to lose what Hamlet has lost, she cannot seem to handle it well. Although, Hamlet taunts her with her femininity. In that to him women are weak and self-absorbed. I couldn’t help but feel bad for both of them. Hamlet’s distrust of women freshly came from his views of his mother and Ophelia’s lack of understanding of his torment. Only of herself and of the need to possess the Prince. Ophelia, didn’t quite understand this adversity as she had never had to confront it in these lengths before. Her lack of experience was made out to be a weakness. Hamlet also neglects to inform her of his plans and this only leaves her clueless and feeling distrusted.

Her death always leaves me with a welling up of tears, in awe. She didn’t deserve it and like others in the tragedy, it didn’t matter if they did or not. It came all the same.

Gertrude's announcement of Ophelia's death has been praised as one of the most poetic death announcements in literature.


There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them:
There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.


Some readers theorize that the meaning of this scene illustrates the hopelessness of suicidal people, unwilling to be saved. The release of Ophelia’s torment is peaceful in nature and reads as though Gertrude had seen the act without the effort in saving her. Believing that Gertrude thought it more merciful for her suffering to end.

Others believe that it was Gertrude's attempt to help Laertes accept his sister's death by making it sound as peaceful and painless as possible.

What do you think?


I believe that Gertrude let her die to spare her dignity and give her peace. When the dispute came that Ophelia was a suicide and thusly disgraced by God, she stood forward and threw flowers into the grave. “Sweets to the sweet” she says. Adding that she wished Ophelia could have been Hamlet's wife, having no ill thought about her passing.

I would have to say that Horatio is my favorite character in the end. Horatio was present through all the unfortunate and dark sorrows of almost every character. He kept secrets, not because he was appointed to but because he knew the circumstances involved others around him so deeply. This made him wholeheartedly trustworthy. He was considerate of not basing opinions on the inaccuracy and confusion of others, which would only worsen these conditions. Horatio would remark on the grim happenings of others, showing a great concern for them. His loyalty and friendship to Hamlet is immeasurably satisfying, and the only voice of reason or reassurance toward him. As a reader, I found my need for Hamlet’s revenge become expressive through Horatio.

One of the reasons why I like Hamlet so much. Is because of the realistic exposition of how doing what’s righteous can become anything but, hinging on good intent. That even in rationalizing right and wrong the ultimate blunder is in what else is destroyed in that achievement. Outside parties, that for whatever reason, get caught in the crossfire and responsibility to them lessens in the reach of a profound goal.

Hamlet also touches on the emotional and psychological distress of characters. Shakespeare seems to have somewhat of an understanding of several mental affiliations. Such as a brief portrayal of neuroticism and depressive moods. I enjoy that these disorders and moods aren’t entirely negative, since a character is regarded with forbearance and not punishment.

Hamlet’s soliloquy: “To be or not to be” is a significant contemplation of suicide. Through the poetic nature of it it is presented as an insight. Nothing cliche about wanting to live or wanting to die here. Hamlet is very conflicted and mentally on the edge of various unfortunate things in his life.

His most notable flaw is the human condition in crisis.

HORATIO
Now a noble heart is breaking. Good night, sweet prince. May hosts of angels sing you to sleep.


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Re: Book of the Month
Cafe_Chat on Dec 12, 2017 05:10:32


Posts » 23


Book of December


I am currently reading Stephen King’s It, as a friend convinced me to give it a chance. I’m not much of a King fan but that kind of has less to do with him as a person. I’ve read the Dark Tower series when I was younger, and The Gunslinger was indeed a wonderful experience. I would have to read them again for a fresh opinion, it’s been so long. I’ve read Cell too and thought it was a great piece of work.

Unfortunately, sometimes I feel like certain subject matter, like rape and self-harm or abusive activity, is exploited for shock value. Don’t get me wrong, King has an experienced approach of conveying delicate issues and concerns. I cannot respect him more for being forthrightly about it. There are just these instances that stand out for the horror genre a little too bizarrely unfair and unnecessary. One such example is within Stephen King’s It, but I haven’t exactly gotten to that part yet. I can’t really say much about it at this moment.

Right now, I am at Chapter 7, The Dam in the Barrens. Page 290, the first page of the chapter. I’ve found several spelling errors and odd word placement this far in. Not too many but they are noticeable, and I think they’re an enjoyable little charm. There is something about them lingering there that makes them weirdly humble. Just imagine King sitting there, a string of thought, exercising his mind to the fullest extent. Probably rubbing the bridge of his nose, in the late hour.

There is also a lot of repetition that can get a little tiresome. I've noticed it happening more when the characters go back to when they were children. The book is literally trying to convince you that these misfits are the most bullied losers around. When a child's personality is trying to come through, let us remember first and foremost, they are losers. Jeez!

Anyway, despite this kind of recurrence. What I respect about King is his proficiency in popping out extensive, gigantic books in the span of- whenever he wants.

Anyway, this book will probably take me into the new year.

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Re: Book of the Month
Cafe_Chat on Dec 12, 2017 05:23:02


Posts » 23


Just in case


I’ve also picked up Neil Gaiman’s American Gods because I’m a huge fan of Gaiman and have recently gotten around to this title. Very excited!

I don't know when I'll be around to post again but let me know what you're reading! Or what book you would like to talk about. New books, old books, upcoming books. Guilty pleasures, silly things, worst books ever, thoughts on characters.

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Re: Book of the Month
Libby_VanHelsing on Dec 13, 2017 16:51:42


Posts » 223


Great! I hope you enjoy the Vampire Academy series! I'll have someone to talk about them to on here.

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The Roman Empire always Reigns in my world. Romitri is life.


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