Four: A Divergent Collection – Veronica Roth

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Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #0.1-0.4

Pages: 304

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Readers first encountered Tobias Eaton as Four in Divergent. His voice is an integral part of Allegiant. Readers will find more of this charismatic character’s backstory told from his own perspective in Four: A Divergent Collection. When read together, these long narrative pieces illuminate the defining moments in Tobias Eaton’s life.

The first three pieces in this volume The Transfer, The Initiate, and The Son follow Tobias’s transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless, his Dauntless initiation, and the first clues that a foul plan is brewing in the leadership of two factions.

The fourth story, The Traitor, runs parallel with the events of Divergent, giving readers a glimpse into the decisions of loyalty and love that Tobias makes in the weeks after he meets Tris Prior.

I think I have made it pretty clear with my previous reviews of the last two books of the Divergent saga that those books are not among my favourite. Not by a really long shot. Like so long you can’t see the end of it. I bought a book box with the four books of the saga, so I kind of trapped myself there. Once bought, my obligation as a reader (and as a guy who doesn’t like to waste money) was to read them. Even the last one, which is actually a prequel from the point of view of Tobias, a.k.a Four. I’m going to keep this review short and simple, because I have little to say about the book.

This book is a collection of short stories following the character Tobias. From his final days in the Abnegation faction to a retelling of the book Divergent. Followed by some delete scenes of the first book to delight the faithful readers and to remind the ones like me why this saga is not for us.

The best part of the book is that most of it is free of that horrendous character called Tris. Yes, it’s no secret that I don’t like her at all. My dislike towards Four is not so strong (even though by the end of Allegiant I was ready to set him on fire…), so I knew I was going to be able to stomach the first short stories: The Trannsfer, The Initiate and The Son. My standars for this book were so low, that those first stories came as a surpise. I liked them. I liked to get to witness from the point of view of Tobias the action that we were merely told in previous books.

They are intesresting, fast paced, linking beautifully with the plot of the saga and with characters more enjoyable than I was expecting. Were was that Zeke or Shauna when we needed them the most? I can’t actually remember. I know they are present in the other books at some point, but I can’t remember their role in the story. Possibly, interpolating the fate of good characters in the hands of this author, their role was just to be killed leaving them totally underdeveloped. But the past is the past, I will focus on this book which is actually the past of the characters… Man, prequels… They always mess my internal timeline!

Before getting totally derailed, what I wanted to say is that the first three stories are good. Really good. No buts. But the fourth (The Traitor) and those deleted scenes… Someone wants to make an educated guess who is in those stories? Yeah, Tris. I’m not going to be too cruel with that character, because she is not the only reason why I didn’t like them. I didn’t like those stories because they were mostly a retelling of the Divergent book. I’m not fan of reading a book more than once and it would be out of the question for a book I didn’t enjoy. So, being “forced” to re-read some parts of it was hard. And I can only say that I’m glad it is over.

So, the book as a whole is just ok. Although, if I’m being honest, I think is the book of the saga I have enjoyed the most.

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2019 – Book Gallery

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Eden Chip – Scott Cramer

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Author: Scott Cramer
Pages: 294

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Thanks to nanochips implanted in human brains, the world is at peace in 2055. But not everyone likes having their emotions controlled, or their religion suppressed.

Eighteen-year-old Raissa embarks upon a perilous mission to free the world, just days before the release of nanochip Version 7, which will broadcast every citizen’s thoughts to the Collective.

The countdown has started, and Raissa must make choices that jeopardize the lives of billions, including the only boy she has ever loved.

I must be running out of luck with the giveaways, bercause I haven’t won one in months. A digital copy of Eden Chip is the last one. It also came with a couple of signed bookmarks, so I must thank the author for them! Science-Fiction is a genre I enjoy, but I barely touch due to lack of time (and a crazy long TBR list!!), so I was excited to put my hands in this world controlled by chips!!

The author takes us to the near future (2055 is just around the corner). A scientist called Doctor Pretov has built a nanochip using a new programming language named M-Code, that only him and Ashminov (his rival and true inventor of the code) understand. Those chips are implanted in every single human being and it has been used to erradicate violence, intolerance and many other bad things. It has also been used to ban religious beliefs and even all kind of unproductive emotions. What it started as a way to improve humankind, it has become a control instrument for a madman. Obviously there is a resistance and they have a plan (a real one, not like the Cylon’s plan…).

The setting is pretty amazing. I love all the chip history and the details about every version. I could have taken a lot more, but the author prefers to keep a light pace in order no to bore the readers. That is possibly the main strength of the book. In every page there is something happening, no matter if it’s a revelation, a new important data about the future or a fight scene. Even though there is no time to soak in the information we are given before getting something else, it is threaded in a way that doesn’t let the reader get lost. All those words could have been summarized with: What a ride!!

Even though I congratulate on the good pace of the plot, it hits a bump in the last quarter. In my opinion, the end is stretched unnecessarily to increase the drama… but the only thing that is really increased is my boredom. During the last chapters I lost complete interest in the story and I just wanted to get over it. A condensed version of that part would have done much more credit to the rest of the book. It is not a bad ending per se… just a bit too long.

To unravel the story, we follow three characters: Raissa, Caleb and Ashminov. Raissa is the rebel who wants to get rid of Petrov and the chip. Ashminov is the developer of the chip that would liberate humankind. And poor Caleb is just a guy who loves his job and chip, but gets dragged into the plot to take it down. The characters are the perfect fit por the story, but i won’t recall any of them with any kind of special fondness. They are just pawns for the story. The most interesting part, character-wise, was the role of Caleb’s sister. I think that was the only moment in the book when I felt more engaged to the characters than to the story.

During the whole book I was wondering if I would be pro-chip or not. I obviously wouldn’t want something as drastic as the chips found in this book, but the first iterations of the hardware and software to avoid violence and crappy human behaviour in general sound pretty sweet. We seem incapable of getting there by our own means, so maybe a technological hack would do us a solid. Too bad something like that tends to be easily polluted by people with no real interest in human improvement (like our dear Doctor Petrov from the book)…

Strong story, really nice pace and good enough characters are a win combination. There are some bumps along the way, but in general is worthy of the time invested. I will have to check other books by this author to see if there is something that catches my eye!

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2019 – Book Gallery

Rebellion – Kass Morgan

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Author: Kass Morgan
Series: The 100 #4
Pages: 352

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Centuries after nuclear war destroyed our planet, humanity struggles to rebuild. It’s been a month since the dropships landed and the Colonists joined the Hundred on the ground. The teens, once branded juvenile delinquents, are now leaders among their people.

The Colonists and the Earthborns are celebrating their first holiday together when, to everyone’s horror, they’re attacked by a group of strangers whose unusual battle cries fill the air. The newcomers kill scores of people, seize prisoners, and pillage crucial supplies. When hotheaded Bellamy and his analytical girlfriend Clarke discover that Wells, Octavia and Glass have been captured, they vow to get them back at all costs. But as they go after their new enemies, Bellamy and Clarke find themselves increasingly at odds, unable to agree on a plan to save their friends.

Meanwhile, Wells, Octavia, and Glass are being slowly brainwashed by their captors, religious fanatics with one goal: to grow their ranks and “heal” the war-ravaged planet… by eliminating everyone else on it.

But centuries of radiation exposure have taken their toll, forcing the cult to take drastic steps to survive. And unless the rescue party arrives soon, the teen captives will face a fate more terrifying than anything they could imagine. In this thrilling fourth installment, the hundred fight to protect the people they love on the dangerous planet they always dreamed of calling home.

As far as I know, this fourth book is the last one of The 100 saga. If the author is going to write more books based on that universe, she hasn’t breathed a word about it. Even though I have liked the saga in general, I’m not really going to miss it. At least, this one is much better than the previous one!!

In this book, half of the main characters (Wells and Glass ) are kidnapped by a group of people that called themselves “The Protectors”. They do not protect anything. It’s just a bunch of people who are a bit crazy and they think they are doing Earth’s work by raiding other settlements. While Glass and Wells do whatever they can to survive, Clarke and Bellamy have to lead the rescue party…

After the crazy slow third book with many letters but zero content, the last book is a change of pace. In every page there is something happening. Lots of action and plotting that keep the characters on their toes the whole story. Once again, there are no more annoying flashbacks. And this time the romance is also left behind to focus on the Protectors and their craziness, which has proven the right step for the saga. I think this is the first book of The 100 where I couldn’t stop reading.

If you are a fan of the TV show, you are going to be disappointed with the role of Clarke and Bellamy. They have their moments, of course, but the plot has been stolen by Wells and Glass and their way more interesting situation. The most famous couple of the saga is just there to add some romantic tension, that is pretty well handle for a young adult novel (I’m looking at you, Divergent saga!!). Some other characters get a bigger focus, such as Octavia and the newbie Paul. That last one, although easy to hate, it’s also a nice addition to the mix. I would love to know more about him!!

As for the end itself… it doesn’t feel like the end of a saga. It was a bit… meh. Just the end of a book. Putting some honey in our lips to make the wait for the next one easier… but there is not other one!! I guess I needed more closure. There are so many questions unresolved. So many groups roaming the surface that could change the lives of our heroes forever. It would be so easy to keep going, that I wouldn’t be a bit suprised if the author announces a new book sooner or later.

There is nothing elese to say. A well paced book that redeems Kass as a storyteller after an easy to forget Homecomig. She is currently wirting another saga called Light Years. I will have to take a look at it to see if it catches my eye; so I can fill my needs for Sci-Fi Young Adult books!!

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2018 – Book Gallery

 

Allegiant – Veronica Roth

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Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #3

Pages: 544

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The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered – fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningliess. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend to complexities of human nature – and of herself – while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Finally!! I have finished this trilogy I started so long ago. I must be honest: it has been quite disappointing. I like reading dystopian young adult books, but there are a lot of better books than these ones in that field. A shame, because the worldbuilding is actually nice, but the author wraps it with an emotionless story and boring characters…

After the second book, the factionless people led by Tobias’ mother are in control of the city and the factions are no more. But now they know there is someone else beyond their walls and Tris’ and company decide to take their chances outside the city to discover what the hell is going on. The Allegiant is a group of rebels against the factionless that want to mantain the factions. That group helps the main characters to leave so they can purchase their new quest.

And what a quest!! The author has left for the end a lot of new and juicy data. A LOT! It seems a totally different world with new governments, new factions, new politics… new everything!! So exciting! I was like a kid with new shoes the first chapters, waiting for the new revelations to mash with the old ones and start a massive conflict that would make me forget why I didn’t like the previous books. 500 pages later I’m still waiting… Why does the author create such a massive new input if it’s barely used? And worst of all: she forgets almost completely about the original city… the place where the action took place in the other books. It feels like she is starting something new with zero interest of finishing the story that came before. The result is a book I’m eager to forget.

And the lack of good characters in the spotlight is also very present in the third book. This time the story is told from the point of view of Tris and Tobias (I think the other books were only Tris’ point of view, but I could be wrong). Those two unnerve me every single page… The most uncharamistic characters I’ve met in a very long time. Their relationship is a pain to read… Always with the trust issues and the yelling… I’m glad the end makes it pretty clear that they won’t be together, because the couple was very unhealthy. I dind’t want to tell this spoiler, but taking into account is the only thing I have liked about it I won’t resist: Tris dies!! That’s the best part of the book. We even get to enjoy a bunch of chapters without this annoying character!! That’s why the book has got a second star.

Maybe it’s cruel, but this trilogy has really pissed me off with the character treatment. The author has zero respect for most of the supporting characters of the saga who are much more interesting than the main couple. It seems everything has to be Tris and Tobias. The rest can go to Hell… So yeah, I didn’t drop a single tear when Tris died. Actually, I was even relieved. I must admit I was extra angry due to Uriah’s situation. My favourite character once again poorly used in the story. Removed from the board in such an absurd way… If I keep thinking about it I will start fuming again.

The book is too focused in Tris’ mother real past. It’s really weird that the characters from the compoung ignore Caleb so bluntly. He is also her son… But it’s Caleb, so making no sense around him is nothing new… I still don’t understand what Veronica was trying to do with him. The absurd change in the second book remains unexplained through this one. I think the goal is to make us hate him, but in my case is just the opposite. Caleb is just a victim of mediocre storytelling.

So, nothing to save here. It’s an end that doesn’t feel like an end. So much wasted potential… If the author didn’t try so hard to sell us Tris as the hero of the tale, maybe she could have spent more time building a better story and doing justice to the huge cast of characters. I have another book titled Four, but I think it is a precuel. Too bad. I would have liked to take peek to the future of these guys, because it doesn’t look very promising. I’ll read it anyway. Not anytime soon, though. I need to chill first and try to forget the parts of this book that make my blood boil.

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2018 – Book Gallery

Right Through Me – Shannon McKenna

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Author: Shannon McKenna
Series: The Obsidian Files #1
Pages: 382

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Biotech tycoon Noah Gallagher has a deadly secret: his clandestine training as a super-soldier gives him abilities that go far beyond human. Yet he’s very much a man. When Caro Bishop shows up at his Seattle headquarters with a dangerous secret agenda, his ordered life is thrown into chaos. Caro is a woman like no other—and her luminously sensual beauty cloaks a mystery he must solve.

Caro’s lying low, evading a false charge of murder. She means to clear her name, and she’ll do whatever it takes to survive—but seducing a man like Noah is more than she bargained for. His amber eyes have the strangest glow when he looks at her—she could swear he sees the secrets of her heart. The desire smoldering in Noah’s eyes awakens her own secret hunger, but Caro has to resist his magnetic pull. Anyone close to her becomes a target. The only right thing to do is run, far and fast, but Caro can’t outrun Noah’s ferocious intensity—or deny the searing passion that explodes between them.

Nothing else matters—until a vicious enemy bent on the ultimate revenge puts his murderous plan into play. Noah and Caro must battle for their lives…and their love…

Not so long ago I won an e-book copy of this book in a giveaway. I guess I would have never picked something like this otherwise. I’m not a big fan of books with cyborgs, because they tend to be a bunch of nonsense sex and little story. Luckily, this one is the exception. Due to life, it has taken me ages to finish it; but it’s a really nice book. Much better than expected.

We met Noah, an enhanced soldier that several years ago escaped from the crazy scientists that made him (and several others) a cyborg. His mods give him superior strength, stamina, greater healing factor, weird visual inputs and many other things. A killing machine. Caro is on the run from another cyborg (although she doesn’t know Marc is one), due to her knowledge of a password that would give the evil cyborg total control over other modifed soldiers. Obviously, Noah meets Caro and makes his mission to protect her.

The main story about the origin of the cyborgs is really nice, making the book a fun ride. The big baddies are not defeated in this book, so I guess we will know more about the evil scientists in future books. This one focuses more on the crazy Marc and his attempts to gather an army to proclaim himself king of the world. The few chapters where we geet to experience Marc’s part of the story are among my favourites of the book, even when the character is plain cruel (95% of the time). At first I thought the author wanted us to develop some kind of sympathy for him, but soon enough the opposite is stated. When he starts waking up sleepers, you can only hate the way Marc behaves…

The pace is fluid most of the book, but it hits a bump during the first “date” of Noah and Caro. There are several chapters in a row that eveyrthing that happens is just sex. Nice scenes, but a bit tiring after a while. The fight scenes are good, but with enhanced humans they are a bit messy, fast and the the right amount of crazy. There are some weird thing at the end of the book, when people with melted brains are able to shoot… but I will forgive those.

The romance goes downhill since the first sex encounters. Noah’s protection drive goes a bit far and tends to treat Caro as his possession. Extra points to Caro for using his hormones as weapon against Noah and stealing his car to get far from him. That was fun and it should have been humbling for the cyborg, but I guess the macho male needs much more than that. Caro loses all her points when she finally falls into his game. And the worst part is the end… After just a couple of days they get engaged. I hate that cliché. It’s TOO SOON!!! When are they going to learn that??

I will have to keep reading this saga. I need to know if Luke gets rescued or what. Besides, in this first book there are many nice characters that I bet will have their own books sooner or later. It has been a really nice first step, even though there are some parts that unnerve me.

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2018 – Book Gallery

Homecoming – Kass Morgan

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Author: Kass Morgan
Series: The 100 #3
Pages: 340

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Weeks after landing on Earth, the Hundred have managed to create a sense of order amidst their wild, chaotic surroundings. But their delicate balance comes crashing down with the arrival of new dropships from space.

These new arrivals are the lucky ones—back on the Colony, the oxygen is almost gone—but after making it safely to Earth, GLASS’s luck seems to be running out. CLARKE leads a rescue party to the crash site, ready to treat the wounded, but she can’t stop thinking about her parents, who may still be alive. Meanwhile, WELLS struggles to maintain his authority despite the presence of the Vice Chancellor and his armed guards, and BELLAMY must decide whether to face or flee the crimes he thought he’d left behind.

It’s time for the Hundred to come together and fight for the freedom they’ve found on Earth, or risk losing everything—and everyone—they love.

One fun fact about me… well, just a fact: I love The 100 TV Show!! I can’t get enough of their never-ending drama. I must be a really bad guy for wishing them a hard time so I can get my enjoyment. As you may know, the series is based on a series of books written by Kass Morgan. The first book was published almost at the same time the first season was aired, so the CW bought the rights waaaay before the book were on bookshops. That channel bought the rights of a book written by a totally unkown author. I’ve been always curious about how that happened. No idea if that story has been made public. Anyway… I had to read the books, because I love the show. I read the first two a long time ago and I have recently decided that 2018 is my year to finish what I started.

In this third book we follow Clarke, Bellamy, Wells and Glass during the promising events of more colonists crashing on Earth. The new arrivals must face the reality that they are not alone on the planet and they must share with the Earthborns. Rhodes doesn’t want to accept that and tries to keep the unfair Gaia doctrine to rule the colonists and the hundred. He also declares Bellamy an enemy of the state, so he is in a tight spot. Meanwhile, the evil Earthborns are planning something… well, evil.

First I must point out what Kass does well: she finally drops the constant flashbacks that only drag the story unnecessarily. Sadly, that is not the cure for a really weak story. The book is not boring. The pace is OK. But almost nothing happens. So many new possibilities in those drop ships, but we only get to follow the same group as before. Too much teen love and too little battle, survival and fun. I know Bellamy, Clarke, Wells and Glass are pretty awesome; but deep down are very similar characters. I would have love to read the point of view of Rhodes to get something different. It’s a character that I hate, but we would have got a peek to the campsite of the hundred and the colonists; which would have made the book a lot richer.

The worst part of the book are the chapters with Glass and Luke. They are my favourite couple in this series, but their role in this third book is useless. I’m not a skipper, but I was tempted to jump a chapter every time I saw Glass in the header… I thought in the end their part would be relevant against the battle with the evil Earthborns, but nope. A waste of ink if you ask me. The chapters with Bellamy and Clarke are fine. It doesn’t happen anything worth mentioning (except some parent return), but at least they have a purpose.

The final battle was the moment to redeem itself, but the author rushes over it and the ending is way too happy. Even Rhodes seems to gain some kind of brain and starts making sense!! Too easy… I know there are some deaths along the way, but I haven’t been affected by any of them. I hope the fourth book packs more emotion than this one.

And the cover… I hate the cover… Yes, it is a good promotional pic for the show; but the book is too different from it. One of the characters of the cover doesn’t even exist in the book!! And Octavia is barely a cameo… The first two books of The 100 had much better covers.

Even though I’ve been a bit harsh, the book is enjoyable. Yes, it’s totally uneventful, but at least you won’t fall asleep while reading it. The fourth book is the last one of this series (I have no idea if more are on the oven…) and I hope to read it soon. Fingers crossed for a better story, though!!

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2018 – Book Gallery

Ylesia – Walter Jon Williams

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Author: Walter Jon Williams
Series: Star Wars: The New Jedi Order #14.5
Pages: 121

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RIPE FOR THE PLUCKING

That’s Jedi Knight Kyp Durron’s opinion about the planet Ylesia, home base of the so-called Peace Brigade, a group of traitors dedicated to hindering the war efforts of the New Republic and hastening the ultimate victory of the merciless Yuuzhan Vong. Kyp’s plan calls for a lightning-fast strike, backed with overwhelming force, to destroy the Brigade’s offensive capabilities and teach prospective traitors that betrayal carries a heavy price. But young Jacen Solo, still bearing the scars of his imprisonment by the Yuuzhan Vong, has a better idea: a daring raid into the heart of Ylesia’s capital, with the objective of capturing the Brigade’s top leaders—including the newly sworn-in President, Thrackan Sal-Solo, cousin to Jacen and his twin, Jaina.

But unknown to the Jedi and the New Republic forces, Supreme Overlord Shimrra of the Yuuzhan Vong has dispatched reinforcements to the Ylesia system. Instead of a swift surgical strike, Jaina, Jacen, Kyp, and their comrades are about to find themselves locked in a desperate battle for survival, with the odds stacked against them and time running out…

There is not much to tell about this book. It’s a short story that takes place in the middle of the previous book, so the reader has to adapt their internal timetable to not get lost with this tale.

The book narrates the battle of Ylesia. The Yuuzhan Von obliterated the hutts living there and now the planet is controlled by the Peace Brigade (a.k.a. Vong Puppets). The new leader of that Brigade is not other than Thrackan Sal-Solo, cousin of Jacen and Jaina Solo. They are not friendly with each other… The New Republic has a plan to capture the Brigades’s leaders and make their trials public to rise the moral among the loyal followers of the New Republic. Obviously, nothing is simple when there are Vongs involved…

It’s an easy and well-paced read. Nothing remarkable, but a nice peek to that huge Universe that is Star Wars. Thankfully, the author doesn’t waste time trying to sell the plan to the readers with lots of political and military meetings (as in other books of this saga) and gets his hands dirty pretty fast. Not boring at all, but far from memorable. I guess I will remember that I have read this because it will forever saved on my Goodreads list…

In this okayish book there is a bright light that I have really enjoyed. Maybe it’s because I’m a huge fan of romance books, so the nods to Jaina’s relationship with Jagged Fel has made me smile from ear to ear. Han’s and Leia’s daughter is one of my favourite Star Wars characters. I was so pissed after the last book due to what Luke told her… I’m glad she is getting a bit of happines from the Imperial pilot. Let’s hope it last!! Romance and Star Wars are not usually best friends…

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2018 – Book Gallery