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Linda Hilton

Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic

Currently reading

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America
Nancy MacLean
Progress: 134/574 pages
Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy
Christopher L. Hayes
Progress: 17/304 pages
The Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of Romance
Northrop Frye
Progress: 43/200 pages
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Arlie Russell Hochschild
Progress: 96/454 pages
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Ibram X. Kendi
Progress: 22/750 pages
All the President's Men
Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward
Progress: 73/383 pages
Women's Gothic and Romantic Fiction: A Reference Guide (American Popular Culture)
Kay Mussell
Progress: 17/157 pages
The Looking-Glass Portrait
Linda Hilton
Really Neat Rocks: A casual introduction to the rocks & gems of Arizona and the lapidary arts
Linda Hilton
Progress: 61/61 pages
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Jon Krakauer

Everyone feeling better . . . . and rocks

It turned out to be too cold this morning to start up the rock saw, but the forecast for the afternoon looks perfect.  And BF will be gone, so I won't have to worry about him coming out and telling me how to do what I already know how to do . . . and he doesn't.  ;-)


Biscuit ate a little bit of supper last night -- I gave her about a quarter of her usual serving -- and seemed fine.  She ate a little more this morning and seems back to normal.


The ibuprofen I took at 6:00 a.m. or whenever it was didn't kick in for several hours, but it took the edge off the elbow pain long enough for me to clean up the last of a batch of rocks in the tumbler.  I put them in for 24-48 hours just to knock off the dirt and other debris, not to polish or anything.  These are the last of the small pieces from the bucketful I rediscovered a couple weeks ago.


Some of them have turned out to be nice little specimens to wrap in wire just as they are:




While I was cleaning up some of the junk in the workshop, I discovered a small plastic container of some more of these small pink pieces, already cleaned and ready for wrapping.  Yeah, some more of the stuff I've half-forgotten about!

Bad dreams, bad news, and flowers - skip to the flowers

I had a bad night last night.  Disturbing dreams woke me several times, left me awake but distraught and very stressed.  Of the worst two, one was about a volcano, and when I woke I couldn't stop thinking about how and what I would pack if I had to evacuate the property the way I did in the dream.  The second really upsetting one was about a 19th century ranch, and though I was disoriented at first, later it was kind of funny because one of the main characters was Newt Gingrich.


I spent almost eleven hours in bed but got no more than six or so hours of sleep.  I dragged myself out of bed still feeling tired.


But it was cool outside, so I hoped to take care of some small housekeeping chores in the workshop before spending some time on the rock saw.  I haven't had the opportunity to cut any rocks at all this cool season due to back spasms, tendonitis, bad weather, and so on.  The forecast is for a few days of temperate weather and I was eager to get cutting.


It didn't happen.  Though my foot finally feels good enough to stand on for an extended period of time needed to play on the saw, my elbow doesn't.  I had some stones to clean, and I was barely able to finish that task.  The elbow just screamed at me.


Iced rice didn't help.  I couldn't hold a book or even my Kindle to read.  The slightest work on the computer caused agony.  Even watching television was painful in a physical sense; any movement at all provoked horrific jolts of pain.


Then came the change in the weather.  It wasn't unexpected: Strong winds were forecasted to bring the cooler temperatures, but nothing was expected quite as strong as what we got.  I'm paranoid about wind damage and insurance claims, so that's just another stressor.


I don't need any more, but  . . .


While I was in the bathroom, Biscuit threw up on the carpet.  The messy kind.  Before I could do anything, she threw up again, but on the tile.


I got started on the clean up. 


Biscuit wanted outside.  I was pretty sure she was going to throw up again, so I rushed to get her out.  My arm was so bad by this time that I was almost crying from the pain.


On top of all this, BF is going to be here for supper for the first time in a week.  Cooking wouldn't be a problem . . . if I weren't in so much pain. 


Mentally, I needed a break.  Pain or no pain, I grabbed the camera and headed outside to get cactus flower pictures.  It was so windy I had trouble getting still shots, but I managed a few.  I no sooner got back in the house than Biscuit started acting like she needed out again.  She immediately threw up twice more.  This is scaring me.


I uploaded the pictures from the camera and went back to work on the carpet stain.  It will take several cleanings. 


The news on tv isn't cheering.  The wind is still battering my patio awnings.  The elbow is not getting any better.  Biscuit has been in and out, still acting sick.


All I have to show for it are some pictures.


Buds on Tuesday:



And blooming today






On the mend!

Routine follow-up doctor appointment today to check on how the current meds are doing, so I had her look at the foot, too.  It took a while, but she located and removed the nasty splinter that was causing all the problems.  The sucker was 0.5 cm (1/4 inch) in length and had gone straight in, which was why no one could see it.  My foot still hurts, but not at all the way it did before the extraction!


And it's a good excuse to miss a picnic this afternoon that I didn't want to go to anyway.


Yesterday the damn thing hurt so bad that I couldn't concentrate on anything beyond finally going back and adjusting some of the original reviews that had been transferred to BL from "the other place" back in 2013.  None of them had titles and many weren't linked to books, so I fixed those and added some tags to make them easier to locate in the future.


Stumbling across the post about the "bot" accounts on Goodreads made me wonder if somehow or other they weren't connected to other "bots" on other platforms.  I mean, if I were an intelligence operative wanting to test a bot program, Goodreads would have made a perfect testing ground, wouldn't it?  Who would have been suspicious?


But we'll never know, will we.


I have more cactus flower pics to post, but they'll have to wait until after lunch.  Right now I'm relaxing, putting my foot up, and thinking (but not very hard) about fixing a sandwich.




From . . . 2013.

I'm reblogging my own post because I'm still having major problems.

This book still doesn't show up in search, not when I search for "The Maya" -- I get Maya Angelou and Maya Banks -- nor when I search for Michael Coe.

Even though I added a title page cover for it, that cover has disappeared from my listing for this book. The green dust jacket that Murder by Death found was, I thought, added as a replacement, but it now shows nowhere.

This is ONE BOOK. I own this book. I can take photos of it, I can make a video of me holding it. There is no reason why this existing book should not be searchable.

I no longer know what to do. Another BookLikes member has posted that she's leaving out of frustration. I don't want to leave. I'm banned from Goodreads. Amazon is gone. Facebook is now toxic.

And BookLikes, which is poised to make a huge move to fill a huge void, seems unwilling to do anything.

This is ONE BOOK. And after all these months, ONE BOOK isn't fixed.

Am I using "Search" wrong? Or is there a problem?

Reblogged from Linda Hilton:

If I search for a title "The Maya," I get books by Maya Angelou and Maya Banks, but nothing like the title I'm looking for.


If I search on author "Michael Coe," I get books with Michael in the title or any author named Michael.



I added the book because the existing entry is for another edition but under the wrong author name.


Half an hour to enter ONE BOOK.

I am exhausted and I ache e v e r y w h e r e


I got a good night's sleep, but I'm still tired.  With temperatures predicted into the mid 90s the next few days, I was up and outside by 7:00 to begin moving everything from the front patio to the studio.  The distance is only 20 yards/meters or so, but it was more than I could handle last night.


It's now Monday afternoon.  Just about everything (except tables) is put away in the studio. Table covers are all washed, dried, folded, packed in their storage tub until next fall.  BF will help me with the tables later, probably tomorrow.  There's no rush on them.  They, too, will be set in their little storage spot for the summer, awaiting the next show in October.


My intention was to take today easy, especially to let my foot heal.  It's better, but it's still sore, and the more walking I do, the worse it feels.  And I just plain ache all over.  Back, hips, shoulders, ankles.  The elbow tendonitis is still twinging now and then.  I really need a long nap!


That's not in the cards. 


Weather forecast is for a few days of daytime highs in the mid 90s, followed by a week of more moderate temperatures.  I'm hoping to use that week to accomplish a whole lot of outdoor and workshop tasks preparatory to next season's art shows.  In advance of that work, I have a ton of inside work to do first.  Paperwork, taxes, even just cleaning that's been left ignored the past month.  Even while taking care of the show clean-up, I'm hitting some of this support work, too.  And yes, even while I'm almost falling asleep at the computer.


I wanted to go outside and check on the cactus for new flowers, but alas, it's too hot and I'm too tired.  So this is from yesterday, two flowers that started to open early in the morning and reached full bloom by afternoon.







This particular cactus plant is very large and is covered with buds.  There's another plant in another part of the yard, and it's even more covered.  I got one quick shot Sunday morning.  At that time, none of the buds were even close to opening, but I haven't looked at it today.



I'll take a look at it later this afternoon.

The funny tale, but cactus pictures will have to wait

Here's the story.


Back in January, at the Mesa gem and mineral show, I bought some miscellaneous little rocks.  Among them was a very nice piece of Montana moss agate, roughly rectangular in shape, maybe 1 3/4 inches long.



I wasn't sure what I'd do with it, but it was a nice piece.  I probably paid a dollar for it, maybe less.  Several weeks ago, I tossed it in the tumbler with some other bits and pieces to polish.  The process finished Saturday morning, and when I took the stones out, they were all very nice.  The Montana moss was super.  I was sure I could wrap it in sterling silver wire and ask $45 or $50 for it.  Maybe more.


Sometime on Friday, I stepped on something, a sliver or a stone or something, and by yesterday afternoon I could tell it was infected.  It hurt, and it was swollen.  But I'm no longer limber enough to look at the bottom of my own foot, and there was no one else here to look for me.  So I limped and winced and hobbled.


I had some customers with whom I'd been chatting, and they were leaving, walking up the garden path to their vehicles.  As I watched them go, I saw another lady walking toward my place.  It looked like she had parked in front of my neighbor Patti's house, and I had to chuckle.  Patti is a flaming bigot, and the lady walking into my driveway and toward my display area was a tall, muscular black lady with what looked like long silvery dreadlocks.


Now, I'm going to put my profound ignorance on display here.  When the lady got close enough for me to see, I could tell her hair wasn't what I expected.  She had dozens of beautiful, long, precisely curled . . . ringlets.  She was carrying a stout walking stick that was longer than she was tall, and she was at least 5'9" or more.  (I'm barely 5' if I stretch.)


She strolled into the area and looked around and happened to pick up the piece of Montana moss agate, which I had out on my "work" table.  She asked what it was, and I told her, and she remarked about how beautiful it was.  She turned it over in her hand several times, then set it down near the rest of the recently polished stones I had on display.  Then she wandered off to look at the other stuff.


Since she was the only customer I had at the time, we were able to chat without interruption.  She said she was from Mesa and had driven out to climb Silly Mountain, which is a popular hiking spot a mile or so from my house.  As a treat for herself, she stopped at the bank and got $20, hoping she might find some yard sales to shop at.  Instead, she saw the signs for the studio tour and had made her way to my house.


As I got up to show her something, she noticed I was limping, and she asked what had happened.  I told her, and she said, "Let me look at it."


I laughed it off, but she said, "I drive a school bus, and I'm always taking care of the kids' little ouches.  If it's a sliver, maybe I can get it out."


Well, I got another chair so she could sit down, then I sat down and put my embarrassingly dirty foot -- 'cause it's dusty in the yard -- on her knee, and she proceeded to ease some of the pressure by letting out some of the infection, and blah blah blah, which is TMI and gross.  And I have to say that the foot felt a whole lot better.  I could still tell it was slightly infected, but it was better.


We talked some more and then she got ready to leave, and I thanked her for what she had done.  She laughed and said, "Well, I've done my good deed for today, so now I can be evil the rest of the week-end!"


Then I asked her her name, and she told me it's Yolanda.  Once again I thanked Yolanda, gave her a big hug, and then I handed her the Montana moss agate.  I told her it had called her name.


As I watched her walk away, I realized she wasn't just parked along the road in front of Patti's house -- she was parked in Patti's driveway.


Not blocking anything, but still, she was in Patti's driveway.  And I know Patti is such a freakin' busybody that she couldn't possibly not have seen that there was an unfamiliar big silver SUV parked there.


About 20 minutes later, my phone rang, and I was not the least surprised to see Patti's name on the screen.  Well, she of course professed to be "worried" about me, because she had seen "a man with long hair" come over to my place.  She didn't mention that this "man" was black; she didn't have to.


I laughed and told her the person was a lady and all was fine, but of course Patti insisted that it's just not right for me to be alone here and BF should give up his umpiring for a day to stay home and protect me because "you can't take care of yourself."  She said she had stood on her porch and watched until the person left, and I almost asked her if she stood there with a loaded gun.  (She sleeps with at least one, maybe two.)


I wanted so badly to scream at her, but I didn't.  Maybe the fact that I wasn't worried in the least would get through to her, but I don't really think anything would.  She admits she's a bigot and takes a certain amount of pride in it.


Just like I took malicious delight in not even giving her the tiniest satisfaction.


Shortly after that all went down, I had another customer who bought one of my crystals.  The price was an outrageous $10 but she didn't bat an eye.  I say "outrageous" because I was given hundreds of these crystals by Patti's husband Ernie before he passed away a couple years ago.  They cost me absolutely nothing, and I sometimes feel guilty selling them.  But then I think of all the years of their prejudice, of Patti's frequent accusations against Hispanics for being lazy or dishonest, her refusal to give a black employee of the telephone company a drink of water because she didn't have any disposable cups and she wasn't going to let him drink out of one of hers.  Seriously, how inhuman can you get?


And so after I gave Yolanda the school bus driver her Montana agate, I didn't feel any more guilt about selling the crystals.  I will do something good with that profit, better than anything Patti would have done.


More funny stories to tell about today, but yesterday's was the best.  Now I have to think of something to fix for supper because I can't afford to go out to eat again.

Sunday morning, getting ready

Foot is MUCH better.  I think nine hours of sleep helped enormously.


At least two more cactus flowers are ready to open.  I'll take more pictures today.


Here is yesterday's in full bloom, with bee!


A funny day, but you'll have to wait.

First day of spring studio tour went okay.  Not huge sales, but decent.  I can't complain.


I am in terrible pain however from what I think was a sliver of wood in the bottom of my foot.  Apparently I didn't get all of it out and it decided to get infected.  I'm also achy from just doing too much.


One more cactus flower opened so I took pictures at intervals to show the progress.  Caught some little bees in the act of robbing the nectar.  Will post tomorrow when I'm less achy and less exhausted.


Funny thing happened with my bigoted old next door neighbor that even made BF laugh out loud.  But it's too long to peck out on the Kindle, so it will have to wait, too.


Now it's time to give the dog his pills and then I'm going to bed.

Getting ready for Spring Fling Studio Tour

I've started to "stage" things on the patio in preparation for Saturday morning's actual set up.  Four of the five tables have been hosed off, and I've brought several tubs of merchandise over from the studio.  (I work in the studio; I display outside.) 


To my delight, I discovered that the first flower on a bud-studded cinnamon dot cactus opened today, which means the whole thing should be a riot of orange blooms by Saturday.



This was late afternoon, when the sunlight had begun to fade so the orange is slightly subdued.  But this is the first of the cactus flowers, and since we had a dry winter, some of the other cactus may not have any flowers at all.


A few days ago, as I was beginning to organize things for the studio tour, I discovered a whole five-gallon bucket full of rocks that I had completely forgotten about.  But as soon as I saw it, I knew what it was: material collected at my favorite spot on two occasions over the past few years, including material that BF - who is definitely not a rockhound! - had collected with me.


Normally, I tend to pick up the larger pieces, and ignore the smaller pieces.




But he didn't want me to tag along with him and tell him what to pick up and what to leave.  Once he got it clear what the desired material looked like, he went off on his own and I had no idea what he was picking up until we were finished.  I didn't tell him a lot of the pieces were too small for my usual purposes.  I was just glad he had come with me and had a successful hunt.


Most of what was in that five-gallon bucket was his gatherings, and most of them were smaller pieces than what I would have picked up.  But . . . maybe there were some that I could, well, play with.



A nice little squiggly piece of pink chalcedony, a length of gold-filled wire, and my own twisted (pun intended) imagination -- voilá!  A one of a kind pendant.


This was one of four I pulled out of the bucket this morning.  If my stupid tendonitis will give me a break, I'll have more of these ready to go by Saturday.


I love our studio tours.  I just hope it's a profitable event to end this season of art shows.




I think it was supposed to be funny

Blame It on the Duke - Lenora Bell

No rating, no real review.


I downloaded only the Kindle sample, because some Twitter friends voiced issues with it as an RWA RITA finalist.


The opening scene struck me as one of those over-the-top absurdities that's intended to be funny but just wasn't.  The duke's dissolute heir puts on a theatrical thing featuring some semi-nude women, but then the duke himself shows up and ruins it.  It might have worked if there'd been some emotion involved, but I didn't get any sense of that.


The reason, I suspect, was that I didn't like the writing style.  Lots and lots and lots and lots of one- and two-sentence paragraphs.


The end of his announcement grew garbled as, with one swift tug, Nick grabbed his father’s boots and pulled him into his arms.


Not a moment too soon.


The rotting deck splintered as Nick carried his father down the ladder.


Nick shielded the duke as a wooden beam jarred across his back. Safely away from the collapsing ship and off the stage, Nick placed an arm around his father’s shoulders.

Bell, Lenora (2017-04-18). Blame It on the Duke: The Disgraceful Dukes (Kindle Locations 155-159). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.


Choppy dialogue with adverb-laced speech tags.


“It’s me,” Nick said grimly. “Now clasp my hand and I’ll help you down.”


“No,” his father said stubbornly. “I’m making an announcement.”


“I’d rather you didn’t.”

Bell, Lenora (2017-04-18). Blame It on the Duke: The Disgraceful Dukes (Kindle Locations 150-152). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.


Very little description or scene setting or mood establishing. It just didn't suit me.


I don't mind a rakish hero who gets redeemed in the course of the book, so that part didn't bother me, but I couldn't see myself reading a whole book written in this style.  It's not wrong, and it's not technically bad, but it's not for me.

I don't know if I'm doing this correctly

Courtney Milan's thread on Twitter regarding RWA, RITA awards, Harlequin, and Authors of Color.




I really do have to get myself to work, but I thought I'd post this here because we're mostly readers here, but we are also involved, intelligent, critical readers, and I'd love to read your thoughts.


Or you can post to Courtney Milan, I suppose.


My only contributions would be:


Harlequin has been screwing authors since forever.  That part of it is nothing new.  I think I've written about it before, so I won't bore you again. 


RWA has also been screwing authors.  The fact that the organization remains majority unpublished is probably the main reason.  No one was ever willing to stand up to the publishers, with their puny royalties and shitty treatment, because heaven forbid that some unpublished idiot -- not that all unpublished writers are idiots, but the idiot ones are the people who held the most power in RWA in the past, and I'm assuming they still do -- would lose a chance to publish her masterpiece.


I've never been a heavy reader of Harlequin books, but the first contemporary romance

about POC and written by an AOC that I ever read was for the RITA judging in the mid-1990s, in the preliminary round.  The book was good and I gave it an appropriately high score, but it didn't go on to the next round.  This was before there were separate lines for African American authors/characters.  (Side note: Am I the only one who thinks it's odd that Harlequin, known for its global/exotic settings, is somehow leaving out of this category POC from other "Anglo" countries?  Hello, but there are Black people in England, Canada, Australia, etc.  Okay, enough of that tangent.)


I left RWA with few regrets in 1998.  I felt it was an unprofessional organization then, and I still do.  Courtney Milan's long Twitter thread didn't change my mind.



The next few days

— feeling tired

Our Spring Fling Studio Tour is this coming week-end.  I'm not ready.  Between the various bouts with back spasms, then the tendonitis, I just haven't done nearly as much work as I should have.


Yesterday -- Sunday -- my elbow was feeling pretty good.  I was in the studio before 7:00 and spent almost five hours there.  I did some desperately needed cleaning.  I wire-wrapped a couple of small stones.  And I finished a larger stone that I had started a day or two earlier.



Before I quit for the day, I started another, in hopes of finishing it today.  I did finish it, but the sun was getting brighter and brighter, so I snapped a few pictures before the stone was done and before the light was too strong.  Even so, I had to adjust the exposure on the computer a bit to pick up the details.



Between now and Saturday, most of my energy will be directed toward making more jewelry and getting ready for the week-end's event.  Of course, last night I managed to injure myself AGAIN, this time ripping off a broken pinkie fingernail so far down that it bled.  It still hurts, but it's the left hand and I'm a rightie, so I can still function.  No back spasms, the elbow is improving, and I'm rebuilding the inventory I should have taken care of over the past several months.


This afternoon or tomorrow I'll post some pictures of the front garden.  Two of the agaves are in the process of blooming, a process that lasts a couple of weeks and then the plant dies.  Neither of these is as spectacular as the others we've had, but they're still quite impressive.  Unfortunately, rainfall was low this winter, which means a lesser bloom for the cactus.  There should still be some flowers for the week-end.


Once this show is over, I can take it a little easy for the rest of the summer.  That means more reading and, I hope, more writing.



Someone who is better at posting things from elsewhere, please repost

Lifted from Twitter, but I thought it should get some airtime here, too.


Just some highlights - I'll add to this post as I go along.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King

I read this book a year or two ago, and I really don't understand why it wasn't showing up on my BL list. But it wasn't, and now it is.


There are a lot of funny personal moments, but the insights on writing are important -- for writers and for readers.  I think we have a problem with bad writing these days, but maybe it's because we don't have enough good readers.


So here's this:


Gould [King's editor at the local newspaper] said something else that was interesting on the day I turned in my first two pieces: write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right—as right as you can, anyway—it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it. If you’re very lucky (this is my idea, not John Gould’s, but I believe he would have subscribed to the notion), more will want to do the former than the latter.

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft (pp. 57-58). Scribner. Kindle Edition.  (My emphasis.)

The most important is that the writer’s original perception of a character or characters may be as erroneous as the reader’s. Running a close second was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft (pp. 77-78). Scribner. Kindle Edition.


This next one I would put right up close to Josh Olson's as a rebuke to those who think they can get away with . . . anything.  Writing is hard, in the sense that it requires a commitment not just to doing it but to doing it well.

You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair—the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.

I’m not asking you to come reverently or unquestioningly; I’m not asking you to be politically correct or cast aside your sense of humor (please God you have one). This isn’t a popularity contest, it’s not the moral Olympics, and it’s not church. But it’s writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can’t or won’t, it’s time for you to close the book and do something else.

Wash the car, maybe

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft (p. 106-107). Scribner. Kindle Edition.  (Emphasis King's.)


King isn't perfect, and if he took the following information from The Elements of Style, then Strunk got it wrong, too.


Verbs come in two types, active and passive. With an active verb, the subject of the sentence is doing something. With a passive verb, something is being done to the subject of the sentence. The subject is just letting it happen. You should avoid the passive tense. I’m not the only one who says so; you can find the same advice in The Elements of Style.

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft (p. 122). Scribner. Kindle Edition.


Active and passive are not tenses; they are voices.  Tenses are things like present, past, future perfect, conditional present progressive.


Active voice:  I caught the ball.

Passive voice: The ball was caught by me.


Active voice: The managing editor runs the paper.

Passive voice: The paper is run by the managing editor.

I don't know why this wasn't on my BL shelves

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King

Stephen King highly recommends Strunk & White's Elements of Style.  I abhor it.


Except for that, this is pretty much the single best book on writing style I can recommend.


Chris Vogler's The Writer's Journey remains hands-down the best for story-telling.


I'll get to a review later.