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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ashes by Steven Manchester (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Providence Book Promotions, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Ashes by author Steven Manchester!

Author Guest Post

Extended Book Excerpt


            As Tom walked, the unique atmosphere of Salem during Halloween seeped into his bones. Some tourists, with painted faces, giggled nervously at the sights. The more serious, however, wore gothic attire and had clearly traveled north to embrace the dark side. Either way, it was the land of ghouls and goblins where people made their imaginations come to life. Salem was the type of place that could spook a person from their dreams; where the most terrifying nightmares could become reality—as they did back in 1692. He forged on.

One block down, a sign read: Crow Haven Corner—Salem’s First Witch Shop & Purveyor To Witches Around The World. It was the most famous witch shop in all of Salem and the competing scents of many strange aromas nearly bowled Tom over. While other shoppers purchased everything from mother’s wort to frankincense, Tom purchased a plastic baggie of powdered mercury. The label claimed benefits toward imagination and writing composition. I can use all the help I can get with my poetry these days, he thought, stepping out of the shop to get some air.

Surrounding yards were bordered in black wrought iron fences, their sharp stakes warning off any unwelcomed visitors. Small English gardens were carefully tended. Even the weeds appeared intentional. The colonial houses, with their small windows, offered a warm feeling of home. Tom was inhaling it all when a door swung open and his hulking brother stepped out of one of the shops. Whether Jason didn’t see him or pretended not to, he walked right past him without so much as a look. It’s amazing how much I still despise him, playing me for such a pathetic fool like that, Tom thought, angry with himself that his brother still had any impact on him at all.

Samantha’s costume shop on Essex was the best in town. Tom admired a turn-of-the-century poet’s costume, while some hot-looking woman in her mid-thirties paid for a wench’s dress. It looks like someone’s in for a fun night, he thought, recalling when Carmen used to surprise him with similar delights. But those times are long gone for me, he sadly realized.

Just up the block, he stepped into the Derby Square Book Store. He’d just started browsing when two words echoed from his belly into his head: I’m hungry.

As he walked out, an old lady hobbled in hanging onto the arm of a teenage boy. “Take your time, Brian,” she said. “I’m not a young chick anymore.”

“Yets Mama,” the lanky kid said.

Although Tom could see that the boy was cognitively impaired, what struck him most was the deep bond shared between the peculiar pair. What I wouldn’t give to have that with my children, he thought.

Red’s Sandwich Shop on Central Street had once been The London Coffee House, a meeting place for the Patriots before the American Revolution, and still served as a landmark. Tom teetered between the taco salad and the lobster ravioli in a spinach cream sauce. Pasta, it is, he thought. The meal was rich, but the bill was cheap—recharging his energy level back to full.

One street up, he paused in front of Salem’s old police station and jail. An elderly photographer was snapping away when he looked up from his camera and smiled at Tom. “They say if you take photos of this place, when you develop the pictures you’ll be able to see orbs hovering behind those rusty bars.” He paused for effect. “They say the spirits of the damned are still imprisoned behind these hoary walls.”

“I’m sure they are,” Tom said, skeptically, and continued walking. Halfway down the sidewalk, though, he stopped to take a few pictures with his cell phone. I’ve got to take another leak, he thought and began looking for a public bathroom.

After relieving himself, he arrived at The Burying Point, the oldest cemetery in the city. From Mayflower passengers to the Justices of the Witchcraft court, many of the famous and infamous rested beneath its lumpy sod. Tom read several faded tombstone inscriptions until locating the one that brought his neck hairs to attention: I am innocent of such wickedness. As he started to walk out of the eerie sacred grounds, he spotted a sign: Open dawn til dusk. No gravestone rubbings. His mind instantly returned to his childhood when he’d been scared out of his wits—in this very same place.

            It all began as a thrill-seeking joke, Tom and Jason, along with Mike, their half-witted friend, roaming the cemeteries at night in search of the living dead. The Burying Point was the creepiest cemetery in the city and, as such, reputed some legendary stories of multiple ghost sightings. There couldn’t have been a more perfect night for a spine-tingling scare.

Strolling through the fields of granite, young Tom fumbled with his tracing paper and charcoal stick, stopping at every other headstone to get the perfect imprint. Most of the stones were cracked and faded; badly decayed from the decades of harsh rains and battering winds. There were others, however, that had endured terrible desecration, having either been defaced or toppled during senseless acts of vandalism. The graveyard was split into two sections. The old section was located at the front of the grounds, with the recently departed planted toward the rear. For a while, the boys lingered in the front. It promised more goose flesh.

“Get off my land,” an angry voice hissed in the distance.

Tom leapt to his feet and dropped his artwork all over the black ground. “Stop it,” he yelled at Jason. “You almost gave me a heart attack!”

Jason’s mouth hung open, but he said nothing.

Turning his suspicions toward Mike, Tom discovered that his friend’s eyes were as big as moon pies. Mike was obviously using them to scan the area and he was no longer laughing. Every hair on Tom’s body turned to spikes.

“Don’t make me come out there,” the disembodied voice called again. This time it was closer and much meaner.

Mike screamed. Tom tried to match it, but couldn’t. All three boys were paralyzed with fear.

Suddenly, the invisible entity let out a shrieking laugh.

Fighting through the freezing numbness of shock, Tom took off at a sprint. Looking back, he saw Jason grabbing as many papers as he could before beating him and Mike out to the street. They were a full block and a half from the cemetery before a word was spoken.

“Tell me we didn’t just…” Jason started to ask.

Tom was trembling so badly he could hardly speak. He nodded and kept nodding, trying to reclaim his stolen breath. He opened his mouth to say something but nothing came out. He couldn’t even think. The brief experience was so unnerving, so unsettling that he couldn’t decide whether it was reality or merely their wild imaginations.

Without a word, Mike took off running and high-tailed it out of there.

“Mike!” Jason yelled after him, but the petrified boy kept running—never once looking back.
Tom and Jason tried to rationalize in whispers. “Something’s not right with this,” Jason said, taking a knee on the sidewalk. “I think somebody’s playing with us.”

Tom had finally recovered the air he’d lost in his lungs. “It’s not like…like we can tell anybody,” he stammered. “Who would believe us?”

Jason shook his head. “This is bullshit, Tommy,” he blurted. “I’m going back.” He stood and started marching down the sidewalk.

Still perplexed by the disturbing experience, Tom’s heart and mind were instantly thrown into mortal combat. Like his older brother, he was attracted to the mystery of the supernatural. But the thought of a confrontation with some angry apparition terrified him. Go with Jason, he remembered screaming in his head and, one deep breath later, he was able to coax his legs to start moving.

As the anxiety levels turned Tom’s goose bumps into sandpaper, he discovered his brother hunched down in some bushes just outside the cemetery gates.

“Shhhh,” Jason whispered, his index finger pressed to his smirking lips. He pointed toward something with his other hand.

In the distance, an old man—presumably the cemetery’s grounds keeper—was half-concealed behind a large elm tree, scaring away a new band of thrill-seekers.

Jason stood and looked at Tom. “So you came back,” he said, impressed.

Tom nodded, never feeling more proud about anything in his young life.

“I told you there’s no such thing as monsters,” Jason said, laughing.

 “Except for Dad,” Tom said, still overjoyed he’d found a fraction of his brother’s courage to return to Jason’s side.

Jason nodded. “True, except for Dad.”

           As Tom returned to the present and left the decrepit cemetery, he decided that besides Author Nathaniel Hawthorne, his favorite Salem son was Giles Corey. The man had been accused of practicing witchcraft and was subsequently pressed to death beneath a pile of stones on September 16, 1692. The jailer of that time jammed Giles Corey’s swollen tongue back into his mouth with a walking stick before asking for the man’s final words. “More weight,” Corey replied.

Many of the accused back then were weighted down and placed in water, Tom recalled. If they floated, then they were a witch and would be hanged. If they sank, then they were free from the conviction. He shook his head. Either way, they were condemned to a horrible death.

Horse drawn carriages and vendors peddling their goods filled Salem’s bustling streets near The Pickering Wharf. Boris Karloff’s Witch’s Mansion, Terror on the Wharf and Salem’s Museum of Myths and Monsters beckoned toward the brave at heart. These fake haunted houses charged top price to have college kids dressed in torn jackets and rubber masks jump out at you and scream loud enough to jumpstart your heart. Salem had become a tourist trap where trinkets and souvenirs helped create visions of bubbling cauldrons and diabolical spells. Tom was filled with a sense of simple joy, watching the herds of people. The wide eyes of children absorbed each detail, while the natural suspicions of their parents kept them close. I love this place, he thought, laughing to himself. For too many reasons to count—most of which seemed foolish at the moment—it had been years since he’d been to the haunted city. It’s already the most fun I’ve had since I can remember, he thought.

As an aspiring poet, Tom found Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables to be breathtaking. He gawked at the place and, when he could gain control over his jaw muscles, he recited a passage from the famous author in his head. Halfway down the bystreet of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge clustered chimney in the midst.

One mile later, Tom arrived back at Salem Common Park. He approached the statue of the city’s founder, Roger Conant. In his conservative puritan dress, the settler’s dead and distant eyes stared sternly from beneath the brim of a pilgrim’s hat. He was faded and weathered from a century of battering winds and punishing New England winters. He’d clearly stood in this very spot for far too long, guarding the park before him. And he’s paid dearly for it, Tom thought. The statue’s face was pock marked, his flowing cape oxidized to green.

There was an unusual nip in the air. A soft but consistent wind howled through the clusters of shedding trees that populated the sparse grounds. Tom looked around, thinking, I can’t believe this place is so abandoned. Suddenly, it hit him. Everyone’s at the hotel’s costume ball. It was the most famous in the world. So much for getting a good night’s sleep, he told himself.

Beneath the frugal light of a half moon—and an avenue of sturdy oak trees that danced in the late autumn wind—Tom strolled through the park. In the distance, he swore he spotted his brother’s massive silhouette sitting on a park bench. He walked a few feet more to be sure. What a piece of work, he thought about his brother. You couldn’t care less about this place, huh? He studied Jason’s large outline. After all these years, you’re still just an uncultured gorilla. Shaking his head, Tom turned his back on the unfriendly shadow. I need a drink, he told himself, and another piss.

About The Author

Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers, Twelve Months and The Rockin' Chair. He is also the author of the award-winning novel, Goodnight, Brian, as well as the critically-acclaimed novel, Pressed Pennies, A Christmas Wish (Kindle Exclusive), Wilbur Avenue (novelette), Just in Time (novelette), The Thursday Night Club (novella), and Gooseberry Island. His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Author Website
The Story Plant - Publisher

Book Review

Ashes by Steven Manchester
Publisher: The Story Plant / Fiction Studio Books
Publication Date: Hardcover - February 21, 2017
Format: Hardcover / Paperback - 272 pages
               Kindle - 5134 KB
               Nook - 4 MB
ISBN: 978-1611882421
BNID:  978-1945839009
Genre: Family Relationships / Literary Fiction

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Providence Book Promotions.

Book Description:

Middle-aged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast thought they were completely done with each other. Perceived betrayal had burned the bridge between them, tossing them into the icy river of estrangement. But life – and death – has a robust sense of irony, and when they learn that their cruel father has died and made his final request that they travel together across the country to spread his ashes, they have no choice but to spend a long, long car trip in each other's company. It's either that or lose out on the contents of the envelope he's left with his lawyer. The trip will be as gut-wrenching as each expects it to be . . . and revealing in ways neither of them is prepared for.

At turns humorous, biting, poignant, and surprisingly tender, Ashes puts a new spin on family and dysfunction with a story that is at once fresh and timelessly universal.

Book Excerpt:

Tom wheeled his late-model, platinum-colored BMW into Attorney Russell Norman’s freshly paved lot and parked between a brand new Lexus—sporting the license plate JUSTIS4U—and a custom pickup truck. Looks like I’m going after the hillbilly, he thought when he spotted the faded Massachusetts Department of Correction sticker in the rear window. His blood turned cold. “It must be Jason,” he thought aloud. I didn’t think he’d come.
Tom took a few deep breaths, not because he was nervous about his father’s death or talking to any lawyer but because he hadn’t seen his Neanderthal brother—for fifteen years, I think. He paused for a moment to give it more thought. Although their relationship had essentially vaporized in their late teens—the result of a fall out that still haunted his dreams—they’d occasionally wound up in each other’s orbits; weddings, funerals, and the like, enough to remain familiar with each other’s career choices, wives, and children. But even that came to an end fifteen years ago, he confirmed in his aching head before opening the door. While his toothache-induced migraine threatened to blind him, he took one step into the oak-paneled waiting room. His and Jason’s eyes met for the briefest moment. As though they were complete strangers, they both looked away. And here he is, Tom thought, disappointed. This is just great.
Through peripheral vision, Tom noticed that his older brother now wore a scar over his right eye, just above a bushy eyebrow that could have easily belonged to a homeless Scotsman. A jagged ear lobe, a piece clearly torn away, pointed to a crooked nose that sat sideways on his face—all of it rearranged since birth. What a big tub of shit he’s turned into, Tom thought, struggling to ignore his throbbing face and head. He’s as fat as a wood tick now, he thought, grinning, and he looks like he’s ready to pop. Jason looked straight at him, as if reading his mind. Tom immediately looked away, his rapid heartbeat starting to pound in his ears, intensifying his physical pain. Unbelievable, he thought. After all the years and all the distance, his elder brother—by only two years—still scared the hell out of him. He’s just a big asshole, that’s all, he told himself, but he still couldn’t bring himself to rejoin his brother’s penetrating gaze.
The secretary answered her phone before calling out, “Mr. Prendergast . . .”
Both brothers stood.
“Attorney Norman will see you now.”
Tom walked in first, letting the door close behind him—right in Jason’s face.
“Still a weasel,” Jason muttered, loud enough for all to hear.
“What was that?” Tom asked just inside the door.
“Don’t even think about playing with me,” Jason warned as he reopened the door and entered the room, “’cause I have no problem throwing you over my knee and spanking you right in front of this guy.”
I’m fifty years old, for God’s sake, Tom thought, and he thinks he’s going to spank me? I’m surprised the prison even let him out.
The attorney—his hand extended for anyone willing to give it a shake—looked mortified by the childish exchange.
Tom shook the man’s hand before settling into a soft leather wing chair. Jason followed suit.
The room was framed in rich mahogany paneling. The desk could have belonged in the oval office. Beneath a green-glassed banker’s lamp, stacks of file folders took up most of the vast desktop. An American flag stood in one corner, while framed diplomas and certificates, bearing witness to the man’s intelligence and vast education, covered the brown walls.
Attorney Norman wore a pinstriped shirt and pleated, charcoal-colored slacks held up by a pair of black suspenders. He had a bow tie, a receding hairline that begged to be shaved bald, and a pair of eyeglasses that John Lennon would have been proud to call his own. There’s no denying it, Tom thought, trying to ignore his brother’s wheezing beside him, he’s either a lawyer or a banker. He couldn’t be anything else.
While Jason squirmed in his seat, visibly uncomfortable to be sitting in a lawyer’s office, his hands squeezed the arms of the chair. What a chicken shit, Tom thought, trying to make himself feel better. Peering sideways, he noticed that his brother’s knuckles were so swollen with scar tissue they could have belonged to a man who made his living as a bare-knuckle brawler. He’s still an animal too, he decided.
Attorney Norman took a seat, grabbed a manila file from atop the deep stack and cleared his throat. “The reason you’re both here . . .”
“. . . is to make sure the old man’s really dead,” Jason interrupted.
In spite of himself and his harsh feelings for his brother, Tom chuckled—drawing looks from both men.
“The reason we’re all here,” Attorney Norman repeated, “is to read Stuart Prendergast’s last will and testament.” He flipped open the folder.
This ought to be good, Tom thought, while Jason took a deep breath and sighed heavily. Both brothers sat erect in their plush chairs, waiting to hear more.
As if he were Stuart Prendergast sitting there in the flesh, the mouthpiece read, “My final wish is that my two sons, Jason and Thomas, bring my final remains to 1165 Milford Road in Seattle, Washington, where they will spread my ashes.” “Seattle?” Tom blurted, his wagging tongue catching his tooth, making him wince in pain. Quickly concealing his weakness, he slid to the edge of his seat. “Oh, I don’t think so,” he mumbled, careful not to touch the tooth again.
Jason was shaking his head. “Hell no,” he said.
The attorney read on. “I’ve always been afraid to fly, so I’m asking that I not be transported by airplane but driven by car.”
“No way,” Tom instinctively sputtered.
Jason laughed aloud. “This is just great. The old bastard’s dead and he’s still screwing with us.”
The less-than-amused attorney revealed a sealed envelope and continued on. “As my final gift to my sons . . .”
“Only gift,” Tom muttered, feeling a cauldron of bad feelings bubbling in his gut.
“I’m leaving this sealed envelope for them to share, once and only once they’ve taken me to my final resting place.”
“What the fuck!” Jason blurted.
Every cell in Tom’s overloaded brain flashed red. Don’t do it, he thought. You don’t owe that old man a damned thing. But every cell in his body was flooded with curiosity. He looked at Jason, who was no longer shaking his fat head.
“Maybe the bastard finally hit it big at the dog track?” Jason suggested.
Tom nodded in agreement but secretly wondered, Could it be the deed to the land Pop bragged about owning in Maine? He stared at the envelope. For as long as I can remember, he claimed to own forty-plus acres with a brook running straight through it. He stared harder. Could it be? he wondered, wishing he had X-ray vision. A parcel of land in Maine sure would make a nice retirement . . .
“How ’bout we travel separately and meet in Seattle to spread the ashes?” Jason said, interrupting his thoughts.
“Great idea,” Tom said, hoping against all hope that the idea would fly with their father’s lawyer.
Attorney Norman shook his head. “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but your father specifically requested that you travel together with his remains to Seattle. Any deviation from this can and will prohibit you from attaining the sealed envelope.”
There was a long pause, the room blanketed in a heavy silence. Son of a bitch, Tom thought, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. He turned to Jason, who was already looking at him. “What do you say?” he asked, already cursing his inability to curb his curiosity.
Jason shook his head in disgust. “The last thing I want to do is to go on some stupid road trip with you.”
“Trust me, that’s a mutual feeling,” Tom shot back.
“But I don’t think we have a choice,” Jason added. “Our fucked-up father wants to play one last game with us, so to hell with it—let’s play.”
This is insane, but he’s right, Tom thought. With a single nod, Tom stood. “Okay, let’s have the ashes then,” he told the lawyer.
The attorney shook his head. “I don’t have them. They’re currently at a funeral home in Salem.”
“Salem?” Tom squeaked, unhappy that his tone betrayed his distress.
“That’s right. You have to take custody of your father’s remains from the Buffington Funeral Home in Salem, Massachusetts.”
“You must be shitting me.” Jason said.
The attorney smirked. “I shit you not,” he said, throwing the letter onto his desk.
Salem? Tom repeated in his head. Just when I thought Pop couldn’t be a bigger prick . . . The migraine knocked even harder from the inside of his skull, making him feel nauseous. Amid the pain, his synapses fired wildly, considering all this would mean: I’ll have to take bereavement leave from school and find someone to cover my classes. I should probably double my treatment with Dr. Baxter tomorrow. And what about Caleb and Caroline? he asked himself, quickly deciding, They’ll be fine without me for a few days. Then he pictured his wife’s face. And Carmen, she’ll be fine without me for a lot longer than that. The nausea increased. Screw her.
“Are we done here?” Jason asked, obviously itching to leave.
The lawyer nodded. “I’ll need proof in the form of a video or a series of photos that you’ve deposited your father’s remains where he wished. Once I have that, the letter’s all yours.”
“How wonderful,” Jason said sarcastically. He stood, turned on his heels, and headed for the door.
Tom also got to his feet. He looked at the lawyer and, trying to ignore his physical discomfort, he smiled. “Don’t mind him,” he said, shrugging. “That imbecile is exactly what our father trained him to be.”

My Book Review:

Every once in a while an author comes along who writes novels that are so powerfully compelling, poignant, and thought provoking, that they pull at the heartstrings and stir the soul. For me, that author is Steven Manchester and his latest novel, Ashes.

Ashes is a wonderful story about the complicated dynamics of family relationships that will simply pull at your emotional heartstrings. Author Steven Manchester weaves a richly descriptive tale that follows the cross country journey of estranged middle-aged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast, when they are forced to travel together to fulfill their father's last wishes of scattering his ashes in Seattle, Washington. Traveling from Salem, Massachusetts to Seattle, Washington, the brothers' journey is filled with humor, sibling rivalry, animosity, unresolved dysfunctional family issues, regrets, and an emotional chance to renew the bonds of brotherhood. 

The reader will be easily captivated and drawn into the brothers' sentimental and touchingly realistic journey. The author does a wonderful job of intertwining the brothers' traumatic childhood past with the difficulties that they face in their present lives. You can't help but get swept away and experience the full gamut of emotions as the brothers face a crossroad in their lives as they hash out their unresolved dysfunctional family dynamic, while considering the intense and difficult choices of how to deal with their current life issues.

Ashes is an powerful and compelling story written from the heart. It is a must read that will make you ponder your own family dynamic, stir your soul, and resonate with you for a very long time.


Contest Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Steven Manchester and The Story Plant.

There will be 5 US winners of one (1) PRINT copy of Ashes by Steven Manchester.

The giveaway begins on February 18th and runs through April 23rd, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

02/19 Review @ CMash Reads

02/20 Interview & Review @ Books, Dreams, Life

02/21 Review @ Just Reviews

02/21 Review @ Tome Tender

02/22 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

02/23 Review @ Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

02/24 Interview @ Building Bookshelves

02/25 Review @ Building Bookshelves

02/26 Review & Guest Post @ Literarily Illumined

02/27 Guest Post @ JeanBookNerd - Giveaway

02/28 Guest Post @ Colloquium

03/01 Review @ A Soccer Moms Book Blog

03/02 Review @ Id Rather Be At The Beach

03/03 Review @ Jbarrett5 Book Reviews

03/04 Review @ Crystal Book Reviews

03/05 Review @ Home Maid Simple

03/06 Review @ Celtic Ladys Reviews

03/06 Showcase @ Bookalicious Traveladdict

03/07 Interview @ Writers and Authors

03/07 Review @ Wall-to-wall books

03/07 Showcase @ The Ordinary Housewife Book Blog

03/08 Review @ Martins View

03/10 Review @ Colloquium

03/11 Review @ Lifes Simple Pleasures

03/12 Guest Post @ The Bookworm Lodge

03/13 Review @ Reviews From The Heart

03/14 Review @ sunny island breezes

03/15 Guest post @ Thoughts in Progress

03/15 Interview @ BooksChatter

03/15 Review @ Secret Pearls Reviews

03/16 Review @ Bookbug

03/17 Review @ Books Direct

03/17 Review @ Lights to Full

03/18 Guest post @ JAQUO Lifestyle Magazine

03/19 Review @ JAQUO Lifestyle Magazine

03/20 Review @ Reading in White Bear Lake

03/21 Review @ Deal Sharing Aunt

03/22 Review @ Eastern Sunset Reads

03/24 Review @ Blog Rockin Book Reviews

03/25 Showcase @ Hott Books

04/01 Review @ The Coffee Pot Review

04/04 Review @ Writing Pearls

04/10 Review @ My Life. One Story at a Time.

04/12 Review & Guest Post @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

04/12 Review @ JBronder Book Reviews

04/13 Review @ Frugal Mom Eh

04/16 Review @ Socrates Review Blog

04/17 Guest post @ The Book Divas Reads

04/20 Review @ Turning the Pages

4/20 Review @ I Love My Authors

04/21 Review @ I Feel So Unnecessary

05/02 Blog Talk Radio w/Fran Lewis

10/17 Showcase @ OPS Opinions


  1. I'm with you, Steven Manchester is extraordinary!

    1. Hi Cheryl! I love reading Steven's books! Every one of them is wonderful, can't wait to read more of them! :)