FRIDAY FACE OFF AUGUST 24, 2018

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Welcome to the Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme created by Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in the literary universe.  If you want to join us next week, check out next week’s predetermined theme, choose a book, compare two or more different covers available for that book, then name your favorite. A list of future weeks’ themes are available at Lynn’s Book Blog

This week’s theme is:

“To be a legend, you’ve either got to be dead, or excessively old!” – A cover with a title featuring the word ‘legend’!”

There was one book tailor made for this theme!

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AND THE WINNER IS . . .

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A TIE!  Well, sort of.  Or you could think of it (as I do) as merely two different style covers.

On the left is the minimalistic cover with merely an axe in brown and white.  It is simple yet striking.  On the right is the action oriented cover with the main character wielding his famous axe in the thick of the fighting.  Very different covers yet both eye catching in their own way.

So, do you agree with my picks?  Disagree?  Love all the covers?  Hate them all?  Let us know!

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TOP THREE THURSDAY

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Welcome to Top Three Thursday! This is a weekly feature I’ve decided to host from this day forward.  A day where I can post a short list on different topics I’ve been thinking about.  The focus this time out is: BOOKS WHICH MADE ME EMOTIONAL!

I have to admit I’m not an emotional guy anymore.  Once I was a daydream believer who would get teary eyed watching a sad movie.  Now, after twenty years in the legal field, it takes A LOT to upset me.  My stoic sensibilities in full force when it comes to fictional situations, because, ultimately, I always know it is all make believe.

The reason I explained all that is so you understand this was a difficult topic for me to pick.  A theme which made me dig deep in my memory and my reading list to find three books which truly emotionally tugged at my heart, my soul.  And here were the top three books which I can honestly say emotionally touched me in one way or another.


prince of thorns3. PRINCE OF THORNS 

When I piked up Mark Lawrence’s grimdark extravaganza, I had heard all the differing sides of the narrative.  One group said the book breathed fresh air into the stuffy world of fantasy.  Another derided the book as a gore-fest where women were raped and brutality was glorified.  All of the arguing just made me curious, so I read the book and was shocked by the complexity of this story.  Suffice it to say I was so emotionally jarred by the experience I wrote a very long review, which you can read here.

Purchase Prince of Thorns at Amazon 


the road2. THE ROAD

Unlike Prince of Thorns, I’d never heard of this novel when I first saw it, decided to read it.  What I experienced in the narrative was a horrifying descent into a post-apocalyptic world where one father is doing all he can to save his only child from the brutality of a world gone mad.  Perhaps the fact I had young sons at this point in my life is why this story tore me up emotionally, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I had nightmares for days after finishing this, because I couldn’t get the images of this book out of my mind.

Purchase The Road at Amazon


lord of the rings1. THE LORD OF THE RINGS  

Every single time I read Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece I tell myself I’m not going to get upset and tear up at the ending.  Every single time I find myself coming to love every one of these characters, wanting them to have a happy ending.  I know it’s foolish of me to feel like that.  I mean, I have read this story over and over again; it isn’t like the ending is going to be any different this time around.  Yet every single time I want to cry when I close the book: partly tears of sorrow and partly tears of joy.

Purchase The Lord of the Rings: One Vol. Editionat Amazon 


So what are some books which made you emotional?

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LUCIFER’S NEBULA

lucifers nebulaLucifer’s Nebula by C.T. Phipps Michael Suttkus

Genre: Science Fiction – Space Opera

Series: Lucifer’s Star #2

Publisher: Crossroad Press (January 5, 2018)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 279 pages

My Rating: 4 stars

Sequels can be hit-or-miss with me, especially when I enjoy the first installment of a series as much as I did Lucifer’s Star. The opening salvo of CT Phipps and Michael Suttkus’s dark space opera a fast-paced, exciting introduction to a new galaxy far, far away, one teeming with memorable characters, riveting combat, and mesmerizing political machinations. But while I went into my read of its sequel with a bit of trepidation, I’m really glad to write that the sophomore slump did not affect Lucifer’s Nebula at all; this new book delivered a story which lives up to its predecessor in every respect.

It all begins with the former Count of the Arch Duchy of Crius, Cassius Mass, helming the space freighter Melampus. He and his crew are running weapons for some shady operators before being double crossed. But it isn’t anything new or unexpected to these hardened outlaws. What is unexpected is the message they receive from Ida Claire, former captain of the Melampus and spy for the Commonwealth, who has an offer which Cassius literally can’t turn down: deliver a message to the Free Systems Alliance and get past misdeeds completely erased!

Naturally, the mission is not quite so straightforward as all that, and, soon, Cassius and crew find themselves embroiled in another adventure where the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance. Vendettas are exposed. Double crosses take place. Space battles breakout. Romance blossoms. Political agendas spring up. And Cassius’s past is front-and-center in much of it; people he thought long gone returned to haunt him or help him.

As with Lucifer’s Star, the driving force behind this outstanding space opera is the well developed characters. Cassius continuing to grow before our reading eyes. Returning characters like Isla and Clarice slowly evolving. And the introduction of new cast members handled deftly, as they are carefully molded into very realistic individuals who exhibit their own unique perspectives and personalities. The continual spectacle of these true-to-life people dealing with intense conflicts, double crosses, and high stress situations in a well developed galaxy driving the narrative forward to its stunning conclusion.

As for any negatives with the book, I would merely say that there were a few plots which opened up strong but fell by the wayside once the action began. Certainly, these were more minor plots which didn’t exactly build upon the ongoing galactic crisis theme, but they were interesting rabbit holes which I wish the authors had found time to return to from time to time.

Dark. Heroic. Character driven. Exciting. Humorous. Filled with inventive ideas, colorful cast members, and enough action to satisfy even die-hard action fans, Lucifer’s Nebula is a fresh approach to space opera which more than lived up to my expectations. Phipps and Suttkus doing an outstanding job recognizing what worked in the first book, replicating that feel yet expanding the saga in new directions, setting up fresh opportunities for further adventures in this galaxy with these people. Definitely, a series more people should give a try!

Purchase the book at Amazon

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SHOCKING BOOK COVERS!

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SHOCKING BOOK COVERS!

Well, maybe, not shocking, but certainly interesting, perplexing, and amazing in their own unique ways.  Covers I’ve come across over the years which caught my attention for the wrong reasons and stuck in my mind until I could share them all with you guys.

Hope you enjoy or, at least,  are entertained for a few moments.


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So which one(s) did you enjoy the most?  Or which shocked you the most?  Let us all know!

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FUNDAY MONDAY, OR THE BOOKS THAT WILL HELP ME SURVIVE THE WEEK AHEAD (AUGUST 20, 2018)

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Another week begins.  I quickly slip into my business suit and head back into the office to save a few innocent people. While I try to fool myself into being excited about the promise of a new week and the continuation of the regular grind, deep down, I’m not, so I’m going to escape dreary reality by finally reading a great book . . . or two!

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darth vader gnDarth Vader, Vol. 1: Imperial Machine by Charles Soule

Genre: Star Wars Comics

Series: Marvel Star Wars: Darth Vader #1

Publisher: Marvel Comics (December 5, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 144 pages

From acclaimed writer Charles Soule comes a brand-new, exhilarating series exploring Darth Vader’s early history. Picking up directly where Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith ends, follow Vader as he receives his legendary red lightsaber and witness Vader’s rise to power as a Dark Lord of the Sith!

Purchase at Amazon

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darth vader gn2Darth Vader, Vol. 2: Legacy’s End by Charles Soule

Genre: Star Wars Comics

Series: Marvel Star Wars: Darth Vader #2

Publisher: Marvel Comics (April 24, 2018)

Author Information:Website | Twitter

Length: 136 pages

Vader’s story continues! Jocasta Nu, the Jedi Temple librarian, puts forth a desperate eff ort to gather and preserve whatever he can of the Jedi legacy after the purge. Vader and the Grand Inquisitor cannot let Jocasta succeed and are sent after her, as alpatine views her as a particular threat. Her knowledge makes her almost a one-woman Jedi Order that must be stopped.

Purchase at Amazon

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FRIDAY FACE OFF AUGUST 10, 2018

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Welcome to the Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme created by Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in the literary universe.  If you want to join us next week, check out next week’s predetermined theme, choose a book, compare two or more different covers available for that book, then name your favorite. A list of future weeks’ themes are available at Lynn’s Book Blog

This week’s theme is:

“‘Knock, knock… ‘who’s there?’ – A cover featuring a door ajar or closed!”

There was only one book which I felt perfectly represented this theme!

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AND THE WINNER IS . . .

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So, do you agree with my pick?  Disagree?  Love them all?  Hate them all?  Let us know!

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TOP THREE THURSDAY

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Welcome to Top Three Thursday! This is a weekly feature I’ve decided to host from this day forward.  A day where I can post a short list on different topics I’ve been thinking about.  The focus this time out is: VILLAINS WHO ARE BETTER THAN THE HEROES!

Okay, maybe that isn’t real clear, so I’ll try to be more specific: books where the villains is so interesting, so badass that he/she basically steals the show from the hero(es).

Last clarification: I’m not talking about anti-heroes here or books where the villain is the point-of-view character.  Nope, I am picking three villains who are bad guys without any doubt,  but they are so damn compelling you can’t help but want to learn more about them.


stands a shadow3. STANDS A SHADOW (CHE) 

I found this to be a very exciting, action-packed story. (For a different view take a look at Bookstooge’s Review.) Especially compelling was the character of Che, who was a double agent of sorts who finds himself at a crossroads.  He is damn cold-blooded, has done and will do horrible things to pretty much anyone, but his uncaring facade and deep fear of his superiors is beginning to crack.  Watching his struggles stole the show from the heroes in my humble opinion.

Purchase Stands a Shadow (Heart of the World) at Amazon


red tide2. Red Tide (AMEREL)

Probably the most under-appreciated fantasy in years, CotE truly rivals Malazan in its epic scope and the epic number of characters one must follow.  In this installment, there is lots going on with many people taking a turn on center stage, but the truly ruthless, uncaring, and clever Amerel really steals the show.  This female Guardian described by me at the time as a “female Jorg Ancrath.”  Yeah, I still stick by the description, believing now as then that she is the real star of the book.

Purchase Red Tide: The Chronicles of the Exile, Book Threeat Amazon


BANE OF MALEKITH1.  BANE OF MALEKITH (MALEKITH)

I picked out Bane of Malekith as an example of a general feeling I have with all Warhammer books which involve Malekith, basically that he is always the most interesting character in the story. Perhaps I’m just fascinated by this fallen elf prince, or maybe his character is just so compelling it is hard to create a hero who can outshine him, but for me, at least, Malekith is the one I want to read about when I see him mentioned in a story.  And, yes, I do feel a bit dirty for saying that for, without a doubt, this guy is about almost as bad as his mother!

Purchase Bane of Malekith (Tyrion & Teclis)at Amazon

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INDIE WEDNESDAY: CHARLES E. YALLOWITZ

Indie-WednesdayAlong my reading journey, I’ve made a conscious decision to not only read the books on the shelves at my local Barnes & Nobles store, or online at Amazon, but to also try self-published, or indie, works as often as I can.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to feature one of my favorite indie authors (Charles E. Yallowitz). This stand-up guy, dedicated father, and wonderfully creative writer has recently announced that he is heading back into the 9-5 work world, writing part-time as life allows.

Certainly, this is sad news for all his fans and friends.  I have to say it saddened me to hear, because Charles is one of the nicest authors I’ve met during my years blogging.  Sure, we still have all his previously published stories to read, but it just will not be the same without a new Yallowitz release to talk about every few months.

Here is the info on Charles E. Yallowitz latest release: Quest of the Brokenhearted. I’d encourage all lovers of fantasy and supporters of self-publishing to give his work a try!

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A battered soul faces a city of monsters in
Quest of the Brokenhearted!

Cover Art by Sean Harrington

As Windemere moves forward, a broken spirit falls into the shadows.

Two years have passed since Luke Callindor was lost during the champions’ battle against Baron Kernaghan. Many mourn the loss, but none have been hurt more than the fiancée he left behind, Kira Grasdon. Plagued by grief and determined to prove he is alive, she has sacrificed her business, her reputation, and her hope. Surviving on the streets of Gaia, she has become an emotional husk of her former self. It is only by chance that Kira crosses paths with an old friend and learns of a path, which will either end her suffering or revive her shattered soul. As the rumors state, hundreds of adventurers have flocked to Lacarsis and none have returned.

Will Kira meet her death in the City of Evil or will she thrive among the monsters?

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Excerpted. ©2018 Charles E. Yallowitz. All rights reserved. May not be copied or shared in any format except with the written permission of the author.  

The Farm

The blast of warm air hits and swirls around the area to make all those in metal armor feel like they are about to faint. As the wind billows out, it carries the fog away to reveal broken fences and an abandoned farmhouse. The porch is partially collapsed with a swing sitting in the mud, its chains still connected to the fallen roof. The front door is closed, but a large hole is in the middle as if something tried to punch its way inside. Rusty pots and tools are scattered about the ground, some of them having been plunged into the ground. Not far away is a large barn, which shows no sign of damage beyond peeling paint and cobwebs dangling from the eaves. A crooked weathervane sits above the hay loft, the bat-shaped object spinning wildly even though the wind has died. Wilted crops stand in the fields among those that have already rotted into mush. Piles of hay dot the landscape, each one having turned black and become surrounded by swarms of thumb-sized flies. When the last of the fog clears, the entire area is bathed in a sickly orange light that causes the adventurers’ skin to crawl.

An animal call erupts from a nearby pasture, the grass a light brown and showing signs of being repeatedly trampled. In response, the sounds of chickens drift from the farmhouse and they are soon joined by other familiar noises. The ear-wrenching symphony continues to grow as the adventurers spread out across the road and into the fields. Most are focused on the farmhouse door, so they are caught off-guard when the attack begins. Zombified pigs, horses, goats, and sheep burst out of the barn to charge the nearest warriors. With acidic foam flying from their mouths, the undead livestock crash into the armored figures and rip into whatever flesh they can reach. The goats and pigs cause the most damage, their teeth breaking through metal and bone while the horses do more harm with their hooves. Flapping wings from the farmhouse are a slight warning before a flock of chickens and ducks explode from the windows. Lacking teeth, they have a harder time killing their prey, who swing wildly and blindly cast spells that miss half of the time. Chaos is consuming the crowd when the first animal call erupts from the right and four knights are sent hurtling through the air. Flesh dangling from its horns and blood splattered across its rotting face, the zombified bull barrels into the adventurers. The grunting beast tramples everything in its path as it crashes into one of the fields and sends a broken cart rolling away. Turning around, the animal ignores the arrows that stick into its hindquarters and charges back into the crowd.

While the others try to retreat, Kira swings her sickle at the bull’s side and gets the weapon stuck between the exposed ribs. She holds on while she is dragged and uses the blunt end to swat chickens out of the air. As she passes a stallion, she swings her kusari-gama to get the chain wrapped around its hind legs. With the horse galloping away from the bull, Kira plants her feet and pulls hard on her weapon. Her strength combined with that of the zombified steed allows her to shatter the larger animal’s ribs. Spinning around, she whips the sickle into the side of the stallion’s head and uncoils the chain as it crashes to the ground. Without turning back, the adventurer dives to the side and narrowly avoids getting gored by the bull. The moment she hits the ground, she pounces to grab the jagged hole in its body and pulls herself close enough to punch inside with the blunt end of her weapon. Kira continues striking the rotting heart until the confused animal rears back and exposes its stomach for a pair of spearmen to impale it. They are unable to support its weight and are promptly crushed while the young woman flips up to slam her sickle into the base of its skull. Hanging onto the bucking bull, she violently twists the blade until the zombie finally falls over and rapid decays. The others are about to cheer when the call of another bull bursts from the pasture.

“They just keep coming,” Kira mutters as she watches more animals pour out of the buildings.

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Interested in more Windemere? Then don’t forget to check out Charles E. Yallowitz’s first series: Legends of Windemere

All Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Or more interested vampires? Then check out War of Nytefall: Loyalty:

Cover Art by Alison Hunt

About the Author:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Blog: www.legendsofwindemere.com
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com

LET THE TOURNAMENT OF LACARSIS BEGIN!

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TOP TEN TUESDAY

TOP TEN TUESDAYS

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! This is a weekly feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where a new top ten list hits the web every week!

The topic this time out is: My Favorite Books I Don’t Dare Reread!

Have you ever had a book which you list among your favorites?  A story which kept you up at night reading, lingered in your memories, and never faded entirely away, but now, years later, you are terrified to reread this beloved book because you are scared what you will find?  Terrified the amazing story you once adored will now turn out to be a sad, boring morass of broken memories?

If you answered “Yes”, then this is a topic for you, because I’m going to list ten of my favorites which I really . . . REALLY can’t bring myself to read out of pure fear of ruining my deep love for them.


10. The Rulers of Hylor

This was a trilogy which I discovered early on in my reading days.  A fairly straightforward fantasy tale which caught my imagination and opened my eyes to the idea there was more to fantasy than just Tolkien.  Now, though, I am terrified to reread it because I’d rather recall it through the lost eyes of my former preteen self.

9. TimeWars

This time travel adventure tale was one of the first SFF series I ever recall reading.  I loved ever second of it.  After growing older, I realize it was a fairly generic story from Simon Hawke, but it still looms as a favorite in my mind due to my fondness for it in earlier years.

8. Tiger and Del

Jennifer Roberson was a favorite fantasy author of mine back in the 1980s and 1990s.  It started with her Cheysuli series and continued with this one.  Sure, I knew the adventures of Tiger and Del were a fantasy rom-com with an action adventure slant, but I loved them anyway. Not sure if I would now or not.

7. Gap

I honestly do not recall very much about Donaldson’s Gap series other than I convinced myself at the time that I liked it.  Why I thought I liked it, I have no idea now.  But I do know I really have very little interest in rereading it for some reason.

6. Dragonlance Chronicles  

As an avid D&D player back in my teen years, this series was like a dream come true.  I loved it.  Couldn’t wait to get my hands on every Dragonlance book which was released.  I still hold it in high esteem, but I’m also terrified to reread it, worried I’ll be disappointed.

5. The Belgariad

This is one of my teen favorites.  I loved this series.  Adored the next one.  Was mesmerized by the prequel books.  It was my personal Harry Potter, if you will. I wouldn’t dare to reread it though, because while it has remained the same I’ve turned into a pessimistic, jaded middle-aged man.  Doubt we’d mesh well anymore.

4. The Histories of King Kelson 

I grew up on Katherine Kurtz’s tales of the Deryni, especially enjoying the ones focusing in on young King Kelson.  Reading about this noble, devoted young man growing up and into his role as a ruler of a great nation was a wonderful way for me (a teenage boy growing into a man) to see how my struggles weren’t so different after all.

3. Riddle-Master 

A classic fantasy story which was beautifully written, emotionally captivating, and filled with more than transparent meaning.  It really harkens back to a more optimistic way of viewing the world, and since I’m older I’m not sure if that would ruin my appreciation of this wonderful story, so I stay away.

2. The Instrumentalities of the Dark

I enjoyed this series, appreciated the historical similarities to 13th century Europe, and value it as another excellent work from one of my favorite authors.  But . . . I really think this is a series which can’t be reread.  The second time through I just don’t know if I would appreciate it as much.

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1.  The Riyria Revelations

Now, I really enjoy Hadrian and Royce stories.  The two are truly a great team, and their funny banter and wild adventures always bring a smile to my face.  But — like Glen Cook’s Instrumentalities — I just don’t believe I’d enjoy reading this series again.  The jokes would be stale; the twists no longer surprising; and the fun factor mostly gone.  Hate to say that, but I really think Hadrian and Royce only work the first time around.  At least for me.

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GUEST POST

guest-post2Today, I’m happy to have my son, Connor, return to the blog.  Usually when he shows up it is to talk about graphic novels, but today he is giving an update on his GoFundMe.  Anyone who has come by the blog this summer has probably noticed the big link on the sidebar.

borderHi, everyone. I won’t take up much of your time.  Dad just thought it would be a good idea to let everyone know what is going on with my GoFundMe.

First, I wanted to tell the people who were nice enough to contribute to my project that even though I didn’t raise enough money to buy a storage building,  I was able to use the money to buy several bookshelves.  So now the books are sorted and up off the floor. And as you can see I’ve used ever inch of space I could!

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Just so you know, there is another bookshelf just outside the picture which is also full as well as a few boxes of books on the floor, but I have been able to clear most of the garage floor which has made it look much, much neater and made my mom A LOT happier.

As for my book company, I had my first $1000 sales month in July.  I didn’t get paid that much.  (I wish!!) But it was really, really cool to sell that many books and be able to save a couple hundred dollars for college.

Future plans are to keep buying books, getting organized, and (if things keep going well) start a business seller’s account on Amazon so I can have my own storefront there, which I’ll link up here if anyone is interested in buying some great books.  I have everything from cookbooks to Christian books to history books to SFF books to romance books.  So there is something for anyone!  

Before I go I would like to thank all the awesome, caring people out there who have taken the time to read this!

batman-V-superman-logoAbout Connor (In his dad’s words):

Connor is a teenager who enjoys graphic novels (DC Comics are preferred!), superhero movies (Avengers Infinity War is his newest favorite.), watching YouTube videos day and night,  will happily accept any and all caps (because you just can’t have too many caps), and whose favorite music right now revolves around 80s hair metal and early 2000s pop-punk.  And, no, Connor did not have any input into my paragraph about him.  Being a dad does have it’s privileges.

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