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Grayheart

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Back when I decided to go to law school, I had only two weeks to brush up on logic before taking the LSAT. All the various arguments and mechanisms used to master the seemingly convoluted questions in the exam seemed overwhelmingly. I struggled with books and articles on logic written for adults, and became increasingly frustrated. My solution was simple: search out a well-written children's book on logic. It worked.The best children's nonfiction books are those that are written by authors who have mastered the subject and can write in clear, simple prose, thinking simultaneously like a bright child and a bright adult. Complex information can be quickly absorbed through these books because of the author's expertise and understanding of both the subject and his or her audience.Igor Sukhin has written a superb book to enable children to master the basics of chess and capture the enthusiasm that he himself obviously has for the game. Children will learn all the correct terms, all the right moves and, best of all, the right approach and attitude for this game of skilled strategy.I remember the humiliation of trying to teach myself chess as a teenager and later trying to help our daughter enjoy the game. Alas, both attempts resulted in lackluster ends. Neither she nor I play chess on a regular basis because of haunted feeling that we know just enough to scrape by without being seen as total frauds. However, had I had Gary's Adventures in Chess Country back then, both attempts would have succeeded. I am sure of it.In fact, I can report that by reading the book for this review, I am going to have another go at chess myself. I learned more in the first few chapters of this book than I had while stumbling through entire “grown-up” how-to books. Even as an adult reader, I found Sukhin's use of stories, rhymes, quizzes and riddles entertaining, not condescending or boring. It was a delight to realize how he was helping me build skill upon skill as I read through the book. Children will respond even faster because they are not working through years of fear of humiliation. By the way, all the answers to the questions and riddles are in the back of the book, but the text itself is written to reinforce the answers so you may never have the need to use the Answer Key. It will probably serve as more of a comfort for the adults reading the book to children or reading it for themselves. Most children will pick up on the correct answers as they work through the chapters.Therefore, it is with the same passion that Sukhin invested in his book that I recommend it to children, parents of children and adults in general. If you have ever wondered about or longed to be able to play the game of chess, this is the book that will transform your wondering or longing into real skill. Just as that children's book on understanding the fundamentals of logic and the mechanism of Venn diagrams opened the doors to law school for me, this book will open the doors to wonder and fascination Chess is a powerful game; it hones both self-discipline and observation, and it strengthens analysis of both the moves and your opponent. The game can a lifelong joy. This book empowers you to tackle the many aspects of the game while enjoying the process. The cover and internal illustrations by the Creative Center – Bulgaria enhance the journey from a confused observer to a competent player. In short, this book was well-conceived, well-written and well-presented. It is a book that should be in every one's library whether you are seven or seventy. As for myself, I can hardly wait until our daughter comes home for a visit. She and I are going to use this book to complete our quest together. I just hope she doesn't beat me right off the mark.
The Better Bladder Book: A Holistic Approach to Healing Interstitial Cystitis and Chronic Pelvic Pain

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The Better Bladder Book by Wendy Cohan, R.N. is a book that should be on every woman's bookshelf because it lives up to its subtitle: A Holistic Approach to Healing Interstitial Cystitis & Chronic Pelvic Pain.If you or someone you love or care about has ever suffered the pain and frustration of trying to cope with urinary and pelvic pain, this is a book that will help you understand what the conditions are that cause it, why they may become chronic and what can be done to relieve them. Cohan's presentation of interstitial cystitis as a systemic disease opens the door to wide possibilities of causes and treatments. Traditionally, physicians had been taught a much narrower view, even that there was no treatment available, with the result that many people suffered in frustrated silence.The Better Bladder Book educates us on how the choices we make regarding what we eat, drink and how we live can help us overcome many of these problems through self-treatment. People who suffer from gluten intolerance and celiac disease will find this book invaluable to unlocking some health problems that have been difficult to resolve.If you, like me, are sensitive some medications or if you simply cannot afford or do not wish to use medications for simple health problems, you will appreciate the straightforward, easy-to-understand explanations given. Cohan takes us from an overview of how male and female urinary systems are set-up and work to what happens when they don't and what we may be able to do about it. She covers traditional methods of treatment, but also suggests new treatments that are proving to be more beneficial to an increasing number of patients. You discover that you can be your body's best friend by understanding how it works and how to help it recover when it doesn't work as it shouldAs chance would have it, I was experiencing a minor bladder-related problem when the book arrived in the mail. Within days, after reading through the book and implementing some of the suggestions, the problem resolved itself and has not returned. Until I learned what I could do to avoid recurrence, the problem had been one I was told was just something I had to put up with as a woman. No more! Wendy Cohan's book has given me the knowledge I need to help myself, as well as the information I need to know if the situation requires a doctor's assistance. Cohan helps us understand when symptoms are self-treatable and when they require more expertise. She is very clear in alerting us to other conditions that could be causing the symptoms and why we should be cautious in over-simplifying our self-treatment. We not only become better able to care for ourselves, we become better informed patients.There is much we can and should do to determine if we can help free ourselves from chronic pain or discomfort. Bladder problems can hinder one's enjoyment of life by curtailing an active lifestyle. Why not try the suggestions offered? I can attest that the ones I tried made a huge difference.I will know what questions to ask and how to better evaluate the answers given. I will no longer be a passive bystander as regards my bladder health. I know now I can do basic things for basic problems, and no longer have to settle for the “well, as a woman, you just have to expect some of these problems.” I highly recommend this book, and hope others can find relief by applying the suggestions found within it.
Hormone Balance Through Yoga: A Pocket Guide for Women over 40

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If you are a woman entering your forties, you are well aware of the horror stories of hot flashes, weight gain, bone weakness, loss of libido, losses of energy and interest. If you are also a woman who does not want to resort to or does not trust the safety of artificial hormonal treatments, you need to read Hormone Balance Through Yoga by Claudia Turske. Investing in this small and practical book may give you the insights and answers you have been seeking.Many of us cannot afford formal yoga classes, cannot find the time for long sessions, or simply do not feel comfortable in an exercise studio. If you fit into any of these categories, this book was written for you. It gets across the basics in an effective, engaging way that doesn't stress your time or budget.It is a small book full of practical advice on how to use the breathing techniques and gentle movements of yoga to stimulate and balance hormones. If you are someone familiar with yoga, you know firsthand the overall benefits from regular practice, but you may be surprised to learn how to target concerns specific to middle-aged women. If you are not yet into yoga, you are going to be happily surprised by Turske's simple, gentle recommendations. She has written a small and simple handbook that you can take anywhere to remind you how to transition from active child-bearing years into graceful middle-age.Your body will thank you for the small effort required to help it restore and maintain a sense of youthful energy and vitality. Breathing correctly is the basic lesson to master in yoga. Its benefits are substantial, and the time you spend learning different techniques of breathing will improve all areas of your life. Turske explains several techniques in simple, clear language and explains the benefits of each. What I particularly like about this book is that Claudia Turske not only provides clear written instruction and photographs for each pose she recommends, she also explains why it is important, the benefits it will produce, and how to modify a pose for any special needs you have. She also provides cautions where necessary so you need not fear doing a pose incorrectly or injuring yourself. She even includes a simple chart with which you can chart your progress and note the subtle but real improvements you will feel as you put her advice into action. I highly recommend this book even though I myself am postmenopausal. I was introduced to yogic breathing and gentle stretches a few years ago and can testify how much my physical and emotional life has improved through this gentle exercise art. I thank Library Thing for the opportunity to review this book and share my belief in it.
Advanced Automotive Welding

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Although no one in my household works on automobiles as either a vocation or avocation, Advanced Automotive Welding by Jerry Uttrachi has become a valuable addition to our home library. My husband is an artist who works in several media, one being sculpture. He has done welded outdoor sculptures over the years and is already learning new techniques from this book to utilize in his next projects.Even as a non-welder, this book has caught my imagination because I had not realized the breath and depth of processes and techniques involved in welding and am grateful for having been given a review copy via Library Thing. It has created a new appreciation for the craft and those who weld. I now know there that are several major and distinct types of welding: oxyacetylene (probably the first and oldest popular techniques), TIG, stick, and MIG. He also covers the cutting techniques necessary to automotive (or sculptural) fabrication: oxyfuel and plasma cutting. Each has both advantages and disadvantages depending upon your needs and abilities and Uttrachi makes sure you understand them. He not only includes overview commentary, but also clear photographs and instructions. There is also brief coverage of plasma gouging and laser cutting.I also learned that there are hundreds of joint types involved in welding. Uttrachi covers the major divisions: butt, and structural tubular. In addition, he discusses the advantages and uses of each variation within those basic divisions. What both my husband and I appreciated is Uttrachi's emphasis on safety and application - he not only tells you what and how, but discusses the why of particulars aspects of welding.This is more than just a how-to book, it seems to us to include comprehensive coverage on materials, equipment, and techniques to maximize the likelihood of success and safety. It has certainly deepened my appreciation for how integral proper welding is the safety and advanced design of automobiles. I am even considering having my husband teach me basic welding because this book has dispelled the mystery and created an interest in transforming metal into useful design, be it in automotive or purely aesthetic art.
Catching Santa

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I admire the courage and hard work it takes to write a children's book. Good children's literature captivates both young and adult readers. Even the simplest story, well told, endears itself to any age reader. However, children's literature requires a strong vision and an even stronger set of writing skills than fiction writing for adults. Adults can fill-in, excuse and overlook weak spots, but children need seamless blending of skill and vision. They deserve writing that is crafted for them, but has deeper levels that can resonate for them over time. This author shows promise, but Catching Santa (The Kringle Chronicles, Book I) falls short of that future potential. There are many passages that show strength and imagination, but more that simply lie before you, gasping for direction, depth and dimension. I wanted this book to succeed, and I believe the next one in the series will, if the author puts more effort into developing sympathetic characters and refining his pacing. A strong editor could easily assist this author by pointing out the weaknesses and bolstering the strengths; there is potential here. Mark Franco can become a significant young adult author, particularly for boys, but he needs polishing and fine tuning. He is closer than most to being a solid writer, but he needs a firm hand and honest critique to be the writer I think he can be.As others have noted, the first half to two-thirds of the book move slowly without any real insight into the characters or the main plot narrative. Then, suddenly, the book is galloping away with scenes of warfare in what appears, finally, to be a fight between good and evil. Mythic elements are thrown into a suburban setting and time becomes a tool to be manipulated – all without any warning. The groundwork for these possibilities was tenuous at best. To make matters worse, there is a sudden, surprise ending that hits the reader with a heavy implication that this may be a heavily veiled Christian-oriented theme. It could be that this is not the intended message, but the theme lingers at the end nonetheless. Where it came from or why it is there is hard to pinpoint.Good versus Evil is not, and should not be seen as, an exclusively Christian battle. If the author did not intend this, I hope he will model his next volume in the series on a clearer platform. Images of high-tech war are not compatible with the values of a faith built on the peace and tolerance. If this sense of religious messaging is intended, I hope the author will make it clearer because the series target audience needs to be clearer. We know Santa is derived from Saint Nicolas, but the Santa most folks relate to now is an almost secular, good-natured fellow with magical abilities. This book strikes a tone that is not quite religious, but not quite secular; it is as if the author hasn't decided which way to go. It took me months to finish reading what should have been a light read, partly because the characters failed to capture my sympathy and partly because the pacing was uneven. There is a heavy-handed insistence in making the reader aware of how tech savvy these young people are. I fear references to Wikipedia and Skype and currently popular aspects of the internet will date this book faster than its relevance to current tastes can bolster its relevance. Better to have kept references to them more generic rather than named programs, sites or services. Well-heeled suburban kids will identify with the smart phones, the computers and using email, instant messaging and Skype, but not all children will. The gender treatment was uneven as well. The boys talk about how smart and brave the girls are, but very little opportunity is given for the girls to show those traits. The main character seems well immersed in technology and the language of warfare, which becomes a primary feature of the last part of the book. That may be expected of a teenager and even a pre-adolescent male, but I wonder how it will fare with younger, female readers.There is certainly a thread of darkness throughout the book. Unresolved issues like disappearing children, parents with hidden talents or agendas make for some gaping holes in the narrative. There was a sense of too many threads left dangling, no cathartic growth for the characters. That said, the author did conceive a novel approach to the Santa myth and did lay the groundwork for what could be a good series for young adults if he will spend time smoothing out the pacing and developing these characters into people we care about. I think Marco is an author to watch. First efforts are not always dependable gauges for success. There is talent here, enough that I look forward to seeing if the next book in the series is stronger from lessons learned for both the author and his characters.
Any Witch Way

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Annastaysia Savage's Any Witch Way captures preteen angst perfectly in Sadie, a twelve-year old who embodies all the hope and confusion of that transition age. She truly is betwixt and between; at one moment she is a vulnerable child, at another, she a prideful, challenging adolescent impatient to achieve independence with that irritating know-it-all bravado that is quick to judge and slow to understand, but understand she eventually does. This story is an engaging journey from self-doubt to self-acceptance. It is about how we all struggle to find a way to achieve self-empowerment to survive in a seemingly chaotic world.The French expression L'Envers et l'endroit, can be translated as “between the right way and the wrong way,” which is where Sadie is, in both figurative and literal terms, for most of this story. When we first meet her, she is struggling with both social and self acceptance, trying to come to terms with the difference between how others perceive her and how she perceives herself. The author adroitly immerses Sadie into a world caught in the same struggle between the perceptions of good and evil, right and wrong, reality and fantasy; both Sadie and the world in which she lives have to fight to achieve a viable balance and survive.To make matters worse, Sadie is ostensibly an orphan. She is shuttled through a series of foster families primarily because she refuses to accept the death of the only parent she has ever known, her mother. Sadie stubbornly clings to her inner belief, her heartfelt truth that her mother is alive against all the circumstantial evidence, all the counseling from experts, and ridicule from her peers. She “knows” she is not an orphan, but cannot find anyone or any place where her inner truth is accepted. Vulnerable, alone, misunderstood, and bullied, Sadie wants only to be normal, to be accepted, to belong. Savage has adroitly created a world that perfectly mirrors Sadie's inner conflicts. Sadie's quest, as clearly defined by both her circumstances and other characters, is one of self-discovery. Only by accepting and trusting herself can she find the strength and the skills to resolve both her inner conflict and the conflict swirling around her.Any Witch Way can be read as a simple coming-of-age story about tweens, and as such it succeeds; but it also can be read as a coming-of-age story about society itself. Savage has interwoven Sadie's personal struggle with the struggle of how we perceive the world at large. She uses the elements of fantasy writing – strange creatures, magical powers and powerful artifacts – to make us question reality itself. How much of what we see, hear and touch can be trusted to be merely what we perceive it to be? Savage encourages us to question how accurately we trust or mistrust ourselves, other people, and the world itself. Both the reader and Sadie are being challenged with profound questions. Only by embracing that challenge do both get closer to understanding what the answers may be.. Annastaysia Savage's extensive training as both an artist and a writer combine to create lively descriptions of both feelings and characters. There are only a couple of chapters in the final third of the book where a reader may stumble over disconnected and didactic dialogue and rushed plot points, but those are minor flaws in an otherwise well-told story that flows well and successfully handles a large stable of characters. Readers as young ten will identify with Sadie's struggle for identity and acceptance, and adult readers will find a satisfying tale interweaving several levels or variations of the quest for knowledge and truth, both personal and universal. Any Witch Way is an enjoyable book, a promising foundation for Savage's budding career. Many readers will be eager to see if a sequel of Sadie's adventures will soon follow because she, like her author, has potential waiting to be unleashed.
The Newlywed Guide to Physical Intimacy

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One of the first books I owned and read about sex was the classic The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort. I was both riveted and embarrassed even though, in hindsight, that how-to manual did approach the subject with greater sensitivity than many recent books. Most books on sex are really how-to manuals without in-depth context. They speak to the mechanics of sex, but rarely discuss the nuts-and-bolts of physical intimacy of love making within committed relationships. The other book I read as a new bride, erred on the side of the esoteric, citing studies and providing clinical explanations that might have bored some to tears and almost frightened me.For the uninitiated or those with limited experience, but a strong desire or need to go beyond just the possible viable positions and methods of pleasuring one another, there is a lovely solution in Jennie Rosenfeld's and David S. Ribner's new book, The Newlywed's Guide to Physical Intimacy. I was fortunate to receive it through the Library Thing's Early Reviewer program.This book surprised me with its clear and thorough explanations considering it was written by and intended for the conservative and ultra-conservative Torah-observant Jewish community. Even though the text itself is without illustrative photos and diagrams, there is a modest packet of explicit drawings tucked into a sealed envelope attached to the inside back cover. As befits a book intended for a chaste and conservative audience, there is a label on that packet warning of its explicit nature.For some non-conservative readers, this lack of visual aids may seem quaint and non-helpful, but to avoid this book for that reason would be a mistake. This small book contains useful information that not only provides practical advice about techniques and mechanics, but also nurtures a sensitivity that will benefit both sexual partners. Remember, this is meant for newlyweds both as premarital sex education primer, but also an on-going, nurturing manual that will enable and empower a couple to transcend inhibitions borne of ignorance or inexperience. The authors want their readers to find pleasure in both physical and emotional intimacy not only in their first interactions, but throughout their married lives.There are the necessary basics: where things are and how they work; but there is also a strong emphasis on the need for patience and clear communication. To that end, the authors address issues that most people never consider, but which are necessary for an active, fulfilling sex life.Make no mistake, this small book is not one to skirt vital issues: how sex smells, sounds, and feels for both the male and female; how to deal with unrealistic expectations; and, lack or orgasm as well as how to maximize orgasmic potential. There is a straightforward discussion of lubrication, how to deal with the constricts of religious observation as it applies to sex, causes of impotence, sex during and after pregnancy and how external pressure can affect a couple's sex life amongst other issues.Even though I am not Jewish and have decades of sexual experience, I found this book to be informative and engaging. It is well written and thoughtfully presented. I will be gifting it to our daughter because I wish I had had access to such a beautifully written guide to sex and intimacy, and know she will benefit from the frank and full discussion within it. It is tastefully presented and should be read by anyone who wants to have a long, healthy, satisfying sex life with the person they love.
Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools

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t's taken me a long time to write the review for Victoria Tweed's Chicken, Mules, and Two Old Fools: Tuck into a slice of Andalucian Life. The delay was caused by my absolute reluctance to finish the book because finishing the last page seemed like leaving behind people who would be a pleasure to have as neighbors and a privilege to have as friends.Tweed and her husband and her reluctant to move husband, Joe, make a contract between themselves to find, renovate and live in a house in Spain once he retires from the military in England. Victoria is fed up with the climate in England and eager to relax in proverbial sunny Spain. This is the story of their transition. With every new challenge, the reader has to wonder whether, at the end of the five years, Joe will say its time to return to soggy but familiar England.You find yourself pulling for Victoria to win the bet; they simply have to stay in the small, friendly village up in the mountains. You hope they will be able to survive the challenges of remodeling and building first the run-down home they buy and then the two they build on-site. While you await Joe's decision, you come to know the unique and fascinating villagers and even a few ex-pats who make the village their home and contribute to the warm, welcoming life that comes to envelope the Tweeds.They have unexpected adventures, from Away Days where they explore the countryside and to wine making with their neighbors. They have to learn to adjust to a different pace of life, a different cultural view of gender roles, and how to relax amid challenges and chaos.It was a delightful read, and one that I found myself sharing with my husband when he would ask “what are you laughing about.” He, too, came to think of the Tweeds as a couple we'd love to know better because they experience life with a keen eye, an adventurous spirit, and a kind, loving heart. Victoria Tweed has a wonderful way of sharing their life that makes you feel as if you were experiencing with them. Thanks to Library Thing, I was able to escape to the south of Spain through Victoria's book and feel better for having done so. I highly recommend this book, and look forward to more time with this delightful couple. If you are almost ready to buy, but not quite there yet, may I add that there are about three dozen delicious Spanish recipes in the book as well. So there you have it: part travelogue, part real life adventuring, and part cookbook. What is not to love and enjoy?
Everybody Masturbates

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If you wish to raise a boy to feel minimum guilt and shame as he discovers and explores his body, then Everybody Masturbates by Cristian YoungMiller is book to read and share with pre-adolescent boys in your family. YoungMiller empowers a parent to discuss this delicate subject in a loving and honest manner through his choice of characters: a father and his eight-year son. Sensing something is wrong, the father helps his son voice his concerns, and then reassures him that none of the myths surrounding masturbation are true. He clearly relates the core message: everybody masturbates at some point in their lives, for a variety of reasons. The father also emphasizes that masturbation is a private part of our sexual lives, to be done alone or perhaps shared only with a loving partner. For those who are uncomfortable that their child will share this revelation with their peers or in inappropriate circumstances such as Show & Tell in elementary school, YoungMiller has the father repeatedly stress that though everyone does it, no one discusses it with others.The author does this without making a child feel guilty or ashamed. It is a private thing just like going to the bathroom; this brilliant analogy is something almost every child past potty training understands. This subject has, at long last, found an author unafraid to tackle it. I salute the author in his attempt to remove generations of unease and misinformation and hope both his books on this subject (yes, there is a corresponding book for girls) find a wide audience amongst parents struggling to help their children understand and cope with their changing bodies and urges.
What Nurses Know...Headaches

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"Knowledge is power" is one of Wendy Cohan's favorite concepts, and in writing What Nurses Know . . . Headaches: The Answers You Need From the People You Trust, she is proving to readers just how important knowledge is on a practical level.Everyone has experienced headaches, but few of us know the reasons for them, how to distinguish benign tension headaches from those more sinister or even potentially deadly. Aside from popping an aspirin or other OTC pain medication, how many of us know alternate ways to alleviate what can be crippling, though usually temporary pain? Cohan teaches how to recognize and treat common types of headaches and warns us when to seek professional medical assistance. She teaches us the difference between primary and secondary headaches, and why it is crucial to know the difference. That alone is worth the price of the book. If you have a secondary headache, you need to treat the underlying condition or disease in addition to the headache pain. Knowing the difference can change or save lives.She discusses pharmaceutical, surgical and alternate ways of treating headaches, which risk factors are genetic and which are within our control to modify or avoid. If you or someone you love lives with chronic headache pain, or develops debilitating headaches, this book will give you insight into the possible causes, treatment and potential cures for pain. In this extensively researched and annotated book, you will be taught the vocabulary you need to communicate with medical professionals, when, where and how to seek appropriate help if self-treatment doesn't alleviate the pain. There is even a headache diary that will help you track the onset, duration, and intensity of the pain and possible causative factors (hydration, food and activity triggers, e.g.) - all crucial evidence to help you or your doctor ascertain the type of and appropriate treatment for the pain.Cohen not only lays out each major category of headache, she also clearly describes the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments for them. She discusses current and cutting-edge treatments, provides additional resources and points you to ways to methods of coping with and support resources for chronic headache pain. As a lifelong headache sufferer herself, Cohen has sought out the best information and assistance she can and you can rely upon her recommendations. It is clear throughout the book that she can emphasize with the horrific pain that even a temporary, muscular or food-triggered headache can cause, and that she wants to empower each of us to overcome or cope with either transient or chronic pain so we can live our lives more fully.Throughout the book, there are sidebars on "What Nurses Know" that provide particularly useful insights. For example, did you know there is a website where you can take a headache test to determine just how much your headaches are impacting your life? Most of us forget the pain, once it is resolved and are not fully aware of the significance and affect that pain has on us and our families.There are numerous types of headaches and we should be aware of what causes them, which ones we can avoid, minimize or endure and which threaten our very lives. Without a proper context and understanding of our pain, we could be setting ourselves or our loved ones up for disaster. Why worry,? Just read Cohen's book, develop a basic understanding of what is or could be happening the next time a headache strikes and be prepared to cope with or check out the pain.I have learned so much from this book that will benefit me, my family and friends, that I consider it a wise and practical investment. For not much more than a bottle of OTC pain killers, I am now armed with information that will last far longer than any pills and make our lives much safer and pain-free.
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