#BlogTour: CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour @OrendaBooks @the_cwa

Published on 1st November 2017 by Orenda Books. My thanks the publisher for the review copy and Anne Cater for inviting me on to the blog tour.

Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour. Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood. Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

My Thoughts 

I was delighted to be asked to be a part of this blog tour for the CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour. Admittedly, I don't read that many short stories, often feeling that I like my characters to have time to develop and the plot to play out over a longer period of time. That being said I was completely entranced by this selection. I chose to read them in order. Although it is the kind of book that you could keep dipping into as time allows, I couldn't keep my hands off of it and kept going back for more. 

It is a bit tricky to review these stories individually, firstly I wouldn't want to give anything away and secondly I wouldn't want to single any particular one out as I found them all to be completely compulsive and brilliant. 

As the title suggests this is a mystery tour so locations are abundant here, each story offering something different, some shorter some longer. There are of course lots of murders, a disappearance, mystery and intrigue. Sometimes there is justice and sometimes there isn't. 

I am only full of admiration for the writers who have contributed. Each and every one packing such a punch into so few words. I didn't feel disappointed with any of them and in any way. I will be looking into each and every one of these talented writers and all of their back catalogues, particularly those I haven't encountered before.

This Anthology of Short Stories is an absolute must for all fans of Crime Fiction, it would be a perfect gift for the crime lover in your life. It is an absolute treasure chest and there is something for everyone.

I would like to thank the contributors for the trip although I am not convinced I would like to be on any of those journeys in real life!

About the Author:

Some of the finest international crime writers in an exciting new anthology edited by Martin Edwards, award-winning crime writer and critic, and author of the bestselling and multi-award-winning The Golden Age of Crime. He is also vice chair of The CWA.

Contributions from:
Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick

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#BlogTour: The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald @LindaMac1 #Needlecordjacket

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket was published on 1st May 2017. Many thanks to the Author and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the review copy and having me on the blog tour.

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket follows the story of two women who are each struggling to let go of a long-term destructive partnership. Felicity is reluctant to detach from her estranged archaeologist husband and, after being banished from the family home, she sets out to test the stability of his relationship with his new love, Marianne. 

When Felicity meets Coll, a charismatic artist, she has high hopes of being distracted from her failed marriage. What she doesn’t know is that he has a partner, Sarah, with whom he has planned a future. Sarah is deeply in love with Coll, but his controlling behaviour and associations with other women have always made her life difficult. When he becomes obsessed with Felicity, Sarah’s world collapses and a series of events is set in motion that will challenge the integrity of all the characters involved. 

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is a thought-provoking book, written from the perspectives of Sarah and Felicity. The reader is in the privileged position of knowing what’s going on for both of the women, while each of them is being kept in the dark about a very important issue. 

Inspired by the work of Margaret Atwood and Fay Weldon, Linda explores the issue of mental abuse in partnerships and the grey area of an infidelity that is emotional, not physical. The book will appeal to readers interested in the psychology of relationships, as well as fans of Linda’s ‘Lydia’ series.

My Thoughts:

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is in many ways different from my usual sort of read and having never read any of the Author's 'Lydia' series I was unsure what to expect. What I came across was an extremely thought provoking portrayal of relationships those with others and to a lesser extent with ourselves. 

The focus of the story is two women Felicity and Sarah. Felicity has split from her husband and finds herself often alone in her new flat longing for the days of safety and security in her marriage. Although she was quite responsible for its demise,  I couldn't help to some extent to admire her temerity. 

Sarah is very different from Felicity, she is seemingly the long suffering partner of Coll. Never quite having the happy love story that she wants, the commitment or the connection with Coll. She seems to continue because it is what she is used to and she almost comes across as thinking she doesn't deserve better. 

Coll is the most curious character of all, coming off to Felicity as charming, enigmatic and charismatic. He offers a certain lure to her, more that just selling her paintings for her restaurant. Coll behaves in a very different way with Felicity that he doesn't with Sarah. 

I found it refreshing to read this story as the characters are a little older and were perfect having had life and relationship experience. This is by no means a light hearted story of relationships. I found the characters very three dimensional and the relationship dynamics tackled very interesting. 

The Author has shone a very bright and bold light on mental abuse in relationships and the grey area of how that is made up. She has really got to the heart and mind of the matter and for that I applaud her. 

About the Author:
Linda MacDonald is the author of four novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternative and The Man in the Needlecord Jacket. All Linda's books are contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues. 

After studying psychology at Goldsmiths', Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. The first two novels took ten years in writing and publishing, using snatched moments in the evenings, weekends and holidays. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing. 

You can find her on Twitter: @LindaMac1

Please do have a look at some of the other stops on the blog tour. 


#Review: Ours is the Winter by @LaurieEllingham @rararesources #OursistheWinter

Ours is the Winter is published today by HQ Digital. My thanks to the Authors and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for providing me with the review copy and allowing me to take part in today's publication celebration. 

Journeying across the Arctic, their pasts are about to catch up with them.

Erica, Molly and Noah are embarking on the challenge of a lifetime, driving Siberian huskies across the frozen wilderness of the Arctic. Cut off from the world and their loved ones and thrown together under gruelling conditions, it isn’t long before the cracks start to show.

Erica has it all. A loving husband, a successful career and the most adorable baby daughter. But Erica has been living a double life, and as she nears her fortieth birthday her lies threaten to come crashing down.

Molly was on her way to stardom. But when her brother died, so did her dreams of becoming an Olympic champion.  Consumed by rage and grief, she has shut out everyone around her, but now she’s about to learn that comfort can come from the most unexpected places.

Noah has a darkness inside him and is hounded by nightmares from his past. Tortured, trapped and struggling to save his fractured relationship, he knows this journey is not going to help, but try telling his girlfriend that.

As their lives and lies become ever more entwined, it becomes clear that in the frozen wilds there is nowhere to hide.

Purchase from Amazon UK

My Thoughts:

I am delighted to be able to review Ours is the Winter today. Laurie Ellingham has been a guest on my blog before and you can read her post about her journey to publication here.

I was initially drawn in to this book by that gorgeous cover and the setting of the story. The setting is Alaska and the author managed to draw me in with her evocative description of the landscape, of the cold and the snow. Of course as a massive dog lover, the huskies in this book were very welcome.

This books focuses on three main characters. Erica, Molly and Noah, who all have their differing reasons for embarking on the trip to drive Siberian Huskies in an Arctic Challenge. All three hope that the trip will change them and allow them to escape their problems, and I would say to move on with their lives. We are introduced to all three characters and are allowed a little insight into their lives. 

Laurie Ellingham has created some very real and often flawed characters and she has seemingly done this effortlessly. The setting is the biggest draw of this book for me but the story comes together beautifully. I felt emotionally invested in the outcomes of the characters lives as each chapter went by.

I found Ours is the Winter to have a wonderful and evocative setting, excellently drawn characters and a plot that managed to engage me. It really was a beautiful and captivating read and I look forward to reading more by Laurie Ellingham in the future.

About the Author:
Laurie Ellingham lives on the Suffolk/Essex border with her two children, husband, and cockerpoo Rodney. She has a First Class honours degree in Psychology and a background in Public relations, but her main love is writing and disappearing into the fictional world of her characters, preferably with a large coffee and a Twix (or two) to hand.

Follow Laurie Ellingham on..


#BlogTour: Lay Me to Rest by @EAClarkAuthor @rararesources #LayMetoRest

 Lay Me to Rest by E.A. Clark was published by HQ Digital on 29th September 2017. My thanks to the Author and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy and having me on the blog tour.

Lay Me To Rest

Some secrets never stay buried for long…

Devastated by the death of her husband, Annie Philips is shocked to discover she is pregnant with his unborn child. Hoping for a fresh start, she travels to a remote stone cottage in Anglesey, amidst the white-capped mountains of North Wales.
She settles in quickly, helped by her mysterious new neighbour, Peter. But everything changes when Annie discovers a small wooden box, inlaid with brass and mother-of-pearl. A box she was never supposed to find…
Annie soon realises that she isn’t alone in the cottage. And now she’s trapped. Can she escape the nightmare that she has awoken, or will the dark forces surrounding the house claim her life – and that of her baby?
A gripping thriller from E. A. Clark, perfect for fans of Kerri Wilkinson, Sarah Wray and Stella Duffy. You won’t be able to put it down!

Purchase from Amazon

My Thoughts:

Lay Me to  Rest was one of those books that just hooked me in from the very first page and I didn't put it down until I was finished. I found it utterly page turning and engrossing. 

Annie Philips is recently bereaved, her husband died in a tragic accident and she is pregnant with his child. In an attempt to get away from all that her grief brings her she rents a cottage in Anglesey. She hopes for a change of scenery, fresh air and a new start. The people at the cottages are friendly and amiable, her neighbour Peter is a bit peculiar but Annie doesn't worry to much. That is until ghostly goings on start occurring, Annie finds this unsettling, upsetting and disturbing, it becomes clear that something has happened at the cottage in the past. Annie with the help of others is determined to find out what, and perhaps lay the ghosts to rest.

There is a real mystery involved in this book, suspense is built up wonderfully across several chapters. I couldn't wait to find out the truth of what had happened. I loved the ethereal quality of this novel, although at times the plot had a certain menace to it and an edgy undertone, never quite knowing what is going to happen next. 

I don't read many books with a supernatural element to them, preferring to keep my feet firmly on the ground. This one however had all the elements that have made it the superb story that it is. 

Vivid imagery and an excellently described setting puts the reader right in the heart of the action and I for one would love to read anything else by this author in the future. 

About the Author:
E. A. Clark lives in the Midlands with her husband and son, plus a rather temperamental cat, a rabbit and a chinchilla. She has three (now grown-up) children and five grandchildren. She is particularly partial to Italian food, decent red wine (or any coloured wine come to that …) and cake – and has been known to over-indulge in each on occasions.
She has a penchant for visiting old graveyards and speculating on the demise of those entombed beneath. Whilst she has written short stories and poetry for many years, a lifelong fascination with all things paranormal has culminated in her first novel for adults, Lay Me to Rest. The setting is inspired by her love of Wales, owing to her father’s Celtic roots.
Follow E.A. Clark on…

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#BlogTour: Last Christmas in Paris by @HazelGaynor and @msheatherwebb #LastChristmasinParis

Last Christmas in Paris was published by William Morrow Publishers on 5th October 2017. My thanks to the Authors and Publisher for the review copy and having me on the blog tour.

They were told it would be ‘over by Christmas’…

When Evelyn Elliott’s brother Will and his best friend Thomas Harding sign up for the front, everyone is convinced that the war will be over in months and they’ll be free to celebrate the festive season in the cafes and boulevards of the French capital. But as the months drag on, their ‘Christmas in Paris’ becomes an increasingly distant dream. 
Evie becomes increasingly frustrated by her life as a privileged young woman and is desperate to contribute towards the war effort. Thomas faces the unimaginable horrors of the front, compounded by his obligations to his father’s newspaper business at home. 
Their letters between each other and their friends and relatives reflect the gradual erosion of their youthful idealism and the growing warmth in their own relationship. As the conflict darkens, will they ever be able to enjoy the Christmas they planned together in happier times? 
Last Christmas in Paris was written by historical fiction authors Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. They met after working together on a collection of short stories based on The First World War, Fall of Poppies. They’d both enjoyed the novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and thought that an epistolary novel would be a good way of working together.

My Thoughts:

Last Christmas in Paris is a deeply moving novel told in a series of letters between Evie and her brother Will and friend Thomas who have gone away to serve in World War One. There are others letters between friends and family and the format of the letters works really well. 

The authors have managed to create rounded and authentic characters and portrayed the horrors of the war for those away and those left back at home, a war that should have been over in a matter of weeks but instead went on for years. 

Evie is frustrated being at home, lonely and wanting to help the war effort she takes on the writing of a newspaper column engaging with the ladies left behind, I loved the spirit and the fortitude of her character. 

It was very moving when Thomas begins to suffer from his mental health when he had been on the front line for so long and I think that this was sensitivity handled and shone a light on something that was probably rarely discussed at the time.

Last Christmas in Paris really is beautifully written and incredibly moving, I read it in one sitting. I really do enjoy stories in the Epistolary format and it worked amazingly well here. The characters all felt very real, you could feel there excitements, and then their fears and despondencies as the war started to drag on. Everyone's lives on hold, and nothing to return to the same way as before. All lives altered forever. 

Something also struck me in that the art of letter writing seems to have gone out of fashion but I can't help but imagine what waiting for a letter to arrive from a loved one must have felt like, just to know that they are safe and for them the war goes on.

Deeply moving and sensitively written, this book is somewhat of a gem, I can really recommend it. 

About the Authors:
Hazel Gaynor is the author of Irish bestselling novel Hazel Gaynor's 2014 debut novel The Girl Who Came Home was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. Hazel writes a popular guest blog 'Carry on Writing' for national Irish writing website and contributes regular feature articles for the site, interviewing authors such as Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed, Rachel Joyce and Jo Baker, among others. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband and two children. 

Heather Webb is the acclaimed author of historical novels Becoming Josephine and Rodin’s Lover. In 2015, Goodreads selected Rodin’s Lover as a Top Pick of the Month. Heather is a member of the Historical Novel Society and lives in New England with her children and husband, and one feisty rabbit.

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.


#BlogTour: Dark Chapter by Winnie M Li @winniemli @Legend_Press #DarkChapter

Dark Chapter was published by Legend Press on 1st November 2017. My thanks to the Author and the Publisher for the review copy and the invitation to be part of the blog tour.

Vivian is a cosmopolitan Taiwanese-American tourist who often escapes her busy life in London through adventure and travel. Johnny is a 15-year-old Irish teenager, living a neglected life on the margins of society.
On a bright spring afternoon in West Belfast, their paths collide during a horrifying act of violence.
In the aftermath, each is forced to confront the chain of events that led to the attack.
Inspired by true events, this is a story of the dark chapters and chance encounters that can irrevocably determine the shape of our lives.
My Thoughts:

Dark Chapter is the remarkable debut novel of Winnie M. Li. All the more remarkable because although it is a work of fiction it was inspired by the very personal events that happened to her. 

Vivian is confident, professional, outgoing and good at her job. She loves to relax by going hiking, which has always been a passion of hers, it holds a sense of adventure and a thrill for her. A chance to let her hair down and spend some time out of her hectic life on her own. Her trip to Ireland should have been no different but the tranquil escape that she anticipated was anything but and her life is irrevocably changed by her encounter with Johnny. 

Johnny is from the travelling community. He is marginalised and his childhood has lacked stability, he is a very mixed up young man. He almost seems to be an adult in a child's body, Pornography, alcohol and a lack of parental support has lead to a life of stealing and disrespect for others. 

The events of the day in question and the sexual assault change both the lives of Vivian and Johnny and as a reader we are spared no details in this often brutal and graphic account of what happened. Interestingly the story is told from both the points of view of the victim and the perpetrator. The story deals with events before, during and after the ordeal. 

Not for the faint hearted, this book is quite harrowing and at times had me in tears at the injustice of it all. I think that the author has told an important story with great honesty and compassion, the narrative was gripping and the accounts from both sides were realistic and plausible. 

I think the author has been bold and brave in writing this story about a subject matter that is often shied away from. I have complete and utter admiration for her in the telling of this story and I believe it to be an important and literary work of fiction. 

Moving, absorbing and extremely emotive, I can recommend it whole heartedly. 
About the Author:
Winnie M. Li is a writer and producer, who has worked in the creative industries on three continents. A Harvard graduate, she has written for travel guide books, produced independent feature films, programmed for film festivals, and developed eco-tourism projects. After graduating with Distinction in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths (where she was shortlisted for the Pat Kavanagh Prize 2015), she now currently writes across a range of media (including a column for The Huffington Post), runs arts festivals, and is a PhD researcher in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics. She was Highly Commended for the CWA Debut Dagger 2015 and also shortlisted for the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize. She lives in London yet is somewhat addicted to travel. Dark Chapter is her first novel.
Follow Winnie online at or on Twitter @winniemli
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#BlogTour: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng @littlebrownuk @pronounced_ing

Little Fires Everywhere was published by Little Brown Book Group on the 9th November 2017. My thanks to the Author and the Publisher for the review copy and the invitation to be a a part of the blog tour.

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned - from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When the Richardsons' friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family - and Mia's.
Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

My Thoughts:

Little Fires Everywhere is set in Shaker Heights, a suburb in Cleveland, Ohio. Shaker Heights is a place where everything has to be perfect, there are lots of rules to conform to. You are only allowed to paint your house certain colours for example. The idea being that utopia is created by as much planning as possible, I detested the idea of such uniformity. 

In this novel there are those that revel in the conformity, namely the Richardsons. However one day Mia and her daughter Pearl arrive, they are different in every way from the Richardsons. Mia has a past, is an artist and along with Pearl they have lead something of a nomadic existence to date. Mia has decided that it is time to put some roots down for Pearl. Mia and Pearl rent a place from Mrs Richardson. 

There is an court battle surrounding an adoption, which only serves to divide the community further. There are so many strands to this story, it is intricate and delicate and I struggled to settle into it at first. Once I did though it took my breath away. 

There are many themes in this book; motherhood, race and class divisions, family tensions. They are also secrets involved and there are people that think they are better because of their bank balance. I enjoyed the exploration of the way that people can be judged by others by what they have and haven't got. 

Little Fires Everywhere is such an accomplishment on the part of the author. The wonderful interwoven and nuanced plot, and beautiful writing serve to display what a gifted story teller she is. I have no doubt in my mind that this will be the best seller that it is poised to be.

About the Author:

Celeste Ng grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio. She attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan. Her debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, won the Hopwood Award, the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the American Library Association's Alex Award. She is a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, and she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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#BlogTour: Wide Awake Asleep by Louise Wise @Louise_Wise #WideAwakeAsleep

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Wide Awake Asleep by Louise Wise. My thanks to the Author for the review copy and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for having me on the blog tour.

Can you really be on the WRONG path in life?

No one knew she was driving on that stretch of road. No one saw her car leave the highway and crash into a watery ditch. No one heard the car’s windscreen smash or saw the tree branch come through to impale her to her seat. No one heard her screams.
Julie Compton’s life should have come to an end that day, but instead, that moment was the beginning of her new life as she wakes, unharmed, back in 1972 and primed to relive her traumatic childhood all over again. One flaw. She’s in the body of a stranger.
Journey back to the 70s and 80s England where Julie is forced to jump through the eras, occupying and controlling other people’s bodies she knew as a child. She must work out which destiny path was the wrong one all while wondering if her body, back in 2016, was dying in her car.
With each momentous change, her memories transform and she realises she’s not only changing her future but of those around her. She’s finally ‘living’ but does that mean she must die?

Purchase Links:

My Thoughts:

Wide Awake Asleep is the first novel that I have read by Louise Wise, it is somewhat of a paranormal romance with some time travel involved. 

Julie Compton is 49 years old and has a lot on her plate, she is a successful business woman, she has an ailing mother that she visits regularly but their relationship is strained. Julie doesn't really agree with her Mum's lifestyle choices and decisions that she made when Julie was a child. 

Tragically, Julie is involved in a car crash, only she wakes up in a car in Potterspury. This was miles away from where the crash happened and happens to be her childhood home. It becomes evident that the present day has been swept away as the author manages to capture a sense of the 1970's and 1980's which happened to be Julie's formative years. 

What happens next is a paradoxical look at what would happen if we were able to go back and rewrite our pasts, being able to look back at events that happened, like a fly on the wall. Inhabiting the bodies of various people we knew at that time and being able to remake and influence decisions that they made. 

Wide Awake Asleep is a far cry from the usual books I read, and for that reason I loved it. I thought the concept was fascinating, beguiling and engaging. The writing flowed wonderfully well and I had an emotional investment in the characters who all just seemed to jump off of the page. The Author succeeded in being able to set the time and the place of the story and also being able to transport the reader along for the ride. 

I found this one to be different and I would really recommend it. It put a microscope on family dynamics and how the decisions that people make, can have an effect of others.  I enjoyed it. 

About the Author:
Louise Wise is a British writer and has been weaving stories all her life—and for many years, she was a 'closet writer' with a cupboard is full of ageing manuscripts depicting fantastical romantic adventures!
Most of her books have an element of romance, but tend to cross over into other genres, giving them a unique edge.
Her debut novel is the best-selling sci-fi romance EDEN, which was followed by its sequel HUNTED in 2013.
A PROPER CHARLIE is a romantic comedy written purely for the chick lit market, but then she decided to unite her love of all things supernatural with romance and OH NO, I’VE FALLEN IN LOVE and WIDE AWAKE ASLEEP came along.
Her other works include SCRUFFY TRAINERS (a collection of short stories with a twist). She has written numerous short stories for women’s magazines including Women’s Own and Take a Break.
She loves hearing from her readers - the good, the bad and the ugly stuff they want to share!

Social Media Links –

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