Review & Giveaway: A Tender Hope by Amanda Cabot

A TENDER HOPE
The Cimarron Creek Trilogy, Book 3
by
Amanda Cabot
Genre: Historical Romance / Inspirational
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 5, 2019
Number of Pages: 352

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As far as Thea Michener is concerned, it’s time for a change. With her husband murdered and her much-anticipated baby stillborn, there is nothing left for her in Ladreville. Having accepted a position as Cimarron Creek’s midwife, she has no intention of remarrying and trying for another child. So when a handsome Texas Ranger appears on her doorstep with an abandoned baby, Thea isn’t sure her heart Can take it.


Ranger Jackson Guthrie isn’t concerned only with the baby’s welfare. He’s been looking for Thea, convinced that her late husband was part of the gang that killed his brother. But it soon becomes clear that the situation is far more complicated than he anticipated–and he’ll need Thea’s help if he’s ever to find the justice he seeks.
Amanda Cabot invites readers back to Cimarron Creek for a tender story of loss, betrayal, and love in the majestic Texas Hill Country.



PRAISE FOR A TENDER HOPE:

“Such beautiful words flow from Amanda Cabot’s pen–words that lead characters from tattered situations to fresh beginnings and culminate in tender story endings that make a reader sigh in satisfaction. I’ve never been disappointed by a Cabot tale.” — Kim Vogel Sawyer, bestselling author of Bringing Maggie Home
 
 
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review

I begged to have the opportunity to review A Tender Hope because I loved the first two of the Cimarron Creek Trilogy. I couldn’t imagine falling in literary love again after meeting the dreamy sheriff in A Stolen Heart, but the kind doctor in A Borrowed Dream made me sigh as well. And how could anyone figure out who to settle down with when there are so many lovely ladies residing in or moving to the small town? Well, hold on to your horses because we have not just one, but TWO, lovely ladies coming to Cimarron.

In true Cabot fashion, our authoress does not so much as hint if Thea or Aimee is more attractive, so you can count on love connection miscommunication. There is also the series’ common theme of the main romantic pairing disliking or mistrusting each other for reasons not yet known. And if I’m not mistaken, the reasons are usually unfounded. While that might sound dangerously formulaic, Cabot breathes so much life into her characters that it is impossible to feel anything outside of intrigued or delighted when reading her books.

Each book has a mystery or problem to be solved and this one was the most difficult for me to solve correctly. Every reveal made me pause and wonder how I hadn’t even thought of it as a possibility.

If you have had the pleasure of reading the first two books, you will rejoice at being reunited with Lydia and Travis. While their supporting roles are often served offstage (or maybe off-page?), they are much more present than Catherine and Austin, who are in Paris for most of the book. Ah, speaking of Paris, the city was mentioned in a previous book. And now that I think of it, many threads from the previous books were woven into this final book and firmly knotted at the end.

I’m sad to see this series come to an end. There are so many interesting minor characters, the children especially, that I would have loved to see fully fleshed out. If this is the only Cimarron book you have read, I wholeheartedly recommend that you go back and read the first two.

 

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.
 

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1ST: Copy of A Tender Hope + Spa Basket

(An assortment of Cru de Provence lavender vanilla scented spa products fills this lovely basket including: lotions, soap, bath salts, waffle slippers and much more.)

2ND: Copy of A Tender Hope  + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
3RD: Copy of A Tender Hope  + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
APRIL 5-15, 2018
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Putting more eggs in the basket

I just ordered 90 cups worth of Pink Stork Fertility Tea. I read probably all of the reviews on Amazon and have decided that I am willing to mess up my regular cycle for a chance at conceiving. There are tons of women who claim that they got pregnant during the first cycle of drinking the stuff. I guess we shall see. If I am so lucky, I will be giving the rest to the other women in my life who are also having trouble conceiving.

Today was the second day of my new workout routine. How sad that I hate cardio so much that 15 minutes on the elliptical feels like an eternity. I really just use it to get my heart rate up so that I can do circuit training style workouts that alternate between resistance and high intensity bursts.

I ate relatively healthy (I didn’t eat any candy). Although, I had a small ice cream pop… Baby steps.

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Switching gears

I am taking a little break from book reviewing due to an overly stuffed schedule. BUT, I will temporarily pause the hiatus to review the last book of a series next month. I loved the first two books, so I refused to give up my chance with the last one.

Anyway, how am I switching gears? I plan to document my success (fingers crossed) or failure (boooo!) in getting pregnant using the Ava fertility bracelet. I have finally succumbed to Facebook’s advertising and used the Litter Robot refund money to try for baby numero dos.

We’ve been trying to get pregnant on and off for the last few years. I’ve had a few early losses, and I think that simplifying the fertility tracking process will help. It also wouldn’t hurt to have more information about my quality of sleep, breathing, resting heart rate, etc.

In addition to using the “fert-bit,” I am going to try extra hard to do some sort of fitness routine and eat healthier. Oh, and I’m Marie Kondo-ing the crap out of my house. I will be letting go of a shit ton of clothing that might not (more like probably won’t) ever fit me again, thus giving my closet a svelte figure as well. So, wish me luck!

P.S. Click below if you want a $20 discount on your own Ava fertility bracelet.

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Review & Giveaway: Einstein’s Compass by Grace Blair & Laren Bright

EINSTEIN’S COMPASS

A YA TIME TRAVELER ADVENTURE

by
Grace Blair & Laren Bright
Genre: Young Adult / Historical / Fantasy / Science Fiction
Certified Lexile Measure: 860L
Publisher: Modern Mystic Media
Publication Date: January 2, 2019
Number of Pages: 394 pages
Coming on Audio, February 2019!SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

How did Albert Einstein come up with his wondrous theories of light and time? In Einstein’s Compass: A YA Time Traveler Adventure, a young Albert is given a supernatural compass that allows him to travel through time and space and find wisdom in other dimensions, including the lost city of Atlantis. But evil forces seek the power of the compass, including a monstrous, shape-shifting dragon from a different age. Can the compass protect Albert from such villainy?

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PRAISE FOR EINSTEIN’S COMPASS:

“This is an amazing story. Everyone should thoroughly enjoy reading it. I was impressed with how the authors managed to incorporate the known information on the lost continent of Atlantis, Light Workers, souls, reincarnation, time travel and the early years of Albert Einstein before he became famous, into a mesmerizing work of fiction readers will have difficulty putting down. 
–Doug Simpson, Author of We Lived in Atlantis

 

“I could not stop reading this book. I read at stop lights and in line at the grocery store. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.” –— award winning children’s author, Lisa Reinicke

This is highly recommended for those who enjoy a saga of good vs. evil that spans tens of thousands of years, for readers who devour novels that blend history and fantasy, and for anyone who is simply looking for a unique story that they will not want to put down.

— Author Jacqui Murray, Ask a Tech Teacher blog
The weaving of the story between the religion realm and Albert’s world is a captivating tale that keeps the reader’s attention. The good and evil of the timeless religious realm is like watch a chess match to see who outwits whom … I hope there is a next book somewhere in my future. 
–- Rox Burkey, author of the Enigma Series
 
review
As someone who struggled to understood math and science while in school, I have a deep appreciation for science fiction books that discuss complicated ideas in a way that not only do I understand but also stokes my interest. I also have particular affection for books that marry science fiction with fantasy, and, even more so, I adore historical re-imaginings. Needless to say, I was very excited to get my hands on this book.
Now, as someone who nerded out on mythology for fun in the fifth grade, I was a little thrown by the Raka story in the beginning. It seemed to stretch onward and I wasn’t sure where Einstein would fit into all of it. Fast forward a bit and we’re heading toward Biblical times, where my Christian upbringing couldn’t help but sit up and lean in. It was like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade grafted itself to Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. I knew I was in for a wild ride.
And finally we meet Albert at the wee little age of 6. I knew nothing about Einstein’s upbringing prior to this, and I really enjoy learning about historical figures in this manner. It makes them all the more human rather than reading their stats in an encyclopedia. But from the moment Einstein is given the compass, I am reminded that I’m reading fiction, so I shouldn’t get too attached to what I was reading and embrace it as fact.
I don’t know what I enjoyed more: the chapters about Einstein growing up and his descent into genius or the historical figure cameos. About a third of the way through the book, the story truly brings it focus on Einstein to the point that it’s a little jarring when we leave his timeline for an interlude. Kudos to the authors’ ability to change tone and style so quickly and completely. (Or did one author write the Einstein chapters while the other tackled the rest?) Nonetheless, the Einstein chapters are written in a way that feels very historical fiction, whereas the Raka-Ezekiel storyline has a very distinct fantasy vibe to it.
I feel as though I could go on and on, but you really just need to read the book. It’s a YA, but I feel like it reads pretty adult. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a good historical fiction, fantasy, or science fiction book because, honestly, it satisfies all those literary cravings.

Grace Blair is an award-winning self-help and motivational author, and podcast host, who has assisted thousands to find their spiritual wisdom to solve everyday challenges. Throughout her adult life, Grace became a serious student of the spiritual. She found that, often, psychological principles and practices were incomplete, but could be filled out by adding the missing spiritual component. Her approach was always to see practical applications for what she uncovered in the mystical. It was through immersing herself in this field of study and experience that she came up with her idea for her book, Einstein’s Compass. She lives in Lubbock, Texas, with her husband, Dr. John Blair.

║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Instagram  
 ║ Goodreads  Amazon Author Page  Bublish 


Laren Bright is a three-time Emmy nominated award-winning writer who has written nearly 100 children’s animated cartoon scripts. He has spent the majority of his professional life over the last two decades assisting authors to produce topnotch books with titles and other promotional writing indistinguishable from those of mainstream publishers. During that time, in addition to Einstein’s Compass, he also co-authored a young adult fantasy series and several books for young children about positive values. Laren lives in Los Angeles with his wife, computer, and two grand-dogs.

║ IMDB Amazon Author Page ║ Website 


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Review & Giveaway: Heart of the Oak by J.L. Novinsky

HEART OF THE OAK
by
J.L. NOVINSKY
Genre: Children’s / Nature / Life Cycle
Publisher: Christian Faith Publishing
Publication Date: November 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 36 pagesSCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

Heart of the Oak is a sweet story of the life of an old oak tree.  

He’s old and weathered; his skin is rough and knotty.  But he has memories of joy, of love, and of tragedy.  He has endured many years and felt the sorrow of so much loss.  But his greatest joy is just ahead!  

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Praise for HEART OF THE OAK from Amazon reviewers!

“Such a great book with a heartfelt story!”


“My children and I LOVE this book. We had a wonderful and insightful conversation after we read it.”

review

Contrary to popular advice, I tend to judge a book by its cover. And if I had done that with Heart of Oak, I would have assumed that this book was a cutesy children’s story about a tree. But there is so much more to this book than cute illustrations and a beautiful tree.

This book not only explains the life cycle of a tree in an artistic way, but it also explores the way that a tree impacts the lives – human and animal alike – of others and how they affect the tree as well. There are two stories of young being brought up beneath the safety of the majestic oak, one ending with a farewell and another beginning a touching reunion. The tree is anthropomorphized as it experiences feelings of happiness and loneliness, and as age and nature take its toll. It makes me wonder if the tree is meant to represent humans in general, or a particular person.

The reason that I wonder who the tree is meant to represent is because another children’s book, The Giving Tree, tells the story of a tree whose unconditional love for a boy represents the selfless and giving love of a mother. What I like about Heart of Oak is that it doesn’t portray the animals and humans that spend time with the tree as heartless leeches. While the tree will gladly accommodate anyone who wants to live or play with it, it doesn’t harm itself to make others happy. In one particular scene, the tree does everything within its power to preserve itself. I like that because I’m a big believer in making yourself happy before you can make other people happy.

Perhaps because such deep feelings and themes are involved, the author used more advanced vocabulary. There is no age recommendation for this book, but my 6-year-old’s eyes glazed over by page two. I was hoping that the illustrations alone would hold his interest, but I guess my little boy is too addicted to bright colors and zany characters to appreciate the dreamy, watercolor-like imagery. I personally enjoyed the mix of soft lines, reminiscent of my own childhood picture books, and the strong lines that make the characters look a lot like manga.

I recommend this book for children ages 8 and up. I think that it would be an excellent addition to any family’s picture book collection.

J.L. (Joan) Novinsky was born just outside of Chicago, but she got to Texas as fast as she could! Joan started college at age 55, and while taking a Creative Writing class, she wrote her first story, Heart of the Oak. Joan has now written a second children’s book, Horace and Giselle, available for on-line purchase January 2019. She was married to Bob in 1992, had a son, Stephen, in 1998, then in 2001, she and her husband took on the challenge and excitement of adopting a boy from St. Petersburg, Russia. Andrei joined the family in 2002, and the family resides just north of Dallas with their various and numerous pets.
 
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Review & Giveaway: Fierce, Funny, and Female by Marti MacGibbon

 

FIERCE, FUNNY,
AND FEMALE

A Journey Through Middle America,
the Texas Oil Field, and Standup Comedy

by
MARTI MacGIBBON
Genre: Memoir / Drama / Humor
Publisher: Stay Strong Publishing
Publication Date: March 20, 2017
Number of Pages: 412 pages

 

SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

This book is the celebrated prequel to the critically acclaimed, nationally award-winning and bestselling memoir, Never Give in to Fear. In her raw, vivid, and unabashed style, author Marti MacGibbon delivers a sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious, always engaging account of her passage through trauma, betrayal, and loss in adolescence and young adulthood to discover her inner badass self. As one of the first women to work as a laborer in the Texas oil field, she set off explosives and staked oil wells before realizing her childhood dream of becoming a successful standup comic. Marti introduces readers to a wide range of characters in her life: from sleazy authority figures, wannabe Sixties musicians and crazed Corn Belt cult leaders, to Texas oil billionaires and wildcatters, to wild-eyed redneck coworkers who robbed banks on their lunch hour―in the company truck. The book includes scenes with iconic comedians, Hollywood entertainment industry moguls, and a legendary bluesman, and offers insights into resiliency, courage, and self-empowerment.
WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Humor
WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Women’s Studies 
WINNER, 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards in Women’s Health
WINNER, 2017 Beverly Hills Book Awards in Women’s Issues 
WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Humor
WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Women’s Studies 
WINNER, 2018 New York City Book Book Award, Women’s Studies
FINALIST, 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Memoir (Overcoming Adversity)
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PRAISE FOR FIERCE, FUNNY, AND FEMALE:

“Being funny is a survival skill. Fierce, Funny, and Female is not only a survivor’s tale but an inspirational story of overcoming the unthinkable, again and again…Her courage and comedy make Fierce, Funny, and Female a winner.” — Foreword Clarion Reviews

“An effervescently witty…chronicle of perseverance and the power to overcome the darkest of days…Perhaps the most rewarding chapter in this chatty, affecting book is the concluding one, where MacGibbon lists the tried-and-true pearls of wisdom that continue to sustain her…” — Kirkus Reviews

Fierce, Funny, and Female is a thoroughly engaging memoir packed with witty observations, high adventure, and a glimpse of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. Highly recommended!” — Midwest Book Review

“MacGibbon is a natural storyteller, and her life story is a most interesting one. The characters she has run across during her life journey are well-drawn and absolutely fascinating, particularly the good ol’ boys in the Texas oilfields.” — San Francisco Book Review

review
MacGibbon knows how to hook a reader. What a standup comic is doing in the middle of gunfire will rouse most people’s interest, I think. The prologue is a teaser of what is to come in the middle of the book. First, MacGibbon takes you back, way back. She walks you through her innocent beginnings and then the sad descent into adolescent corruption. It’s a wonder that she made it to adulthood, and dug herself out of a pretty deep pit.
The lighter sections read like the memoir of funny lady Tina Fey, very smart and entertaining. When we get to the darker parts, the book reads like nothing I have ever held before. At times, I cringed at the horrible things she endured, but she writes about them in a way that doesn’t elicit sympathy. She’s not clinically detached, but she never feels sorry for herself; so you don’t feel sorry for her. Every victory that comes her way is hard earned and you can’t help but pump your fist in the air (mentally, at least) every time something good happens.
After all the abuse dispensed upon her by the opposite sex, it is incredible that she not only bounces back, but chooses two careers that are notorious for being boys only and rises to success. What I find particularly inspiring is that all of her success stems from the need to be a good mother to her daughter.
When I reached the end, I reflected on all that I read and was pleasantly surprised to find that this memoir was sort of a behind-the-scenes look of not only the early Texas oil days, but of the comedy club circuit and television as well. The oil parts were longer than I had anticipated, but the cover of the book should have clued me in. Since oil field work was her shtick, I wish that MacGibbon shared some of that material in the book. I guess I will just have to scour YouTube.
Despite the difficult subject matter it contains, I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. 
A compelling speaker and storyteller, Marti MacGibbon delivers high-energy presentations and writes books on overcoming adversity, addiction and recovery, and inspiration, with humor and a genuine, down-to-earth style. She’s experienced critical situations that no human being should have to face. In the past, she hit rock bottom in every possible way as a hard-core drug addict, was homeless, and was trafficked to Tokyo and held prisoner by Japanese organized crime. Her story of triumph is testimony to the power of the human spirit. Marti lives her message. She reveals simple, effective strategies that anyone can use to get back on track, build resiliency, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of humor.
Marti is a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, certified addiction treatment professional, Gorski certified relapse-prevention specialist, and member of the National Speakers Association. She’s been interviewed in Entrepreneur, Investor’s Business Daily, on ABC-TV, CBS-TV, and numerous radio shows. And she’s funny: Marti traveled all over the U.S. as a professional standup comic and performed at the Hollywood Improv and Comedy Store. She is founder, producer and host of Laff-aholics Comedy Benefit for Recovery, an annual charity fundraiser in Indianapolis featuring nationally headlining comedians. She also serves on the outreach committee of IPATH, Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans Task Force.
║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Instagram  
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Audio Book Review & Giveaway: Covey Jencks by Shelton L. Williams

COVEY JENCKS
by
SHELTON L. WILLIAMS
Narrated by Kathy James
Genre: Mystery / Social Thriller
Publisher: Southern Owl Publications, LLC
Publication Date: February 10, 2018
Number of Pages: 229 pages
Audio Book Length: 6 hours, 38 minutesSCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

Covey Jencks is a murder mystery with a social conscience. Set in West Texas with a cast of colorful and humorous characters, it follows a young lawyer from Washington, DC back to his hometown of Odessa, Texas. He wants and needs to solve a murder case from 1979 in 1993. The problem is that the Odessa Police Department has already found its man, and no one wants to re-visit the case of a black prostitute whose life was seemingly of no consequence to anyone. But Freddie Mae Johnson’s death matters to Covey, and eventually he discovers an old flame, JayJay Qualls, who also knew and loved Freddie. Together they undertake an investigation that uncovers not only the truth about Freddie but also the secrets of Odessa’s south side, Mexican gangs, a Boston mobster, and the fallacy of unexamined assumptions. Finding out who killed Freddie is one thing, but preventing their own demise is quite another! 
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PRAISE FOR COVEY JENCKS:
 
Williams seamlessly braids a murder mystery with a love story and a drama about the pervasiveness of racism in the South… The author’s prose is buoyantly eccentric, both insightful and self-effacingly humorous. And the clues Covey and JayJay track down are meted out to readers with impressive judiciousness: The author never prematurely surrenders so much information that the conclusion is rendered foregone while the tale’s swift pace prevents it from becoming tedious. An engrossing crime drama that’s both entertaining and provocative. — Kirkus Indie

review

Welcome to my first ever audio book review! I’m really excited to share my thoughts on Covey Jencks. Within the first few seconds, I was laughing because I was pronouncing Covey with a long “O” sound. So you can see that I am someone who could definitely benefit from listening to audio books more often.

One thing I noticed several minutes into this audio book is that all the normal front of the book stuff (title page, publishing information, foreword, etc.) was treated as individual chapters. So when you looked at your listening device, chapter 7 was when chapter 1 of the book actually began. I wish the company that put together the audio book could or would have used some other naming convention so that the chapter numbers actually matched up.

Narrator: At first I was a little confused with the choice of Kathy James as narrator, but I feel like it might have had to do with what was discussed in the foreword. This book contains all types of characters and the diversity extends beyond the normal racial categories to include cisgender individuals as well. So I think that Williams wanted to liberate us of our assumption as to what Covey Jencks would sound like. James was a good choice for keeping us on neutral footing. She has a very soothing voice with very precise diction, sort of like Siri. It takes her about a chapter or two to hit her stride, but it feels satisfying to hear her personality shine through. And though I tried to break the confines of my bias on gender roles, I couldn’t help but smile every time that pretty voice cursed or talked about lewd behavior. Side note: I truly hope that Ms. James narrates some of those children’s books intended for adult audiences in the future. Lastly, kudos to anyone who can read AIM messages without me fast forwarding.

Story: I can’t praise this story enough. I was able to invest myself into every character, especially when it came to Covey and Freddie. I liked hearing about Covey’s upbringing and just appreciated his sense of humor all around. I have a feeling that Williams has a bit of Covey in him because that character just felt so natural. I liked the many layers of Ms. Freddie as well and was glad to get to know her through the various flashbacks. Odessa was sort of its own character for me also because who knew about the seedy underground during that time period? I have never been to Odessa but I had imagined a sleepy town where there’s one bar and one police officer to break up the occasional drunken brawl. But I guess that there would have to be more to a place for Covey to come back from a high power attorney position in Washington, D.C.

I had a good time listening to this book. It’s a good mystery that takes you on a wild ride that is very different from your typical whodunit. You can’t go wrong getting this in audio or print format.

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.

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My first part time job while I was in high school was announcing at the local radio station, and I had fun being “on the air” and using my sarcastic sense of humor.  I worked in the radio business for more than twenty years. My favorite pastimes are teaching figure skating, getting lost in a great book, and watching movies.  I narrate and produce audio books in my home studio, and I truly enjoy bringing an author’s characters to life with an audio book. I currently reside in Minnesota with my slightly overweight cat and two childlike golden retrievers.  
 
 
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12/3/18
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