Book Review: General Fiction

Book Review: Patch: United States Marshal: Wanted Dead by Russ Towne

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Patch: United States Marshal: Wanted Dead: A Classic New Western Action Adventure From The Author of Patch: United States Marshal: Wanted Dead: A Classic New Western Action Adventure From The Author of “A Bullet In The Neck” by Russ Towne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Russ Towne has found another genre to excel in. I’ve read a few of his books in the past, including one other Western, but this new book–part of a future series about US Marshal Patch Elkins–is a winner. At ~150 pages, it chronicles the US Marshall’s life as he navigates the ‘territory’ to bring in criminals. Unfortunately, there’s a price on more than just the criminals’ heads this time…

My favorite aspect of this book is how much the story tells ‘above and beyond’ the words, for instance… life was insane back in the ‘old days’ of Western adventures. No cars, minimal maps, changing territorial boundaries, it took days to spread the word about outlaw problems via newspapers, it might take a month before someone found a dead body, etc. By reading this book, I actually realized what life was like for a US Marshal during those days. People died in tragedies all the time, just like they do now, but we didn’t hear about it the second it occurred in the days of long ago.

When an author can push you to think beyond ‘what you know,’ you’ve found someone fantastic. Towne’s style is easy-to-read, informative, and reflective. While being an outlaw and traveling by horseback across a territory can be intense, the book is not a totally dark and instructional take on this type of life. It’s not light and fluffy either. There’s a balanced equilibrium where we see love, blood, fighting, anger, death, and hope. Towne shows us how two strangers can bond, how a young teen needs a role model, how what’s fair doesn’t always occur, and how a man with an injury can still protect himself and the country.

I’m excited to see how this series develops. Kudos on an excellent book for a non-typical reader. View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: Legacy of the Tropics by Mary Deal

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Legacy of the TropicsLegacy of the Tropics by Mary Deal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every once in a while, you come across an author who can write across multiple genres and make it seem like an incredibly easy task. Mary Deal is one of those not-so-frequent-few who can deliver romance, mystery, thriller, historical, and contemporary all throughout a wide variety of settings. Legacy of the Tropics is my fifth read from her growing literary works, and while I’m not sure if it’s my favorite yet, it is definitely in the top two or three of what she’s produced. At a 50-foot glance, it’s a collection of three short novellas (~90 pages each) revolving around weather impacts in those lush and beautiful (not always serene) beach locations many of us adore. While each of the stories are stand-alone, and the first two are completely separate, there is a connection between the characters in the third story which was a beautiful surprise.

One of the facets of Deal’s work I’ve grown quite fond of is her ability to incorporate detailed histories of her characters all throughout the text without overwhelming the reader. Sometimes it’s a few pages, others it’s just a line here and there. By the end, you’re fully immersed in someone’s struggle or plight, rooting for him or her like no one before. In all three stories, weather plays a huge and dramatic role. At first, it’s a freak storm impacting a boat at sea off the cost of Puerto Rico, then it’s an unexpected rip tide on a beach in Hawaii. I’ve been to both places and she instantly brought me back there. By the third, a powerful hurricane wrecks havoc on an already burdened set of inhabitants and characters we’ve come to know. Deal knows how to toy with your emotions… whether it’s making you want to reach thru the pages to save the victim yourself, cry when someone unexpectedly takes a turn for the worse, or shout with strength when it appears a reward might finally happen. But it’s never over when Deal’s at the helm. Just when you think things are looking brighter, she drops the truly big one on you! Every possible conflict appears among these stories.

Deal’s knowledge of these places and various water-related incidents is vast and descriptive. You will feel (1) stuck in the middle of an ocean with little hope for survival, (2) as if you’re being lifted by 100 mph winds into the air as a roof is ripped off your house, or (3) the jitters when a sea creature begins attacking your legs just because it wants to toy with you. Between the ocean-life and real-life in between the words of these 3 stories, be prepared for emotion, knowledge, and shock. I expected to read one story for the next 3 days. Instead, I read 1 last night and 2 first thing this morning… and I still want more. What a fantastic way to share a common theme and experience. Awesome work, Deal!

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: A World Without Color by Bernard Jan

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A World Without Color: A True Story Of the Last Three Days With My CatA World Without Color: A True Story Of the Last Three Days With My Cat by Bernard Jan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When you lose a cherished pet, sometimes the loss is so inexplicable, all you can do is cry. When I had to let go of my ten-year-old shiba inu just about a year ago, it was a painful 2-week process. It is nearly impossible to put into words for most people how you go about making the decision to end an animal’s pain, begin your own, and suffer the consequences. Not impossible tho, as proven by Bernard Jan in the second book of his I’ve read this year. Jan lost his beloved cat, Marcel, and shares the emotional turmoil he encountered throughout the process.

This book is ~100 pages covering the three days when Jan and his family know they have to say goodbye. His words and imagery are stellar… honestly… he captures all those emotions pet-parents go through trying to rationalize our decisions, understand the whys, convince ourselves we will be okay, and determine how or if we can lean on anyone around us. By showcasing Marcel’s movements and struggles, we see the pain Jan’s family has gone through. It is visceral and constant. It is harsh and definitive. It is widespread and menacing.

I had to put the book down several times as it brought me to tears thinking of my own pet loss this year. Jan is brave. He shares everything from the moment he adopted the cat to the treasures of their ~15 year life together. As a younger guy suffering through this, he’s developing all his emotions and reactions to something he’s truly not ready to handle. I say this not because Jan’s not strong enough (he is), but because this is one of his earliest life experiences dealing with death. It is never easy. But to write about it and share those feelings, notions, worries, and sighs of relief when it’s all over (even tho it really isn’t) is remarkable.

Translated into English, the creators of this version are masterful in their descriptions. The comparisons… similes… references… moments… all bring readers to experience as closely as possible what the author experienced. If you’ve never gone thru it, it’s probably not fully apparent. Human loss is different… agreeably more harsh in most circumstances, but when your pet cannot talk to tell you what kind of pain they have, you are the sole person responsible for deciding how to help them.

I felt the intensity from Jan’s writing, and I recommend this for anyone who has a pet and/or is coping with [or the potential] loss. It might not be a good idea to read it as you’re going thru it depending on what kind of person you are and how you handle grief, but it’s something you should read when you are starting to recover. Thank you for sharing this truly humbling work, Bernard Jan.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

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The Mother-in-LawThe Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I read one of Sally Hepworth’s earlier novels last year and immediately connected with her writing style and storytelling approach. I marked the rest of her books as TBR, then saw The Mother-in-Law available via NetGalley. I was lucky enough to be approved for an ARC earlier this week and began reading it right away. What an emotional and angst-ridden tale about the relationship between several family members who can feel all too real and all too fake at the exact same time. I truly enjoyed this book and give it 4.5 stars. Let’s get into some specifics…

Lucy lost her mother when she was young. Although her father was wonderful, she never felt that connection with an older female who could guide her through becoming a mother, caring for a family, or securing your own position in the world as a strong, intelligent woman. When she meets Ollie, and he wants to introduce her to his family, Lucy is nervous but hopeful it fills a hole that’s been growing for far too long. Unfortunately, when Lucy meets his mother, Diana, it becomes quite clear that won’t happen.

Diana had a difficult childhood and was essentially almost forced to give Ollie up as a baby. When she was kicked out, Diana learned how to build something from nothing and to care for her family when she didn’t even have a place to live. She used that savvy experience to become a major player in an organization that helps young women trying to escape from difficult circumstances in their own country and move to America for a better life. Diana also developed a thick skin and an attitude that no one should be given a handout without working for it in return.

Although the story alternates chapters from Lucy’s and Diana’s viewpoints throughout the decade they know one another, there are other characters who help show what each woman is truly made of. Diana’s husband, Tom, is the complete opposite of her; he’s a lovable, genuine, and thoughtful husband and father who gets sick. Ollie’s sister and her husband are desperate for a baby and go to the extremes to make it happen with or without their family’s support and money. Ollie’s best friend becomes his business partner and wreaks havoc on a complex family relationship. Then there’s the 3 young children Ollie and Lucy have during that first decade. Throw in Diana’s untimely death, mysterious circumstances that make it look like a suicide but also a murder… and you’ve got quite a psychological exploration of what it means to be a parent and an in-law.

This book explores that fine line of how you say things without coming across as insensitive or rude, how you determine when to let a mistake happen so a new parent learns on her own how to care for the child, and how you deal with making a decision when you and your spouse are on opposite sides of how to best support your children. At times, Diana was truly a horrific witch of a human being. You come to realize she kinda knows the way she’s behaving is wrong, but it’s been ingrained in her. When she softens, you want to root for her. You want to believe she will turn that corner and do the right thing. Then she goes in the opposite direction, unlike Lucy, who is nearly consistent almost the entire time. She sucks it up when Diana is rude or distant. She does all the things she doesn’t want to do just so she doesn’t look like she’s being difficult. Until something bad happens, then Lucy blows up.

While 90% of me sides with Lucy, I do understand Diana’s approach. And it works in many circumstances; however, there comes a time when you let someone try to help themselves for only so long before it becomes too late. If you have an excess of money, and your children need it, don’t hold on to it forever if they have put years into helping themselves only to fail for reasons out of their control. Eventually, Diana begins to see the light, but it’s too late. Too much has been set in action, and her death is imminent. Was she murdered by one of these people who felt she went too far? Did she commit suicide because she felt guilty? Was it a freak and unexpected accident? You’ll have to read the book to find out, but I believe it’s worth it.

I couldn’t put the novel down. If I did, within 15 minutes, I kept telling myself ‘just one more chapter.’ Hepworth is brilliant at displaying angst, love, pain, and despair in a family who needs a little therapy to heal and forgive. It’s down-to-earth, regular actions and words that remind you of your own world (not the drama necessarily, but the way people relate to one another) feel comfortable yet push you just enough to question how you think about a situation. I adored this book and would love to give it a full 5-stars, but there were a few items I thought could have been a bit more tidy to be absolutely perfect. The ending is ‘ten years’ in the future which is great, but I would love to have seen some of the immediate drama after Diana’s death. We get a lot, but once the true reason she died is discovered, there’s a bit of a windy wrap-up without a clear enough focus on everyone’s reactions to the truth. I don’t want to spoil this surprise, but ultimately, if you’re gonna throw a curveball at us, give us a few reactions from the rest of the people involved so we sense a complete and thorough emotional see-saw when learning what happened to your family member.

That said, it’s a high recommendation from me… can’t wait to see what others think when it comes out in early 2019.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Clarissa’s Warning by Isobel Blackthorn

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Clarissa's WarningClarissa’s Warning by Isobel Blackthorn

Clarissa’s Warning is a new novel by Isobel Blackthorn published in 2018 by Creativia Publishing. I saw the gorgeous cover on a Facebook post and took a chance on reading someone new. Part mystery, part paranormal, this book focuses on the re-building of a beautiful but decaying island home off the coast of Africa and Spain. Claire, a middle-aged single woman who lost her mother very young has been raised by her distant father and her Aunt Clarissa, a somewhat gifted visionary. Claire fell in love with the house and developed a strong desire to restore it to greatness. After she won the lottery, Claire convinces the owner to sell her the property against his better wishes (and for close to double what it’s worth), then moves to the island against her aunt’s warning. It’s a simple warning really… someone is out to dupe her, so don’t trust anyone.

The book traces the ~6 month period from when Claire moves to the island until the semi-completion of the renovations. I won’t say why the book ends before the renovations are complete… Does she die? Does the house implode? Does she sell and run away? Or does she solve the mystery and find a compromise? So many things could happen… which makes the book have a light suspense factor overall. You know something bad is gonna happen, but when will Claire be most in danger? Claire gets to know the building team members who are afraid of spirits haunting the house. She befriends the local cafe owner who’s reticent to share the truth about past. And she meets a reporter / photojournalist who for the first time symbolizes potential love in her life. Is one of these people trying to harm her? Or is it something from the Great Beyond?

One of my favorite aspects of this novel is the way in which the author catalogs two things: (1) past owners of the home and (2) re-modeling and construction of the new home. Both are handled with careful detail and imagination. The building comes to life through Blackthorn’s beautiful descriptions. The previous owners are frightening and empathetic. Just who owned this place and what kind of horrific thing happened to create so many near-death experiences for future owners and inhabitants? Blackthorn keeps the pages turning with curiosity and a hope for a successful venture in Claire’s future.

I enjoy paranormal adventures and this was an easy yet immersive one to follow. While a few scenes scare you, others seem a bit normal in occurrence. When you add it all together, it’s easy to understand why Claire would be scared but also choose to stay… at least until the major one happens where she’s put in grave danger. I would not have gone back after that happened and I tend to be a stay-and-fight/protect kinda guy. When there’s a mean ghost after me, I’ll kick it’s rear end… at least until I end up in the hospital. Then I might take a breather. Not Claire — she wants her house back!

I’d recommend this for a wide variety audience. You need an interest or acceptance of paranormal activity, a curiosity about different cultures and the renovation process, and a love of a good story. Put all those things together and you’ve got a fantastic read that will show you something you probably haven’t experienced — I’m not sure many have met a ghost, to be honest, which makes this an even stronger concept to dive into. Kudos to the author for making it pop and draw me in. I bought the book a few weeks after it was published and will definitely read more from this author.

Buy the Book Here

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: The Seasiders by A. J. Griffiths-Jones

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The SeasidersThe Seasiders by A.J. Griffiths-Jones

The Seasiders is a light mystery novel written by A. J. Griffiths-Jones in 2016 and published by Creativia, the same press where I’m published. I like to sample different authors’ books throughout the year to see what everyone’s styles are like. I always end up enjoying the books and this was no exception.

At first, the story is very simple. A husband and wife, Dick and Grace, own and operate a small b&b in the UK. Grace’s family originally ran the place, but once they retired the business transferred to their daughter. Dick does very little to help out. He does his best to build the foundation for an outdoor patio, but he breaks the cement all the time. He can’t use the booking system, and he is possibly afraid of the washing machine. Grace loves him, but part of her wants an escape. We meet a few of their guests and neighbors all the while knowing something weird is going on, just never quite certain what it is. By the end, the truth comes out in quite a twist and we are left wondering what really happened along the way. I’m being purposely vague so readers won’t feel any spoils nor try to guess for themselves. It’s a very different kind of mystery book, but still a good one to experience.

Griffiths-Jones relies on typical encounters between a husband and wife, neighbors, and guests at a hotel to tell this story. Through preparing a meal, checking in/out, running errands, or overhearing conversations, the plot unfolds and thickens. A guest goes missing. Money has been stolen. Police are investigating but they won’t say for what. It’s in the hidden details that readers must find the actual events that have occurred. It’s a careful and deliberate writing style to balance facts and missing facts. When a writer can do this and achieve a wonderful ending, it’s a sign of talent.

On the shorter side, probably more of a novella, it’s easy to digest in a couple of hours. Grab a cup of tea, perhaps a tasty snack, and sit by a fire this winter. Immerse yourself in each new character and try to figure out the connection to the plot. Sometimes it’s clear, others it’s not until the end. The author drops several red herrings, but there’s also a few solid clues you might miss. I enjoyed the descriptions as it painted a mostly clear picture of the setting, scenery and characters, but left enough for me to fill in the blanks as I saw fit in my connections to the book. That’s always my favorite style — not too detailed, but not too vague.

A lovely story, a few surprises, a good afternoon read to get familiar with the author’s styles and talents. I’m definitely glad I took this one and look forward to checking out her other books in the upcoming year.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Sea Cliff by Mary Deal

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Sea CliffSea Cliff by Mary Deal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sea Cliff is a very appropriate title for this book. Not only is Mary Deal’s story about a beautiful area in San Francisco named Sea Cliff, but it’s also the way to describe the main character’s emotions as she struggled with overcoming a haunting past and accepting love for a promising future. I’ve read many of Deal’s books before, and even though I don’t usually read in the love / romance genre, I read this one because the author is just that good of a writer. It did not disappoint on any level.

Main character, Rachael, is an author who finds inspiration in Matthew, a handsome guy she meets in a park. At first, she’s hesitant because he’s too forward and overly interested. She suspects ulterior motives, but pushes herself to extend her boundaries. She’s been emotionally and physically abused in the past which has left her unable to trust others. She lost both her parents, has a difficult relationship with her brother, and isn’t able to keep friendships all because of this pain. But life’s not all bad… she’s published two books, she’s inherited some money and a house, and she is starting to open up. As the story progresses, she lets Matthew in but not consistently enough resulting in several moments and interactions that leave them both uncertain of their future. After an emotional and turbulent event changes the course of their relationship for a few months, readers are never certain how it all might end up.

I daresay this isn’t a typical romance novel. While there are definitely large chapters and chunks of the book focused on the growing romance and subsequent roadblocks, it’s more a study in the life of a woman over the course of about 18 months as she goes through many changes to accept herself. There are several romantic scenes, but it’s not a huge piece of the action. It’s more of an emotional and psychological tale where we see the ebbs and flows of Rachael’s ability to open up. As she meets new characters and takes on bigger roles in her career, we see confidence and pain emerge. She struggling, and we root for her, which makes the story easy to read.

Deal is a very talented writer who can evoke emotion from her readers. I don’t want to give away too much more, but there’s a climactic event that truly tests Rachael (and Matthew) where as readers, we can’t decide what to feel or think… and we want to grab hold of someone and shake them for what they’ve done… but ultimately, we might be misunderstanding what’s really going on. There’s a little bit of suspense, a hint of ‘coming of age’ although Rachael’s already a fully grown adult, and a gripping saga about how to move on from damages. Deal pushes readers to explore how they’d react in some tough situations, then provides a calm relief where things seem to be okay. Only they’re not… and it takes a lot more to overcome something we didn’t realize was so powerful in the past.

Although I’m still not sure romance books are a go-to genre for me, Deal’s writing and style makes this a much more genre-crossing story for me that I’d be open to sampling a few others who tread the water in this realm. I’m thrilled with this book and the fact that I devoured it on a 3-hour train ride should show how true it is. I never wanted to put it down nor did I get bored of any plot or setting which I’d been worried about purely because of it being a non-norm genre for me. I should’ve known better… the genre might spook me a bit, but the author consistently delivers no matter what she writes. If you’re read her work before, but don’t read in this genre, it’s got props and strength – very worth the read. If you love romance and like a little extra, give this one a shot. It’s full of depth and hope, sorrow and worry… but the ups and downs the characters go thru are worth it. Solid read… definitely recommended.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.