My Bookish Ways

Early Review: Raven Cursed (Jane Yellowrock #4) by Faith Hunter

Raven Cursed (Jane Yellowrock #4) by Faith Hunter
Publisher:
Ace Roc/Jan. 3rd, 2012
Urban Fantasy
Jane Yellowrock Series
5/5
Kind thanks to Roc for providing a review copy

The vampires of Asheville, North Carolina, want to establish their own clan, but since they owe loyalty to the Master Vampire of New Orleans they must work out the terms with him. To come up with an equitable solution, he sends an envoy with the best bodyguard blood money can buy: Jane Yellowrock.

But when a group of local campers are attacked by something fanged, Jane goes from escort to investigator. Unless she wants to face a very angry mast vampire, she will have to work overtime to find the killer. It’s a good thing she’s worth every penny.

REVIEW (Please note: This review is relatively spoiler free, but assumes you’ve read the first 3 in the series…)
When we last left my favorite skinwalker in Mercy Blade, there were definitely some strings that needed tyin’ up, so I was eager to dive back into Jane’s world in Raven Cursed. In the 4th book of the series, Jane heads out of New Orleans and back to Asheville, North Carolina to provide security for a parley between the MOC of New Orleans and a master vamp that wants to establish his own territory. Unfortunately, Jane gets way (way) more than she bargains for in Asheville. Rogue weres are killing tourists in horrible ways, and Jane is tasked with taking them out. Easier said than done, especially when Jane feels that she’s responsible for the weres’ rampage.

Strangely enough, this is one of the things that I love most about Jane. Her guilt. Yeah, I know that sounds weird, but she’s such a tough girl; so capable and strong, especially with Beast, that her enduring habit of taking nearly everything upon herself gives her a vulnerability that I can’t help but love. Seriously, sometimes I want to smack her (purely out of love), and say “It’s not your fault!!! You can’t control everything!!”, but I digress… So, there’s the were issue, which really gets bad when she finds out they might be after her best friend (and witch) Molly, and her family. Molly’s hubs isn’t all that fond of Jane for various reasons, so convincing Molly that things aren’t as they seem may prove to be a hard bargain. It really complicates things when Jane finds out that Molly’s sister Evangeline may be dabbling in the dark arts. I really wanted to throttle Evil Evie in Mercy Blade, and it only gets worse in Raven Cursed.

You think there’s a lot on Jane’s plate? There is! But wait, there’s more! Ricky-Bo is in town and is freaking out (understandably) at the possibility of going furry. Doesn’t help that his “mentor” , head of the African were cats, wants to kill him. I’ve always been hopeful for Rick and Jane, and their relationship just gets more complex, and more tender in a lot of ways, as the series goes on. I will admit that Jane and Bruiser’s , ahem, “almost” scene in Mercy Blade was the awesome, (‘cause Bruiser is a hottie, after all), but Rick is where it’s at, and I have no doubt that their relationship will just get more and more interesting as the series progresses. So, there you have it. Rampaging weres, twisty-turny vamp politics, hot shifters (and vamps), some seriously nasty (and witchy) black magic (we’re talkin’ demons here), and Ms. Hunter’s trademark, awesome fight scenes make for a book worth relishing. The Jane Yellowrock series is superb, and they just keep getting better. If you haven’t discovered it yet, I envy you, because you can start with Skinwalker and race right through. If you have discovered it, you’ll love Raven Cursed! This series is a must for any urban fantasy lover!
Read my review of Mercy Blade

Purchase Raven Cursed: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Interview (& Giveaway): Lucy A. Snyder, author of Switchblade Goddess!

I’m so thrilled to have the awesome Lucy A. Snyder on the blog today! It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of her Jessie Shimmer series, and am so excited for the 3rd book, Switchblade Goddess (out Dec. 27th!). Lucy was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, and she’s also generously offered a copy of Spellbent (Book 1), OR Switchblade Goddess (Book 3) to one lucky winner, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!

Please welcome Lucy to the blog!

Lucy, you have a BS in Biology, an MA in journalism and have worked in many different fields, including editing. You’ve also published numerous short fiction! What made you decide to take the plunge into novel writing?
I wanted to write fiction from the moment discovered the joys of reading; it was Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time that simultaneously hooked me as a lifelong science fiction/fantasy reader and fixed me on the idea of writing genre fiction. But writing a novel seemed pretty daunting once I started to realize how much had to go into one; NaNoWriMo and its support system didn’t exist and English classes focused on poetry and fiction (if they dealt with creative writing at all), so I started out writing short work.

During college, I went to the Clarion workshop fully intending to start writing novels after I left, but once I was there I realized how demanding short fiction is both in terms of the form and the market for it. I decided I wanted to have a solid number of short story credits under my belt before I tried a novel. It was a craft issue for me; I want to be able to write anything and everything: essays, poems, short stories, novels, all of it. I figured if I got to a place where I was regularly selling short stories I’d have enough equipment in my writing toolbox to competently tackle big fiction projects.

This tactic worked for me; I finished my first novel Spellbent, sent a query to my current agent, and six months later I had a deal with Del Rey. And that’s really very quick in the grand scheme of publishing. I know other authors who skipped short fiction entirely and have never written anything but novels, so everybody’s mileage varies. But most of the people I know who didn’t go the short fiction first route wrote several novels before they finally sold one, so everybody still has to do their own writing apprenticeships one way or another. Unless you’re some kind of celebrity, it’s extremely rare to sell a novel if it’s the first thing you’ve ever tried to write.

I’ll admit, I can’t gush enough about your Jessie Shimmer series and was floored at the sheer imagination on display in both Spellbent and Shotgun Sorceress. Also unusual (to me) was the inclusion of many horror elements in an urban fantasy setting. What are some of your biggest literary influences and what would you say influenced Jessie and her world the most?
Over the years, I’ve read a whole lot of authors in a whole lot of genres, and all of them have influenced me one way or another. Ursula K. Le Guin made a huge impact on me when I was younger, but so did Lewis Carroll, Charles Perrault, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Ian Fleming, William Golding, Frank Herbert, Ray Bradbury, Robert E. Howard, William Gibson, Anne McCaffrey, and Hunter S. Thompson. Because I got these really spectacularly gruesome nightmares when I was a kid and didn’t want to encourage them, I didn’t read horror until I was an adult. But once I dove into the dark end of the pool I found a whole lot of good stuff there. For instance, I think people will probably see a bit of Clive Barker influence in parts of Switchblade Goddess. And I’ve learned a tremendous amount from Gary A. Braunbeck.

Can you give us a bit of a teaser for Switchblade Goddess, the third in the Jessie Shimmer series?
Switchblade Goddess is the second half of Shotgun Sorceress; when I was plotting the series out, I envisioned that plot arc as a single book, but the story expanded once I started writing it. Jessie’s nemesis Miko is the title character of Switchblade Goddess for a reason — the book goes into her history and motivations a lot more than Shotgun Sorceress did. Readers can expect this novel to go to some very dark places, but I’ve also tried to balance those scenes with moments of humor and some sweetness in the evolving love story between Jessie and Cooper. As always, the focus is on the adventure.

When you started Spellbent, did you already have in mind the number of books that would be in the Jessie Shimmer series, or did you just decide to see where it took you?
When I initially sold Spellbent, I had in mind a trilogy, with a possible fourth book. But the storyline kept expanding, and now in order to get to all the events I alluded to in the prologue for Spellbent, I need to write at least three more books. I’ve also got ideas for more novels past those, and I’m currently writing short stories that explore some other events implied by the current books.

What is one of your most unusual writing quirks?
I do my best writing in flannel pajama pants and fuzzy socks. If I try to write barefoot and in jeans, or in shoes and in shorts, it’s all wrong and I have to change. The shirt doesn’t seem to matter so much; I should note that I do always wear one, largely because my office window overlooks the street.

What’s on your nightstand right now?
I’m currently reading an advance copy of Seanan McGuire’s new urban fantasy Discount Armageddon; it’s all about cryptozoology and ballroom dancing, and it’s a lot of fun.

When you’re not busy writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
What is this “not busy writing” thing of which you speak? I enjoy watching movies, and playing Scrabble, and going out to good restaurants. Because of my going out to restaurants habit, I also try to spend a decent amount of time at the gym.

It says in your bio that your parents took you on car trips all over the US. If you could pack your bags and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go, and why?
That’s a hard question to answer, because there are so many places I’ve never been that I’d like to visit: Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Scotland, Ireland, northern Italy … there are too many to list. Of the places I’ve been, I’d love to take my husband and a couple of friends to the Isle of Capri just so I can go, “See? The water really is that blue! I didn’t Photoshop that!” and then we could eat some really phenomenal bruschetta and ice cream and then we could all hike up to the ruins of Villa Jovis while singing songs from “Meet the Feebles”. Okay, the singing and hiking is optional. The bruschetta wouldn’t be.

You write a column on science and technology for writers and also coordinate writing workshops. What advice would you give to struggling writers?
My main advice would be to stick with it. That’s been the biggest difference between the people who’ve gotten published and the people who haven’t: persistence along with the ability to learn from criticism rather than be put off by it or ignore it. I’ve seen talented writers fall by the wayside because they got discouraged, and writers who at first seemed not so talented succeed because they were willing to work their butts off.

Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
My next book will be a collection of erotica entitled Orchid Carousals; I’m still working on the stories for it, but it should be out in 2012 from Creative Guy, the publisher who’s produced my collections Sparks and Shadows, Chimeric Machines, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger. A significant portion of Orchid Carousals will be new stories featuring Jessie Shimmer, Cooper Marron and the Warlock. I’m writing it mostly for fun, and I hope readers will enjoy it, too.
Keep up with Lucy: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**
1. You must fill out the form below.
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Spellbent OR Switchblade Goddess to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian addresses only
4. Please include a valid email address
5. You must enter on or before 1/1/12
6. I am not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
7. Giveaway book kindly provided by the author.

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Giveaway Winner: Night Shade Books Fantasy Bundle!

Squeee! I’ve got a winner for my Night Shade Books Fantasy Bundle (4 titles: Yarn by Jon Armstrong, Zendegi by Greg Egan, The Winds of Khalakovo by Bradley P. Beaulieu, and The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells)

Congrats to Susanna P (SusieBookworm)!

*Winner was chosen using Rafflecopter, has been notified, and has 48 hours to respond. Thanks again to everyone that entered!

Review: The Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott and Colette Freedman

The Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott and Colette Freedman
Publisher:
Tor/Forge/Dec. 2011
Fantasy/Horror/Thriller
4/5
Kind thanks to Tor for providing a review copy

The Hallows. Ancient artifacts imbued with a primal and deadly power. But are they protectors of this world, or the keys to its destruction?

A gruesome murder in London reveals a sinister plot to uncover a two-thousand-year-old secret.

For decades, the Keepers guarded these Hallows, keeping them safe and hidden and apart from each other. But now the Keepers are being brutally murdered, their prizes stolen, the ancient objects bathed in their blood.

Now, only a few remain.

With her dying breath, one of the Keepers convinces Sarah Miller, a practical stranger, to deliver her Hallow—a broken sword with devastating powers—to her American nephew, Owen.

The duo quickly become suspects in a series of murders as they are chased by both the police and the sadistic Dark Man and his nubile mistress.

As Sarah and Owen search for the surviving Keepers, they unravel the deadly secret the Keepers were charged to protect. The mystery leads Sarah and Owen on a cat-and-mouse chase through England and Wales, and history itself, as they discover that the sword may be the only thing standing between the world… nd a horror beyond imagining.

REVIEW
Sarah Miller is having a really, really bad day. After helping an elderly woman during an apparent mugging, the woman convinces Sarah to take an artifact of hers (a piece of a broken sword) and keep it safe. Sarah’s not quite sure why she agrees to do it, but feels that it’s somehow her duty, and agrees. Turns out this artifact is part of a broken sword with ancient and deadly powers, and it’s also one of 13 Hallows that if brought together can bring about the destruction of mankind. The woman’s American nephew Owen, is also an important key to the story, and she’ll have to seek his help after a group of killers targets her entire family, seeking the artifact.

The Thirteen Hallows is a mix of horror, thriller, and fantasy that moves at a breakneck speed. I enjoyed seeing Sarah go from a timid 22 year old still living at home to a confident, strong heroine. We don’t meet Owen until a little over halfway into the novel, but I’ll enjoy seeing where their relationship goes. The main baddies (the man and woman trying to get their hands on all 13 of the Hallows), and their minions are seriously evil, nasty (and sadistic) indeed. They’re big into torture, and sex magic, and some scenes, while not gratuitous, are not for the faint of heart. It’s a race for Sarah and Owen, not only to discover the truth about the Hallows, and clear Sarah’s name, since she’s the prime suspect in a series of murders, but to escape the very people that are hot on their trail and will stop at nothing to see them dead. Their main goal is to  bring the Thirteen Hallows together, which would be very, very bad (we’re talking demons getting loose kind of bad). The chapters are short, and bounce from Sarah and Owen, to the Keepers, to the bad guys, and back, and will keep you turning the pages. I kept wanting to read just “one more chapter”, which, of course, led to pretty much devouring the whole thing in 2 sittings. I really enjoyed the mythology behind the Thirteen Hallows and some of it really surprised me (in a good way), and made me wish the 2nd book was already out. If you’re a fan of thrillers with strong horror (and fantasy) elements and are in the mood for a fast moving, exciting read, you’re in for a treat with The Thirteen Hallows!

Purchase The Thirteen Hallows: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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New Releases: Dec. 20th, 2011

Check out the new releases this week!  Most release Dec. 20th.Enjoy!

Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Fantasy/Sci-fi/Horror:
The Doctor and the Kid: Weird West Tales by Mike Resnick
Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright
Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Death and Resurrection by R.A. MacAvoy
Enchanted Again by Robin D. Owens
Wolf Whisperer by Karen Whiddon
Claim the Night by Rachel Lee

Young Adult:
Still Waters by Emma Carlson Berne
Legacy by Molly Cochran
Vampire Academy: The Ultimate Guide by Richelle Mead and Michelle Rowan

Virtual Tour, Interview, & Giveaway: Michael Scott and Colette Freedman, authors of The Thirteen Hallows!

We’re on Day 2 (of 3) of The Thirteen Hallows Virtual Tour at My Bookish Ways, and today I’d like to welcome Michael Scott and Colette Freedman to the blog! They were kind enough to answer a few of my questions, and Tor/Forge is also offering up a copy of The Thirteen Hallows, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!

You’re both accomplished writers. What made you decide to collaborate on The Thirteen Hallows?
Colette- I’ve always been a big fan of Michael’s writing, especially his books Irish Folk and Fairy Tales and Irish Myths and Legends. Because we share the same manager, we ended up having a meeting, Michael read and liked a play I had written and, voila.
Michael- I write both novels and scripts and the main difference is that novel writing is essentially a solitary occupation whereas script writing is collaborative. And collaboration can be great fun. I’d been looking for someone to work with on the Hallows project, someone to bring a new energy and excitement to it, when I met Colette through our mutual manager. I read some of her work – including her astonishingly good Sister Cities – and knew that I wanted to work with her.

Can you tell us a bit about the writing process for The Thirteen Hallows? I’m always fascinated with how two writers collaborate!
Because we would be working on two different continents, we knew that the first step was to create a very detailed synopsis, breaking down the book to a chapter-by-chapter outline.
Michael flew to Los Angeles where we plotted out the book in detail and, then later, Colette flew to London where we physically visited all of the locations in the story and took hundreds of photos as a visual record.

We live in different countries and we make the eight-hour time zone difference work for us. Colette writes a chapter and emails it to Michael before he wakes up. Michael then tweaks it, doctors it, embellishes it and writes the next chapter, which he sends to Colette. She does the same with his chapters and we go back and forth until the book is complete.

The final document was prepared in a shared Google docs, where we can actually see one another editing the manuscript.
We then Skype almost every day, working through the plot points. Skype, and shared Google docs really helped make this book happen.

When you started The Thirteen Hallows, did you already have an idea of how many books would be in the series?
We’ve plotted out the first book and a sequel. As we were working through the plot for that, a third book began to formulate.

What is your most unusual writing quirk?
Colette- I drink a lot of coffee and snack while I work. Is that a quirk?
Michael- I have a huge music library and deliberately choose the piece of music to match the piece I’m writing. So, every book I write has its own “soundtrack.”

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
Colette - Chekhov, Shakespeare, Wendy Wasserstein, Roger Zelazny, Ray Bradbury,
Michael - Far too many to name. Those writers you read when you are young – Mark Twain, Andre Norton, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E Howard – have left their mark. More recently, I am in awe of China Miéville’s imagination and Joe R. Lansdale’s bravura storytelling skills.

What are you reading right now?
Colette - Tom McNeal’s To Be Sung Underwater
Michael- I’ve just finished Patrick Rothfuss The Wise Man’s Fear, and Joe Lansdale’s breathtaking All the Earth Thrown to the Sky.

What book would you like to read again for the first time?
Colette – Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude
Michael - Joseph Campbell The Hero with A Thousand Faces (though I will admit to reading it regularly.).

When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Colette - Reading, cooking, seeing movies, playing tennis, playing scrabble
Michael - Reading and traveling

Is there any news of upcoming events or projects that you’d like to share with us?
We are both planning world trips: Colette is planning to go to India and Italy. Michael is about to begin a round the world myth collecting trip.
Keep up with Michael: Website | Twitter
Keep up with Colette: Website | Twitter

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**
1. You must fill out the form below.
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of The Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott and Colette Freedman to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US, Canadian, and Ireland addresses only
4. Please include a valid email address
5. You must enter on or before Dec. 26th, 2011
6. I am not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
7. Giveaway books were kindly provided by Tor/Forge Books.

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Giveaway Winners: Obsidian, Creative Spirit, and Hushed!

I’ve got 3 ebook giveaway winners to announce today! Thanks so much to everyone that entered!

Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout:

Congrats to Julianne!

Creative Spirit by Scott Nicholson:

Congrats to Victoria Barton!

Hushed by Kelley York:

Congrats to Deb Novak!

*Winners were chosen by Rafflecopter and Random.org and have been notified. Thanks again to everyone that entered!

Virtual Book Tour: The Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott and Colette Freedman

Thanks to Tor/Forge, I’m very excited to be part of the virtual tour for The Thirteen Hallows, the brand new fantasy from Michael Scott and Colette Freedman! For today, Michael and Colette were kind enough to make up a list of their 13 favorite scary movies, and in the next couple of days there will be an interview, a giveaway, and a review, so be sure to check back! Also, check out the trailer for the book at the bottom of the post!

About The Thirteen Hallows:

A new adult novel from Michael Scott and Colette Freedman… The Hallows. Ancient artifacts imbued with a primal and deadly power. But are they protectors of this world, or the keys to its destruction?A gruesome murder in London reveals a sinister plot to uncover a two-thousand-year-old secret.

For decades, the Keepers guarded these Hallows, keeping them safe and hidden and apart from each other. But now the Keepers are being brutally murdered, their prizes stolen, the ancient objects bathed in their blood. Now, only a few remain.

With her dying breath, one of the Keepers convinces Sarah Miller, a practical stranger, to deliver her Hallow—a broken sword with devastating powers—to her American nephew, Owen.
The duo quickly become suspects in a series of murders as they are chased by both the police and the sadistic Dark Man and his nubile mistress.

As Sarah and Owen search for the surviving Keepers, they unravel the deadly secret the Keepers were charged to protect. The mystery leads Sarah and Owen on a cat-and-mouse chase through England and Wales, and history itself, as they discover that the sword may be the only thing standing between the world… nd a horror beyond imagining.

The Thirteen Hallows is the beginning of a spellbinding new saga, a thrilling tale of ancient magic and modern times by a New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning playwright.
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Michael and Colette’s 13 Favorite Scary Movies:
1. Silence of the Lambs
2. Dead Ringers
3. Children of the Corn
4. Misery
5. Let the Right One In (original)
6. Rosemary’s Baby
7. The Shining
8. The Ring
9. Jaws
10. Psycho
11. The Exorcist
12. Alien and/or Aliens.
13. Misery (every writer’s nightmare!)

What are some of your favorite scary movies?

Giveaway Winners: The Doomsday Vault and Cinder Audiobook

I’ve got my winners for The Doomsday Vault by Stephen Harper and the Cinder Audiobook by Marissa Meyer! Congrats to the winners and thanks to everyone that entered!

Cinder Audiobook

Congrats to Terri Matlock!

The Doomsday Vault by Stephen Harper (2 copies)

Congrats to ML and Kait M!

*Winners were chosen by Rafflecopter, have been notified, and will have 48 hours to respond. Thanks again to everyone that entered!

Giveaway: Blood Oath (Mystic Wolves) by Belinda Boring

The lovely Belinda Boring, author and proprietoress of Bookish Snob Promotions, is back with her 2nd installment in the Mystic Wolves series, and we’ve got tons of e-copies to give out! By tons, I mean that EVERYONE that comments will get a copy! Seriously, EVERYONE! So, check out the book info, and comment away! Giveaway will end on 12/19, and be sure to include a valid email address in  the body of your comment!

About Blood Oath:

Someone is trying to send a deadly message to Mason, arranging the deaths of those he loves and it puts the entire pack and Alpha on high alert. Plans are made but when the enemy strikes another painful blow by entering into the heart of pack property and kidnapping Darcy, Mason declares war. There’s nothing he won’t do to keep his future mate and pack safe.Darcy understands the primal instincts driving her beloved Mason’s commands. With the help of those he sets as protectors, she learns about herself and the things she’ll need to help support her Alpha and pack. When events turn dire however, one truth offers her strength – once given, a blood oath is unbreakable … even if it means risking it all.

Excerpt:
“What is it about you that I can’t resist?” he asked, inching painstakingly lower until he hovered just about my mouth, barely touching. His breath was hot, seductive, and it caused a ripple of excitement to course through me.
“Must be my sparkling personality,” I whispered back, struggling not to close the distance between us. Electricity charged the air, the chemistry of our connection wreaking havoc on my hormones.
He feathered his lips lightly over mine, just the ghost of a touch and I whimpered as he retreated without fully claiming my mouth. “Must be because I can barely remember my name when you look at me like that.” His fingers drew a soft line down the side of my cheek.
“And how is that?” I purred softly, a sultry tone to my voice. My body felt as if it would explode from the way he seemed to drink me in.
“Like the world doesn’t exist, but for the two of us. How did I deserve you?” He kissed me again. This time a little slower, pressing harder, and I followed him involuntarily as he moved back. He was teasing me and driving me crazy with it.
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the author:
A homesick Aussie living amongst the cactus and mountains of Arizona, Belinda Boring is a self-proclaimed addict of romance and all things swoon worthy. When she’s not devouring her latest read, you can find her celebrating her passion for books on her blog The Bookish Snob. With all that excitement, it wasn’t long before she began writing, pouring her imagination and creativity into the stories she dreams. Whether urban fantasy, paranormal romance or romance in general, Belinda strives to share great plots with heart and characters that you can’t help but connect with. Of course, she wouldn’t be Belinda without adding heroes she hopes will curl your toes. Surrounded by a supportive cast of family, friends and the man she gives her heart and soul to, Belinda is living the good life. Happy reading!

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