Dead South: A Lowcountry Seaside Mystery (Lowcountry Mystery Series Book 1) by David Banner

Dead South: A Lowcountry Seaside Mystery (Lowcountry Mystery Series Book 1) by David Banner

Detective Ryan Devereux has lived in the deep south of South Carolina his whole life. His mother did her best to bring him up right and even though it looked like he was going in the wrong direction during his early years his uncle helped him get his act together and as an adult Ryan became a police detective in the Charleston County Police Department. Now he works in the cold case department of the force trying to solve murders that happened years earlier.

Ryan is called out to Waverly Plantation where skeletal remains were found in the marsh. When Ryan gets there he sees that the skeleton is of his very first girlfriend, Haley King, who went missing 20 years earlier. He recognized her because the skeleton had on the prom dress Ryan bought for her. On the night she disappeared she was supposed to be going to the prom with Ryan but she canceled hours before the dance.

Complicating matter is Ryan’s ex wife, Jillian, who is engaged to marry another man, Thomas Kent. Ryan and Jillian have a ten year old daughter together, Carly, and Ryan does his best to spend as much time with her as possible.

The investigation into Haley’s death soon takes a major twist. It appears that Jillian’s fiance, Thomas, knew Haley and might somehow be involved in her murder. Ryan is very concerned about his ex wife and daughter’s lives since Thomas is living with them. Ryan is almost afraid of what he’ll discover during his investigation and wonders how to keep his daughter safe.

Dead South” is the first in the Lowcountry Seaside Mystery Series by David Banner. It’s really quite good. Mr. Banner’s writing style is very natural and his description of the lowcountry makes it sound like a magical place. The book reminds me a lot of James’ Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series.

The story is excellent and the novel is a page turner and I did enjoy the twist in the plots. My major concern is that the book needs a good editing job. Sometimes the author tells us that Jillian and Thomas are married and other times we hear that they’re engaged. A name of a play was given and instead of it being in initial caps or italicised the name is in lower case. Ryan was supposed to meet his uncle for breakfast but when they left the sun was going down. Ordinarily, I try not to let these things get to me but there were way too many editorial problems for me to just swallow.

This new series has a chance to go far if Mr.s Banner can get a good editor to help him out. Even with this I’m giving “Dead South” a high rating because of its amazing plotline. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series and seeing what life holds for Ryan and the rest of the characters.

“I received an ARC of this book prior to publication and I voluntarily reviewed it and my opinions are my own.”

Dead South

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Strawberry Frosted & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 39 by Susan Gillard

Strawberry Frosted & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 39 by Susan Gillard

All of Heather Shepherd’s baking assistants were having a bad day. One just broke up with her boyfriend, another assistant’s boyfriend had to work late all the time, another had a dental problem, and another didn’t get the part in a play he wanted to be in. It was hard getting them to focus on Heather’s newest donut, Strawberry Frosted.

The day not get any better when Heather’s friend, Josh, had problems finding an assistant for his son to be opened new restaurant. Amy Given’s, Heather’s best friend, still believes that the building the restaurant is going to be in is cursed because people were previously found murdered in it.

Finally, Josh found the perfect chef’s assistant, Kenneth Cooke, who had some great recipes and was eager to start working. Josh was thrilled that Kenneth was going to start early the next day.

That next morning,, as Josh was speaking to Kenneth on the phone the conversation suddenly stopped. It sounded like someone hit Kenneth with a watermelon. Josh asked Heather and Amy to please find his new assistant and see if he was okay.

The two friends soon found the man laying on the beach. Someone hit him over the head with a rock and killed him. Kenneth was new to Key West and no one knew him  so who would want to kill him and for what reason?

The police thought that Josh murdered Kenneth in a rage since Josh does have some anger issues. Is Josh going to be a murder suspect for the second time since he moved to Florida?

But the police found something interesting about Kenneth Cooke. That wasn’t his real name. He was really Ben Ouster from upstate New York.

Ben had owned a restaurant there but got into some trouble. One man was poisoned by eating the food in Ben’s restaurant and died. Several other diners were put in the hospital. Ben did not have to go to jail but he soon left the community and changed his name. But did one of the diners or a family member of the dead man find Ben in Key West and kill the chef in revenge? Heather and Amy, with some help with the police, will find out what really happened to Kenneth/Ben.

“Strawberry Frosted & Murder” is the 39th in author Susan Gillard’s  Oceanside Cozy Mystery Series. The plot is different with twists and turns. All the regular characters are around making this yet another good mystery in this delightful series.

“I received an ARC of this book prior to publication and I voluntarily review it and my opinions are my own.”

To see other reviews of Susan Gillard’s books please go to Susan’s page on my blog.

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Dietland by Sarai Walker – Book Review and Personal Comments

Dietland by Sarai Walker – Book Review and Personal Comments

Nobody likes an overweight, fat, obese person and if you’re an overweight, fat, obese woman not only does society hate you but as far as they’re concerned you might as well kill yourself because you  deserve all the rude remarks, insulting comments, stares, and laughter that are tossed your way.

Alicia Kettle, everyone calls her Plum, weighs in at a little over 300 pounds. She lives her life trying not to be noticed. She dresses in dark colors, her dresses are long, and her arms are always covered even during the hot New York  summers. She looks down when she’s outside, minds her own business, and yet each and everyday some stranger feels they’re obligated to say something rude and nasty to her about her weight.

Plum dreams of becoming Alicia, her real self. Alicia is slim and beautiful. All men want her and all women want to be her. But in order for Plum to transform into Alicia she needs to have stomach bypass surgery which is expensive. Oh, her insurance will pay for the surgery but how will Plum afford to pay for all the follow up skin removal surgeries, the boob job she’ll have to get, and the stomach uplifting she’ll need? One thing at a time. First things first. Plum has schedule the bypass surgery and once that’s over with and she gets a little closer to being Alicia she’ll worry about everything else.

Plum works at home. She’s employed by a glamour type teen girl’s magazine. She answers questions from the teens. Of course the girls don’t know that Plum is answering the questions. Their emails are for the beautiful Kitty who runs the magazine. Kitty is far too busy gazing into the mirror to answer the thousands of emails she gets every week so Plum was hired to answer them. The questions are on many topics from dieting, to boyfriends, to slashing themselves, to parental problems, school, girlfriends, fashion, really anything that worries female teens, which is everything.

Plum likes working from home. She goes to her best friend Carmen’s cafe everyday and sits for hours drinking coffee and answering the emails. Kitty told her that human resources thought it would be nice for Plum to work at home but in reality Kitty didn’t want Plum in the office building which is filled with beautiful, slim, women. Plum just doesn’t fit that bill.

So day in and day out Plum doesn’t stray from a five block radius of her apartment, answering emails, drinking coffee, and ignoring all the cheap rude remarks that are flung at her about her weight.

But things are going to turn around for Plum very soon. Now don’t assume that Plum is going to transform herself into a size 2. She is going to be transformed into something far better than Alicia and all with the help of a terrorists group called Jennifer.

Jennifer is a group who kidnaps and then kills men who abuse women in any and every way. They even have a hit list. Jennifer also kidnaps and murders women who stay with these men accepting and defending the violence that’s handed to them. Jennifer is like a feminist terrorist group who is trying to regain their dignity from men who have claimed it. They refuse to be the “little girls” that look up to men as if the men were Gods, all knowing what’s best for all females. The group killed 12 men by throwing them out of an airplane at 10,000 feet because they raped a 12 year old girl for hours. Jennifer murdered a porn star/model because she allowed herself to be raped on the big screen even though she was harmed many times and needed surgery. Even so, she continued with her career, that is until Jennifer ended it all for good.

Is Plum part of Jennifer? Not at all but her fight to take back her dignity from people who believe that she doesn’t deserve it because of her weight is what Jennifer is doing with men. With the help of other fractured women at Calliope House Plum leans how to stick up for herself, defend herself, and not just sit back and let others say things to her without firing back. Plum learns how to be Plum and perhaps even not think about transforming herself to the thin, beautiful Alicia.

Dietland” by Sarai Walker is an amazing book. I found it so amazing that I’m going to buy it and I always do my best not to buy books.

But “Dietland” is not so amazing to all women.

I’ve read reviews about the book on Goodreads and Amazon and many of the women only like the beginning of the book where Plum is agonizing over her weight and how she should lose it. But when the story about Jennifer became more prominent in the second half of the story many women didn’t understand the correlation between Jennifer’s fight and Plum’s fight. These women didn’t understand Plum’s fight because they are not Plum. They were never Plum, and they never will be Plum.

I am Plum.

I understand Plum’s anger and fight because I’ve fought the same battles my entire life. When I was young I had classmates, teachers, strangers, relatives saying some mean things to me because of my weight and because I was fat I had to sit back and listen to all these remarks and do my best to hold my tears until I got home and locked myself in my room. Society says that you are wrong to be fat, that’s it your fault that you’re fat and you have to do whatever it takes to become thin and beautiful like Plum’s Alicia. You are not allowed to be content with what you look like. You have to be thin and trim even if you starve yourself. It’s sickening. I’ve always known this and I rarely ever spoke up to defend myself because, being fat, I wasn’t allowed to.

A few weeks ago I was telling a friend of how when I was maybe 16 or so I was waiting at the corner for the light to turn green when a NYC garbage truck drove by. The men on the truck screamed a few crass things to me about my weight and then threw a huge bag of garbage on me! Did I really deserve that? Many of you will say yes because I was too fat and the men were just trying to teach me how wrong I was to be so heavy.

My friend said, “That never happens in my state. It must be a New York thing.” No, it is not a big, bad New York thing, it’s an every state, city, town, county thing. My friend believed it was a New York thing because nothing like that has ever happened to her. She was never now or ever overweight, fat, or obese. Oh, she’ll say she has to lose 20 pounds but having to lose 20 pounds is not being 100 pounds overweight. Being 20 pounds over the ideal weight is fine as far as society is concerned. Most women will say that they’d rather lose a limb than be fat. When people abuse fat people it’s because they’re afraid that if they eat that one donut they will become fat and have society abuse them the way they abuse fat people.

In ten days I’ll be turning 66 and “Dietland” has actually said out loud to what I’ve always believed but was afraid to say myself. It’s okay to be fat if that’s what I want. It’s okay to wear yellow and red and green if I want and it’s okay for me to go into a cafe and order a sandwich if I want. What’s not okay is for total strangers, friends, and family to preach to you and make rude remarks to you about your weight and then attack you and say you don’t have a sense of humor when you tell them you don’t appreciate their “unsolicited advice.”

I just want to touch on the “Dietland” that is being shown on the television station, AMC. It’s not the same as the book. The television show had a male lead character. Why? Who is he? He is not in the book. But everytime something bad happens to Plum it’s this male character who is coming to her rescue while in the book it’s women who help her out. I’m disappointed that the television series falls back on the “man helping out the weak woman” story line which is the exact opposite of what the book is saying.

In the book Kitty is nothing more than a background character while in the television show she’s on screen almost as much as Plum. This bothers me too. And the worse thing is that the television version is not really showing the fight that Jennifer is waging and comparing it to the fight that Plum is going through.

But the show has not ended yet so maybe things will change in episodes to come.

Every woman should read Dietland” by Sarai Walker even if you’re a size 2. You might have a problem, not necessarily weight related, and Ms. Walker’s book and words will help light a fire under you.

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Stars, Stripes & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 38 by Susan Gillard

Stars, Stripes & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 38 by Susan Gillard

The Fourth of July is just a few days away and Heather Shepherd has created the perfect donut to celebrate the big day, the Red, White, and Blue Baked Coke Donut.

The whole community of Key West, Florida was excited about all the fun that was planned for the Fourth. Unfortunately, murder crept its way in to put a damper on everyone’s good time.

When an explosion was heard on the beach everyone ran to see what happened. It was there they found Gary Ozmore laying on the sand, dead and burned from the fireworks he was setting up for the festivities. For years Gary did the fireworks display. He also had a band that played for everyone. No one could believe that Gary made a mistake that would kill him, he’d been doing the fireworks for too long and was very careful.

Upon investigation it was soon discovered that someone fooled around with the remote ignition button and killed Gary. But who would do that? He was a well-liked man and had no enemies.

Heather, her best friend, bakery assistant, and fellow P.I., Amy Givens, along with the police department, start to investigate and they soon found some suspects. Could the murderer have been one of Gary’s band members who might have been jealous of him? Could it have been one of the people who spoke to Gary as he was setting up the display on the beach? Was it a neighbor who Gary asked to watch the fireworks when he left for a few minutes, or was it the wife of one of the town’s officials? It could have been any of them or someone else but Heather is determined to find the guilty culprit so the rest of Key West would be able to celebrate the nation’s birthday.

Stars, Stripes & Murder” is the 38th book in author Susan Gillard’s Oceanside Cozy Mystery Series and it’s a real blast. All the usual characters are there helping Heather to not only solve the murder but to partake of her delicious donuts.

The book is fun even though there is that murder to solve but everything turns out for the best at the end.

This a terrific novel to read on the beach during a heat wave waiting for your town’s fireworks display to begin.

“I received an ARC of this book prior to publication and I voluntarily review it and my opinions are my own.”

To see other reviews of Susan Gillard’s books please go to Susan’s page on my blog.

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Sugar Donuts & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 37 by Susan Gillard

Sugar Donuts & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 37 by Susan Gillard

Donut baker/P.I., Heather Shepherd is thrilled that her 12 year-old daughter, Lilly, is becoming such a good writer. The girl was invited to read her newest detective dinosaur story at Bernadette’s Beach Books writer’s workshop. Heather, of course baked some tasty treats, sugar donuts, for the workshop.

But something soon took the joy out of the occasion. Heather and her best friend, Amy Givens, finds out that a lawyer’s office is on fire and that one their friends, Fireman Frank, was injured in the blaze. They go to the fire with one of Heather’s assistants, Janae, who is also Frank’s girlfriend.

Frank escaped with an injured leg when something fell on it during the fire and he was sent to the hospital. But Frank was also felt very guilty. A woman was in the office during the fire and was killed and Frank felt that he didn’t do enough to save her.

On investigation it was soon learned that the dead woman was Muriel Malloy who worked as a legal assistant at Thaddeus Fisher’s law office. The police soon believe that Muriel’s death was an accident but since the fire was arson her death now became a murder investigation.

Muriel was very well liked by Thaddeus and the other legal assistant, Roger Gretchen. In fact no one could think of a reason why would want to see Muriel dead. Detective Ryan Shepherd thinks that whomever set the office on fire might have been trying to destroy some of the office files and had no idea that Muriel was still in there.

But who would want to destroy the files and for what reason and was Muriel involved somehow? Thaddeus Fisher was very upset when he heard of her death. He said she was his best assistant which made his other assistant, Roger Gretchen, jealous but was he jealous enough to want to kill Muriel and make it look like someone wanted to destroy the office?

Since the law firm dealt with divorce cases could one of the clients have been angry at the Thaddeus because of a loss of a divorce proceeding? A few other suspects came to mind like the Taylor’s and the McNeil’s. One of them might have believed that they did not get enough money from the divorce and blamed Thaddeus.

Alan Grift was another suspect. Thaddeus Fisher lost Grift’s divorce proceeding and the client blamed the lawyer even though Alan Grift was cheating on his wife.

But maybe someone did want to murder Muriel after all. Could it have been it her husband?

Another murder investigation for Heather and Amy to solve and with the help of giving out their yummy donuts the arsonist will soon be in handcuffs.

Sugar Donuts & Murder” by Susan Gillard is the 37th book in the Oceanside Cozy Mystery Series. Like all the previous books this one is just as entertaining and filled with all the regular characters. The series is fun to read and great for all ages. Author Susan Gillard has written yet another winner.

“I received an ARC of this book prior to publication and I voluntarily review it and my opinions are my own.”

To see other reviews of Susan Gillard’s books please go to Susan’s page on my blog.

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Culinary Cozy Murder Compilation 2: Books 6-10 of An Oceanside Cozy Series (An Oceanside Cozy Mystery) by Susan Gillard

Culinary Cozy Murder Compilation 2: Books 6-10 of An Oceanside Cozy Series (An Oceanside Cozy Mystery) by Susan Gillard

Need to catch up with author Susan Gillard’s Oceanside Cozy Series? Well, here’s a new compilation of books 6 – 10. It’s a wonderful way to read or reread all the early murder investigations that Heather Shepherd and her friends solved.

Caramel Apple & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 6 – In “Caramel Apple & Murder” Heather Shepherd and her friends find a dead body as they were bicycling on a bike tour around their new home in Florida. The dead man, a bartender, was left in the middle of the trail where anyone could have found him. He was stabbed to death and then his fingers were broken after he was killed. Detective Smith, who is supposed to be retiring very soon, thinks that this murder could be related to the murder of a nurse two years earlier. He asks Heather, Heather’s husband, Ryan who will be taking Smith’s place as detective after retiring, and Amy Givens, Heather’s P.I. assistant, to help find the murderer and to see if the two murders were done by the same person.

Coffee Cake & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 7 – Things were going pretty well with Heather Shepherd and her family and friends in Key West, Florida. Her husband Ryan finally started working as a police detective and the donut shop was coming along until Heather realized that online donut sales were slipping. She saw that a coffee shop owner in Salem, Massachusetts ordered some donuts for a Halloween event she was catering and said that Heather’s donuts were terrible! Heather’s donuts terrible? That couldn’t be so she and her best friend, Amy Givens, gets on a plane to Massachusetts to find out why the shop owner though the donuts warranted such a bad review.

The first time they went to speak with the owner they had to run out when the woman threw the donuts Heather and Amy wanted to give her. The next time they went to speak with her they found the owner dead and suddenly Amy and Heather were the prime suspects. So they decided they better investigate on their own to figure out who poisoned the coffee shop owner.

Mulled Cider & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 8  – Heather Shepherd and her friend, Amy Givens, have their hands full in Key West Florida. Their bookstore owner friend has been finding love poems in some of her books and has no idea who is writing them or who the poems are for so she asks Heather and Amy for some help solving this problem.

On another front, Heather’s husband, Ryan, is having a problem of his own. Another murder has hit Key West and he wants to solve it with just himself and his partner so that the Chief of Police knows that Ryan is a good detective but Ryan is having a hard time doing that without Heather and Amy’s help.

The owner of a cupcake shop was found stabbed to death. Heather and Amy are a little stressed out because the shop reminds them of Heather’s donut shop. As they investigate with Ryan, who has finally to agreed let them help, the awesome P.I. duo find out that the cupcake shop owner kept a ruby in the flour that she makes her cupcakes with. Why is this ruby hidden in the flour and who gave it to her. Was it her boyfriend or one of her three assistants and if not them, then who and does this gem of a discovery have anything to do with her murder?

Pumpkin Pie Brulee & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 9  – No one likes to cook Thanksgiving dinner even Heather Shepherd donut maker par excellence. Heather is making a pre Thanksgiving dinner, minus the turkey, just to see if she can make all the side dishes. She can’t. Her husband, police detective Ryan Shepherd, calls her to help him with something that she can do, help investigate a murder.

Craig Caulfield was killed while deep frying a turkey. It seems like the oil shot up hurting the chef and putting the yard on fire. This might have been an accident since deep frying a turkey can be dangerous, but everyone thinks that it might have been murder. Craig’s wife, Jocelyn said that he was a very careful chef and was always responsible when he cooked. One of their sons, Chris, was helping him and was lucky not to have been killed and ended up in the hospital from his burns.

Everyone thinks that this was no accident but a homicide and that someone killed the chef, but who? Was it wife, Jocelyn or some other family member? Heather and her best friend, Amy Givens, will find out the truth and solve the case.

Cranberry Glazed & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 10 – Heather Shepherd and her best friend and fellow P.I., Amy Givens, are excited when Jamie, Amy’s boyfriend’s mobile dog grooming van finally opens. The grooming van is a huge success on its opening day but Jamie ends up with a small problem named Miss Marshmallow. Miss Marshmallow’s owner, Melanie Grayson, left the little dog to be groomed so she could run some errands but the owner never returned. Amy thought that Jamie was lying and just wanted her to fall in love with the cute dog and keep her but Jamie’s story about the owner was true.

Amy and Jamie kept Miss Marshmallow overnight and it was not easy. The little dog was a real diva and refused to eat.

Heather and Amy decide to look for the little dog’s owner and they found her strangled in a palm tree grove,

On investigating the murder the P.I.’s and the police detective, Ryan, Heather’s hubby, discover that Melanie worked at an architecture firm and recently moved to Florida from Atlanta. But why would someone murder her and who? Was it one of the people working with her or was it someone from Atlanta? There’s nothing left to do but to investigate and find out.

“I received an ARC of this book prior to publication and I voluntarily review it and my opinions are my own.”

To see other reviews of Susan Gillard’s books please go to Susan’s page on my blog.

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Mimosa And Mystery: A Vineyard Winery Culinary Cozy Mystery (Midnight Winery Cozy Mystery Book 3) by Christie Waters

Mimosa And Mystery: A Vineyard Winery Culinary Cozy Mystery (Midnight Winery Cozy Mystery Book 3) by Christie Waters

Zara Myers, owner of the Chateau du Midnight Winery in beautiful Mendocino County, California is accompanying her boyfriend, Daniel Haddish of Glass Rose Vineyards, for a mini vacation to Bakersfield, California. Well, Daniel does have a business opportunity there but the couple hope to have some free time for a little romance.

Daniel hoped to go into business with Joseph Walker, owner of Walker Oranges, and Zara and Daniel were off to look at the orange groves.

When the couple arrived at the hotel Daniel twisted his ankle and Timmy, a very nice bellhop, helped them get to their rooms.

Eventually Daniel and Zara made it to Walker Oranges even though Daniel’s ankle was still a bit sore. The sweet orange smells from the grove soon turned sour when Joseph Walker found his son dead and to Daniel and Zara’s horror Joseph’s murdered son was none other than Timmy, the kind bellhop. Then the unthinkable happened and Joseph was also murdered and all this happened while Zara and Daniel were there.

This vacation/business trip was not going well and things got even stickier when out of nowhere Zara’s older half sister, Maria, knocked on Zara’s hotel room door telling Zara that she wanted part of the vineyard that Zara inherited from her grandfather. Maria threatened to sue Zara if she didn’t receive a check for half of what the vineyard was worth.

Oh, things were not going well at all. Daniel and Zara were told by the police not to leave the area, Daniel’s business deal was ruined, Zara might end up losing her vineyard, and Maria acted very suspicious when she heard about Timmy’s death. Now what are Zara and Daniel going to do? What else but do some investigating on their own. They’re pros at it at this point since they already helped solve two mysteries at Mendocino County. What have they got to lose now? Just a vineyard and maybe their lives.

“Mimosa And Mystery” is author Christie Waters’ novel in her Midnight Winery Cozy Mystery book series. I loved that Ms. Waters brought in a new person in Zara’s sister, Maria. The books needed a really terrible character that fans could despise. Murderers are despicable but nothing is as bad as a sister who wants to cheat her younger sibling. Yep, I definitely hated Maria and that was one reason that I wanted to get to the end of the book, to find out just what was going on with Zara’s older sibling.

The storyline got a little, shall I say, odd at one point when Zara was following a suspect during a concert and ended up in in a contest of sorts. This turn of events was strange but also rather funny. One thing about Ms. Waters’ novels is she tells you a lot about wines, fashion, murder, and lots of other things. She ties all the subjects in nicely with the plot so it’s all fun to read.

“Mimosa And Mystery” is a nice cozy filled with wine, romance, murder, friendship, and a few laughs. What more can you ask for for an enjoyable day of reading?

Pick up any one, or all three of the Midnight Winery Cozy Mystery Series, open up a bottle of wine, put your feet up, and get involved in a good mystery.

“I received an ARC of this book prior to publication and I voluntarily reviewed it and my opinions are my own.”

To see other reviews of Christie Water’s books please go to Christie’s page on my blog.

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