Book Review

The Chocolate Box – Isabella May

I have the privilege of kicking off the blog tour for one of my favourite authors today, as Isabella May returns with The Chocolate Box. Many thanks to Isabella for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.


Ellie Sanchez wants revenge. Spurned during her school days at prestigious Monty’s academy when she was plain Eleanor Finch, and played second fiddle to her idol, Barnaby Westwood, and his show-off sister, Clementine, Ellie will stop at nothing to turn the tables now she’s all grown up. The siblings and their snubbing have been the catalyst for everything that’s gone wrong in her life, from parental neglect to her divorce.

When the Westwood travel merchandise company advertises for a new HR manager, Ellie decides her unique combo of karma and Law of Attraction has finally come good. And she’ll be bagging herself a cherry-on-the-cake, second, and richer, husband in the process – once Barnaby sees how much she’s changed, anyway. 

Fast forward two years and he STILL doesn’t recognise her! 

Fast forward two years and the company is in a financial mess.

Last Chance Saloon-style, Ellie coerces the siblings and their older sister, Brooke (the perpetual spanner in her works) to a rustic gîte in Normandy for a spot of team-building… over a very ‘special’ box of artisan chocolates.

Cue ALL the fireworks in the cocoa bean version of Jumanji…


Amazon UK

Amazon US

This is the cover reveal THE CHOC BOX


As ever, it is impossible to review a book by Isabella May without first taking a moment to admire the delectable cover. Isabella’s covers always make my mouth water and send me scurrying to the fridge or snack cupboard before I settle down to read – and believe me, with this book, perhaps even more so than her previous books, you are going to want a decent supply of chocolate on hand for this one. In fact, I finished reading the book over a week ago and I still can’t stopping eating chocolate!

Setting aside talk of chocolate, for now at least, there is so much to love about this book that I am not too sure where to start. Of all the colourful characters in The Chocolate Box, Brooke was my favourite, somehow remaining sweet natured, despite being constantly being beaten down by her spoiled siblings Barnaby and Clementine. I found Ellie a slightly harder character to warm to at first. Her obsession with Barnaby makes her seem more than a little crazy and uncaring of who she tramples on to get to him. However, it didn’t take long for her to find her own place in my heart as the secrets of her past came to light.

Throughout the book, there are interesting interview snippets with Jock and Julie which hint at the drama to come as the full story unfolds. Jock and Julie are a fantastic double act deserving of their own book, which I am sure they could fill with wonderful stories.

Now, back to chocolate, or specifically, the eponymous Chocolate Box. Simply reading the  delicious descriptions of the decadent chocolates in the fabulous box from Chez Chocolat made my mouth water, although I think I might be less keen on some of the side effects that came with them. Never in the history of chocolates has one innocent looking box been the cause of so much mayhem!

Once again Isabella May has crafted a colourful cast of characters in a magical book that looks at how the way we treat people can have far reaching consequences. Filled with emotion, humour and a sprinkling of the mystical, The Chocolate Box is a wonderful, if potentially fattening, read.


Isabella Doorstep Pav Pose (1) (1)Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic, as well as a Pranic Healer.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children’s publishing… selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fuelled her curiosity and love of international food and travel – both feature extensively in her cross-genre novels, fused with a dollop of romcom, and a sprinkle of magical realism.

You can follow her Foodie Romance Journey series on social media.






Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in the tour for more about The Chocolate Box.

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Book Review

The Calling of the Trinity – Brittany Elise

Today I am joining the blog tour for The Calling of the Trinity, book two of the brilliant Trinity Cycle by Brittany Elise. Many thanks to Brittany for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.


The fate of the supernatural world lies in the hands of the Trinity. Now that their powers have awakened, they’re one step closer to putting an end to the Darkness surrounding them. Or so they thought…

The death of Wren’s father brings an unsolicited visit from the Alpha Master of the Thornwood werewolf pack, and with it some troublesome news. Wren is faced with a decision that could mean the end of his life if he doesn’t choose wisely.

A mysterious book hidden in a secret room just might have the answers the Trinity is searching for. Perhaps with a little help from the past, a winged guardian, and new friends–the Trinity can persevere and rise against the Darkness.


Black Rose Writing

Amazon UK

Amazon US

The Calling - Cover TCOTT


Ever since I read Awakening the Trinity (read my review here) back in January 2019, I have been eagerly awaiting the sequel, so when I heard it was going on a blog tour, I jumped at the chance to get involved.

Calling the Trinity picks up almost immediately after the end of Awakening the Trinity and we find our heroes having to cope with their own grief, the ever present threat of Rionach the Dark returning to power, and the new threat of a massive wolf pack on the doorstep. On top of this, Quinn is still struggling to understand her powers, her history, and the legacy left by her mother. All this means that this book is an action packed rollercoaster of emotion, and one that I struggled to put down when real life interfered with my reading.

When I reviewed Awakening the Trinity, I made a comparison to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, and I stand by that. The Trinity Cycle series really feels like it needs to be adapted to a Twilight-esque film. The landscape is so atmospheric that it needs to be seen – there is just something so immersive about Brittany Elise’s writing that makes me long to visit the locations in the book.

I found the new tentative alliances formed in this book, and seeing how these new characters interact with the Trinity, to be be fascinating reading, and I am excited to see what is coming next for these unlikely allies.


The Calling of the Trinity - author photoBrittany graduated from college with a degree in photography, and later became an obedience instructor. During the day, Brittany manages an FBO at a local hometown airport in Ohio and services aircraft. Writing has always been her greatest passion. She enjoys the outdoors and exploring new places in an endless quest to keep that artistic inspiration burning. 





Don’t forget to visit the other blogs joining the tour.

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Book Review

Tipping Point – Michelle Cook

I am joining the blog tour for the dystopian eco-thriller, Tipping Point, by Michelle Cook today. Many thanks to Michelle and Darkstroke Books for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.


A tale of loss, manipulation, and the search for the truth

What would you risk to turn back the tide?

Essie Glass might have been a typical eighteen-year-old – had life not dealt her an early blow.
Struggling to come to terms with the loss of her family in a terrorist attack, and left with nothing, Essie’s not kidding herself about her world. She wants change, and she’ll be honest about it, whatever the cost. From behind her keyboard, that is…

After all, this is England, 2035. Earth’s climate continues its accelerating collapse. A powerful elite controls the disaster-weary population with propaganda, intimidation, and constant surveillance.

By all appearances, Alex Langford is a respected local businessman – until Essie discovers that he’s a murderous conspirator who’d see the planet die for his fortune.

When their paths collide, Essie must decide: how much is she really willing to pay for her honesty?

Her choices, and the events she sets in motion, pit her against both enemies and supposed friends as she risks more than just her life to thwart them.

Will she succeed in revealing the truth? And will she survive?

You can purchase your copy HERE

Tipping Point Cover


Although I have read my fair share of dystopian fiction, this is my very first eco-thriller, and I must admit I wasn’t too sure what to expect. In Tipping Point, Michelle Cook presents us with a very near future (2035, to be exact) version of England that feels completely alien to the England we live in today, but at the same time scarily possible. It is an England ravaged by climate change, with a population living under extreme restrictions on their lives, imposed by a government that seems more than a little corrupt. It serves as a stark warning of a future that is all too real if our general disregard for the planet goes on unchecked. Dystopian fiction always makes you stop and think, but Tipping Point really got under my skin, in much the same way that Rachel Churcher’s Battle Ground series did just recently, and I think this is because both are set in a world that is still so recognisably ours.

I can honestly say that I don’t know how Essie maintained her sanity over the course of this book. If I had to deal with everything she did by the time I was 19, I would have been a complete mess. And yes, she has her issues, but under all it what we have is a young woman who in spite of everything remains strong, and passionate, and committed to her beliefs.

Tipping Point is a whirlwind of a book, twisting and turning the reader in every direction, never knowing who can be trusted, or who might suddenly be taken away in one form or another. This makes for intense reading and an unforgettable book.


Author PhotoMichelle lives in Worcestershire, UK, with her husband Daniel, their two young children, and a cat called Lyra Belacqua. By day, she works for the NHS, a job which she has almost as much passion for as fiction.

Her first joyful steps into creative writing were at the age of ten, when the teacher read out her short story in class. A slapstick tale of two talking kangaroos breaking out of a zoo, the work was sadly lost to history. Still, Michelle never forgot the buzz of others enjoying her words.

More recently, she has had several flash pieces published, was long-listed for the Cambridge 2020 prize for flash fiction, and placed first in the February 2020 Writers’ Forum competition with her short story The Truth About Cherry House. Tipping Point is her debut novel.



Make sure you pay a visit to the other blogs joining the tour for this thought-provoking book.

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Book Review

The Rue Stone – Janet Stock

I have a quick little read to share with you all today as I join the birthday blitz for The Rue Stone by Janet Stock.


The rue is a mysterious and rare being who is rarely seen, and Janna is amazed when one arrives at the inn where she works, looking for a room. The next morning, her life has changed, and she is left wondering whether she will ever see him again, but only time and the rue stone know the answer to that question.


Amazon UK

Amazon US

The Rue Stone Cover


The Rue Stone, with it’s mysterious inn in the forest felt instantly magical and drew me in from the first page. The characters are charming and I found myself very quickly becoming invested in what the future held for them.

I would love to read a novel following a rue on his travels across strange lands with even stranger creatures – all things that are hinted at in this book but not fully explored. I read fantasy more for the world building than the romance and the balance was off a little bit in this book for my taste, but I loved the concept of the rue and would definitely read more about him.


The Rue Stone AuthorHaving written all of my life, I decided to self-publish my writing when I turned 50. I have published four books since then. Two are collections of short stories; Dark & Fluffy; Dark & Fluffy II and 500 Words, which is flash fiction. My latest book The Rue Stone is a fantasy novella.

My passion is medieval fiction, and I am working on my first novel The Little Servant – The Wait’s Son, set in the 12th century, in Lincoln, where I live.

All four books are available on Amazon.






Win 5 paperback copies of The Rue Stone (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.


Meet the Author

Penny Hampson

I am jumping on board the blog blitz for Penny Hampson’s contemporary mystery/paranormal romance novel, The Unquiet Spirit, today. Many thanks to Penny who took the time to answer a few questions that I posed to her, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the blitz. Let’s jump straight into the questions, and then I will share all the details of The Unquiet Spirit with you all.

I understand that before venturing into writing, you worked with rare books and historic manuscripts. This sounds like a dream come true to me! Can you tell us more about this please?

Yes, I worked for nineteen years in a world famous academic library dealing with historic manuscript collections and rare books. My job was to source suitable images from the collections for publishers, authors, and academics. It was fascinating work and enabled me to see firsthand not only some of the most beautiful illuminated manuscripts but also letters and documents from famous people in history.

A special thrill for me was to handle a manuscript written by Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), the celebrated diarist and naval administrator. I’ve read all of his published diaries (the originals are held at the University of Cambridge) and I had always longed to see the originals, so when I came across this item — not a diary, alas, but an administrative document — it was amazing to see his actual handwriting.

I’ve also been privileged to see the exquisite hand embroidered cover of ‘The Miroir or Glasse of the synneful soul’ a manuscript translation made, written, and embroidered by Queen Elizabeth I when she was eleven years old, as a gift for her stepmother Queen Katherine Parr. 

However, my favourite manuscript has to be MS. Bodl. 264, an enormous tome dating from 1400, with many beautiful illuminations. What attracts me to this manuscript though is not  the marvellously coloured miniatures, but the tiny marginal figures and scenes that dance across the lower margins. Here you will find all sorts of curiosities – nuns in a wheelbarrow (yes, really), children playing games, women cooking, a Punch and Judy show, and knights on horseback training for combat. If you’d like to see this for yourself you’re in luck because it has all been digitised and is available online.

What was the inspiration behind The Unquiet Spirit, and what made you decide to set the book in Cornwall?

The inspiration for The Unquiet Spirit was a house I discovered on the internet. I was browsing at houses for sale (as one does) and a beautiful 17th century house popped up. Not one that I could afford or even in the right location, but there was something about it that really attracted me. It became my inspiration for The Beeches. I wondered what it would be like to live in such a house, and that was when the idea formed to create a character who unexpectedly inherits an old house from her godmother. And being such an old house it would surely have secrets and possibly a ghost.

I decided to locate my story in Cornwall, specifically Falmouth, because it’s a place that I love. Falmouth itself is a lovely vibrant town with a lot of history. It was an important hub for the packet ships that plied their way across the world during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, bringing news and passengers to British shores. Falmouth was the first place Royal Naval officer John Lapenotiere landed with the urgent dispatches about the victory of Trafalgar and Nelson’s death, and Lord Byron, the poet stayed in Falmouth in 1809, prior to heading off on the Lisbon packet ship to commence his Grand Tour.

Today Falmouth is still a fantastically vibrant place, with what I call a real community feel about it. I’m sure the extra buzz is due to not only the summer visitors, but also the student population of the local university, which specialises in the creative arts. In addition, Falmouth has a fabulous Maritime Museum, and I can certainly recommend the local studies library located inside the museum. There are lots of lovely coffee shops too – the one where Kate has breakfast is based on a favourite of mine. But, I hasten to add, the one where she spies on the art dealers’ is entirely a figment of my imagination!

I try to visit at least once a year, although this year has been a little difficult and I haven’t managed it yet.

What made you break away from the historic fiction you have previously written and move to a contemporary setting for this book?

It was my husband who encouraged me to write a contemporary story. He’s always been great at supporting and encouraging me, reading my work and offering constructive feedback. However, he’s not a great fan of carriages and bonnets, so I decided it was time to give him something he could really get into. I also wanted to test myself as a writer. I’ve written three historical novels now and feel reasonably comfortable in that genre, so it was a challenge to myself too.

There are also issues that I feel strongly about, ones that don’t easily fit in a historical novel. So with The Unquiet Spirit I was able to introduce elements of life that are sometimes overlooked or ignored. For instance, one of my characters suffers from a chronic illness, and I wanted to show how that can impact the whole family, something I have personal experience of as a carer.

Do you follow a set writing routine, or have a favourite space to write?

I don’t have a set routine for writing. I try to write everyday, but sometimes, because of other commitments, this isn’t always possible. I share a rather cramped office with my husband, so it can get a little difficult at times, especially when I am trying to write a tense, emotional scene and he is swearing at his computer (we both do that!). However,  the good news is that I have been promised a study of my own; our spare bedroom will hopefully be transformed into a super-duper writer’s workspace, with room for all my research books, maps, and other bits and pieces. 

What are your favourite books, either from now or from your childhood?

My favourite books? Well, for escapism I always go to Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels; well-written and historically accurate, they give me a lift when I’m feeling down. I also love crime fiction and stories that have a strong sense of place. Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels fit the bill here. I only visited Edinburgh a few times when I lived in Scotland but through his books I feel I know it so well. Because I worked in Oxford for many years, reading Colin Dexter’s Morse novels was a must; the plotting is so intricate and detailed, and again, there is that great sense of place. My favourite book from childhood has to be Peter Pan, even as a child I picked up on the sadness of the little boy who never wanted to grow up, and I always dreamed of being able to fly.

Thank you so much Penny for taking the time to answer my questions so thoroughly. I am even more envious of your time spent with so many wonderful manuscripts now (folks, if you haven’t seen MS. Bodl. 264 that Penny mentions, go and have a look – I had a peek as I was writing this blog post and it is wonderful!).

So now, onto the all important book details.

The Unquiet Spirit Cover


A new beginning. A house with a past. A man with secrets.

It was a dream come true…that turned into a nightmare.

Kate Wilson thinks moving back to Cornwall might be the answer to her prayers. But it isn’t long before she begins to have doubts. Is the house she inherited from her godmother haunted? Or is she going out of her mind? With a stalker, threats, and attempted break-ins, Kate’s troubles multiply.

Then there’s her enigmatic neighbour, the brooding Tom Carbis; a man with secrets he doesn’t wish to share. Can she trust him when he says he wants to help?

In her quest to unravel the mysteries surrounding her, will Kate uncover more than she bargains for?

Set in beautiful Cornwall, The Unquiet Spirit is a gripping suspense with paranormal and romantic elements. Fans of Barbara Erskine will enjoy this tale.

You can purchase your copy of The Unquiet Spirit HERE


The Unquiet Spirit - Author photo April 2020 2 2 IMG_3862Some time ago Penny Hampson decided to follow her passion for history by studying with the Open University. She graduated with honours and went on to complete a post-graduate degree.

Penny then landed her dream role, working in an environment where she was surrounded by rare books and historical manuscripts. Flash forward nineteen years, and the opportunity came along to indulge her other main passion – writing. Penny joined the New Writers’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and three years later published her debut novel, A Gentleman’s Promise, a  historical mystery/romance. Other books in the same genre soon followed.

But never happy in a rut, Penny also writes contemporary suspense with paranormal and romantic elements. Her first book in this genre is The Unquiet Spirit, published by Darkstroke.

Penny lives with her family in Oxfordshire, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).





Book Review

Divided We Stand – Rachel McLean

At long last I can tell you all about the final book in the Division Bell Trilogy! If you haven’t read the first two books, can I suggest reading them before you read the rest of this post because otherwise there will be spoilers aplenty. You can read my reviews of A House Divided and Divide and Rule here.


Britain is a country under surveillance. Neighbours spy on neighbours. Schools enforce loyalty to the state. And children are encouraged to inform on their parents.

Disgraced MP Jennifer Sinclair has earned her freedom but returns home to find everything changed.

Rita Gurumurthy has been sent to a high security prison. When a sympathetic guard helps her escape she becomes a fugitive, forced to go into hiding.

To reunite her family and win freedom for her son and her friend, Jennifer must challenge her old colleague and rival, the new Prime Minister Catherine Moore.

Will Catherine listen to reason and remove the country from its yoke of fear and suspicion? Or will Jennifer have to reveal the secret only she knows about Catherine, and risk plunging the country into turmoil?

Divided We Stand Ebook


Amazon UK


Well, what can I say. I am a little sad that I have now reached the end of the Division Bell Trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed every book, and the finale certainly did not disappoint. Rachel McLean continues to create a grim picture of the state of the UK in the early 2020s, writing in a way that makes you feel that this story could really be the newspaper headlines in the not too distant future.

Although the subject matter of the entire trilogy could, and perhaps should, make for uncomfortable reading, Rachel’s writing style is such that you just cannot stop reading. Divided We Stand is one of those books that you can’t help but read quickly to see what happens (and to find out if there is any hope for redemption for our country), but at the same time you find yourself trying to read more slowly so that it lasts just a little bit longer.

Over the course of the trilogy, I had become attached to a number of characters, and I was pleased to see that Rachel gave each of these characters their own conclusion and I wasn’t left wondering about anyone’s fate, be that good or bad.

Having said earlier this year that political thrillers were not my usual choice of genre, it is safe to say that the Division Bell Trilogy has well and truly converted me, and I look forward to seeing what Rachel comes up with next.


rachel mclean

I’m Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at





My thanks go to Rachel for allowing me to part of the blog tours for all three parts of this fantastic trilogy, and for providing me with my copy of the books, and also to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for making it so easy to take part.


Cover Reveal: An Artisan Lovestyle by Kiltie Jackson

The day is finally here where I take part in my first ever cover reveal, and I am thrilled that it is for the latest book by the lovely Kiltie Jackson. Just reading the blurb for this book has me so excited to read it (keep your eyes peeled for a review coming your way in the future).


Are you ‘living’ your life or just living your life?

Elsa Clairmont was widowed barely five years after marrying her childhood sweetheart. She has struggled to come to terms with the loss and, six years later, has almost ceased to live herself. She does just enough to get by.

Danny Delaney is the ultimate ‘Mr Nice Guy’. He’s kind, caring and sweet. A talented artist in his teens, his abusive mother ruined his career in art and he turned his back on his exceptional gift. Now, he does just enough to get by.

On New Year’s Eve, both Danny and Elsa die in unrelated accidents.

Thanks to some poker playing shenanigans, Elsa’s husband Harry, and Danny’s old Art teacher, William, manage to orchestrate a deal with Death that allows Danny and Elsa to live for one more year on the condition they both agree to complete three tasks.

They have until the last chime of Big Ben on the 31st December to fulfil their quests.

If they succeed, they stay in the world of the living.

If they should fail however…

An Artisan Lovestyle’ is a story of personal growth and self-discovery as two people find themselves forced to make overdue changes in their lives, changes in other people’s lives, and all with the added challenge of finding true love before their time runs out.

Will they do it?

Can they do it?

After all, it’s a matter of Life or Death…

If this sounds like your kind of book, you can pre-order it here.


Now that I have whetted your appetite for the book, it’s time for the big reveal – is everybody ready? Here we go….

An Artisan Lovestyle - Hi-res


Head Shot Piccie

Kiltie grew up in Glasgow in Scotland,  a very unique city with a very unique way of looking at life.

When she was old enough to do so, she moved to London and then, after several years of obtaining interesting experiences -which are finding their way into her writing – she moved up to the Midlands.

Kiltie currently lives in Staffordshire with five cats and one grumpy husband. Her little home is known as Moggy Towers, even though despite having plenty of moggies, there are no towers! The cats kindly allow her and Mr Mogs to share their house on the condition they keep paying the mortgage!

She loves reading, watching movies, and visiting old castles. She really dislikes going to the gym!

Her biggest desire is that one day she can give up the day job and write her stories for a living.

Kiltie’s debut novel, ‘A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle’, was released in September 2017 and won a “Chill With A Book – Reader Award” in December 2017. She first began writing her debut novel eleven years before it was released but shelved it as she didn’t think it was very good.

In November 2016 when, having read more on a best-selling author who had begun her own career as a self-published author, she was inspired to revisit the unfinished manuscript and finally finish what she had started.

Since beginning to write again, the ideas have not stopped flowing. ‘An Artisan Lovestyle’ is the second book in the Lovestyle Series. Work is due to begin on book three (not yet titled but also part of the Lovestyle Series)in the Summer of 2018. She currently has a further ten plots and ideas stored in her file (it’s costing a fortune in USB drives as each story has its own memory stick!) and the ideas still keep on coming.

Kiltie now lives her life around the following three quotes:

“I love having weird dreams, they’re great fodder for book plots!”

“Why wait for your ship to come in when you can swim out to meet it?”

“Old enough to know better, young enough not to care!”


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A big thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for enabling me to be involved in this exciting event.