The Convalescent Corpse by Nicola Slade #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@nicolasladeuk) @crookedcatbooks @rararesources @RNATweets #Giveaway #RachelsRandomResources #TheConvalescentCorpse

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A delightful blog blitz to be taking part in today for an original and quirky book, The Convalescent Corpse by Nicola Slade. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.

Please scroll down beneath the review to enter a lovely giveaway.

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A story of Family, Rationing and Inconvenient Corpses.

Life in 1918 has brought loss and grief and hardship to the three Fyttleton sisters. Helped only by their grandmother (a failed society belle and expert poacher) and hindered by a difficult suffragette mother, as well as an unruly chicken-stealing dog and a house full of paying-guests, they now have to deal with the worrying news that their late – and unlamented – father may not be dead after all. And on top of that, there’s a body in the ha-ha.

The blurb of this book gives you a truly delicious taste of what is in store in this cosy crime novel with a difference. Set during World War I, it centres around the lives of the three Fyttleton sisters who are doing their best to cope with life on the home front after the disappearance of their father who went down with the Lusitania, and the recent loss of their brother on the Western Front. Their mother is a famous, reclusive author who is neither use nor ornament as a parent, so they can only rely on each other and their ageing but sprightly grandmother, who is a minor aristocrat.

The narrator is the middle sister, Christabel, who is the stalwart holding the family together whilst scribbling stories on the side to make a few pennies. Christabel is a girl after my own heart and I identified with her immediately. There was a particular line in the book which really touched me as she talks about feeling old beyond her years because she always has to be the sensible one, which exactly describes my role in our family of four girls. Anyway, the girls become heavily involved when a convalescent home for wounded soldiers opens nearby as they take in their families as lodgers whilst they visit their wounded relatives and find themselves in the middle of a mystery linked to the home.

The mystery aspect of the story is interesting, if not a little confusing at times, but it was not the main draw of this book for me. What I really loved was the insight into what life was like for the families left behind in England to make ends meet while all the menfolk went off to war in Europe, many to never come back. This is not a period of history I usually choose to read about, as I find it harrowing and immensely depressing, but this is a book that covers it in a light but still truthful and meaningful way which I found very appealing and illuminating. A wartime novel for people who don’t like to read about war.

The other attractive thing about this book are the characters. The three sisters are all individual and different, with their own motivations and desires, but present a tight knit unit which, as one of four girls, I found realistic and heartwarming. The remainder of the family are charmingly eccentric and riveting. Add in a range of pets with personality and it is a household full of appeal. The surrounding village, the lodgers and the servicemen up at the home add further layers of interest and intrigue. For a gentle mystery, there is a lot going on in this book!

This book was a charming and pleasing surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed the gentle hours I spent between its pages and, once I was finished, I found the characters and story had wormed their way into my heart. The book leaves the door open for more stories featuring these fascinating folk and I sincerely hope that I will be able to find out what happens next to Christabel, Henry and the rest of the Fyttleton family.

The Convalescent Corpse is out now and you can get your copy here.

Giveaway

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To win a paperback copy of Nicola’s book, The House At Ladywell, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

To see some alternative reviews from my fellow bloggers on the tour, please see the details of the stops below:

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About the Author

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Nicola Slade lives in Hampshire where she writes historical and contemporary mysteries and women’s fiction. While her three children were growing up she wrote stories for children and for women’s magazines before her first novel, Scuba Dancing, was published in 2005. Among other jobs, Nicola has been an antiques dealer and a Brown Owl! She loves travelling and at one time, lived in Egypt for a year. The Convalescent Corpse is Nicola’s 9th novel. Nicola is also a member of a crime writers’ panel, The Deadly Dames 

Connect with Nicola:

Website: http://www.nicolaslade.com

Blog: https://nicolaslade.wordpress.com

Facebook: Nicola Slade

Twitter: @nicolasladeuk

Pinterest: Nicola Slade

Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with Julie @ A Little Book Problem

Today the gorgeous Deborah from The Reading Chick has interviewed me on her wonderful blog about what, where and why I blog. It would be lovely if you wanted to take a look at the post, and at Deborah’s own fantastic blog.

The Reading Chick

Julie’s blog A Little Book Problem is about more than just book reviews. She talks about life, writing, travel, and yes, she also talks about the books she’s read. Aesthetically her blog is beautiful and her voice is crystal clear. If you haven’t bee to A Little Book Problem please click the link below, but come back and read the answers to the 10 questions Julie answered!

Julie @ A Little Book Problem

Let’s get to those 10 questions shall we?

Blogging is universal and even though we inhabit the same community, we don’t always live in the same country. What country do you live in?

I live in the UK, in a tiny hamlet seven miles north of Doncaster in South Yorkshire. Our village has only 120 residents, a pub and a post box!

What is the view outside your front door? 

Mostly just fields and a few…

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Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye with Rebecca Mascull #BookReview (@rebeccamascull) @HQstories #Christmas #MissMarley #VanessaLafaye

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Before A Christmas Carol there was… Miss Marley

A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill

Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.

And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…

In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill and hope – a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol.

Any of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook will have seen the picture of me finishing this book over a cup of tea in Sainsbury’s cafe on the morning of Christmas Eve, after I’d finished my shopping and at that point I was filled with Christmas spirit, due in no small part to this book.

For any of you who have not heard the story behind the publication of this book, it was the creation of author Vanessa Lafaye, who unfortunately passed away in February of this year after a long battle with cancer, before she was able to finish it. At the request of Vanessa’s publisher and her husband, the book was completed by Vanessa’s good friend and fellow author, Becca Mascull. This tragic and moving story meant there was a lot of buzz about this book on social media and in the blogging community and I was desperate to read it. I am a huge fan of A Christmas Carol, so the premise behind the book was enticing, and it sounded like the perfect Christmas read.

Oh, but this book is even more beautiful and moving than I expected. It is the story of how Jacob Marley becomes the person who ends up as the tormented spirit that haunts Scrooge at the beginning of A Christmas Carol. To tell his story, Vanessa has given him a sister, Clara, who is witness to the circumstances that shape him. This device is so clever, and executed so beautifully that it immediately pulls you heart and soul into their story and transports you back to Dickens’ London and the world inhabited by Scrooge and Marley. Both authors have perfectly captured the essence of Dickens’ story telling in this book so that it is very easy to believe that this is exactly how Marley and Scrooge end up as the mean-spirited, uncharitable old misers that we have come to know.

The period and setting of Victorian London is brought vividly and perfectly to life through the language and descriptions, and the whole book has a lovely, festive feeling to it, despite the melancholy story. I absolutely loved the character of Clara, she is warm and vibrant and extremely sympathetic, and she makes Jacob Marley’s story sympathetic too. You cannot help but care about her plight from the beginning, which makes the book enthralling and moving and kept me glued to the pages from beginning to end.

I have such admiration for the skill of both authors. I don’t know how Becca managed to complete this book whilst grieving for a beloved friend- it must have taken a strength of will and a huge amount of love to get through it. In the interview I have linked to below, Becca says she felt like she was almost channelling her friend as she completed the book, and I can believe it as it is impossible to tell where the two parts join. The voice and narrative are so consistent throughout; there is no jarring change of tone or pace and it ends perfectly. These were two friends so obviously in tune and their story has completely moved me to tears.

This book is a beautiful testament, both to the authors’ love of A Christmas Carol  and to their friendship and it will delight anyone who is a fan of this timeless Christmas tale. I believe that a festive read of this book will become a new Christmas tradition for me to cherish. I highly recommend you pick up a copy now.

Miss Marley is out now and you can get a copy here.

About the Authors

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Vanessa Lafaye

Vanessa Lafaye was born in Florida and studied in North Carolina. She moved to the UK in 1999 (having been deported once). She is the author of two previous novels, her first book Summertime, was chosen for Richard and Judy in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Historical Writers Award. Vanessa passed away in February 2018.

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Rebecca Mascull

Rebecca Mascull is the author of three historical novels and also writes saga fiction under the pen-name Mollie Walton.

If you would like to read more about the heart-breaking story of the writing of Miss Marley, you might like to read this article.

Her Final Confession by Lisa Regan #BookReview #BlogTour (@Lisalregan) @Bookouture #HerFinalConfession #NetGalley

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Watching her friend dragged away in handcuffs, Josie couldn’t believe for one second that Gretchen had killed that poor boy. Confession or not, someone else was involved. She would find out who…

When the body of a young student is found on the driveway of a local Denton home, a photograph pinned to his collar, Detective Josie Quinn is first on the scene. The house belongs to Gretchen Palmer, a dedicated member of Josie’s team, missing for the last twenty-four hours.

Working around the clock, Josie is stopped in her tracks when Gretchen hands herself in to the police. She knows that there’s no way Gretchen could ever be a killer, so why would she confess to a murder she didn’t commit? 

Digging deep into Gretchen’s secretive life, Josie uncovers a link between the boy, the photograph and a devastating case in Gretchen’s past. But just when Josie thinks she has it all figured out, the bodies of a young couple surface on the other side of town. Can Josie get to the truth in time to save her friend from a life in prison or certain death? 

I am delighted today to be taking part in the blog tour for Her Final Confession by Lisa Regan, which is the fourth book in the Josie Quinn Detective series. My thanks to Noelle Holten of Bookouture for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.

This is the fourth book in the Josie Quinn series and I have to admit that I have not read the first three (not sure why, I must remedy that oversight). The fact that I had not read the previous ones did not diminish my enjoyment of this book at all, it can easily be read as a standalone, but I think that if you read this first, it probably contains some spoilers for the previous books, so you might want to read them in order if you plan on reading them all.

This book gets off to a flying start, flinging the reader straight in to the action from the beginning with a romantic encounter interrupted by the discovery of a dead body and it does not let up on the tension for a second until the end of the book. It really is a very tautly plotted, fast-paced thriller and very easy to read; the writing flows very smoothly and is perfectly pitched, not at all a chore to devour.

Despite not having read the previous books, I felt like I got to grips with the main characters of Josie and Noah very quickly. The author does a great job of introducing just enough back story to allow the virgin reader to the series to catch up enough to be drawn in to the story without shovelling it in in a way that bogs down the start of the story. Josie is a very likeable protagonist and I am definitely interested in going back and exploring in more detail some of her past which was obviously revealed in the earlier books in great detail.

The story in this book involves a young man shot in the driveway of a home belonging to one of the Denton PD team. Josie refuses to believe that her colleague has committed the crime, even when the officer in question  hands herself in and confesses, and she is dogged in her determination to track down the truth. This takes her on a rollercoaster investigation involving genetics, outlaw bikers gangs and an unsolved crime from the past. It twists and turns like an agitated viper and I could not begin to imagine where it was going, so I was pleasantly surprised when i got to the end and it was all unravelled. A very clever plot which kept me on edge all the way through.

A throughly enjoyable introduction to a fascinating detective series and a wonderful new author for me. I look forward to reading more of this series.

Her Final Confession is out now and you can get your copy by following this link.

Please do check out the rest of the reviews on the blog tour below:

Her Final Confession - Blog Tour

About the Author

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Lisa Regan is an Amazon bestselling crime novelist.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University.  She is a member of Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.

Connect with Lisa:

Website: http://www.lisaregan.com

Facebook: Lisa Regan

Twitter: @Lisalregan

Shilly-Shallying, Stalking and Serendipity @RNATweets #amwriting #motivation #selfbelief

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Yesterday morning I cleared out my kitchen cupboards.

What a riveting topic for a blog post, Julie, I hear you all say. Why are you telling us? Well, bear with me, all will become clear.

Back in the summer I took a big decision and decided to close down my travel consultancy business to focus on training for a new career more related to publishing, and completing my first novel. People who have been following my blog this year will know that I made a commitment to myself to take my writing seriously this year by joining the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) New Writers’ Scheme (NWS), doing a writing retreat and getting the book finished and ready for submission. (If you are interested, you can read all about my resolution here.) I have made quite a lot of progress towards this goal, getting the first draft of the book done, attending a lot of RNA events, which have been hugely inspirational, having a ball on my writing retreat, and getting my manuscript critique back from my NWS reader, which should help me improve my manuscript during the editing.

Then I hit a roadblock. A mental one. I’ve started to doubt myself, my story, my abilities, in fact everything about my book and, as a result I am avoiding working on the edits. This is where the cupboard tidying comes in. I told myself I needed to do it before Christmas and today was the perfect time as they are quite empty before the big shop, but I’m lying to myself. It is a displacement activity to avoid having to look at my book. I’ve finished my Christmas shopping. Booked next year’s family holiday. Blogged like a maniac. Anything but write. Procrastination. Shilly-shallying of the highest order.

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The truth is, I have become afraid of my book. Or, more accurately, I am afraid of my lack of ability to do justice to my book. I don’t believe I am a good enough writer to get anything published. The story matters too much to me. The whole thing has become too big for me to face, so I’m running away from it. I’m afraid of failing. I am literally frozen with fear. So I’m doing nothing. ‘Tomorrow,’ I keep telling myself, ‘I’ll work on it tomorrow.” But you know what they say about tomorrow.

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Things have got worse this week because of the conference. What conference, I hear you ask? The conference currently being held at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida where all my old colleagues and friends from my travel consortium are currently gathered to celebrate and talk about the travel business. They are all together in one of my favourite places in the world, celebrating their successes….together. This is the first year I am not with them. Instead, I’m sitting alone at my desk, not working on the book I gave it up for.

So I’ve been torturing myself, following the conference hashtag on Twitter; stalking my old travel mates on Facebook; watching as they have a private, after-hours dinner in Diagon Alley with exclusive access to the Gringotts ride. Meeting Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. Singing karaoke on CityWalk. Sending me messages telling me they miss me and it’s not the same without me. And, for the first time, I’m starting question whether I’ve done the right thing after all.

But this is the fear talking.

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I have to keep reminding myself why I made the decision I did (and there were many good reasons and a lot of thought went in to it) and that I have the support of my family behind me. But I’m not very good at talking myself up. I am the Queen of Self -Doubt (that would make a good book title, wouldn’t it); the ultimate possessor of Imposter Syndrome; chronically lacking in confidence.

Then, yesterday, three things happened all together that made me stop and think and pull myself together. If you believe in serendipity, they all happened to guide me back on to my path and re-focus my determination on reaching my goal. Reminding me why I started this in the first place and that what I am experiencing is not unusual and I can’t let it stop me.

Firstly, one of my friends posted this video on Facebook:

There are a couple of messages in this piece of slam poetry that really spoke to me, mainly that I need to speak more kindly to myself, as I would to someone I love. Would I be so hard on another person, or would I be encouraging them to believe in themselves and follow their dreams? I need to be my own cheerleader.

Secondly, I found this website, just when I needed it and realised that I am not alone. Every writer feels how I feel and I just have to push through it. There is no reason why I can’t finish my novel. My feedback so far has been good. People have told me they like what I write. And one thing is for sure, I’ll never know unless I try.

Finally, a close writing friend of mine (I won’t out them, they can comment if they want to share) messaged me and told me they thought their writing was s***e and they weren’t sure they could finish their book and I inwardly smiled, before telling them all the things I truly believe about their abilities, but which I don’t seem to be able to tell myself. They were giving voice to all my fears about my own work and reminded me, I am not alone. There is a whole tribe out there in the same boat as I, who I can turn to for support and all the positive reinforcement I can’t give myself.

Why is it so easy to believe the bad things we tell ourselves and not the good? Why is it so easy to be kind to others but not ourselves?

So, I am now determined. I’m going to get this book finished and send it out into the big wide world to take its chances. Maybe I will never get published, but at least I’ll know. Because one thing is for sure, by failing to try, I am already failing, and that is not good enough. I don’t want to spend my days wondering, what if? Living with failure will be easier than living with regret.

If you need me, you can find me at my desk because I #amwriting.

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Tempted by….Tales Before Bedtime: A Far Away Magic by Amy Wilson @AJ_Wils @panmacmillan @ShelleyFallows #bookbloggers #bloggerlove #readingrecommendations #booklove #AFarAwayMagic

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When Angel moves to a new school after the death of her parents, she isn’t interested in making friends. Until she meets Bavar – a strange boy, tall, awkward and desperate to remain unseen, but who seems to have a kind of magic about him. Everyone and everything within Bavar’s enchanted house is urging him to step up and protect the world from a magical rift through which monsters are travelling, the same monsters that killed Angel’s parents.

But Bavar doesn’t want to follow the path that’s been chosen for him – he wants to be normal; to disappear. Fighting one another as well as their fears, Angel and Bavar must find a way to repair the rift between the worlds, and themselves, before it’s too late . . .

Wow, these Mondays seem to be coming around quickly, which means it is time for the next in the ‘Tempted by….’ series, highlighting books I have been tempted to buy after reading reviews of them by my fellow bloggers.

Today I am showcasing A Far Away Magic by Amy Wilson, which I bought after reading this review by Shelley at Tales Before Bedtime. It was featured on the Tales Before Bedtime Juniors section of Shelley’s blog, as part of her  Summer Reading suggestions to keep kids occupied during the long holidays. My daughter loved Amy’s previous book, A Girl Called Owl, which I bought her for her birthday back in March, so I thought she might enjoy this too, but not until I’ve read it first!

My mother, when I ask her why she has never read Harry Potter, always responds with a question: “Why would I, as an adult, want to read a children’s book?” and I always reply, ‘Why wouldn’t you?” Children’s books contain some of the most beautiful, imaginative, innovative and exciting writing being produced today and anyone who thinks that the quality of writing for children is lesser than that in adult fiction is sorely mistaken. Plus, I think we all need a little magic and fantasy in our lives in these stressful times, to remind us what it was like to be uncynical; to be filled with wonder and imagination and optimism; to believe anything is possible for us. Why wouldn’t you want to read children’s books?

When I read Shelley’s review of this book, I thought it sounded like a book that might offer all of this magic and wonder and imagination. Shelley sums up the book in this quote: “Beautifully written, filled with magic, love and grief, this is a powerful novel with wonderful characters – I was left feeling a little of the magic had stayed behind with me.” Just what I am looking for when I pick up a book to provide me with a respite from the adult world for a time. I can’t wait to read this, and fully intend to steal back A Girl Called Owl from my daughter to read too. Actually, I’ll swap it for this one as fair exchange is no robbery.

Make sure you check out the full review of the book on Shelley’s blog, and have a further scout around while you are there. She has lots of interesting content, including some of her own writing which I am sure visitors will enjoy as much as I do. You can find Shelley’s blog here.

If you would like to get your own copy of A Far Away Magic, you can buy the book here. Amy Wilson’s new book, Snowglobe, is also out now.

Bittersweet by Veronica Henry #BookReview #ShortStories #Freebie (@veronica_henry) @orionbooks #Kindle

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A chance encounter on New Year’s Eve brings one woman’s dream alive; a woman begins her new life by the sea; and one strawberry tart can change everything…

From forgotten loves to second chances, new happiness and old friends, this is an uplifting and moving collection of short stories about how love changes, and how it changes us – from Sunday Times bestseller Veronica Henry.”

** Features an exclusive extract of her upcoming novel Christmas at the Beach Hut! **

Just a quick review today of Bittersweet, a delightful collection of short stories by one of my favourite authors, Veronica Henry. The book also has an exclusive extract from her new novel Christmas at the Beach Hut which will be published on 15 November.

There are seven short stories in this little collection, and everyone of them is delightful. It is really hard to write a short story but Veronica manages to imbue each of these with an impressive range of activity and emotion; I defy any of you to read them and remain unmoved. Despite the restrictions on the length of each, Veronica’s trademark warmth and empathy is obvious in each one, no one else could possibly have written these stories.

Each of these has a different twist on relationships, some of them happy, some more melancholy, but all of them ultimately uplifting. I think my two favourites were Escape to the Country, where I found myself inwardly cheering as Holly finally takes her future in her own hands, and A Certain Likeness, where we are left believing that it might never be too late.

I must admit, I didn’t read the extract from Veronica’s new book because I have it on pre-order and I didn’t want to have to wait three weeks to be able to carry on reading once I was drawn in to the story. However, if you haven’t read either of the two Beach Hut novels (and if not, why not, they are wonderful!), the extract will be a great taster of the seaside town of Everdene and I am sure you won’t be able to resist diving in to the series.

The best thing os all about this little collection is that it is FREE to download on Kindle. Yes, you heard that correctly – it is absolutely free to download, so what on earth could possibly be stopping you? You can download it here, then grab a comfy chair, cosy blanket and a mug of your favourite hot beverage and settle down for treat. You can thank me later.

If that wasn’t enough, Veronica will be guesting on my blog on Friday 16 November as part of my new Friday Night Drinks feature, to celebrate the launch of her new book, Christmas at the Beach Hut, so make sure you check that out. Veronica’s new book is available for pre-order here.

About the Author

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Veronica Henry has worked as a scriptwriter for THE ARCHERS, HEARTBEAT and HOLBY CITY amongst many others, before turning to fiction. She won the 2014 RNA NOVEL OF THE YEAR AWARD for A NIGHT ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. Veronica lives with her family in a village in north Devon.

Connect with Veronica:

Website: www.veronicahenry.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/veronicahenryauthor/

Twitter: @veronica_henry

Instagram: @veronicahenryauthor