Genre: Illustrated Stories

A #KidsLit Book Spotlight with Notes | featuring “Hector: At Ground Level” by Gary Finnan

Posted Friday, 24 July, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , 1 Comment

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: Over the past few years I’ve been subscribing to Scribd off/on as a more affordable way to listen to audiobooks outside of the ones I am borrowing via my local libraries (of whom have OverDrive). Thereby, as I currently have my subscription to Scribd renewed this Summer, the copy of “Hector: At Ground Level” is self-provided through my subscription to Scribd rather than being provided with a complimentary copy of the story. Therefore, I am choosing to participate on the book blitz, sharing my ruminations with my readers for my own edification but also, as a continuation of a reader’s love for illustrated stories and picture books. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I’ve been a bit consumed with health afflictions, stormy weather patterns, connectivity issues and a bit of personal chaos – much the same as I believe most of us who are muddling through different obstacles this year. When I saw the announcement for this lovely little book with the cute little hedgie on the cover, I knew I wanted to participate on the blitz to help ‘announce’ it to my readers who might feel drawn to the premise as I had myself. As it is a keen story to find these days – as it speaks to how despite the circumstances of our lives as we live them, it is a mark of a person’s character how they set their attitude to ride through the harder times than anything else.

We can never know what is coming round the next corner or which emergency might derail our plans in the spontaneity of a life effecting moment arriving out of the blue – but we can *choose!* how we react and how we act after the crisis is over. Those are the defining moments where we learn the most about ourselves and we seek to find a bit of peace out of the storms which affect us at different seasons of our lives.

One of the things which has kept me firmly grounded through my own share of adversities (outside of my faith) is recognising the smaller moments in life – the lightness of a butterfly fluttering past me, the joy of a flower seeking the sun, the rays of light peeking through the clouds whilst noting all the different animals and birds who carve out their own habitat next to ours – in our cities, neighbourhoods and natural forests. There is a bit of joy everyday waiting for us to find it and it is quite true – sometimes, if you’re always looking skyward, you miss a heap on the surface – because sometimes, you have to take a more simpler route to finding what needs to be seen.

I was quite curious about this title and felt others might be as well – I was further overjoyed when I realised Scribd has the original edition which was released in May, 2013. I happily took advantage of my subscription to read a chapter sampler’s worth of the story in order to tuck in my personal thoughts about how this story starts to unfold whilst happily highlighting it for those who might not have heard of its release!

I generally only use Scribd for audiobooks, however, every blue moon – they have a digital copy of a book I’d love to read in print – which allows me to read a short sampler of the stories before I seek them in an edition I can read and enjoy myself. As due to chronic migraines I can only read stories in print or seek them in audiobook.

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A #KidsLit Book Spotlight with Notes | featuring “Hector: At Ground Level” by Gary FinnanHector
Subtitle: At Ground Level and Beyond: A Very Simple Love Story
by Gary Finnan
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Camryn Finnan, Elina Cherianidou
Source: Scribd | Subscription

This Little Book is about being present to the wonders that exist around us At Ground Level, discovering all that we fail to see when we spend so much of our lives chasing bigger, better, faster, more, endeavouring to fly higher.

Everything else seems much more desirable around us than ourselves, or our lives and loves, after a long day at the slug farm.

When do we decide how to proceed with the life we have built thus far: Joy, Passion,

Marriage, Divorce, Suicide, Enlightenment? Choices we have made. What if you built from a place of strength rather than always feeling diminished and unfulfilled? A life built upon the life you have, rather than the elusive life you imagine, yet fear. Build a great life in balance with your best self and your nurtured relationships. Transformation is seeing the hidden gems that truly exist in plain sight.

We have all heard someone say, The grass is greener on the other side. Is it?

Most of us were 4 or 5 years old when the belief structure we made with life set in: I am stupid, I am weak, I don’t deserve, etc. We engaged believing that we should spend our lives proving that we are who we believe everyone else thinks we are. Breaking the cycle of doubt is essential. Loving self is the first love.

The grass is greenest where you are!

Genres: Artistic Adaptations &/or Picture Books, Children's Literature, Illustrated Stories, Self-Improvement & Self-Actualisation



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1935254447

Published by Balboa Press

on 17th December, 2019

Format: Scribd | Chapter Sampler

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Published by: Balboa Press (@BalboaPress)

(*) Note: the edition I am referencing on my post is for the paperback version (in regards to the ISBN, pub date) which has a different publisher listed – however, this spotlight tour is highlighting the ebook edition by Balboa Press – which is why I am showcasing the cover art and other materials reflecting Balboa Press. Whereas the edition I was reading a sampler from on Scribd was the original edition of this story and completely separate from the current paperback & ebook editions.

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #KidsLit, #Illustration, #SelfHelp
as well as #LoveBooksTours & #Hedgehogs

About Gary Finnan

Born in Scotland and raised in Zimbabwe and South Africa, Gary Finnan splits his time between Sonoma Wine country in California and his farm in Aiken South Carolina, along with his wife Eva and two daughters. Gary is an award-winning inspirational author.

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Posted Friday, 24 July, 2020 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book Spotlight, Indie Author, Love Books Tours

#WyrdAndWonder Middle Grade Graphic Novel Book Review | “Ultra Squad: Adventures under the Strangebow” (Book Two of the Ultra Squad series) by Julia Devillers, illustrated by Rafael Rosado

Posted Tuesday, 19 May, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in [2015] whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. I returnt to hosting for Lola’s Book Tours in [2018] before having to take a small hiatus from requesting future blog tours for a second time. By [2020] as my health afflictions from 2018/19 started to recede I realised I could start to host for her authors with better confidence in being able to participate on the tours themselves. Thereby it was with the Dream Horse Adventures series I decided to mark my return and was quite thankful this was a series she was celebrating through her touring company.

I received a complimentary copy of “Ultra Squad: Adventures under the Strangebow (Graphic Novel)” direct from the author Julia Devillers in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I felt this would be a good series to showcase during #WyrdAndWonder:

I participated on my first Graphic Novel blog tour during #IndieApril – wherein I was first introduced to the Ultra Squad series. I felt the series had some positives going for it and a few choices within the context of the story which I felt were either irrelevant or missed the mark a bit for me. For instance – it has the marketing of being a diverse universe and thereby a diverse cast leads us into the stories themselves but there isn’t a lot of development within the characters (at least in book one) to where you can see those individualistic qualities and distinctions; each of the girls’ nearly collide into each other visually because their own voice wasn’t as strong as I had hoped they would become.

Also – there was a maze for the reader to solve in the middle of the story – which to me felt out of context with the overall vibe of the story itself. I hadn’t remembered those being inclusive of the previous graphic novels I’ve read in the past and how it was inserted just struck me as being rather odd. However, it did have a few strong points too – about friendship, finding leadership and living outside your comfort zones.

Part of hosting the original blog tour – I was given the option to read the sequel – which is why  I elected to run it during my #WyrdAndWonder showcases. The key reason is because this is a bit of a genre bender – it is part Science Fiction and part Fantasy; wherein I would deem this #SciFantasy as it has a few bits from both genres to give readers something to contemplate as their reading the series. It is also a perfect blend of ‘wyrd and wonder’ if you think about the origins of our event and why we started hosting it. It isn’t quite like what you’re expecting to find and it is in of itself a wholly new way of seeing a story come to life.

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What my takeaways were about the first Ultra Squad story:

There is definite cheeky humour – although also a few words I think had a few liberties taken with their usage – as studenting might have raised a few brows for me as a middle grade reader. The humour itself thought was how Devillers was referencing the danger imagery and how she was anchouring the foreshadowing into the action of the present within the series itself.

Ooh my dear ghouls – when the secretary requests the presence of the four girls’ in her office – this is when Ultra Squad meets Galaxy Quest! In such a stroke of genius really – as similar to what you love about the film transitioning seemingly regular and quite ordinary humans into outer space to counter-act against a reptilian terrorist – you now find yourself at the mercy of ULTRA and what this entails for the girls’ being recruited to aide in their missions!

The segue into meeting the girls’ families was lovely because you had the chance to see their different backgrounds – including how one of the girls’ has a military family. It also showed a bit of back-history of the Ultra Squad as it was implied this was a legacy appointment and not just a random bit of good news in the middle of an ordinary school day where your not expecting much except homework, class-time and a disappointing lunch!

There is a lot of verbiage in the storyline which is slightly more urban slang than contemporary cool – mostly as the context has to be understood before you proceed with reading it. I was never the kind of kid who was clued into contemporary slang or acronyms as they were difficult for me to process as a dyslexic reader and learner. Therefore as an adult dyslexic reader entering into this series – I’d have to say, if I were to give this to a middle grade reader I’d ask them a few questions about shortcuts in contemporary language patterns and if they knew shorthand for certain phrases as the wordplay is altered and is attempting to come across as ‘clued in’ to the language of younger children although for me, I felt it fell a bit short on that end of it. I almost thought the author was trying a bit too hard to pull that off and should have just kept the girls’ speaking in a language pattern which was more reflective of their own personalities than what would be considered the ‘best’ en-vogue collection of terms and phrases.

Where the story grows in empathy is showing how each of the girls’ have their own strengths and weaknesses – which proved to be a learning curve for their ‘sidekicks’ which were really quite the awkward collection of aliens! Their superhero strengths played off their own individual talents on Earth and thereby gave them superhuman qualities in space! I liked how the girls’ acted their actual age and showed how they still needed a bit of guidance to understand new situations and new experiences where they might have felt a bit overwhelmed by the circumstances.

The ending reminded me a heap of what happens in Back to the Future Part II – in fact, that was one of the films I loved watching at the age I would have naturally picked up this to read. There were some moments where I wish we could have understood more about the girls’ themselves – what made them unique and different from one another – I know the story focused on their individual talents and weaknesses, but I wanted a bit more back-story about the girls’ themselves. I would have preferred a lot less slang and shorthand as well – as again, even as an adult dyslexic reader I find half of that distracts from the story as I am constantly trying to sort out what the abbreviations are referencing and referring to whilst if the story just said what it had meant I would have been able to follow the story a bit easier.

Overall, the biggest surprise was really the unmasking of the villain which reminded me why we always looked forward to that reveal during an episode of Scooby Doo. I felt Ultra Squad borrowed a lot from other pop cultural stories and superheroes – wherein, it was struggling to have its own identity from the crowd. There are some good moments between the sidekicks and the girls’ but there was a bit of a downside in having them stay in-scene and not sound ridiculous too. I think this would be good for readers who might be even a bit younger than projected for the story itself as it is definitely geared towards newer readers who are not actively reading every week or month but might occasionally pick up a story.

-quoted from my review of Ultra Squad (Book One)

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#WyrdAndWonder Middle Grade Graphic Novel Book Review | “Ultra Squad: Adventures under the Strangebow” (Book Two of the Ultra Squad series) by Julia Devillers, illustrated by Rafael RosadoUltra Squad
Subtitle: Adventures under the Strangebow
by Julia Devillers
Source: Author via Lola's Blog Tours

An evil, strange rainbow! A former nemesis! And four girls who look exactly like the UltraSquad! It’s an epic battle on an alternate universe for the UltraSquad, a secret superhero team, with a mission to save the universe through teamwork, positivity, and justice. Can the girls and their sidekicks, the Pallies, once again save the world and make it a better place through teamwork, positivity, and unstoppable fierce girl power?

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Children's Literature, Graphic Novel, Illustrated Stories, Juvenile Fiction, Middle Grade, Superhero Fiction



Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1732703025

Also by this author: Ultra Squad

Also in this series: Ultra Squad


Published by Justice Studios

on 12th November, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 96

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The Ultra Squad series:

Ultra Squad (Book One) by Julia DevillersUltra Squad Under the Strangebow by Julia Devillers

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Ultra Squad (book one) – (see also Review)

Ultra Squad: Adventures Under the Strangebow(book two)

Ultra Squad: Galaxy Dance Off (book three)
← *forthcoming 1st March, 2021

Ultra Squad: Time After Slime (book four)

Available formats: Trade Paperback

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Converse via: #UltraSquad, #GraphicNovel & #SuperheroFiction
as well as #MiddleGrade, #MGLit and #diverselit or #WeNeedDiverseBooks

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Posted Tuesday, 19 May, 2020 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Book Review (non-blog tour), Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Indie Author, Juvenile Fiction, Lola's Blog Tours, Middle Grade Novel, Science Fiction, Soft Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event

#IndieApril Middle Grade Graphic Novel Book Review | “Ultra Squad” (Book One of the Ultra Squad series) by Julia Devillers, illustrated by Rafael Rosado

Posted Sunday, 26 April, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in [2015] whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. I returnt to hosting for Lola’s Book Tours in [2018] before having to take a small hiatus from requesting future blog tours for a second time. By [2020] as my health afflictions from 2018/19 started to recede I realised I could start to host for her authors with better confidence in being able to participate on the tours themselves. Thereby it was with the Dream Horse Adventures series I decided to mark my return and was quite thankful this was a series she was celebrating through her touring company.

I received a complimentary copy of “Ultra Squad (Graphic Novel)” direct from the author Julia Devillers in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I wanted to read 2x Graphic Novels during #IndieApril:

I haven’t had the chance to read Graphic Novels in a long, long time – I felt this might be a good month to take a chance on a seemingly lovely series which showcases individuality & equality amongst girls who are striving to share not just friendship but adventures in life! I love series for Middle Grade readers which talk about collecting experiences & going on adventures because these are the roots of how all of us learn, grow and develop our understanding about the world round us. I love finding series which also talk about our uniqueness as individuals & how our differences do not need to become a dividing line to separate us – any story which features inclusivity and acceptance is a winner in my life!

When I was younger I would read Graphic Novels which were more like fan fiction narratives based on popular film franchises during the 1980s. I didn’t quite step into the full spectrum of Graphic Novels as I was a reader who was definitely a ‘mood reader’ as a child and young adult – as I would move in and out of both genres and areas of interest at the drop of a hat! My main mainstays though were the kind of genres I showcase through my Story Vault – Speculative Fiction played a strong role as did Mysteries & Suspense as well as INSPY narratives of Historical Fiction. When it comes to #HistRom & #HistFic alike – why it took becoming a book blogger to realise I’ve read more of those respective fields of literature than any Contemporary genre is still unknown to me!

I’ve researched Manga and other contemporary graphic novel styles – there are some artists & illustrators who truly gave my attention but overall, I haven’t truly found my niche in the Asian market of what is available. What I do enjoy are solid graphics, wicked illustrative plates which showcase dialogue & action sequences and of course, the layering of the story, the personality of the characters and how the story itself is tracking through the nature of how a graphic novel presents its subject and message. These are the areas I was looking at reviewing and using as talking points as I moved into reviewing this series for Lola’s Book Tours featured blog tour this April & May. (as my second review will be featured in May rather than the final week of April)

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#IndieApril Middle Grade Graphic Novel Book Review | “Ultra Squad” (Book One of the Ultra Squad series) by Julia Devillers, illustrated by Rafael RosadoUltra Squad
by Julia Devillers
Source: Author via Lola's Blog Tours

ULTRA-FIERCE
ULTRA-SMART
ULTRA-BRAVE
ULTRA-UNIQUE
ULTRA-UNSTOPPABLE
THEY ARE. . .THE ULTRASQUAD!

When an evil force from the far reaches of the galaxy threatens Earth, the UltraSquad, a secret superhero team, with a mission to save the universe through teamwork, positivity, and justice, is enlisted to battle the overly smug villain. Along with their bizarro-cute extra-terrestrial sidekicks the Pallies, the kick-butt girls employ their magical ultra-superpowers to save the universe! This first book in a new graphic novel series inspires girls to reach for their dreams, work together, and make a difference.

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Children's Literature, Graphic Novel, Illustrated Stories, Juvenile Fiction, Middle Grade, Superhero Fiction



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1732703001

Also by this author: Ultra Squad

Also in this series: Ultra Squad


Published by Justice Studios

on 12th November, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 96

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Ultra Squad series:

Ultra Squad (Book One) by Julia DevillersUltra Squad Under the Strangebow by Julia Devillers

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Ultra Squad (book one) 

Ultra Squad: Adventures Under the Strangebow(book two)

Ultra Squad: Galaxy Dance Off (book three)
← *forthcoming 1st March, 2021

Ultra Squad: Time After Slime (book four)

Available formats: Trade Paperback

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Converse via: #UltraSquad, #GraphicNovel & #SuperheroFiction
as well as #MiddleGrade, #MGLit and #diverselit or #WeNeedDiverseBooks

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Posted Sunday, 26 April, 2020 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Indie Author, Juvenile Fiction, Lola's Blog Tours, Middle Grade Novel

A #SciFiMonth Book Review | “The Why-entist and the Wild Weather” by Jane Lowry A STEM #MGLit story to encourage scientific curiosity!

Posted Thursday, 14 November, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

SFN Book Review Badge created by Jorie in Canva

Acquired Book By:

I am a new hostess with Aunt Addie’s Book Tours wherein I have the chance to feature and review Children’s Lit – specifically focusing on Middle Grade and/or Young Adult as well as Picture Books for younger readers. I was attracted to this blog touring company due to how they are passionately proactive in highlighting the latest in Children’s Literature whilst giving me a hearty selection of authors and publishers I can potentially host for whilst on one of the blog tours. This was a tour I had meant to read and review the book – except to say, the book was delayed reaching me and as I had posted a Spotlight with Notes about why was curiously keen on reading it whilst on the tour, I requested to hold off posting my review until November to run during #SciFiMonth.

I received a complimentary of “The Why-entist and the Wild Weather” direct from the author Jane Lowry via Aunt Addie’s Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I am consistently looking for STEM stories in MGLit & YALit:

I grew up enjoying the benefits of having a local Science Center – where I could study a variety of Sciences and have hands-on learning experiences. One of the saddest days of my adult life was finding out my old Science Center changed from being open & accessible to all learners to being a test-in center where you literally had to ‘prove’ you belonged and deserved to attend those classes, labs and workshops. It also became an accredited center where those classes were not just strictly taken for personal enrichment & the curiosity of the Sciences themselves but rather as another box to tick off as completed towards a final transcript for the students portfolio.

I found that to be quite off-putting as an adult who has a curiously healthy appetite for seeking new frontiers to explore in all STEAM & STEM disciplines – the reason that saddens my heart is because of the children that will automatically exclude who do not test well or who cannot take a test to prove their deserving of taking those classes simply due to an innate curiosity about their topics, subjects & lessons which the teachers will help them explore. I firmly believe the Sciences should remain open to ALL learners – especially for children without having to have this stacked requirement just to get into the door. That benefits no one and it makes learning as a child as structured as school – I for one, did not thrive in structured learning environments & as a dyslexic learner I fell behind a lot of those cracks in the organisation of traditional learning. The Science Center of my youth is where I spent thirteen years exploring the Sciences and developing a curiously scientific mind as an adult.

This is why as a book blogger – I was naturally attracted to reading Science & Mathematics topics in Non-Fiction inasmuch as I wanted to seek out pro-positive Science narratives for young readers within the realms of Middle Grade & Young Adult – whilst recognising there are a heap of talented illustrators and Picture Book authors who are also contributing a positive ray of light on encouraging children to cosy into Science and their own wings to fly within the subjects & fields which personally interest them to explore.

When I saw this story was going to be featured on a blog tour – I quite literally jumped at the chance to focus on it because who wouldn’t want to question the weather & the practices of others who are helping to do more harm than good in our physical environments? Be sure to earmark this on your #mustread list and/or if you find it an inspiring premise – maybe tuck in a copy for your young reader for Christmas?

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A #SciFiMonth Book Review | “The Why-entist and the Wild Weather” by Jane Lowry A STEM #MGLit story to encourage scientific curiosity!The Why-entist and the Wild Weather
by Jane Lowry
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Sukarno Achmad
Source: Publicist with Aunt Addie's Book Tours

The Why-entist is a girl who asks a lot of questions!

After her uncle cuts down a forest and causes a lot more carbon dioxide to get into the air, the weather gets wild with big winds and storms. The Why-entist asks librarians, an environmentalist, her family and a scientist about the change. They explain green house gas and how global warming works. She and her friends and everyone in town, except her uncle, decide to clean up the air by planting trees and using clean energy like solar and wind power. Can she and her friends help her Uncle change his mind?

Genres: Children's Literature, Climatology, Illustrated Stories, Meteorology, Middle Grade, Science, Science Fiction



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1733837507

Also by this author: The Why-entist and the Wild Weather

Published by Quoi Happens Publishing

on 10th October, 2019

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 44

Published By: Quoi Happens Publishing

Illustrated by: Sukarno Achmad

this begins the ask-a-lot kids series!

Available Formats: Hardcover

Converse via: #MGLit #CliFi + #STEM and #SciFiMonth

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About Jane Lowry

Jane Lowry

Since the first time Jane Lowry saw a headlamp shine while pedaling her bike, she has been in love with renewable energy and what it can do.
As a former teacher, Jane knows the importance of motivating children to learn more STEM/STEAM material. She believes that it’s never too early to gently introduce young minds to real world vocabulary and ideas in a friendly story.

Her love of teaching and energy has taken her as far away as Japan. She’s active in the United Way’s “Read With Me” program.
Today, Jane works with engineers and scientists who research renewable energy technology from solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, to biomass.

Born in Canada, she now resides in Colorado with her Navy veteran husband, two growing up fast teens, Jasmine the rescue dog, and Pickles and August, her cats. Her love of writing, discovering what clean energy can do, coupled with cooking, travel and what’s new in the delicious world of chocolate keep her busy.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Thursday, 14 November, 2019 by jorielov in Aunt Addie's Book Tours, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Debut Author, Indie Author, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction