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Didi Oviatt

Author of suspense novels Search For Maylee, Aggravated Momentum, The Stix, and New Age Lamians. As well as the short story collection Time Wasters and (co-author of) The Suspenseful Collection. Columnist for The Conscious Talk Magazine.

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Feel Me Fall, by James Morris #Blitz #excerpt

Genre: YA/ Thriller/ Survival

Publication Date: May 2017

Blurb:

Secrets and survival in the Amazon

Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and her teenage friends stranded and alone in the jungles of the Amazon. Lost and losing hope, they struggle against the elements, and each other. With their familiar pecking order no longer in place, a new order emerges, filled with power struggles, betrayals, secrets and lies. Emily must explain why she’s the last left alive.

But can she carry the burden of the past?

Discover the gripping new adventure novel that explores who we are when no one is watching, and how far we’ll go in order to survive.

Feel Me Fall Cover 2D

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Excerpt

I have tried so hard to forget, but memory is a stubborn thing. Memories linger no matter what I do. They’re there all the time—and worse. Even my dreams aren’t safe. I have vicious nightmares, and they’re real—too real—and suddenly I’m back there. I can’t will them away, I can’t squeeze them away, and the more I try, the more they burrow in my head. I want to cut open my skull and dig my fingers into my brain and just pull them out.

I press the Call Nurse button.

This place, this room; it’s no better than a white coffin. Sometimes I feel like the walls are closing in on me and I have to remind myself nothing’s moving. Nothing at all.

Breathe, I tell myself. Just breathe.

A nurse enters. She’s got skin the color of rich walnut. She says, “It’s late, you should be asleep.”

“I can’t.” She tilts her head, knowing it’s a lie. The truth is I don’t want to. “Can I have some coffee?”

“You’ve got to sleep sometime, honey.” She walks over and gently grasps my bandaged hand. “Do you want me to stay with you a while?”

Usually my mom is with me, but she must’ve had to run home. Reduced to a little girl, I nod.

I close my eyes, but my mind runs and runs. Tubes and fluids enter my body, but there’s nothing to stop the anxiety. My heart pounds and sometimes I fear I’m on the cusp of crossing into whatever lies on the other side of sane. Being in the hospital makes it harder. The white walls and sick people only remind me that I am so far from normal. My mom’s apartment in Los Angeles is less than five miles away, but it might as well be a million.

The nurse, staff, doctors, everyone; they all know me for one thing. The thing that will define me for the rest of my life. I am a survivor. The only survivor of Air Brazil, the plane that crashed in the Amazon jungle carrying 134 passengers; 37 of them students, teachers, and chaperones from Riverdale Academy High. I used to hear about plane crashes and wondered how the victims felt in the seconds before impact, wondered what it was like to know you were about to die.

Now I know. And I’d give anything not to.

I knew those people from school. Every. Single. One.

They aren’t faceless names. They are people and they are dead.

The counselor didn’t help, either. She told me not to feel guilty. Survivor’s guilt, she called it. She warned I could expect to be angry and sad. I could expect to be confused. I wanted to tell her I was angry and sad and confused long before I got onto that plane.

My counselor told me to write my story down. By writing I could make sense of all that happened. I keep thinking if I remember everything the way I need to that the memories will fade away. That I can accept what happened. I can accept that I survived and everyone else died.

The laptop on my nightstand is waiting for me. I’m scared to touch it.

###

I was dead to the world and when I came to I was drowning. Water gushed into my mouth and I was tumbling, flailing, not knowing what end was up or down. I heard the sounds of screaming and the roaring of water and then nothingness. Coming up for air, I held something, something rectangular. The seat cushion I was holding kept me afloat. I was in a river and I didn’t know why. I kicked and kicked and it made no difference. I never believed in God, an all-powerful being that allowed so many horrible things to happen, but as I saw the rocks up ahead, I prayed.

The current sped faster, churning like boiling water and I thought I was going to die.

I was 17 and I was going to die.

All the time wasted. All the things I never got to do.

I had one thought over and over: I don’t want to die. Someone else, but not me.

I held onto that seat cushion for dear life and plunged into the rapids. I was a human rag doll. The torrent sucked me into a watery hell and I couldn’t breathe; my eyes shut, mouth shut, face tight against the murk, willing everything to stop. I couldn’t breathe. I started to panic.

Someone else, but not me.

I needed air, my body screamed for it and I opened my mouth about to take in water when I bubbled up to the surface and gasped. As quickly as I was brought above, I was taken under again. I slammed against the rocks and buried my face deeper into the cushion. I saw nothing, heard nothing, and imagined I was in a womb. I could only wait for the terror to pass. There was no outlet; my fear was so deep and tangible I couldn’t scream. It felt like an actual substance that enveloped my body, my brain, my very being. I receded further and further within myself, a dark hole, my entire body a taut muscle.

Suddenly, I took a shot to the head and saw stars. A high-pitched squeal rang in my ears. I fought the growing sensation of darkness that threatened to overcome me, but I knew to give in meant death. I was tempted. So, so tempted. I forced my eyes open and saw the water, the dark water and wondered in that emptiness if I hadn’t died already.

My prayer must’ve been heard.

The water calmed and I was spit out near a bend. I realized I had to give up the cushion, my lifeline—it was holding me back. I let go, cursing myself as it floated away and I swam, giving everything I had. My body had nothing left but I commanded it, willed it, to swim. As I approached the shore, my shoes finally touched bottom and I heaved myself onto land.

I don’t know how long I lay there catching my breath. But there is no greater feeling of security than the sensation of the earth beneath your stomach, hands grabbing dirt. The scent of decay and wet leaves smelled like a bouquet. All this time I’d taken the ground beneath me for granted. Now I was thankful for this place to rest.

I was soaked. My jeans pressed against me, my hair drenched, my socks squished against my feet. I didn’t understand. I had left on a flight from Los Angeles with a layover in Panama City and then on to Asuncion, Paraguay for a year-end class trip. We were traveling as an inter-disciplinary trip for history, international relations, foreign language and biology. We were going to have the trip of a lifetime.

Then it hit me, a delayed reaction: I almost drowned. I almost died. My body seized and I was overwhelmed. I cried; I didn’t even know why or for what, but I sobbed on that little stretch of dirt. I heaved, gasping for breath. Every inhale was a wheeze, and I caught myself hitting the ground, my hands balled into tight fists, pounding and pounding.

Moments passed and I cried myself empty. I told myself: get up. You have to get up.

I placed my hands in the dirt to help me stand and looked around thinking: What is this place? There was green everywhere, too much green, and a river the width of three football fields in front of me. The air was heavy, a physical pressure against my skin. I was in the jungle, a tangled web of trees and totally foreign. Any other time, I might’ve been amazed by its majesty, only now I felt small. Trees towered behind me, the river flowed in front, and I was trapped.

It was then I felt the weight of my cross-body bag. I’d been wearing it the whole time. Not very heavy, I managed to unhook it and was about to open the zipper when I heard screams.

Floating down the river were more people. I wasn’t alone! A ripple of joy overtook me until I saw their faces reflecting what I sensed my own might look like—bruised, bleeding, and utterly thrashed.

Exhausted, I shouted my voice hoarse, “Over here!” I waved my hands over my head. “You can do it,” I encouraged. “Almost there!”

Some didn’t move at all. They floated, faces down, rolling through the current, lost in the rapids, disappearing for far too long. Those were the ones who didn’t thrash. Others were swept in the rapids, their screams barely heard over the rushing water only to be silenced on the other end. I was watching people die. The bodies were like a slow leak, trickling down the river a few at a time, and yet almost none of them emerged alive on the other side of the rocks. I couldn’t save them. They were too far away.

Someone else, but not me.

I didn’t mean like this.

Then I saw Viv and my heart nearly stopped.

She struggled in the water, past the rapids, a bobber about to go under. She was never athletic even though she was stick thin. Water gurgled from her mouth and she barely moved. I couldn’t bear to lose her. I wouldn’t allow it. I was terrified of my own exhaustion, but I jumped into the water and found a strength I never knew. I swam out to her. Her head dipped under the water and I would not let that be the last time I saw my best friend alive. I grasped her flotation cushion and then headed back to shore.

She looked at me, dazed. “Emily, it’s you.”

“Yes, it’s me.” I could barely contain my relief.

The sun shone over my head, reflecting in the ripples. “You look like an angel.”

I knew Vivian was out of it. “Stop talking now. Just swim. We’re going to be okay.”

I reached the shore for a second time and pulled her up with me. Once on land, she pulled me into a hug and nothing had ever felt better. Always shorter than me, her face burrowed into my chest and I felt I was protecting an abandoned baby bird. Her inky dark hair, usually so pretty was now plastered to her head, her make-up had washed away, and she was just this tiny thing. Her whole body shivered. “Tell me it’s a dream, tell me it’s a dream….”

“I wish it was, Viv.” I would’ve stayed hugging her if not for the other people in need of help.

Nico, Viv’s immature boyfriend, splashed ashore, his glasses gone, his nose bloody, red streaks smeared across his face. He was panting and heaved over, and I thought he might throw up. We had a history, but there was no time for irritation. Any familiar face was cause for celebration. He seemed surprised to see me. “You made it.”

He then eased Viv from my arms and into his.

Further down the river there was movement. It was Derek, all limbs and urgency, his face pockmarked with acne and not a hint of stubble. He splashed onto shore, his fingers digging into sand and he kissed the earth.

Twenty yards away, Ryan Wray followed. One of his prosthetic legs was missing—he’d lost his legs below the knee after contracting a rare case of meningitis a few years earlier—and he crab-walked onto land, his one pant leg empty, wet, and flat. He wasn’t alone. He helped guide Mean Molly with him. She was far from mean then, almost drowned, flustered and frantic. Once she got out of the water, she toppled in the mud, curling into a fetal position.

I stayed where I was as Ryan, Molly and Derek staggered along the shore, finally meeting up with us.

There was no time to rest or reflect. The river scattered more survivors along the shore. I pulled in a man and stopped in alarm when I saw that one of his arms had snapped off. I gently laid him down and he didn’t even notice until he turned his head. He said with an eerie calm, “That looks painful.” I recognized him from the plane. He’d sat a few aisles in front of me and slammed back drinks whenever we hit a patch of turbulence. On land, he didn’t even scream. His face was pale and blood spurted in rhythmic pulses from below his shoulder.

“What do we do?” Nico said.

I had no clue. I only knew we needed to do something. “Derek, your belt!”

Derek looked from his perch on the mud and shook his head. I couldn’t believe it.

“Derek, give me your belt! He’s losing too much blood.”

Derek, in shock or otherwise, didn’t move.

I searched for anything that would act as a tourniquet, but my efforts were in vain. The man’s blood had dwindled to a dribble, leaving a red puddle in the mud.

Another woman emerged from the water like a swamp creature, stumbling. We sat her down and she gazed at the water. She had a head injury like mine. Blood ran from her scalp and there was a small spot where her hair had been chafed away. It wasn’t a wound. It was a hole. Looking closer, I could see something I didn’t want to—her skull and what lay within. Her eyelids fluttered and she swayed, falling unconscious. I tried to grab her, but gravity took her to the ground. I nudged her once, twice; she didn’t respond. “Wake up,” I pleaded. “Please wake up.” She never moved again.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to run from this place.

It seemed like a Halloween parade. They had to be in costume or using special effects; the injuries and deaths couldn’t be real.

They were all too real.

One man drifted to shore, his face down in the water, his wispy gray hair splayed out on the water’s surface. We grabbed ahold of him and he was heavy, far too heavy for his slender body. We saw why. The flotation device had kept him afloat, but he’d drowned somewhere along the way.

The last man we helped suffered so many burns his face was charred and etched in pain—I had the horrible thought of grill marks on steak. Once on land he jumped back into the water. Maybe the water had soothed him. I tried to reach out and grab him. “Let me help you!” But he was hysterical, too fast, and we watched as he floated away. I tell myself that he would’ve probably died anyway.

It’s terrible that I only knew them as The Woman, The Old Man, The Man Without an Arm and The Burned Man. Somewhere people knew their names, their histories, secrets and loves. Many of them rested at our feet, their chests still, mouths open. We were among the dead, and I found that we all, consciously or not, distanced ourselves from the horror.

###

The six of us stood on the shore, a hodgepodge of strained relationships, but I hoped the past meant nothing now. Silence fell over us. My voice felt robotic. “What happened?”

They looked at me as if I was stupid and in that moment I knew.

You’ve been in a plane crash.

You’ve been in a plane crash and you survived.

Viv broke down crying. “Where’s everyone else?” I asked.

“Where do you think?” said Ryan.

There had been a whole planeload of people, 37 of them from our school including my English teacher, Mr. DeKoning. We couldn’t be the only ones left. Things like this didn’t happen. At least not to us. To me.

I struggled, trying to remember, and yet there was only me sitting in my cramped seat, my body wracked with discomfort after such a long flight, the recycled air making my skin feel plastic, and then this. “How did we end up in the water?”

Ryan looked at me, stunned. “You don’t remember?”

I shook my head.

“Maybe it’s better that way.”

Derek rose. “The plane crashed in the Amazon. At least that’s what the map on my seat showed. You don’t remember bracing yourself? The flight attendants freaking out?”

“She said no, Derek!” This from Viv.

Derek said, “The plane broke apart. Flooded. We were lucky to get out.”

I didn’t remember any of it. “How did I get out?”

“Same way we did,” Derek said. “We were all sitting near each other. Near the exit rows. Threw on our life jackets or grabbed seat cushions and jumped in the water. A lot of people….” He paused. “A lot of people didn’t.” Derek looked at the dead adults. “They did, though.” He spit near the dead bodies.

“What are you talking about?”

“You should’ve seen ‘em claw over everyone. Trampled over people. They scratched and pushed their way out. There were no heroes on that plane. Not them, at least. They deserved to die.”

Nico shot back, “No one deserved to die. No one.”

“I don’t know,” Derek said. “Bet if you checked under their fingernails, you’d find human skin.”

Ryan interrupted, “Anyone see Conlin?” We shook our heads. Pete Conlin was Ryan’s best friend. “He was sitting right next to me. He was right there.” Ryan peered out over the water, as if he could see Pete in the distance. “He was right next to me.”

I don’t remember what I did next. Maybe I cried. Maybe I fell on the ground. I receded back inside myself where nothing could hurt me. It didn’t make sense. None of it made sense. Beyond the wreckage and bodies, we were in some kind of Garden of Eden, untouched by humans, as pristine as anything I’d ever seen, canopies of trees, and plants and flowers like colorful origami, a perfume of nature, and yet we’d fallen from the sky. I hunched over, shivering, saying to myself I am safe, I am safe, I am safe.

Our layers of clothes were so wet there was no point in wearing them. Derek was missing a shoe. Most of Nico’s pants were ripped from the waist down. Viv’s designer sweatpants clung to her body. Ryan fiddled with his remaining prosthetic leg, knocking sand loose from the joints and making sure it moved properly. Disjointed and detached from his body, it looked out of place, like the rest of this nightmare. With his jeans rolled up, I saw his stump covered in scar tissue.

Derek stood near the jungle’s entrance, a quizzical look on his face, almost scientific. He didn’t seem all that fazed, and even ran his hand over some of the trees, feeling their bark. I wondered what was wrong with him.

Molly sat on the shore, plopped down like a scoop of soft-serve ice cream, her head in her hands. She sat alone, and I felt bad for her, but she had earned the nickname Mean Molly for a reason. I got up anyway and approached her. Even as I asked it, I felt stupid. “Are you okay?”

She ignored me. Then she spoke. “I never wanted to come on this trip.”

Molly didn’t once look at me. She just kept staring ahead. I left her alone.

Viv, Nico and I formed a triangle on the ground. Viv and Nico leaned into each other, and Viv’s crying went from a soft cry into heaves of despair. “I just want to go home. I just want to go home.”

We didn’t know it then, but the jungle was to become our home for far too long.

Feel Me Fall is Available on Amazon!

About the Author

James Morris

James Morris is a television writer who now works in digital media. He is the author of the young adult thriller What Lies Within, the dystopian love story Melophobia, the young adult suspense Feel Me Fall, and the young adult horror Screams You Hear. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching ‘House Hunters Renovation’, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles. Catch him at jamesmorriswriter.com.

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Giveaway Time!!!

James is giving away a print copy of “Feel Me Fall to one lucky winner, so don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

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Review: Midnight Blue, by L.J. Shen 5 sexy unforgetable stars!

MY REVIEW:

Midnight Blue is as crude, filthy, graphic, and nasty as the rest of LJ Shen’s work and I freaking loved it! Going in, I honestly didn’t believe that L.J. could ever have topped herself on her work in Sinners of Saint… I. Was. Wrong. Oh, so wrong!! This book was just as beautiful, and just as raw and sexy as that series. Possibly even better. Possibly. I’m still undecided. This author has quickly worked her way up my personal later of favorites, and is neck and neck with Colleen Hoover for my top spot. (Sorry Colleen).

I think my favorite feature of L.J.’s writing is the authenticity in character development. She is always able to take powerful, rich individuals with broken souls, and f*cked up moral values and somehow manage to mold them into decent human beings with the kind of passion that most humans only dream of. With Midnight Blue I even wound up with a bit of a (okay okay a huge) book crush on the douchbag, and that really says something about the way she’s painted him.

Alex is a huge rock star with big addictions and even bigger grudges. He’s pissed at the world, but mainly the man who cheated with his fiancé in front of the entire world. His main prerogative is to sink his teeth into the sweet taste of revenge. Indi is the girl who is hired to babysit him during a world comeback tour. Her job is simply to keep him clean and sober. Yet, anyone who has ever spent any real time with an addict knows that this job isn’t as simple as it sounds. What neither of them expected to find on this tour is the undeniably electricity between them.

I love Indi! I love her independence, dedication, big heart, and sass! She could be my favorite character thus far this year! Excellent book!

DESCRIPTION:

NOW A WASHINGTON POST, AMAZON MOST SOLD, AND TOP 3 AMAZON BESTSELLER

“Heartbreaking…soul-shattering.” – Diary of a Book Fiend.
“Hands down my top favorite rockstar romance ever.” – Dirty Girl Romance Blog.

From bestselling author L.J. Shen, comes a new, standalone, contemporary romance.

It should have been easy.
I needed the money. He needed a babysitter to keep him from snorting himself to death.
I was cherry-picked especially for him. Responsible. Optimistic. Warm. Innocent.
The worst part is that I should have known better.
Alex Winslow. British rock star. Serial heartbreaker. Casanova with whiskey eyes.
“Don’t get near the devil in a leather jacket. He’ll chew you up and spit you out.”
Guess what? I didn’t listen.
I signed the contract.
World tour. Three months. Four Continents. One hundred shows.
My name is Indigo Bellamy, and I sold my soul to a tattooed god.
Problem was, my soul wasn’t enough for Alex Winslow. He ended up taking my body, too.
Then he took my heart.
Then he took my all.

Birthday Blitz!

Happy book birthday to Deity’s Soulmate! I’m thrilled to celebrate the first year of this whimsical fantasy!

Review: Deity’s Soulmate, by Angelina Kerner 4 of 5 stars

34802584.jpgDeity’s Soulmate

Publication Date: April 3rd, 2017

Genre: Fantasy/ Mythology/ Young Adult

From author Angelina Kerner (Seven Hours: Challenge Accepted) comes an all-new fantasy series about Gardenia, a daughter of Athena, and her 100 years of coursework on how to create whole new worlds and subjects of her own.

A sheltered school child in a realm of condescending gods and goddesses, Gardenia goes to Earth on a dare to witness the unsavory side of mankind for herself. Believing she can do better, she undertakes the formation of an entire galaxy, but without permission from Zeus.

Zeus disciplines her by assigning an epic 13-fold creational lesson destined to take her a century to complete. But he is taken aback once more when she makes an odd choice. She vows to fulfill this knowledge quest by tracking down a lost race of dragons, and discovering the secrets they’ve kept since time began.

Searching the universe to meet even one dragon may be a fool’s errand, but that’s the least of her worries. For ancient wartime resentments linger between the nations of dragons and deities, and some dragons would attack Gardenia on sight!

Yet she ventures out undaunted, learning unexpected things about nomadic life, tender love, and mortal peril along the way. The biggest surprise of all, though, goes by the name of Ri. Ri may be the man of her dreams, the voice in her head, the dragon she’s seeking, or all these things and more…

Meanwhile, the Fates brew sordid plans of their own and Hera jealously sets traps and trials for Gardenia at every chance. What’s a young goddess to do? Flight or fight?

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Giveaway!!!

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To celebrate the anniversary of Deity’s Soulmate, the author is giving away 3 digital copies of her latest book Follow the Snowflakes!

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About the Author

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ANGELINA KERNER is a self-published author of paranormal and lighthearted romance. She’s the wife of a photographer/physicist, and the mother of a cute little toddler, but she’s also been a dancer, a psychologist, an anthropologist, a geographer, a dreamer, and an adventurer. She does her best writing while being bothered by her cats, taking care of her son, in dressing rooms while waiting for family to try on clothing, and at home in sunny California. Angelina loves to play goddess-dragon matchmaker, transporting readers to a place where young goddesses have lovable flaws, the Fates plan to dethrone, the universe is endless and untamed, and dragons roam free! She also loves to write carefree romance where one can finish reading with a smile.

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Shabby Sunday 3/25/18

The Shabby Sunday meme was created by Mischenko over at Read Rant Rock & Roll blog, which I love!  I first noticed the Shabby Sunday posts a few weeks ago, and I fell in love with the idea of vintage/childhood features. So, naturally I had to join in. This is my second Shabby Sunday post, and I’m sure over time there will be more! 🙂

The book I’m choosing today is The War of The Worlds, but not JUST for the reasons you’re probably thinking. Yes, it’s a classic. Yes, its a great book. Yes, it was made into a movie where Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning acted upon direction of Steven Speilberg!

I mean, as if all of those reasons aren’t enough. There’s more!

I’m actually choosing this book because the paperback I came across in my collection gave me a laugh! That’s right friends. Check it out. The sticker on the front of this possibly original version is actually NOT a sticker! LOL  That two for a dollar Walmart special emblem is in fact printed right into the cover of this book!

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For those of you who have never heard of this book (which is maybe no one) this is what it’s about:

The War of the Worlds is a science fiction novel by English author H. G. Wells. It first appeared in serialized form in 1897, published simultaneously in Pearson’s Magazine in the UK and Cosmopolitan magazine in the US. The first appearance in book form was published by William Heinemann of London in 1898. It is the first-person narrative of an unnamed protagonist in Surrey and that of his younger brother in London as Earth is invaded by Martians. Written between 1895 and 1897, it is one of the earliest stories that detail a conflict between mankind and an extraterrestrial race. The novel is one of the most commented-on works in the science fiction canon. The War of the Worlds has two parts, Book One: The Coming of the Martians and Book Two: The Earth under the Martians. The narrator, a philosophically inclined author, struggles to return to his wife while seeing the Martians lay waste to the southern country outside London. Book One also imparts the experience of his brother, also unnamed, who describes events as they deteriorate in the capital, forcing him to escape the Martian onslaught by boarding a paddle steamer near Tillingham, on the Essex coast.

#review #booktour #5stars Mask Beneath Her Face, by Rafael Chandler @shanannigans81

Release Date: October 14, 2017mask-beneath-her-face-cover.jpg
Genre: Horror/ Thriller
Blurb:

During the 1980s, slashers terrorized America. With machetes and masks, these unstoppable killers stalked college campuses, quiet suburbs, and lakeside cabins.

Thirty years ago, Bobbi Metzger survived a massacre at her 16th birthday party. She spent decades putting her life back together.

Tonight, Bobbi will face a new killer: a high-tech slasher hell-bent on opening the doorway to an abyss of unimaginable horror.

How long can Bobbi survive this nightmare? What will she do to protect the people she loves? How much blood is she willing to spill?

For fans of 80’s slasher flicks like Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp!

Warning: This book contains graphic violence and gore. Not for the faint of heart!

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Excerpt

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Bobbi Metzger wrenched the hatchet from her boyfriend’s skull. In a few minutes, Bobbi thought, I will kill her, or she will kill me. Either way, this is going to be over soon.

She lurched across the room. Blood-soaked carpet squished under her feet. Red droplets slid down and dripped from the handmade banner over the doorway: Happy Birthday, Bobbi!

July 1st, 1987, was supposed to be the greatest night of her life. With their parents out of town, Bobbi and her sister had invited everybody to the lake house, and they’d more or less trashed the place.

Bobbi stepped over a dead body: a girl in acid-washed jeans and a Noid t-shirt. Bobbi didn’t recognize her. One of Megan’s friends.

The TV was still on. There was a video on MTV, some new band called Guns N’ Roses. Bobbi’s sister, Megan, had switched loyalty from Def Leppard to these guys, because she thought their singer was hot. “I’d feel his serpentine, anytime.”

“Those guys are all gross,” Bobbi had said. “Rob Lowe’s cute, though.”

Megan had pretended to gag.

Thick drops of blood dotted the red icing on Bobbi’s cake. A birthday card was propped up next to the cake, and the message was scrawled in Megan’s loopy handwriting: POP THAT CHERRY, BOBBI!

If Bobbi turned her head just a little bit, she would see Megan pinned to the wall with a fireplace poker through her mouth, blood dripping from the band of her polka-dotted Swatch. Bobbi didn’t look. She took another tentative step.

You can do it. You have to. If you don’t, you’re dead, like everyone else. No choice.

She stepped around the table in the middle of the room.

Heart pounding, Bobbi peeked into the kitchen. Nothing. She looked behind her.

On the couch, Bobbi’s boyfriend Kevin stared at her blankly, the hatchet wound like a vertical grin in his forehead. He wore a CONTRA t-shirt. Kevin spent most of his money down at Galaxy, the arcade at the mall, plugging quarters into games like Contra and Rastan.

Last night, Kevin had tried to protect Bobbi, throwing himself at the woman in black; but she had plucked the hatchet from his hand and buried it in his skull, so quickly that Bobbi wasn’t sure it had happened at all.

Then the killer had grinned at Bobbi while Kevin slumped backwards onto the couch, the axe handle sticking out of his skull. Bobbi tried to scream, but couldn’t make a sound.

About the Author

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Rafael Chandler writes novels (Hexcommunicated, The Astounding Antagonists), video games (SOCOM 4, Rainbow Six: Lockdown, MAG), and tabletop role-playing games (Teratic Tome, Lusus Naturae). He’s a metalhead, a kaijuphile, and a gorehound.

For your chance to win either a print copy or 1 of 5 digital copies of Mask Beneath Her Face, click the link below!
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MY REVIEW:

Oh my hell, this horror book is an IN YOUR FACE THRILL RIDE! Hands down the best slasher book I’ve read. The gore is nasty, the supernatural is terrifying, and the entire premise of the story is like a whirlwind of the worst of the worst killers combine. I usually do my reading at night while trying to either fall asleep or put my kids to sleep. After one night’s attempt at Mask Beneath Her Face, I had to switch up my entire routine.

I didn’t get a wink of sleep, I was scared out of my damn mind. I got up to use the bathroom a dozen times through out the night because I was so antsy all I could do is drink wine in bed and toss around stewing. I even flipped the body mirror in my bedroom around to face the wall so I couldn’t scare myself with an accidental glance at it. And, I closed my eyes when I was washing my hands to avoid looking in the bathroom mirror! A little extreme I know, but I was freaked the f*ck out!

The main characters are perfect, especially Cris, so I’ll get to her last. First lets start with Bobbi, Jesse, and Sam. They are like a misfit little makeshift family, tied together by the similarities of their past. Each one had a run in while they were young with their own unique slasher. The deadly events changed each of their lives and left them cursed. They lost loved ones in the goriest way, and are now forced to live out their lives with nothing but anxiety, paranoia, booze, and the hope that maybe someday they stop their tormentors from coming back for good.

My favorite of these three slashers is Jesse’s mirror terror. As I mentioned above my refusal to look in a mirror. I’ll possibly be haunted by the image Rafael Chandler created forever, I was scared out of my damn mind while reading this particular slasher! The picture painted of this creepy creepy was flawless and disgusting. Not at all for the weak of stomach or the faint of heart. I’m surprised I didn’t pass out from holding my breath for too long.

Now lets get to Cris. I don’t want to tell you too much, because I don’t want to give away any surprises. So I’ll just stick to the basics. Cris has a dicey past of her own, but it’s different from the other three. Abuse, neglect, and abandonment is practically all she’s known, up until the point where she met up with Sam. Despite the run in with his own slasher Sam’s managed to keep his life fairly in order and he’s a councilor at Cris’ school. He set her up with a job working for Jesse, helping him around the house, and typing his manuscripts. In turn, she met Bobbi through the other two.

Cris is like the adopted child the three survivors never had. She’s a teen, just about ready to graduate Highschool and aside from her looks there’s much about her that’s very impressive. She’s athletic, down to earth, and extremely intelligent. BUT, there’s so much more to Cris than what meets the eye. She has a very dark bloody secret of her own, and it’s huge. She’s like the key to the entire story, and what she brings to the table is insane!

I love the pace of this book, it’s very quick and intense. From cover to cover it’s never dull or slow. I’m actually surprised by how sucked in and attached I ultimately got! Based on the cover, a few reviews I’d read, and the description I figured I’d like it. But, I never in a million years would have guess at how blown away I’d actually be. This book is bloody epic. A story I’ll likely never forget!

#poetry Review: Versions of the Self, by Christy Birmingham 4.5 stars

MY REVIEW:

Poetry for me is hit and miss. I either love it, or I hate it. It either pulls me in and makes me think and feel deeply, or it puts me off completely. Not very often do I find middle ground. Oddly enough I was reluctant to read this book because I follow Christy’s work on When Women Inspire. I love her approach, as well as the unique and resounding subjects she often tackles. She’s inspiring and supportive, and honestly I was a little worried that reading a book of her poetry might disappoint after I’ve become quite fond of her stuff up until this point. I’ve even had Versions of the Self downloaded on my Kindle for months, just waiting for me to buck up and face my lingering fearful curiosity.

Luckily for me, it didn’t disappoint! Not even close. It was far from disappointing, and I feel even more fond of Christy Birmingham and her writing because of it!

Versions of the Self is categorized by way of events and emotions. Each page tells a story of it’s own, in a very creative way. One thing that I love about this poetry is that it has sort of an abstract feel, yet the emotion poured in also gives it a traditional, old fashion type squeeze. For lack of better words I found it well-rounded, solid.

In this book Christy reveals a side of herself that most people hide. The bravery it took to expose the level of vulnerability here is absolutely commendable. Her heart and soul was tossed around by relationships, both with a lover, herself, and family loss. The angle she took to describe these events and emotions was different than anything I’ve ever read.

Christy has a way of using words to describe physical objects in her own metaphors. It’s such a breath of fresh air to read page after page where every way of thinking is out of the box. This is no cookie cutter book of poetry, and I love it that much more because of this fact. Keep making magic with words, Christy! This is truly your gift!

DESCRIPTION:

Imagine a shift to the way you see the world that arises through poetic narration.

Imagine the world, at its base level, is a collection of selves. These selves collide, disperse, intermingle, and share themselves in lines of free verse. Such is the premise of Versions of the Self, poetry that assumes multiple types of selves exist and relate in ways that alter them. Each of the eight chapters looks at a different type of self, including the singular “I” and romantic interactions. These unique 80 poems definitely color themselves outside of the lines.

A Suspenseful Chunk

Her alert ears listened carefully, but she heard nothing close. There were weeds to her waist and no space to move around. The rowdy men still playing cards and drinking beer was a faint sound in the distance. She strained her ears as hard as she could, but was unable to make out what they were saying. With a stomach sucked in tightly, and breath held, Autumn inched her way around the side of *****’s house and to the tiny dirt yard behind it.

The first filthy window she snuck by was hard to see through. Nothing was visible except an abundance of garbage that covered an old battered couch and coffee table. Finally, she made it to the back door and ever so slowly she reached for its handle. Her eyes were wide and searched in every direction. She prayed that the house was empty. The metal was warm in her hand, a scorching reminder that she was in fact trespassing in a very dangerous place. Several deep breaths filled Autumn’s lungs as she mentally pep-talked herself into twisting her wrist to open the door.

The hinges creaked allowing the door to open, and for some inexplicable reason she pictured Chance. A clear image of his piercing eyes and the angry words of caution he’d be spitting in her direction right now, barged into her thoughts. Had he known what she was about to do, he’d likely have a heart attack.

They’d grown close over the last three weeks. That first call with a professional hello and very personal goodbye had been the beginning of something more — much more. Since then, every single day without fail he’d called. Which reminded Autumn that she hadn’t silenced her phone. The last thing she needed was Chance or even Jeremy ringing in to check up on her, only to alert Mr. Cop-Of-The-Year. She most definitely didn’t need a tattling ringtone.

Autumn reached into her pocket and quickly pressed the silence button. Then she gagged down her fears and stepped inside Craig’s dark and deserted house. With each quite tip-toe she thought of Chance and his endless words of caution. A tear rolled down her cheek and she whispered to herself.

“God please help me make it out of this house alive.”

Autumn pulled her pistol out of its holster, jacked a bullet into the chamber, and clicked off the safety. The movements came natural. All that practice Jeremy and his crew of overbearing misfits insisted on was paying off. The house smelt like old cat pee and body odor. It stuck to the inside of her nostrils and dried up there like super glue.

It was a scent that she’d become acquainted with years before. The very smell had been on Maylee’s clothes several times when she was a baby, and although Autumn was very well aware of Candace’s hygiene problem, there was just something about it that had rang different. This wasn’t merely a smell of uncleanliness, there was something more to it.

The sad memories of this familiar scent broke Autumn’s heart. At the time, Autumn had asked her mother about the smell, and she only shook her head in disgust, refusing to give an explanation. It wasn’t until Maylee was years older that Hannah Brown finally broke down and told Autumn that the smell could’ve only come from the smoke of hard core drugs settling into everything it touches like a plague. This scent was overwhelming in Craig’s house, or at least she still assumed this was his house. She had yet to find reason to believe otherwise. The smell made Autumn sick to her stomach as she gently continued to move her hesitant feet.

The door she entered through placed her directly in the kitchen. It was dark but her eyes were starting to adjust and she could at least see shapes and shadows. She knew that if she were to flip on a light then the men outside would see it, so that was clearly not an option. The room was empty aside from a few spray paint cans on the dusty counter tops and some stacked up and broken old dirty dishes.

Autumn squinted and strained to get a closer look at one of the plates. It was apart from the rest, setting on the edge of the counter, and it appeared to be somewhat clean. A half eaten sandwich was placed perfectly in its center. There was no mold or discolor to be seen with such little light, so she assumed it to be fresh. Reluctantly, Autumn reached over. A rock of a lump formed in her throat, and she struggled to swallow it down. With a clammy nervous hand she felt the bread to see if it was hard or squishy. Sure enough, just as she suspected, her finger sunk into the soft piece of bread. The lump came right back up and she gagged on it, struggling to keep herself from losing her dinner.

Autumn hadn’t seen any movement coming from inside the house when she ran in the mornings, so whoever was permeating the air with this putrid stench, and eating sandwiches, must have been doing it later in the day. Her ribs fought hard to keep her racing heart in place. She debated on turning around and making an escape now while she still could, but changed her hesitant mind. If there was anyone there now then there would’ve been lights on, and there wasn’t. This opportunity to get inside would likely never present itself again so she continued, racing heart and all, and snuck through a narrow doorway into the next room.

It led into a living space with one old couch, a busted coffee table, and a cracked fireplace. Dried up mud chunks were strewn across the cracked floorboards, and illegible writing was spray painted all over the walls. It was hard to make out details without a light, but a swastika stood out promptly amongst the rest of the vandalism. Typical, she thought. This was the room she’d seen from the window, therefore the only one she knew what to expect in. Everything beyond this point was a gut wrenching mystery.

A main door that led out the front of the house was barely hanging on its hinges. There were several locks securing it in place, and a rickety old wooden staircase sat directly before the door. Beneath the tallest part of the stairwell there was a second set of stairs going down. Autumn decided to check the upstairs first and save the creepiest part of this small town house for last. She slowly walked up the creaking steps. Each one she took was louder than the next, so she placed her feet on the very edges against the wall to try and hit the most silent parts possible.

The second story was fairly open and seemingly empty. There were only two rooms and neither of them had a door. Autumn squinted her eyes as she still struggled to see. The shade of night was consuming Denver and darkening the inside of the house along with the out. There were few windows that weren’t boarded up and the light they offered was slim.

Autumn still had to make it back to her car when she left here and the thought caused a chill to dash up her spine. Again she forced her breath to steady and continued to move through the house. The first door-less room she entered was a disgusting bathroom. The smell was horrendous. It had a toilet and a shower, no sink. For the first time since Autumn broke into this house she was actually grateful for the lack of lighting. She could only imagine how much more disgusting this room would be if she could see it in full.

She quickly turned her attention to the next doorway. It led her into a far from ordinary bedroom. There was a mattress on the floor with something dark streaked all over it. There were also chains hanging from the ceiling with cuffs on the edges. Canes and whips leaned casually against the wall, along with a seemingly expensive camera on a tripod.

Autumn couldn’t tell in the dark what the streaks were on the bed but she could only imagine it was blood. She shivered at the thought. Her mind wandered to Maylee and a haunting image of her being chained up above a disgusting mattress in a repulsive old crack house. Autumn involuntarily conjured up the picture of her niece being whipped and beaten. The disgusting false image caused a cold sensation to take over her bloodstream, and her head to grow light.

She could taste the bile as it rose in her stomach and stopped at the base of her throat. Being here now seemed to cause every negative ‘what if’ thought she’d ever had about Maylee’s disappearance to resurface. It was all so real, front and center in a house that was supposed to belong to the lead suspect in Maylee’s case. With jittery fingers Autumn pulled out her phone and snapped a few pictures.

In the corner of this obvious torture room there was a small old plastic table with what looked like a shoe box sitting on top of it. Tip-toeing, Autumn slowly crept to a box and looked inside. There were a stack of photographs with a large rubber band holding them together. It was too dark to make out what they were pictures of, but it didn’t take much to imagine their contents.

Autumn tucked the stack against the skin of her chest, underneath her gun’s holster that was secured around her waist. She fastened them in tightly so they wouldn’t fall out. Giving them a thorough examination would have to wait until later, when she was safe in her own apartment.

The floor continued to creak as Autumn cautiously made her way back down the steps and to the basement door. A steady finger was held on the cold metal of her gun, as close as she could get it to the trigger without actually touching it. Jeremy taught her well, there’d be no accidental discharge of her weapon, not tonight. So far Autumn had lucked out. The crack house seemed empty of people, but the basement called to her next.

Securely in front of her Autumn held her gun, as she closed the distance between herself and the daunting basement door. She prayed that the culprit of the half eaten sandwich wouldn’t show up while she was down there, or worse, already be down there himself. The basement stairway was significantly darker than the rest of the house. She could hardly make out the last step.

When she reached the bottom she could see a small light shining from underneath a doorway at the end of an apparent hall. Autumn held her breath and very slowly walked toward it. The door was metal and locked from the outside, she gently placed an ear against it. There was a faint noise coming from inside, and Autumn strained to make out what it was. It sounded much like a wheezy breath, then a cough, followed by the soft moan of a girl in pain. Autumn’s heart sunk in her chest. Oh my God could it be her?

The cracked concrete floor threatened to swallow Autumn whole. Her nervous fingers reached for the lock, but she paused before flipping its latch. Who was behind this locked door, she wondered, what if the pained cougher wasn’t alone? Autumn waited for a few more moments with her ear pressed firmly against the cold metal. Then a quiet woman’s voice sounded from inside. It was raspy, pained, and dry… But not Mayle. A tear rolled down Autumn’s cheek, and her closing throat finally sucked in a lungful of the rancid smelling air.

DESCRIPTION:

Since Maylee was abducted from her high school the very month of graduation, her Aunt Autumn has never lost hope in finding her. It’s been three years. Autumn has finally reached inside herself and found the courage to track down an old lead. She moves across the country to find him. Will Autumn be able to pry Maylee’s case back open? More importantly, what will Autumn uncover in the process of searching for Maylee? It’s a cold dark world we live in, and she is about to find out just how cruel it can be. Strength and determination are on Autumn’s side and she will do what ever it takes.

#promo My Sweet Friend, by H. A. Leuschel @shanannigans81 @HALeuschel

MSF 2D High ResPublication Date: December 6, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction

A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives

A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?

Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.

But is Alexa all she claims to be?

As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?

In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

Goodreads

Lying is a symptom shared by the most convincing, cunning and ruthless individuals such as psychopaths and narcissistic manipulators. They have an invincible sense of self-importance and an addictive urge to project an image of power and perfection at all cost which are fuelled by the rewarding tools of charm, diversion and … clever deception.

Like anything in life, whether the skill is morally laudable or not, skills require training, effort and hard work. The danger lies in the brain progressively adapting to the dishonest behaviour and the longer the lies, the harder it would seem to be able to change the conditioning of one’s sensitivity to telling the truth. The truth and nothing but the truth or at the very least the intention to do so most of the time therefore appears to be a basic requirement for any interpersonal trust.

In my new stand-alone novella, I explore the idea that when crossing the line between truth or lie too often, it becomes a curse the person is eventually unable to shed … (H.A. Leuschel)

Excerpt

Summer-Hat_420x294

I was brushing my teeth the next morning when Alexa called, crying over another nasty phone call from her ex. I was running late as it was but was unable to stop her barrage of insults against a man I didn’t even know the name of.

‘He’s driving me absolutely insane. I’ve really had enough,’ I heard her shout, the heels of her shoes clicking on the pavement. She was clearly on her way to work while I was only slipping my feet into my shoes. It had been her second frantic call that morning.

‘Listen. Alexa, calm down. I understand you’re upset but I’ll be late if you don’t stop.’

‘I’m there for you when you need me but when I’m the one in need for once, you fob me off. Great, really nice, thanks.’ She hung up, leaving me in an angry sweat. I was her polar opposite – organized and calm – but lately I felt out of kilter myself. I’d missed out on seeing my mum because, for one reason or another, Alexa managed to ambush my attention.

When I eventually rushed through the office door, Alexa was looking up at me indifferently, in deep conversation with Jack, who tapped his watch with pursed lips and raised eyebrows. I lowered my eyes, my stomach heaving with repressed fury. Alexa had crawled under my skin yet I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why and how it had all come about.

Purchase My Sweet Friend Here!

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About the Author

HA Leuschel.jpg

Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches yoga.

Helene Leuschel | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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R&R Book Tours

My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel

Blog Tour Schedule

Feb. 19th

Reads & Reels (Feature Promo) http://www.readsandreels.com

Brizzle Lass Books (Excerpt) https://brizzlelassbooks.com

The Repeat Mom (Review) http://Thethreepeatmom.blogspot.com

Sinfully Wicked Reviews (Review) https://sinfullywickedbookreviews.wordpress.com

Nesie’s Place (Review) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Jill’s Book Blog (Review) https://jilljemmett.com

Feb. 20th

Books and Belle (Excerpt) https://booksandbelleblog.wordpress.com

Beware the Reader (Excerpt) http://bewareofthereader.com

Jenacidebybibliophile (Review) https://jenacidebybibliophile.com

Darque Dreamer Reads (Review) https://darquedreamerreads.wordpress.com

Cover to Cover (Excerpt) http://www.liisthinks.wordpress.com

Feb. 21st

Girl Masked (Review) http://girlmasked.wordpress.com

Didi Oviatt (Excerpt) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Book Reviews by Shalini (Excerpt) www.bookreviewsbyshalini.wordpress.com

The Starving Book Worm (Review) http://thestarvingbookworm.wordpress.com

Tranquil Dreams (Review) http://klling.wordpress.com

Feb. 22nd

Splashes Into Books (Review) http://splashesintobooks.wordpress.com

Kristin’s Novel Café (Review) https://knovelcafe.wordpress.com

The Bookworm Chronicles (Excerpt) https://www.muretbookworm.wordpress.com

Feb. 23rd

The Orangutan Librarian (Review) https://theorangutanlibrarian.wordpress.com

On the Shelf Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

Love Books Group (Review) http://lovebooksgroup.blog

Just 4 My Books (Review) https://just4mybooks.wordpress.com

 

Review: Danu, by T.L Harty (book 2 in the Line of Enya series) 5 stars

My Review:

The Line of Enya saga is off to a great start. I really enjoyed the first book, Behold Ellowee, and in my opinion this second one is even better! Having the second book in a series actually top the first book is so rare. I couldn’t be any more thrilled that T. L. Harty actually accomplished this task. The content flows from where the first book left off, weaving everything together seamlessly.

Danu has everything, from suspense to family drama to love, and more. It’s also rich in historical culture. Taking what was in many different countries and weaving in it’s own magical past. This braids fiction right along with factual happenings, making the entire story have a real believable feel to it. Also, it’s appropriate for all ages, teen and up!

In the first book Muriel is coming of age and discovering the magical secret heritage that’s thick in her bloodline. She fights it, and wants nothing but a normal life despite how strong her visions are and how powerful she has the potential to be. In Danu, Muriel has come to terms and begins a training on how to apply herself, as well as honing in on what this may mean in her future. The entire book is like a pivotal point in Muriel’s life, and the build up to continue onto the next book is excellent!  I can’t wait to read book three.

One thing I love about Muriel is her wit. The banter in this series is awesome. Muriel is sarcastic and so is her daughter, Deidra, which adds in a little humor and makes the reader feel tied to the characters. I also love how patient Deidra is with her bull headed mom. They’re quite the pare, leaning on and trusting each other.

The story goes back and forth from past to present, just like the first book. It tells of Muriel’s travels with her Grammy as well as her interactions as a teen. All of which is necessary to the story as a whole. Everything blends together, and sets the chain of events to come in play. I was glad to read more about Grammy. The time Muriel spent being raised by the mysterious old bird was imperative, so the story wouldn’t have held near the esteem without her.

Much of the setting of this book is in a beautiful castle, and there are a slew of new characters introduced. Most of which have an abundance of powers of their own. Muriel and Diedra spend some time learning from each of the gifted women. They learn much about their past, and it finishes up with a gigantic surprise!

 

Description:

Muriel is whisked away, safely nestled in Danu castle so she can’t be found.

Still coming to terms with her abilities, she begins to understand their importance, and gains more insight about her ancestry, as historical errors are revealed in a powerful way.

With so much to learn and loved ones to protect, she can’t afford to ignore the inevitable responsibility of her lineage.
Muriel is destined to complete the Council, which has been missing the Line of Enya seat for over 500 years.

Sometimes, life has to fall apart before it can finally come together.

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