Monday 31 August 2015

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon

The Summer of SecretsThe Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Publisher - Black Swan

Pages - 352

Blurb from Goodreads

In the summer of 1983, when Helen is sixteen, Victoria Dover and her eccentric family move in next door, at once making her lonely world a more thrilling place. But the summer ends with a terrible tragedy, and everyone involved – her father and the entire Dover family – simply disappears.

Then one day, thirty years later, Victoria comes back.

My Review

Sixteen year old Helen is lonely and bored when the Dover family come crashing into her garden and life. She quickly becomes enamoured with the family, particularly Victoria, they build a friendship which comes crashing to an abrupt end and the family disappear. Years later Helen sees Victoria which sees her flipping back to the past and recounting their meeting, leading up to that night. Can Helen get her answers to what happened that night and everything that followed?

This is a tale about friendship, intrigue, personal growth, secrets and families. Helen is a young lonely girl that quickly becomes enveloped in the strange family who appear during the summer of '83. Her mother has left, her father is neglectful and more concerned with his boat and drink than Helen. A story of growth and friendship, from the point of view of a young teenager and what can happen when things go wrong of a night.

The story is interesting and you know there is a reveal however you wait a while to get there. The focus is on the budding relationships and Helen's personal growth, it was just a bit too much teen angst style for me. So many people have loved this book, I liked it and felt the whole thing is tied up nicely which I always think is a good thing, there was just a little oomph missing for me. This is my first time reading this author and I would certainly read her again, 3/5 for me this time, thanks so much to Ben at Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

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Sunday 30 August 2015

Giveaway linked with Book Connectors Tour - Holly's Christmas Kiss by Alison May

Today is my turn for the first leg of the book tour with TripFiction and BookConnectors. If you missed it, here is my post with Q&A with Alison May and a wee bit about what the tour is all about.

Here is my review of Holly's Christmas Kiss by Alison May. I bought this book as I hate doing any kind of interview or anything without having read the author myself, this is my first tour ever.

As a result I have decided to do a wee giveaway to link in with it, well that and the fact I posted my part a wee bit later than I meant to, I slept for 13 hours :O and posted a wee bit later than had planned.

Anyways, the giveaway is for an Amazon voucher to cover the cost of the ebook of Holly's Christmas Kiss, it is a novella and a nice wee read. The competition is only live for a few days, once done if you are selected the winner, I will email you the voucher for the value of £1.25 which is what the book price is at the time of posting.

As it is an ebook, the only requirements you need to enter is you follow the option(s) provided in the Rafflecopter, the more you complete the more entries you have. Open to all, good luck and as always, thank you for stopping by.

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Around The World with #BookConnectors & Trip Fiction - Welcome Alison May

The Around The World Blog Tour is a partnership between TripFiction and #BookConnectors ~ bloggers and authors, travelling the world, through fiction.

TripFiction was created to make it easy to match a location with a book and help you select good literature that is most pertinent and relevant to your trip. A resource for armchair and actual travellers, it is a unique way of exploring a place through the eyes of an author. We blog, and chat books and travel across Social Media, and love to meet authors and bloggers as we take our literary journey.

Book Connectors was created as a place on Facebook for Bloggers, Authors and small Publishers to share their news.
We encourage book promotions; information about competitions and giveaways; news of events, including launch events, signings, talks or courses. Talk about new signings, about film deals .... anything really.
Book Connectors is a friendly group, there are no rules or guidelines - just be polite and respectful to each other.

I never do blog tours, however as this is from #BookConnectors and the first leg in Scotland, I could not resist. I got paired up with Alison May.

About Alison Alison is a novelist and short story writer who grew up in North Yorkshire, and now lives in Worcester. She worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, a freelance trainer, and now a maker-upper of stories. She won the RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge trophy in 2012, and her short stories have been published by Harlequin and Black Pear Press. Alison now writes romantic comedies for Choc Lit. Her first novel, Sweet Nothing, was published in 2013. You can find out more about Alison at or by following her on Twitter @MsAlisonMay

About Alison’s Books:
Alison is the author of the 21st Century Bard and Christmas Kisses series of emotionally-driven rom-coms.
21st Century Bard Books
Sweet Nothing (ebook November 2013, print August 2015)
Midsummer Dreams (ebook June 2015)

Christmas Kisses Books
Holly’s Christmas Kiss (ebook December 2013)
Cora’s Christmas Kiss (ebook December 2014)

About Holly’s Christmas Kiss
Happy Holidays? Not for Michelle… Holly Michelle Jolly hates Christmas and she has a good reason to. Apart from her ridiculously festive name which made her the brunt of jokes at school, tragic and unfortunate events have a habit of happening to her around the holiday season. And this year is no different.
After the flight to her once-in-a-lifetime holiday destination is cancelled, Michelle faces the prospect of a cold and lonely Christmas. That is, until she meets Sean Munro. Sean loves Christmas, and he wants to share the magic with Michelle.
With Sean’s help, can Michelle experience her first happy Christmas, or will their meeting just result in another year of memories that she’d rather forget?
Learn to love Christmas all over again with this fun romance that’s guaranteed to get you cracking out the Baileys and Quality Street early!

What inspired you to write and why start with a Christmas tale? Holly’s Christmas Kiss was the second book I wrote, and came out just a few days after my first full-length novel. I chose to write a Christmas story basically because I LOVE Christmas. There are presents and food and tinsel and food and then more food. Christmas is awesome, and writing a book can be tricky, so you might as well write about things you really enjoy.

How did you choose your locations?
The locations in Holly’s Christmas Kiss go with the characters. I always knew that I wanted Sean, the hero, to be Scottish. In my head he’d be played by a young Ewan McGregor. So if your hero is Scottish and part of the action is set at his family home, then that really has to be in Scotland. Part of the novella is specifically set in Edinburgh. As soon as I knew the story would take the characters to Scotland, I knew I wanted part of it to be in Edinburgh. It’s one of my favourite places in the world – I’m actually typing this just a couple of days after getting home from a trip to the Fringe. And Edinburgh in the run-up to Christmas is particularly fantastic.

I have only read “Holly’s Christmas Kiss” for someone who has never read your books, where do you suggest they start and why?
Well I’ve published books in two series at the moment – the ‘21st Century Bard’ series which are full-length contemporary rom-coms inspired by Shakespeare comedies, and the ‘Christmas Kisses’ series which are festive novellas, starting with Holly’s Christmas Kiss. All of my books stand alone though even when they’re part of a series, so you can start wherever you like! My most recent book, which would make as good a place to start as any, is Midsummer Dreams which is a rom com about four people, with four messy lives and the one night that changes everything.

Do you write a particular genre? Would you ever go outside it and which genre would you pick?
I usually write romantic comedies, and I love writing about love and relationships, but I’m really interested in writing about some of the darker elements of love and relationships – what happens when happy ever after doesn’t quite last forever? My current work-in-progress actually isn’t a romance; it’s a story about a woman who claims she’s psychic and it deals with some very dark issues around parenthood and loss.

Who inspires you and who are your holiday reads?
I’m inspired by so many of the fabulous authors that I get to meet through the Romantic Novelists’ Association – Janet Gover, Julie Cohen, Jane Lovering, Kate Johnson, Katie Fforde – I could carry on that list forever! It’s just brilliant to get to spend time with other writers who are just out there writing and selling books and generally being awesome. My favourite holiday read author at the moment is Emily Barr. I adore Emily Barr but I ration her books so I try to only read a one or two each year so I don’t run out! I read The First Wife on holiday last week and it’s fantastic. Cuban Heels is another of hers that I completely adore.

What research do you do for your books? Does it vary depending on what your writing?
I hate research! I did a degree in History which involves lots of research so you’d think I’d enjoy the research elements of writing, but actually I do everything I can to avoid having to do in-depth research. Every now and then I have an idea for a historical novel, and I quickly abandon them because the research seems far too much like hard work.

Do you ever base characters on people you know? No! Definitely not. Absolutely not. *flicks nervously through all the books she’s written to make sure*

What next for you?
I’m just finishing my first non-romance novel, and after that I’ll be starting on my third 21st Century Bard story. I haven’t 100% decided what that’s going to be yet, but I’ve got a stack of Shakespeare comedies on DVD waiting for me to get time to sit down and watch a few to see what inspirations strike!

Holly's Christmas Kiss is out now to buy on Amazon prime for free or for £1.15, for the Kindle. Thanks for your time Alison, Thank you so much to Anne Cater, Anne Williams, Leah Moyse & TripFiction for making this tour possible. Apologies this is a bit later in the day, one slept through ones alarm whoops.

Sunday 23 August 2015

13 Bullets by David Wellington

13 Bullets (Laura Caxton, #1)13 Bullets by David Wellington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days

Publisher - Piatkus

Pages - 373

Blurb from Goodreads

All the official reports say they are dead-extinct since the late '80s, when a fed named Arkeley nailed the last vampire in a fight that nearly killed him. But the evidence proves otherwise.
When a state trooper named Caxton calls the FBI looking for help in the middle of the night, it is Arkeley who gets the assignment-who else? He's been expecting such a call to come eventually. Sure, it has been years since any signs of an attack, but Arkeley knows what most people don't: there is one left. In an abandoned asylum she is rotting, plotting, and biding her time in a way that only the undead can.
Caxton is out of her league on this case and more than a little afraid, but the fed made it plain that there is only one way out. But the worst thing is the feeling that the vampires want more than just her blood. They want her for a reason, one she can't guess; a reason her sphinxlike partner knows but won't say; a reason she has to find out-or die trying.
Now there are only 13 bullets between Caxton and Arkeley and the vampires. There are only "13 bullets" between us, the living, and them, the damned.

My Review

Well, this was a vampire tale with a bit of a difference. The vampires are not like vamps as we know them, well not any I have watched or read about. They are most powerful when they feed, totally vulnerable when they sleep. They have hypnotic powers of control, ok this has been mostly popular throughout the years, they require you to self terminate to aid the turn. Just a few things that are new compared to the books I have read. Agent Arkeley has dealt with them before and only just made it out, this time he enlists the help of State Trooper Laura Caxton to defeat the new rising of vampires. By why her, why are the undead and half undead interested in her, why is Arkeley so invested in killing their one true master?

I liked and disliked this story probably in equal measures which is why I fenced it with a 3/5. It is always interesting to get a fresh spin on tales that have been around for years however some of it really annoyed me. If the vampires are so indestructible at certain times, why do they not overcome their subjects quicker? Why are not all made full vampires, why do the half deads flit between ferocious and cowardly? Why is there a need for self termination, I think for me, I needed more on the curse and the how and why of it.

There are quite a few themes in the book, the killings and blood lust are quite graphic in parts so not for the faint hearted. There are paintings with body fluid, lesbianism features strongly for one of the characters which, I understood for two scenes but otherwise there was no huge contribution to the tale, unless I missed subtle undertones?

There are more tales in this series and whilst I would read them, I won't be rushing out to buy them. I would love to know more about Arkeley right enough and Malvern so I would certainly read them if they came my way. I have read Wellington before, his zombie trilogy which I definitely prefer however I think this series does have potential.

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Thursday 20 August 2015

Blood Axe by Leigh Russell

Blood Axe (DS Ian Peterson Murder Investigation)Blood Axe by Leigh Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Publisher - No Exit Press

Pages - 317 (proof copy)

Blurb from Goodreads

Blood Axe is the latest crime novel by bestselling author, Leigh Russell. 'Silently dipping his oars in the water he made his escape. It was a weary journey, with few spoils to show for it. Next time he would do better. He looked back over his shoulder. The bridge had disappeared, swallowed up by the darkness. From its walkway he too had become invisible. Only the bloody body of a woman showed he had been roaming the streets that night.' DI Ian Peterson investigates a series of gruesome and brutal murders in York. As the body count mounts, the case demands all Ian's ingenuity, because these are murders seemingly committed at random, and this is a killer who leaves no clues. If you love Jeffery Deaver or Lee Child, you’ll love Leigh Russell!

My Review

Firsty, on the page across from the opening of the story is a glossary of acronyms, I love this. There are so many books that have them and even if it tells you early on, sometimes you forget what they stand for, this aids the reader and enjoyment of the story, well it did for me.

The tale opens with the warrior, on the look for his target, any target that meets the requirements - with his axe. He finds a target and launches a brutal attack before carefully and silently slipping into the darkness, leaving blood and horror in his wake. DI Ian Peterson is on the case, soon another body is found and it becomes clear someone needs to stop this maniac and soon. Whilst dealing with a killer and trying to discover a motive, Peterson is having some marital troubles to contend with also. Can he find and stop this killer whilst simultaneously managing his personal life or will it all prove too much for DI Peterson?

I have read a few books from Russell although they have been the Steel series, whilst this is the third in the DI Peterson series I don't think I am at a loss starting here. The chapters alternate between the killer and his hunt to the police and their investigation. It works well and the story runs smoothly, the murder weapon is an axe so if you have a weak stomach this may be a tad much for you, it is not overly gory however I feel an fyi is warranted.

The pace is well set, you not only have the investigation, the murder and any related characters linked to both you also have the personal side of DI Peterson. Moving to a new town has strained his relationship and from the off you pick up on that. It gives insight into what goes on out with a serious police investigation and what officers have to contend with and still remain focused. It doesn't detract from the story, in fact I think it helps to give more connection to your characters. There are some twists and shocks along the way which just gave some more oomph to the story I feel. 4/5 for me this time, I must say I have enjoyed this book the most of all the ones I have read & may even seek out the earlier ones in the series. Thanks to RealReaders for offering me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review, this book is available to buy now from all good retailers.

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Wednesday 19 August 2015

Crash & Burn by Lisa Gardner

Crash & BurnCrash & Burn by Lisa Gardner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 368

Publisher - Headline

Blurb from Goodreads

My name is Nicky Frank.

I'm in hospital, afraid. All I can think about is Vero. I have to save her but I can't find her. She's just a little girl.

The man by my bed tells me we're married and there is no Vero. He says that six months ago I suffered a brain injury, that I have dramatic mood swings and large gaps in my memory. I get angry and I drink. All of which explains the car crash that put me here.

Now a Sergeant Wyatt Foster has questions about the accident. He has concerns about my husband. And he's worried about a missing girl.

He would like to know what happened to me. So would I.

This is my life. Watch me crash and burn.

My Review

My name is Nicky Frank.

I'm in hospital, afraid. All I can think about is Vero. I have to save her but I can't find her. She's just a little girl.

The man by my bed tells me we're married and there is no Vero. He says that six months ago I suffered a brain injury, that I have dramatic mood swings and large gaps in my memory. I get angry and I drink. All of which explains the car crash that put me here.

Now a Sergeant Wyatt Foster has questions about the accident. He has concerns about my husband. And he's worried about a missing girl.

He would like to know what happened to me. So would I.

This is my life. Watch me crash and burn.

My Review

Nicky Frank is our main character, chapters where she is talking is in first person. When we are in chapters with the investigators it is in third person narration. This sounds like it could be a bit jumpy but it actually works quite well and compliments the story. The first line of the tale is "I died once", this is Nicky and we are immediately flung into her losing control of her car. She crashed and manages to seek out help, but they must find Vero, her little girl. As the police assess the area and start the search for Vero, things aren't quite what they seemed and Nicky comes under scrutiny.

This is a fast paced, thriller mystery type read. We soon discover Nicky has suffered from a traumatic brain injury from a few months back and since then hasn't been herself. She is fixated on Vero, her husband tries to deal with her erratic behaviour and the police are suspicious. There is more than meets the eye with this couple and the police won't rest until they discover what is going on.

The story draws you in from the first chapter, when Nicky is narrating, your unsure how much you can rely on. She seems troubled, her memory is impaired and Vero just won't go away. As the story whirls along, we discover fragments of information and a sense of danger to go with it.

I am sure I have read Gardner before and I will definitely be reading her again. 4/5 for me, thanks to the publisher for sending me this in exchange for an honest review. This book is available to buy now, from all good book stores.

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Sunday 16 August 2015

Evidence of Murder: A Twisted Killers Trail of Violence by Samuel Roen

Evidence Of Murder: A Twisted Killer's Trail of ViolenceEvidence Of Murder: A Twisted Killer's Trail of Violence by Samuel Roen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 10 days

Publisher - Pinnacle

Pages - 320

Blurb from Goodreads

This horrifying true crime tale chronicles the events leading up to the arrest of career criminal John Huggins for the brutal murder of Carla Ann Larson in Orlando, Florida in 1997: After the crime was featured on America's Most Wanted, a tip led to Huggins's estranged wife, Angel. What Angel had to say led to her husband's arrest.

My Review

Carla Ann Larson went missing when she left work to pick up some food at lunch, her naked body is found and the investigation really gets underway. Once going cold, the police get new leads and arrest their man. The book follows the before, during and after investigation and then the trial of John Huggins, the man believed to be responsible for the brutal killing of Carla Ann. The book has crime scene photographs, photos of the investigating officers and persons relating to the case. Huggins maintains his innocence, the evidence is overwhelming, read it and see which side you stand on.

I can't say I liked the way this book was written if I am honest, some of the way it was told was bulky, matter of fact and even cold in parts. One of the crime scene photographs actually shows one of the limbs of Carla Ann sticking out from the area her body was dumped. You do often get things like this in true crime books, however I feel it only fair to warn the potential readers it is there.

You feel for the family and the senseless brutality Carla Ann must have endured, it is a hard read in some places due to the descriptive scenes relived in the telling of Carla Anns case and the other mentioned in this book. If you like to read about murder investigations with descriptive chat from the officers and others involved in the case, you may well like this book, 3/5 for me this time. I hadn't heard of this horrible crime before or the other one mentioned, it's also different to read the crime investigation from the points and conversations of those involved, officers, civilians and the accused.

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Friday 14 August 2015

Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen

Playing with FirePlaying with Fire by Tess Gerritsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 288

Publisher - Ballantine Books

Blurb from Goodreads

A beautiful violinist is haunted by a very old piece of music she finds in a strange antique shop in Rome.

The first time Julia Ansdell picks up The Incendio Waltz, she knows it’s a strikingly unusual composition. But while playing the piece, Julia blacks out and awakens to find her young daughter implicated in acts of surprising violence. And when she travels to Venice to find the previous owner of the music, she uncovers a dark secret that involves dangerously powerful people—a family who would stop at nothing to keep Julia from bringing the truth to light.

My Review

I read the ebook of this so I am not sure how the printed version will work but I feel I must mention a few things. The chapters are split between Julia and Lorenzo, present day Julia & Lorenzo is in Venice just before and then during, World War 2. The page for the start of the chapters have music note paper along with either Julia or Lorenzos name, earmarking whose chapter it is. The beginning of the book, before the story starts, has a beautiful old black and white photograph, I may be able to post it with this onto the actual blog post.

Julia find herself a piece of music whilst in Rome, when she plays it, on her violin, her daughter becomes violent. Julia is becoming increasing anxious and finds herself being under scrutiny by her family and health care professionals. She needs to get to the bottom of this piece, where did it come from and why is it stirring up so much trouble.

Lorenzo is a magnificent violinist, he creates music, is successful and falling in love. However Lorenzo finds himself in the times of the reign of Hitler and from his family being respected and part of the community, to shunned and at the hands of the Germans. The stories flip between Julia & Lorenzo, then and now & a dangerous path Julia can't get off of to get to the end of her goal.

I don't know what I expected of this book, I love Tess Gerritsen, especially Rizzoli/Isles so I requested this without reading the blurb. Then when I realised it was about music I was like oh no, I won't like this. However, the music, whilst is a big part of the story, it isn't the whole part. Family dynamics, murder, secrets, World War 2, mass murder, love, friendship and illness to cover just some of the issues covered in this story.

I could have read this in one sitting, I think Gerritsen has captured such a horrific subject, from Lorenzo's time frame and done it well. There are some big twists you don't see coming and the storytelling draws you in. There is an encounter with animal cruelty, some of the scenes from Lorenzo's time are harrowing so just a heads up for people who find such things upsetting. That said it is a very good story, I just wish it had been longer. 4/5 for me this time, thanks so much to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday 4 August 2015

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

Pretty BabyPretty Baby by Mary Kubica
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 384

Publisher - MIRA

Blurb from Goodreads

A chance encounter sparks an unrelenting web of lies in this stunning new psychological thriller from national bestselling author Mary Kubica

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can't get the girl out of her head...

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family's objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow's past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she's willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.

My Review

Heidi is a helper, she can't help but reach out to people and try and assist them, both in her job and out with. She spots a young bedraggled girl at the train station with a baby and feels compelled to help her. Knowing nothing about her she offers her shelter in her home with her husband and own daughter. Willow could have any kind of past but with her baby Ruby and Heidi's own tragic past she can't resist bringing them into her life, but to what cost?

The chapters are split between Heidi, her husband Chris and Willow. Willow flits from present day to the past and we find out slowly why she was on the streets with her baby. Chris, we find out a lot about Heidi from him and Heidi, poor sweet Heidi, her story unfolds as we delve deeper into what transpires and how things start to unravel as Heidi tries to help Willow and is drawn to Ruby.

The story definitely pulls you in, you want to know where it is going to go and how the family cope with these two "kids" being dumped into their life. I did get a little frustrated at times, especially with some of Willows story trying to work out what was going on. The end also felt a bit sudden and unexpected which, has been well received by many readers and of course is a personal preference. This is the second book I have read by Kubica and I will certainly read anymore she writes, for me I think I would enjoy this one more the second time round. Enthralling, intriguing, sad, some tales of abuse that some readers may find disturbing and infidelity are just some of the issues covered in this tale. 3/5 for me this time, thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Additional Giveaway

Well Twitter has updated me that I have hit 1,500 followers. That, I feel, is pretty awesome. Mostly fellow book lovers I might add and a few of others that like the other random stuff I post about.

I started this blog because I kept buying books I found I had already read, linking to Goodreads I now sidestep that and can save my pennies for books I have yet to read.

So, I am doing a wee additional giveaway (already have this months giveaway listed, one £5 Amazon voucher), as a thank you. It is a brand new copy of A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. This one is the cover from the movie, I actually haven't seen it yet and as per my review, I wasn't overly enamored with this book.

That said, loads loved it and I actually had two copies at one point, the pic shown, photo bombed by the Princess, is the one up for grabs

This competition will run for roughly about one week, open to all. Please follow the instructions from the Rafflecopter, the more entries you do the more entries you will have. Good luck and, as always, thanks for stopping by.

EDITED TO ADD, would help if I actually added the Rafflecopter, lol, apologies! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday 2 August 2015

August Competition is here

A £5 Amazon voucher. Open to all, you just need an amazon account and fill out the Rafflecopter below. The more entries you complete the more chances you have entered to win.

As always, the competition runs until the end of the month, good luck if your entering.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Well from I first started reviewing

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