Book Review: SPIN by K.J. Farnham

SPIN by K.J. Farnham

A Young Adult Novel published by K J Farnham Publishing LLC (04/11/19)

Summary:

Jenna Kemp likes to run and hang out with her three best friends at the local park. She is your average teenager, but she is also hiding a huge secret. She has succeeded in pushing down her secrets so deep that she can live her daily life in peace, but those secrets will slowly bubble to the surface. Jenna will try anything to numb the pain, from nighttime pain meds to weed and alcohol. Her friends don’t understand why she is spinning out of control until the day Jenna doesn’t come home one night and her years of secrets begin to unravel.

Keywords:

Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse, Teenagers, Drugs, Alcohol, Parties, Friendship, Love, Missing Teenager, Diary, Teen Angst, Anger, Emotions, Family, Runner, High School, Blame, Guilt, Shame

My Review:

Spin was incredibly riveting. I was entirely engrossed in the book from the first chapter. What happened to Jenna? What will happen to Jenna? I had to find out and I was not disappointed in the ending. The plot was incredibly well paced and Farnham breaks up the narrative into two time periods: before Jenna’s disappearance and after Jenna’s disappearance. Slowly the days count up and down until they finally meet in the end with the exciting conclusion that answers all the questions.

Jenna Kemp was incredibly well written. Her diary entries seemed a little too polished for a teenager going through emotional torture and turmoil, but her actions and thoughts were very realistic. Her friends’ reactions and thoughts were also incredibly realistic. Their guilt after Jenna’s disappearance is so heartfelt. The emotions that Farnham describes are so authentic that I felt like Keely, Dustin, Delaney, and Leighton could be real people.

The interactions with the police felt real. The interactions between Jenna’s parents and her were also incredibly well written. I loved getting all the different perspectives. Each character had a unique personality and connection to Jenna.

Jenna herself was complex. From the outside she appears like a troubled and rebellious teenager. When you get inside her head and see what she writes in her diary entries, you see her for the adult that she truly is and the baggage that is slowing her down, overwhelming her at times, and growing heavier and heavier through her repeated exposures to her childhood sexual trauma.

The writing style is incredibly polished and this book is the best one of Farnham’s to date. I’m very excited for what she writes next.

This novel was published by K J Farnham Publishing LLC on 04/11/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Goodreads

K.J. Farnham’s Website

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Book Review: The Triskaidek (Camp Fae Book 1) by Basil Sprig

The Triskaidek (Camp Fae Book 1) by Basil Sprig

A Coming of Age YA Fantasy Novel published by CreateSpace (06/13/10)

Summary:

“Fairy magic makes things work in predictable ways, but you can’t always find the line between what is magic and what is just nature.”

On the thirteenth day of the thirteenth month of her thirteenth year, Alley is swept up in the magic of her Thirteenth. Then a magical creature shows up on her doorstep. Then her mom finds her a camp to go to for the summer: Camp Fae. Coincidence or are they related to her Thirteenth?

Keywords:

Magic, Sunbird, Elements, Learning, Fairy, Fae, Summer Camp, Leader, Escape, Evil, Power, Time Travel, Mission, Friends, Friendship, Betrayal, Helping, Together, Crafts

My Review:

Triskaidek is a cute yet full-bodied story with complex characters, a rich magical world, and an overarching plot.

I loved how well-developed all the magic details were in this story. I liked the specificity for learning different types of magic, even though Alley didn’t always follow the recipes. I loved how there are two approaches to magic – through hard work and dedication to the recipes and history and knowledge and then the intuitive type. Some fairies are naturally talented (intuitive) for certain magic, like invisibility, and others have to work and work for years and years on a type of magic in order to learn it (flying). The magic is also quite organic and the fairies are left to learn on their own time in their own way to earn ‘badges.’ To earn a badge is to show proficiency in a specific type of magic (like Flying 1).

I enjoyed all the characters, especially Alley. She is clever but magically ‘clumsy’ since she is new to doing magic. She doesn’t always realize or know the consequences of using her magic prior to intuitively using her magic! This results in problems for Alley and the entire camp. Not only that, but Alley must earn badges even though following a recipe for doing magic doesn’t come naturally to her and she must figure out how to do the mission the Sunbird gave her before going to Camp Fae. I would have liked to see more of Alley’s flaws, but I really liked her point of view.

Anyone who read and loved the Harry Potter series, will definitely enjoy The Triskaidek.

This novel was published by CreateSpace  on 06/13/2010 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

2019 April Goals – Accountability, Check in, and Falling Behind…

I knew April would be busy, since I scheduled a family vacation and two book selling events (one happening over the course of an entire weekend). Being so busy has made me realize even more how much I value having free time to get all the little tasks of the day done. I like having a clean and organized house. I like being able to work in the backyard clearing out the weeds. I like starting and finishing little household projects (like my future project of re-growing lettuce). I like relaxing in bed for 30 minutes during the day, reading a book or working on my Rosetta Stone.

April has pushed me behind on a few of my projects and I hope to catch up in May!

I have also realized that traveling makes zero-waste endeavors very difficult and points out how inconvenient they can be. I was able to visit the Recology Store and gather a few wanted zero-waste supplies last month and I put them to good use in April. I found a handy Kishu charcoal water bottle filter that I took with my empty 32oz Camelbak water bottle to my trip to Florida. I filled it up at the airport and while I was walking around all day in Florida. I will be taking both on my upcoming trip to Colorado. I really liked having the 32oz water bottle (at home I use a 24oz).

The recology store also had a child’s kit of to-go bamboo silverware that I couldn’t say no to as it is the perfect size for me and I have it in my purse bag. I love this set!

My ongoing and future projects:

  1. Make my own laundry detergent or source a better alternative
  2. Line dry my clothes instead of using the dryer (when we have sun again)
  3. Stop my junk mail
  4. Get/Make/Source reusable cloth napkins and store in a usable location for both upstairs and downstairs
  5. Source facial lotion
  6. Source a toothpaste tablets/powder I like? I might table this one as I really like my toothpaste and am unsure this swap would be worth it

Do you have any other ideas I should consider to reduce my waste?


As far as fitness goals go: Nothing to report…


Turkish language progress:

I am on top of the Anki cards – both creating them and studying 50 cards per day (I missed two days so far). I’ve created the first 250 vocabulary words as well as my word-a-day words and words from the Rosetta Stone Units. As far as Rosetta Stone, I’m only on lesson 24/39 for Unit 5 and will work to catch up and move to Unit 6 this first week in May.

April 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 5, Anki cards Unit 5, word of the day, first 250 of the top 625 in Anki cards, create 25 vocabulary cards
May 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 6, Anki cards Unit 6, word of the day, first 500 of the top 625 in Anki cards, create 25 vocabulary cards
June 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 7, Anki cards Unit 7, word of the day, all top 625 in Anki cards, create 25 vocabulary cards
July 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 8, Anki cards Unit 8, word of the day, top 800 words in Turkish in Anki cards, Vocab cards for first half of the grammar book, purchase a monolingual dictionary
August 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 9, Anki cards Unit 9, word of the day, top 1000 words in Turkish in Anki cards, 25 vocab cards,
September 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 10, Anki cards Unit 10, word of the day, 25 specialized vocab in Turkish in Anki cards, 25 vocab cards, read 1/2 a book and follow audio book in Turkish
October 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 11, Anki cards Unit 10, word of the day, 25 specialized vocab in Turkish in Anki cards, 25 vocab cards, finish 1/2 a book and follow audio book in Turkish
November 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 12, Anki cards Unit 10, word of the day, 25 specialized vocab in Turkish in Anki cards, 25 vocab cards, take a placement test? Take a vocabulary test?


My main goal for the year was to save as much money as possible! I’m doing this by earning more money, spending less money, and investing the money that I do have. Here is my monthly budget spreadsheet and a brief breakdown for how March went.

Categories $$ to spend 19-Jan 19-Feb 19-Mar 19-Apr
Take home pay *** *** *** ***
Earnings *** *** *** ***
Total Earnings   *** *** *** ***
Rent 700 same  same same same
Phone 45 same same same same
Car 300 Over Over Under under
Travel 100 Under  0 0 90.05
Housing Supplies 25 0  Over Under 105.52 (sharpened knives and got zero-waste supplies)
Health & Wellness 60 0 Over Under 113
Writing 25 Over Over 0 14.42 (e-books)
Charity/art 25 Over  15 Under 32
Entertainment 70 Over  20.95 Over 66.33
Fitness Classes 75 Over  0 30 0
Food – eating out 100 179.98  96.00 185.03 251.16 (Travel to FL)
Food – groceries 400 575.47 324.88 444 608.48 (travel to FL)
Misc. 50 47.92  92.03 660 (put my tax prep and a present in this category) 1.60
Total Spent  <50% 55% 42% 48% 47%
Total Savings 2080 Over Over Over Over

I was traveling with family this month and spent a lot more on food than normal and was also not able to make as much side income, but I still did really well as no unexpected emergencies came up.

What are your goals and how are you meeting them this month?

Here is my January goal check in blog post!

Here is my February goal check in blog post!

Here is my March goal check in blog post!

Book Review: The Pirate’s Booty (Inventor-in-Training #1) by D.M. Darroch

The Pirate’s Booty (Inventor-in-Training #1) by D.M. Darroch

A Middle Grade Action-Adventure-Time Travel Novel published by Sleepy Cat Press (04/19/15)

Summary:

“Angus Clark was an inventor in training. He had a business card to prove it.”

Angus Clark thinks of himself as an inventor-in-training. His newest creation is the Insect Incinerator. His first tests have zapped some cones out of existence. Excited for the implications of his invention, Angus races back to the garage (his lab), but drops his invention and accidentally zaps himself out of his own dimension. Now Angus has to figure out a way to fix the Incinerator and get back to his own house, but he’s out on the water aboard the pirate vessel The Fearsome Flea and everyone seems to think his name is BP. What happened and how did he get there? Also, why is Ivy (a goody goody from school) in this dimension with him? Angus will have to use his inventiveness, along with the help of new friends to solve the multi-dimension problem.

Keywords:

Time Travel, Alternate Dimension, Science, Technology, Invention, Messy, Pirate, Parrot, Problem Solving, Teamwork, Humor, Misadventure, Building, Boat, Motor, Ship

My Review:

This was one of the most exciting middle grade novels I have read in a while. Angus has created quite a problem for himself and must figure out a way to fix it, but along the way meets some interesting characters with their own problems. I really enjoyed how all their problems tied together so that the solution will help to solve all the problems.

I admired Angus and his ability to solve problems. He wasn’t able to fix everything the first time and he wasn’t able to fix everything by himself. This book dealt with problem solving and coming up with creative solutions, sometimes together. I adored the way Angus and the Captain played with toys to figure out the mechanics of a motor. They went about it very logically, tallying the results across several dimensions and using that research to make something else that was the best it could be. Angus isn’t an inventor-in-training, he is without a doubt, a real inventor. The whole time he is positive despite the potential direness of the situation.

I very much enjoyed the parallel story of BP, who Angus bumped out of the pirate ship and transported into his place among the suburbs. BP, a pirate, has to learn a few lessons of his own before Angus has figured out how to put everyone back in their rightful places. Except, in the end, not everyone is in their rightful place and the story must go on! I look forward to reading more adventures with Angus and Ivy.

This novel was published by Sleepy Cat Press on 04/19/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

D.M. Darroch’s Website

Goodreads

Local Event Alert! Indie Bookstore Day – Author Signing

It’s happening again! Seattle Independent Bookstore Day is this Saturday, April 27 at participating local bookstores!!!
I’ll be participating at the Neverending Bookshop in Edmonds this year from 12-2. Here is the schedule at the Neverending Bookshop:
9 – 11: Valerie Stein
10 – 12: James Macon
12 – 2: Rachel Barnard
2 – 4: Karen Eisenbrey and Mikko

What Is Seattle Independent Bookstore Day?

When Independent Bookstore Day went national in 2015 (after its founding in 2014 by booksellers in Northern California was a rousing success), Seattle’s indie bookstores collaborated to showcase what we do best: build human connections through physical books, in a daylong celebration of the work we do and the readers and customers who make it possible. We offered many of the same events and exclusive items as our colleagues across the country, but we also introduced the Passport Challenge, encouraging readers to get their passports stamped at as many participating stores as possible on Bookstore Day. Those who get their passports stamped at every participating store that day are crowned Grand Champions, with a crown, a party, and best of all, a 25% discount at all participating stores for the following year. We admit we have been stunned by the response: in our first year, we weren’t sure if anyone would complete the full Passport Challenge, but we crowned 42 Grand Champions. In 2017, our third year, the number of Grand Champions, all of whom visited 19 stores from Poulsbo to Kirkland to Queen Anne to Georgetown in a single day, exploded to 320, and in 2018 our total number of Champions increased yet again, to nearly 500. We’re hoping for even more in 2019!

Norwescon! This Thursday through Sunday in Seattle

Catch books by local authors Sheri J. Kennedy, Rachel Barnard, Victoria Bastedo, Kennedy J. Quinn, and Jeffrey Cook at Norwescon later this week.

Norwescon.org

I’ll be wandering around in my costume.. See if you can spot me…

And don’t forget your towel!

2019 March Goals – Accountability, Check in, and Language Learning!

Spring is here! March is in the air… March is here and spring is in the air!

Two of my ongoing zero waste projects required some maintenance! My compost bin filled up and I had to decide what to do. I dug a hole and buried my green-brown compost in the corner of the yard. I ran out of upcycled t-shirt tissues (I made 78 of them) and needed to wash them, which I finally did.

I spent time trying to halt my physical junk mail by collecting it from the mailbox and every few days looking up ways to stop that specific mailing. I didn’t realize that when I sign up for things online, the companies will sometimes just decide to send me things in the mail! I’ve also been unsubscribing to unwanted emails for the past few months and am hoping that eventually I’ll be receiving less spam.

I tried out my reusable pads and my silk floss this month. I ran out of my plastic floss which I am dearly comfortable with and though I’m not thrilled with the silk floss but am committed to using my entire supply and hopefully will get used to it over time. I love my reusable pads (and my Thinx – thanks sis!). They work so well and are easy to hand wash and then chuck into the laundry. Since it’s still so cold in the house, I place them over the air vents and they dry in no time at all! I also soaked some of my orange peels (from my recent favorite fruit) in vinegar (which I traded someone on my Buy Nothing Group for some unwanted clothes and foodstuffs) and water. I use this cleaning mixture mostly for dusty surfaces or to wipe down the kitchen counters.

I organized my growing glass jar collection by lip size and it makes me so happy to open my two drawers and see them all nestled in there!

I’ve collected quite a few sticks from my yard cleanup project for future fires and stacked it next to the house. I’m determined to clean out the backyard in our rental.

I cut my hair the shortest it’s ever been and donated it to Locks of Love. I’ve now donated my hair 7 times! That’s more hair in inches than my full body height (I’m only 5’2″).

My ongoing and future projects:

  1. Make my own laundry detergent or source a better alternative
  2. Line dry my clothes instead of using the dryer (when we have sun again)
  3. Stop my junk mail (I’m working on it)
  4. Get/Make/Source reusable cloth napkins and store in a usable location for both upstairs and downstairs
  5. Source facial lotion
  6. Source a toothpaste tablets/powder I like? I might table this one as I really like my toothpaste and am unsure this swap would be worth it
  7. Visit the zero-waste stores in my area (they are on my list when I’m driving close to them)

Do you have any other ideas I should consider to reduce my waste?


As far as fitness goals go: After doing the February 100 abs challenge from Blogilates, I’ve continued to do an ab workout ~3/week in March. I also was able to get a complimentary composition analysis and compared it to the one I did in early January. I’m within 1 lb. of the same weight, but the body fat percentage is nearly 5% different. Did my body composition really change that much or do the two types of scanners differ that much?


I’ve added on another overarching and long-term goal for the year: learning Turkish! I have been using the Rosetta Stone Turkish since November, but I’ve added on to my steps to fluency after reading the exceptionally helpful book Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It by Gabriel Wyner.

September 2018: Duolingo practice, basic words and greetings
November 2018: Word of the day in Turkish, learn basic greetings and phrases
December 2018: Rosetta Stone Unit 1, Word of the day
January 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 2, word of the day
February 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 3, word of the day, vocabulary book
March 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 4, word of the day, read Fluent Forever, Create Anki cards for RS Unit 4 and review, create 25 vocabulary cards
April 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 5, Anki cards Unit 5, word of the day, first 250 of the top 625 in Anki cards, create 25 vocabulary cards
May 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 6, Anki cards Unit 6, word of the day, first 500 of the top 625 in Anki cards, create 25 vocabulary cards
June 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 7, Anki cards Unit 7, word of the day, all top 625 in Anki cards, create 25 vocabulary cards
July 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 8, Anki cards Unit 8, word of the day, top 800 words in Turkish in Anki cards, Vocab cards for first half of the grammar book, purchase a monolingual dictionary
August 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 9, Anki cards Unit 9, word of the day, top 1000 words in Turkish in Anki cards, 25 vocab cards,
September 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 10, Anki cards Unit 10, word of the day, 25 specialized vocab in Turkish in Anki cards, 25 vocab cards, read 1/2 a book and follow audio book in Turkish
October 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 11, Anki cards Unit 10, word of the day, 25 specialized vocab in Turkish in Anki cards, 25 vocab cards, finish 1/2 a book and follow audio book in Turkish
November 2019: Rosetta Stone Unit 12, Anki cards Unit 10, word of the day, 25 specialized vocab in Turkish in Anki cards, 25 vocab cards, take a placement test? Take a vocabulary test?

I lost my voice for two weeks in March and didn’t finish Unit 4’s final test/review yet, but I plan on completing it this week. I’m on track according to this above plan. I love the Anki app and spaced repetition and feel like it’s spring boarding my vocabulary in Turkish. According to my list, I’ve learned more than 250 words, which seems so minuscule compared to my English vocabulary of over 25,000 words.


My main goal for the year was to save as much money as possible! I’m doing this by earning more money, spending less money, and investing the money that I do have. Here is my monthly budget spreadsheet and a brief breakdown for how March went.

Categories

$$ to spend

Jan-19

Feb-19

March-19

Take home pay

***

***

***

Earnings for the month

***

***

***

Total Earnings for the month

 

***

***

***

Rent

700

same

 same

same

Phone

45

same

same

same

Car: Maintenance, legal fees, parking, gas, insurance

300

Over

Over

Under

Travel

100

Under

 0

0

Housing supplies, furniture, consumables

25

0

 Over

Under

Health: Vitamins, lab testing, FDN service, massages, hair

60

0

Over

Under

Writing – Author Events, website, organizations

25

Over

Over

0

Charity

25

Over

 15

Under

Entertainment (AMC A-List)

70

Over

 20.95

Over

Pole workshops, classes

75

Over

 0

30

Food – eating out

100

179.98

 96.00

185.03

Food – groceries

400

575.47

324.88

444

Misc. (background check, presents, Rosetta stone, clothing)

50

47.92

 92.03

660 (put my tax prep and a present in this category)

Total Spent for the Month

 <50%

55%

42%

48%

Total Savings for the Month

2080

Over

Over

Over

I made extra side income this month and even with my extra payment for my tax preparation and giving cash to my SO to spend in Mexico on chocolate and tacos, I was able to meet my overall goal of spending less than 50% of my incoming money.

What are your goals and how are you meeting them this month?

Here is my January goal check in blog post!

Here is my February goal check in blog post!

Book Review: The Devil You Know by Starla Huchton and S.A. Huchton

The Devil You Know by Starla Huchton and S.A. Huchton

An Urban Fantasy Romance Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (01/29/17)

Summary:

Demons live among us. They shop at the grocery store and work at the local coffee shop. Kendra has been able to see them her whole life. And she’s never told anybody. What good could come of it? She’s used to horns, decaying flesh, and blue skin but when she first meets Nick, she’s caught off guard and she almost can’t keep her secret to herself. His appeal is more than just his good looks, his demon ability makes it hard for her to stay grounded and away from him. She knows she has to stay away from him. But he keeps showing up in her life and she is one debt short of keeping all her secrets safe.

Keywords:

Paranormal, Demons, Devils Romance, Romantic Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Demon World, Affect, Abilities, Jealousy, Business Deal, Partnership, Friendship, Emotion

My Review:

I’ve almost read everything Starla and S.A. Huchton have ever published. I will continue to read everything Huchton publishes. She is an amazing storyteller and has a gift with words, plot, characters, and style. She could fictionalize the dictionary and make it intriguing.

The Devil You Know has both paranormal and urban fantasy elements, two key book characteristics I typically don’t like, but I loved this book. The characters may have been demons (not all of them), but they were alive with approachable human characteristics. The world was set in a typical city, but in a world where there were different types of demons with different characteristics. Huchton gives us just a little bit of the fantasy world in which demons live, but firmly grounds it in a contemporary and familiar world.

The two main characters: Nick and Kendra are both complex and misunderstood. Both will come to new realizations after meeting the other. They both learn and grow throughout the novel. I loved how Kendra was able to change her opinion of Nick as he opened up to her the longer they were together. I guess growing up knowing you are the only one who can see 8-foot tall demons with horns and blue skin would make you more open-minded to other things, but I was pleased with how Kendra dealt with and stood her ground with Nick and the other demons.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on 01/29/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Starla Huchton’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Savage Beauty by Casey L. Bond

Savage Beauty by Casey L. Bond

A YA Fairy Tale Retelling Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (02/02/18)

Summary:

“Luna was unapologetically who she was; darkness illuminated in pale light, kindness cloaked in snark, cold at times, but with a warmth bubbling beneath the frosted surface.”

Aura and Luna are bound by dark magic. They are half fae twins. Luna is princess of the night, gaining power by the moon, and has power over air and fire. Aura is princess of the day, and has power over the elements of water and earth. It is a curse that comes with great power.

Luna doesn’t want to hurt others, but Aura seems to go out of her way to kill everyone that gets too close to Luna, including Prince William. Luna will have her revenge and is convinced that she must break their bond and kill her sister. Her plan is to wait until she is awake with power, create a spell to sever the bond, and rid the kingdom of the evil Aura. Luna will do anything for that spell, until William’s younger brother, the Prince Phillip wanders onto her land.

Keywords:

Witches, Fae, Sorcery, Fairy Tale Retelling, Destruction, Roses, Poison, Evil, Sisters, Moon, Guilt, Prince, Hunt, Spells, Broom, Familiar, Cat, Curse, Murder, Power, Love

My Review:

This book was slow to start but well worth reading to the end.

After reading both Savage Beauty and Riches to Rags, I know I will enjoy the other fairy tale retellings by Casey Bond.

Savage Beauty is a unique fairy tale which is very loosely based on Sleeping Beauty. This book was highly creative and imaginative, but also logical due to the background and world building. Unlike the overly imaginative Alice in Wonderland, Savage Beauty is highly creative within the set of rules that Bond has crafted in this world.

I loved having both Aura and Luna’s perspectives. After falling in love with Luna, much like William and Philip, I found it interesting to see Aura’s perspective. It was quite satisfying and confusing. How could a murderer downplay her acts? How could Aura excuse her behavior? And yet, she felt genuine when we were inside her head.

Even Philip felt like more than just the love interest. There was some depth to his character, though not as much as Luna. Luna is the fantasy character I’ve always wanted to read about. She is tormented and stubborn and hell bent on revenge. She is also sweet and caring and regretful of any actions she takes that cause hurt upon others.

Though I almost set this book down from the first chapter, I’m glad I kept reading and absolutely loved the ending.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 02/02/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Casey Bond’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter