#BookReview: Norse Myths Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki by Kevin Crossley-Holland &Jeffrey Alan Love #MPBooks

A compelling to read and stunningly illustrated book of Norse mythology!

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Norse Myths Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki book coverTitle: Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki

Author: Kevin Crossley-Holland

Illustrator: Jeffrey Alan Love

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Middle Grade+/Older Children’s+, Fantasy (mythology)

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Description:  Fast-moving and ice-bright, these myths of the Vikings tell how the world was created and how it will be destroyed – only to begin again.

The gods, led by all-powerful Odin, and mighty Thor, are caught, in a terrifying struggle for power with the fearsome giants.  They must battle them using all their cunning and strength.  But the god’s greatest enemy lurks among them: the trickster Loki.  Twisted by spite, his scheming will ultimately bring about the final great battle of Ragnarok.

These ancient stories of dazzling magic and thrilling journeys are dramatically retold by Kevin Crossley-Holland, the master of Norse mythology and the winner of the Carnagie Medal, and lavishly illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love.

My Review: This is a truly stunning book and one which will be enjoyed by not only kids but adults too. ‘Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki’ is a large hardback book about A4 in height but a bit wider and is filled with thick matt pages. The paper is the heavy kind making this a weighty book to hold and I’d advice putting it down while reading it. There are stunning illustrations just like the ones on the cover that give this book and the tales told within an interesting and dark atmosphere.

The book begins with a forward by the author explaining where the myths come from, after that there are a couple of double page spreads showing relevant characters, one has the names of all the relevant gods and goddesses, the next dwarfs and giants, and this is followed by a picture of the Norse World and the ash tree Yggdrasill. All these are accompanied with some great illustrations and I especially like the picture of Yggdrasill as this is a key part to the Norse stories and how they all connect and even though I’ve heard of the myths before I couldn’t piece them in my mind so well until I’d seen this picture.

Excellent shadow images of the gods!

The rest of the book is the various myths which should be read in order to get the most out of the stories. Each myth is like a short story, it has its own title and a brief sentence about it before the text of the tale. Although the Norse myths are different and some of them very strange compared to stories of today they are surprisingly compelling to read and I love the way this book tells them. I had some knowledge of the myths before I started reading this but having them in this book, arranged the way they are with the stunning illustrations has made it really easy to remember and I keep wanting to read them again and again.

Every story is interesting to read with some of them having morals to them, in a lot of them though you will read some pretty dark things such as characters being killed or hurt in the most gruesome of ways, every story however is interesting to read and has its conclusion. In some of the stories there’s mentions of things such as the killing and skinning of animals for food but none of these stories are done in a too gruesome way, it’s nothing that wouldn’t be appropriate for kids although the Norse myths themselves are dark in their very nature, especially towards the end of the book such as what happens to Loki.

The illustrations are just amazing and I think it’s really made this book all the more fun and powerful to read! Every illustration is like a shadow illustration, you rarely see any kind of faces, unless it is the silhouette of someone sideways or one or two eyes visible against the black shadows. Given how different and interesting the Norse myths are, these illustrations really do fit the atmosphere of the stories and how the whole book feels. The majority of the images are all black but there are other colours mixed into some pictures too such as blue for the sea, yellow for golden hair and red for Loki’s eyes. There is an illustration on each page or double page spread and many times there is so much black that you get white text on black as the whole images seems to swallow the text. You can only get a sense for the pictures by seeing them, they really are brilliant, and I’m amazed how easy it is to see what is happening when a lot of the time all you see is shadows.

Stunning illustrations portraying the dark atmosphere!

There is a glossary at the back of the book with not only the names of characters but also some words used which some kids may not understand which is good as it saves going backwards in the book to find out who someone is or understand what something is. There is also a contents at the start of the book with all the myths labelled so you can dip in and out of reading a certain tale, although if it’s the first time you really should read them in order to feel the full impact of the stories.

Although this is a book I’d recommend for kids and adults there may be some kids who might find the tales a little scary or gory. The Norse myths are strange and different but there’s also something so compelling about them, they really do make for interesting reading and although some of the stories might be a bit weird or dark, I don’t think it’s anything an older child would find too difficult or unappealing. I really have enjoyed this book and would invite anyone of any age to read this if you are keen to learn the Norse myths as it’s a really exciting read and a great source of learning these tales. Some kids might find some of the stories a little strange to read, given what happens in the tales themselves but overall I would really recommend this book – I can’t stop myself re-reading it!
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.


Do you enjoy reading about mythology?  What about Norse mythology?  Would you enjoy this book or know somebody who would?  Please let me know your thoughts I’d love to hear from you 🙂  You can also follow me in these places: 

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#BookReview: Julius Zebra Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield #MPBooks

Hilarious start to a brilliant book series!

Julius Zebra Rumble with the Romans book coverTitle: Julius Zebra Rumble with the Romans

Author/Illustrator: Gary Northfield

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Middle grade/Older Children’s fiction, Humour

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Description: So you think you know ZEBRAS, do you?  They’re handsome, eat lots of grass, and um…are always getting eaten by lions.  Let’s face it, they’re a little bit boring and stupid, too.  But a tussle with a grumpy gladiator can soon change a zebra…So cheer on our stripy hero, Julius, as he scraps for survival in history’s deadliest theatre: THE COLOSSEUM!  Just don’t call him a horse! (or Debra…)

My Review:  This book is so hilarious and just so silly but with a brilliant story too! ‘Julius Zebra Rumble with the Romans’ is the first book in the Julius Zebra series with the second and third books being ‘Bundle with the Britons’ and ‘Entangled with the Egyptians’. This book is where the adventures of Julius begins. Having been forced to go to the lake with his mother and his brother Brutus, Julius wants nothing more than to leave the stinky place and go home. But when a stampede of animals runs from the lake Julius finds himself alone, with a very annoying warthog, and together they have to escape both a lion and the Romans who are after them.

I started reading this series from the second book and have really loved it but going back to this first book I was a little worried that I might not find it as funny as the later ones, as sometimes happens when you enter a series in the middle. However I shouldn’t have been worried, this book had me laughing from the first pages ad it’s fun to see how Julius, a zebra from Africa, ends up battling Roman gladiators.

Very funny and silly images throughout the text.

The book is pure humour and a very daft/silly humour which I just love. It has a very British humour, even down to the characters saying things like ‘Cor!’ and it feels like some classic British comedies where there’s a lot of silliness and slapstick involved. The book also has a Horrible Histories feel to it seeing as Julius is a zebra in the times when the Romans were a powerful nation. As the story unfolds there are lots of illustrations to go along with the text. These pictures have to be read along side the text, they make up part of the story and something about this style of book is just so appealing and I really enjoy it.

The illustrations are hilarious and there’s just something I find instantly funny about Julius, his friends and those eyes! Every pictures is silly and I’ll admit I laughed aloud on more than one occasion from the pictures alone! The pictures are all black and white. The ending of the story is a satisfying one, in fact it is my favourite ending of any Julius Zebra book (so far) given what Julius does. The book has a proper conclusion but also an epilogue which leads nicely into the second book ‘Bundle with the Britons’.

Fun images tell the story as well as the text.

One thing I really love about this book is the setting and the fact that it’s a bit of a historical lesson in Romans too. There is a glossary at the back of the book explaining some of the Roman terms and words that you read in the text as well as a fun lesson on how to count in roman Numerals and of course Cornelius is always explaining facts within the story.

I can’t recommend this book enough, and in fact the entire series. I have definitely become a fan of Julius Zebra and can’t wait for every adventure he goes on. It’s a wonderfully funny book which plenty of kids will love, but it’s also a bit educational too. I also think a fair few adults will enjoy this story too.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.


What do you think of this book and the series?  Do you enjoy humorous books or do you prefer more serious ones?  Talk to me in the comments box below, I love hearing from you 🙂  You can also follow me in these places: 

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#BookHaul: Walker Books (2nd haul) November 2017 #MPBooks

An amazing bookhaul in time for a special birthday! 😍

Some of you may know that it’s my birthday tomorrow.  I’m not sure what I’ll be doing for my birthday on this blog yet, I’m not sure if I’ll do much at all to be honest as I really haven’t planned anything but I’m sure I’ll come up with something if it’s even just a poem.  In the meantime, what a wonderful present I got in the post yesterday from Walker Books.  It’s more books!  There’s two books that I’ve been sent and as usual I’m going to review them here as soon as I can.  But in the meantime feast your eyes on these lovely books and tell me if you’re thinking of reading them (or have already!)…

The first is this beautiful book:

Walker November 2017 City of Bones
This book looks sooo good! (ignore the scuffed corner 😮 )

The Mortal Instruments (Book 1): City of Bones by Cassandra Clare – The tenth anniversary of Cassandra Clare’s phenomenal City of Bones demands a luxe new edition. The pride of any fan’s collection, City of Bones now has new cover art, over thirty interior illustrations, and six new full-page colour portraits of everyone’s favourite characters! This beautifully crafted collector’s item also includes a new piece written by Cassandra Clare. A perfect gift for the Shadowhunter fan in your life.  This is the book where Clary Fray first discovered the Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of warriors dedicated to driving demons out of our world and back to their own. The book where she first met Jace Wayland, the best Shadowhunter of his generation. The book that started it all.

That book sounds amazing but there’s another special book I got, at least it’s like a birthday gift for me!…

Walker November 2017 Julius Zebra
It’s the first Julius Zebra book! ‘Rumble with the Romans’! 😀 😀 😀

Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield – So you think you know ZEBRAS, do you?  They’re handsome, eat lots of grass, and um…are always getting eaten by lions.  Let’s face it, they’re a little bit boring and stupid, too.  But a tussle with a grumpy gladiator can soon change a zebra…So cheer on our stripy hero, Julius, as he scraps for survival in history’s deadliest theatre: THE COLOSSEUM!  Just don’t call him a horse! (or Debra…)

Having come to the Julius Zebra series from the second book and read both ‘Bundle with the Britons’ and ‘Entagled with the Egyptians’ I’m so excited to be able to read the first book that started my love of this funny series!  I also hear there’s going to be a fourth book in the series too, set in Ancient Greece! 😮  I’m making a prediction of that cover being green (seeing as we’ve got a yellow, red, and blue cover already :P)

Let me know if you’ve read any of these books before or plan to, or even look forward to my reviews  😍


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#Book Review: National Theatre – All About Theatre #MPBooks

An interesting, fun and very informative book all about the theatre.

National Theatre All About Theatre book coverTitle: All About Theatre

Author: National Theatre

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Middle Grade/Older Children’s, Non-fiction

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Description: Described by Benedict Cumberbatch as “a brilliant introduction to theatre”, this fascinating book by the National Theatre shows how plays like War Horse and many others are made. The book is packed with interviews with famous directors and actors, like Lenny Henry, Meera Syal, Julie Walters and Ben Whishaw, and productions like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and One Man, Two Guvnors. Hear from experts at the world-famous National Theatre about every aspect of stagecraft, including prop-making, set building and lighting design, and discover, from first idea to final curtain, how plays are made.

My Review:  This is such a great introduction to all things theatre related that it’s just perfect for anyone interested in acting or the many other roles you can have within the theatre. The paperback book is around A4 in size, though a bit wider, and is filled with lots of thick glossy and very colourful pages. It has a text book feel to it given its weight but unlike so many text books I’ve had to read in the past for school and study, this is definitely very fun and far more interesting.

The book tells you everything you could possibly want to know about how theatre works, explained by the National Theatre who put on so many amazing shows every year. The book is broken up into chapters about the different aspects of the theatre such as the different roles that are in theatre (actor, director, etc.), acting, props, costumes to name a few. Each section or chapter goes into more details and you really learn so much and in such an exciting way.

Fun and colourful pages filled with information.

 

What you learn about theatre is actually very interesting and there’s a lot of information even I didn’t know about, despite being interested in theatre and acting. It’s too much information to explain in this review but for example you learn about how the set is created: from deciding what kind of stage to use (I didn’t know there were so many types such as the traverse stage- where people sit either side of the performance area) to the initial sketches of the set design, storyboarding and even building a model of the set before the real thing is built. I didn’t know so much effort and work went into just one aspect of the theatre and this book talks about every aspect of theatre!

Along with the main information about theatre there are also fun little extra snippets of text which teach you things such how the terms ‘crew’ and ‘rigging’ came to be (more interesting than you may think) and there are lots of tricks of the trade revealed or try this at home bits where they tell you how you can recreate some of the tricks on your own performances at home. There are also lots of short messages from people who work in theatre, real directors, designers, producers, etc. which is very interesting to read as you find out some more about how theatre works. There’s even snippets from some very well known actors and it was fun to learn a bit more about what they think or some of the mishaps they have had while on stage.

Another example of the colourful and informative pages filled with lots of photos and pictures.

 

What makes this book so fun and easy to read is the way it is presented. Every page is a burst of different colours and the text is broken down into short sections with lots of little bubbles of text or boxes of extra information added around the page rather than just large blocks of paragraphs. There are pictures on each page, a lot of them photographs of the various departments or productions at the National Theatre. I especially love seeing images of war horse or famous actors. There are also lots of pictures of other things such as sketches of set designs and costumes which are all fun and make this far more interesting to read. Each page also has a unique look to the others so it’s always fun to turn the page and see what else there is to read. It’s this broken down and very colourful page layout that has really made this a fun read for me and I’m not sure I would have absorbed all the information with as much interest or enthusiasm if it had all been more text based or less colourful or less illustrated.

I would really recommend this book to anyone interested in the theatre. Of course it is aimed at older kids and teens but I think anyone, even adults, will find this book interesting to read. It will certainly inspire some kids towards the theatre if they already had an interest and may even spark an interest in some who didn’t before. What I love most about this book though is that it shows you just how many different ways you can be involved in the theatre and with such interesting chapters and a great introduction to the National Theatre itself (including its history), plus all the pictures and photos, I really don’t know who wouldn’t like to read this book.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.


Have you ever been interested in the theatre?  Would this book have been one you would have enjoyed reading?  Let me know your thoughts I’d love to hear from you 🙂  Don’t forget you can also find me in these places: 

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#BookReview: Julius Zebra Entangled with the Egyptians by Gary Northfield #MPBooks

A hilarious and very silly story with some great illustrations!

Julius Zebra Entangled with the Egyptians book coverTitle: Julius Zebra: Entangled with the Egyptians!

Author/Illustrator: Gary Northfield

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Middle grade/Older children’s fiction, humour

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Description: So, you think you know about Julius Zebra do you?
He’s a gladiatorial champion!  Liberator of enslaved beasts!  A rebel of the Roman Empire!
But when Julius is shipwrecked on the shores of Ancient Egypt and mistaken for a horse god his luck takes a new turn and soon he’s bathing in donkey’s milk and being crowned Pharaoh of Egypt.  Just how long will his golden fortunes last?

My Review:   This is such a funny book and perfect to bring a smile to anyone’s face. ‘Julius Zebra: Entangled with the Egyptians’ is the second book in the Julius Zebra series, the previous books being ‘Rumble with the Romans’ and ‘Bundle with the Britons’. You don’t need to have read any Julius Zebra books before reading this one as it’s a complete story in itself, (and I never read the first book before trying out the second one a few months ago) but it is extra fun to know where all the characters come from and what they’ve been through.

The hardcover book has shiny gold on the cover and inside the whole story is written in easy to read text along with funny illustrations on every page. After his last adventure in Britannia Julius and his friends find themselves shipwrecked on a beach. Before they know it the Egyptian army finds them and somehow Julius gets mistaken for a horse god! I don’t want to explain more of the plot as it’s just too funny and it would spoil it for me to go into detail, but will say that this book is hilarious and has a very daft and silly plot. When I read the previous book I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at all the silly things that happen to the characters and the way they react and I wasn’t disappointed with ‘Entangled with the Egyptians’ as there’s more of that brilliant humour!

Funny pictures among the text.

The story is just really silly with every moment being a chance for something funny to happen, and what makes it even more funny is the pictures. Rather than the odd illustration in the book which you’d look at after reading the text, there are pictures on every page and they are part of the story. You have to see what’s happening in the pictures and read the characters speech bubbles before reading the next part of the text. I love this style of illustrations and the images themselves are just really funny. Every small picture or large one spread on a double page is funny. It’s hard to describe but somehow the way the characters are drawn (and those eyes!) makes the plot all the more funny and just looking at the cover makes me laugh.

The story throughout is hilarious, there’s never a dull moment and although it’s predictably going to be very silly, I still didn’t know what was going to happen, especially at the end. I like the ending it’s fun and made the book feel like the last in the series but there’s an epilogue that shows that the story is far from over for Julius and his animal friends, which I’m so happy about as I really can’t get enough of Julius and his friends.

After the main story is finished there are a few pages of extras. There’s a quick explanation of how to read roman numerals, as all the page numbers are written in roman numerals. There is also information on how to write in hieroglyphics, a funny explanation of mummification along with some great pictures, and a glossary, explaining some of the real life things that exist in the book. A glossary was also in the previous book which I found fascinating and I especially liked this book’s addition as I’ve always loved learning about Ancient Egypt and I didn’t realise where ‘Heter’ comes from.

More funny illustrations! 😀

This whole book is so funny and silly and it really put a smile on my face. Although aimed at kids this book will make any adult laugh too. I think the sense of humour in this book is just perfect for me, and how funny someone finds the book might depend on their own type of humour, but I’d really recommend this book to anyone to try, especially if you enjoy really daft/silly stories. I can’t wait for a future instalment of the series and I could see this series going on for a long time, as long as there are ancient places for Julius to visit. A really great book and the fact that the line ‘We’re going on our holibobs!’ is used again just cracked me up (no idea why but it does!)
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.


I loved this funny and silly book!  Would you like it too?  What do you think of the illustrations?  Let me know in the comments below.  Come check me out in these places too 🙂 : 

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#BookReview: Alex Rider: Never Say Die by Anthony Horowitz #MPBooks

A great and exciting action thriller!

Alex Rider Never Say Die book coverTitle: Alex Rider Never Say Die

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Middle Grade/Pre-teen, Action, Thriller

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Description: The explosive new mission in the no. 1 bestselling series. After being forcibly recruited by MI6, teenage super-spy Alex Rider vowed he would never go back.  But even Alex can’t fight the past, especially when it holds a deadly secret.  Alex is Back.

My Review: I’m surprised how much I enjoyed this book despite a shaky start. ‘Alex Rider: Never Say Die’ is the eleventh instalment of the series and given the fact I had never read a previous book in the series before, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it, but I did. The story begins with an interesting, almost movie-like, opening at the Suffolk Air Show before moving onto Alex, now living in America.

The Alex Rider series is like James bond for kids, at least that’s the feeling I got from reading this novel. I did find it hard to get into the story at first. It wasn’t the actual plot that I found difficult, this in fact sucked me in and I loved all the action that was happening throughout the story, but I found it hard to connect with Alex. It could have been the fact that I didn’t know the Alex Rider series before reading this book, but something about Alex always able to get out of a difficult situation, and not being overly emotional (despite having some bad dreams) made the book feel a bit unbelievable. However I stuck with reading it and I’m glad I did as the story just got better the further I read on.

Although at the start of the story Alex is in America, he wants to find out what happened to his friend Jack, whether she really did die, so he sets off around the world, first to Egypt and later to Europe. Despite the fact that there are references to what happened in previous books, and the people Alex has met, I never found the story confusing, as these parts are explained well, and it really can be read as a stand alone novel.
The action is what really made me enjoy this book, there’s never a dull moment with things happening all the time and the whole story told in a way that really made me feel as if I was watching a movie! Although the action primarily follows Alex, there are scenes with other characters (just like in a film) and I’m amazed at the effect the whole book has had on me after reading it.

I never really did connect with Alex as a character, but as I read this book I did start to like him after a while and the action is what drove the story more than anything else. I would have liked a deeper story with more emotion but once I realised that this was more about the action, and the amazing way the plot unfolds, I found it easy to enjoy this and couldn’t put the book down! There’s something about the way Horowitz writes that is amazing and the way everything was described, I just really felt like I was watching a movie in my mind, and I felt the same suspense and drama you feel when watching an action movie.

The ending of the story is a satisfying one with the plot set up for a potential next book in the series. The whole plot was actually really satisfying to read and I never guessed what was going to happen, even at the end, which made this a really great read.
Being for the pre-teen age group (and perhaps early teens might enjoy this too) there is nothing offensive, although there is a lot of action involving some characters that die, nothing really gruesome but sometimes a bit shocking to read.
After finishing this book I feel like reading it again, and I think I’d enjoy it all the more if I took the book mainly for action rather than trying to see more emotion in the characters. This book has also made me want to read others in the series and I’d definitely recommend this to anyone, especially pre-teens who enjoy a lot of action thriller stories, a little like Bond.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.


Have you read the Alex Rider series, or if not how do you feel about action thrillers?  Please let me know I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂  You can also find me in these places: 

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#BookHaul: Bookbridgr September 2017 & Extra Walker Book #MPBooks

A completely random selection of books! Do any spark your interest?

I’m now officially accepted as a bookbridgr blogger and have received my first ever book post from them which is so exciting! 😀  There are quite a few interesting books available but I chose two which just happened to arrive on the same day even though I didn’t request them on the same day!  I also received a book from Walker Books which was late in being printed.  Check them all out and let me know if any interest you? 🙂

First the Bookbridgr books:

Two completely different books!

The French Exchange whale and Other Rejected Book Ideas by Cal King –  It’s said that everyone has a book inside them. Cal King doesn’t have just one though; he’s bursting with ideas for everything from children’s books to (in his mind) prize-winning novels.  Unfortunately for Cal, his ideas are all a bit silly. However, refusing to be deterred by rejections from publishers and agents (or the laughter of his girlfriend) he managed to secure a meeting at a top publisher and arrived at their London offices with a head full of dreams and a folder full of concepts.  At the end of the meeting (during which the editor seemed to have the most terrible cough) it was gently suggested that Cal compile his pitches into a collection of ‘terrible book ideas’ for the joke book market. Slightly hurt by this suggestion, but driven by a desperate and all-consuming need for approval, he agreed. And here it is . .

Yuki Means Happiness by Alison Jean Lester –  Diana is young and uneasy in a new relationship when she leaves America and moves halfway around the world to Tokyo seeking adventure. In Japan she takes a job as a nanny to two-year-old Yuki Yoshimura and sets about adapting to a routine of English practice, ballet and swimming lessons, and Japanese cooking.  But as Diana becomes increasingly attached to Yuki she also becomes aware that everything in the Yoshimura household isn’t as it first seemed. Before long, she must ask herself if she is brave enough to put everything on the line for the child under her care, confronting her own demons at every step of the way.

And here is the book from Walker Books:

Just look how beautiful this book is! 🙂

The Wonderling by Mira Bartók  – In this extraordinary novel with its deft nod to Dickenson heroes and rogues comes the story of Arthur, a shy, fox-like foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong, as he seeks his destiny.


What do you think of all these different books?  Are you interested in reading any?  Please let me know in the comments below I’d love to hear from you!  Come check me out in these places too 🙂 : 

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