Saturday, November 26, 2022

Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden #booktour #spotlight





In the tradition of C. S. Harris and Anne Perry, a fatal disaster on the Thames and a roiling political conflict set the stage for Karen Odden’s second Inspector Corravan historical mystery.

September 1878. One night, as the pleasure boat the Princess Alice makes her daily trip up the Thames, she collides with the Bywell Castle, a huge iron-hulled collier. The Princess Alice shears apart, throwing all 600 passengers into the river; only 130 survive. It is the worst maritime disaster London has ever seen, and early clues point to sabotage by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, who believe violence is the path to restoring Irish Home Rule.

For Scotland Yard Inspector Michael Corravan, born in Ireland and adopted by the Irish Doyle family, the case presents a challenge. Accused by the Home Office of willfully disregarding the obvious conclusion, and berated by his Irish friends for bowing to prejudice, Corravan doggedly pursues the truth, knowing that if the Princess Alice disaster is pinned on the IRB, hopes for Home Rule could be dashed forever.

Corrovan’s dilemma is compounded by Colin, the youngest Doyle, who has joined James McCabe’s Irish gang. As violence in Whitechapel rises, Corravan strikes a deal with McCabe to get Colin out of harm’s way. But unbeknownst to Corravan, Colin bears longstanding resentments against his adopted brother and scorns his help.

As the newspapers link the IRB to further accidents, London threatens to devolve into terror and chaos. With the help of his young colleague, the loyal Mr. Stiles, and his friend Belinda Gale, Corravan uncovers the harrowing truth—one that will shake his faith in his countrymen, the law, and himself.


Read an Excerpt

********************

 Having finished writing my daily report, I left Wapping, walking past the London Docks to Sloane Street, where the Goose and Gander stood at the corner of Hackford. 

The sight of it brought back the afternoons Pat Doyle and I would come here, our spirits buoyed by the shillings in our pockets from working on the docks. We steered clear of most public houses—like the English Pearl, a few doors down, or the Drum and Thistle—but we two Irish stevedores found a welcome here, in this low-ceilinged room with a pair of rusted swords and a Celtic Cross over the mantle. Joining in on the bawdy choruses after a few pints made Pat and me feel like men—Irish men—and, for a while, as if we belonged. I’m not proud to admit it, but I liked it when someone who wasn’t Irish was scowled out of the place. 

Life was hard on the docks. The dockmaster, named Smithson, always hired Pat and me as a pair because he knew that together we could accomplish four times what any other single man could. It didn’t keep Smithson from treating us the worst, though. If there was a swan-necked cart with a wheel that wasn’t working properly, that would be ours for the day. If we took time to fix the wheel, our wages would be docked. Sometimes we didn’t get a cart at all and had to haul the goods on our backs. If a bag of tea burst because it was roughly handled or at the bottom of a heavy pile, we’d be blamed. Pat and I kept to ourselves, mostly, though after a time we banded with a few older Irishmen who were hired regularly. We did our work, held our heads down, stayed out of people’s way. Still, most days Smithson would shout at us for being feckin’ Irish eejits, which worried me because Pat was quick to throw down whatever bag he was toting in order to free up his fists, and I’d have to remind him that we needed the money more than we wanted Smithson to pay for his spite. I hated it too. But we had no choice but to stay and take it. 

It was the docks that taught me what being Irish meant because growing up in my part of the Chapel, Irish was all I knew. Like hundreds of others during the famine years, my parents sailed from Dublin to Liverpool, making portions of that city along the Mersey River more Irish than English. My father was a silversmith, and a skilled one, but there wasn’t enough work for all the silversmiths who had landed in Liverpool, so he and my mum came down to the Irish part of Whitechapel. With anti-Irish feeling running high, shops elsewhere in London wouldn’t hire a man with black hair and blue eyes named Corravan, with an accent straight out of County Armagh. My mum never told me so, but my father did what many Irishmen had to do—plied their trade sideways. He became a counterfeiter, making two-bit coins in a cellar somewhere, with fumes that clung to him when he came through our door at night. He died when I was three years old, too young to remember him well, but old enough that the odor of suet and oil and the bitter tang of cyanide had rooted itself in my brain. During one of my earliest cases in Lambeth, I walked into a house and recognized the smell straightaway, like I knew the smell of tea or hops or onions. That’s when I realized how my father had put bread on our table. 

The rancor against the Irish grates at me sometimes. Not to say we don’t deserve some of it. Four years ago, two Irishmen in Lambeth threw firebombs into one of Barnardo’s English orphanages, to protest that Parliament had just prohibited the Irish from setting up orphanages for our own. The next morning, the corpses of twenty-six children were laid out on the street and on the front page of every newspaper in London. For weeks after, shame hacked at my insides. I could barely meet anyone’s eye. 

But we Irish don’t all deserve to be tarred with the same brush, and it’s hard to bear the ugly opinions printed in the papers. Nowadays, I stop reading if I catch a hint of hatred in the first lines, but there was a time when I would read the articles and letters from “concerned citizens” and “true Englishmen” because I wanted to know the worst that could be said of us. That was before I realized that words could be infinitely malicious. There was no worst; there was only more. I still remember the conclusion of one letter because it seemed so preposterous: “The Irish are the dregs in the barrel, the lowest of the low. They kill their fathers, rape their sisters, and eat their children, stuffing their maws with blood and potatoes indifferently, like wild beasts.” 

Well, that wasn’t true of any of the Irish I knew. Indeed, as I laid my hand on the doorknob of the Goose and Gander, I was reasonably certain that inside I’d find Irish folks sitting, eating normal food, and playing cards. 

I pushed open the wooden door, greeted the barmaid, and asked if O’Hagan had been in. She shook her head. “Not yet. He usually comes around eight.”

Chapter 4, pp. 28-30 

From Under a Veiled Moon © 2022, Karen Odden, published by Crooked Lane Books 


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ADVANCE PRAISE

  • “[An] exceptional sequel . . . Fans of Lyndsay Faye’s Gods of Gotham trilogy will be enthralled.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

  • “Victorian skulduggery with a heaping side of Irish troubles.” —Kirkus Reviews

  • “Charismatic police superintendent Michael Corravan is back in a gripping sequel about the mysterious sinking of the Princess Alice. Odden deftly weaves together English and Irish history, along with her detective's own story, in a way that will keep readers flipping pages long into the night.” —Susan Elia MacNeal, New York Times bestselling author of Mother Daughter Traitor Spy and the Maggie Hope series.




Online Purchase Links

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About the Author:  Karen Odden earned her Ph.D. in English from New York University and subsequently taught literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has contributed essays to numerous books and journals, written introductions for Victorian novels in the Barnes & Noble classics series and edited for the journal Victorian Literature and Culture (Cambridge UP). Her previous novels, also set in 1870s London, have won awards for historical fiction and mystery. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and the recipient of a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Karen lives in Arizona with her family and her rescue beagle Rosy.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS


Read an exclusive interview with author Karen Odden

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Esperance by Heather Frost #BookTour #excerpt


 

Esperance (Esperance Trilogy #1)Esperance by Heather Frost
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Suspense
Source:  Received to review.

Book Description:  Twelve strangers. Six marriages. One year in Esperance.

 

Amryn has many reasons to hate the empire. Her latest is her forced marriage to General Carver Vincetti, better known as the Butcher. If he learns even one of her secrets, he will kill her. And Amryn has many secrets. Not only is she an empath with forbidden magic, she's also a newly recruited rebel intent on destroying the empire—starting at Esperance.

 

Carver knows the rebels have infiltrated the remote temple of Esperance. His job is to hunt them down before they can wreck the emperor’s new peace. Despite the demons that haunt him, Carver is intent on his mission—but he’s not prepared for Amryn. From her fiery red hair to her surprising wit, his new wife has captured his attention. The attraction that flares between them is undeniable. Now he just has to determine if she’s the enemy.

 

When the newly married couples become targets in a violent game, Esperance becomes more dangerous than anyone anticipated. Carver and Amryn are about to discover that no one is exactly who they appear to be—especially each other.

 

Esperance is book one in a New Adult fantasy romance series by Amazon bestselling author Heather Frost. If you love enemies-to-lovers romance, forbidden magic, and an action-packed story you can’t put down, you’ll love Esperance!



My thoughts:
  Imagine that the government has picked your groom and that you have to live in the middle of a jungle with other couples in the same situation you are in. This is the premise for Espernace.

I admit that I was intrigued and wanted to see where Heather Frost would go with this. She did not disappoint me. The book captured my attention from the beginning and I had to know how this situation would work. There were several surprises for me to discover.

The book is filled with political intrigue. All of the couples come from different parts of the empire. They are paired with someone from different parts, and not all of the areas have the same views on the empire. Some feel oppressed and others believe it is the best way to go. Not everyone gets along, which leads to some intense disagreements, some with the fist.

The main characters are Caver and Amryn. She is an empath and not fond of the government and he is a General. They are in a unique situation. I loved the chemistry that they share. I also loved that we get both of their points of view to understand them better and to see their development as people and as a couple. I rooted for them from the beginning. :)

Someone in Esperance is committing murder, they just need to figure out who that person is.




Online Purchase Link:


Read an Excerpt:
*********************

Carver stood on the edge of the large banquet hall, studying the milling crowd as he sipped his wine. The emperor’s guest list had been minimal, for purposes of security. Each of the newlyweds had been allowed only one escort and a limited guard for the journey to the remote temple of Esperance, and the rest of the spectators were made up of nobles, politicians, and key church leaders from the capitol.

Carver wondered how many of them were enemies.

Positioned by the towering archways that led to an open balcony, Carver could hear the sounds of the jungle that surrounded the temple compound. The screeching calls of birds, the chattering of monkeys, the chirp and thrum of countless insects. Rolling hills, thick vegetation, and distant jagged mountain peaks were all he could see. Gnarled vines strangled the tan stone railing of the balcony, which spanned the length of the dining hall. Sticky heat clung to Carver’s skin, but he wasn’t exactly uncomfortable. He’d been in jungles before. He’d fought and bled in them. 

He’d never thought to be married in one, though.

His father came to stand beside him. The wineglass he held looked ridiculously small in his large hand. Cregon Vincetti, the High General of Craethen, was tall and imposing, but Carver knew the lines around his blue eyes were from smiling with his family, and that his booming laugh was louder than any shouted commands. He didn’t have a single weapon on his belt; every entourage had been thoroughly searched when they’d entered Esperance. Only the guards were allowed to have weapons. 

Cregon looked just as strange without his customary blades as Carver felt without his own.

 “Your mother may never forgive the emperor for this,” his father said. His voice was pitched low, though they stood apart from the crowd and the buzz of other conversations would drown out his words before they had a chance of being overheard.

Carver still forced a smile, just in case anyone was watching. “She did offer to be my escort.”

Cregon leveled Carver a look. “I wasn’t about to send your mother here.”

“You were worried about her if a fight broke out?” 

“No. I was worried she might start a fight.”

Carver huffed a short laugh. His mother’s skills with a blade were rivaled only by her temper, once flared.

She didn’t approve of Carver’s arranged marriage, or of being cut off from him for a year. But then, she hadn’t stopped hovering since he’d returned from Harvari—bloody, broken, and barely alive. His parents worried that the wounds that had nearly killed him ran deeper than his skin.

They were right, though Carver would never admit it aloud.

Cregon Vincetti took a swallow of wine and winced.

Carver’s mouth curved. “Westmont’s orchards have spoiled you.”

His father grunted as he eyed the red liquid. “Nothing tastes quite as good as home.”

Home. The word elicited all sorts of conflicted feelings, and the stiff collar of Carver’s uniform was suddenly too tight around his throat. Family, duty, honor, war—they were all entwined with home. As was the feeling of being trapped. 

When the emperor had summoned him to the palace weeks ago, he’d assumed it was to send him back to Harvari. And despite everything, he was itching to do anything after convalescing at home for six months. Even return to war.

He just hadn’t anticipated this particular war.

His eyes sought his new bride, who stood on the far side of the banquet hall. As if she wanted to be as far away from him as possible.

 Amryn Lukis—Vincetti now, he supposed—was a puzzle. She had been his wife—Saints, that was a terrifying word—for nearly an hour, yet they hadn’t actually spoken to each other. The moment the ceremonies ended, they’d all been ushered from the chapel and into this hall. Amryn had stepped away from Carver without a backward glance and moved to stand by her uncle.

She was beautiful. There was no denying that. Carver knew he would always remember the moment those chapel doors had opened and he’d first glimpsed her. The fire of her hair paired with her porcelain skin was a striking contrast, and the stark white of her dress only enhanced the stunning effect. Her sea green eyes were pale and depthless.

She was moderately tall, and though her build was slender, the clinging dress revealed distracting curves. It wasn’t until she stood before him that he noticed the light dusting of freckles scattered across her pert nose and curved cheekbones. Instead of marring her beauty, the markings enhanced it. They made her look real. Her round face was softened further by the crimson ringlets that brushed her cheeks.

Saints, that hair. Even now, standing with a room between them, those locks were distractingly vibrant. He wondered how long they fell when unpinned.

A stupid thing to wonder, considering circumstances.

As if she felt his attention, Amryn’s focus slid to him.

There was nothing pale or delicate in the way she looked at him. Her strange green eyes bored into him, firm and unafraid. Few dared meet his gaze like that. Not with his reputation. But she didn’t flinch away. She challenged him with that stare.

For the life of him, he didn’t know why that made his pulse thrum faster.



*********************



About the Author:  Heather Frost is an #1 Amazon bestselling author of YA/NA fantasy romance. Her books have been Whitney Award and Swoony Award Finalists, and Royal Decoy was a 2022 semifinalist in The Best In Indie Awards. She has a BS in Creative Writing and a minor in Folklore, which means she got to read fairy tales and ghost stories and call it homework. Heather lives in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains in northern Utah. To learn more about Heather and her books, visit her website: www.HeatherFrost.com.

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Pre-order ESPERANCE on Kindle (or buy the paperback on or before November 18th) then fill out the form below to receive a bookmark! Open internationally.

 

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Saturday, November 12, 2022

Come, Gentle Night by Stephanie Black #BlogTour #Giveaway #Suspense

  1.  


Come, Gentle Night (Natalie Marsh #5)Come, Gentle Night by Stephanie Black
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: Received to Review
Genre: Murder Mystery/Suspense

Book Description:  After her entanglement in several homicide investigations, psychologist Natalie Marsh is determined to avoid further trouble. But when her intern needs help monitoring and calming family drama for the duration of a party, Natalie steps up. After all, acting as a peacemaker at a fundraising gala seems relatively risk-free in comparison to her past escapades—what could happen at a dance? When an argument between feuding guests becomes assault, Natalie realizes the situation is more complicated than she anticipated, with one man at the center of it all: Rowan Montrose. 

 

Four years ago, Rowan’s brother was convicted of murdering his wife. But Rowan believes there’s more to the story, suspecting that the real murderer is walking free. His romantic interest in the younger sister of a police detective renders him more determined than ever to clear the family name. Familiar with Natalie’s reputation, he seeks out her assistance. Natalie tries to decline—she’s no private detective—but as frightening incidents unfold, it’s clear she’s in the middle of this whether she wants to be or not, and breaking through the layers of deception that hide the truth may have lethal consequences.



My Thoughts:  Thank you Stephanie Black for crafting another novel that baffled me and glued me to the pages! Natalie Marsh is a psychiatrist that is so good at her job that mystery and suspense come looking for her. She tries very hard to stay out of those situations, but somehow she finds herself in the middle of the puzzle with her life in danger.

Come, Gentle Night begins at a charity ball. The intensity starts full throttle when there is a conflict between the police and a young man who believes his brother was wrongfully convicted of murder. From the opening pages, Stephanie Black doesn't engage the brakes and takes the reader on a journey at full speed. At one point I firmly believe it is a bad cop who is the villain, then later, it was the crazy mom. There are so many twists and turns that left me guessing. I was amazed at how the author was able to bring all of the theories and characters into play and have all the strings neatly tied at the end.

If you love a mystery that keeps you guessing, pick up this book. You do not need to read all of the previous books to follow this story. Each book is a story of its own.




Online Purchase Links:





About the AuthorStephanie Black has loved books since she was old enough to grab the pages, and has enjoyed creating make-believe adventures since she and her sisters were inventing long Barbie games filled with intrigue and danger or running around pretending to be detectives. She is a four-time Whitney Award winner for Best Mystery/Suspense novel.

Stephanie lives in California, in the Bay Area. She plays the violin in a community symphony (but never practices enough), enjoys homemade chocolate-chip cookies, and takes pictures of birds. Her favorite activity is spending time with her family, currently consisting of her husband, five kids, three kids-in-law, a cat, and three grandpets.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Beneath His Silence by Hannah Linder #BookTour #Austenprose #GothicRomance

 


Beneath His SilenceBeneath His Silence by Hannah Linder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source:  Received to Review
Genre: Gothic Romance/Mystery

Book Description:  Will Seeking Justice Lead to Her Own Demise?

 
A Gothic-Style Regency Romance from a Promising Young Author
 
Second daughter of a baron—and a little on the mischievous side—Ella Pemberton is no governess. But the pretense is a necessity if she ever wishes to get inside of Wyckhorn Manor and attain the truth. Exposing the man who killed her sister is all that matters.
 
Lord Sedgewick knows there’s blood on his hands. Lies have been conceived, then more lies, but the price of truth would be too great. All he has left now is his son—and his hatred. Yet as the charming governess invades his home, his safe cocoon of bitterness begins to tear away.
 
Could Ella, despite the lingering questions of his guilt, fall in love with such a man? Or is she falling prey to him—just as her dead sister?



My thoughts: Beneath His Silence had a gothic and Jane Eyre feel. The reader is introduced into a manor that hides secrets and lies. A young lady comes to find the truth about her sister Lucy's murder and ends up as the governess. Lord Sedgewick hides secrets and contempt for society. His one and only concern is the care of his son.

The plot is a storm that is fueled by hatred. There are many times that the characters judge others unjustly. Emma is the perfect example. She comes with the notion that she knows what life was like in the home and that Lord Sedgewick murdered her sister. Lord Sedgewick has developed a persona that is aloof and uncaring. Something that he has spent years creating. The storm subsides as the characters get to know each other, but there are still secrets residing in the manor.

I was intrigued by the story and grew to love the characters, imperfections, and all. The story was an example of forgiveness, of oneself and others. Emma scoffs at religion, but as she grows to trust Lord Sedgewick, she begins to heal and believe. I enjoyed their interaction and the sweet romance that grew between them.

Underneath all of this, there is still the issue of Lucy's death and the mystery of someone "imprisoned" in a room in the manor. If you enjoy mystery and the power of secrets, you might want to read this book.

Source: I received a complimentary copy. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.



Online Purchase Links:



ADVANCE PRAISE

  • "Fast-paced danger and suspense from an exciting newcomer to Regency fiction."— Julie Klassen, award-winning author of A Castaway in Cornwall


  • "A strong story of loss and forgiveness, resentment surrendered to faith, and the mercy of God. Readers will enjoy this turbulent mystery with a smile-worthy ending."— Kristen Heitzmann, Christy Award-winning author of Secrets and The Breath of Dawn


  • "This book has everything I love...a dark and broody hero, a spunky heroine on a mission, and a deeply delicious creepy manor home. Beneath His Silence is a rather gothic tale set in Regency England, filled with plenty of intrigue, danger, and romance to make for a very satisfying read."— Michelle Griep, Christy Award-winning author of Lost in Darkness



About the Author:




Hannah Linder resides in the beautiful mountains of central West Virginia. Represented by Books & Such, she writes Regency romantic suspense novels. She is a double 2021 Selah Award winner, a 2022 Selah Award finalist, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Hannah is a Graphic Design Associates Degree graduate who specializes in professional book cover design. She designs for both traditional publishing houses and individual authors, including New York Times, USA Today, and international bestsellers. She is also a local photographer and a self-portrait photographer. When Hannah is not writing, she enjoys playing her instruments--piano, guitar, and ukulele--songwriting, painting still life, walking in the rain, and sitting on the front porch of her 1800s farmhouse.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Danger with Diamonds by Traci Hunter Abramson and Sian Ann Bessey #BlogTour #Giveaway

 




The Danger with DiamondsThe Danger with Diamonds by Traci Hunter Abramson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Source: Received to review and I own the book.
Genre:  Romance and Suspense

Book Description: When Lars Hendriks arranges to meet Marit Jansen in Vienna, he is hoping their friendship will blossom into romance. What he doesn’t expect is a surprise visit from his cousin Cole or the loose diamonds he brings with him.

As a CIA operative, Cole Bridger is used to uncertainty, but when his work takes him back to Vienna, he looks forward to reconnecting with Isabelle Roberts, the fellow agent he dated briefly before duty took him away from Austria. Unfortunately, his silence over the last few months has created a chasm that he can’t cross without help. He barely takes a step toward repairing the damaged relationship when a brazen jewel heist seemingly links Cole, Lars, Marit, and Isabelle to the crime. The group is drawn into a deadly mystery, and once again, the treasures of Falcon Point are threatened. It doesn’t take long for them to realize they have stumbled upon something far bigger and more dangerous than a simple robbery. And someone on the inside knows it.




My thoughts: I have looked forward to reading this book for quite a while. In my excitement, I pre-ordered two copies. I guess I needed to make sure I owned this book.

Lars, Merit, Cole, and Isabelle are the main characters in this story. I met them in the first book Heirs of Falcon Point. This story takes place several months after the first. You don't have to read the first book to start this one, but it is nice to know the back story.

The book starts with a bang when Cole is liberating a hostage in Budapest. He works with fantastic operatives who you get to know in another series by Traci Hunter Abramson. They confiscate a bag of diamonds worth over a million dollars.

Eventually, the characters are in Vienna and are subject to a bank heist where the confiscated jewels and some of Cole and Lars family jewels are stolen. The book is basically non-stop excitement from the beginning to the end.

I loved getting to know the characters better. Cole and Lars are cousins who recently found each other. Their connection and banter are fantastic. They definitely kept me amused. Cole wants a relationship with Isabelle, but he basically messed up his first chance. He hopes for second chances and forgiveness. Lars and Merit have been in the friend zone for a long time. Both wish for that relationship to progress to something more. There were sparks when they finally took their relationship to another level. They encourage Cole and Isabelle to head in the same direction.

The book has a lot of mystery. The group looks for clues to determine who stole the jewels and how they relate to the people in Budapest. There is also the possibility of inside information being passed to the bad guys. I found myself glued to the book to find out how the puzzle pieces fit together.

This is a wonderful book full of romance and suspense. There is non-graphic violence.

Source: I received a complimentary copy. I also have two copies of the book. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.




Online Purchase Links:


About the Authors:

The author's not only co-written this book, but they are also great friends.  If you want a great laugh every Tuesday, follow them on social media where they post #Texting#Tuesday!



Traci Hunter Abramson was born in Arizona, where she lived until moving to Venezuela for a study-abroad program. After graduating from Brigham Young University, she worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for several years, eventually resigning in order to raise her family. She credits the CIA with giving her a wealth of ideas as well as the skills needed to survive her children's teenage years. She is a seven-time Whitney Award winner and has written more than thirty bestselling novels. For more information about Traci, click here: https://linktr.ee/traciabramson


Sian Ann Bessey was born in Cambridge, England, but grew up on the island of Anglesey off the coast of North Wales. She left her homeland to attend university in the U.S., where she earned a bachelor's degree in communications with a minor in English.
She began her writing career as a student, publishing several magazine articles while still in college. Since then she has published historical romance and romantic suspense novels, along with a variety of children's books. She is a USA Today best selling author and a Whitney Award finalist.
Although Sian doesn't have the opportunity to speak Welsh very often anymore, she can still wrap her tongue around, "Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch." She loves to travel and experience other cultures, but when she's home, her favorite activities are spending time with her family, cooking, and reading.


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