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May 4, 2020

Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke

Monday, May 04, 2020




Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke
North Star Editions/Flux
Sci Fi & Fantasy | Teens & YA
Kindle Pub Date 26 May 2020
Full release February 2021
EGalley via netgalley in exchange for this review, thank you!


Ren Kolins is a silver wielder—a dangerous thing to be in the kingdom of Erdis, where magic has been outlawed for a century. Ren is just trying to survive, sticking to a life of petty thievery, card games, and pit fighting to get by. But when a wealthy rebel leader discovers her secret, he offers her a fortune to join his revolution. The caveat: she won’t see a single coin until they overthrow the King.
Behind the castle walls, a brutal group of warriors known as the King’s Children is engaged in a competition: the first to find the rebel leader will be made King’s Fang, the right hand of the King of Erdis. And Adley Farre is hunting down the rebels one by one, torturing her way to Ren and the rebel leader, and the coveted King’s Fang title.
But time is running out for all of them, including the youngest Prince of Erdis, who finds himself pulled into the rebellion. Political tensions have reached a boiling point, and Ren and the rebels must take the throne before war breaks out.


I do not read tons of books in the sub-genre of sci-fi but I have been loving the fantasy/teen/YA genre over the past year and this book is another great fantasy novel (with additional themes of LGBT so be forewarned) and a really delicious debut. Ren's character of being a silver wielder, an outlawed talent, is easy to like: she is tough, independent, snarky and realistic. A concurrent character storyline of a soldier of the monarchy follows Adley, who is an orphan with a dangerous love interest but wholly focused on her mission to kill for her evil leaders. And it turns out that Adley is hunting Ren and is eager to do so as it would guarantee Adley the highest position possible for her dire life's existence: the King's Fang. The setting of the kingdom of Erdis is dark, lonely and hopeless but the author is skilled at offering a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel for the main characters who are working towards a better reality but the endgame of our characters work against each other.

Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke is a courageous story that doesn't hold back; its myriad of rough characters pulls you in as they reveal their insecurities as the plot unfolds. The themes of forbidden love and violence with poetic justice really give this story a punch but it is the flowing writing style of the author that makes this novel so easy to enjoy. There is so much going on that this review is very subpar when it deserves to much more. Very well done and can't wait to read more from the author.

~~~

Unfortunately with the Covid -19 pandemic I can't really tell when the book is to be published, it was originally slated for May 2020 and that is what Amazon shows the kindle release it but paperback is 2021.

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Apr 18, 2020

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Saturday, April 18, 2020



The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Simon & Schuster
pub November 2019
library loan


Be careful who you let in.
Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.
She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.
Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.
In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.


I borrowed this book from the library as for some reason I did not meet the criteria to receive an eGalley from NetGalley from Simon and Schuster pre-publication. It must be because I am not one of those gushy 'oh quote me for a blurb please' type of bloggers, so screw you all, I am still reviewing this damn book! Just to throw it in your face for declining my request to review this on netgalley I really want to say I hated this book but I can't, for Lisa Jewell is very good at what she does. She is a wonderful gothic-esque suspense writer and The Family Upstairs is a solid four star read, so take that Simon and Schuster morons who didn't want me to review this book. 😘

I really loved Libby's character and learning her family's secrets slowly.. the suspense/mystery angle was well played out and I didn't exactly know all the connections of the characters though there was certainly an aura that something more was happening under the covers. I really loved the way the plot filled itself out as it was indeed like one more cover lifted, then another till we reach the end.  There were several ways the whole thing could've played out and the ultimate finale was very well done and satisfied my need for closure with a twist.

The other Lisa Jewell book I read was Then She Was Gone, which was a five star read. Check that out here on Goodreads. I think I will be looking for more Lisa Jewell reads as Ruth Ware has totally made me ban her because of her lame ways of closing out her own suspense/thrillers.


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Mar 12, 2020

House of Earth and Blood: Crescent City #1 by Sarah J Maas

Thursday, March 12, 2020

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas 
March 3, 2020 from Bloomsbury, 816 pages 

****Not inserting a synopsis because it contains a huge spoiler **** (first clue this book contains zero merit) 

I fell in love with Sarah J. Maas' A Court of Thorns and Roses series last year; so much so that I reread them this year. I also fell into the hype trap and pre-ordered a signed copy of the House of Earth and Blood book one of the newest series by Sarah J. Maas, Crescent City, marketed as an adult book as opposed to her previous titles. The writing is the same though so it was decided to reissue the previous titles soon as adult, too. Whatever brings in the money, right? 

It is a huge book! I love huge books, I cannot lie! Except this one, as it was 800 pages of repetitive whining back and forth between the fallen slave angel Hunt and the druggie half-Fae half-human Bryce. They were in heat for each other throughout the 800 pages, demons are unleashed and supergirl Bryce saves the day. Surprise! That's the synopsis. 

Second clue I would hate this is the purposeful insertion of the F**K word 528 times. Then the third clue was how many times Bryce's toes curled as a reflex of being attracted to the fallen angel who is an 'alphahole' (eyeroll). 

Fourth clue is that I zzzzz'd through 700 pages before action started to happen. The actual climax at the end of the book didn't make up for the utter disappointment of the majority of the book so One F**King star from me. Too crass, crude and way too long of a build-up. 

Sex crazed Bryce needs her Fae Daddy to love her for who she is so she does drugs to get away from her sadness/stupidity of her life. She seeks redemption and revenge on her Fae Fam by eschewing their traditions and battles demons to save babies. The End. 

Mar 2, 2020

And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Stephanie Marie Thornton

Monday, March 02, 2020


And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Stephanie Marie Thornton
Berkley Publishing Group, March 10 2020
Hist-Fic, 480 pages
Review copy via Netgalley 
An intimate portrait of the life of Jackie O…
Few of us can claim to be the authors of our fate. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy knows no other choice. With the eyes of the world watching, Jackie uses her effortless charm and keen intelligence to carve a place for herself among the men of history and weave a fairy tale for the American people, embodying a senator’s wife, a devoted mother, a First Lady—a queen in her own right.
But all reigns must come to an end. Once JFK travels to Dallas and the clock ticks down those thousand days of magic in Camelot, Jackie is forced to pick up the ruined fragments of her life and forge herself into a new identity that is all her own, that of an American legend.

This was my first book regarding the famous Kennedy family and the woman who married into the political Kennedy clan. Jackie died in New York the same month I left New York and I grew up hearing about her and her children so I had an idea of how uptight she was. And that definitely shone through in this novel as we get a good summary of what her life was like during the brief courtship and ten years of a rocky marriage (but with tons of bling!) to the 35th President of the United States. 

The summary is that Jackie had children and lost children and she really despised Texas according to this depiction. She spoke languages fluently and was a public curiosity that helped the Kennedys seem a little more dainty and less masculine political machines. Whether he or she was faithful or not is left open to our imagination. 

I forced myself to finish this to be honest. It was a very dry narrative but is that the author's fault or Jackie's fault? I could not really relate to Jackie as a woman as she was able to snap her fingers and get whatever her heart desired. Plus the multiple times Dallas and Texas was ridiculed was a complete turn off. 

Where this story is heartfelt is when Jackie experienced loss and tragedy just like an ordinary person would. An iconic woman she was able to survive everything that happened to her with grace and poise while in the public eye but behind the scenes she was just keeping her head above water, from the way the author depicts her. 

There is not a lot of Kennedy historical fiction out there so I do recommend this well researched novel for anyone interested in the nuances of the era. I did get a little lost with the lengthy author's note and was disappointed in how many times the author said that she shifted events or scenes that I finally just stopped trying to wrap my head around what was true or not, and didn't finish that author's note. The aspects of biographical fiction versus historical fact is a conundrum of historical fiction and a subject of lengthy debate. 



 I turned off commenting long ago on the blog but I welcome comments at the Facebook page here.

Feb 11, 2020

The Queen's Fortune by Allison Pataki

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


The Queen's Fortune A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire by Allison Pataki
Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine, February 11 2020
Historical Fiction, 448 pages
Review EGalley via netgalley, thank you! 

A sweeping novel about the extraordinary woman who captured Napoleon’s heart, created a dynasty, and changed the course of history—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Traitor's Wife, The Accidental Empress, and Sisi.
As the French revolution ravages the country, Desiree Clary is faced with the life-altering truth that the world she has known and loved is gone and it’s fallen on her to save her family from the guillotine.
A chance encounter with Napoleon Bonaparte, the ambitious and charismatic young military prodigy, provides her answer. When her beloved sister Julie marries his brother Joseph, Desiree and Napoleon’s futures become irrevocably linked. Quickly entering into their own passionate, dizzying courtship that leads to a secret engagement, they vow to meet in the capital once his career has been secured. But her newly laid plans with Napoleon turn to sudden heartbreak, thanks to the rising star of Parisian society, Josephine de Beauharnais. Once again, Desiree’s life is turned on its head.
Swept to the glittering halls of the French capital, Desiree is plunged into the inner circle of the new ruling class, becoming further entangled with Napoleon, his family, and the new Empress. But her fortunes shift once again when she meets Napoleon's confidant and star general, the indomitable Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. As the two men in Desiree’s life become political rivals and military foes, the question that arises is: must she choose between the love of her new husband and the love of her nation and its Emperor?
From the lavish estates of the French Riviera to the raucous streets of Paris and Stockholm, Desiree finds herself at the epicenter of the rise and fall of an empire, navigating a constellation of political giants and dangerous, shifting alliances. Emerging from an impressionable girl into a fierce young woman, she discovers that to survive in this world she must learn to rely upon her instincts and her heart.
Allison Pataki’s meticulously researched and brilliantly imagined novel sweeps readers into the unbelievable life of a woman almost lost to history—a woman who, despite the swells of a stunning life and a tumultuous time, not only adapts and survives but, ultimately, reigns at the helm of a dynasty that outlasts an empire.


Way back in 2010 I read a fabulous book originally written in 1953 by Annemarie Selinko: Desiree. I absolutely loved this story about Desiree Clary, a merchant's daughter who grew up to first be Napoleon's girlfriend then eventually a major part of his family as his brother married Desiree's sister. This newest novel brings Desiree's story to us once again and while fictionalized for hist-fic's sake, it is a story that is so amazing that it inspires several other famous works as Pataki notes at the end of her novel.

I do not need to go into a listing of the intriguing facts of Desiree's life story as it starts in the novel circa 1794 but definitely must expand on the fact that Pataki's retelling of Desiree's story -- and by default Napoleon's and Josephine's as well - is not to be missed. I never tired of Desiree's story, and I always found myself eager to pick up the book even while I was reading another at the same time. While Pataki's writing is done in a matter of fact style, thankfully avoiding being overly dramatic, she gives an easy to read snapshot of the life of Desiree Clary.

And while I found myself disliking the characters of Napoleon and Josephine throughout this telling, it was tear- jerking when their saga was over and that's only because of the storytelling of Allison Pataki.

But what of fate? Just imagine if Desiree and her sister Julie didn't bump into Joseph Bonaparte when their brother was arrested, would there be such a dynasty that Desiree Clary was a matriarch of? Desiree would not have met Napoleon, who requested Bernadotte to pay special attention to Desiree in the first place. Then Desiree and Bernadotte would not have been married and would not have become King and Queen of Sweden.

Desiree becomes Queen of Sweden (her husband the inspiration for Dumas!) and her descendants are still rulers today, forever linked with Empress Josephine, hence the subtitle of this novel. I really enjoyed this story of revolution, revival, love and revenge among rulers. It even makes me want to read Selinko's novel again just to see if Desiree comes off as willing to go to heaven and hell and back again just because of her love for her beloved Bernadotte.

Read my review of The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki at this link https://www.burtonbookreview.com/2014/01/the-traitors-wife-by-allison-pataki.html

I turned off commenting long ago on the blog but I welcome comments at the Facebook page here.

Wicked Saints and Ruthless Gods by Emily Duncan

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


Wicked Saints published April 2019

Ruthless Gods published April 2020


Something Dark and Holy series, books 1 & 2 by Emily Duncan.


Thank you to St. Martin's Press for providing the eGalley to review Ruthless Gods, the sequel to Wicked Saints.


I had read Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan last November as this short summary was quite intriguing:
A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.
A prince in danger must decide who to trust.
A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.
Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.
In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy..

The story is about magical gods, stranger customs to evoke magical powers through blood and one girl's journey of gruesome survival as she struggles to understand who or what she is while trying to save her country. Definitely a fantasy with a bit of incredulity involved but a great premise. While the action in the story was drawn out it was the characters that kept me reading as they were the most intriguing element of Wicked Saints as the shifting plot line bounced out of grasp as to who we were rooting for.




"Ruthless Gods opens the door to a world of fallen gods and eldritch horrors... Gruesome, grotesque, and so, so glorious." - Erin A. Craig, New York Times bestselling author of House of Salt and Sorrows.

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who--and what--he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. Their paths are being orchestrated by someone…or something.


The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

In her dramatic follow-up to Wicked Saints, the first book in her Something Dark and Holy trilogy, Emily A. Duncan paints a Gothic, icy world where shadows whisper, and no one is who they seem, with a shocking ending that will leave you breathless.

Book two of Something Dark and Holy is Ruthless Gods and yet I am not quite seeing where the Ruthless Gods were in the whole story as yet again that was out of grasp. Serefin and Malachiasz are proven to be more connected than we first imagine which made for a neat twist but the whole Serefin is gay thing was out of place in the story. This seems to be a trope thing thrown in to newer YA reads just to pander to the audience; I think it is offensive at times to those who identify as such in the first place (but that's another topic for another day). Speaking of offensive: the author also warns her readers of several trigger warnings such as self-harm and "body horror/eye horror".

The main heroine in the series is Nadya and she is supposed to be super magical and 'holy' but apparently she needs to have special beads to talk to gods to be special (so this time she fell flat for me) as the gods were not listening- since Malachiasz is still alive. It was 432 pages of this journey where the characters are at separate stages of their journeys and at 21% I wrote "So they're on this forgettable journey to get Zaneta from the Salt Mines (not that I know what that means) & "Something is stirring. Something is hungry." & if Something Doesn't Happen Soon I AM SLITTING MY WRISTS"
There was a lot of foreshadowing and build up to action as the author really likes to develop the characters thoroughly.

I am writing this review a few weeks after I actually finished it and yet it feels like it has been much longer than that. The saving grace for this story are those characters and yet I still don't feel like these characters' goals were explained properly; the narrative was a lot of musing. Not that I could do better, I do think there was so much potential .. but I kinda think this series would have been better off whittled down from a trilogy down to a good chunky book if some of the repetitiveness was edited out.

I am undecided as to whether or not I would like to read book three, it would depend on the description and the length of it. If the description doesn't tell me exactly what the actual goal is, then I don't want to embark on their journey of weird magic for no particular reason/just to see people interact with each other.

But yet-- if the story would really let something develop and focus on Nadya and Malachiasz saving the world without all the other hangers on, you might rope me into it if St. Martin's Press/Wednesday Books is willing to take another chance with me. They certainly do not need to attempt it as these books have quite a following already on Goodreads and I am one of the few that did not give this one five stars.


I turned off commenting long ago on the blog but I welcome comments at the Facebook page here.

Feb 1, 2020

The Hazel Wood Volume 1 and 2 by Melissa Albert

Saturday, February 01, 2020


The Hazel Wood originally published January 2019


The Night Country originally published January 2020


Thank you to Flatiron Books for offering the eGalley of The Night Country in exchange for this review.


Welcome to Melissa Albert's The Hazel Wood―the fiercely stunning New York Times bestseller everyone is raving about!

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert was a very intriguing debut novel about Alice-Three-Times whose grandmother has written Tales from Hinterland/fairy tales which aren't necessarily fairy tales in Alice's world. Alice was living her life moving from place to place as her mother fled from unknown threats until the weirdness caught up with them and mom disappears. So Alice and her nerdy friend Finch head out in search of the Hazel Wood in the hopes to rescue mom Ella in spite of mom's famous last words to stay away from the Hazel Wood. I loved how the more creepy fairy tale nuances were ever present and how we as a reader get to experience the journey along with Alice as she discovers more secrets than she can imagine about her own origins. The word 'story' is a very important theme as they are all part of a puzzle that Finch and Alice need to unravel in order to survive the Hazel Wood. A novel so well done and mesmerizing that I couldn't wait to read the sequel, The Night Country:


In The Night Country, Alice Proserpine dives back into a menacing, mesmerizing world of dark fairy tales and hidden doors. Follow her and Ellery Finch as they learn The Hazel Wood was just the beginning, and that worlds die not with a whimper, but a bang.
With Finch’s help, Alice escaped the Hinterland and her reclusive grandmother’s dark legacy. Now she and the rest of the dregs of the fairy tale world have washed up in New York City, where Alice is trying to make a new, unmagical life. But something is stalking the Hinterland’s survivors―and she suspects their deaths may have a darker purpose. Meanwhile, in the winking out world of the Hinterland, Finch seeks his own adventure, and―if he can find it―a way back home...

So now we have Alice but no Ellery Finch back in the real world, naively feeling safe from The Hazel Wood.  Alice is hanging out with other "survivors" from the Hinterland but then strange occurrences are happening to those who tried to escape to New York City, painting Alice as the chief suspect behind the mayhem. She also gets strange notes from Ellery and she realizes she misses him more than she thought she would and perhaps the two need to meet up again in the unknown but spooky Night Country to see if they can spark up a romance. But time does funny things and one doesn't know how time correlates from one world to another; and then: who is part of a story or just a witness to one? Tales are spun and more puzzles to solve and Alice's life as she knows it is in dire jeopardy if she doesn't come up with some real evidence that she isn't really the bad guy from one of the tales that were spun by the evil spinner.

I am so glad that I was able to read both of these books so close to each other because there are many threads originally sewn with the first book weaving through The Night Country and reading book one of The Hazel Wood is a definite must before reading The Night Country. I noticed a lot of references to other stories and fantasy novels that I have recently read which was a little weird but ultimately felt like, "hey -I knew about this too!" type of fandom feel. I really enjoyed both of these books and I am certainly looking forward to anything else Melissa Albert publishes as I adore her writing style.


I turned off commenting long ago on the blog but I welcome comments at the Facebook page here.

Jan 21, 2020

The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron

Tuesday, January 21, 2020



The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron
Thomas Nelson October 2019
Review copy via netgalley, thank you!


When art historian Keira Foley is hired to authenticate a painting at a centuries-old East Suffolk manor, she hopes this is just the thing to get her career and life back on track. But from the time she arrives at Parham Hill Estate and begins working alongside rumored art thief Emory Scott, she’s left with far more questions than answers. Could this lost painting of Queen Victoria be a duplicate of the original Winterhalter masterpiece, and if so, who is the artist?
As Keira begins to unravel the mystery behind the portrait, two women emerge from the estate’s forgotten past. In Victorian England, talented sketch artist Elizabeth Meade is engaged to Viscount Huxley, then owner of Parham Hill. However, Elizabeth’s real motive for being at Parham Hill has nothing to do with art or marriage. She’s determined to avenge her father’s brutal murder—even if it means a betrothal to the very man she believes committed the crime.
A century later, Amelia Woods—a World War II widow who has turned Parham Hill and its beloved library into a boarding school for refugee children—receives military orders to house a troop of American pilots. She is determined the children in her care will remain untouched by the war, but the task is proving difficult with officers taking up every square inch of their world . . . and one in particular vying for a space in Amelia’s long-shut up heart.
Set in three time periods—the rapid change of Victorian England, the peak of England’s home-front tensions at the end of WWII, and modern day—The Painted Castle unfolds a story of heartache and hope and unlocks secrets lost for generations just waiting to be found.


I really enjoyed this split-time historical romance from Kristy Cambron. The characters were intriguing and the setting of the 'castle' was very well done in all of its time periods. The plot line that connected all the different periods when focused on the mystery of the painting was a little tenuous and I would have preferred a more of a zing to that connecting thread but nonetheless the entire story was actually well thought out and quite realistic.

I absolutely loved the heartbreaking story of the grand home being used as a home for orphans and the love story that arose from that era was so eloquent and touching. There were several themes going on in this novel that Cambron puts together with ease.

This is part of a series but can be ready as a stand alone as there is not a connecting character. Fabulous writing and wonderful plot lines for historical fiction fans.

I turned off commenting long ago on the blog but I welcome comments at the Facebook page here.

Jan 12, 2020

2020

Sunday, January 12, 2020
I have such a hard time wanting to actively review the books I have been reading, and I apologize for that to all of you who really don't/care.
I am still on the crazy outdated platform of blogger aka blogspot and I am not about to invest any of my spare time in researching better platforms. But out of the millions of people who are still using Blogger.. How is it that we do not have a better app for publishing via the cell phone? 
I have a few books that I have requested for review via netgalley which means I *MusT* obtain willpower to do so here.
So hopefully coming soon will be reviews for Wicked Saints/Ruthless Gods, The Painted Castle, The Night Country..
I have been reading a lot of different types of books but finding most of my enjoyment in the Young Adult Fantasy genre. 
I should also be doing a Best of 2019 post but that would be lengthy as I read some pretty damn good books last year. Newest favorite authors are Cassandra Clare, Sarah J. Maas, and Holly Black. 
I read 78 books and over 32k pages in 2019! 

I set my goal for 70 for 2020.. I expect to be a lot more busier this year irl due to the oldest graduating high school this year.

I have removed the mailchimp feature due to hacking and pretty much the best way to check in with me is via Facebook. 

May 2020 be the start of the best decade ever.