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Teyla Branton’s The Cure Continues The Adventure

The Cure Cover

Teyla Branton’s The Cure, Unbounded Book 2, is an ambitious sequel to The Change. There are some new characters we meet while strange universe created in the introduction to the series is expanded along with the godlike abilities of the quasi-immortals. Again we see things through Erin’s point of view as she continues the wrestle with the reality of who and what she has become along with her origins and those who were important to her before her Change.

There is a trick to writing a series. The author must keep the readers from earlier books happy with the advance of the storyline while writing in a way that can stand alone should someone read only the one book or read the series out of sequence. Of course the objective is to entice every reader into becoming a fan of the entire series. Some would give a prologue with all a summary of the previous story. But Branton has chosen the better alternative to battle the fabled sophomore jinx, continuing the story while filling in the background where necessary and in such a way that it is not obtrusive to anyone who read the previous work. After all, there may have been some gap between reading the books and a little refreshing of the storyline doesn’t hurt. Readers of a serial will naturally compare the books and some will find each successive sequel lacking in some way while others will enjoy how the story is continued with the characters they already know. The critical way to judge a series is whether the story is consistent between books and is the plot carried forward. The Cure meets both criteria.

While Branton covers the necessary elements she deals with the unresolved tensions between characters and advances their relationships. The addition of new blood in the story, Mari, Oliver and Benito lends a feeling of authenticity to the fictional world as it grows to accommodate more complexities. Each new character has a key role in the story validated in action lending sufficient depth and backstory.

There is a lot more action in this fast paced installment as the Renegades continue their war against the Emporium. Although The Hunters are involved early on in this story and are mentioned throughout they are not as large a factor in this part of the story as the rivalry between the two factions of the Unbounded. Romantic elements established in the first book are also brought into the mix as we get to know more about Ritter and Keene as well as Erin.

The objective of the Renegades is to rescue scientists who have been working on a cure for autoimmune disease. In doing so they must go into the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to thwart the Emporium’s murderous attempts to suppress the technology. The Emporium, being heavily invested in the pharmaceutical industry in the production of medications for treatment of the disease, has no desire in allowing a cure to be made available.

It’s a tough challenge writing the follow up for a popular book. Sometimes the story dictates where the author must take it and, as most writers know, trying to guide where a story will go doesn’t always work out for the best. With The Cure, Branton has taken her readers exactly where we should go in preparation for the third and fourth books of the series. I’m glad they are already available because I plan to work them into my schedule. Expect reviews of the next two books of this innovative paranormal series in the near future.

Teyla Branton

#TeylaBranton #Unbounded #TheCure #TheChange #Paranormal #Romance #Emporium #Renegades

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Another Monday: Uphill And Into The Wind

Me crop 2

This morning I had an objective – or more like a challenge of a personal sort. I rode my bike nine miles just to see if I could do it. Obviously I succeeded, since I’m writing this. I guess you just have to take my word for it that I actually did it. This who know me well know I usually don’t lie…but I am prone to exaggerating a bit every now and then. Hey, I’m a writer. It’s what we do.

Anyway, the reason or the personal challenge is two fold. I ride a bike to and from work, so being in shape is important. And since I nixed my car as transportation about four years ago it has been my primary means of transportation – other than hoofing it everywhere. I’ve done a considerable amount of that as well.

Now, you may be asking how I ended up not having a car? Well, it’s one of those long stories but I’ll tell you anyway. In 2008, while I was commuting from Satellite Beach to Kissimmee on a regular basis, my 2002 Chevy S10 died. Fortunately, I was close to home when it happened. I drove a rental car for a couple of days – a Chrysler Sebring convertible that got terrible gas mileage in my estimation, though it was fun riding around withe the top down and the wind in my hair even if it was late March and a little on the chilly side. I recall driving my youngest, Sarah, down to Melbourne Beach with the top down one of those nights – satellite radio blaring – just to get some ice cream. I remember telling her I could get used to driving a convertible.

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Having been in car sales a short six months before that I looked up a guy I used to work with and we worked up a deal for a silver 2006 Chevy HHR. Sarah and my other daughter Amanda christened it ‘The Rhino’ dues to its overall look. And for over two years that was my car. Sarah finished high school that year so the reason for staying in Satellite Beach was gone. Amanda was starting her junior year at The University of South Florida near Tampa. I had just helped my son move to Claremont to attend a branch campus of the University of Central Florida. My ex and I were on the verge of getting a divorce and bankruptcy. So Sarah and I moved to an apartment in Kissimmee, which was about a half mile from where I worked. Shortly thereafter I started having a continuing problem with the HHR.

You see, in the corporate wisdom of General Motors, they cut corners on some things like battery size in the newer cars. It doesn’t affect most people, so they are fine with taking the hit from the rest of the people who are dissatisfied, I guess. Being fair, I’m sure its not just a GM thing. Everyone does it. But here’s what happens when you drive a car like the 2006 Chevy HHR a half mile each way everyday. The battery dies. Why? It’s a design flaw in my estimation. You see, you need to drive it at least ten miles a day for the undersized battery to fully recharge. Otherwise you must deep charge the battery for fifteen to twenty hours at least once a month. I learned this after researching the issue on The Internet upon the second instance of my battery dying and having the service department at my local dealership swear that the battery and the electrical system on the car was fine. Because of the antitheft system on the car, the key had to be reprogrammed each time plus the towing charge. So, it cost me $170 each time it happened. I was not happy.

I called the owner of the dealership. I called Chevrolet. Both told me not to believe everything I read only The Internet. Well, is that why there were over 5000 reported instances of the same thing happening to people? What Einstein automotive engineer determined that, on the average, people will drive a car at least ten miles a day? Seriously, they designed a car to need to be driven that much instead of conserving energy, etc. No wonder the company went into bankruptcy and the local dealership, by the way, was one of many GM forced to close its doors forever.

Since my own bankruptcy was final by then and under the terms of that settlement as long as I kept up with the payments I could continue to drive my car, I had a decision to make. Did I really need the car? Sarah had driven it to work in Orlando until the car’s dead battery ‘feature’ caused her to lose her job. Yes, because she didn’t drive it everyday even driving it 12 miles to Orlando every couple of days a week wasn’t good enough to charge the battery. So, I called the bank and told them to intervene with GM about the car’s electrical problem or I wasn’t going to continue making payments. They told me it wasn’t their responsibility to fight with the manufacturer over car defects and if I stopped making car payments they would repo the car.

“Fine, repo it.”

“Well sir, it will ruin your credit.” That is always a good threat when someone has good credit, isn’t it?

“Look, my credit is so bad that, at this point, if you make any entry at all into my file it will probably improve my score.” Yeah, I was being facetious but my credit really was bad.

And so, I bought a bike on closeout from where I worked, a nice one for about 1/3 of the normal price. I began riding to and from work.

Sarah and Amanda moved to Illinois to share a place there together. I remained living and working in Kissimmee, Florida, riding a bike and waiting for the car to be repossessed. I waited and waited and waited.

I wasn’t able to drive it. The battery was dead. So I cancelled my insurance. The State of Florida threatened to fine me if I didn’t maintain insurance on a registered vehicle. So I turned in my license plate. Not that I really ‘saved’ the money but I had a whole lot more disposable income after not making payments on a car, paying insurance or being gasoline. Such a radical I am! Why it’s almost un-American not to have a car, right?

While Sarah still lived with me we rode the bus a lot of places. The service wasn’t great but it got us where we needed to go even if it took all day to get across town and back. Other times my son who had moved closer to the main campus at UCF and started graduate school was able to drive me some places in a pinch.

The bank that owned the car loan was bought out by a larger bank and apparently my particular case file was misplaced. So it took the acquiring bank over a year to finally decide to repo The Rhino. By then they assumed I had flown the coop and hired a private detective to find me. I’m not exaggerating, this folks. As vivid as my imagination may be, I couldn’t make something like this up.

It wasn’t like I had tried to hide my address or phone number. They were still the same as when I last changed them on my account. But the PI assumed I had relocated again. So he tracked down my relatives, and ended up calling my son. He didn’t give any information, because he assumed it was someone form the bankruptcy trying to scheme a way back into my life. But he took the guy’s number and called me. I assumed it was about the car that was still sitting in my driveway. So I called, told him to pick it up, the sooner the better. Probably the easiest repo ever.

So that’s how I ended up not having a car, riding a bike or walking everywhere.

Granted, my current situation of commuting a mile and a half each way has only been since May. But since starting this job I have lost a lot of weight between riding the bike and working a job that requires a lot of physical effort and manual labor. It’s a good change up from sitting and writing or editing. It’s a huge change from being a manager. I’ve lost some weight – about 60 pounds in the past year, half of it just since May.

And today I rode nine miles. Toward the end it felt like it was all uphill and against the wind. Still, I made it.

Bike

#biking #walking #cars #repo #exercise #ChevyHHR #DeadBattery #DesignFlaws #defects

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Hot Under The Collar About Things

Sun glare

Okay so it is hot in The Sunshine State, AKA Florida. It’s August. It’s supposed to be hot, right? How hot is it? Just about as hot a two gerbils farting around in a wool sock, I’d say. In Orlando in the summertime you either get used to the heat out of necessity for simple survival or you spend your life running from air-conditioned building to air-conditioned building.

I’m sort of acclimated, I guess. I’ve spent most of my adult life living in Florida. I do all sort of crazy crap like riding a bike to and from work. Also, I ride a bike when I go shopping. I ride a bike to take a tour of the neighborhood and get some exercise. I ride a bike for a mile in 95 degree F heat and hardly break a sweat. Yes, I’m acclimated.

I ride a bike because mass transit in Orlando virtually does not exist int eh area where I live. This is also sadly true of most places in the US. You see, somewhere back in ancient history, right around the time I ws born, there was an absolute commitment made to being a car-nation (not to be confused wight he flower). So, except for really big cities mass transit in America is a joke. And even in some of the big cities it is not all that hot.

Which brings me back to the subject of heat. In Florida you can smell it I’m serious. You wake up on a summer morning, step outside the door, the day already smells hot. There really is no other way to describe it. I guess Floridians complain about the heat/humidity around this time of year just like Yankees whine about the cold in January and the foot of snow that fell last night on top of the seven accumulated feet already covering the ground. Yeah, opposite ends of the heat scale to be sure, but its weather related. People will forever complain about the weather until congress takes control of it and then we can blame them for all the stagnant air outside of Washington DC as well as everything else that never seems to change quickly enough.

I miss living up north but only when it is cooler there than is here and not cold. I left the north sometime after the Blizzard of ’78 – or was that ’77? It’s hard to recall that far back. But somewhere in the late ’70’s there was a blizzard and that was one of the main reasons my family moved South. Silly me I net back North for 9 years in the 1990’s, though. And experienced other blizzards.

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So, the kids in Florida are back in school and the day they started the new school year was the hottest day so far in 2014. Imagine that! When I think of school I think about fall, leaves turning an a nip in the air first thing int he morning. But those memories come from a long time ago in a different very world. But for all the lacking of anything for me to grab hold of and relate to, the busses were running and it seemed like a good day. It was peaceful enough just to have the ambient noise level diminish as the hooligans were locked away in their assigned rooms for some force-fed, Common Core complaint instruction.

I doubt the kids learned much of anything not he first day of school. It always seemed a wasted day backk when I was in school, in Ohio. Here, because of the oppressive heat, except that how much kids hate sitting in a classroom after having a few weeks off, there isn’t much similarity. Since the invention of schools one thing has never changed, most kids would rather be anywhere else. And it’s because the way we teach kids is the way we think they need to be taught instead of the way most would actually learn. I’m just saying. From my experience back in prehistoric times when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I did a lot of self-educating.What with my dyslexia, I would have never learned how to read had I waited to be instructed while serving my 12-year, state-mandated sentence for no other crimes than being born and turning age 6. I kind of had to take charge of my education at times otherwise I would have wasted most of those twelve years and come out of it with a diploma and no common sense. But now we have standards. Common core in lieu of common sense.

It win’t gettin’ better. Yeah, I know I used ain’t. I live in the South. It;s somewhat expected, right. And, besides, I come from a long line of Rednecks, some distinguished, others not so much. Anyway, had i not decided early on to take charge of my education I might never have learned much of anything except what i started out with. Oh yeah, I learned how to tie my shoes. I did learn that while in school. I probably learned some other things but I can’t recall what those things are at the moment, which kind of makes my point.

Yes, I’m being facetious, But I firmly believe that if kids are in charge of their learning to a large extent and the teacher is there to give them direction and guidance, things go more smoothly and there will be some learning taking place. Force feeding creates resentment and little real learning. If you need an example, here it is. Do you remember how to take the square root or anything? Have you ever used that arcane knowledge? Unless you’re a mathematician or an engineer, I doubt you do.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating the cessation math instruction – Far from it. I’m saying make education relevant. Prepare kids for the real world not some hypothetical utopia that does exist where there will be jobs for every idiot the system churns out. Don’t teach for the intent of administering some stupid tests that measure nothing except how well kids were prepared to take a damned test. Yes, I’m including the dreaded SAT and ACT examinations in that as well. And while we are seriously looking at the educational system take another look at how long kids need to be in the classroom in their attempts to learn something. Starting school on the hottest day of the year is kind of crazy. And, anyway, whether it is 160 days or 180 days or some other number of days that kids are required to attend school having a body present for the process doesn’t mean the mind will follow. I recall spending the last three months of my mandatory education marking time, because I had already completed everything rehired of me to receive my diploma. Kind of silly, isn’t.

Florida

#Florida #heat #schools #education #CommonCore

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Don’t Mind The Labels

books

In the broadest sense of the word, I think the vast majority of books are misclassified when genre is assigned to them. That’s not an indictment on the publishing industry but a simple fact that each book is unique and, though it may have some similarities to other books on the market, assigning a particular BISAC code to a book for marketing purposes may actually prevent a reader from finding a book they would enjoy very much.

Here’s a broad statement for you to consider. The majority of novels could be classified as Romance. It has nothing to do with the plethora of titles available in that popular genre or the popularity of ‘those’ kinds of books. The reason more books aren’t classified as Romance is because the authors do not like the association with what they consider pop culture or trashy books that are obsessed with sexual tensions. Yes there are Romance novels that certain go to an explicit extreme but the simple truth is that for stories to be interesting to readers there usually are elements of realistic human relationships captured in the interactions between characters – romantic relationships.

I bring the subject up not because I’m about to claim all of my books are Romance novels, though I will say there are relationships between people who are in love within their pages. What I’m getting at is more along the lines of embarrassing social stigmas of a particular genre. That includes science fiction and fantasy, two genres in which my books seems to find comfortable assignment from time to time.

Over the past few months I’ve read a variety of novels. Some were well written and others not to much. I’ve enjoyed most of the books despite the assigned genres being outside of my usual interests. Why? Because the books possessed elements of other genres like mystery, suspense, adventure in well told stories. There was a series I;d classify s historical romance that i enjoyed enough to be waiting for the next book to be published and it has been marketed as a swashbuckling adventure story. Well, yes, there is a good bit of that in the book as well.

Authors should be storytellers first and foremost. Our characters drive the events of the story and, if allowed, they will tell us of the conflicts and expose most other plot elements through their conversations and interactions with other characters. Why this works is because it is great story telling. It successfully mirrors the natural interactions readers are familiar with in their daily lives.

Genre classification exists for librarians, bookstores and readers to judge whether different books are similar enough to be associated. In truth, each book or series of books is completely unique. Each author writes exactly like himself or herself and no one else on the planet. But like looking at fingerprints, books will have similar identifying characteristics. This book may remind the reader of that book or one author might influence the style or writing that another later adopts. But it is extremely difficult to say that any two books as ‘alike’. If any two books were exactly alike then why read both?

When a reader enjoys a certain type of book he or she is inclined to sample other the other work by that author. In the absence of other books he or she may look for other similar books by different authors. That’s the value of genres. From both a reader’s as well as a marketer’s perspective Genres are labels, nothing more. And humans seem obsessed with labeling things – that is until labels are unfairly applied.

I like to think my writing spans many genres. The trouble with that is that BISAC codes are used in the publishing business to pigeonhole books, assign them shelf space in bookstores or category pages online. At some point, someone, whether it is the author, the publisher or both, has to determine which code to us for a new book. This choice is critical in how the book will be pitched to reviewers, critics, bloggers, book distributors, retailers and ultimately readers. Are there ever mistakes made in selecting the BISAC code? Sure, it happens all the time. The trouble is that it is very hard to change the BISAC code after a book is released to the public. It’s almost like publishing a new edition of a book when you’re talking about a paperback version.

And so we have a situation where readers frequently discover a book they like in a genre they ‘usually’ don’t read. They find the book because a friend referred them to it, not because of all the specific choices of those marketing the book. That’s not a bad thing, but it goes back to my point. Well written stories span many genres and therefore there is a lot to like in most every well written book. Sometimes a disservice is done to both the author and the reader in the attempt to categorize a book. Other times, because of the classification of a book, we as readers shun a book we might enjoy. As authors we may avoid allowing our books to be marketed in specific genres where they could actually find the largest audience, just because we don’t want to be associated with other authors in that genre.

Me crop 2

#writing #genre #fiction #publishing #BookMarketing #BISAC

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Review For Christine Gabriel’s Crimson Forest

The small town of Buffalo, Wisconsin, population 650-something, is noteworthy for one thing, its Crimson Forest. A major attraction to hunters during the season legend has it that mysterious creatures prowl the forest looking for unsuspecting victims, something supported by random disappearances in the past.

Seventeen-year-old Angelina and her mother own and operate a popular bed and breakfast. When the poor girl was twelve years old her father disappeared in the forest leaving them alone. Five years later, during the fall after her graduation when many of her friends from her graduating class have gone off to college, Angelina remains at home helping her mother prepare for the onslaught of hunters in anticipation of the season.

All Angelina has ever wanted was to be normal but like the forest she has secrets. It’s just that she hasn’t yet realized what they are. But her life is about to change dramatically and the adventure will lead her to rediscover secrets about herself and the mysterious forest. In the process she will learn how far from normal she is.

Some of the memorable characters are endearing while others are despicable, as Christine Gabriel has created a creepy setting for all kinds of unpredictable paranormal activity. She has blended realism with fantasy in a way that makes the outrageous seem plausible, creating a world where magic exists as surely as the strange red colored moss that covers the forest’s floor and clings to the trunks of its trees. The question becomes what sort of mythical creatures don’t inhabit this strange world? Although this is not a book about vampires, there is one named Stephen who offers a bit of comic relief. For example, he gets excited over the mention of a potential blood bath toward the climax of the story and later on Angelina tells him to go stake himself.

Crimson Forest is the first in The Crimson Chronicles series. It is due to launch on August 30, 2014 with the sequel Crimson Moon set to follow sometime in Spring 2015.

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#ChristineGabriel #CrimsonForest #NewReleaseBook #Paranormal #Romance

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A Writer’s Vicarious Experience

books

There are milestones in everyone’s life. For a writer those are inflection points, like the decision somewhere align the line to pursue writing in a serious way. Finishing a manuscript has to rank pretty high among a writer’s personal achievements. Having a publisher accept a manuscript for publication is well up the list too. But I believe the excitement of holding a printed copy of my first book in my hands was a transcending moment eclipsing all others to enter the realm or overall accomplishments like hold a child for the first time. Yeah, it’s like that.

As with one’s first child, it is an unforgettable experience but also one revisited with similar subsequent events. Books really are like children except the nurturing period may not be quite as long before turning one loose on the unsuspecting world. I can tell you what its like to hold a copy of a book you toiled over for months or years but is truly is something that until you experience it you cannot fully comprehend.

There is a certain level of immortality that goes with publishing something. Of course the life of a book depends on its success in the market place and whether it is available in bookstores and libraries swell as online. A lot of that comes after the fact and it requires an author to be a salesperson, something that is not quite a natural fit for the stereotypical reserved, reclusive sort writers are purported to be.

Over the next few weeks a couple of my friends are releasing books. Now, I’ve had several friends and acquaintances int he writing community release books over the past couple of years and I’ve been pretty supportive of their efforts to get the word out about their books. But I think the next two books present events I may experience vicariously because I am working at their publicist. The two young ladies are as different as the poles on the national political magnet, as if their writing styles and the genres of their books. And yet, I both of these books have story lines that I believe will be the key selling points. So I expect good things int he weeks and months to come for both ladies.

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Christine Gabriel’s Crimson Forest is the first of a series. We know the name of the sequel so far, Crimson Moon and that the second book is coming out in the Spring of 2015. It is a Young Adult / New Adult Paranormal Romance with elements of action, adventure and mystery as well as a goodly amount of strangeness – what more could you ask for? The characters are endearing or despicable depending on what they do int he story. And there are a lot of surprises along the way. Nothing is exactly what it seems. Inside the Crimson Forest the world had different rules. I read in in two days. It’s that sort of story. You want and need to find out how it is resolved. And there is a resolution before a hook that leads into the sequel.I’ll be posting a review in the next day or two.

Steph Post

Steph Post’s A Tree Born Crooked is a stand alone novel in the Country Noir genre. If you don’t know what that is, let me explain a little about the book. First, expect critical acclaim for this one. Steph is that kind of writer. It’s a slice of southern life delivered with a chainsaw. The characters are gritty and realistic, the sort of people you see int he small out of the way stops along the Interstate as you drive from south Florida on your way North to a world that makes more sense to Yankees. The characters are memorable and the situations and hair brained schemes might be amusing if they didn’t have such serious and potentially deadly consequences. I posted a review for the novel back in March.

I’m as excited about these two releases as if they books were my own because, in a way, I’ve helped in gaining the authors some exposure for their work. Last night I was privileged to see the covers. Crimson Moon’s cover is pretty much a final that will be revealed in aa few days. A Tree Born Crooked’s cover is a late version. It needs the author’s final blessing. Expect a reveal on that one in a couple of weeks. Feeling the excitement of both authors as they reacted to their covers was a special experience for me. And I know both ladies will remember the moment as well.

Still, I’ll be waiting for the text message with a selfie attached when each of them receives her complimentary copies of their books. Yeah, happy dance time for certain. I may get out of my easy chair and share the moment with them.

#books #publishing #ChristineGabriel #StephPost #ATreeBornCrooked #CrimsonForest #NewReleaseBooks #MustReads

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Review Of The Change by Teyla Branton

The Change Cover

Teyla Branton’s The Change is book one of The Unbounded series, a fresh take on paranormal adventure. The series currently comprising four volumes, the most recent publishing earlier this summer (2014). As the introduction to the extended tale, The Change provides ample character development while establishing the foundation and associated conflicts for everything that is to come in the battle between three factions: the mortal Hunters and the two sides of nearly godlike Unbounded, the Emporium and the Renegades. Branton provides a historical basis for the conflict creating enough plausibility for the reader to suspend disbelief, a critical part of paranormal storytelling.

Branton’s writing style makes for a comfortable read providing enough variation to remain fresh and compelling as she employs first person to convey the story through the eyes as well as other senses of Erin. Barely surviving a horrendous traffic accident in which she was severely burned over seventy percent of her body, Erin learns that she possesses a gene that allows her not only to survive but also to be better than she was before as her body now replicates and repairs itself quickly.

Although near immortality at first it might seem a dream come true, the reality of her new situation casts Erin into the midst of a centuries-old battle. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Hunters that would like nothing better than rid the world of all Unbounded. In the process of self-discovery Erin is compelled to choose which side she will join. She learns that nothing about her life is easy or even what it seems including her ancestry and that her gifts that are rare even amongst the Unbounded.

The Change is full of suspense, action and intrigue with several twists and turns as the reader constantly learns more about the surreal world that exists beneath the unsuspecting noses of most mortals. With attention held from start to finish the reader reaches a conclusion that serves more as a respite than resolution. There is a good deal left to be resolved in the subsequent installments.

Teyla Branton

Link to Amazon:

#paranormal #bookreview #TheChange #TeylaBranton