Tuesday, October 26, 2021

MEMORABLE CHARACTERS, MAGIC, GOOD, AND EVIL! AWARD-WINNING NOVEL - LIKE I USED TO DANCE BY BARBARA FRANCES IS A TERRIFIC COMMENTARY ON SPIRITUALITY VS RELIGION & RELATIONS!!!!!

 


“Our kids, my, my, Gracie” laughed Bud. “Where did we go wrong? One marries God, another a Jew and the last one, the devil!”

Texas, 1951. The Wolanskys—Grace, Bud and their three grown children—are a close-knit clan, deeply rooted in their rural community and traditional faith. On their orderly farm, life seems good and tomorrow always holds promise.

But under the surface, it’s a different story. Grace is beset by dark memories and unnamed fears, calmed only by practicing a secret obsession. Their son Andy has said no to becoming a farmer like his dad and, worse, has fallen in love with a big-city Jewish girl. Youngest child Regina is trapped in a loveless marriage to an abusive, alcoholic husband. Even “perfect” daughter Angela’s decision to become a nun unleashes consequences no one could foresee.

And then Ceil Dollard breezes into town.

Ceil—wealthy, sophisticated, irrepressible—is like a visitor from Mars. She’s a modern woman. She drives a car and wears pants. She blows away tradition and certainty, forcing Grace to face her fears and brave a changing world. Through Ceil, Grace learns about courage and pleasure—but at the risk of losing Bud.

Barbara Frances’ sparkling, richly human novel takes you back to a time when Ike was president and life was slower, but people were the same as now. You’ll encounter a cast of characters storm-tossed by change, held together by love. Written with compassion, humor and suspense, Like I Used to Dance will charm you, warm you and even squeeze a few tears, from its opening number to the last waltz.


5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE IT! - Family Saga Full of Drama and Heart

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Don’t start this book before bedtime or you’ll be late to work! I love family sagas and this one swept me along. It’s about Grace, a warm, creative woman strong for her family but out of touch with her own needs. The place is rural Texas and the time is the fifties, when women were still trapped as homemakers. The family is Catholic and Grace’s daughters have their own struggles. Angela is unsure if she should become a nun and Regina has to decide if she’ll divorce her abusive husband. Grace herself is a talented artist who has never realized her potential. She develops a close bond with Ceil, a sophisticated transplant from LA who blows into the life of Grace and her family like a powerful wind. In the end, everything turn s out but nothing is the same. A great read!


M. M. Bishop Award-winning author and poet
 
5.0 out of 5 stars WILL SURELY BECOME ONE OF THE CLASSICS IN LITERATURE
It is easy to see how Like I Used To Dance by Barbara Frances won awards. It is a novel that should easily find its way into classic literature. It is not just the story of the Wolanskys, who live in a small farming town in the nineteen-fifty’s, but the story of life, and how even generations of family issues can affect each new generation unless something happens to break the cycle.
Ms. Frances paints a picture of each character, their weaknesses, as well as the strength in their character. From Grace, and Bud, their three grown children, to neighbors, and friends, each is drawn with a fine pencil, fully formed, and genuine, some are people you wish you knew, and others you would like to string up. Yet, each is so well crafted as to be able to see them in your life, or town.
Whether she is painting the generous nature of Bud, to the horror of Billy Ray, Ms. Frances brings us a full picture of life as it was, and life as it still is. Many things may have changed in our world, underneath there is still an underbelly of both the beauty and ugliness of human nature.
Like I Used To Dance was not a book that I could easily put down, but sat up till the wee hours of the morning reading.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED



A PLACE WHERE SHADOWS WALK AND ONE NEEDS TO FIND REALITY FROM INSANITY - SHADOW'S WAY BY AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR BARBARA FRANCES

 


Prepare to be spellbound. Barbara Frances' long-awaited third novel, “Shadow's Way,” takes you to the coastal, deep South, where the past and the present mingle in a gothic tale of insanity, murder, and sexual intrigue.

You'll meet the beautiful Elaine Chauvier, former actress and proprietor of Shadow's Way, her family's antebellum home; the esteemed Archbishop Andre Figurant and his fallen identical twin, Bastien; newly arrived Ophelia and Rudy, here to explore their Chauvier roots and their ties to Shadow's Way; and the mysterious Madame Claudine. Under a veneer of piety and graciousness, i.e., the questions: What is good? What is evil? What is reality?

Fans of Agatha Christie and her enormous ensemble casts will find many enjoyable parallels in the work and structure of author Barbara Frances. I particularly enjoyed the setting for this tale, playing on the traditional tropes of the Southern gothic genre, but also adding many flairs and twists from ghost stories, fables and psychological horror works. Both the characters and plot are multi-faceted, giving readers a lot to follow, but also a lot to gain from paying close attention to each clue and motivation. The mystery itself sometimes takes a back seat when the (often literal) ghosts and shadows take over, playing with the characters’ sensibilities and forcing them to ask much deeper questions of themselves and others. What results is an emotive but also thoughtful, spooky mystery novel. I would highly recommend Shadow’s Way to mystery and gothic fiction fans looking for something new, unique and really well crafted


Ms. Francis’ novel Shadow’s Way, had me enthralled from page one, it kept me reading until so late into the night that I used a flashlight in order not to wake my husband.

I’ve always enjoyed reading gothic tales, but this one went beyond most that I had read. The synopsis was correct, past and present mingled and left me on the edge of my seat. Was G – G – Daddy a real paranormal experience or a figment of Elaine Chauvier’s imagination, which got worse as she sunk deeper into insanity?

I loved the various characters that Ms. Francis brought into play as needed to heighten the story. They were well rounded and interconnected in ways that one has to keep reading to get the full picture.




WHAT WOULD A HORSE TELL YOU, IF YOU LISTENED? THE NURSE MARE'S TALE AND AWARD-WINNING DINKY: THE NURSE MARE'S FOAL - BY MARTA MORAN BISHOP - NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK, AUDIO, AND KINDLE

 




The Nurse Mare's Tale is in a way the prequel to Dinky: The Nurse Mare's Foal, as it tells the story of Dinky's mother.

This lovely story is told from the viewpoint of two aging nurse mares about to give birth, and the trials they go through. It tells us of Sadie and her friend Nellie and is accompanied with charming dialogue (both speaking and thinking). The plight of these animals is described in empathetic detail.


After enduring years of breeding and loss, the older nurse mares must face the auction with the promise of being slaughtered, as they have become too old for breeding and thus unable to be rented out as nurse mares to feed the foals of the high-dollar mares.


Do they accept their fate, or will there be another ending for the nurse mares that have given everything and received little in return?


The ending may surprise you. It is a poignant story that will rip your heart out and put you back together again.

_________________________________________________________________

Winnie Award Winner at the Equus Film Festival. Dinky: The Nurse Mare’s Foal is the story of one little foals fight for survival after being taken from his mother within hours of his birth. Dinky, takes us on a poignant trip through the heart and mind of an animal, who was born for the sole purpose of producing milk in the mare. In the elite world of horses, Dinky was considered a by-product, a ‘junk foal.’ Dinky’s story will resonate with animal lovers, as well as anyone who has adopted. Although a horse, his story has been called an adoption story. The reader can follow him through the heartbreak, cruelty, loneliness, and finally to happiness in his forever home. His story is based on true events. Each event from the moment the author met Dinky actually happened, though it is the author’s interpretation of what he might have been thinking and feeling during the occasions described in his story. His early life which is unknown has been fictionalized by the author and constructed through research and imagination. There are many wonderful animal rescue leagues, many are very empathic to these young animals, though some are not. Since Ms. Bishop has no knowledge of Dinky’s early days she used the latter to enhance the strength of his story. It will break your heart, open your eyes, lift you up, and teach you much about horses. It is suitable for all ages.



Jade Lazlow
5.0 out of 5 stars A Touching, Informative Story Inspiring Change

Reviewed in the United States on November 18, 2019

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The Nurse Mare's Tale is told from the perspective of a horse named Sadie, who is placed in servitude to feed other mare's horses with her milk. Like many of Marta Moran Bishop's stories, this book takes an unflinching look at the problematic things we sometimes do in society in pursuit of profits. In this case, it's the equine industry and the practice of using nurse mares.

Nurse mares are bred for the sole purpose of providing milk to more "desirable" foals, such as racehorse foals. Their own foals are often treated as throwaways in the industry. The industry maintains that the practice is necessary, while equine rights activists condemn the practice. Throwaway foals are sometimes slaughtered, and the mares themselves are often repeatedly re-bred with little opportunity to properly heal. There is a huge profit incentive for thoroughbred farmers to use nurse mares in raising their foals.

Before reading The Nurse Mare's Tale, I knew a little about the industry and the lengths it goes to in order to maximize profitability, pushing the boundaries of humane animal treatment. Mares are sometimes kept under artificial light 24/7 early in the spring to influence their reproductive cycle, for example. Bishop's book raised my awareness of issues to a new level, and at times, it was difficult to continue reading for that reason. Horses are sentient beings and treating them as if they aren't is disturbing.

It's important reading, however, because it raises awareness of the treatment of these beautiful creatures on whose backs fortunes are made. Awareness of the issues is the first step in cultivating positive change.

Bishop's book is beautifully written, and she weaves in factual information in such a way that it comes across as a natural narrative. The lessons she presents are artfully delivered through Sadie's eyes.

Readers who are sensitive to the plight of animals or who want to know more about the horse industry will find this book deeply moving. At times, it is touching, and at other times, it's sad. Regardless, its message is an important one.
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A WALK WITH VIRGINIA (A MEMOIR) BY JILL ZAPATA IS A GEM!!! IT WILL MAKE YOU WEEP, LAUGH, AND MOST OF ALL CARE!

 


To walk with another person can be as mundane as putting on one's socks and shoes, or it can be a twisting, turning, life-changing journey into unknown territory. It can also be everything in between. My walk with Virginia was life changing. It was unexpected. It was challenging. It was frustrating and confusing. We had highs, and we had lows. Thankfully, it was also awe-inspiring and extraordinary.


Have you ever been a caregiver for a family member or a friend? Is it, perhaps, on the horizon of your life? Or maybe you cannot yet see the horizon. Make no mistake, it is not a question of love, whether to provide much needed and potentially long-term care. It is a question of necessity. Love, and devotion born out of love, are the firmly rooted footings on which you stand when providing this necessary care. Humor is the grab bar you grip tightly when the ground below you begins to shake or shift. Patience is paramount. I survived it, and you can, too. I believe I am a better person having had the experience.

My story is a true account of my caregiving experience with my mother-in-law. It lasted only a few short years and, in that time, carved such deep and permanent remembrances too good not to share. Some would ask, "why share something so personal?", and my reply would be, "why not?". Life is so much sweeter when shared with others. I hope you find comfort, a little guidance perhaps, enjoy a few laughs, and chew on some 'food for thought' as you journey with Virginia and I through the blessings and blunders of Caregiving!


Darlene M.

5.0 out of 5 stars Very heartfelt !

Reviewed in the United States on September 9, 2021

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I loved every thing about this book . It is very encouraging to anyone going thru a similar situation. The humor is an extra added bonus . When one goes thru bad times , humor always helps . Without faith , humor and sharing with friends , hard times seem much darker . This is a great book to give to anyone that has
been given the responsibility of caregiving .

M. M. Bishop Award-winning author and poet
5.0 out of 5 stars A HEARTWARMING, COMPASIONATE LOOK AT LIFE AS A CARETAKER

Reviewed in the United States on August 27, 2021

I just finished reading the most heartwarming, compassionate memoir by Jill Zapata ‘A Walk With Virginia.’ In it, Ms. Zapata recounts her time spent as a caretaker for her future mother-in-law Virginia.
Having spent time as a caretaker for my mother, I can attest that there are both the funny, as well as those that were heartbreaking, confusing, and yet as Ms. Zapata puts it a ‘fellow feeling’ happens that can only be, between those who you have spent the time as their caretaker.
For as they lose their mobility, ability to do things they once could, and sometimes even their ability to communicate, or hold onto a thought, or activity for long, they become not only your friend, but your child, and no relationship can you ever be quite as close to another, as you do when you become a caretaker.
Yes, it is at times challenging, emotional, frustrating, and difficult, but the joys, and laughter lives on in us so much longer than those harder memories.
I loved this book and shall be one I reread over the years.

DAPHNE AWOKE FROM A VIVID DREAM. SHE DREAMT SHE WAS IN SCOTLAND AND HAD JUST BEEN WIDOWED. HER HUSBAND HAD BEEN MURDERED. IT WAS SOME DISTANT TIME IN THE PAST!!! DRAGONFLY DREAMS (A REINCARNATION NOVEL) BY FRANKI DEMERLE

 


Daphne Robin is ecstatic. She has just married Richard, the most wonderful man she's ever met, and they will honeymoon in Scotland. But on the eve of their departure, Daphne has a terrifying nightmare about Richard that leaves her shaken. The dream turns into reality when Richard begins abusing her in Scotland. Several months later, following his brutal attack, when Daphne announces she has become pregnant, he brutally attacks her--and then she suffers a miscarriage. The only place Daphne can find refuge from her wrecked life is within her dream world. She often dreams of a warm-hearted, tender man who comforts her and provides for her every need. Daphne retreats from reality more and more, and soon, as the years pass by, she becomes a shell of the woman she once was. Eventually, however, she reaches her breaking point; Daphne gathers the strength to escape her husband's clutches. She heads to her sister's place in Washington and meets Major Ursa-Barrios, a retired army officer who has pledged to help her. The two fall deeply in love, and Daphne wonders if this kind, generous man can possibly be her salvation. Although the Major is retired, Daphne's sister is still in service. When the sisters seek to explore their dreams through past life regression techniques, they discover secrets about their pasts that could reveal the purpose of their current lives..

Martha A. Cheves

 

VINE VOICE

5.0 out of 5 stars How many lives do we have

Reviewed in the United States on June 25, 2011

`Shortly before 2:30 AM, Daphne awoke from a vivid dream. She dreamt she was in Scotland and had just been widowed. Her husband had been murdered. It was some distant time in the past, and she was dressed in a long black gown with a stiff white headdress She could feel the tightness of her corset contrast the softness of her gown's material on her skin. Richard was there, but other people in the dream were saying he was responsible for her late husband's murder. She was confused and didn't know what to believe. She had thought she could trust Richard, but a voice in the dream announced, "During the Protestant Reformation, these sides were divided." As she wondered what that meant, Richard captured her and took her against her will to a castle, where he raped her. Then, when he left her alone with a woman companion to look after her, the two women escaped. They disguised themselves as men and used bed linens to climb through a window and down the castle wall. She was terrified. She and her companion rode across the nearby border to England, where they thought they would be safe. At first, when they told their story of what had happened, they were given sanctuary by kind people. But after about a week or so, word came to the household from the authorities that she was to be held as a prisoner again. She did not understand why. Then she was told that Richard had also fled Scotland and was also imprisoned, but in another country.'

Daphne Robin and her sister Deandra were both accustomed to strange dreams. Deandra has dreamed, since childhood, that she was a soldier with lots of brothers. In her dream she was a man and someone was beating her face in. Daphne's dream about Scotland came shortly after her marriage to Richard Gatorman, owner of a construction company as well as Daphne's boss. Scotland was a place Daphne had always wanted to go to so when the dream coincided with Richard announcing that they would be honeymooning in Scotland, she let her excitement override the possibility of a warning. But, Richard had always been the perfect mate. He was loving, caring and offered her everything she could ever want...so she thought. The honeymoon would turn out to be the beginning of her seeing the true Richard she had married. A marriage that she soon realized had been a big mistake. The only out for Daphne becomes sleep in which her dreams have her flying the skies with a handsome man. If it weren't for her dream time she would probably give up on life itself.

Deandra, being an officer in the Army, enlists the help of her friend Major Ursa-Barrios to help Daphne escape the abuse being inflicted by Richard. Major, as he likes to be called, has had his own dreams over the years. In his dreams he would help a young lady and falls in love with her. Could Daphne possibly be the woman in his dream? Could Major possibly be the man in Daphne's dreams?

As Deandra, Daphne and Major come together, they start searching for the answers to their dreams. Deandra wanting to know who the person getting their face bashed in is and who are the brothers. Daphne wants to know who the woman in Scotland could be as well as who she soars the skies with. And Major wants to meet the lady from his dreams.

Franki deMerle has done it again with a book of mystery, love and a certain air of suspense. The more I read, the more I wanted answers to the character's dreams but I wasn't really expecting what the dreams actually turned out to be.

M. M. Bishop Award-winning author and poet

5.0 out of 5 stars POSSIBILITIES

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As a woman who is curious about nearly everything, I picked up Dragonfly Dreams looking for a sense of possibilities. I found that and more. Franki deMerle is a masterful story teller, combining the dream state with possible reality.

What is reality and what is truth. Have we lived before? Do we dream our way into a better future? Are all these possibilities just a magnificent story?

I loved this book. Ms. deMerle wrote characters that were captivating and three dimensional, whether they were reliving a past life or living in the present. Definitely a book to be read and enjoyed, and it left me with more than a good read. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reincarnation or just a great story.



AMAZON

A MAGICAL LETTER AND A NEWCAST TRANSFORM LOTTIE'S VACATION INTO AN ACTION PACKED ADVENTURE - LOTTIE'S ADVENTURE: CHASING THE MONSTER - A CHAPTER BOOK BY BARBARA FRANCES.



An action-packed children's book written especially for ages 8 through 14. Children will enjoy this exciting read while also improving their reading skills. Twenty-nine chapters filled with twists and turns keep kids reading to discover the outcome.

 

Lottie, a lively ten-year old Hispanic girl, longs for something new and different in her life. Her summers up to this point have all been, more or less, the same.

Then the arrival of a magical letter and a TV newscast transforms her vacation time in a high adventure.



Her great adventure includes trying to relate to a cold, estranged, and rich grandmother, freeing a kidnapped ten-year-old African American boy from

a locked room, hiding him in a safe place, and then fleeing with him from a kidnapper who is always just a step or two behind.



Lottie’s Adventure: Facing the Monster has a new cover but it’s still the same great story described in the wonderful reviews on the Reviews page and still only $12.95 plus shipping.



I finished your book last night. I couldn't put it down. Because I wanted to know what would happen next! It's a charming story and I like your writing. Lottie is a very likable character, as are all the characters except those that aren't meant to be. I enjoyed grandmother's melting ambivalence. And there are certainly enough points of tension and surprising turns to keep one reading on. I particularly liked your descriptions of Hispanic family and culture. Well done!! I wish you and Lottie success.



Patricia Orlosky




M. M. Bishop Award-winning author and poet

 

5.0 out of 5 stars A WONDERFULLY TOLD CHAPTER BOOK FOR THE TWEEN

Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2020

I bought this book at the local bookstore for my niece and just had to read it too.

While reading Barbara Frances’ chapter book Lottie’s Adventure: Facing the Monster, I was swept back to the books of my childhood. A place where tweens helped each other and became heroes without the use of make-believe or magic brooms. Just plain old smarts, ingenuity, and integrity.
I was engrossed in the story of Lottie, a Hispanic girl, as she helped Charles Ray a black boy, who had been kidnapped escape and confront the bad guy, outsmarting him, while facing their own fears. The friendship that grew between the two was a lesson in how people all want the same things out of life regardless of their upbringing, race, or nationality.
It is a compelling and wonderful tale that I’d recommend to both adults and the tween alike.


A GRANDMOTHER THAT REFUSED TO ACKNOWLEDGE HER FINALLY WANTS TO MEET LOTTIE - AND AN ADVENTURE BEGINS - WITH A KIDNAPPED BOY, A DISCOVERY ABOUT HERSELF, AND NEW RELATIONSHIPS MADE - LOTTIE'S ADVENTURE FACING THE MONSTER BY BARBARA FRANCES




An action-packed children's book written especially for ages 8 through 14. Children will enjoy this exciting read while also improving their reading skills. Twenty-nine chapters filled with twists and turns keep kids reading to discover the outcome.

 

Lottie, a lively ten-year old Hispanic girl, longs for something new and different in her life. Her summers up to this point have all been, more or less, the same.

Then the arrival of a magical letter and a TV newscast transforms her vacation time in a high adventure.




Her great adventure includes trying to relate to a cold, estranged, and rich grandmother, freeing a kidnapped ten-year-old African American boy from

a locked room, hiding him in a safe place, and then fleeing with him from a kidnapper who is always just a step or two behind.


A New Hero Is Born


Lottie is my kind of people. A real person. Caring, smart, savvy. She may be only a kid, but she's a great role model for anybody. And she has the most interesting, sometimes kind of scary, adventures. And she meets weird people, funny people, wacky people, serious people. Sometimes she gets herself in a pickle, but she always rises to the occasion and figures out how to get out of it. She doesn't reject the kindness of strangers either.


More than anything, Lottie is saturated with decency. She's doesn't have to be in control all the time. She can be vulnerable. She can be hurt. But she likes herself no matter what. And she likes people. All people.


If you liked A Wrinkle in Time, you'll like Lottie's Adventures as well.


DAW, Austin, Texas



M. M. Bishop Award-winning author and poet
5.0 out of 5 stars A WONDERFULLY TOLD CHAPTER BOOK FOR THE TWEEN
Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2020I bought this book at the local bookstore for my niece and just had to read it too.

While reading Barbara Frances’ chapter book Lottie’s Adventure: Facing the Monster, I was swept back to the books of my childhood. A place where tweens helped each other and became heroes without the use of make-believe or magic brooms. Just plain old smarts, ingenuity, and integrity.
I was engrossed in the story of Lottie, a Hispanic girl, as she helped Charles Ray a black boy, who had been kidnapped escape and confront the bad guy, outsmarting him, while facing their own fears. The friendship that grew between the two was a lesson in how people all want the same things out of life regardless of their upbringing, race, or nationality.
It is a compelling and wonderful tale that I’d recommend to both adults and the tween alike.




NOTHING CAN BRING YOUNG PEOPLE TOGETHER QUITE LIKE FACING A MONSTER & RECOGNIZING THAT WORKING TOGETHER WILL SAVE THE DAY. A CHAPTER BOOK FULL OF SUSPENSE & ADVENTURE FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART. LOTTIE'S ADVENTURE: FACING THE MONSTER BY AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR BARBARA FRANCES

 


An action-packed children's book written especially for ages 8 through 14. Children will enjoy this exciting read while also improving their reading skills. Twenty-nine chapters filled with twists and turns keep kids reading to discover the outcome.

Lottie, a lively ten-year old Hispanic girl, longs for something new and different in her life. Her summers up to this point have all been, more or less, the same.
Then the arrival of a magical letter and a TV newscast transforms her vacation time in a high adventure.
Her great adventure includes trying to relate to a cold, estranged, and rich grandmother, freeing a kidnapped ten-year-old African American boy from

a locked room, hiding him in a safe place, and then fleeing with him from a kidnapper who is always just a step or two behind.
Lottie’s Adventure: Facing the Monster has a new cover but it’s still the same great story described in the wonderful reviews on the Reviews page and still only $12.95 plus shipping.

I loved this book! An adventurous and loveable young girl named Lottie creates chapter after chapter of exciting scenarios with a cast of characters so real they literally leap off the page. For readers, young and old alike, the masterful writing of Barbara Frances will warm your heart, delight your senses and energize your soul.



Catherine Ruivivar, Par.BP, CBP, RMT



M. M. Bishop Award-winning author and poet
5.0 out of 5 stars A WONDERFULLY TOLD CHAPTER BOOK FOR THE TWEEN
Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2020I bought this book at the local bookstore for my niece and just had to read it too.

While reading Barbara Frances’ chapter book Lottie’s Adventure: Facing the Monster, I was swept back to the books of my childhood. A place where tweens helped each other and became heroes without the use of make-believe or magic brooms. Just plain old smarts, ingenuity, and integrity.
I was engrossed in the story of Lottie, a Hispanic girl, as she helped Charles Ray a black boy, who had been kidnapped escape and confront the bad guy, outsmarting him, while facing their own fears. The friendship that grew between the two was a lesson in how people all want the same things out of life regardless of their upbringing, race, or nationality.
It is a compelling and wonderful tale that I’d recommend to both adults and the tween alike.




LOTTIE'S ADVENTURE

WHEN ALL RIGHTS WERE TAKEN AWAY FROM WOMEN, CHILDREN, AND ANYONE WHO WAS NOT RICH AND WHITE. DAWN RISES BOOK 3 IN THE DIVIDE BRINGS US HOPE

“Yes, if we had all made other choices before the last real vote was cast, things would have been different. But now even those of us here w...