Hearthstone Cottage by Frazer Lee – Flame Tree Press

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My Rating: 4.5/5

I would love to see this made into a movie or mini-series (are you listening to this Netflix?). The imagery and scope of the landscape, the nightmare sequences, down to the descriptions of the characters (especially Meggie) is work of flawless art. This book is a real testament to the ability of the author.

The scene is set from the beginning; creepy yet beautiful Scottish Loch, an old stone circle, a house in the middle of no-where (a glorious old building), Meggie the mysterious sister and not to mention the majestic stag. An accident on the way to the house for the groups post-graduation holiday results in a wrecked hire car and a dead stag. No one was seriously hurt… but the accidental killing of the stag sets of a chain reaction of supernatural events centered around Mike Carter (our main protagonist). Mike’s friends Alex and Kay, and girlfriend Helen are dragged through the ringer by his deteriorating state.

The mental collapse of Mike throughout the story is handled vividly yet with delicate ease. First the accident, then finding out his girlfriend is pregnant, as well as his drinking and weed habit, he steadily circles the pits of despair, not knowing what is real or what is a dream.

Hearthstone Cottage is a wonderfully written supernatural horror story that captures the Scottish charm and beauty effortlessly.

Released October 24th 2019 by Flame Tree Press

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1787583252/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

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Devouring Dark – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review ***Spoilers***

Devouring Dark

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Alan Baxter

Grey Matter Press

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

“DEVOURING DARK is an urban horror novel about a man plagued since childhood by a malevolent darkness that threatens to consume him. After a lifetime spent wrestling for control over this onslaught, Matt McLeod has learned to wield his mysterious paranormal skill to achieve an odious goal: retribution as a supernatural vigilante.

When one such hit goes bad, McLeod finds himself ensnared in a multi-tentacled criminal enterprise caught between a corrupt cop and a brutal mobster. His only promise of salvation may be a bewitching woman who shares his dark talent but has murderous designs of her own.”

To start, I would like to thank Grey Matter Press for a copy of Devouring Dark to read in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a wonderful mix of horror, the supernatural and some crime drama. Three things I enjoy.

Matt McLeod, he is a great character. He has this crazy ability to literally devour people with darkness, as the title says. The book gets into the action straight away with Matt devouring a paedophile in an alleyway. Unfortunately, in this wondrous age of digital devices, he is caught on camera by a criminal, who decides his abilities should be put to good use for a criminal organisation as an assassin. Of course Matt isn’t exactly sold on this idea.

Amy Cavendish has similar powers to Matt. They both thought they were alone with their abilities. When their paths finally cross they end up in the fight of their lives, finding out just the true extend of their powers.

The characters of both Amy and Matt are solid. They are wonderfully written; they come across so well throughout the book. This is the second work I have read of Alan Baxter, I love his work. He writes brilliant multi-layered characters that you can develop a real relationship with. He has a real talent and I am looking forward to reading more from him.

Devouring Dark is a brilliant noir supernatural horror mash which will have you hooked from the start and all the way through. I loved it.

4/5

Lesley-Ann

Housewife of Horror

It’s Hard to be a Vampire -⭐️⭐️ Book Review

It’s Hard to be a Vampire 

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Viktoria Faust

“This book is a short selection of 20 years of writing of the Croatian “Queen of the Horror” as she’s called back home. It contains short stories of horror and SF/horror theme. 

IT’S HARD TO BE A VAMPIRE – A humorous story about a girl who wants to become a vampire, but cannot because she’s too fat 

GALLERY OF HORRORS – An unsuccessful young painter will go a bit too far in sacrifice for his art when he starts sacrificing his models 

THE PAINTING STRIKES BACK – A sequel of the Gallery of Horrors, telling us the story about what happened with one of the remaining paintings, many years after painter died 

DO THE VAMPIRES DREAM OF SLAUGHTERED SHEEP? – A story about a vampire hunter who falls in love with the vampire 

NARCISSUS – A story about a girl who kills a man because she is in love with herself and does not accept the competition 

QUIETLY THEY RISE FROM THE FOG – A story about a man whose wife and daughter have disappeared and he decides to follow them into the fog/death 

BEHIND THE DOOR – SF story of an attack on a fort where you never know what lies behind a door, aggressor or victim 

THE INVISIBLE INK – A story told from the perspective of a sister of missing writer who still keeps all her handwritten pages 

THAT BLOODY USELESS BLOODLESS BODY! –  Horror author will meet his big fan who turns out  not to be human”

This is nice quick read, a short collection of stories centralized around vampires and the supernatural. It’s a fun read, it’s not very thrilling, and there isn’t much in the way of horror within the stories.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the first story, ‘It’s Hard to be a Vampire’, I felt it was a touch insensitive with the ‘fat-shaming’ that was apparent. A vampire doesn’t want a fat girl. So she goes on a diet to become sexy. It sends, even in humor, it sends a bad message to the reader, especially teenage readers. I felt that it was in very poor taste.

That being said, some of the other stories are not too bad. The final tale, ‘That Bloody Useless Bloodless Body’ is quite entertaining. A horror writer, who isn’t very big on people, accidentally meets and lets in, one of his biggest fans. It’s bit trite, but still has a certain edge to it.

Not all the stories are vampire related. I felt that the title and the cover of the book lead us to believe that they are all about vampires was a bit misleading, but that’s only a small personal quibble.

Overall, it has its good points. Some of it is really well written, some not so much. Would I recommend it? Yes, but only if you are not really in the mood to think about what you are reading, and you have an hour or so to kill.

2/5

Lesley-Ann

Housewife of Horror

Wolvz: Whispers of War -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review ***Spoilers***

Wolvz Whispers of War

Wolvz Whispers of War

Toneye Eyenot

5* Book review

“The war on humanity has begun… 

Wolfhaven – ground zero – none in this town will survive the wrath of the pack. The first slaughter sparks the beginning of the end for humanity as the Wolfhaven pack descends upon the unsuspecting townsfolk to exact revenge for the killing of one of our own – Pharo, the mother of the pack, once feared and respected by our kind throughout the region, is no more. 

Claude’s plan is bold yet carefully thought out; to spread from Wolfhaven, town by town, village by village, city by city; to rid the world of the human plague and put an end to the desecration of this wondrous planet. It all begins here. 

As the ranks swell, the surrounding packs forming alliances and consolidating, select humans spared annihilation to be turned and assimilated as the moon casts her influence. Will our beloved Alpha’s grand plan come to fruition? Or, will pettiness, arrogance, and territorial pissing end this war before it begins? 

I am Shona, first daughter of Pharo, and here my story begins…”

I really loved this novella, it was an intense and inspiring read, an exquisitely beautiful and savage tale centred around revenge.

I was pulled into the story from the outset. The townsfolk of Wolfhaven have killed the pack mother, Pharo, and the pack has planned their glorious revenge. The Wolfhaven pack, led by Claude, has come up with an astoundingly vicious plan. They are going to decimate the town of Wolfhaven, killing most of the human infestation, and turning the stronger among them, those with potential,  to increase their numbers. They also plan to form alliances with neighbouring packs and to continue this killing spree and recruitment drive through other towns. One town at a time, they plan to take the planet for themselves, ridding it of the human scourge.

This is a very visceral descriptive story, from the POV of Shona. She has lost her mother, ripped away from her in a savage way. This is her story; this is Shona’s journey of revenge and to some extent, her coming of age.

“Agitation sets into my bones. Soon, we will be in human skin once again, which I never look forward to. I long for that day… when Claude’s plan comes to fruition and we never have to hide our true form again.”

The writing, the imagery, the sheer feeling that is evoked when reading this, this is what led me to rating this five stars. It is a journey for both Shona and the reader. There is a delicate intensity about Wolvz: Whispers of War. It is savage, yet beautiful. It is haunting, the purity of the rage from the pack. The writing is outstanding, really getting inside the head of the reader.

I would highly recommend this novella to anyone and everyone. It’s not a long read, this is very good lunch break or bedtime material. If werewolf stories aren’t normally your thing, you won’t lose too much of your day reading it. I think if you give it a go though, you will be more than impressed.

5/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

The Haunting of Henderson Close -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

The Haunting of Henderson Close

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Catherine Cavendish

“Ghosts have always walked there. Now they’re not alone…

In the depths of Edinburgh, an evil presence is released.

Hannah and her colleagues are tour guides who lead their visitors along the spooky, derelict Henderson Close, thrilling them with tales of spectres and murder. For Hannah it is her dream job, but not for long. Who is the mysterious figure that disappears around a corner? What is happening in the old print shop? And who is the little girl with no face?

The legends of Henderson Close are becoming all too real. The Auld De’il is out – and even the spirits are afraid.”

I knew I was going to adore this book before I read it, I just had that feeling. I was right. This was my first time reading Catherine Cavendish and not my last. This book hit all the right notes for me. I have so many happy memories of Edinburgh, including Old Town, Royal Mile, and of course, the infamous ghost walks through the old closes of the city.

Hannah has started her new job as a tour guide at one of Edinburgh’s famous closes. Henderson Close. She has left her old life, and moved up to Edinburgh for a fresh start. This is her ideal job, she loves drama and acting, and this is just perfect for her. The idea of these ghost tours is to gently scare the customers, while also giving them a peek into the dark history of Edinburgh’s Old Town. What Hannah didn’t expect of course, was to come face to face with actual ghosts, and an evil that has been following her for her entire life.

Catherine Cavendish does an amazing job within this book of giving you the feeling of being there, in Edinburgh’s Old Town, surrounded by the stench, the claustrophobic closeness of the buildings, the noise and the nervous uncertainty. She takes us on a journey though time, and into the midst of a murder mystery. Just who was Miss Carmichael’s killer?

This is what Hannah, George and Mairead must find out. A once sealed evil has now been released into their world. Their only way to stop it, find the killer, the one who got away, before it’s too late.

Everything about this book spoke to me. The characters are very real, with their distinct personalities shining through the pages, giving them life. The setting, the atmosphere of Edinburgh past and present is tangible. You can almost smell the manure, the human waste. You can hear the whinnying of the horses, the clatter of people. She brings Henderson Close to life.

Having been on a couple of the walking ghost tours while in Edinburgh last year, this was like going on a third. It was exactly like I was there again, gripping onto Andy as we stumbled through the closes, being treated to jump scares from our tour guides and nervously wondering if a ghost was actually there, watching me. I love how real it felt, Hannah and her co workers getting into character. Taking on the roles of people from the past, engaging the customers and taking them on a fun history tour with a few good scares thrown in for good measure.

The mix in the story between the late 1800’s and the present day was perfect. There was no confusion, I never once felt like I was getting lost with the story. The pace and flow are spot on. I particularly enjoyed the time-slips, Hannah and Mairead appearing to slip back into Henderson Close’s past. It was very exciting to read and the ending, my god, the ending was unexpected. I loved it.

If you have read Catherine Cavendish before, then I need say no more, you are of course going to be reading this book. If you have not, like me, then all I can say is that you are missing out greatly. This is a wonderful story, beautifully written, with real characters and a perfect setting. Plenty of scares and creepiness included. This is definitely going in my re-read pile. I loved it.

5/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

The Switch House -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Book Review ***spoilers***

The Switch House

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Tim Meyer

“CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve won a role on LET’S SWITCH HOUSES! Your life is going to change. We promise. Your dreams will come true. Everything you’ve ever wanted, we have it. This is a chance of a lifetime. Come inside. Switch with us.

Angela and Terry return home after several grueling months of filming the popular television show, LET’S SWITCH HOUSES!, only to find their residence in ruin. Sure, the décor and framed photographs are the same; the color of the walls hasn’t changed; the furniture sits unmoved. But something is off. Their quiet New Jersey home feels tainted. Angela can sense it. Crawling inside her. Infecting her mind. Poisoning her thoughts.

Then the nightmares begin. Awful, lucid visions that cause her to question her own reality. What happened at 44 Trenton Road while she was gone? Just what did she do, that bizarre woman who claims she can communicate with the beyond? Who is she exactly? Angela aims to find out, but the further she investigates, the deeper into madness she descends. How far will she travel before she loses the trail of clues? Or worse—before she loses her mind.

THE SWITCH HOUSE is a short novel for fans of supernatural thrillers with a dark twist.”

I wasn’t too sure what too make of this one at first, I found the premise interesting, a reality TV show called ‘Let’s Switch Houses’. I am happy to say that I stuck with it and rather enjoyed it.

Angela and Terry have had some problems, a terrible tragedy has driven a wedge between them and they hope that the distraction of the reality show that they have been signed up for will help them move on with their lives. After it’s over and they finally return home, things seem to be better, they seem to be getting back to their marriage. Sadly though, it doesn’t last long. Angela is having bad dreams, hallucinations, nightmarish visions that are disturbing her life, making her question her own sanity. She doesn’t know who she can trust, even her husband Terry is at question. She heads out to investigate these visions, determined to find the answers. She is desperate to know if what she hopes to be true might be or if she really is just losing her last grip on reality. Angela was most definitely not expecting what she found.

Let’s Switch Houses is an imaginative delve into the blackness of tragedy, enveloping the reader in the harrowing life of a married couple who have lost their only child. It’s a sad vision of the developing madness within as the couple just cannot come to terms with their loss, and it’s an insight in to the lengths that we will go to in convincing ourselves of what we want to be true.

This is a great short story, both moving in places and frightening in others. The characters are both interesting and engaging, with great pacing throughout so we are not learning the gritty details too quick.

Highly recommended reading.

Thanks for reading this

4/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

Little Black Spots – The Immolation Scene ***SPOILERS***

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“He is close. So close now. He Feels it. He feels everything”

Thank you to Grey Matter Press for this copy of Little Black Spots, a short story collection from John F. D. Taff.

The Immolation Scene is up first. This is a very intense story of loneliness and helplessness, emphasizing just how far people are willing to go to feel, to feel anything.

Corey is besotted with Amy, his ex and also his colleague. They engaged in a 6 month passionate affair before Amy abruptly ended it, claiming love wasn’t enough.

Both Corey and Amy have a special, yet dangerous, ability. They can ‘burn’; they both have the ability of spontaneous combustion. They can ignite their flesh, sometimes without realizing. Neither knew of the others ability, until a chance meeting when they cross paths during work. Amy is clearly more comfortable with their ability than Corey, he can’t bear the pain, the burnt flesh, the scars it leaves. The smell of the burning flesh is overwhelming. It’s too much to see, to deal with and to cope with, Amy wants them to be together completely, to burn bright as one, but he cannot commit to that, breaking Amy’s heart.

“How far are you willing to go this time”

“How much are you willing to feel”

Corey returns to his mundane existence, ‘numb’ from losing Amy again. He is lonely, the emptiness eating away at him.

I loved this opening to Little Black Spots, it’s a perfect story examining the human condition and how we are afraid of what we don’t totally understand. We are willing to sacrifice our own happiness, willing to miss out on what could be a pivotal life changing moment, because of fear, fear of the unknown and our innate resistance to change.

I’m looking forward to the next story very much after this one, ‘The Bunny Suit’.

Little Black Spots – https://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=x_gr_w_bb?keywords=9781940658841&index=books&linkCode=qs&tag=x_gr_w_bb-20

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41100259-little-black-spots

La Lividum (The Apothecary Chronicles Book 1) – ⭐️Book Review

La Lividum (The Apothecary Chronicles Book 1)

La Lividum (The Apothecary Chronicles Book 1) by [Heartstorm, Merciella]

Merciella Heartstorm

2018

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

“We have never been alone. Humanity has always had small glimpses into other worlds since the beginning of time, but in the 1600’s a catastrophe tore the veil off, and Earth has never been the same since. Humankind has had centuries now to adapt to a life where the creatures from our many cultural myths and legends are very real. Alive. Living in the same apartment complexes with us. It’s taken a while but everyone has managed to come to terms with it. Well, almost everyone…

Rumor has spread of an ancient, magical weapon resurfacing in the black market. A weapon blessed by an organization of zealots who call themselves The Pillars and owned by their prophet and hero Sir Asmir, a Knight of their order. Lost to time it was all but forgotten until one day a mysterious treasure pops up in a museum. Suddenly they are not the only ones interested.

A mysterious woman appears wherever the relic goes, and when it reaches the Dark Fey city of Arrana, tragedy strikes. Every day another woman goes missing. Baffled, police are struggling to catch a killer, reaching out to anyone who could help. When their best mages fail to make progress it seems once again, it’s time to call on the city’s resident expert on all things dark and evil.”

I can’t say I enjoyed this, I really didn’t. I wanted too, it looked to have so much promise, even the cover looked amazing, I though I was going to be in for a wild ride of a story. I thought wrong. I love all things supernatural, paranormal, fantasy, all that, I feel I had my expectations set far too high with this one.

I had my issues with it from the start. I hated the what seemed to be over bearing, over controlling lead character, Zelena. She seemed more like a psychotic stalker than a woman with a crush. The relationship between Cyrene and Zelena was what really put me off I think. It was very, how can I put this, unpleasant to read. Zelena constantly turning up where she knew Cyrene was going to be, the way she she was always so cocky about Cyrene ‘wanting her’, it just was too creepy and controlling for me. This really put me off from the get-go and I fear that may have distorted my view of the book. I really couldn’t get into it properly, this relationship was far too much of an unpleasant distraction.

I gave up before the end, I just couldn’t read anymore as it was making me very irritated. I gave it a fair go, I took a long break from it, cam back to it with fresh eyes, but still, no. This book was not for me.

It felt that the Fey, the magical weapon, the mystery involving the missing women and all the other supernatural stuff was just the filler. The author seemed far more interested in this very unhealthy relationship than anything else. It should be marketed as a dodgy romance rather than a supernatural fantasy novel.

Anyways, yes, I hated it, but everything is subjective and I know there are those out there that love it. My hatred of this book is my own and does not reflect the thoughts or opinions of anyone else.

 

Thanks for reading,

If you are interested, you find it via Amazon (UK) here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lividum-Apothecary-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B07FNMYMXX/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1541953256&sr=8-1&keywords=merciella+heartstorm

Also free on Kindle Unlimited.

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

 

Bad Pennies – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

 

Bad Pennies: A Supernatural Horror Novel (The Scaeth Mythos #1)

John F. Leonard

 Image result for bad pennies book

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

“DARK FORCES SWIM BELOW THE SURFACE OF THE WORLD…
THEY CHANGE THEIR SHAPE BUT NEVER GO AWAY…
THEY FIND A WAY THROUGH…THEY ONLY NEED A TINY GAP

Chris Carlisle is about to experience an everyday horror. A morning that starts out bad is going to get infinitely worse. It’s gonna go to hell.
Wrong place at the wrong time and life takes a wrong turn.
But even the blackest clouds have silver linings. He’s going to get a little slice of luck to balance out the horror.
Just goes to show, bad often comes bundled with good.
Sometimes, they bleed into each other until you can’t tell them apart.

That’s where the strangeness begins, when the miraculous starts to rub shoulders with the mundane and monstrous.

It is only the beginning…
Chris has stepped onto a long road that leads to a hideous and horrifying destination. Dark and dangerous stops are dotted along the way. The pavement is crumbling and craziness shining through the cracks.
Enough for him to question his sanity and come to the conclusion that madness may be the easiest way out.
Sometimes need and greed get mixed into a deadly and deceptive cocktail.

He’s going to discover that dark and dreadful things lurk within spitting distance of the ordinary and routine.
That there are levels of horror and layers of knowledge which defy any rational explanation.
Impossible creatures crawl along the shady seams of the world.
Monsters wait in the shadows.
The walls of reality are thinner than we know. In places, they’ve been hollowed to a hazy veil that struggles to hold back the horror of what lies on the other side.

Chris is going to get a glimpse of an eternal darkness.
Become acquainted with a supernatural hunger that has endured aeons and echoes down the ages.

HE’S GOING TO ENCOUNTER THE SCAETH. A CREATURE THAT IS OLDER THAN TIME AND TWICE AS MERCILESS.

Chris thought life was grim. He has no idea.
He thought he was hard up. He doesn’t know what debt is.
They say that money is the root of all evil. They also say that the bad penny always turns up. That’s so true. Those crappy coins have a nasty habit of coming back.

BAD PENNIES is the first book of the SCAETH MYTHOS, a terrifying vision of horror that will haunt your dreams.”

The first thing that really grabbed my attention with this book was Chris Carlisle. A guy, just trying to make it through life, struggling the same way we all do. Mundane job, living payday to payday, debating with himself over the now regular winter ‘heating or eating’ dilemma. This is a great story, a supernatural horror story encompassing not only the horrors of the supernatural world, but also the horrors of our own everyday existence. I felt his internal struggle, his guilt, and his overwhelming need. He needed the money, he knew he was wrong, but it was going to help him more than the dead guy wasn’t it? Or so he thought. I really loved the undertones about our general money worries, and the depths we can be driven to in desperation. For me personally, it felt like John F. Leonard was getting right into the nitty gritty of our materialistic society. The rich get richer and the poor get squashed.  Our ‘need’ as it were, for the things we don’t really need, take over our senses and cause us to do things completely out of character, ruining our lives and those of our loved ones. Those of us who are desperate enough can be completely blinded by obsession and greed. To me, this was a story examining just how far one is willing to go, and how much is one prepared to turn a blind eye to, just to get on in this mundane existence we have created for ourselves.

A particular quote I loved “I might have no time for Fleecebook and Twitter-Tattle, Snapshat or Instawhatever, but it loves them like naughty sons. The more noise the better as long it keeps a few real truths quiet.”

I felt this partly summed it up, our materialistic obsession. We love sharing so much with friends via social media. We lose ourselves in the moment, rather than enjoying what is in front of us right now, we sacrifice it for a few likes and retweets. We are missing so much. I am as guilty as the rest for this. There is a pressure here too, the ‘keeping up with the Jones’’, the need to acquire things just to show we have them. We don’t like the idea of people knowing we are struggling, we don’t always ask for help when we should. It’s like this ‘shame’ has been bred into us. There is no shame in needing help. To me anyways, it felt like this was one of the points of the books. Speak to people, ask for help if you need it. Don’t leave it so the ‘help’ seeks you out. Evil is attracted to the most vulnerable among us.

My favourite character has to be Ronald Hodge. My god that guy is a creep. I felt like I needed a shower each time he was in a chapter. He is one horrendously bad man, in every possible way. I absolutely loved the development of his story. The way it just kept getting worse and worse (in a very good way), he is awful. Reading about Steph in his house gave me chills. It was so bad yet so good. I really don’t want to say too much on Ronald as I don’t want to totally ruin it for people. This is must read, for this character if nothing else.

Bad Pennies is brilliantly thought out and written, it flows so easily from one chapter to the next. The switch up in characters is obvious without being confusing. The fluidity of the story and realness of all the characters made this a truly horrifying pleasure to read.

I am very much excited to delve deeper into The Scaeth Mythos, it’s fascinating. The other realm, the manipulations of our reality and the descriptions of the, do I call them familiars? I’m not sure. King Ratty was a definite favourite. When he became spider-rat, oh god, I was itching all over. I hate spiders! I really can’t wait to read the next instalment.

Anyway, that is more than enough from me raving about how much I loved this book.

Go buy it, go on, you can get it right here on Amazon (UK):

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Pennies-Supernatural-Horror-Scaeth/dp/1976103428/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

5/5 – I love it!!

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

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