Review: Evergreen Tidings From The Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony

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Release date: October 16, 2018

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

A formidable matriarch learns the hard way that no family is perfect in this witty, sparkling debut novel

Dearest loved ones, far and near—evergreen tidings from the Baumgartners!

Violet Baumgartner has opened her annual holiday letter the same way for the past three decades. And this year she’s going to throw her husband, Ed, a truly perfect retirement party, one worthy of memorializing in her upcoming letter. But the event becomes a disaster when, in front of two hundred guests, Violet learns her daughter Cerise has been keeping a shocking secret from her, shattering Violet’s carefully constructed world.

In an epic battle of wills, Violet goes to increasing lengths to wrest back control of her family, infuriating Cerise and snaring their family and friends in a very un-Midwestern, un-Baumgartner gyre of dramatics. And there will be no explaining away the consequences in this year’s Baumgartner holiday letter…

Full of humor, emotion and surprises at every turn, Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners brings to life a remarkable cast of quirky, deeply human characters who must learn to adapt to the unconventional, or else risk losing one another. This is the story of a family falling to pieces—and the unexpected way they put it all back together.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Evergreen Tidings From The Baumgartners! If you would like to follow along with the tour please check out TLC Book Tours for the full schedule.

Review:

Ahh this is the perfect read to indulge in before the craziness of the holiday season begins, if anything it’ll make you feel better about your own family because The Baumgartners are crazy in a fun way and you will definitely laugh at some of their antics AND there are a few scenes that had me hysterical, which is always a bonus!

Violet is the matriarch of the family and she was insane in the best possible way. She’s a classic Midwesterner but she has her own unique quirks and above all else she adores her family even if she is over the top and extremely overbearing. You also see the perspective of Cerise, her only daughter and then Richard, her best friends husband. Interspersed between chapters are various forms of correspondence that were so fitting to the plot, this was my favorite aspect as it was so telling. The entire cast of characters was just a fun group of normal people caught up in some wacky situations and while I could most sympathize with Cerise, Violet was my absolute favorite simply because she was so wacky.

This was a family drama that was just plain fun, there was a tiny little mystery that I sussed out really fast, but that wasn’t a huge part of the story anyway, it was more about family and how they pieced themselves back together after falling apart. It also had a few tender moments between the hijinks and was written in a really heartfelt manner and had a good overall message about love and loyalty.

Evergreen Tidings From The Baumgartners in three words: Humorous, Quirky and Sincere.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner

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Release date: October 1, 2018

Publisher: HQ Digital

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

The past is always watching . . .

Three people, leading very different lives, are about to be brought together – with devastating consequences . . .

John has a perfect life, until the day his daughter goes missing.

Maisie cares for her patients, but hides her own traumatic past.

Miller should be an innocent child, but is obsessed with something he can’t have.

They all have something in common, though none of them know it – and the truth won’t stay hidden for long . . .

A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Clare Mackintosh, Shari Lapena and Lisa Jewell. 

I’m so pleased to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Lies Between Us today!

Review:

What a dark and deceptive debut this was, I’m so impressed this is Turner’s first novel and I have to admit that she tricked me several times over! I like to think I’m a rather astute reader and can usually begin to guess (at least partially) correctly at the big twists but I can honestly say that I did not see this one coming ahead of time, so well done.

This is the sort of book where you have to pay close attention to while reading, it requires close focus. It’s told from three perspectives, Miller, John and Maisie and also via alternating timelines. I honestly had no idea how their stories would merge especially as they were all in different years, but I was very invested in each of their lives for different reasons. John was extremely likable and my heart broke for him as his daughter was missing and he was taunted by her kidnapper. Maisie was also relatable, but I struggled to see how her life would intersect with the others. Finally Miller was not the kind of character one can relate to (hopefully!) but I was still fascinated by him. While all three were very different they had one thing in common and that was that they were all incredibly well developed.

I don’t want to discuss the plot any further as I would be verging on spoiler territory, but I just want to end by saying again that this is such a strong debut. The writing was assured and fluid and had I not already known it was a debut I would’ve never guessed. I think fans of this genre will be pleased with this one, but remember to pay attention and don’t be surprised if you have to reread things towards the end because I absolutely had to!

Lies Between Us in three words: Deft, Complex and Tricky.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: Fatal Promise by Angela Marsons @writeangie @bookouture

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Release date: October 19, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Eeeny meeny, miney, moe. Who lives, who dies only I know. 

When the body of a doctor is discovered brutally murdered in local woodland, Detective Kim Stone is shocked to discover the victim is Gordon Cordell – a man linked to a previous case she worked on involving the death of a young school girl. Gordon has a chequered past, but who would want him dead? 

As the investigation gets underway, Gordon’s son is involved in a horrific car crash which leaves him fighting for his life. Kim’s sure this was no accident. 

Then the body of a woman is found dead in suspicious circumstances and Kim makes a disturbing link between the victims and Russells Hall Hospital. The same hospital where Gordon worked. 

With Kim and her team still grieving the loss of one of their own, they’re at their weakest and facing one of the most dangerous serial killers they’ve ever encountered. Everything is on the line. Can Kim keep her squad together and find the killer before he claims his next victim? 

The killer is picking off his victims at a terrifying pace, and he’s not finished yet. 

Review:

I want to warn you right away that if you haven’t read book eight in this series there may be some slightly spoilerish stuff in this review, it’s unavoidable but wanted to give you a heads up!

Raise your hand if you’re still not over the loss of one of the team members in book eight? I know I’m sure not, the emotional impact that event had on me is so rare in a crime book but months later and I’m still upset by it. I was also apprehensive about how this devastating loss would effect Kim and her team, but with her usual deft hand Marsons handled their grief with impeccable care and respect and authenticity. You get a front row seat as the characters work through it, and they behave in the manner as you would expect. Ahem Kim Stone may be closed off and stubborn, shocker! 😂 But they all have jobs to do and that is still very much the main focus of the book, what’s a KS book without an intriguing case?! Add in a new replacement that will never fill their lost colleagues shoes, a string of murders, a missing teenager and you have one heck of a lot of exciting stuff going on here.

The characters in this series are so complex and meticulously crafted and once again I learned more about each of them and their lives and personalities. I’m always blown away by the fact that there is more to be revealed about them but I’m endlessly fascinated by what is discovered and am always wanting to learn more. Marsons is at the top of her game, she genuinely gets better and more assured with each installment and book ten can’t land in my hands fast enough!

Fatal Promise in three words: Meticulous, Nuanced and Gripping.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Perfect Liar by Thomas Christopher Greene

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Release date: January 15, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

A seemingly perfect marriage is threatened by the deadly secrets husband and wife keep from each other, for fans of B.A. Paris and Paula Hawkins.

Susannah, a young widow and single mother, has remarried well: to Max, a charismatic artist and popular speaker whose career took her and her fifteen-year-old son out of New York City and to a quiet Vermont university town. Strong-willed and attractive, Susannah expects that her life is perfectly in place again. Then one quiet morning she finds a note on her door: I KNOW WHO YOU ARE. 

Max dismisses the note as a prank. But days after a neighborhood couple comes to dinner, the husband mysteriously dies in a tragic accident while on a run with Max. Soon thereafter, a second note appears on their door: DID YOU GET AWAY WITH IT?

Both Susannah and Max are keeping secrets from the world and from each other —secrets that could destroy their family and everything they have built. The Perfect Liar is a thrilling novel told through the alternating perspectives of Susannah and Max with a shocking climax that no one will expect, from the bestselling author of The Headmaster’s Wife. 

Review:

I can’t even begin to count how many books I’ve read with the word liar in the title this year, it’s definitely a hot trend but despite its overuse I still don’t hesitate in picking them up. While the title may be not be highly original the contents were, this one kept me on my toes and the author has a well polished style that’s sophisticated but not snobby.

This was a read that totally snuck up on me, it was kinda strange because I was definitely interested right from the beginning but I wasn’t completely hooked until like sixty percent. I can’t really pinpoint why it took me that long to be well and truly sucked in, but when I hit that point there was a big shift for me and that’s the moment it became really unputdownable for me. Just wanted to start with that because if you choose to pick it up and aren’t impressed initially stick with it because the pay off was well worth it in my opinion.

The best part of this one was that you know right away that Susannah and Max are both liars, so neither are reliable. I didn’t trust either of them obviously, but I had so much fun trying to figure out who was lying about what and when they were being truthful. It was definitely a head game and one that was well executed with a strong ending, and for a reader that highly valued an ending, this one worked incredibly well for me.

The Perfect Liar in three words: Sophisticated, Deceptive and Unpredictable.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt

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Release date: December 1, 2018

Publisher: MIRA

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Till death do us part

When they fell in love back in law school, Natalie and Will Clarke joked that they were so brilliant, together they could plan the perfect murder. After fifteen rocky years of marriage, they had better hope they’re right.

Their young son Jacob’s principal is accused of molesting a troubled student. It’s a horrifying situation—and the poison spreads rapidly. One night before bed, Jacob tells Natalie he is a victim, too. In that moment, her concept of justice changes forever. Natalie decides the predator must die.

To shelter Jacob from the trauma of a trial, Natalie concocts an elaborate murder plot and Will becomes her unwilling partner. The Clarkes are about to find out what happens when your life partner becomes your accomplice—and your alibi. 

Review:

I love the moral questions the premise alone brings up, could you kill someone if they hurt your child? I know my husband and I have had several conversations about this very subject and we both agree it could be tempting. That makes us sound no better than Nat and Will haha, but honestly the thought alone of someone molesting one of my kids makes my blood boil and I’m just saying that I can see why one would contemplate it.

Much like her previous book this is a lighter thriller, almost like Chick Lit with a dark edge. There is nothing super graphic or gory here, it really examines behavior instead and follows this couple as they grapple with really tough questions and choices. I’m not sure I can really say that I liked either Nat or Will but I did empathize with them and could even mostly understand why they made the choices that they did. They seemed realistic and genuine, just an average couple put in extraordinary situations doing the best they can for their son. While they seemed fairly realistic I do want to say that parts of this were pretty implausible, so fair warning.

I completely binge read this one and would once again recommend for a weekend or a vacation read. The pacing was incredibly fast and I finished in just a few hours as I just had to know what would happen to this family. Awesome domestic suspense that I can recommend for anyone looking for a lighter style read that still delves into the dark side of humanity.

For Better and Worse in three words: Binge-worthy, Addictive and Quick.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Amendment by Anne Leigh Parrish

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Release date: June 26, 2018

Publisher: Unsolicited

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

When Lavinia Starkhurst’s husband is killed in a freak accident, she takes to the open road and meets a number of strangers, all with struggles of their own. Through these unexpected and occasionally hilarious encounters, Lavinia reflects on her past deeds, both good and bad, explores her two marriages, her roles as caregiver and wife, hoping all the while for self-acceptance and something to give her new life meaning.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Amendment. If you would like to follow along with the tour check out TLC Book Tours for the full schedule.

Review:

Based on the short blurb I assumed that this would be sad and while it definitely had some reflective moments, it was ultimately a story of hope and resilience. I love being surprised by the contents of a book and this one definitely did that and more.

I love a quirky and unique heroine and Lavinia delivered a highly usual point of view, she’s not some delicate widow she’s a strong woman who is grieving in her own way and on her own terms, which I love! Even when her family and friends think she’s crazy for embarking on a road trip all alone with no solid plan she doesn’t care and just lives her best life. Her brand of humor was dry and a bit dark which I also love so being privy to her inner monologue was so entertaining to me. The entire style of this was drool and sardonic and written in a really matter of fact, straightforward and simple way. Easily a book you can fly through in one sitting and that was enjoyable from the first page to the last.

The Amendment in three words: Unusual, Amusing and Effortless.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for my review copy.

About the Author:

Parrish is the author of five previously published books of fiction: Women Within, a novel (Black Rose Writing, 2017); By The Wayside, stories (Unsolicited Press, 2017); What Is Found, What Is Lost, a novel (She Writes Press, 2014); Our Love Could Light The World, stories (She Writes Press, 2013); and All The Roads That Lead From Home, stories, (Press 53, 2011). She is the author of over forty-five published short stories, and numerous essays on the art and craft of writing. Learn more by visiting her website at http://www.anneleighparrish.com.

Connect with Anne

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Review: In Harms Way by Owen Mullen @OwenMullen6 @Bloodhoundbook

Goodreads

Release date: October 16, 2018

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Bloodhound

Blurb:

What if you were being stalked and no one believed you?

What if you were abducted in broad daylight?

What if you were chained to a bed and held captive in a cellar? What would you do?

Mackenzie Crawford screamed.

What if your wife went out at night and wouldn’t say where she was going?

What if she admitted she had a lover?

What if you came home one day and discovered she’d left?

What would you do?

Derek Crawford went to pieces.

What if a woman with an alcohol problem disappeared?

What if there was no evidence of a crime?

What if her brother asked you to help?

What would you do?

In Glasgow, DI Andrew Geddes put the case to the top of his list.

What if someone you loved was in harm’s way?

Review:

Over the last few years I’ve become quite the fan of Mullen’s work, he has two other series that follow private investigators and this standalone was quite the departure from his previous novels. It’s more of a domestic thriller, it follows several members of the same family and asks some unique questions, such as what if you went missing and no one was even worried? What if it was almost expected, what if no one is even looking for you because they don’t realize that you’re actually in danger? The thought alone terrifies me and made for an interesting premise.

Although the plot of this one was different from the authors previous books his easy, casual writing style still shines brightly and just always works so well for me. Each chapter is about one day from the lead up to when Mackenzie goes missing all the way until the end. Super vague, I know but saying more would be a spoiler and trust me, you don’t want me to spoil this one. None of the main cast of characters was particularly likable, but they were authentic, we all know people just like them in real life, bad behavior and all. I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of Andrew Geddes who first popped up in the Charlie Cameron series, I just always love when authors cleverly bring old characters into new books and he was an excellent addition to the story.

This does have less action than in his other work, it examines the dynamics between a dysfunctional family and then in each of their three separate marriages and that never fails to fascinate me. Mullen is one of those writers that just gets better with each book and he was already good, I’m a firm fan and will continue to follow his career closely.

In Harms Way in three words: Smooth, Intriguing and Unexpected.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Review: The Stranger Game by Peter Gadol

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Release date: October 1, 2018

Publisher: Hanover Square

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Rebecca’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, Ezra, has gone missing, but when she notifies the police, they seem surprisingly unconcerned. They suspect he has been playing the “stranger game,” a viral hit in which players start following others in real life, as they might otherwise do on social media. As the game spreads, however, the rules begin to change, play grows more intense and disappearances are reported across the country.

Curious about this popular new obsession, and hoping that she might be able to track down Ezra, Rebecca tries the game for herself. She also meets Carey, who is willing to take the game further than she imagined possible. As her relationship with Carey and involvement in the game deepen, she begins to uncover an unsettling subculture that has infiltrated the world around her. In playing the stranger game, what may lead her closer to finding Ezra may take her further and further from the life she once lived.

A thought-provoking, haunting novel, The Stranger Game unearths the connections, both imagined and real, that we build with the people around us in the physical and digital world, and where the boundaries blur between them.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Stranger Game, if you would like to follow along with the tour check out TLC Book Tours for the full schedule.

Review:

I really liked the idea behind this one, getting followers on social media is an obsession for many people and seeing the follower phenomenon take place in real life fascinated me. There is something so creepy about playing a game where you follow random people while they go about their day, but we all do this on social media with no hesitation, yet there is such a big difference.

The style of this was a bit different, the writing is sparse but the prose is still hauntingly beautiful in an odd way. This has a strong literary vibe and was light on the thrills but it’s still very mysterious in its own unique way. At times it read like a social commentary about this social media obsessed society we’ve created but it was subtle, yet thought provoking. A bit different than what I expected but nonetheless an entertaining read that I would recommend for anyone looking for something unique.

The Stranger Game in three words: Unusual, Smart and Deep.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

About the Author:

Peter Gadol’s seven novels include THE STRANGER GAME, SILVER LAKE, LIGHT AT DUSK, and THE LONG RAIN. His work his been translated for foreign editions and appeared in literary journals, including StoryQuarterly, the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal, and Tin House. Gadol lives in Los Angeles, where he is Chair and Professor of the MFA Writing program at Otis College of Art and Design. Visit petergadol.com for more info on his work.

Review: Our Little Lies by Sue Watson @suewatsonwriter @bookouture

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Release date: October 11, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Marianne has a life others dream of. A beautiful townhouse on the best street in the neighbourhood. Three bright children who are her pride and joy.

Sometimes her past still hurts: losing her mother, growing up in foster care. But her husband Simon is always there. A successful surgeon, he’s the envy of every woman they’ve ever met. Flowers, gifts, trips to France – nothing is too good for his family.

Then Simon says another woman’s name. The way he lingers on it, Caroline, gives Marianne a shudder of suspicion, but she knows she can’t entertain this flash of paranoia.

In the old days, she’d have distracted herself at work, but Marianne left her glamorous career behind when she got married. She’d speak to a friend, but she’s too busy with her children and besides, Simon doesn’t approve of the few she has left.

It’s almost by accident that Marianne begins to learn more about Caroline. But once she starts, she can’t stop. Because what she finds makes her wonder whether the question she should be asking is not ‘should she be jealous’, but… ‘should she be scared’?

Fans of The Girl on the Train and I Let You Go looking for a dark, gripping psychological thriller, with a final twist that will put their jaw on the floor, will love Our Little Lies.

I’m so excited to be one of the stops on the blog blitz for Our Little Lies today!

Review:

Did you catch the authors name at the top of this post? Yes, it’s Sue Watson, the same lovely lady who writes romantic comedies that make me laugh hysterically one minute and then swoon the next. Little did I know that she has a dark side, she’s not all cakes and champagne, she went very dark for her latest book and it was amazing!! I’m even more in awe of her than I already was, she is fabulous at both genres and has an even bigger fan in me than I was before.

This had a slow burning style of suspense, the kind that creeps up on you and then in the end leaves you reeling. It all begins with Simon and Marianne, they have a picture perfect life and seem blissfully happy. We all know that not is always as it seems to outsiders and their relationship is fraught with tension and hostility underneath the surface. While I truly enjoyed Marianne, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of her up until the very end. She seems unhinged somehow, but she’s also sweet and a loving mother as well, she made me scratch my head. She also had the funniest hashtags, some of Watson’s trademark humor snuck through and I loved the black humor that broke up an otherwise tense story.

This was yet another case where I was absolutely sure that I knew exactly what would happen only to be totally wrong in the end. While the tension builds at a steady pace for most of the book at about three quarters of the way through the real surprises begin and I was well and truly stunned. This had a whopper of an ending and if this is only Watson’s first foray into psychological thrillers I cannot wait to see what she does next!

Our Little Lies in three words: Dark, Devious and Impressive.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

About the Author:

About the author: 
Sue Watson was a journalist then TV Producer at the BBC until she wrote her first book and was hooked. 

She’s now written thirteen novels – many involving cake – and her books have been translated into Italian, German and Portuguese. Originally from Manchester, Sue now lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Worcestershire where much of her day is spent procrastinating while eating cake (for research purposes), and watching ‘My 600lb Life,’ on the sofa.

Sue explored the darker side of life for her latest book ‘Our Little Lies,’ a dark, psychological thriller completely devoid of cake. She’s hoping this change in direction will be reflected on the weighing scales.

For more info visit Sue’s website; http://www.suewatsonbooks.com/

Sue would love to meet you on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/suewatsonbooks

Follow Sue on Twitter @suewatsonwriter

Review: Under My Skin by Lisa Unger

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Release date: October 1, 2018

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

What if the nightmares are actually memories?

It’s been a year since Poppy’s husband, Jack, was brutally murdered during his morning run through Manhattan’s Riverside Park. In the immediate aftermath, Poppy spiraled into an oblivion of grief, disappearing for several days only to turn up ragged and confused wearing a tight red dress she didn’t recognize. What happened to Poppy during those lost days? And more importantly, what happened to Jack?

The case was never solved, and Poppy has finally begun to move on. But those lost days have never stopped haunting her. Poppy starts having nightmares and blackouts—there are periods of time she can’t remember, and she’s unable to tell the difference between what is real and what she’s imagining. When she begins to sense that someone is following her, Poppy is plunged into a game of cat and mouse, determined to unravel the mystery around her husband’s death. But can she handle the truth about what really happened?

I’m so thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Under My Skin today! If you would like to follow along with the tour check out TLC Book Tours for the full schedule.

Review:

Talk about a book that will make your head spin!! I will admit for the first bit I was slightly confused but I think that’s mostly due to the fact the Unger is such a fantastic writer that she just drew me into the tangled web that is Poppy’s life so wholly. Once I caught on I was utterly hooked, and found myself totally caught up and invested in this one.

I haven’t so strongly felt a characters paranoia and unease since The Woman in the Window, I had similar feelings while reading this especially as I could not for the life of me figure out if Poppy was insane or not. She teeters back and forth between seeming mostly sane and then she goes off the rails, she has crazy dreams and has problems separating her dreams from what’s actually happening and I couldn’t begin to figure out what was actually going on and what was part of her delusion. Add in a penchant for popping pills and she was one hot mess but she was sympathetic. She’s deep in the throes of grief and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her even if her decision making skills were severely lacking.

This was just really well executed overall, the writing is top notch and the plot itself was gripping as well. Poppy was extremely well developed and highly complex, love her or hate her she was endlessly fascinating and I couldn’t wait to see how things would play out for her. Fans of Unger will be pleased and new readers will be happy to discover a talented new author.

Under My Skin in three words: Wild, Unnerving and Unreliable.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for my review copy.

About the Author:

Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling, award-winning author of sixteen novels, including the new psychological thriller UNDER MY SKIN (coming Oct 2!)

Her books are published in twenty-six languages worldwide, have sold millions of copies and have been named “Best of the Year” or top picks by the Today show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Weekly, Amazon, Indie Booksellers, Goodreads, and Sun-Sentinel to name a few.

Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR and Travel+Leisure Magazine. Lisa Unger lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida with her husband, daughter and labradoodle.

Connect with Lisa

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram