#BookReview In The Dark by Cara Hunter

I discovered Cara Hunter years ago through Goodreads and ever since I’ve been on the hunt for her novels. I accidentally came across one of them in a local store. They normally don’t even sell books! But there was In The Dark perched on top of a little display. I grabbed it, speed walked as fast as I could and bought this book. It sat on my shelf as I admired it, and finally got the nerve to picked it up. The wait was DEFINITELY worth it. All caps, bold, italicize – let’s make this clear. In The Dark by Cara Hunter is a delightfully addicting thriller for mystery fans.

Cara Hunter has a special voice when it comes to thrillers. There are no chapters – the story just keeps moving. There’s constant movement, a fast pace and twists and turns all over. Suspects are introduced and hinted at along the way. Reader sleuths will have fun trying to nail down who did what with who throughout this book. Who kidnapped the girl and her child? Who killed another person? Was there an affair? Is the older man crazy or does he actually have dementia? Why are all of these people so suspicious?!

A young woman and her child are found in a basement. This is shocking and sudden, but links to deaths of women in the past. Everyone wonders if this is the missing woman that was presumably kidnapped years ago… But what if she’s not? The story unwinds to bring us many suspects who have likely cause for this behaviour. Abusive marriages, desperate affairs, greedy relatives after wills and deceit will bring forth the suspect… But with so many suspects, is it only one person? Or is all of this nonsense connected?

DI Adam Fawley’s books are super intriguing. They glue me to every page and it’s really hard not to binge the entire book. I couldn’t get enough of the thrills, twists and turns Cara puts into this book. I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves mysteries and thrillers. The character development is also on point. I loved how Cara painted these pictures of how everyone is not perfect and how we need to think about all of the information we’ve been given. It felt like I was a detective alongside Adam Fawley and his crew. It’s an absolute delight for thriller fans like myself.

Overall, this is yet another winning book! I highly recommend it and will continue to support Cara Hunter. Who doesn’t love sneaking away into an amazingly written book?

Five out of five stars.

Want to join in the thrill ride? Grab this book now:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Indigo
B&N

Check out Cara’s socials by clicking on the links below:
Goodreads Author Page
Twitter: @CaraHunterBooks

Looking for more thrilling reads to fill up your TBR? Check out some of my other faves featured on my blog:
Close to Home by Cara Hunter
Spiral by Khaled Talib
Wrong Place by Michelle Davies

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#BookReview Dark Bliss by Shay Mills

Dark Bliss: Love Knows No Bounds by Shay Mills is a historical, fantasy read full of vampires.

This is a relatively short read packed with lots of content! Vampires, fantasy, history and romance are packed tight all within this book. I was honestly shocked how short it was for how much drama and content there is (which isn’t a bad thing! Sometimes a girl wants a short book with lots going on).

I did find that this book wasn’t aimed at me for it’s audience, but I can appreciate the novel for what it is. Fans of historical romance with a splash of fantasy and horror will enjoy this book.

You might be asking, “So, Briar… Why wasn’t this book for you?” Well, let me explain.

This book started with a strong opening paragraph that had me feeling some incredible horror vibes. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it didn’t seem like it was going to be a romance or purely fantasy novel. That horror element quickly dissipates and unfolds into a period drama. I really wanted that horror element to stick – I thought it was going to be a really cool vibe mixed in with the fantasy and romance. There is the odd splash of horror later on, but it’s not as big of an element as I thought it would be (since it was in that initial opening).

So we keep going – we’ve got lots of characters coming out of the woodworks fast, and some of them only in flashbacks. I wanted a little more description out of these moments. I found this book was heavy in dialogue and not in description. Don’t get me wrong (again), I love some incredible dialogue but I also need a writer to spell out how the setting looks and feels, how the characters are, and so on. Just a pinch more description would have made me a happy reader, but this trend continues throughout the book. That being said, the style is interesting. This book makes it feel like someone is re-telling the story to a friend. It’s how I imagine my buddies telling me about their works of fiction that they write.

The characters were an interesting collection of people. Some you can relate to, some you want to throw off a cliff, and others you wonder if they might have a bigger meaning to the story than they actually do. Alma was a character I loved to hate. I did wonder if she was going to be more of a “big baddie” than she was… But she was pretty insane.

My biggest gripe with this book is the romance. The sex happens ridiculous amounts of times, the orgasms seem unrealistic for how many and how often, and the descriptions of sex felt like a man was writing it. Now, don’t get me wrong again – men can write romance and sex scenes – but sometimes you can tell it’s a man trying to write for a woman. Vibrating junk, orgasms that happen excessive times in a row that would probably kill the woman and just unrealistic sex scenes make me grimace. I like disappearing into a book, but really odd sex scenes tear me out of it.

Add in a few trigger warnings for this book: Abuse towards women, abuse towards pregnant women, miscarriage. All those fun things some readers don’t like – be warned.

Overall, this book is an interesting read. It’s nice to take a trip down a different path in my reading journey. It’s a historical book that takes place in the dark time of slaves with lots of twists and turns.

Three out of five stars.

This book was sent to me in exchange of an honest review.

Give this book a look see by following the links below:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Learn more about the author, Shay Mills, through these websites:
https://www.shaymillsauthor.com/
Goodreads Author Page – Shay Mills

Check out some other books on my blog that you might enjoy:
Nothing is Strange by Mike Russell
His Name was Zach by Peter Matruneac
Spiral by Khaled Talib

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#BookReview Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

If you want your mind completely blown away then grab this book!

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family has been sitting on my shelf for probably too long. I’ve looked at it, thought about reading it, and then just decided otherwise. I wanted more fiction in my life! Or so I thought. This non-fiction book is as enticing and intriguing as a lot of the fiction books I’ve been picking up (if not more). Honestly, this book will open your eyes to a world you probably never thought much of. What happens to families where multiple family members have schizophrenia? And what if that family was way back in the 1940s-1960s?

This story makes my heart ache. It’s not an easy story to hear but it’s an important one to tell. Not only is it important, it tells you a lot of history about mental health and mental illnesses. With mental health becoming further into the forefront and actually being taken seriously (well, some of the time… unfortunately), this is an important story to learn about and tell. Lindsay and Margaret and the rest of the gang deserve so much better. Hopefully their story will help change the course of history and help many families and their loved ones in the future.

We have a picture perfect family from the 1940s, right? Two loving parents and their twelve children (which sounds like a lot now, and was a bit of a lot back then… but it’s a big family). They all seem perfect and happy and it’s exactly what you want, right? The duo finally get two beautiful girls and all seems right in the world. Until their sons start unravelling… Six of their sons get diagnosed with mental health issues (schizophrenia, maybe bipolar or other issues as well – diagnosing mental illnesses wasn’t a perfect science back then). The family struggles with these issues. What are you supposed to do when your son dresses up like a monk and spouts out religious nonsense to the world and then tries beating everyone up? It’s not like there’s a rule book or a play book to help you with that sort of thing. Especially in a time when mental health was a topic we didn’t like to talk about.

Things weren’t easy (and that’s putting it lightly). The story goes into some brutal and harsh details about the Galvin family’s life and social circle. It will hurt your heart but it will also let you inside a very scary world. Especially one for young girls and children! Can you imagine how it would feel to feel like you’re losing your siblings? To have history covered up? The painful memories. My heart aches and I have so much empathy.

The one good take away? This family helped with a lot of research. Their blood samples and medical history has given the science world something to start and go off of when dealing with schizophrenia. It’s awful cases like these that can sometimes change the views of the world. Luckily, their story is helping shape the medical community.

This is a must read book. I honestly couldn’t believe how eye opening, how incredible and how strange this book was. It reads like a really well written fiction, and sometimes you get so lost in the story you forget it’s real. Pick this book up! It’s high on my recommendation list! Especially for lovers of non-fiction.

Five out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Check this book out by clicking on the links below:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Indigo
Kobo

Looking for more non-fiction to pack onto your TBR? Well, I have just what you need on my blog:
#BookReview Crime Scene by Kate Lines
#BookReview To Wendy’s With Love by Diane Keyes
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview Winds of Darkness by Rebecca L. Snowe

Winds of Darkness by Rebecca L. Snowe opened my eyes to the wonderful world of fantasy novels.

I normally despise fantasy novels. I have a slew of reasons why they don’t normally vibe with me, yet this book proved to me that maybe it’s just the book and not the genre. Why? Because this book was incredible, kept me hooked and wasn’t confusing.

Seriously, this book made me love fantasy! This kind of book makes me realize why people love digging into these books. There are so many characters, so much world building and yet it didn’t feel like it was all that long. This book is over 600 pages but you wouldn’t know it! Rebecca L. Snowe has a real talent and I hope she continues using it with the sequel to this book (because it left on a massive cliffhanger and MAN do I hate cliffhangers).

Rebecca also does an excellent job with making me enjoy most of the characters. There are always going to be characters you don’t like, but having them all weave together somehow in the story was truly fun and interesting! I loved the Queen (Azkanysh) and the plot line there. The cliffhanger it left for her… Ooh, I need the next book as soon as possible! Rebecca is so mean leaving us hanging there! I also enjoyed Dark Moon and Nathaira. I didn’t expect so many worlds to collide so quickly, but I loved every second of it!

Shapeshifters, Queens taking the thrones over the males (when women aren’t respected), a headstrong Princess trying to make a name for herself, an assassin and more are all apart of this truly mesmerizing book. I highly recommend it if you love fantasy or are just starting out! This is what I hoped Game of Thrones would have been. So, yeah, by my standards this is better than Game of Thrones. With a great, fast paced environment with lots of descriptions and character development, this book is a winner!

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Find out urgent updates about Rebecca L. Snowe on:
Goodreads
https://rebeccalsnowe.com/about/
Twitter: @RebeccaLSnowe

Do you love fantasy? Here are some other books featured on my blog that you might enjoy:
#BookReview Fallen: Princeborn Stolen by Jean Lee
#BookReview Valyo Rising by R.A. Mendsen
#BookReview Avalon Hall by Ruth Miranda

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#BookReview Unmuted: Stories of Courage and Resilience from the GenPRIDE Community by Steven Knipp et al.

If you’re looking for a book that will stir your emotions but also remind you that you’re not alone, this is it!

Unmuted: Stories of Courage and Resilience from the GenPRIDE Community is a delightful book with many short stories within its pages.

Background: GenPRIDE is a nonprofit I had not heard of before I picked up this book. It sounds like it’s doing fantastic work by focusing on helping the lives of midlife and older LGBTQIA+ people. And, fun fact, individuals from this group wrote this book! So that’s pretty darn cool, if you ask me. This book helped build a community and I am absolutely honoured to be able to pick this book up!

This book starts out with a breathtaking and beautiful dedication to Kevin Charles Patz. He was not only a writer in this book, but a good friend of the other writers. The dedication was heartwarming and made me smile. I’m sad to hear that Kevin has passed, but I’m glad he lived so fondly in others hearts.

The feelings this book gives is just insane. You’ve felt what these authors have felt, you’ve just maybe not known how to express them. The anxiety of people, the feeling of pure loneliness – having someone write those out and see that I’m not alone was an amazing coping mechanism for myself. Especially in these wild times – quarantine and pandemic – knowing that I’m not the only one feeling these crazy feelings is nice and soothing. You hate seeing other people having these feelings, but at least you know you’re not alone.

The heartbreak of Do Young’s Ghost hit home a little too hard. The pain of learning someone you love is dying from a source that isn’t kind… It hurts. My heart goes out to Greg. We can sit in the same boat together.

Hiding yourself from others or hating what you have to hide – Jenny, you give me strength and hope that I can be who I strive to be.

Loss from Steven Knipp, Hope’s story of birthdays, Shayla’s story of addiction and Linda’s purely incredible comment – “Why don’t people use non-gendered pronouns when they have doubts” is an age old question for me. Funny story, I used to teach classes and couldn’t always tell what names matched genders. Oftentimes, I would call the kids “Dude” as a non-gendered term as I was learning what names/nicknames they liked being called and what pronouns they went by. Dude was always an incredible non-gendered term in the world of children. That sentence reminded me of the amazing times I had back then, what a nostalgia trip that was!

Overall, this is a beautiful set of stories. I hope this group writers more and I’m able to pick up all of their books. This is a mesmerizing, must read on my list!

My summary sentence for the whole book: It amazes me how writing can soothe the soul and bring people together.

Five out of five stars!

I received this book for free from the editor, Jennifer Haupt, in exchange of an honest review.

You can find this book by clicking on the following links:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

Looking for more non-fiction and feeling-full reads to spice up your life? Check out some of my other faves that have been featured on my blog:
#BookReview Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19 by Jennifer Haupt et al
#BookReview Produce Poetry or Die by Narada Voux Sanders
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview Juana and the Dragonewt’s Seven Kingdoms by Kiyohisa Tanaka

Juana and the Dragonewt’s Seven Kingdoms Volume 1 is an absolutely adorable manga!

I truly loved this little manga and I cannot get enough of it! It’s sweet, fast paced, adorable and magical. It’s also super relatable since it’s dealing with outcast-like characters!

Nid, a young dragonewt, comes across a human girl named Juana. They do not speak the same language and Juana is an unknown species to Nid. Nid is an anxious fellow who doesn’t fit in and is a carnivore among herbivores. He feels misplaced yet somewhat familial with Juana. He decides to go on a quest to help his new friend.

Nid is our eye into the story. We see Juana and watch her interact with the dragons, but Nid is the true lead of this story. His frustrations, anxieties and sense of adventure are all present. It’s really fun to see the non-human side of things for once. Plus, making Nid so relatable to the population of readers that is going to read this book is wickedly smart.

This book is super heart warming and sweet. I need the remainder of this series ASAP. It’s just so kind and lovely and everything I need during a stressful time. It’s a great and happy way to escape everything going on right now. I will say that this book will not be for everything. It did seem kinda niche, but I still think it’s lovely and everything I needed and wanted it to be. Additionally, I could see middle graders, YA readers and adults loving this story. It’s universal for it’s age group.

Also, I love the art style of this manga. The cover itself drew me in and then the illustrations kept me there. It’s colourful, fun and whimsical. I love it!

Five out of five stars!

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Kobo
Indigo

 

If you like fantasy and manga, here’s some other books featured on my blog that you’ll love:
#BookReview The Boy Who Cried Ghost by Richard Clark
#BookReview Loki’s Wolves by K.A. Armstrong and M.A. Marr
#BookReview Boston Metaphysical Society by Madeleine Holly-Rosing

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview Brandon Goes to Hong Kong by Eugenia Chu

Eugenia Chu is one of my new, favourite authors! Honestly, two books in and I’m digging everything she has to give us! Brandon Goes to Hong Kong is a delightful story that whisks the reader away to Brandon’s fun, inviting world.

This book is longer than the first book (which was a short, picture book). We have a short, middle grade read just under one hundred pages. This is an excellent story for five year olds and up, and I can easily see an older age group appreciating this book too! There’s more to unpack with this story, in all the best ways! There’s also lovely illustrations too.

These are the amazing points that I love about this book:

  1. There is an introduction to Mandarin Chinese and how the tones work. To me, this is super interesting! I love an educational book that is also fun. You don’t have to learn how Mandarin Chinese works, but if you want to Eugenia Chu has video offerings on her website on how to pronounce the words and how to use tones.
  2. This is a sweet book about family and fun! Brandon goes to Hong Kong (like the title suggests) and gets to experience exciting adventures with his family. You’ll learn about a lot of major hot spots in Hong Kong when you read this book too. I definitely liked Googling some of the places he went to take me away during all the craziness of our current times.
  3. There questions at the end of the chapters to prompt discussion. Whether you love story telling, or just want a more engaged audience – this book is selling it all and making it work!
  4. There’s a full glossary of words at the back! I love me some educational books. I also enjoyed learning how to pronounce these words (I’m not the best, but I’m learning and trying!).
  5. There’s also an introduction to Cantonese. It’s a little less than Mandarin, but it’s super cool! And an introduction to what buddhism actually is! That’s a topic I’ve always wanted to learn a little more about, so it was mighty cool learning it from a book. It makes it kid friendly and simple, and it also doesn’t go into anything too controversial. Just a basic understanding of what goes along with that word.
  6. Dragons, kites, Komodo dragons, pandas and fantastical delights! What more can a young reader ask for?

Overall, I highly recommend this book. It’s an excellent read for young and older audiences alike!

Five out of five stars!

Check out one of my most highly recommended books by clicking on the links below:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

You can find out more about the author, Eugenia Chu, by clicking the links below:
Goodreads Author Page – Eugenia Chu
http://eugeniachu.com/
Twitter – @chuauthor

Looking for more books that are exciting, kid friendly and just all around amazing? Check out these other awesome books that have been featured on my blog:
#BookReview Togo Learns How To Play by Pat McCulloch
#BookReview Brandon Makes Jiao-Zi by Eugenia Chu
#BookReview I Miss You Most by Cassie Hoyt

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#BookReview Try Dying by Rajeev Singh

Try Dying by Rajeev Singh is the first book by this incredible erotic horror author that didn’t bode well with me. Let me explain…

Normally, I’m totally all in with Rajeev’s books. If you haven’t picked his books up, he’s a master at erotic horror. His books are creepy, disgusting, mind boggling, menacing and disturbing – the way erotic horror should be. I’m honestly always blown away by his talent! Normally, his kind of horror doesn’t sit well with me at all and I (essentially) run away screaming. But his books? The writing style and tone always pulls me in and keeps me hanging on.

Then in walks Try Dying. The writing style, the tone, the word choice – all of the essence of the book is incredible. It just gets a little too brutal for me and I had to walk away numerous times to stomach it. Why? Well, the weird fetishes of wanting to murder a woman viciously while you have sex with her made me ill. If that’s the kind of horror you’re going for, Rajeev does it well. That kind of horror bothers me – I’m a woman who fears this. I will say, Rajeev Singh does horror well for this topic. I give him all the props, this just isn’t the plot line or story line that I should personally be reading. I can’t give him enough props, bonuses and compliments for how he made this into a story and made it work. Once I was able to slowly but surely get through this book in little chunks (pun intended), I realized how well written and intriguing it is.

So, what is in store for you, oh mighty reader:

  • The Dark Web
  • “Walrus-moustached” as my new favourite description
  • Fetishes
  • An adventure surrounding a curse
  • An awesomely designed cover image
  • A niche book perfect for it’s niche market

Overall, the book plot wise sat at a solid 3 for me. The adventure and curse side of things brought me in, but the brutality against women grossed and creeped me out. The writing? 5 out of 5, which is exactly what you expect from Rajeev Singh.

My final rating is going to sit evenly at a 4 out of 5. I’m not the audience for that book and I can accept that. I still want to read all of Rajeev Singh’s books because he’s one of the few horror authors that I can (normally) sit through the whole book and enjoy reading. He also just has a really nice writing style that makes the books easy to read. I find I don’t get that a lot within the horror genre.

Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free from the author, Rajeev Singh, in exchange of an honest review.

Ready to pick this book up and tackle it? Click the links below to find more information and buy it:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Find Rajeev Singh on Goodreads – Author Page

Here’s some other books by Rajeev Singh that have been featured on my blog! Check them out:
Dead Women Tell No Tales by Rajeev Singh
The Erotic Muse by Rajeev Singh
Blood Rain by Rajeev Singh

Seeking some other fantastic fiction to pile onto your TBR? Here are some other books I’ve loved and posted to the blog about:
Nothing is Strange by Mike Russell
His Name Was Zach by Peter Matruneac
Spiral by Khaled Talib

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

And like me on Facebook for more urgent updates! @BriarsReviews on Facebook

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#BookReview Scruffy Muffin Loses His Money by A.J. Kormon

Scruffy Muffin Loses his Money is a great picture book by A.J. Kormon.

This book is deceptively awesome! When you look at the cover and title you think it’s just a typical picture book, but it’s not! This book can be used as a fun, light hearted read OR you can look at the back of the book that prompts you on how to talk about money, budgeting and saving with your little ones!

I absolutely adored this book! It had a great story with a fun rhyming scheme (I started singing in my head), on top of an optional educational bit. If you know me, I love my educational side pieces! The back does a great job of informing parents of the many ways they can help install good money management skills in kids. It’s not all accounting and boring, it’s all about starting conversations and being open with kids.

Throw in the colourful illustrations and the awesome array of friends Scruffy Muffin has, and you’ve got yourself a real winner! I highly recommend this book to young readers.

Five out of five stars!

I received this book for free from the author, A.J. Kormon, in exchange of an honest review.

You can find this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Find out more about A.J. Kormon by clicking on the links below:
https://www.ajkormon.com/
Goodreads Author Page

Loving middle grade reads? Here are some other epic books featured on my blog that you will tots love:
#BookReview Togo Learns How to Play by Pat McCulloch
#BookReview The Underground Toy Society: You’re the Illustrator by Jessica D. Adams
#BookReview Yara’s Tawari Tree by Yossi Lapid

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview Easter with Snowman Paul by Yossi Lapid

Another Snowman Paul adventure is on it’s way! This time, Snowman Paul is celebrating Easter.

Snowman Paul REALLY wants an Easter egg but the chickens aren’t exactly too happy with that. Why does he want it? Well, there’s an Easter egg painting contest! Dan and Snowman Paul’s friendship is shown even mores in this book, which makes my heart sing. The little message about friendship that is in this book will be a great conversation starter for parents who want to make this book a little more educational too! What a great conversation starter, mixed in with a lovely story.

I love the facial expressions in this book. It made me smile and giggle as I read it. This book will definitely be loved by kids and adults alike. The fun, happiness and cheer these books bring are wonderful. Yossi Lapid deserves all the love! Grab this book for your children’s book shelf, it’s well worth it! And this series is always a staple on my must read, book recommendations!

The first page had me grinning already with balloons, chickens, chicks and bunnies all over. It’s a colourful array of fun with incredible illustrations. I love this series for the illustrations alone, and then you add in the valuable messages and friendship.

Five out of five stars.

I was sent a free copy of this book by Yossi Lapid AND I picked this for myself too. This series is just too good to be true!

Click the links provided to grab this book while it’s hot (or cold… because he’s a snowman…):
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Check out the other books by Yossi Lapid recently featured on my blog:
#BookReview Sasha and his Red Leash by Yossi Lapid
#BookReview Yara’s Tawari Tree by Yossi Lapid
Quick #BookReview Snowman Paul and Kate’s Olympic Dream by Yossi Lapid
#BookReview Snowman Paul Returns to the Winter Olympics by Yossi Lapid
#BookReview Snowman Paul at the Winter Olympics by Yossi Lapid
#BookReview My Snowman, Paul by Yossi Lapid
#BookReview Halloween with Snowman Paul by Yossi Lapid
#BookReview Christmas with Snowman Paul by Yossi Lapid
#BookReview Valentine’s Day with Snowman Paul by Yossi Lapid

You can find out more about Yossi Lapid on:
https://lapidchildrensbooks.com

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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