Best Books I read in 2018!

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Happy (almost) New Year Everybody!         _BirthdayQueen_0028_29

Are you as excited to  begin 2019 as I am!

Have you any New Year’s resolutions ready?

I’m determined to make this year the year that I take control of my health and fitness.

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I know it’s a cliche, but for me this is a priority. Every day is a gift to me now, and I want to take advantage of every moment and squeeze as much joy out of it as I can!

 

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Did you get any new books?

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I had a lovely Christmas. It was a quiet one with my husband and our boys this year. They’re getting older now so we don’t have all the preparation for santa’s visit, or the early mornings to contend with, so it was a lovely relaxing one, with no rush, no appointments, and no stress. Perfect! aqua-bath-flower1

Believe it or not, I didn’t open  a single book for Christmas this year. My husband waited until the day after and then dropped me off at my favorite Barnes and Nobel store, and let me immerse myself in the luxury of being able to choose whatever I wanted. I bought a wide selection of both novels and inspirational reads, and I can’t wait to share them with you.

What’s your favorite book of 2018?

I had a fabulous reading year, and pretty much enjoyed every book that I read. So I thought that I’d share some of my favorite reads of the year with you today. I could do a countdown, but I just can’t wait. Lets just get straight to it. Drum roll….The most outstanding book of 2019 for me, was N0S4R2 by Joe Hill.

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THAT BOOK! It was not only my favorite read of 2018, but it has even hit a high place on my all time top ten reads EVER! If you love a good horror story, go and pick it up. I don’t want to say too much about it, because I think it’s good to go in without a map. But lets just say that if you take a creepy old man who drives around in his antique car, abducting young children, and promising to take them to ‘Christmas land’; it’s going to be a book that you cannot put down.

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This year I’ve made a special effort to  pick up work from authors that are new to me. I don’t know about you, but I’m a creature of habit, and tend to stick with the same pool of authors that I’ve read for years. Thats the beauty of Bookstagram- I learn about different authors and new works that I may have otherwise overlooked in a book store.

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One outstanding author that I turned to this year was Wilbur Smith. Growing up, he was my dad’s favorite author, and he bought Smith’s books as soon as they came out. There was no Instagram back then, and so I always thought they were ‘men’s’ books- aimed at a male audience. So I didn’t venture as far as picking one up back then. AutumnFairytaleClips_0002_1

however, a few weeks ago I was in a book store and I noticed the Wilbur Smith books winking at me from the shelf, so I picked one up out of nostalgia and curiosity. They’ve updated the covers and they’re just beautiful. Just holding the book set off many happy memories for me of my Dad, and I figured ‘why not?’

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I decided to buy some, thinking of it as a wonderful way of connecting with him across time and space. I chose the Egyptian series since I love anything to do with ancient Egypt.

The first book was ‘River God‘ and was centered around the life of the  slave Taita in ancient Egypt, and his relationships with his mistress and the Pharaoh. It is an epic story, that is made so much more interesting as it  has so much fact woven in with the fiction. The second book ‘The Seventh Scroll ” jumps forward to more contemporary times, and to an expedition to find the lost treasures of the aforementioned Pharaoh and the slave Taita based on the story of the first book. Both books were fantastic reads with action and adventure along with great historical interest and lots of mystery and suspense woven in. I loved them. There’s actually six in the series and I am so excited to pick up book number three.

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Smith has written so many books and so many series that I’m now really looking forward to reading. I hope you give him a try!

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Anther notable author for me this last year was Grady Hendrix. He seems to have exploded onto the horror scene with a slew of amazing books. My first read of his was ‘ My Best Friend’s Exorcism‘, followed by ‘Horrorstor” and of course his non fiction catalog ‘Paperback’s From Hell‘. I am looking forward to reading ‘We Sold our Souls. Hendrix’s writing style is really unique in the genre. He manages to scare the bejeebas out of you and yet give you warm fuzzies at the same time. His work is part nostalgic, 1980′ s vibes, and part supernatural suspense. Whatever you want to call it, it works.

 

Other outstanding books that I’d recommend this year are:

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Dracul by Dacre Stoker & J.D. Barker . Get it HERE

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Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay . Also from HERE 

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For children’s books, I’ve finally discovered Mary Downing Hahn books which they LOVED. These are all suspense and spooky books but not too scary. Click to follow the links.

The Ghost of Cratchfield Hall

One for Sorrow

The Doll In The Garden

and Closed For the Season 

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So, to highlight some of my best reads this year. Here are some of the others that I read this year and loved. I’ve tried to include lots of different genres here, so that there’s something that might take your eye:

Best Vintage book has to be Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon

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Best Biography Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

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and I also loved this YA Biography of Mary Shelley ‘The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s creator Mary Shelley by Catherine Reef

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Best Debut YA book Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

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Best Historical Fiction The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.

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I could go on and on, because I read so many superb books in 2018. If you want to see more, then just pop across to my Instagram feed which is linked on the right, and see if you agree with my thoughts on the books I have read.

Do you have any you want to recommend to me? drop me a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Have a wonderful new year, stay safe. Remember to stick with a friend if you’re out partying. Male or female, you’re safer in a group.Charge up your phone, wrap up, and have fun!

Lots of love and best wishes for 2019 xxx

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Another Fabulous Giveaway for you!

 

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Hello Peeps, and a huge ‘Welcome’ to my latest giveaway!

I’m really excited about this one,This time around, I decided to give you more choices of prize packs. There will still be one main winner and a handful of consolation prize winners, but you now have the choice of which one of three themed packages that you would prefer!

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I know everybody always loves Harry Potter, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t? so I guess he’ll be included in almost all my giveaways, but I thought it would be nice to add a Bookish themed choice too, and also a Horror themed pack. That hopefully covers a larger proportion of my followers different tastes and will hopefully encourage more of you to join in. So here’s some more details:

hydrangea 5The reason I chose the ‘Bookish’ themed pack is that I noticed that some of you live in places where it is quite difficult to find cute props for your #bookstagram habit. Here in the U.S. it seems that we have a ton of places to rummage around in and find crafty props for our photo’s, but in other countries, I’ve heard that it’s not always so easy.

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So if you live somewhere where it is difficult to find faux flowers and shells etc, then perhaps you might like this themed pack the best. I’ve chosen as carefully as possible. You will see below that I have picked several faux long-stemmed flowers that can be placed as a lovely frame around your pictures. I’ve also added some scatter style packs of flowers in different colors that can be placed strategically too.

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I picked up some beautiful butterfly props (and you will see that I’ve been using this type lots lately) and I’ve added some starfish props for any ocean themed pictures, for those of you who may not live near the water.

 

Seashells_15I’m also including a fun notebook and a cute sleep mask. Some of the items in my giveaway were exclusive to a particular subscription box, that are now sold out, but I’ve added them here and there, so hopefully you may see something that you missed out on!

Whichever package you choose, you will receive some battery operated string lights, which look gorgeous on pictures.

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The second pack is a ‘Horror’ themed pack.

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I’m including two freaky funko pops from the hit movie ‘It’, a fabulous ‘It’ themed mug (which I personally love) some horror themed pins/ badges and a patch.

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The winner will also receive a copy of the latest Stephen King books.’The Body’ is a paperback and ‘The Outsider’ is hardback. Here’s the best bit; if you live in the U.S, I will include a U.K copy and if you live in the U.K I will  send you a U.S copy! How amazing will that be?

I’ve included a ‘Decomposition notebook, some ‘hocus Locus’ themed items (bookmark and bracelet), an ouija board photo print and some fabulous witchy art cards by @Terrifoss . There’s a 10×8 horror print, and a bracelet which is unisex. If something else catches my eye, I’ll be adding it!

 

And that brings me to the Harry Potter option.

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Included in this pack is an adorable Christmas themed HP mug by Nerdy girl designs (because it’s not that far off you know) A hardback anniversary copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone’ in the Slytheryn edition, with a paperback copy in Gryffindor house. A Gryffindor patch,

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There’s also a wand book, some themed snitch earrings, some muggles socks and a Quidditch themed Ron Weasley funko pop. Even better, I’ve found a fabulous tree that looks just like the Whomping Willow!

 

And what about the book pouch, the badges, and the candles which were in the Christmas candle box from A Court of Candles. I’ve even included some notebooks. So much in this giveaway, whatever theme that you choose. I hope you love it.Harry.png

 

So, here’s what you do. On Monday 11th June 2018 my giveaway will go live. Expect this to be around 12p.m EST or 9a.m PT. That’s 5p.m U.k time and 6p.m for France, Germany Etc.

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All I need you to do is:

** like the post**

**Follow me**

**tag two friends who may be interested**

**repost the picture of your choice of themed pack  on your main feed(swipe through the giveaway post pics for the pack of your choice) with the tag: #bookscupsandcandlesga

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Closing date is midnight Florida time on Sunday 24th June 2018!

FOR EXTRA ENTRIES:

**Follow this blog**

**Like this post**

**leave a comment (and don’t forget to add your Instagram name) **

 

You can also gain extra entries for sharing the giveaway on your story. Each story share is an extra entry!

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RULES:

**Must be a public account**

**no giveaway accounts**

**must be over 18 or have parental permission**

**not affiliated with Instagram**

**must leave repost picture up until closing date when you will see me ‘like’ your picture. This means it has been counted!**

**winner will be announced within a week of the closing date**

That’s it! Good luck everybody. I can’t wait to see what you choose!

 

Lots of love, Sally xxx

Fabulous Finds for Fright Nite (a.k.a HaLloWeEn

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Hello Peeps,

I hope you are all doing well and having fun planning for Halloween.

I thought I’d pop up a Halloween post for you today, sharing some of my favorite reads, merchandise  and other super treats, old and new.

Let me start by saying that I just LOVE Halloween; and in this house it comes second only to Christmas. We tend to decorate inside the house more than outside, but each year we add more decorations to our growing scary collection.

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What we have discovered is that by being savvy (very strong willed) and only buying AFTER the holiday is over, we get some amazing deals on items that otherwise would be out of our budget. I mean how do you justify spending $200 on a statue that is good for just one day each year?

So by waiting until the day after, or even a couple of days we have snagged some great deals.

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For example, look at these fabulous figures that we picked up last year from Home Depot. Our Hip Witch was originally just under $100 prior to the holiday. We got her for $29 two days later! Our butler, who has animatronics and whose eyes turn red and has spooky sounds started off at $129 then went down to $64 and then he was only $44.50 when we picked him up!

I have my eye on one for next year that I am praying doesn’t sell out.

And of course Halloween is the perfect time to pick up a good horror book to read. I am a great one for horror stories, and don’t need Halloween as an excuse to scare myself silly, but I do love to match my reads to the season, and I have some classic horrors and some super new Witch and magic themed books that I want to share with you today.

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First up is by my favorite author Alice Hoffman. Alice wrote the amazing Practical Magic which was made into a cult movie starring  Nicole Kidman & Sandra Bullock, way back in 1998.

 

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Well Alice has come up with a prequel to Practical Magic, and it’s just as fabulous. This is a perfect read if you want a nice magical story and not horror.

 

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For true horror lovers I would have to recommend the King. Yes, Stephen King. I’ve read just about every book he has ever written and loved every one, but those I recommend most for this holiday are: #drumroll … ‘Salems Lot’, ‘The Shining’ and ‘ Night Shift’. These are my favorite cover designs too. The glossy black covers are gorgeous. I hope they bring every book out with this cover design. I finally had to donate my original King paperbacks to charity as the pages had all begun to turn yellow- I didn’t have the heart to  throw them away.

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Of course the true icons of Halloween/ horror has to be Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Poe’s  collected works. I love these particular copies, both by Barnes & Nobel

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If you’re a #bookstagrammer then you can find some delicious scented candles from the lovely Amanda North Ave Candles easy store. Amanda has candles to match many books,  including her most recent Merlot one which is the perfect companion while you are reading  Dracula.

 

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If you prefer a more contemporary Vampire and Witches story, I absolutely LOVE All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness I have the single editions and also this beautiful boxed set, which is currently $40

 

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If you like the more adult Witch themed merchandise, then how about gifting this set along with some beautiful element candles from Unicorn Manor

 

 

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There is ‘Earth,’ ‘Fire’, ‘Air’ and ‘Water’ along with the ‘Samhain’ one which I light most evenings. These are truly stunning to gaze at, and smell delicious. Perhaps you can cast a romance spell…

 

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If its Art you are really looking for, then look no further than Terri Foss’s Etsy store

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I’ve been collecting Terri’s art for more than a year now. She has hundreds of prints available in many sizes, and all priced perfectly. Terri also regularly has original art pieces in her store, such as the one’s above. But you have to keep checking as they sell out fast. I mean, as soon as she lists them. I snagged these gorgeous ones this year.

 

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So what about some spooky Halloween reads for children? I guess  the most obvious choice would be the Harry Potter Illustrated Editions by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay. Any of these three editions by Jim Kay are beautiful, and really bring the stories to life. I can’t wait to one day have the completed set.

 

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And don’t forget that Amanda also has awesome  Harry Potter candles too

 

 

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If you already own every Harry Potter book, then the  other children’s scary Halloween recommendations that I would strongly suggest, are any of the Goosebumps sets. They are scary fun but not too scary. I’m loving this limited edition vintage style tin of books. This would make a super present. It’s in my cart as we speak! Another by the same author is the Fear Street series by R.L Stine.

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I love all the retro style covers.

 

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Moving on to really scary books based on true stories.

I would suggest that The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty is a must read! I bought my copy as a scratch and dent from the Book Outlet, but I see they don’t have any left so you can find it HERE

And finally in books, I will recommend the only book that ever gave me real actually nightmares for two nights in a row (I never get nightmares). This is The Soul Collector This is apparently a true story, and it gave me the total creeps. When I say nightmares, I mean waking up in a cold sweat thinking there are Demons in the room. I shook with fear! Read it at your own risk!

So…

Moving on to some Halloween Merch.

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For some cute Halloween gifts for friends and family, how about these cute PocketBac Sanitizers from Bath and Body Works

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And these matching hand creams

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halloween witch 6They are priced so well too! Right now you can pick them up reduced to $3 for the hand creams and packs of five hand sanitizers for around $5

 

 

 

So what other merchandise can we add to our gift boxes for our Halloween loving friends and family?

Well, I figure that some spooky Halloween themed Funko POPS

IMG_0682Funko’s are usually priced between $9.99 and 12.99, although larger one’s can be more expensive. These are a few of the one’s that I have collected over the last two years. Freddie is my favorite! (Though Rowens Ghost is a close second.

 

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This has turned out to be a long post. I hope you have enjoyed it, and hopefully have discovered some new ideas to make your own Halloween rock! there are still a ton of things that I’d love to share with you, and if I find time in the next couple of days, I’ll add another post showing my collection of Tarot cards. I collect so many and I’d love to share some of them with you.

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So until next time, thanks for reading. If I don’t talk to you before..Have a happy and safe Halloween xxx

Love Sally

Book Review: Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

 

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Yes you read that correctly, I am reviewing a book that was written by the King way back in 1975.

Why now?

Because I’ve just finished a reread of it and I was blown away by the huge difference in Stephen King’s writing style of back in the day. ‘Salem’s Lot’ is so phenomenally well written, I had a huge new appreciation for the book. There are pages of prose entwined with detailed descriptions, enough characters to fill a classroom; yet each have their own individual personalities, their own mannerisms and their own agendas.

 

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I was first introduced to King’s work in my early teens. I inhaled his books and even watched some of the old ‘B’ movie translations of them (lets face it, it took years before any film maker could handle a Stephen King book with the respect it deserved. These stories need BIG budgets) I collected the paperbacks, and after I had devoured them, they stood proudly on my shelf for quite a few years. Then I finally realized I had to donate them. One of the problems with keeping paperbacks on display for a long time is the discoloration they suffer. So I reluctantly handed  them over.I like to keep my books pristine.

For a while I read other genres, slipping into each of his new releases as I found them, but using the library as my main source. Then last week I was in Books-a-Million when I stumbled across a new cover design for ‘Salem’s Lot’.

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I am a sucker, a marketers dream. I fell head over heels in love with it. I picked it up and popped it in my cart (yes I shop with a cart, I believe the store managers invested in them especially for me) My intention was to rebuild my collection with these spiffy new cover designs but not to actually reread them because goodness knows I have more books waiting to be read than I have room to house them.

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However, as I stepped into my waiting car (read that as my husband picking me up) I began rifling through my new haul, and the book lingered in my hands for just a moment too long. At this point I have to tell you that I had ‘Outlander’ waiting for me at home. It had taken me three attempts to get into the ‘Outlander’ book and I had finally read past the first fifty pages. I was finally ‘in’. But I made the mistake of opening the pages of ‘Salem’s Lot’and reading the first line:

 

“Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.”

HOOKED.

I read on, for a page or two, (or so I intended) and before I knew it we were home and twenty minutes had passed and I knew then beyond all reasonable doubt that I was reading this book right now and ‘Outlander’ would just have to wait patiently for me yet again.

You see there was ‘something’ about King’s writing in this book. Something precious and rare. Something that I missed the first time around.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love King’s signature style of character driven novels with fast paced action, witty repartee between characters and things you would never believe, being, well…believable. But here in ‘Salem’s Lot’ we have all this and more!

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Salem’s Lot was Stephen King’s second book, right after ‘Carrie’. Can you imagine how hard it would be for a new author to tackle a book about Vampires and make the reader be able to suspend reality? No pressure right? So my theory is that he put everything into this book…and it worked.

Its only a few months ago that I finally read Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ for the first time. This is hard for me to confess, especially since I was born and bred in a small town not far from Whitby, where much of the book is based. Shame on me. Its one of my favorite towns to visit when I go back to England too.

Stoker’s writing is spectacular. It is timeless. It is absorbing and intriguing even after being written almost one hundred and fifty years ago.It was an amazing read. And I really believe now that Stephen King wanted to pay true homage to Stoker with ‘Salem’s Lot’. He does not copy Stoker’s style at all- that’s not what I am saying- but I feel like King tries his very best in this book. It’s like all his other books are a (very tasty) quick bake and Salem’s Lot is fine cuisine. It sounds paradoxical to say that his effort on this work shows, yet it appears effortless too.

Please pick it up if you get a chance. I’d even recommend this book to someone who doesn’t particularly choose Horror as an enjoyable genre, Just for the phenomenal writing.It really is too good to miss.

Needless to say, I have since purchased two more of his books to reread: ‘The Shining’ and ‘The Stand’ (I may be a while with a review of ‘The Stand’) These covers are so stunning!

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If you are interested in the covers that got me hooked, they are the Anchor paperback edition, part of Random house. And if you want to watch the ‘B’ movie version (as I did afterwards) you can buy it cheaply from HERE Enjoy!

 

Lots of love,

Sally xxx

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