Blog Tour Book Review: The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi

About The Color of Our Sky

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 18, 2017)

In the spirit of Khaled Hosseini, Nadia Hashimi and Shilpi Somaya Gowda comes this powerful debut from a talented new voice—a sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends in Mumbai, India, whose lives converge only to change forever one fateful night.

India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old village girl from the lower caste Yellama cult has come of age and must fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute, as her mother and grandmother did before her. In an attempt to escape her fate, Mukta is sent to be a house girl for an upper-middle class family in Mumbai. There she discovers a friend in the daughter of the family, high spirited eight-year-old Tara, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to an entirely different world—one of ice cream, reading, and a friendship that soon becomes a sisterhood.

But one night in 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s family home and disappears. Shortly thereafter, Tara and her father move to America. A new life in Los Angeles awaits them but Tara never recovers from the loss of her best friend, or stops wondering if she was somehow responsible for Mukta’s abduction.

Eleven years later, Tara, now an adult, returns to India determined to find Mukta. As her search takes her into the brutal underground world of human trafficking, Tara begins to uncover long-buried secrets in her own family that might explain what happened to Mukta—and why she came to live with Tara’s family in the first place.

Moving from a traditional Indian village to the bustling modern metropolis of Mumbai, to Los Angeles and back again, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and, ultimately, redemption.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Monday! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi. I received a free copy of this book (ARC) from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of it.

The Color of Our Sky is a contemporary fiction novel set in India following two women Tara and Mukta who met and became friends when they were younger when Tara’s father rescued Mukta from her village. Back in her village, Mukta was born into a line of women who were prostitutes in the name of the Goddess. A friendship blooms between these two girls until one night Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room. Eleven years later Tara, who lives with the guilt of Mukta’s kidnapping returns to India to retrace history’s footsteps and endeavor to find Mukta.

When I read the synopsis for The Color of Our Sky, I immediately knew that this book was going to be a story that I wouldn’t want to miss. Unsurprisingly, I was correct in that assumption.

First of all, Amita Trasi’s writing is beautiful and descriptive. I am a huge fan of writing that has a poetic, descriptive feel and the writing in this book definitely fed that obsession for me. The writing completely drew me in from the first sentence and gripped me until the very end. I loved that the narrative takes place both from Tara’s point of view and from Mukta’s, alternating between the past and the present. It was a unique and ultimately satisfying way to deliver the story to the reader.

The topics that are explored in this book were completely gripping to me. I could not put this book down for the life of me. It was a really great combination of the beautiful writing and the harrowing events of the story. I just had to know what happened to Mukta and whether these two women would be able to reunite and find a way to put their past and secrets behind them.

Although beautiful, this book was at times difficult to read because this is actually the reality of the world that we live in. It’s hard to realize that somewhere in the world something similar is happening to little girls and women. I think that’s the magic of books like this, they tell the stories that, although hard for us to think about, are SO important for us to learn about so that we can be informed and maybe start doing something to create change.

I highly recommend picking this book up. It will hurt you but it will also give you hope. There were alot of themes at play in this book that combined together delivered a beautiful, tragic narrative about friendship, pain, hope, love and the danger of tradition. 5 stars! Beautiful read, one of my favorites of the year so far.

Photo by Sameer Rao

About Amita Trasi

Amita Trasi was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She has an MBA in human resource management, and currently lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two cats.

Find out more about Amita at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Blog Tour Book Review: Miss You by Kate Eberlen

About Miss You

• Hardcover: 448 pages
• Publisher: Harper (April 4, 2017)

“If ever a couple was ‘meant to be,’ it’s Tess and Gus. This is such a witty, poignant, and uplifting story of two lives crisscrossing over the years, with near miss after near miss. . . . I couldn’t put it down.”—Sophie Kinsella

A wryly romantic debut novel with echoes of One Day that asks, what if you just walked by the love of your life, but didn’t even know it?

“TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.” Tess can’t get the motto from her mother’s kitchen knickknack out of her head, even though she’s in Florence on an idyllic vacation before starting university in London.

Gus is also visiting Florence, on a holiday with his parents seven months after tragedy shattered their lives. Headed to medical school in London, he’s trying to be a dutiful son but longs to escape and discover who he really is.

A chance meeting brings these eighteen-year-olds together for a brief moment—the first of many times their paths will crisscross as time passes and their lives diverge from those they’d envisioned. Over the course of the next sixteen years, Tess and Gus will face very different challenges and choices. Separated by distance and circumstance, the possibility of these two connecting once more seems slight.

But while fate can separate two people, it can also bring them back together again. . . .

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Monday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Miss You by Kate Eberlen. I received a free ARC copy of this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of it.

Miss You is a contemporary fiction novel about Tess and Gus. It is the story of their lives and the choices they make that lead them away and towards each other. It is told in their alternating perspectives throughout the course of many years and many heartbreaks.

When I first started reading Miss You, I immediately thought that it was going to be a cutesy contemporary romance, which I didn’t mind at all. As I continued reading it and got to learn more about our two main character’s lives and got to follow them through various heart breaks and struggles, I realized that this was so much more than what I had expected it to be. Instead of a cutsey romance, I got a story about two characters who make mistakes, struggle through every day life like the rest of us, do the best they can, struggle to grow up and find themselves, and who are obviously just SO meant for each other. As we read about them navigating their way through life, we can’t help but find ourselves rooting for them from the very moment they lay eyes on each other.

You would think that as the reader, I might have gotten frustrated that these two were at times so close to each other but just never made the connection or it seemed like fate had other plans for them at the time. There were moments where I just couldn’t help but hold my breath thinking THIS was the moment that they would look up, see each other and say “there you are, I have been looking for you.” But, I NEVER got frustrated with the pace of the story and I think it’s because Kate Eberlen is such a good writer. Her writing captured me immediately, it was descriptive in the way that when our characters were in Italy I could see the colors, taste the air and feel the excitement they felt. This continued throughout the story and it was a book that I just could not put down. It had me rooting for our main characters all throughout. Some heavy things happened in this book like grief, divorce, heartache, etc…just very real things that our characters had to deal with that very much mimicked real life and made them seem so real to me and made me relate to them so well.

As an adult it is easy to see how a story like this could happen in every day life and I think that made this story really seem magical to me, much more so than the insta-love stories that we very often get. I live in a big city but for how big it is, sometimes it seems very small when I find out that my husband has been friends with someone I have known for awhile as well or when I find out that we used to frequent the same restaurant and took vacations somewhere at the same time. This was the magic of Miss You and Tess and Gus, that reminded me that what is meant to be can sometimes always find a way.

If you are looking for a great summer read, give this one a go! 5 stars from me, I enjoyed this so much!

Photograph by Leanne Dixon

About Kate Eberlen

Kate Eberlen grew up in a small town thirty miles from London and spent her childhood reading books and longing to escape. She studied Classics at Oxford University before pursuing various jobs in publishing and the arts. Recently, Kate trained to teach English as a Foreign Language with a view to spending more time in Italy, a country she loves and has visited many times. Kate is married with one son.

Find out more about Kate at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Blog Tour Book Review: Red Leaves by Paullina Simons

About Red Leaves

• Paperback: 448 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reissue edition (April 11, 2017)

In the tradition of Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History comes a suspenseful thriller from the international bestselling author of The Bronze Horseman—an utterly captivating story about four Ivy League students whose bizarre friendship leads to a twisted maze of secrets, lies, betrayal, and murder.

As the star player of Dartmouth College’s women’s basketball team, Kristina Kim is beautiful, intelligent, and fearless. But though she’s just 21, Kristina has already had her share of heartache, loss, and dark secrets that haunt her. She’s best friends with Conni, Albert, and Jim, but the only one who seems to really know her is Albert. With long dark hair, tattoos, and a rebellious streak, Albert doesn’t fit in with the rest of the clean-cut Ivy Leaguers. Like Kristina, he has his share of secrets—secrets that are beginning to unravel this intimate circle of friends.

One wintry Thanksgiving weekend tragedy strikes…

When Detective Spencer O’Malley goes to investigate something suspicious at the foot of a steep hill on Dartmouth’s campus, he doesn’t expect that the frozen, naked body found in deep snow would belong to Kristina Kim—the remarkable young woman he met recently who entranced him. Now Spencer will never know if the chemistry he had with her was real. All he can do is find her killer.

Spencer is pulled into the strange, complex web of the surviving friends. Many important questions about Kristina’s murder cannot be answered, such as: why did none of them report her missing for nine days before her body was discovered? The more Spencer digs, the more clear it becomes that each of the three has a motive for killing Kristina. And as Spencer, seeking justice for a dead girl, is led down a labyrinth of deceit, every new revelation proves more shocking than the last….and more dangerous.

“Simons handles her characters and setting with a certain skill, creating mystery from the ordinary, protected lives of these Ivy League kids, slowly peeling away their deceptions to reveal denial, cowardice, and chilling indifference…an engrossing story.”—Publishers Weekly

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review of it.

In Red Leaves we meet Kristina Kim – star basketball player, dog owner, long time girlfriend and best friend. Beneath the surface of Kristina and her group of friends are betrayal, forbidden love and a mountain of secrets. When a students body is found on campus, all the secrets are brought to light.

Red Leaves is my second read written by Paulina Simons, although both were in two different genres. I find it fascinating when an author can successfully write in multiple genres like Paulina can.

That being said, Red Leaves drew me in with the Prologue but lost me somewhere in the beginning of Part One. For the first 100 and so pages, I was tempted to DNF it but I’m a completionist and I like to give books chances. Part One was definitely lost to me, it was slow and not much really happened, although after finishing and being able look back at the story and how it unfolded I can see why Part One was included as it provides background and knowledge about the characters and their relationships that really does serve to make us think certain ways as the mystery of the “whodunnit” unravels. 

The story definitely picks up in Part Two and finally caught my interest a little more and I was glad to be experiencing the story from a fresh perspective,  once that happened the rest of the book went by quickly and I actually ended up liking it after all. One thing I really enjoyed about thus book was that I always doubted my guesses about “whodunnit”. Always. It was never predictable for me.

Overall, I gave this book three stars, it may not have been exactly  for me but I did find some enjoyment in it. If you like a slow paced mystery you may want to give this book a read but if you are into fast paced thrillers, this may not be your taste. Paullina Simons writing in this book was just as good as I remember in the last book of hers I read, I hear people discuss a few of her books and I am still planning on reading some more of her work. 

Happy reading everyone!

Photo by Renaissance Studio

About Paullina Simons

Paullina Simons is an internationally bestselling author whose novels include Bellagrand and The Bronze Horseman was born in Leningrad in 1963. As a child she immigrated to Queens, New York, and attended colleges in Long Island. Then she moved to England and attended Essex University, before returning to America. She lives in New York with her husband and children.

Find out more about Paullina at her website, follow her on Twitter, and connect with her on Facebook.

Book Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

23308087Title: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Genre: YA Fantasy
Length: 368 pages
Format: eARC through Penguin First to Read
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Rating – 5 stars!!

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

I received a free copy of the Flame in the Mist ARC from Penguin’s First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

Flame in the Mist is set in feudal japan and follows a young girl Mariko who has been betrothed to one of the emperor’s sons. On her way to meet her betrothed, her litter is attacked and she is presumed dead. Survival instinct kicking in, she escapes and due to the climate of the time, dresses as a boy in order to move around freely and embarks on a quest for revenge.

Prior to being approved an ARC, I had heard about this book and that it was a Mulan retelling. I definitely saw the Mulan similarities but this story is definitely it’s very own. I loved this book. I thought it was so unique and done very well. I loved the theme of female empowerment that is woven throughout the entire book – we see this in Mariko’s making her own decisions and taking her life into her own hands during a time when women were treated like property and not allowed to make their own decisions.

The romance element was simply breathtaking. In connection with that I am SUPER happy that Mariko was not the squeaky clean, pure main character that we see in a lot of stories. She was very real. She was a badass that had no problem standing up for herself and did not succumb to what anyone wanted her to be, but she also had moments where she doubted herself and her strength. Through that she always found strength within herself, which was amazing.

The writing was absolutely beautiful, this was undoubtedly one of my favorite reads of this year so far.  It does end rather abruptly but I was okay with that since I know there is going to be a second book. I felt like a lot happened in this one and the stage was set for some really big things to happen. I cannot wait for the second one and my only complaint is that I will have to wait awhile since this book won’t even release until May. I definitely have a lot of questions like the magical elements we see and where this comes from and what happens with Mariko, plus a few more that I won’t mention because of spoilers.

This was my first Renee Ahdieh book and now I am very interested in reading her other novels. Flame in the Mist is published on May 16th so definitely check it out!

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

17347382Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Length: 734 pages
Format: Paperback (15th Anniversary Ed.)
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Rating – 5 stars

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the pivotal fourth novel in the seven-part tale of Harry Potter’s training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup with Hermione, Ron, and the Weasleys. He wants to dream about Cho Chang, his crush (and maybe do more than dream). He wants to find out about the mysterious event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn’t happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. Unfortunately for Harry Potter, he’s not normal — even by wizarding standards.

And in this case, different can be deadly.

I finally read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire! For the very first time! I have previously seen the movie (which seems to be a theme this month lol) but it’s been awhile so I forgot almost everything in it. This book was definitely a little more hefty in size than the previous Harry Potter books so it took me almost a month to read it, especially since I had to read so many other books this month so I had to keep putting it down and picking it back up.

In book four, we journey back to Hogwarts with our normal cast of characters except now our main crew is noticeable older and starting to deal with the normal growing up stuff like hormones i.e. Harry’s attraction to Cho and Hermoine/Ron’s growing feelings for each other. The brunt of the story takes place during the Tri-Wizard tournament that Hogwarts is hosting where three champions from three wizarding schools will compete for the Goblet of Fire and a large sum of prize money (not to mention bragging rights). The wizarding world is thrown in an uproar when Harry Potter’s name bursts forth from the Goblet naming him as the fourth wizard to compete when there should only be three. He is also under the age requirement of seventeen. This, unbeknownst to many, is just part of Lord Voldemort’s dark plot to return to power and Harry finds himself once again, face to face with his enemy.

I looooooooved this book! I definitely hated having to put it down and pick it back up again a few times towards the beginning but once I picked up back up for good, I COULD NOT put it down and actually stayed up until four in the morning reading it this weekend because I just couldn’t bear to put it down again.I think this is my favorite of the four I have read so far. It had everything…danger, betrayal, action, grief, death, suspense, and even a little bit of romance. I definitely feel like the first HP book was great, but the story and the writing just get progressively better and better with each book. I loved this story, loved spending more time with these characters, hated losing Cedric…but  I loved this book! Five stars! I cannot wait to start book five this month!

Blog Tour Book Review: The Mermaid’s Daughter by Ann Claycomb

About The Mermaid’s Daughter

• Paperback: 448 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 7, 2017)

A modern-day expansion of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, this unforgettable debut novel weaves a spellbinding tale of magic and the power of love as a descendent of the original mermaid fights the terrible price of saving herself from a curse that has affected generations of women in her family.

Kathleen has always been dramatic. She suffers from the bizarre malady of experiencing stabbing pain in her feet. On her sixteenth birthday, she woke screaming from the sensation that her tongue had been cut out. No doctor can find a medical explanation for her pain, and even the most powerful drugs have proven useless. Only the touch of seawater can ease her pain, and just temporarily at that.

Now Kathleen is a twenty-five-year-old opera student in Boston and shows immense promise as a soprano. Her girlfriend Harry, a mezzo in the same program, worries endlessly about Kathleen’s phantom pain and obsession with the sea. Kathleen’s mother and grandmother both committed suicide as young women, and Harry worries they suffered from the same symptoms. When Kathleen suffers yet another dangerous breakdown, Harry convinces Kathleen to visit her hometown in Ireland to learn more about her family history.

In Ireland, they discover that the mystery—and the tragedy—of Kathleen’s family history is far older and stranger than they could have imagined.  Kathleen’s fate seems sealed, and the only way out is a terrible choice between a mermaid’s two sirens—the sea, and her lover. But both choices mean death…

Haunting and lyrical, The Mermaid’s Daughter asks—how far we will go for those we love? And can the transformative power of music overcome a magic that has prevailed for generations?

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Monday!! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I was actually laid up in bed for most of it, sick. Luckily I had my dog and a great book to keep me company!

Over the weekend I read The Mermaids Daughter by Ann Claycomb. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours. 

This book tells the story of Kathleen who has been plagued by a phantom pain in her feet and her tongue since she was little. Her mother suffered from this as well, but killed herself when Kathleen was still little. Kathleen, now an adult and an opera singer, struggles with this and travels with her partner to the country of her ancestry to find out more about herself and this issue that she is having. It is the story of multiple generations of women suffering with this curse because of the decision of one woman. It is based off the Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid tale.

In this story our main character is in a relationship with Harry, a woman she met in a vocal course in college. I love their relationship dynamic and the way in which they care for each other. Harry knows about the pain Kathleen endures, she plays the dual roles of lover and caretaker for Kathleen and sort of begins the quest to find out more about Kathleen’s situation. I enjoyed the chapters we got from her perspective and seeing Kathleen and what she goes through, through her eyes. I enjoyed pretty much all of the characters in this story and I was especially intrigued by ALL of the perspectives the story is delivered from.

I loved this book immediately and could not put it down. I love dark retellings and this was definitely dark. It was dark, atmospheric, musical, and beautifully written. I felt like I was there. Kathleen’s suffering was palpable, I could almost feel it myself. Exactly how I would imagine it in our world. This was a great blend of genre – contemporary with fantasy.  The writing was gorgeous and it seemed like every sentence was evocative of the sea.

This was an excellent debut and I cannot wait to see what else this author has in store for us. Whatever it is, I will be eagerly anticipating it.

I highly recommend to everyone but especially to readers that love retellings, especially darker ones. Five stars!

 

Photo by Brian Persinger

About Ann Claycomb

Ann Claycomb’s fiction has been published in American Short Fiction, Zahir, Fiction Weekly, Brevity, Hot Metal Bridge, The Evansville Review, Title Goes Here, and other publications. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has an MFA in fiction from West Virginia University

Book Review: Eric Olafson: Space Pirate by Vanessa Ravencroft

Eric Olafson: Space Pirate (Eric Olafson Series) by [Ravencroft, Vanessa]Title: Eric Olafson: Space Pirate byVanessa Ravencroft
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 589 pages
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Inkitt
Publication Date:  March 15, 2016
Rating – 4 stars

It’s the year 5019, and the Milky Way Galaxy is teeming with exotic species.

The majority of the known civilizations have formed a multi-cultural mega organization called the United Stars of Galaxies.

This Union is protected by the brave men and women of the United Stars Space fleet against external threats.
Eric Olafson, born and raised under harsh conditions of the traditional and inward looking society of Nilfeheim, left his planet to fulfill his dreams of becoming a Starship captain.

When Eric gets kidnaped by an unknown organization and brought to Sin 4, a lawless Planet deep in free space, he slowly starts to discover his central role in an ancient conflict of cosmic proportions.

“This is what Sci-Fi is all about. Reads like early Heinlein. In the style of Space Cadets. No esoteric problems..but good ol blaster and space action with a host of relatable characters.” – Reed T

“This story has all the right things such as strong appealing characters, great world building, aliens mystery,and more.” – Fran L

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

This book is about the adventures of Erik Olafson, a space pirate who finds himself in some sticky and outlandish situations. Although it is a book that takes place within a series it can definitely be read as a standalone title, which is how I read it.

Coming off of a Sci-Fi kick that most recently had me read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, I was definitely in the mood to read this book and I rather enjoyed it. I thought it was humorous and adventurous. It had a lot of action right off the bat which I really enjoyed. I loved the characters and learning about their relationships with and perceptions of our main character.  Another thing I really enjoyed was the inclusion of certain aspects of Norse mythology in the story. While I am not super proficient in Norse mythology and it’s major characters, I was definitely able to draw some connections and recognized some key figures so those were really great Easter eggs to discover in the story. I just thought this story was really unique and original which made me enjoy it so much. An chase through space with a character that is running for their lives and discovering new places and people is always a fun time. 

Overall, I enjoyed  this story and would definitely like to read more from the author and of these characters, four stars! If you are a Sci-Fi fan, I definitely think you will enjoy this book and get it. I do think that others who are not really into Sci-Fi may have a harder time getting the book and handling all of the information and detail that is given. 

You can purchase your own copy of this book here: Buy Eric Olafson, Space Pirate on Amazon

Happy Reading everyone! 

Vanessa RavencroftAbout the Author

It all started in 1989 when my friends and I played Role Playing Games such as AD, Midgard, Traveler etc. Not really satisfied with the selection of commercially available RPGames, I created a new one called Action World. Our RPG evolved into the Galactic Chronicles and I am now almost 22 years in that Universe. There are 34 handwritten 500-600 page books in the Galactic Chronicles series. I love to write and spend time in this universe.

Now I have dedicated readership from all over the world and this makes me prouder than I could ever express in words. (Sad testament for someone who claims to be a writer, I know)

Want to know more about my world? Ever wondered what a viking handshake looks like? Or what kind of licensing you need to carry certain cybernetic weapons? I have written over 13,000 pages about the Universe on my GalNet Wiki which you can check out here: http://galnet.wikia.com

You can also follow me on Twitter & Facebook for more information and sneak peeks into the Galactic Chronicles:

https://www.facebook.com/ravencroftvanessa/