The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2023 by Lia Leendertz @lialeendertz @RandomTTours @Octopus_Books @nature #almanac #nonfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2023 by Lia Leendertz. This is a fabulous little book that I adored picking through and if you are a fan of nature, the natural world and planning for gardening, then this is a gorgeous book to have.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my Hardback copy of this book from the publisher Octopus Books

Reconnect with the seasons in Britain and Ireland with this month-by-month guide to the world around us – including key dates, tide tables and garden tasks; constellations and moon phases; sunrises, folk songs, seasonal recipes plus a ‘bun of the month’; and – because 2023 will be a good year for planet spotting – the solar system and the zodiac.

The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2023 gives you the tools and inspiration you need to celebrate, mark and appreciate each month of the year in your own particular way. Divided into the 12 months, a set of tables each month gives it the feel and weight of a traditional almanac, providing practical information that gives access to the outdoors and the seasons, perfect for expeditions, meteor-spotting nights and beach holidays. There are also features on each month’s unique nature, with this instalment following the swirling micro world of the garden pond through the year.

You will find yourself referring to The Almanac all year long, revisiting it again and again, and looking forward to the next edition as the year draws to a close.

This year’s edition is illustrated by artist Whooli Chen. 

MY REVIEW

This is a fabulous little pocket-sized Almanac. I love books like this and while a diary often gives you basic information, an Almanac goes into a lot more detail. This one is no exception.

After a basic introduction, this book then starts at the beginning of the year. January – there are important dates for this month followed by a wonderful page of what January represents, it is a time of reflection as the daylight hours are not as long as we would like. But the author does encourage you to look at what is happening outside, are there buds or bees starting to emerge.

Carrying on the author then takes a look at the sky, the moon phases, sunrise/set, tide times and then onto Lunar planting. Plants used to be set according to the moon phases and I really liked to see this included. There are also a couple of paragraphs about what shrubs, plants and trees are starting to flower as well as what you can harvest from your veg garden.

If you do have a veg garden or access to locally grown produce then what better than a couple of recipes? How about an orange glazed yeast bun or boiled suet and sausage pudding? Both of these sound amazing.

An Almanac also gives information about the Zodiac, here the author includes an introduction to the zodiac and gives information for Capricorn followed by a folk song. This then leads on nicely to what we can see in nature.

This is a wonderful book and has loads of detail and information. It is littered with black-lined illustrations and images that correspond perfectly to the item they accompany.

The book is easy to use as the pages have been sprayed on the corner and then gradually work down so it is easy to see at a glance roughly where you need to be. There is also a nice little ribbon that acts as a bookmark.

If you are a fan of the seasons and nature then this is a fabulous little book to have. It is great for leaving on a table for a reference book and takes no space up at all. It is a book that would make a wonderful gift for a family member or friend because I know I was delighted to receive my copy.

Educational and informative, wonderful to peruse through and one I would definitely recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The Almanac 2023 by Lia Leendertz is out 1st September 2022.

Lia Leendertz’s reinvention of the traditional, rural almanac has become an annual must-have for readers keen to reconnect with the seasons, appreciate the outdoors, and discover ways to mark and celebrate each month, and the ideal stocking filler. The 2023 edition is the sixth in the series, and has a theme of the solar system and zodiac, with beautiful illustrations by artist Whooli Chen.

CHECK OUT THE OTHER STOPS ON THE BLOG TOUR…

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The Secret Life of Fungi by Aliya Whiteley @aliyawhiteleypr @alisonmenziespr @eandtbooks #nature #nonfiction #autumn #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Secret Life of Fungi by Aliya Whiteley. Autumn is a wonderful season and it is ideal for those of us who like to go foraging for mushrooms. I only ever pick the ones that I know are safe, so tend to stick to puffball or field mushrooms.

My huge thanks to Alison Menzies for getting in touch about this book and sending me a wonder paperback copy from the publisher Elliott & Thompson.

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Fungi are unlike any other living thing—they are almost magically unique. Welcome to this astonishing world. . . 

Fungi can appear anywhere, from desert dunes to frozen tundra. They can invade our bodies and live between our toes or our floorboards.  They are unwelcome intruders or vastly expensive treats, and symbols of both death and eternal life. But despite their familiar presence, there’s still much to learn about the eruption, growth, and decay of their secret, interconnected, world.

Aliya Whiteley has always been in love with fungi—from her childhood taking blurry photographs of strange fungal eruptions on Exmoor to a career as a writer inspired by their surreal and alien beauty. This love for fungi is a love for life, from single-cell spores to the largest living organism on the planet; a story stretching from Aliya’s lawn into orbit and back again via every continent.

From fields, feasts and fairy rings to death caps, puffballs and ambrosia beetles, this is an intoxicating journey into the life of an extraordinary organism, one that we have barely begun to understand.

MY REVIEW

This is a brilliant little book that delves into the murky world of Fungi. The author has a wonderful way of expressing her interest in this subject and it makes it very interesting reading. Last year I read a book by Suzanne Simard, Finding the Mother Tree, this book went into a lot of detail about the way fungi connect the trees. In The Secret Life of Fungi, the author, Aliya Whitely explains how fungi are part of our everything. It survives in the most surprising of conditions and environments. There is a lot more to fungi than the mushrooms we see in fields, on trees or on decomposing vegetation.

This book is set out in quick sub-chapters, with three main chapters entitled – Erupt, Spread and Decay. A simplified version of a lifecycle.

As the author makes her way through the chapters and subchapters she gives examples of research, observations and discoveries over the years. This introduces the reader to the basics of this far-reaching and unstoppable organism and follows it to the ends of the earth and beyond.

This would fall into the Science and Nature genre and to some extent, this is what it is. But rather than being all science, symbols, maths and other undecipherable, this book keeps to the basics. It makes sit a very easy-to-read book and the journey the author guides the reader on is like an adventure of discovery.

There are dangers to foraging and there is a section that describes some of the symptoms. Also going into details about how harmful spores can be spread and nature’s own way of dealing with them. Often the strands of fungi, or mycelia, have a symbiotic relationship with another plant and so it continues its lifecycle. It can be easily spread and there has been evidence of fungi in the International Space Station.

Not just confined to being eaten, this can be used for health and medicinal cures and treatments, just think of penicillin as an example. The other side of this can also be the strain that can cause pneumonia or Valley Fever and have devastating results.

Wherever you are in the world you will be near some type of fungi. You probably won’t even notice it, you may not see it, but it’s there.

This was a really interesting book and the author has a real passion for her field and this is evident in her writing. A cracking read that took me by surprise in a very good way. This is a relatively quick read at just over 200 pages, and if you like nature, the natural world and being outside then this is one that you would probably really enjoy. Very accessible and totally absorbing I soon discovered time had passed by as I was busy reading this one. I would definitely recommend it.

After finishing this book I decided to go out into the garden and explore. I knew there were some fungi and I hunted for more. This is what I found.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

(www.aliyawhiteley.wordpress.com / @aliyawhiteley)
Aliya Whiteley is inspired by how fungi and humanity share the world. She grew up
in North Devon where she developed an early passion for walking and observing
nature. She writes novels, short stories and non-fiction and has been published in
places such as The Guardian, Interzone, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and in
several anthologies. Previously a magazine editor, she has written about the natural
world for Mental Floss and in her fiction. Her novella, The Beauty, was shortlisted for
both Shirley Jackson and Sabotage Awards, and depicts a future world in which a
fungus interacts with humanity to create a new form of life, leading readers all over
the world to send her photographs and articles relating to mushrooms.
She walks with her dog through the woods and fields around her home in West
Sussex every day, taking inspiration from the hidden worlds around her.

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Paperback Publication Day for: Into the Tangled Bank by Lev Parikian @LevParikian @alisonmenziespr @eandtbooks #nature #bookreview

I am delighted to re-share my review today for a book that I read and loved last year. Into the Tangled Bank: In Which Our Author Ventures Outdoors to Consider the British in Nature by Lev Parikian.

I did read the hardback copy of this book supplied by Alison Menzies from Elliot & Thompson publishers and today see’s the publication of the paperback version.

Let me share more about this fabulous book…

Lev Parikian is on a journey to discover the quirks, habits and foibles of how the British experience nature. He sets out to explore the many, and particular, ways that he, and we, experience the natural world – beginning face down on the pavement outside his home then moving outwards to garden, local patch, wildlife reserve, craggy coastline and as far afield as the dark hills of Skye. He visits the haunts of famous nature lovers – reaching back to the likes of Charles Darwin, Etta Lemon, Gavin Maxwell, John Clare and Emma Turner – to examine their insatiable curiosity and follow in their footsteps.

And everywhere he meets not only nature, but nature lovers of all varieties. The author reveals how our collective relationship with nature has changed over the centuries, what our actions mean for nature and what being a nature lover in Britain might mean today. 

My Review…

I really enjoyed reading this book as I followed Lev’s observations on how people and nature interact. Lev has such an easy style to his writing and as well as various facts there is also a nice level of humour. The book is littered with various interesting facts from history, nature and life.

Lev looks at various aspects of nature including our own gardens, parks and open green areas. He notices various things about human nature and how people with certain interest can chat about things for quite a while. As a gardener I found myself sniggering about they way gardeners can talk about “their patch” what they grow, the pests and bugs.

Lev’s observations of people in nature draw together different walks of life. From the dog-walkers, to the gardeners, the photographers to the birdwatchers. These observations make a really enjoyable read and many times I found myself nodding my head in agreement or as I read sections thought “this is me!”.

A book that is ideal for dipping in and out of, in fact I read most of this book sat in the garden have a break from the weeding, trimming and filling bird feeders and it was the perfect spot.

A refreshing read that I think various people would really enjoy, and I am sure any nature lover, or those who spend time outdoors and then reads this book will find themselves in it at some point. A good book about the observations of an author and one I would happily recommend, its a fabulous read.

Purchase from – AMAZON UK

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Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard #memoir #nature #ecosystem #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard. This is a wonderful book that looks at the relationship of trees and also a mix of the author’s memories growing up.

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From the world’s leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest–a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery.

Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she’s been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls of James Cameron’s Avatar) and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.

Now, in her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths–that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complex, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.

Simard writes–in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways–how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies–and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them.

Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them–embarking on a journey of discovery, and struggle. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes of her own journey–of love and loss, of observation and change, of risk and reward, making us understand how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is about understanding who we are and our place in the world, and, in writing of her own life, we come to see the true connectedness of the Mother Tree that nurtures the forest in the profound ways that families and human societies do, and how these inseparable bonds enable all our survival.

My Review…

I have been reading this book over the past week or so and it was such an interesting and eye-opening book.

Dr Suzanne Simard has learnt her trade over years of observations, discoveries and research. Born and raised in the rainforests of British Columbia, she has natural respect and a relationship with the trees. this comes across in this book as she recounts her childhood with memories, stories and also how she gradually worked to become the leader in the field she is today.

What started as a childhood curiosity bloomed into something more. Through experiments, research, and a certain amount of bloody-mindedness she brought her findings to all who would listen. The book documents how she found the symbiotic relationship between the soil, enzymes and naturally occurring biology and the trees. While there is a certain amount of science, it is been given in layman’s terms making this a very accessible and easy to understand the book.

I like how this book is laid out. Chapters are a mix of memories, experiences and also the findings of her research. This makes it more manageable and keeps the book flowing rather than getting hung up in great swathes of science.

This is such an interesting book and as I was reading I could feel the excitement as discoveries were made, and also the heartbreak and upset as things failed or that sometimes trees had to be destroyed to be able to see the impacts of pesticides.

A wonderful read and one that has led me onto further reading on the internet. Looking at interviews and talks about the relationship of trees to the world around us.

This is a book for anyone who has an interest in the natural world, in relationships between nature and it is one I would definitely recommend.

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Gone: A search for what remains of the world’s extinct creatures by Michael Blencowe #nature #environment #LeapingHarePress @alisonmenziespr #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for by Gone: A search for what remains of the world’s extinct creatures by Michael Blencowe.

This is a stunning and poignant book that I received from Alison Menzies PR for review. My huge thanks to Alison for my gorgeous copy of Gone published by Leaping Hare Press.

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Dynamic naturalist Michael Blencowe has travelled the globe to uncover the fascinating backstories of eleven extinct animals, which he shares with charm and insight in Gone.
 
Inspired by his childhood obsession with extinct species, Blencowe takes us around the globe – from the forests of New Zealand to the ferries of Finland, from the urban sprawl of San Francisco to an inflatable crocodile on Brighton’s Widewater Lagoon. Spanning five centuries, from the last sighting of New Zealand’s Upland Moa to the 2012 death of the Pinta Island Giant Tortoise, Lonesome George, his memoir is peppered with the accounts of the hunters and naturalists of the past as well as revealing conversations with the custodians of these totemic animals today
 
Featuring striking artworks that resurrect these forgotten creatures, each chapter focuses on a different animal, revealing insights into their unique characteristics and habitatsthe history of their discovery and just how and when they came to be lost to us
 
Blencowe inspects the only known remains of a Huia egg at Te Papa, New Zealand; views hundreds of specimens of deceased Galapagos tortoises and Xerces Blue butterflies in the California Academy of Sciences; and pays his respects to the only soft tissue remains of the Dodo in the world. Warm, wry and thought-provoking, Gone shows that while each extinction story is different, all can inform how we live in the future. Discover and learn from the stories of the:
 
·         Great Auk. A majestic flightless seabird of the North Atlantic and the ‘original penguin’.
·         Spectacled Cormorant. The ‘ludicrous bird’ from the remote islands of the Bering Sea. 
·         Steller’s Sea Cow. An incredible ten tonne dugong with skin as furrowed as oak bark. 
·         Upland Moa. The improbable birds and the one-time rulers of New Zealand. 
·         Huia. The unique bird with two beaks and twelve precious tail feathers. 
·         South Island Kōkako. The ‘orange-wattled crow’, New Zealand’s elusive Grey Ghost. 
·         Xerces Blue. The gossamer-winged butterfly of the San Francisco sand dunes. 
·         Pinta Island Tortoise. The slow-moving, long-lived giant of the Galápagos Islands. 
·         Dodo. The superstar of extinction. 
·         Schomburgk’s Deer. A mysterious deer from the wide floodplains of central Thailand. 
·         Ivell’s Sea Anemone. A see-through sea creature known only from southern England. 
 
A modern must-read for anyone interested in protecting our earth and its incredible wildlife, Gone is an evocative call to conserve what we have before it is lost forever.

Purchase LinkAmazon UK

My Review…

I had planned on reading this book over a couple of days, instead, I found myself quite addicted to the author’s journey and search for the remains of extinct creatures. How sad this title is “Gone: A search for what remains of the world’s extinct creatures”!

Michael Blencoe describes his love of natural history from his childhood and how exciting the world seemed. As he grew he had that realisation that there were things that once lived and thrived in the world that had now gone. The only thing that remains of these creatures is to be found in museums, collections, photographs and diaries and accounts during the travels of explorers and scientists over the past few centuries.

As I try to write a review for this book I realise that I am caught up in a bit of a vicious circle. Many Victorian Collectors contributed to the extinction of many species. But, without the collections, we would not be able to see what once lived free!

This book is broken down into an introduction followed by 11 chapters, these chapters look at a different species that is now extinct. The author introduces each animal and gives a brief history of it and also of how it was discovered and then what led to its extinction. He also includes his search for any remains that are to be found in museums and also tried to visit the spot where the animal lived or was last seen. There are further reading and other useful extras in the back of the book.

This is such a sad book to read in the respect that the creatures mentioned will never be seen again, but it also highlights the impact humans have had on the natural world. It is something that is very relevant in today’s society as more and more animals are being brought to the edge of extinction. Several species no longer exist in the 50 years that I have been around.

While it is a sad book as it deals with loss, it is also very addictive reading as I discovered more about the different birds, mammals and sea creatures that have been used in this book. The authors’ obvious love of the living world and his interest is quite infectious as I read, and, as I said I found it impossible to put it down until I had finished it.

It is a lovely presented book with some gorgeous colour plates in it. At just under 200 pages long it is one doesn’t take long to read. This is a book that readers of natural history would enjoy, it also crosses somewhat into history and is the authors account of his own journey. It is a book I would definitely recommend this book if you have an interest in nature.

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#BookReview : The Old Man and The Sand Eel by Will Millard @MillardWill @PenguinUKBooks @NetGalley

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I am delighted to be sharing a book that is a little bit different to my usual reads.  “The Old Man and The Sand Eel” by Will Millard is available for purchase from 1st March 2018 in various formats.  Published by Penguin UK.

Synopsis:

Growing up on the Cambridgeshire Fens, Will Millard never felt more at home than when he was out with his granddad on the riverbank, whiling away the day catching fish. As he grew older his competitive urge to catch more and bigger fish led him away from that natural connection between him, his grandfather and the rivers of his home. That is, until the fateful day he let a record-breaking sand eel slip through his fingers and he knew that he had lost the magic of those days down by the river, and that something had to change.

The Old Man and the Sand Eel is at its heart the story of three generations of men trying to figure out what it is to be a man, a father and a fisherman. It plots Will’s scaly stepping stones back to his childhood innocence, when anything was possible and the wild was everywhere.

My Thoughts:

The cover of this book caught my eye, then the synopsis did it’s job. I decided this was a title I definitely wanted to read. I know a little of the Fens and with the odd fishing trip with my dad, made me think this is a book that I would enjoy.

Will’s Granddad taught him a huge amount about fishing on the Fens then as he got older it was his Dad that gave him a chance to learn new skills.  This is not just a book about fishing, though it does feature heavily.  It is a book that looks at the wildlife, flora and fauna around the different watery habitats around the UK.  Over the years Will has used different rigs, baits and lures from the old traditional to the modern all singing dancing set ups.  He also discusses how fishing has changed over the years, along with the expectations of what is required.  From the ditches, drains, hidden ponds and wild runs to the commercial fisheries.  The way people have moved from the may catch a fish to the almost guaranteed catch one.  The commercial fisheries have their place, they are well stocked and well cared for, the fish are bigger well fed and produce the biggest fish for those who like to chase the record breakers.

But this book also takes a more personal look at his life growing up, it is full of amusing at times anecdotes, the old tales, traditions and also fishing folklore that has been handed down.  Sometimes it is not just about the biggest or largest catch, it is more about relaxing,  to stop stressing about things and just enjoy your fishing.

It has important and fascinating facts surrounding the environment, wildlife and nature, sometimes these work well side by side, but other times they can have been to the detriment of other species.  Things over the years have changed and now people are more aware of endangered species measures are being put in place.  We need to protect our natural environment and also to help put right what has been done in the past.

This is a lovely book that is full of wonderfully told memories and stories from Will’s perspective.  It ambled along beautifully, and had me laughing at times with some of his childhood antics, but it also carries some important messages and fascinating facts.  This is a book I would definitely recommend to readers of memoirs, fishing, nature and environment.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for my eARC of this book.  My thoughts are my own and are unbiased.

About the Author:

me2.jpg  Will Millard is a writer, BBC presenter, public speaker, and expedition leader.

Born and brought up in the Fens, he presents remote Anthropology and Adventure series for BBC Two, and series on Rivers, Urban Exploration, and History for BBC Wales. In 2016 he won the BAFTA Cymru Award for Best Presenter and his series have received nominations for Best Series and Best Presenter in the Grierson, Broadcast, Bannf, Kendal, and the Televisual Bulldog Awards. Please visit the ‘Documentaries’ tab for more.

His first book The Old Man and the Sand Eel for Penguin (Viking) follows his wild journey across Britain in pursuit of a fishing record and will be out on March 1st 2018 (but is available for preorder now through Amazon), and his next BBC Two series, charting a year in the life of the extraordinary Korawai tribe in West Papua, will be on your screens this Easter.

Follow Will on Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Website

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#BookReview : Niki Jabbour’s Garden Remix @NikiJabbour : @StoreyPub @NetGalley

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My Thoughts:

Has this book given me so many ideas or what. I am a gardener in Cornwall UK and I think this book would be a very useful addition to my already large gardening reference collection. It is well laid out with some beautiful pictures, great advice and tips. There is a vast array of vegetables on the market but there are none that taste better than homegrown ones. This book will be invaluable to people who want to try something a little bit different, I know after reading this book, I will be one of them. I also really like the way Niki has included her own tips, from germinating, pollinating, growing and caring for this vast array of plants. Knowledge is something that is learnt or passed, so in sharing her own experiences it will help save time, extra hard work and disappointment.

I would recommend this book to people who like Gardening and want to try something different, this is a beautiful book.

I would like to express my thanks to NetGalley and to Storey Publishers for my copy of this book. My views and opinions are my own, they are honest and unbiased.

Synopsis:

Best-selling author Niki Jabbour invites you to shake up your vegetable garden with an intriguing array of 238 plants from around the world. With her lively “Like this? Then try this!” approach, Jabbour encourages you to start with what you know and expand your repertoire to try related plants, many of which are delicacies in other cultures. Jabbour presents detailed growing information for each plant, along with fun facts and plant history. Be prepared to have your mind expanded and catch Jabbour’s contagious enthusiasm for experimentation and fun in the garden.

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing LLC (6 Feb. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612126707
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612126708

About the Author:

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Niki Jabbour is the author of the best-selling & award winning book, The Year Round Vegetable Gardener (2012 American Horticultural Society Book Award). Her latest book is Groundbreaking Food Gardens, released by Storey Publishing in March 2014. Niki writes for magazines and newspapers across North America, including Fine Gardening, Horticulture, Garden Making, Gardens East and The Heirloom Gardener. She speaks widely at garden shows and events. Niki is also the host of The Weekend Gardener on News 95.7 FM (www.news957.com) that airs every Sunday from 10 to noon Atlantic time.

Author Links | Website |Twitter

To Buy : Amazon UK |

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