Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Maas

77113_originalA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah Maas

So, I’m gonna preface this by saying that I would not put this book ANYWHERE near a teen shelf. This is solidly New Adult, which is  17 / 18+   –  basically a heavy duty (HEAVY DUTY) PG-13, more likely soft R rating.

But here’s the thing – Sarah Maas writes one of my all time favorite young adult series (Throne of Glass), so when I saw she wrote something for an older crowd, I was intrigued.

As a reviewer (and author) you should know two things about me: I’m a character Nazi AND I’m not into high fantasy . . . with the major exception of Ms. Maas and Leigh Bardugo. And the only reason I’m a mad fan of both ladies is because their prose rides the line with poetry, their world building is flawless and dark, but (most critically) their characters MAKE SENSE.

In A Court of Thorns and Roses, Maas builds spectacular, fall-off-the-page characters, with fully drawn motivations, personalities, voice, and quirks and then drops them into a high fantasy world of warring faeries who would feel more at home in The Walking Dead than Pixie Hollow.

Summed up quickly, A Court of Thorns and Roses is a terrifying R-rated re-twisting of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST meets GAME OF THRONES and it is spectacular.

Set against a brutal, festering war between Fae kingdoms, Maas weaves a delicate, tenuous chemistry between huntress Feyre and the beast, Tamlin, who demands she lives in his stunning land known as The Spring Court – payment, as it were, for her murdering a comrade of his when she was hunting in the human world.

Lucien, best friend and comrade to Tamlin, also lives in the Summer Court and the three form a slow friendship, with Lucien’s sharp tongue and snide remarks making him a true scene-stealer.

Then there is a host of truly nightmare worthy creatures who are slipping into Tamlin’s kingdom from a dark, hateful place ruled by an iron Queen with a lethal agenda. She dwells Under the Mountain alongside her morally questionable boy toy – a High Fae named Rhysand who is self-centered, but darkly funny and flawed.

I dare you to go Under the Mountain with Feyre to save the life of a beast.

I dare you to put this one down.




Mashpee High School visit

YA Spring Reads Tour

I will be at Mashpee High School on May 8th, 2015 with the following fabulous (if not a tad weird) authors. We will also appear at the Sandwich library in the evening from 6-8pm for a panel – ask us questions, eat food, and get books signed!


Trisha Leaver:

Bio: Trisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather irreverent black lab.  She is a chronic daydreamer who prefers the cozy confines of her own imagination to the mundane routine of everyday life.  She writes Young Adult Contemporary fiction, Psychological Horror and Science Fiction and is published with FSG/ Macmillan, Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press.





Trisha Leaver’s Books:

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Jen-Brooks-close-up-cropped-212x300Jen Brooks

BIO: I write young adult literature that’s part fantasy/science fiction, part romance, part mystery. My most recent projects are contemporaries, but they also contain history. Mostly I enjoy writing whatever my characters suggest, and I hope you enjoy reading about them in whatever genre mix they’ve chosen to have their hearts broken, their certainties challenged, and their lives changed forever.


Jen Brooks’ Book


Lori-Goldstein-Author-2-682x1024Lori Goldstein

BIO: Born into an Italian-Irish family (hence the short temper and the freckles), Lori grew up on the Jersey Shore and now makes her home outside of Boston in a place close enough to the ocean that on the right day, she can smell the sea from her back deck, and yet it still takes an hour to get to the beach.

With a journalism degree from Lehigh University, she worked as a writer, editor, and graphic designer before embracing her love of fictional people. As a young girl, Lori would make a tent with her bed sheet and clasp a flashlight in one hand and a book in the other. She’d read into the wee hours, way past her bedtime. Today, she not only reads past her bedtime, she writes too. (And waking up tired has never felt so good.)

Like Julia Child, her idol and fellow Massachusetts resident who also found success in a second career, Lori shares a love of traveling, cooking, and eating great food—the weirder, the better—with her husband.

When not writing or reading (preferably from a sandy locale), Lori can be found chatting books, obsessing over The Vampire Diaries, and perfecting the art of efficient writing through Twitter. Find her at @loriagoldstein.


Lori Goldstein’s Book





d730e4_045e7dae3c2d4e5c955010c52130a36a.jpg_srz_p_338_333_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzJen Malone

BIO: Sure, I could give you my business resume (and my formal bio and media kit are below if you just want to skip there), but where’s the fun in that? Wouldn’t it be more enjoyable for all of us if I told you a few random things about, well, me? Thought so. Here ya go:

1. My college boyfriend wanted to go to Europe with me the summer after graduation. Then he broke up with me (don’t worry- we’re now friends on Facebook). I decided to get revenge on him by one-upping his trip plans, so I saved for a loooong time until I could finance a solo round-the-world trip that took me to forty-three countries over ten months on approximately $23 a day (free advice: do not try to save money by sleeping in an ATM kiosk during Spain’s annual Running of the Bulls). My favorites were Nepal and Prague. Somewhere in here is a lesson about revenge and boys, but who cares, because NEPAL!!!!!

2. I met my husband on the highway. Literally. He passed my car and I made a face at him (I was with my BFF and we sometimes- fine, often- did silly stuff like make faces at total strangers). Then HE made a face back at me the next time we passed, which was both nerdy and cool. I happen to like nerdy and cool. So I wrote my BFF’s cell phone number (because this was the Dark Ages and I didn’t own a cell phone yet) on a piece of paper and held it up to the window. He called. We married. There was some dating in between. 

3. My twin boys are soooo identical that they won second place in the Most Identical contest at the International Twin Festival. You should definitely check out the International Twin Festival sometime. Best people watching around.

4. I also have a daughter. Despite having won no medals, she’s more of a diva than both boys combined. I completely applaud this. Until she’s a teenager and then I am in So. Much. Trouble.

5. For a bunch of years I worked as a publicist for 20th Century Fox. It was super tough work. I “had to” walk the red carpet alongside George Clooney, hang in a hotel room with a shirtless Mark Wahlberg (so what if his wife was there too) and sleep in Oprah’s hotel room at The Four Seasons (she’d checked out early and, I mean, we’d already paid for the room, so…).

6. Many, many, MANY years ago (when the longest thing I’d written was a grocery list) a psychic told me I would write a book with a purple cover and live in a big white house by the water. Imagine my surprise when I first laid eyes on the cover Simon & Schuster designed for AT YOUR SERVICE. Beach house, here I come! 

 7. I have a teeny tiny, make that HUGE, thing for hedgehogs.

Still can’t get enough of me? I believe I hear my children snorting. Anyhoo… you can visit FUN STUFF for an interview, a list of online musings, and links to my blog(s).

Jen Malone’s Books

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10251955_10203235770473024_6295124689546582503_nK.R. Conway (dude, seriously? This is MY blog and you have no clue who I am? Sheesh . . . LOL)

BIO: Young Adult novelist, K.R. (Kate) Conway, has been a professional journalist since 1999. She is also an editor, graphic designer, and critique partner for other writers. She was named “Writer in Residence” of the award winning Sturgis West high school in Massachusetts. She is also a member of the SCBWI.

Her debut, self-pubbed novels Undertow and Stormfront frequent the Amazon bestseller lists and were added to high school summer reading lists and teen book clubs. The series has spawned fan fiction, won top-pick awards from reviewers and librarians, and drawn reluctant readers into a twisted tale of murder and mayhem set on Cape Cod.

Conway, who holds a BA in dangerous weirdos (forensic psych) from Mount Holyoke College, also drives a 16-ton school bus filled with her iPod-toting target audience simply because she likes the torture. She lives on Cape Cod with two opinionated kids, a fishing-obsessed husband, and an assortment of mismatched pets. Her website offers a peek into her twisted psyche:

K.R. Conway’s Books



Writer Confessional NESCBWI15

10153879_10203150798668782_624292731_nAs I get ready to head to NESCBWI 2015 in Springfield and teach a few classes, I thought I should update my blog to reflect a few truths of who I am as a weirdo:

#1: I love to play hide and seek with my kids, but due to my warped nature, it has been renamed “Dark House” as I turn off all the lights and hide in the shadows. I try not to laugh as I listen to my kids try and nervously convince one another to “go find Ma!” The game involves loads of screaming – I’m surprised the neighbors haven’t called the cops.

#2. I hate soda. Actually, anything “fizzy” in general is horrid. I once mistook my friend’s Sprite as water and chugged a few mouthfuls. I freaked out, howling that I was going to die. My friend wanted to die as well, probably because we were in the movies at the time and the cute boys behind us thought we were on crack.

#3. I can roller skate, but I can’t rollerblade. Okay, that’s not entirely true – I CAN rollerblade, I just can’t stop. At all. No seriously, there is a tennis court fence at my alma mater with a permanent indent of my screaming face pressed into it.

#4. My teenaged daughter, after reading CRUEL SUMMER, said to me with an accusing finger, “Ya know, Ma. You do realize that I’m going to base on my future relationships on YOUR books!” I simply replied, “Honey, I write fiction and my stuff is a TOTAL fantasy.”

#5. I tend to juggle too many things at once – literally. I once tried to carry a crockpot full of sweet and sour meatballs up my second floor stairs and slipped. Do you have any idea what a white stairwell looks like after dousing it in red, spicy sauce? Two words: Crime Scene.

#6. I’ve been a journalist for, like, ever. Grabbed right out of college to work for the magazines and newspapers, I was often given the craziest assignment, including freezing my a** off at the Hyannis docks to interview the Frostbite Fleet. I’m pretty sure that young = sucker in the eyes of my editors.

#7. My upbringing consisted of crazy inventions (my father) and crazier characters (my mother). While most kids listened to their mom read them Judy Blume and the Box Car Children, I listened to my mother practice lines for whatever upcoming play she was in. Her version of a drunken Virginia Woolf was quite, uh, colorful. My dad even played with my dollhouse with me, though he did make my dinosaurs rip the people though the windows and eat them . . . it was awesome. No wonder Jurassic Park was one of my favorite novels in high school.

#8. My Undertow Series of books contains little shout-outs to my beloved Cape Cod, with a few lines here and there that only the natives will catch fully. It was a blast to do it – like Carol Burnett, who’d tug her ear to let her kids know she was headed home soon.

#9. I was born and raised on Cape Cod and if there was ever a place where everyone knows everyone, it’s the Cape. I love that about the area, though you have to be careful of gossip as it flies faster that ET’s ship and everybody knows everybody.

#10. It is my hope to someday be a hybrid author, with Undertow in my indie pocket, and one of my WIPs in the hands of a great agent with a killer sense of humor. I mean, seriously, whoever reps me better be able to laugh because my life is one wild ride to Nutville.

AND LASTLY . . . I drive a 16 ton school bus during the school year, with a mini Toothless stuck to the dash (he is my guard-dragon – don’t screw with him). Undeniable proof that I am far from normal. Run. Run now.


Music as Author Muse

itunesI’ve begun sharing my playlist with my husband. It was probably a mistake, because now he thinks I have a split personality based on my music choices.

For kicks and giggles, I scrolled through my playlist for the past Undertow books and, well, yes – it appears I’m musically bi-polar. My musical preferences range wildly, but my daughter, who also shares my playlist, loves most of the songs. I introduce her to my teenhood with girl bands like Hole, and she shows me Elle King. It works.

The truth is we, as people, are never just one musical genre, but a smash up of many depending on our mood. The same goes for me as a writer. The vibe and feel of a character or a given scene is driven by the music I listen to in my car or when I’m working out. It’s my inspiration.

My muse.

Basically, I’d be screwed without my music and, at this rate, I’ll need to build iTunes into my will.

Sometimes my playlist is also built by my fans, who toss out suggestions they think fit the series or a character. Often, I go and check out what they suggested because it shows me how THEY see the story through THEIR eyes. It tells me if my vision of the story comes through to the reader.

So, without further nonsense, below is my current running playlist for TRUE NORTH (well, part of it at least). Enjoy! And yes . . . I’m a rocker at heart.


Are you a writer? Do you play it loud and often? Share your #musicmuse and #authorplaylist with me on Twitter and tag me – @sharkprose. Let’s throw some love to those who tell their stories through the thrum of an electric guitar and the beat of a base drum :)

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Saying Farewell

Depositphotos_27246731_originalSomeone once said that, to say goodbye to a character that has been part of you for years, is like bidding farewell to a piece of you. As I write the last book in Eila’s story, I know it’s true.

I have no doubt that when I’m done with the final book in the UNDERTOW series, I will be both thrilled and heartbroken. Because for me, the characters in my books do not live just inside the pages, but inside me as well.

I see them, feel them, hear them.

I owe the start of my novel-writting career to five unlikely friends who are entirely imaginary, and I can never thank them enough. I can’t tell them how much they meant to readers, or how many times they were re-read, or how I tortured myself over their fate.

And their fate has always been set.

I’ve known the end of the series, since the beginning.

I’ve known the last scene, since the first.

My goal has always been to offer a war story, hidden inside a love story, wrapped up in a supernatural spin that is different from anything else out there. I believe that if I can do TRUE NORTH justice, the series will be known as a mind freak – a twisted, wild ride from hell that makes the reader bawl hysterically or laugh out loud.

If I do it justice, I will cry when its done. I will hug my characters tightly, whisper thank you over and over, and tell them I’ve given them all I can.

I’ll tell them that they can live on, in the hearts of those readers who love them, and as the years slip by, new readers will find them. Will fall for them. Will love them as I have.

I’ll tell them I will never ever forget them or what they’ve done for me, and that I leave them, safe in the hands of future readers.

And I’ll tell them I’ll miss them . . . forever.


Cover Reveal for Sweet Madness by Leaver and Currie

Coming September 18, 2015 from
Merit Press

Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty one.
Who was Lizzie Borden? A confused young woman, or a cold-hearted killer? For generations, people all over the world have wondered how Andrew Borden and his second wife, Abby, met their gruesome deaths. Lizzie, Andrew’s younger daughter, was charged, but a jury took only 90 minutes to find her not guilty.
In this retelling, the family maid, Bridget Sullivan, shines a compassionate light on a young woman oppressed by her cheap father and her ambitious stepmother. Was Lizzie mad, or was she driven to madness?

it to read on Goodreads
Preorder Sweet Madness:
Trisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod with her
husband, three children, and one rather irreverent black lab. She is
a chronic daydreamer who prefers the cozy confines of her own imagination
to the mundane routine of everyday life.  She writes Young Adult Contemporary
fiction, Psychological Horror and Science Fiction and is published with FSG/
Macmillan, Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press. To can learn more about Trisha’s
books, upcoming shenanigans, and her quest to reel in the perfect tuna, please visit
her website:
Lindsay Currie lives in Chicago with her
three awesome children, husband, and a one hundred and sixty pound lap dog
named Sam. She has an unnatural fondness for coffee, chocolate and things that
go bump in the night. She spends her days curled up in the comfortable confines
of her writing nook, penning young adult psychological horror, contemporary
fiction and science-fiction and is published with Flux/Llewellyn, Merit Press
and Spencer Hill Contemporary. Learn more about her at

To celebrate, we are giving away four AMAZING books from our publisher Merit Press. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Scarlet Trilogy by A.C. Gaughen

ScarletUS.inddI have a bit of a confession to make: I owned Scarlet for over a year before I pulled it off my bookshelf and set to reading it. And I bought Lady Thief  before I ever read Scarlet because I was a sucker for the idea behind the story and the breathtaking covers.

But I still didn’t read them.

I know, I know – I’m an idiot.

I had met the fabulous A.C. Gaughen a few times and we got along well, plus we were set to be on a Girl Power Panel together and, quite honestly, the book kept tempting me to read it – not an easy feat, considering I have a TON of books in my office.

Scarlet whispered over the demands of The Coldest Girl in Cold Town, The Raven Boys, Afterworlds, The Winner’s Curse, The Red Queen, and Heir of Fire.

16181630I figured that I could read Scarlet in stages, because, after all, I needed to put my nose to the keyboard and get cracking on my own manuscript before my fans came at me with pitchforks.

Yeah . . . that didn’t pan out. BIGGEST FREAKIN’ MISTAKE EVER.

Scarlet, Lady Thief, and yes, Lion Heart, quickly jumped to the top of my all time favorite book lists, and if you know one thing about me, I’m picky. Really, I’m a total story snob. I demand that a great novel will take over my life and wash away reality. It will scream to be read, anywhere and at anytime, stealing my sleep and starving my body.

That was A.C. Gaughen’s trilogy for me.

I read Scarlet in one day, Lady Thief in an afternoon, and Lion Heart kept me company through midnight until dawn broke. I was invested in the characters, their plight, and the world itself.

I could feel the ash that cloaked Major Oak, the grand tree that held the heart of rebellion for Robin’s gang, and the biting cold of Scarlet’s soaked feet as she was forced into the castle alongside a brutal Gisbourne.

16181625A.C. Gaughen paints an intense, unyielding world of vicious power and violence set against the backdrop of sweeping forests and grime-covered cobblestone. I loved how Gaughen didn’t cut her characters any slack, forcing them into the crossfire and challenging their very souls by running through their agony and joy with the razor sharpness of a story built on both history and legend. Do not be lured by the beautiful covers into thinking this is some soft, romantic notion of Robin Hood. This series is a dark, brutal, spectacular retelling of the legend, with Will Scarlet as a fearless but damaged female rebel, known as Scar.

The Scarlet trilogy is what great storytelling is about – vivid worlds that become their own characters, heroes and villains that demand both respect and hatred in equal measure, and a storyline that haunts the mind far beyond the final page.

A brilliant grab for teens, both male and female, and the ultimate historical novel for reluctant readers, I highly, HIGHLY recommend the entire series for both home and school.

English teachers take heed: bring Scarlet into the classroom and watch your students become obsessed with a world of outlaws, corrupted crowns, and the glory of an England entrenched in treason. A spectacular find for the Common Core thanks to all the historical facets that can be unearthed in this rich, fabulous series.

I’m heartbroken it is over, though I will no doubt read the entire series again.

Simply unforgettable.




Sturgis Coffee House in review

sturgis coffee house 2Tonight I attended the Sturgis East and West’s Coffee House at the West building and let me say that I was FLOORED by the level of talent and raw courage I saw over the three hours of performances. Music, art, photography, poetry, speeches – just off-the-wall pure talent.

And I’m not sugar coating stuff here, people. I’m not doing the whole, “Oh that was lovely, we are all winners here” crap. Nope, I’m giving it to ya straight: these kids would mop the floor with America’s Got Talent.

I saw so many, many brilliant displays of talent, from a young poet who was destined to be a cross between Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Bronte, to a fierce musician who lived within the lyrics as he played, to the next song-crushing Julie Andrews. I even ended up singing to my radio on the way home, and though it wasn’t pretty, I did it because I was INSPIRED by the storytelling of the students I saw tonight.

I’m writing now because those teens lit my imagination on fire.

As I sat watching them, I wondered if they realized how truly gifted they are? Do they know that what they did tonight is not innate to us all, but a gift graced by fate and God? Will they use their gifts throughout their lives, or will they only look back on high school and recall how they, at one time, could shred a guitar or slam a poem?

My advice to those I saw perform tonight is this: Life is short. If you have a gift, hold it tight and burn it brightly and share it, always, with others. Don’t just leave it behind to gain dust and shadows in your past. Remember this night as the night a packed crowd screamed for you and that you connected YOUR story with them. That is your legacy and donation to the world: to forever maintain your gifts.


I will be there, at the next Coffee House, and I can’t wait to see more!


My keynote address for the evening is below, at the request of several audience members. I promised to repost it, so here it is:


I was raised in a house of storytellers, from a mother who was both a playwright and actress, to a father, whose tall tales and childhood rehashings were legendary. I could lie on my bed and watch the dust drift through a sunbeam and within my mind, I was transported to a world where stardust became its own seductive drug. A place where mirrors were doorways and adults had disappeared from the world.


My imagination was my getaway, because most of my childhood was spent staring at the walls of a hospital room. My body became a battleground for modern medicine. A thousand wars, never fully won nor entirely lost.


Like so many of the other kids on that same 8th floor, I was a prisoner, but no one could confine my ability to dream. We – all of us – were in some way or another, silent storytellers.


We were loners, but allies. Friends, but strangers.


I became that kid who lost herself to the view out the window and who appeared to never fully pay attention, but that’s where they were wrong. I was always listening, always watching. I was forever writing a story in my head, an endless loop of escape that kept me sane.


That is our gift – our undeniable right as people. Our imagination is uncagable and a powerful rebellion that answers only to our own heart.


Tonight, we celebrate the right to be storytellers in all forms, without restrictions or denials. We celebrate that which is ours by birthright and lives only within us, until we choose to share it with the world.


For some of us, it is like streaking down Main Street, howling in the adrenaline rush and the ability to shake our fellow man from the daily grind. For others, it is a quiet but forceful statement of purpose and belief that roots the audience to the ground. And for some of us, storytelling, whether through writing, poetry, music, dance, art, photography or the stage, is a chance to reach out to another soul and make a connection.


Tonight we let our stories free, and because there are those in the world who are unable to voice their own stories, we will speak for them. All the proceeds from tonight’s Coffee House will go towards programs that fight back against human trafficking in all its malicious, hateful forms. Such fundraising efforts will continue throughout the year, so remember to give whatever you can, for there are some souls who have yet to find the freedom to tell their story.


As we kick off the first Sturgis Coffee House of 2015 and enjoy a night of storytelling in all its beautiful forms, I’d like us all to remember the wise words of Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus:


“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”







Composition of pink shiny round frames and polygonal design elements.

The countdown is on to the Girl Power Panel on March 16th, 2015 from 6-8pm at the Centerville Library at 585 Main Street Centerville Massachusetts. This is a FREE event and is open to the public, though we do appreciate RSVPs whenever possible.

If you would like to RSVP, you can do so on Facebook by clicking HERE or by filling out the form below.

Either way, we totally hope you can come to this wicked fun event :)


all authors girl power

Cruel Summer’s Cape Cod Guide for Teens

cape cod teen guide
It is no secret that all of my books in the UNDERTOW series are basically a teenager’s guide to Cape Cod.

What to do, where to go, how to nag your parents.

Well – okay, maybe not that last one, but if you do, don’t point fingers at me.

In UNDERTOW, readers were introduced to such Cape Cod staples as Four Seas Ice Cream (a famed ice cream shop here on Cape Cod in Centerville that is featured in all the books as The Milk Way), Town Neck in Sandwich, Historic Centerville, Barnstable High School, The Hyannis (Barnstable) Marina (where Cerberus docks), Newport’s Breakers mansion, Quincy Harbor, and Sandy Neck.

STORMFRONT enlarges that sweep, adding in Craigville Pizza, the BHS football fields, the elusive Torrent Road home, and The Hot Chocolate Sparrow (The Raven).

CRUEL SUMMER digital cover for goodreadsBut CRUEL SUMMER, which is a stand alone novel related to the series, shows Cape Cod in all its high summer glory. It features numerous beaches (Cahoon’s Hollow, Marconi, Nauset, and Bodfish), The Flying Horses of Martha’s Vineyard, Heritage Museum, Vineyard Vines, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, Makonikey, The Welfleet Drive-In, Four Seas, Craigville Pizza, Nirvana Coffee House, The Boarding House, The Steamship Authority, and most of Main Street in Hyannis, including the Village Green.

Because of all the places that are featured in CRUEL SUMMER, I thought it would be wise to start a run-down of each spot in CRUEL SUMMER. That way, when you DO decide to visit the Cape, you know exactly where you want to go!

So – keep your eyes peeled here on Cape Cod Scribe for your complete Wicked Teen Guide to Cape Cod!! (PFFT –  this ain’t your Mama’s guide book!) Follow me on Twitter (@sharkprose) for updates or on Instagram (k_r_conway) for best stalkerish behavior.

And don’t forget to grab a friend (and a parental unit if you can’t drive yet) and get your butt to the Author Panel at the Centerville Library on March 16, 2015 (launch night for CRUEL SUMMER as well). Goodies, giveaways, and a chance to toss questions at crazy authors.

Need an “official” invite? Fill out the contact form found HERE (make sure you put in your mailing address) and the magical mail fairies will deliver one to ya.

Composition of pink shiny round frames and polygonal design elements.


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