Blog tour and 4 Star Book Review “The Story after Us” by Fiona Perrin #LoveBooksGroupTours

story-after-us

Sometimes the end is really the beginning….

Living in flats in the same building, Amelia and Lars are a couple starting out on life together with big dreams for their careers, marriage, a home and family.  They are in love and excited by all that life has in store for them.  Lars is improving his English, Ami is making headway in her career and they spend evenings in cheap eateries with friends Liv and Thor drinking house wine and laughing away the time.

Real life can have a habit of getting in the way of life dreams.  The children, Tess and Finn are born, business opportunities and commitments take Lars away more and more often, Ami is given the backing to set up her own advertising company.  But at home the laughter is being replaced with raised angry voices, the love is being replaced by resentment and mistrust and the perfect family is actually a normal family with all the stresses and joys that come with it.

Young Tess has become preoccupied with death and Ami finds herself called in to school to discuss her daughter’s playtime funeral processions.  The realisation that their lives have reached crisis point hits Ami when she returns home to find her son “buried” under a pile of cushions as her daughter conducts a funeral with the au pair nowhere in sight.  On pulling out her young son from near suffocation, Ami knows that something must change but she is still blindsided by her husband’s actions.

Thanks to Kelly at Love Book Group Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour!

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Story after us pin

This is a contemporary novel that tackles the difficulties of modern-day life – with particular focus on the breakdown of a marriage.  The chapters alternate between the current day (2017) and the start of Ami and Lars relationship in 2007, painting a picture of the development of a relationship running alongside its future breakdown.  Eventually the historical chapters have caught up with present day, and as such the author forces her characters to accept what is happening to them.

Ami is a strong central character, even when she is at her lowest ebb.  Her emotions are always just beneath her surface veneer and at times are so palpable.  I think that the author writes with sensitivity and clarity when showing us Ami’s hurt – hurt caused by those closest to her which can feel like betrayal – her husband, her parents, her boss.  Yet her own self-belief and love for her children keeps her swimming against the currents threatening to overwhelm her.

The cast of characters is colourful and very human.  I love Ami’s best friend Liv and the humour that she brings to every situation.  She is responsible for a potential big new client for Ami’s struggling agency, although her intent during a drunken conversation was to actually set her pal up on a blind date!  This introduces Ben – another interesting character with his own baggage, a broken marriage and children in a foreign country.  Young Tess and Finn are delightful, and the author puts words into these little mouths that any parent will smile at.  The grandparents also pay such an important role – I love Lars’ mother Ulrika and her “cold” house – and demonstrate that extended family, whether fully present or not, influence family life.  As a mum I couldn’t help byt laugh at the descriptions of the school gate, the relationships between the mothers and I love the descriptions of the Smugums!!  I definitely came into contact with them and saw the looks of disbelief and pity when I failed to wake up from a night shift to collect my kids from school!

There is a lot of sadness in witnessing this relationship breakdown and whilst I was routing for Ami and Lars, it became hard to see a way back from their difficulties.  The author asks how often a marriage continues after the love has gone – not that initial heady, lustful love but the deep love that grows and develops over time for a partner.  How may relationships are based on loving a partner for being the parent of your child, but no longer loving them for being themselves?  I found myself feeling a whole range of emotions as I followed Ami on her journey – but will give no spoilers as to how things work out for her and Lars.

A very modern tale reflecting current life so well – the good times alongside the difficult and never shying away from the emotive, aspects of modern relationships. Funny, engaging and poignant, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, found it easy to read and definitely recommend it.

4 stars!

Available from

Amazon:

Barnes and Noble

WHSmith

About the Author

Fiona was a journalist and copywriter before building a career as a sales and
marketing director in industry. Having always written, she completed the Curtis
Brown Creative Writing course before writing The Story After Us.FionaPerrin author pic 2meg
As a mother and stepmother to four teenagers while holding down a fairly full-on job,
she wanted to write grown-up commercial fiction about messy, modern love and
families – with all their heartbreak, humour and hope.
She grew up in Cornwall, hung out for a long time in London and then Hertfordshire,
and now she writes as often as possible from her study overlooking the sea at the
end of the Lizard Peninsula, back in Cornwall. She’s currently there, writing her
second novel for Aria.

Find Fiona here:

Website – www.fionaperrin.com

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Welcome back, friends – I have been on an unintentional blog break for two weeks.  Unintentional as life, fatigue and brainfog took over – I just was unable to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.  Then there are the constant demands of a family – hubby, dogs and “big” kids.

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Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You! 12.11.18

The biggest kid, the young tech engineer, continues to spend half his week working from home, the other half in London as he and a tech pal continue to grow their new IT start up.  He just spent the weekend in the Peak District walking with 9 nine others through the mud and rain – a good time was had by all.  The smallest kid, the lovely girl, is currently working her way through German TV dramas on Netflix for her A level German “wider experience” – this weekend it has been Deutschland 83.  I saw it on TV but have been happy to watch again as the soundtrack takes me back to my teens in the 80s – the plot is great too!

Hubby managed a visit to the politics student last week.  It was supposed to be an overnight stay to break a long journey there and back to the north of England – and could well have included a pub crawl of Nottingham.  Hubby took the middle kid out for dinner and in true student style he ate everything put in front of him, but when they arrived back at the “digs” the number of young people staying in the house had grown to the point where hubby didn’t fancy his chances of 1. sleeping and 2. getting anywhere near the bathroom.  He was very relieved to be climbing into bed next to his wife at 1 am rather than in with his 19 year old son!

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What about the dogs?  Well our old dog has been on his holidays to grandparents the last two weekends, whilst we have been vizsla sitting….firstly for Chester and then for Jensen.  Sam is now back and in his favourite spot in the window asleep on his bed – at 16, he is probably well over 100 in human years so can be forgiven for turning up his nose when the back door is opened to a rain swept garden!

I haven’t been very active with blog reading or commenting, but I have found some lovely posts that I hope you will enjoy them!  Commemorations have taken place globally this weekend for both Remembrance Day and the 100 years since the end of the first World War,  so it seems fitting to share some posts to mark this.  So sit back, grab a cuppa and have a good read….

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https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2018/11/06/the-red-the-white-and-the-purple/

https://thepurplealmond.com/2018/11/12/a-tribute-to-our-veterans-1918-2018/

https://walkamyelinmyshoes.com/2018/11/11/i-remember/

https://gardner1015.wordpress.com/2018/11/12/daily-ramblings-motivation-monday-20/

https://inkanyiso.org/2018/11/06/2018-nov-6-loss/

https://jenanita01.com/2018/11/06/38821/

https://whatapain.co.uk/dear-diary-my-domestic-abuse-story/

https://chronicallyglutenfree.com/2018/11/gluten-free-thanksgiving-stuffing-dairy-soy-free/

https://zebrapit.com/2018/11/12/roasted-turkey-with-herb-butter-and-gravy/

https://writeintolife.com/2018/11/12/1000-days-1000-humans/

Have a great week,

Claire x

 

 

 

 

Saving Yourself

Great post from Rie – all applicable to me at the moment!

Rising Inside the Embers

portrait-3757153_1920Dear Friends,

Patient advocacy relies heavily on being able to create a narrative, and by extension, sell yourself.  The more gripping or devastating the story, the more advantageous it is to use, at least from a marketing perspective.  Getting people to empathize with our struggles, allows for the creation of new ideas, treatments, and solutions.  What is often not acknowledged is the tremendous emotional effort it takes for someone to share some of their most painful moments.  We do this in the hopes that it will change something in the hearts and minds of our audience.  Yet, do we ever actually examine the toll it takes on us?

Once, I had someone ask me if I liked writing so much, why I didn’t I do it more.  The quick answer is because it is exhausting.  The longer answer is that it is like a small death each time I put…

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

It is the final couple of days of October, here in the UK the clocks have gone back and the early mornings are darker, Halloween means Trick or Treaters will be on our doorsteps within days….and November beckons.  Despite the drop in temperature, I can’t believe that winter is nearly upon us and that there are Christmas jumpers in the shops!

Monday Magic 29th Oct 2018

My family know that I am a huge Strictly Come Dancing fan and I love the Halloween show, so Saturday night was one of the highlights of the year for me.  The dance of the night had to be the new couple’s choice Musical theatre & Jazz number from Faye and Giovanni, but as with every series there are a couple of contestants with no dance experience who are positively shining.  I mean of course star of social media, Joe Sugg, and the wonderful gritty news reporter, Stacey Dooley, who are both taking to dance like naturals.  Joe has a wonderful frame with a real Marfanoid look to his neck and limbs, whilst we are more accustomed to seeing Stacey squaring up to drugs gangs or on the frontline rather than dressed as a time lord (Dr Who) and strutting a tango under the glitter ball.  I am kicking myself that once again I left it too late to book accessible tickets for the live tour shows in London – I really can’t manage not to be in my wheelchair these days – please someone remind me to make that call next year!

We were joined by a gaggle of 16 year old girls for part of the Halloween show on Saturday before they took over the kitchen with vegan food and an oven load of chips.  It is unbelievable just how much noise these girls can make and then add in the incessant barking of our geriatric dog as he joins in the fun ……well, I think you can begin to imagine how far away they could be heard.  Meanwhile the young engineers (son and boyfriend) were on a party crawl with invites to 4 Halloween affairs in London.  It is now Monday afternoon and he has just walked through the door…..

I think that I have found some fantastic posts for you this week – some from old friends and some are new to me.  There are some suggestions for activities with kids, ghostly writing and a beautiful poem.  I have also focused on posts that look at making a difference – for yourself and others, so sit back with a cuppa, put your feet up and enjoy!

https://lisaorchard.wordpress.com/2018/10/27/stay-true-to-yourself/

https://mydailyjournalonline.com/expectations-and-acceptance-two-sides-of-the-same-coin/

http://wellingtonworldtravels.com/fun-fall-activities-for-families/

https://mjmallon.com/2018/10/28/author-feature-mary-r-woldering-ghostly-writes-anthology-2018/

https://fancypaperblog.com/2017/11/04/midterm-break-in-ireland-with-kids-to-cork/

https://tinybuddha.com/blog/why-my-chronic-illness-cant-stop-me-from-making-a-difference-in-the-world/

https://brainlessblogger.net/2018/10/24/things-i-learned-from-depression/

https://nothingbutpoetry.wordpress.com/2018/10/23/forever-dancing/

dancers

https://janetmarycobb.com/2018/10/24/what-difference-did-i-make/

https://www.mollytotoro.com/2018/10/youre-never-too-old-to-learn-something-new/

Please share some love by commenting and sharing to social media.

Have a great week and….keep dancing (so sorry, couldn’t resist),strictly-come-dancing.jpg

Claire x

 

 

 

 

Stream of Consciousness Saturday – Bone!

Have you ever wondered why tea tastes so much better out of bone china?  As a youngster I could never understand why my grandma and great aunt always insisted on a teacup and saucer for their cuppa, but as I get older I start to appreciate these things.  I’m not saying that I use a teacup – there is no way that I am ladylike enough to manage one, crook my little finger and balance a saucer for that.  The EDS shaky hands make it hard enough to cope with a mug, believe me!  But I do enjoy drinking from a bone china mug these days.

Stream of Consciousness Bone

What happened to those teacups and saucers though? How many of us have inherited dinner services and tea sets from loved ones that never see the light of day?  Afternoon tea is becoming trendy here in the UK and there are various tea and coffee shops that serve delights upon and in a mismatch of tea plates, cups and saucers.

However my grandmother’s bone china tea cups came in very useful earlier this year, and not for drinking from!  The lovely girl made a sculpture for her final piece of art work in the summer and you guessed it, one side is adorned with smashed china to fit with the subject title “Fragments”.  I hope that my relatives are looking down with approval!

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“Fragments”

This is for Linda Hill Stream of Consciousness Saturday!   Linda gives us a writing prompt and participants just write!  Hence stream of consciousness.  Have a look at her site for more prompts and ideas.

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Welcome back to a new week and another Monday Magic!  It is a beautiful day here in the South East of the UK and a fantastic start for half term.  Of course here in the PainPals house there is only one child on half term and being a teen, we will be lucky to be graced by her presence before lunchtime no matter the weather.  The paper round will be done, but then it is back to bed!

Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You! 22.10.18

 

For me the week revolved around a dinner at my old school celebrating 40 years of c-education and as one of the original 10 year old girls back in the day, it has been a pleasure to contact others from my generation.

The very first girls!

The first little girls!

I had fun creating collages from photographs sent to me by old friends and enjoyed a wonderful trip down memory lane with old staff and old friends.   Our old headmaster added to this with his speech – several of the boys, now middle aged men, were just as badly behaved during this as they were 39 years ago! – and recalled the incident in the school hall where we all  sat for an end of year assembly when suddenly the hall doors flew open and in stalked a rather glamorous young lady.  Making her way up the middle aisle between the students, she slowly started to disrobe to the sniggers of the whole school whilst the head was slowly gathering his wits and said he wondered if she was a strippergram or a kissogram.  Meanwhile the school deputy, an altogether smaller, older and very conservative man, literally flew from the stage flapping his black gown around him.  I can’t remember seeing him without his gown and he always reminded me of a raven about to take flight as he dashed along the outdoor pathways, ruffling out his gown behind him.  On this occasion the gown was wrapped around the young lady and he bundled her out the back of the hall into a waiting classroom.  The head was a bit disgruntled – well he never discovered if she was a kissogram or strippergram! – as many pupils knew that the 6th form boys had arranged this stunt, including his own young son who kept the secret completely.  Little tyke!!  We never found out what the deputy did with said young woman after he bundled her out at speed.  It never fails to amaze me how the years just fall away when old friends catch up, and we girls had a really tight bond as there were so few of us – only 8 initially and 4 of us attended the dinner.

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Lovely to see old friends and feel like a teen for a few minutes!  The chronic body stood up to a whole night out very well – not sure if that was down to adrenaline or wine – but needless to say the high is generally followed by a fall, or crash, and this has given me time to find some blogs which I have enjoyed.

So sit back with a cuppa and have a look at these great sites – I hope that you enjoy the variety as much as I did!

 

https://trend-able.com/chronic-bloggers/

https://chronicallystrong.com/lessons-from-cancer-caregiver-caregiving/

https://pamelajessen.com/2018/10/12/interview-october-roger/

https://www.jenhardy.net/is-laughter-the-best-medicine/

https://worldisateaparty.wordpress.com/2017/09/25/long-autumn-shadows-at-tea-time/

https://youtu.be/ZIAUD6eaN3Q

https://theimmortaljukebox.com/2018/10/17/pete-townshend-willie-mitchell-robert-parker-barefootin/

https://www.style-yourself-confident.com/seasonal-color-analysis-autumn.html

https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/2018/10/18/20-fun-facts-about-my-blog-and-me/

https://sugarmuffin.home.blog/2018/10/16/bones-for-the-boneless-tv-shows-you-must-watch-this-halloween/

Please share, comment and spread some love for these bloggers!

Have a great week,

Claire x

5 of My Favorite TED Talks

Emmie on Illness to Wellness Blog shares 5 TED talks here that have inspired her to have msre self confidence and build self care skills – enjoy!

Illness to Wellness: A Journey

Originally posted on Sweatpants & Coffee.

I’m a student at seminary. I spend the vast majority of my time thinking about the deeper parts of life, what might come after life, and how we bring the two together by serving and loving one another right here and now. It’s an absolute ball and the greatest privilege of my life. It’s not just books, class discussions, and work experiences that spur my imagination; there also are TED talks for me to listen to when I want to keep thinking in a new vein. I put together a list of five that have moved me the most.

Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

Being in a group therapy book club about I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t), one of Brené Brown’s books about shame and how to move through it, changed my life and helped to convince…

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

It is nearly Tuesday and I have almost missed Monday Magic – probably as i spent large parts of the day putting together 3 collages of old photographs for a dinner/reunion for next weekend.  We are celebrating 40 years of co-education at my old school and as one of the original 8 little girls to start the school, and as a member of the alumni committee, it seemed like a good idea.  But it took me a lot longer than I expected – what a trip down memory lane though, looking at the various photos sent to me!!

Monday Magic Venice

So without further ado or chat about the happenings in our household this week, I will launch straight into the blogs that I have been enjoying.  There are several travel posts including a fantastic visit to a bookshop in Venice, and if space travel is your thing then you must have tuned in to the new series of Doctor Who along with Hugh (Hugh’s Views0 and the PainPals house.  The first female Doctor is a hit in this house and she already has a Barbie doll in her image! There are some great writing posts and a pamper treat for your hands in preparation for the cold weather.

 

You might still be able to sit back with a glass of wine, or you might be reading this with your morning cornflakes, but whichever please sit back and enjoy!

https://soniasmusings.com/2018/10/13/exploring-the-world-through-blind-dates-over-the-years-sayyestotheworld-theblindlist/

http://chronicallyhopeful.com/twiddle-muff-for-anxiety-an-alternative-to-the-fidget-spinner/

http://www.salt-pepperlife.in/time-to-speak-up-metoo/

https://aurorajalexander.wordpress.com/2018/10/13/4th-halloween-poem-contest-1st-group-of-submitted-poems/

https://hopenlyme.com/coming-out-proud-mental-illness-stigma/

https://silentiousdreamer.com/2018/10/12/please-tell-me-how-im-not-handicapped/

https://www.style-yourself-confident.com/pamper-your-hands.html

https://hughsviewsandnews.com/2018/10/08/how-jodie-whittaker-saved-doctor-who/

https://legendsofwindemere.com/2018/10/10/finding-time-to-write-by-darlene-foster/

https://johnrieber.com/2018/10/14/venice-italys-legendary-hidden-bookstore-climb-the-books-at-libreria-acqua-alta-explore-undiscovered-venice/

Please comment, like and share the posts that you enjoy.

Have a great week,

Claire x

 

 

Farewell to Me and Hello to Myself – Changes with Chronic Illness

I’ve been struggling to write, to take part in blog shares or blog parties. I don’t know why….brain fog, the constant nagging pain in a near permanent dislocated shoulder, stress from an adolescent, lack of pacing, all manner of things could be blamed….I just don’t really know.

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Farewell to Me

Hubby was clearing out earlier this week and came across some DVDs that he and my brother compiled years ago from my parent’s camcorder.  You must remember the black boxes carried by all self respecting tourists about 15 years ago?  Unlike the traditional camera with a film to be exposed and turned into photographs, the stream of moving images needed to be converted from a small cassette into a format suitable to be viewed on a home system – usually a DVD player by this time!  We had forgotten we even had them but, when the writing refused to flow, I have spent several afternoons watching short clips from 12 – 20 years ago.

 

A wonderful trip down memory lane from the eldest being an inquisitive toddler – did you really let him use let hammer and hit himself, Dad/Grandad?  – to holidays abroad with all three kids, to Christmases where departed family are still very much alive and laughing alongside the rest of us.  For me it was my young children that I was watching closely and shed a few tears when my lovely Grandad appeared with the then 4 year old politics student discussing a Ninja turtle gift for Christmas 2003.

But hubby told me today that he struggled to view the clips as he was watching me!  Why?! I wondered –  what was so interesting about me being mum….pregnant, with new babe and toddler, unwrapping presents, pushing a buggy, going to work. Hmmmm – that was it!  He saw me – how I was, always on the go, winging it most of the time, particularly around my back problems, pain and EDS.  Walking, running, playing, dancing, swimming, working.

Claire & Lucy

A particularly poignant moment was hearing our lovely girl’s voice, aged 2, telling Mummy and Daddy to cuddle as she zoomed the camcorder in on us – with a little help from her brother.  On hugging a little voice shouted out “Kiss!!” – we were on holiday in France and this was our last holiday abroad as a family as chronic pain was soon to strike.

Whilst I had not really seen myself, much less watched myself (who likes watching and hearing themselves?), hubby saw the person I was and remembered the person I became.  The woman turning 40, riddled with pain and opiates, puffed up with drug weight gain and lunging into reactive depression.  The woman struggling to be a wife and mother.  Sometimes it is easy to forget that this journey with chronic illness is not ours alone.  Our nearest and dearest live it with us, the good with the bad, the happy with the sad.

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The Moonwalk

When I mentioned her dad’s comments to the lovely girl, I did feel sad that her answer was that yes, she noticed it too as she can’t remember me before my symptoms took over and my general health deteriorated.  The mum on the film looks like me, sounds like me but is almost a stranger.  Or is she?

Hubby had the final say by reminding us all that it is possible to move beyond those awful middle years.  He says that I am me again!  It sounds a bit dramatic doesn’t it?! Accepting my situation, being pushed to come off the regular opiates in order to have a spinal cord stimulator and keeping as healthy as possible(!) has been transforming.

Whilst I will never be that thirty something who seemed to lose so much almost overnight as she turned 40, now as I look toward turning 50, I think that I can say that I am ME again.  I look in the mirror and as I look past the grey hair, the lack of sleep, the metal spine, the splints and mobility aids, I feel like myself and so I see MY reflection once more.

closeup photo of primate

Photo by Andre Mouton on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You

Good evening and welcome to another new week and another Monday Magic.

Monday 8th October

Hubby and I have celebrated our wedding anniversary in the last week – 26 years! surely we aren’t old enough….We had a great night out at the Royal Festival Hall (second time in recent weeks) watching the glamorous and very pregnant Sophie Ellis Bextor supported by a full orchestra alongside her band.  It shouldn’t be possible for a woman expecting her FIFTH child to look so gorgeous in a figure hugging black sequin cat suit!!!  That lady can still boogie as she belts out all her classic numbers – I don’t know about “Murder on the Dance Floor”, there were moments when there we thought there might be a birth on the dance floor as mum to be danced so energetically. Wow!  Full accessibility post about the RFH to follow.

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The stunning S E-B!

I haven’t done a good job with pacing this week – why is it nights out all have to come together?  A concert, a curry with friends and a quiz night has left my chronic pain screaming at me at full volume.  But today I was reminded that there is always someone in a worse situation than you when I received the awful news that the brother of a school friend has recently died from cancer in his early 50s.  He leaves a wife and  3 teenage children and as a GP leaves a huge number of patients at the surgery that he took over from their father.  Once again life is put into perspective.

On this note I want to give you some blog posts to read that I hope will be uplifting and inspiring, practical and entertaining.  Sit back, raise a glass to living life as well as possible and enjoy these blogs.

beautiful casual cute day

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

http://jesdickerson.com/2018/10/01/break-free-comparison-trap/

https://www.lifeinslowmotionblog.com/do-coping-skills-really-help/

http://theunchargeables.com/pain-awareness-month-why-does-it-matter/

https://pamelajessen.com/2018/10/06/interview-october-derek/

http://notjusttired.com/2018/10/08/joy-in-autumn-challenge-joyinautumn/

https://www.mostlyblogging.com/go-viral/

https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/2018/10/08/the-settlement

https://www.graphic-organic.com/single-post/2018/10/03/HalloweenFall-Home-Decor?utm_campaign=2b769dce-26eb-45c0-b080-ab4bfead9564&utm_source=so

https://risingabovera.com/review-mighty-medcase-by-mightywell/

https://anhistorianabouttown.com/rwbs-the-handmaids-tale-10-14-october-2018/

Please like, comment and share!

Have a great week,

Claire x