Book Review: 7 Cool Things about THE CURSED SEA by Lauren DeStefano

“The Cursed Sea”

The Glass Spare #2

by Lauren DeStefano

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: As Wil deals with the fallout of killing her beloved brother, she is now on the run from two kingdoms. As the Northern and Southern kingdoms are at war, both are hunting Wil for their own reasons. The Southern Isles see Wil’s curse, to turn anything living into gems with a simple touch, as something to be exploited and used to kill and amass wealth. And in Arrod, her death is ordered by her own brother, Baren, who is haunted by death and seems to have cursed his whole kingdom. Wil teams up with her supposed enemy, Loom, the exiled prince of the Southern Isles,  as they fight to win back both their kingdoms before everything they love is destroyed.

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7 Cool Things about THE CURSED SEA by Lauren DeStefano

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. The World

The world created by Lauren DeStefano for The Glass Spare duology was an interesting combination of fantasy and technology. The world includes elements of the modern with electricity, machinery, and guns but also includes castles, alchemy, magic, and curses. It was a nice blend that ended up working together and didn’t appear disjointed.

2. LGBTQ

Lauren DeStefano included a LGBTQ relationship between the characters Espel and her guard Masalee. While I loved this dynamic simply for inclusiveness and reducing stigma, it really helped show the depth of Espel’s character and how much she kept hidden from the world. Through the love that she and Masalee share, it is revealed that Espel is not the monster she appears to be but rather is putting on an act to protect that which she cherishes most.in “The Glass Spare” but we learn that he committed a crime and was therefore cursed. Wil was born with her curse and the great mystery is why.

3. Mending Relationships

“The Cursed Sea” had a theme of mending relationships throughout. This theme is seen between Espel and Loom, Wil and Baren, and even Loom and Wil. When the characters take the time to try to understand where the other person is coming from, they are able to empathize and make compromises. They learn to trust and work towards mending the relationship or at least reach an understanding that causes a truce between them.

4. The Curse

Wil’s curse was the source of mystery throughout “The Glass Spare” and thankfully “The Cursed Sea” helps to explain why Wil was cursed from birth and it was not what I was expecting! There were so many twists and turns relating to the curse that even when I thought I figured everything out, there was another revelation. Ultimately, Wil’s grandmother and grandfather were terrible people.

5. Sibling Rivalry

Sibling rivalry was another theme seen in The Glass Spare duology. First shown between Espel and Loom, it is revealed that they grew up pitted against each other and while they believed that the other truly hated them, neither of them would kill the other when it came down to it. It is through this act of not killing the other that they realize that there is a love between them regardless of their upbringing. Sadly, the sibling rivalry between Wil and Baren doesn’t end as well but it is revealed that while Baren did have an overwhelming irrational hatred of Wil, she and her brothers also fostered this hatred by excluding him from their friendship. This allows Wil to comprehend that it wasn’t all Baren, that she contributed to this rivalry as well and that regardless, he still didn’t take her life.

6. Love

Always the sucker for love stories, I really enjoyed the experience of Loom and Wil falling in love and then actually embracing it. As they went from being angry, possibly even out right hating each other, to a truce, to then accepting their feelings for one another was a delightful journey to be part of. Most importantly, they respected each other’s boundaries, were willing to allow the other to make their own decisions, and were willing to accept whatever choices were made.

7. The Ending

Happily The Glass Spare duology had an overall positive ending. While not all dreams and aspirations were reached, each character got what they deserved in the end. Most exciting was the reunion between Loom and Wil, hoping they lived happily ever after together.


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July 2021 Book Reviews

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Book Review: THE GLASS SPARE by Lauren DeStefano (OwlCrate Book November 2017)

“The Glass Spare”

The Glass Spare #1

by Lauren DeStefano

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Wanting nothing more to explore the world and wander, like the life her mother once led, Wil dreams of freedom but as a spare heir, she doubts the king will ever give her a mission beyond their kingdom. Then tragedy strikes as she develops a power to turn whatever living thing she touches into gems. Forced to flee her kingdom, Wil must now navigate the world while trying to find a way to break her curse.

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7 Great Things about THE GLASS SPARE by Lauren DeStefano

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Midas Touch

Lauren DeStefano’s “The Glass Spare” appears to be inspired by the Greek myth of King Midas who turned everything he touched into gold. In “The Glass Spare,” the main character Wil is cursed, turning anything living into a gem upon touching it. Obviously this kills whatever she touches and sadly only takes a few seconds to be devastating. While a curse to her, many others see her as a viable asset for unlimited riches.

2. Curse

The main differences between King Midas in the Greek myth and Wil’s character in “The Glass Spare” is that King Midas wishes for his powers while Wil is cursed with it. Loom is another character who is also cursed in “The Glass Spare” but we learn that he committed a crime and was therefore cursed. Wil was born with her curse and the great mystery is why.

3. Siblings

Wil and her two brothers, Owen and Gerdie, are absolutely heartwarming together. All three of them confide in one another and look out for each other in a way that I wish all siblings could. Sadly though, their other brother does not share their bond and actually appears to have a deep hatred for all of them, especially Wil. Regardless, DeStefano portrays loving sibling relationships in “The Glass Spare” that are based on trust, respect, love, gratitude, and healthy boundaries. Serious sibling goals.

4. Tragedy

Sadly, Wil’s curse causes the death of a beloved brother and it was heartbreaking. Wil struggled with blame and survivor’s guilt, both being understandable for how things went down. Interesting though is that through that event, she comes to realize that her father loves her more than she believed. He does not even attempt to kill her but rather banishes her because he does not have it in him to kill his daughter. Of course, the whole situation could have been avoided if he hadn’t ordered Wil on a dangerous mission to begin with.

5. Characters

“The Glass Spare” is rich with different characters, each with unique backgrounds, goals, and personalities. You have an exiled prince who is cursed and willing to sacrifice his life for those he loves. Then there is Zay, his wife, who is a powerful warrior, fierce mother, and loyal friend. Gerdie, Wil’s brother, who doesn’t allow his physical limitations to define him and is a genius, especially with alchemy. Even the bad characters are interesting as we try to figure out their end game for Wil.

6. Ruling

Both Loom and Wil show incredible responsibility and understanding of what it actually means to rule a kingdom. They both realize that when kingdoms go to war, it is the people that suffer the most. It’s not about the money spent from the treasury or the land or goods that may be obtained from winning, it is the people who pay the price on both sides and nothing materialistic is equivalent to a life. Loom and Wil love their kingdoms and only want what is best for the greater good. They both learned empathy through suffering and would make better rulers than their parents.

7. The Cursed Sea

The story of Wil and Loom continues and concludes in The Glass Spare book 2: “The Cursed Sea.”


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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Book Review: 7 Dreamy Things about DRAGON BOUND by Thea Harrison

“Dragon Bound”

Elder Races #1

by Thea Harrison

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: As the last of her kind, Pia Giovannia lived her life under the radar until she was black mailed and stole from the most dangerous and powerful of the Elder Races, Dragos Cuelebre. But when the dragon tracks her down, instead of taking her life, he claims it and makes Pia his. As Dragos and Pia try to navigate their intense feelings for each other, their Dark Fae enemies take advantage of Dragos’s distraction and take his most precious possession, Pia.

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7 Dreamy Things about DRAGON BOUND by Thea Harrison

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. The World

The Elder Races series includes a lot of supernatural elements. There are Light Fae, Dark Fae, Wyrkind that are beings that can shapeshift into specific animals both mythical and non-mythical, Elves, harpies, and witches. Mostly the world is similar to our own with added magical pocket realms and of course those supernatural beings openly living amongst the humans. Very interested to see the different cultures, strengths, weaknesses, politics, and customs of the various supernatural groups.

2. Humor

Love a book with humor and Harrison definitely delivered. Some of my favorite moments were the banter between Dragos and Pia, Pia questioning her sanity, Dragos’s attempts at being polite instead of barking orders, and Pia’s overall disrespectful, snarky attitude. Great use of humor throughout the book.

3. Characters

The main characters had personalities and quirks that made sense with their backstories as well as their Wryforms and were overall likeable characters. And most of the side characters introduced in “Dragon Bound” were interesting and I’m looking forward to reading more of the series to get to know them better.

4. Racy

“Dragon Bound” really heated up throughout the book with erotic scenes between Dragos and Pia as they gave into their desire for each other.

5. Dragons

As dragons are probably my favorite mythical animal, I originally picked up this book because it was a romance that involved dragons. Dragons are just awesome! I loved that Harrison included the lore of dragons having a hoard and the ridiculousness of Dragos getting upset that Pia took a penny from him but makes total sense for his arrogant, territorial, “it’s mine!” dragon attitude. Dragos was an overall perfect embodiment of a dragon/man hybrid. And I couldn’t even contain my excitement for the surprise beautiful, adorable baby dragon who was so brave.

6. Unicorns

Probably my second favorite mythical animal, unicorns were also featured in “Dragon Bound” and it was so magical, especially since it was unexpected and the first time I’ve come across a story featuring a being who can shift into a unicorn. As with Dragos, Harrison did an amazing job of making Pia’s personality fit for her Wryform, being a vegetarian, opposed to violence and prone to running.

7. Storm’s Heart

The Elder Races series continues in Book 2, Thea Harrison’s “Storm’s Heart.”


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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Book Review: 5 Charming Things about COVET by Melissa Darnell

“Covet”

The Clann #2

by Melissa Darnell

Nikki’s Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary: Being watched by both the Clann and vampire council, Savannah knows that she cannot be with Tristan. To do so would start a war again between the two powerful forces. But as they fight against their love for each other, bodies start turning up and the Clann is screaming for blood. As Tristan tries to maintain order amongst the Clann and save Savannah, he pays the ultimate price for his love.

5 Charming Things about COVET by Melissa Darnell

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Supernatural

The Clann series is filled with the supernatural. Vampires, witches, and “Covet” introduces shapeshifters. The best is that Savannah, being born from a witch and a vampire, has all the perks of being a vampire while also being able to use magic.

2. Best Friends

Anne is Savannah’s best friend and she takes this role very seriously. Not only does she accept Savannah’s tales of the supernaturals as truth, Anne doesn’t think any different of Savannah when she reveals that she is a vampire-witch hybrid. And although she is just human, Anne rushes into the battle between the supernaturals to protect her friends.

3. Tristan

In “Covet,” Tristan Coleman continues to show what an amazing fictional boyfriend he is, he is willing to give up everything for Savannah. Regardless of Clann and vampire council rules, he wants to follow his heart and be with Savannah. He goes so far as begging Savannah’s father to turn him into a vampire, knowing that it would be the end of his current life. He even takes over the Clann, something he never, ever wanted to do, in order to protect Savannah.

4. Vampire

Faced with losing him forever or turning him into a vampire, Savannah thankfully chooses the latter. While not the life she would have wanted for him, this does fix a lot of their problems. Now Tristan is no longer part of the Clann, there is no way for the Clann or vampire council to oppose Tristan and Savannah from being together as they are both vampires. The other success is that now Tristan is immortal and Savannah will not have to face watching Tristan grow old and die, facing eternity alone without him.

5. Consume

With Tristan now a full fledged young vampire with strong magic capabilities, The Clann series continues in Book 3, “Consume.”


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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Book Review: 5 Creative Things about CRAVE by Melissa Darnell

“Crave”

The Clann #1

by Melissa Darnell

Nikki’s Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary: Ostracized by the Clann, Savannah Colbert is just trying to survive high school without drawing the ire of her old friends. But her biggest secret is that she is still in love with her childhood sweetheart Tristan, the future leader of the Clann. As Tristan and Savanna spend more and more time together, they have a harder time denying their feelings. But if they give in to their forbidden love, they risk an all out deadly war between the Clann and vampires.

5 Creative Things about CRAVE by Melissa Darnell

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Supernatural

As a lover of the supernatural, “Crave” was a fun read simply because it featured vampires and witches. It is always interesting to see what myths and legends the author will draw upon for their supernatural world. In The Clann series, vampires are immortal, have increased senses and physical capabilities, can’t eat food, must drink blood, but due to evolution can go out in daylight. They are also descendants of Lilith. I also appreciated that there was a little role reversal as the male protagonist Tristan was the witch and the female protagonist Savannah was the vampire.

2. Tristan

Tristan Coleman is an absolutely wonderful fictional boyfriend! Not only is he charming, thoughtful, and kind to Savannah when they are dating but he was also protective of her before that too. Doesn’t hurt that he is also a hot football player who knows how to do magic.

3. Romeo & Juliet

The Clann is ultimately a retelling of the timeless classic Romeo and Juliet with supernatural beings and taking place in the modern world. Being a hopeless romantic, I loved the premise and I’m really hoping for a happily ever after for Tristan and Savannah.

4. Playlist

Melissa Darnell includes a music playlist in the back of the book featuring songs that go along with each chapter. It’s a fun little bonus to help set the tone and capture the emotions of the characters. Darnell also shows that she has good taste in music, many of the songs were already in my Itunes library.

5. Covet

As things really aren’t going their way, Savannah and Tristan’s story continues on in “Covet,” book 2 of The Clann.


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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Book Review: 7 Becoming Things about BROKEN THRONE by Victoria Aveyard

“Broken Throne”

Red Queen #4.5

by Victoria Aveyard

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: A collection of short stories from the exciting Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. With some of the stories taking place before and some taking place during the events of the Red Queen series, it is a must read for all fans to better understand the world’s history and characters. But most importantly, “Broken Throne” ties up loose ends and concludes the Red Queen series.

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7 Becoming Things about BROKEN THRONE by Victoria Aveyard

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. The Red Queen Series

The Red Queen series as a whole is an enchanting and fun read and it was a pleasure to dive back into the world. “Broken Throne” explores more of the Red Queen series featuring stories from side characters, maps, information, and history from different areas of the continent, and details of the Calore line. All these extra details add more vividness and richness to the world and characters.

2. Our World

The world in the Red Queen series is actually supposed to be our world in an alternate future. A dystopian setting where the continent and people are much changed due to time, global warming, and war. While things ultimately ended up working out in the Red Queen series in the sense that humans actually survived, the series remains as a warning for the damage we are currently doing to our world.

3. LGBTQ

The difficulty and acceptance of being part of the LGBTQ community was a common theme throughout the Red Queen series and “Broken Throne” was no exception. Evangeline Samos is seen struggling with the decision to publicly come out after hiding her preference for females for years. Readers get to witness her internal turmoil knowing the disapproval and rejection she may receive from others, especially her mother. This situation really mirrors the reality that millions of individuals experience in real life as they struggle with their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

4. Iron Heart

“Iron Heart” was one of my favorite short stories within “Broken Throne.” While Evangeline Samos was pretty villainous throughout the Red Queen series, her character changes as the story progresses and readers, as well as other characters in the novels, begin to understand why she was the way she was. Her story in “Broken Throne” continues showing the more human aspect of her as well as the ways in which she is trying to become a better person.

5. Writing

As with all the books in the Red Queen series, “Broken Throne” was well written, fast-paced, and enthralling. As a reader who generally does not like short stories, I was pleasantly surprised that each story was satisfying and enjoyable.

6. Cal & Mare

As a hopeless romantic, my absolute favorite thing about “Broken Throne” was that Mare and Cal found their way back to each other. Seriously, I thought they were going to continue being stupid and not talk about how they felt about each other. Thankfully this did not happen. Cal respected Mare’s wishes of wanting time to heal and sort her feelings out, Cal did not hold it against her or try to make her change her mind. And then when they were both ready, they were able to get their happily ever after with each other

7. The End

This reader was really disappointed with the ending in “War Storm” and feels that “Broken Throne” rectified this. Totally unsure if Aveyard always intended for the ending in “Broken Throne” or if she put it together due to outcry from fans being disappointed with the ending in “War Storm.” Regardless, “Broken Throne” gave the Red Queen series a conclusion that was gratifying, hopeful, and realistic.


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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Book Review: 7 Quixotic Things about THE QUEEN OF NOTHING by Holly Black

“The Queen of Nothing”

The Folk of the Air #3

by Holly Black

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Jude Duarte, kingmaker, has been secretly ruling Faerie for five months. Five months of politics, meetings, parties, correspondences, petitions, training, and banquets all while keeping the reluctant High King Cardan, in line and trying to find a way to extend their bargain so she can keep her power. But then Jude finds herself in the Undersea and captive to Orlagh, Queen of the Undersea. With no means to escape, Jude must hope that Cardan tires of ruling without her help and comes to rescue her before he loses the kingdom to his murderous brother Balekin.

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7 Quixotic Things about THE QUEEN OF NOTHING by Holly Black

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. LGBTQ+

The Folk of the Air series features a positive LGBTQ relationship between Vivi and Heather. Thankfully in Faerie there seems to be an overall acceptance for many kinds of love relationships. What this reader appreciated as well is that Black made Vivi and Heather’s relationship believable with problems included. No relationship is perfect, there will be conflict, and the possibility for the relationship to end.

2. Prophecy

Books with prophecies are enjoyable as then the reader gets to guess on how said prophecy will develop or play detective trying to figure out if some of the prophecy has already come to pass. Cardan’s prophecy in The Folk of the Air series was originally interpreted as negative and actually led to Cardan being mistreated all his life. However, the fulfillment of the prophecy was not a bad thing at all but actually very positive for kingdom of Faerie.

3. Mercy

Holly Black keeps a fast pace in “The Wicked King” with political intrigue, deceptions, and manipulations. Readers are left not sure on who to trust While taught by her adopted father, Madoc, to be unforgiving and merciless, Jude showed Madoc mercy nonetheless once he was defeated. This shows immense growth in Jude as a character, she easily could have called for his execution for the crimes of killing her biological parents, practically killing her, and then the crimes against the king. Her mercy also makes sense since she does love him like a father regardless of the spilled blood between them, one can love and hate someone simultaneously.

4. Redemption

The cause of the Ghost’s betrayal was finally revealed and it was a great relief to discover that he was being controlled. Although this reader would really like to know what Locke’s deal was and why he was fucking with Jude. Perhaps he really was just a mischievous asshole who liked to make good stories but what was the end game, what was in it for him? Regardless, the Ghost’s betrayal was forgiven, he redeems himself by rejoining with Jude and there appears to be a blossoming love between him and Taryn.

5. Love

Probably this readers favorite aspect of The Folk of the Air series as she is a sucker for romance, the relationship between Jude and Cardan is exhilarating and frustrating. Both of them have feelings for each other but are both so afraid of rejection and getting hurt that they are constantly As stated above, no relationship is perfect. Cardan and Jude experience major misunderstandings and miscommunications, they are constantly hurting each other because they are afraid and yet they love each other deeply. And in the end, they are able to accept each other regardless of faults, weaknesses, and past hurts. They choose each other and choose love.

6. Writing

Holly Black created a stunning, imaginative world filled with adventure, romance, magic, collusion, humor, and heartache. Black is able to paint a picture with her words without pulling away from the action of the story and keep the reader engaged. “The Queen of Nothing” was a fast-paced novel that was fun and hard to put down.

7. The End

Overall The Folk of the Air series has a happy ending. Cardan and Jude are married and rule Faerie jointly, Madoc is exiled to the mortal lands and Oak gets to see his parents as he likes, Vivi and Heather have repaired their relationship, and Taryn is forgiven her crime and is free of Locke. Faerie is no longer on the brink of civil war, traitors were dealt with fairly, and things are relatively calm and pleasant in Elfhame and the Undersea.


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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Book Review: 7 Weleful Things about THE WICKED KING by Holly Black

“The Wicked King”

The Folk of the Air #2

by Holly Black

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Jude Duarte, kingmaker, has been secretly ruling Faerie for five months. Five months of politics, meetings, parties, correspondences, petitions, training, and banquets all while keeping the reluctant High King Cardan, in line and trying to find a way to extend their bargain so she can keep her power. But then Jude finds herself in the Undersea and captive to Orlagh, Queen of the Undersea. With no means to escape, Jude must hope that Cardan tires of ruling without her help and comes to rescue her before he loses the kingdom to his murderous brother Balekin.

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7 Weleful Things about THE WICKED KING by Holly Black

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Characters

Characters in The Folk of the Air series are complex, believable, and relatable. Not one character is absolutely good or evil. The main protagonist Jude is power hungry and manipulative. Taryn, her good-natured, well-behaved sweet sister betrays her for a boy. And even Balekin, who is mostly an evil bastard, has some redeeming qualities.

2. The Undersea

Faerieland in The Folk of the Air is enchanting and magical. Filled with countless beings of all shapes, sizes, and colors, it is apparent that Holly Black was inspired by many different myths, legends, and folklore about faeries. In “The Wicked King” readers get to experience more of the land of Faerie and get to see the world of the Undersea and more of Orlagh’s merpeople and selkies.

3. Writing

Holly Black keeps a fast pace in “The Wicked King” with political intrigue, deceptions, and manipulations. Readers are left not sure on who to trust and trying to figure out who is pulling the strings on whom. With a fantastic imagination, Black blasts us through this Faerieland adventure that is hard to put down.

4. Cardan

Cardan really starts to grow into a more likable character in “The Wicked King.” Not only is he embracing not being cruel but he begins to understand that as a king, he does have some responsibilities to his people. And thankfully, it seems that the land accepts Cardan.

5. Jude & Cardan

Probably this readers favorite aspect of The Folk of the Air series as she is a sucker for romance, the relationship between Jude and Cardan is exhilarating and frustrating. Both of them have feelings for each other but are both so afraid of rejection and getting hurt that they are constantly denying their feelings and are pretty volatile towards each other. And then without talking about their feelings they just went ahead and got married. Idiots.

6. Balekin

This reader would like to take a moment to celebrate that this asshole is dead, hoorah! Manipulative, sadistic, murderous, deceptive, abusive, the list could go on. Balekin was clearly a villain and yet, Cardan couldn’t bring himself to have him executed. This shows how unmonstrous Cardan actually is and that for all the outward appearance of being cold and uncaring, he is actually soft-hearted and feels deeply. It also reminds readers that it was Balekin who took Cardan in when he was abandoned by their father because of a prophecy.

7. The Queen of Nothing

Jude’s adventure concludes in Book 3 of The Folk of the Air series, “The Queen of Nothing.”


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.