Why We Read Fiction

fireside marshmallowsI recently wrote a scene between a main character and an alien, explaining why people would want to read something they know isn’t true aka stories. It was an interesting scene for me to write, putting down why I love reading something I know didn’t happened and is unlikely to happen. Quite often, the reason it hasn’t happened is part of the charm.

I know some people only read non-fiction or biographies, so obviously not everyone gets the allure of fiction. However, I know studies have shown people who read fiction are more empathetic, and happier. I think most fiction-readers would already know that from personal experience.

I think reading fiction allows the reader to explore all manner of circumstances and scenarios in a safe environment. Because we identify with the characters, we experience what they are going through almost as if we’re going through it ourselves (scientists call what happens in our brains to make this so mirror neurons). But over and above that, which I think is mostly sub-conscious anyway (I doubt many people sit down and think, oh, I think I’d like to find out what it’s like to experience a hostage situation, or what to do when on the run from gun-wielding madmen), I know I read for fun. It’s just plain fun.

There’s another side-benefit, and that is sharing stories connects you to others. It used to be, stories were told around a fireside and enjoyed and discussed by the audience. Now, the internet and blogs like this one, and other book-related blogs, have become our fireside. So . . . why do you love reading fiction, and . . . please pass the mashmallows :)

photo credit: Pipistrula via photopin cc

Posted in Michelle's Posts | 8 Comments

When Characters Die

Part of the reason I love to read romance is because, by definition of the genre, you get a happily ever after.  You know there will be a hero and heroine in conflict, but regardless of what that conflict is you know they will get together in the end.  And the greater the conflict, the more a reader loves it because you know it has to be resolved somehow.

Bring a hanky

Bring a hanky

Not all books that have romance in them are considered the romance genre.  Let’s look at Nicholas Sparks.  Most of his books, perhaps all of them, have romance in them.  But, most of them have some tragedy as well.  People die.  People we learned to care for.  For whatever reason, books like that tend to be considered more “literary” because, well, I don’t know.  It’s not like we learned something.  We all know tragedy happens.  We all know horrible things happen to good people.  But, for some reason, when a character dies and there’s loads of tragedy, it’s “literary fiction”.  Now, I’m not knocking Nicholas Sparks.  I adored The Notebook because to me, even though the end was sad, it was a love story to the very end.

If I read thrillers or horror or fantasy I realize characters I invest my time and heart into may die.  I know that because those genres make that acceptable.  If you watch Game of Thrones you know just how expendable even the most loved character can be.


I’ve always thought I’d be a romance writer.  Primarily because that’s what I love to read.  I read other stuff, but romance has always been a part of my life since I was fourteen years old and discovered Kathleen Woodiwiss.  I have always loved historical romance and am thrilled to know Lisa Kleypas is writing historicals again!  Then I found paranormal romance with Christine Feehan and Laurell K. Hamilton (early years of Anita Blake).  Then it was thrillers.  I was reading horror starting at age nine.  Graham Masterton’s The Manitou scared the living daylights out of me.  I had to read more!! Stephen King’s The Stand is still in my top 10 of all time favorite books. I don’t read as much horror anymore because I just haven’t found someone I really liked until recently when I discovered Jonathan Maberry.  His Rot & Ruin series is one of the best written books I’ve ever read regardless of genre.

Now, if Lisa Kleypas killed a character in one of her books I would be furious.  Why? Because that’s breaking the rules of romance.  No, I don’t think she is going to do that, but you get what I’m saying.  If Jonathan Maberry kills off a character I like I will be sad, but I wouldn’t be angry because he is playing by the rules of horror.


The question is- would you hate a book if a beloved character was killed?  What are your won rules to make that okay to do in a book?  If you love Game of Thrones I don’t want to hear that you would NEVER read a book like that.  lol

I am currently writing a young adult series and a Gothic suspense series.  They are two very different series.  As I work no book 2 of the Gothic suspense series I know going in that someone we will learn to have sympathy for is going to die.  It’s important that he die.  His death changes a lot of things for the story arc and for the characters.  I don’t arbitrarily kill of characters just because I can.  But, sometimes death is inevitable for other things to move forward.  It’s a thriller/suspense so I don’t think anyone is going to be surprised or even angry, but I bet it will make people stop and think.  That’s what a death should do, in my opinion.  It should add something to the story.  A murder adds clues.  A tragedy puts characters in a situation they wouldn’t normally be in, etc.

Have you ever read a book or watched a movie where you were actually stunned when a character died?  Have you cried over the death of a character in a book before, but also felt it needed to happen or that it couldn’t have been any other way?

Tell me about a book or movie in which you were surprised about the death of a character, or one that you hated that they died, but knew it couldn’t end any other way.


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Heroines Among Us with Giveaway

Random.org picked Elena K as the winner of the $10 gift card. Congratulations, Elena!

Sheila CloverAs authors, we write about heroes – men and women – but lately I’ve been inspired by authors who are a part of the Magical Musical family. First there’s Sheila Clover English. I’ve admired her for a long time for all that she’s done. Not only is she an author, in 2002, she started the book trailer market with her Circle of Seven Productions, and in 2003 trademarked the term ‘book trailer.’

But the book world is filled with talented and enterprising women, and I admire her even more for what she does outside of business. She fosters small dogs, and one of her recent Facebook posts made me cry. She’d taken care of a special needs dog, who was old, deaf, nearly blind and abused. She spoiled and loved her, and she gave her joy until the end. The first line of Sheila’s FB post says, “If love could have saved you, you’d have lived forever.”

small dogAnd earlier in October, Sheila was driving in heavy traffic in the rain when she saw a small dog cowering in the middle of the road. Of course, she stopped the car, and tried to catch it. And of course, the dog ran from her, hiding under a parked van. Sheila ended up crawling in the mud on her belly to try to entice the dog to come to her. It took a while, but finally the shivering dog came out. Sheila tucked the little dog under her jacket and drove it home. She removed little steel wires from its fur, gave it a bath, fed it, and gave it more love before she called the local rescue associations to see if anyone was looking for it.

And then there’s another writer friend. Liz Kreger. It’s hard to talk about this, but she’s been fighting cancer for about 15 years, and lately it seems like the cancer is winning. But the last two times I called her and asked how she was, she said, “Not too shabby.”

That’s a real heroine! In all the years I’ve known her, I haven’t heard one “poor me” from her. And like Sheila who crawled through the mud for the dog, Liz has been doing some dirty fighting, too. Most people I know complain about small stuff – me included. And lately it seems like there’s been a glut of whiny book heroines. I can’t read those books. I want my fictional heroines to be as heroic as the real women that I know.

The Golden Apple 300 wideAll of the Magical Musings authors write strong women heroines. Jennifer Estep has an assassin heroine in her Elemental Assassin urban fiction, and in her Bigtime paranormal romances have superheroines and heroes – as well as uber-villains and villainesses. (She has other series with strong women, too.) And I love Michelle Diener’s never-give-up heroines in her retelling of fairy tales.

I could go on and talk about every writer here, but it would take too long. I just feel so grateful to know so many wonderful authors. I’m giving a $10 Amazon gift card to a commenter and hope that you’ll buy a book with a strong heroine, whether it’s from an MM author or another one. To be eligible, just tell me about a strong woman who you would call a heroine. I’ll announce the winner’s name here tomorrow morning.

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Review: Rogue’s Paradise (Covenant of Thorns, #3) by Jeffe Kennedy

22446955-e1406237426172Book info:

Title: Rogue’s Paradise (Covenant of Thorns, #3)
Author: Jeffe Kennedy
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: September 8, 2014
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: ARC received from Author

Book Summary:

Pregnant, possessed, and in love with a man I don’t dare to trust-those are the consequences of the risks I took to save my life. But Faerie, the land of blood and magic, is filled with bitter ironies, and the bargains I made now threaten me and my unborn child.

The darkly sensual fae noble Rogue still tempts me to danger and desire. As we await the birth of our child, I’ve been forced to question whether our offspring is part of a bargain Rogue once made to save himself. He can’t tell me the truth due to a spell the vicious Queen Titania has him under. Would he betray our family against his will? Could I ever forgive him if he does?

Rogue insists on an eternal commitment from me, even as Titania’s forces close in on us. I don’t know if Rogue and I can withstand her onslaught, or that of the beast within me. But I will not stop looking for answers-even if it brings the walls of Faerie crashing down.

My Thoughts:

Holy freaking cow. Fantasy is not normally my genre of choice, but the way Jeffe Kennedy writes it, well, wow. Rogue’s Paradise is the third book in her Covenant of Thorns series and by far my favorite. It’s the culmination of everything Rogue and Gwynn have been through in the first two books. It’s the book with the most emotional ups and downs. It’s the book that shows the true, deep connection between Gwynn, Rogue, Faerie and the Human realm. It’s also the book that shows what is going to come of Titania as well as Rogue, Gwynn and their child.

You really need to read the first two books in the series before you read this one. It is not a hardship, though, let me tell you. The entire series is quite an adventure. One of the things I like most about it is that the whole fantasy world of Faerie is looked at/lived in by a human. So, we get to see how a human reacts to it. Gwynn continues to journal since she looks at things scientifically and has a lot of theories about the Faerie. I have enjoyed watching Rogue and Gwynn grow throughout the series. Rogue is really starting to understand Gwynn’s mind and Gwynn is starting to let go of needing some of those hard and fast facts that she craves.

Inline image 1Since I am very much a character-driven reader, my focus has always been on Rogue and Gwynn in this series. The fantasy and other world aspects came second to me. Jeffe does a fantastic job at the world building and always describes things in a way you can easily visualize. Because the story is in Gwynn’s point of view and she is human, we are able to connect with her examples and analogies.

As with all of the books in the Covenant of Thorns series, the relationships between the characters is quite entertaining. From Rogue and Gwynn themselves to the secondary characters. Many of them grow closer with one another over the books and you see that come out in the relaxed banter that happens. You can’t help but wish you were with them (except for when Queen Titania and her minions are attacking). Some swoon-worthy aspects of the book that I loved included Rogue’s planning of some special things as he saw them in Gwynn’s mind, much to her surprise and satisfaction and the way he handled the intimacy. We all wanted some smokin’ hot love scenes, right? Well, we got them in Rogue’s Paradise. They fit the characters and the story and trust me, you will not be disappointed. I hate to say it, but the wait was worth it (don’t get any idea for delaying this in future series, though, Jeffe!). The wedding scene and vows also made me sigh blissfully. I didn’t think Rogue had all that romancy stuff in him.

I still feel like I haven’t really explained how awesome Rogue’s Paradise is, but just know that it is the best in the series. Jeffe does not disappoint and ties up all loose ends you could ever wonder about. She also throws in a little relationship conflict that was new to Rogue and Gwynn and had me freaking out a bit, but followed it up with some spectacular scenes. You really need to read the entire series. If anything just to get to Rogue’s Paradise!

Reviewed by: Amy R.

Five stars

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Review: Mint Juleps and Justice (Adams Grove, #5) by Nancy Naigle

18318667Book info:

Title: Mint Juleps and Justice (Adams Grove, #5)
Author: Nancy Naigle
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: February 1, 2014
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Purchased from Amazon

Book Summary:

Welcome to Adams Grove…where wrongs are righted with just desserts.

Luck abandoned Brooke Justice during her nasty divorce. Desperate to escape her malicious ex-husband, she relocated to the small town of Adams Grove, Virginia. When someone breaks into her new house, she suspects her ex bears the blame for the crime. With no evidence and little help from the police, she asks a private investigator to take her case—a private investigator whose sexy broad shoulders and stunning blue eyes make her question her decision to swear off relationships forever.

Mike Hartman fled Adams Grove when a devastating loss left his heart in pieces. After years overseas in the military, he’s finally returned home, determined to start anew as a private investigator. Then Brooke walks into his office, awakening something he hasn’t felt in years. Can they both move on…into each other’s arms? Or will the pain of the past—and the dangerous threat lurking in the present—destroy their new beginning?

My Thoughts:

If you like small town romantic suspense, Nancy Naigle is the author for you. She is able to combine sweet love stories with unnerving suspense. The way she is able to write the points of view from the hero and heroine to the psychotic villains is astounding to me. Mint Juleps and Justice is the fifth book in her Adams Grove series. It can easily be read as a stand alone but will make you want to read all the other books once you start this one.

Mint Juleps and Justice follows Mike and Brooke. They are both relatively new to Adams Grove trying to start over after some tragic events in their lives. Brooke turns to Mike’s investigative skills to help her deal with an ex-husband. Little did she know that the biggest adventure of her life would start. Nancy does a really good job at creating stories that you think will be predictable only to turn out anything but. When I started Mint Juleps and Justice I thought we would have a similar mystery to her previous books in trying to find out who the villain was going to be. Well, she gave those to us right away and didn’t hide it. That almost makes for more suspense since we knew they are lurking and are going to pounce at any minute.

Inline image 1I am a wimp when it comes to the villian’s point of view in a story. I know a little of Nancy via social media and am surprised that she is able to pull off the creepiness that is Goto in this story. I wanted to skip all of Goto’s pages because it made me so uncomfortable. Well done, Nancy. But, being inside the head of the crazy dude shows us just how much danger he is to Mike and Brooke.

The romance between Mike and Brooke was a little frustrating to me. Not the writing of it, but as characters, they made me angry and I wanted to slap them both at times. They kept finding reasons to put up walls when they got scared or hurt. I know they had their reasons, but everyone else could see they were good together, so I found myself huffing a bit at their nonsense from time to time. It worked in the end so I am satisfied.

Mint Juleps and Justice is an emotional romantic suspense story that will have you on the edge of your seat one minute and then caught up in sweet romance and friendship another. You almost forget that there is a killer on the loose! If you like small town romantic suspense, I recommend that you give Mint Juleps and Justice a try!

Reviewed by: Amy R.

Four stars

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Halloween! A special time of year. :)

Happy Halloween everyone!

What better day to let everyone know about Entranced: A Halloween Box Set, with stories by some of your favorite authors – Mary Hughes, Michelle Diener, Dale Mayer, Liz Kreger and Edie Ramer – all Magical Musings’ authors – plus Lori Handeland, Nancy Haddock, Elle J Rossi, and Leigh Morgan.

Check out the great stories!

Holiday Feast from NY Times, USA Today and bestselling, award-winning authors. Nine exciting stories of romance and mystery, paranormal and contemporary, magical and mystical, ranging in lengths from novellas to short page-turning stories.

Escape to worlds featuring a vampire in love with a human, a powerful telekinetic, a secret lover, a spirit seer, a master magician, a wizard prince, a paranormal ass-kicker, and more.

When Midnight Comes — Lori Handeland
Visit the streets of 19th century New York in a novella based on the legend of the Jack O Lantern. Newly dead Jack Keegan may be doomed to wander the earth forever with only a lantern to light his way unless he atones for the sins of a lifetime. His love for Lucia Casale may be the only thing that can save him.

Midday Masquerade — Leigh Morgan
Can a mask help two lost and lonely people release their inner desires and find love strong enough to vanquish an ancient family curse?

Sian’s Solution — Dale Mayer
Sometimes the depth of love is only understood when it is lost forever… When a vampire discovers the human man she loves has been captured and hung in a blood farm, she goes against her own kind and risks everything to save him.

Breaking Out — Michelle Diener
Imprisoned in a secret facility, powerful telekinetic Kelli Barrack and two other ‘special’ inmates grab a chance to escape, only to confront their worst nightmares on the outside.

The Halloween Prince — Edie Ramer
A sudden storm, a broken van, and a ghost dog take widowed Sarah Lowtower to a cabin in the Wisconsin countryside and an intriguing man who becomes her secret lover. But when he becomes the Halloween Prince, everything changes.

Medium Rare — Nancy Haddock
The ghosts of St. Augustine are spooked, and spirit seer Colleen Cotton must team with a by-the-book paranormal investigator to save them all, or risk losing her own great grandfather’s spirit forever.

Feel the Magic — Liz Kreger
Jenna Carmichael is harnessing the magic of the full moon on All Hallow’s Night in a tricky transformation to earn her Master level, when the past comes back to haunt her.

Masked Attraction — Mary Hughes
Daniel Light loved Zoe Blackwood when he was a gangly dork. Now a powerful wizard prince, a masked ball gives Daniel a new chance to woo her. Coming between them is an ancient parchment with a deadly prophecy.

Midnight Masque — Elle J Rossi
Bar owner and paranormal ass-kicker, Josie Hawk, stresses over her vampire lover meeting her vampire-hunting father, while at her stars-of-country-music masquerade, supernatural forces escalate to code red. If she doesn’t unmask the insidious evil, the party could turn into a mass funeral.

Amazon | AmazonUK | iBooks | Barnes&Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

I’m away at the Ninc conference and they staying for a bit of a holiday after a hard working year so won’t be back to answer any comments until tomorrow! Hope you all have a wonderful holiday! :)

Posted in Dale's Posts | Tagged | 2 Comments

Halloween Romance

What’s Halloween without a good romance, right?

Wait…Halloween and romance? I know what you’re thinking: Misty’s gone off the deep end. Romance is for Valentine’s Day.

Yes, it is. But romance works for any holiday, even a scary one.

Think of costumes…isn’t it fun to dress up as a couple for Halloween costume parties? Check out these ideas: http://www.pinterest.com/gailfrazier/couples-costumes/  I especially love the Pretty In Pink couple.

Even the Huffington Post has 10 Tips on How To Find Romance On Halloween: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/samantha-daniels/10-tips-for-finding-romance_b_4171576.html

And what about in movies? Edward Scissorhands, anyone? The Corpse Bride? Not to mention The Lost Boys, Bram Stoker’s Frankestein, and even Ghostbusters.

In books, there are plenty of paranormal couples. Check out books by our own MM gang, many of them featuring a love interest or two:

Elemental Assassins series by Jennifer Estep

Vampire Series by Dale Mayer

Haunted Hearts Series by Edie Ramer

Biting Love Series by Mary Hughes

Romance and Halloween do actually go together beautifully. There’s nothing like watching a scary movie with your significant other.

So embrace your wicked self and get your romance on. Who is your favorite Halloween couple?

Posted in Misty's Posts | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Holiday books (and more) are here

I was out doing some shopping with my mom back in September, and she pointed over to a display and said, “Look what’s out already.”

I looked over to where she was pointing and was greeted with … a display of Christmas trees.

Christmas trees in September? Seriously? Can’t we even wait for Halloween to be over with first? Or at least for the calendar to roll around to Oct. 1? Apparently not.

But Christmas trees aren’t the only holiday items that I’ve noticed in stores. The holiday books have already hit shelves too, especially in the romance aisle. Every year, in September and October, it seems like the covers on all the books in the bookstores and online suddenly change overnight. One day, the covers are full of beach and other summer scenes, and the next, they all feature snow, ribbons, and bows.

Christmas at TwilightThe covers are one of the things that I like most about holiday books. Snow, trees, ornaments, twinkling lights. They all make for some beautiful covers, and there is just something about those images that draws me in time and time again. Like the cover for Christmas at Twilight by Lori Wilde (out today). Isn’t that just a lovely cover? Doesn’t it make you want to curl up on the couch with a good book and some hot chocolate while the snow falls outside?

I’m a total sucker for a good cover, and despite my towering TBR pile, I always find myself buying a holiday book or two every year, even if it’s still October. And I get totally addicted to TV channels like ABC Family and Hallmark Channel this time of year, given all the holiday romantic comedies that they show.

The holiday books (and more) are already here, so I will enjoy them while they last.

What about you guys? Do you read holiday books? If so, when? Just during the holidays or at any time of year?

Posted in Holiday Posts, Jennifer's Posts | Tagged | 12 Comments

Friday Favorites

UPDATE – Congratulations to Anita for winning the giveaway! She chose Veiled Target by Robin Bielman!

TGIF! I have to say, I really do love blogging on Fridays here at Magical Musings.

Friday Favorites at MM

Today I want to hear about some of your favorite things. To give you a little reward for sticking with me and answering some questions, I will give away one digital book from one of the Magical Musings authors (up to a $10.00 value) via Amazon! To enter, just answer any of the questions below. I will draw the winner on Sunday evening!

What is your favorite book genre? For me it would be a tie between romantic suspense and contemporary romance.

Do you have a favorite book couple? Mine would probably be Trevor and Cassandra Bauer from the Countermeasure Series by Chris Almeida and Cecilia Aubrey. I don’t know what it is about them but I have loved them from the beginning of the series.

Do you have a favorite heroine from a book? This is tough for me, but I would say pretty much any heroine of Misty Evans. In my opinion, she just knows how to write kicka** heroines.

Do you have a favorite hero from a book? Absolutely. Conrad Flynn from Operation Sheba by Misty Evans. I don’t even know how to explain it but all heroes are compared to him when I read other books.

Do you have a favorite plot from a book? Where the story is just so different than anything you have read? This one is harder. I read a lot of great books. Probably the one that sticks with me as the most fascinating is Darcy Daniel’s Playing The Part.

Any other favorites in the book world you think we should talk about?

Posted in Amy R's Posts | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

5 Southernisms Every Non-Southerner Must Know by Kelsey Browning

Please welcome author Kelsey Browning to the blog today! She and Nancy Naigle coauthor The Granny Series and the second book in the series, Fit To Be Tied released on October 21, 2014. Kelsey is here today to tell to us about Southernisms.

Kelsey Browning - Headshot


I love, love, love my gals from Illinois—Amy Remus, Adrienne Giordano, Tracey Devlyn, and several others. And one of the reasons I love them so much is because they love my Texas accent and they let me teach them a new Southern phrase now and again.

One reason Nancy and I enjoy writing The Granny Series so much is because we get to let those Southern-gals phrases fly left and right. Our editor, Deb Nemeth, helps nurture and protect our “delicious humor and wonderful Southern expressions.”

Of the four main over-fifty female characters in our newest release in The Granny Series, Fit to Be Tied, three hail from Southern states. Lil from Georgia. Maggie from Virginia. And Abby Ruth from Texas. (Sheriff Teague Castro is also a Texas native.) So in order to enjoy these ladies to their fullest, non-Southerners might appreciate a brush-up on how to speak Southern. And, by the way, all definitions and curse worse henceforth should be attributed to me. Nancy is guilt-free.

Bless your heart. Yeah, this is a gimme, but if I didn’t include it, someone would call me on it.

Definition: Bless your heart is one of those multi-use Southern phases.

Used in a sentence: “Bless Tommy Ray’s little pea-picking heart.”

Translation: Tommy Ray’s done something ass-stupid again, and ain’t nobody gonna ever be able to beat the smart into that boy.

Used in a sentence upon news that a friend’s father has died: “Bless her heart.”

Translation: I’m feel so bad for Franny. But I wonder if there’ll be fried chicken after the funeral?

Fit to Be TiedDon’t have a pot to piss in. This is a favorite of mine. Just so visual.

Definition: It means the person is broke, desolate, and shit outta luck.

Used in a sentence: “That Glenda Ray, her daddy’s done left and now they don’t have a pot to piss in.”

Translation: Things in Glenda Ray’s house are gonna be tough for a while.

Shit outta luck. Also referred to as SOL.

Definition: In a bad spot, some times because of your own less-that-bright decision.

Used in a sentence: “You spent all your lunch money on video games? Well, son, you’re just SOL.”

Translation: You’d better steal some saltines out of the cabinet because I’m not giving you more lunch money this week.

Ugly. No, it’s not what you think (although there are plenty of backhanded insults for that).

Definition: This ugly means ill-behaved.

Used in a sentence: “Josey Ray, don’t you be ugly to your mama or else you won’t be going to the picture show.”

Translation: If you don’t stop sassing your mama, I will lock you in your room until you’re thirty.

Six ways to Sunday.

Definition: All different kinds of ways or in a particularly forceful manner.

Used in a sentence: “If you don’t put my Blue Bell Rocky Road ice cream back in the freezer this minute, I’m gonna knock you six ways to Sunday.”

Translation: The butt-whupping may be physical or verbal. Whatever I decide, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

If this small taste of Southernisms has whetted your appetite for more, be sure to check out In For a Penny and Fit to Be Tied in The Granny Series. You may see a few of these, some other favorites, and a few that Nan and I make up ourselves!

Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite Southern phrases (And yes, we’re likely to snatch it up and put it in a book. ;-))

Posted in Amy R's Posts | Tagged | 17 Comments