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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

The Statue of David in Florence.  La Reppubblica

The Statue of David in Florence this week.  La Repubblica.

Now, as you know, I always try to bring you fun and interesting news from Tuscany, however, just occasionally I need to talk about rather more serious matters.  The people of Italy, like everyone else with warm beating hearts, were devastated by the news from Manchester.  And the loss of so many children; so very difficult to comprehend.  In Piazza Della Donna in Florence, the Florentines woke to find the Statue of David wearing a black armband and holding the Union Flag.  Whoever did this, thank you for the show of solidarity.  The Italians, in small and large communities alike, evolve everything around their children.  I have had a number of people in our local village expressing their condolences, bless them.

 

The President and the Pope

The President and The Pope.  La Reppublica.

Meanwhile, the President of the United States has visited The Pope.  He and his family wore the traditional black and the women covered their heads in lace.   Apparently, the two men made their peace and for once we saw Donald smiling into the camera.   However, Pope Francis was grimacing, which is most unusual for our very popular Papa.

 

Dante in Pisa

Dante in Pisa. La Repubblica

On a lighter note, Pisa is currently celebrating Dante Alighieri, Il Sommo Poeta, and Fabrizio Gifuni will this evening (Sunday) be reading a selection of Dante’s works from Il Torre di Pisa (The Tower of Pisa) overlooking the Piazza del Miracoli.  This will no doubt be a very atmospheric evening, and the reading starts at ten o’clock.  Have you ever read Dante’s Inferno?  I am thinking that I must have read it at school, I do remember it being described as ‘The Divine Comedy’.  Amazing to think that his works are still celebrated seven hundred years after his death!  Of course, here in Tuscany, he remains hugely popular as he was born in Florence.  I have just read up a little more about him.  He fell in love with a girl who married someone else, so his one and only love, was unrequited.  How sad.  Well, I guess I have better read his works again, as it will come up fresh after all those years since I left the Grammar School.

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Addio Roger.  La Repubblica

Another bit of sadness was the death of Roger Moore.  He is, of course, mostly remembered for his Bond roles.  however, I really liked a TV series called The Saint back in the sixties.  The Italians love the Bond films and there was a big write-up in the newspaper saying ‘Addio to Roger’.

 

Well, here in Tuscany, it’s yet another beautiful day.  We bought four lavender yesterday to plant in a little bare patch, so more lovely perfumes to mingle with the Jasmin.  But Oh, not to forget, I must mention our new resident.  He or she is a large Viper and seems to be living under the path in the lower part of our garden.  My man, being an ex-commando, is very gung-ho about it and says just to make a noise as you near the spot, and it will run away.  Well, slide, should I say.  Well, it may run away from his big noisy feet, but I came face to face with it and it coiled into attack mode and hissed at me.  I just kept slowly walking down to the Cantina with my heart in my mouth!  I ain’t going that way again, thank you!

Well, enough of that.  We have just returned from lunch at C’era Una Volta website where I tasted tagliatelle with sun-dried tomato pesto and smoked ricotta cheese.  Phew, it was Picante!   It was delicious but I had to leave some, much to my disappointment!

So, here’s wishing you all a very good week, free of bad happenings.

Salute June x

PS Do visit my author site at My site

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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

I must tell you this true story.  As you know, from time to time, my man has to pop over to London to do a bit of business.  A few days ago, he was trying to make a purchase with his business Visa card and put the wrong pin in…..three times, which he blamed on fat finger small keyboard scenario.  Yes, the bank blocked it.  So he rushed into the local Barclays and realised that he had no identity; his passport was back at his London club and he doesn’t need his driving licence in London! He produced everything he had with his signature on, other bank cards, even his British Library card which sported his photo!  Then finally, in exasperation, he said, “I’m wearing hand-made Italian shoes and they have my name inside.”  Would you believe it, they agreed to unblock his card!  Don’t you just love it!

Al Bar Fiano, needing lots of people to bring it alive again. Foto J Finnigan

Al Bar Fiano, needing lots of people to bring it alive again. Foto J Finnigan

Meanwhile, back in the calmer atmosphere of our local village of Fiano, I made a second visit to the new Al Fiano Bar.  Two locals were sat drinking coffee and eating pastries, then a certain well-known signora arrived, shouting at the top of her voice.  She only wanted some crisps, but for an Italian lady who stands at around four-foot-five, she’s got the voice of a giant.  Then she spotted me, trying to read the newspaper, and came and sat down!  I think she was telling me, and the rest of the village, about her one visit to London, when Steffi Graff was playing at Wimbledon.  If not, I may have bought an old tennis racket and a donkey.  I’m not sure which, I’ll let you know.

Natalia waiting to serve you a very nice Espresso at Al Bar Fiano. Photo J Finnigan

Natalia waiting to serve you a very nice Espresso at Al Bar Fiano.
Foto J Finnigan

Anyway, the lovely lady behind the bar turns out to be Russian and has been here in Italy for I think sixteen years.  She is called Natalia and her smile brightened the room, which is still in need of a lift to make it more welcoming.  However, do go in, the more that try it out the better it will become.  Fingers crossed.

The artist Marcello Scuffi. I love his work. Foto La Republicca.

The artist Marcello Scuffi. I love his work. Foto La Repubblica.

OK, what next.  Oh yes, I spotted this article about Marcello Scuffi, the Tuscan artist.  I love this kind of contemporary art and at first, I thought his work must be from the nineteen twenties or thirties.  But no, Marcello was born in 1948, is alive and well and still producing these masterpieces.  He was born in Tizzana (Pistoia) which is not far from Florence and currently works out of Quarrata and Marina di Pietrasanta.  He is also very sought after and has made quite an impression in France, Belgian and Switzerland.  Google him and you will be able to see lots more of his pictures.

‘And what about the touring bands in our area?’  I hear you ask.  Well, at last, the wonderful Piazza Arena in Lucca is to host the Rolling Stones!  This will be during the summer music festival in July, so won’t compete with my own concert with The Rock Chick Band on June 24th!  You may have difficulty getting tickets for the Rolling Stones, but my concert is free!  However, it is by private invitation, so if you would like an official invite to my concert, drop me an email at june.finnigan@virgin.net

Oh, must just mention that the weather here has been glorious around lunchtime, a hot sun and no cold wind.  so, over the last few days, we have snuck down to the terrace a couple of times for an aperitivo.  Cin Cin!

Well, enough of that, my man is taking me out to lunch so I must go for a shower and make myself beautiful.  Whoever said ‘how do you hope to do that?’ Can go and crack their own mirror!  Ha ha to you too.

Have a great week and do get in touch.  I love to hear from you.

Salute June x

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current published Books.
Foto J Finnigan

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all you lovely Followers

“What’s that man doing parking on the road, he should be on the pavement like all the other Italians!”  I groan aloud.  What’s this strange statement you may be thinking?  Well, I like to walk down the road, it’s less potholed than the path and anyway, there’s usually cars parked on the pavement.  Why? Because there is a line saying that they cannot park on the road.  Err, what is this madness you may ask?  Well, the Italians always park on the pavement in Fiano and I think they are trying to say “I won’t be long, I’m only partly on the road, so don’t give me a ticket.”  Meanwhile, we pedestrians, including pushchairs and wheelchairs, use the road.  It’s quite simple and now we are so used to it, it’s annoying when someone does things differently!

The lilac boys and a dejected Juventus player. La Repubblica

The violet boys and a dejected Juventus player.
La Repubblica

Anyway, some very good news.  This morning the bar was awash with local football fans celebrating Fiorentino’s win over top of the league Juventus.  There is a profound change in the atmosphere of Fiano, who support the boys from Florence in their violet strip and this win was particularly amazing.  So, despite the bitterly cold wind and the recent minor earthquake, everyone was in a very good mood.

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Coffee with Walter the Donkey. Foto J Finnigan

After five days back in England, I was so pleased to be home in Tuscany, drinking decent espresso and eating good food.  I had an awful time trying to find a decent meal in Devon and Somerset.  Everything was either under or overcooked and far too much salad for these cold winter months!  Gianluca at C’era Una Volta ristorante presented me with Walter the Donkey who he had purchased in Guatemala whilst on holiday, a present to go with my coffee, how neat is that!

Chunky Hunk and Italian Gorgonzola. La Repubblica

Chunky Hunk and Italian Gorgonzola.
La Repubblica

Now where was I?  Oh yes, I want to mention the fact that many Brits think of parmesan Cheese when I mention living in Italy.  Not only do we have a fabulous range of Pecorino, sheep’s cheese, and gorgeous Buffalo Mozzarella,  but we also have a mouth-watering Gorgonzola, which this nice man below is demonstrating.  I also present him as Chunky Hunk of the month as not all the best looking Italian men are skinny!

OK, enough of that.  Time to finish the editing of my latest novel and get it published!  I know, I keep promising to get it out there, it won’t be long now my friends!

Have a great week.

Salute June x

 

 

 

Visit http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinngian

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

 

 

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

The final sunset of 2016. Foto J Fielding.

The final sunset of 2016. Foto J Fielding.

Well, where were you on the stroke of midnight?  My man, my sister-in-law and I were at the bottom of our garden on the Terrazza watching all the fireworks going off around the valley, from San Gimignano to Certaldo and beyond.  Cheers and excited voices echoed around us, bouncing off the distant hills and up from the valleys below, and whilst we could not see Fiano we could hear it!  There is something very warming about not being in a big noisy party, but hearing them going on all around you!  Then back to the log fire to toast our toes.

Capodanno in Florence La Nazione

Capodanno in Florence La Nazione

In Florence, the annual bash was going on.  A very popular singer called Marco Mengoni was performing and there had been lots of excited babble from the local girlies beforehand.  More than forty thousand people attended the Festa and every single person was checked over by a metal detector before being allowed in.  What a task that must have been!

Local celebrations and the back up support for health and safety! la Repubblica

Local celebrations and the backup support for health and safety! la Repubblica

Locally, apart from all the house parties, Fiano held a big bash in the old cinema where a set menu with ten courses was served up and a local band played 70’s and 80’s musica.   I must give a mention for the support network of which is largely voluntary including the police, carabinieri, fire brigade and Misericordia.  And a warm welcome to two local New Year babies!

Special guest Granddog Zoe. Photo J Fielding

Special New Year guest Granddog Zoe. Photo J Fielding

On New Year’s Day, we had a big family lunch here in our kitchen.  Guest of honour was our granddog, Zoe the boxer dog, so the day was absolutely perfect.  What did we eat, I hear you say?  Well, we are not all veggie, but I only cook that way, so we had lovely baked jacket potatoes filled with spicy spinach and ricotta, a cauliflower cheesy bake and ratatouille.  Then a pear crumble with cream, very English and very filling!  I could not eat a thing in the evening, just washed it all away with some lovely Chianti wine.

My choice of festive outfit on the left, from Prada. Glossy mag.

My choice of festive outfit on the left, from Prada. Glossy mag.

Meanwhile and just before the festivities, I was at Sandra’s in Certaldo having my hair colour topped up when I saw this gorgeous Prada outfit (below) in a glossy mag, which for me is the perfect colour combination for when I am not wanting to dress completely in black, which is often.  So this is my festive outfit of the year.  Dare I go online and see if Prada has a sale on?  Very tempting…..

Anyway, my book ‘The Italian Connection’ is back from the editor and I just need to do a final honing.  Then I will select the new cover.  I find this bit hugely exciting as finally, the book takes on shape and personality.  It won’t be long now and thank you for waiting so patiently for this third book in the trilogy.  However, I must warn you, my heroine is already heading off in new directions and a fourth book is very likely to appear in the not too distant future!

OK, lovely people, best get this blog posted and think about warming up all those leftovers from yesterday and a bit more besides.  One of us was obviously not concentrating yesterday, as a missing bottle of red wine has just been found in the fridge!

Have a really great 2017 and I look forward to seeing you all at some stage either at my concert on 24th June or at one of my ‘to be organised’ book signings!

Buon Anno and Salute June x

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers,

Well, where to begin?  Ah yes, the olive harvest (Raccolta) is nearing its end, hampered by bad weather including very heavy rains, it is still expected to be a good one if around 30% down on last year due to the olive fly.  New Extra Virgin Olive oil has been in the shops for a few weeks now; the local stuff is to die for.

Lovely local pomegranets. foto J Finnigan

Lovely local pomegranates.
foto J Finnigan

Other harvests include the pomegranate and today our landlord handed us some giant size fruits to indulge in.  I don’t normally buy them so if anyone has any really good ideas for serving them up in a desert or otherwise, I’ll be really pleased to hear from you.  If not, I guess one can slice off the top and scoop the insides out with a spoon and pour over ice cream!

Panatone display at La Dispensa in Fiano. Foto J Finnigan

Panettone display at La Dispensa in Fiano.
Foto J Finnigan

Ah, then there’s the Panettone!  On Friday and over coffee in La Dispensa in Fiano, I noticed lovely table full of Panettone on display.  If you are not already aware, you may like to know that this wonderful cake is hugely popular over the festive season and comes in all sorts of varieties including plain, fruity, chocolate or lemon curd filled and sometimes topped  with crusty sugar or nuts.  My man’s absolute favourite is Fichi e noci, that is Fig and walnut.  Meanwhile, our darling daughter has been busy making the traditional English Christmas cake at her home near Volterra.  She sent her dad a picture of the one with his name on, so to speak!  Bless her. (Sadly, I cannot eat cake!)

The hunky Alberto Angela and his latest DVD collection. La Repubblica

The hunky Alberto Angela and his latest DVD collection.
La Repubblica

Also over coffee, I read about the gorgeous Alberto Angelo.  You may have already heard of him as he is a celebrated Palaeontologist and Scientific popularizer.  He’s a  what? I hear you say.  Anyway, as a journalist and son of a television producer, he has produced some fabulous DVDs.  The very latest is a five-DVD collection of Alla Scoperta Del Rinascimento (the Discovery of the Renaissance) Medici family in Florence.  Now this will make fascinating viewing, particularly over the festive season and can be found on Amazon.  To read more about Alberto go to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Angela 

The Pope on Trump. La Reppublica.

The Pope on Trump.
La Reppublica.

OK, even here in Italy it has not been possible to ignore the American election and I note that journalists have been interviewing anybody and sometimes nobodies about their views on Donald Trump as the new President.  A notable interview was with Pope Francis who responded “Trump?  Non-guidico Mi interessa  soltantose se fa soffrire I poveri”  Roughly translated as “I am not driven (in any direction), I am only interested in the future suffering of the poor.”  Some locals in the caffè bar have likened Trump to Berlusconi or vice versa depending on his or her politics.

Le Torre, the towers of Tuscany. La Repubblica.

Le Torre, the towers of Tuscany. La Repubblica.

Then as another reminder of the ongoing worry about the recent and continuous earthquakes in Central Italy, I read an article in the paper about the strength of Le Torri (the towers) of some of our famous landmarks.  These are being checked for any obvious weaknesses.  Of course, once a landmark is destroyed centuries of history goes with it and can never be replaced.

Meanwhile, back in our little bit of Chianti, the central heating is now up and running.   For those of you interested in our lovely inglenook, we will need to put an extraction fan on top of the chimney before we can use it properly.  So we await the arrival of an electrician to put one in.  This being Italy, we may have a long wait.

My pasta with pumpkin and sage sauce and smoked ricotta cheese. Foto J Finnigan

My pasta with pumpkin and sage sauce and smoked ricotta cheese. Foto J Finnigan

Anyway, just to finish on a good note, I have just enjoyed a truly delicious plate of Tagliatelle con Salsa di Zucca Giallo e Salvia con Ricotta Affumicato, at C’era Una Volta ristorante in Lucardo.  In English, Tagliatelle with Yellow Pumpkin & Sage sauce and Smoked Ricotta Cheese.  Now if I was a smoker, and I’m not, I would not need to light up for at least twenty-four hours!

Yes, life eeez good, life eeez now.

Well, must get on, novel to finish!

Have a great week.

Salute June x

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

 

 

 

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

Firstly, a big thank you for all those concerned well wishers.  We have only had a couple of minor earth quakes in our area and all is fine here; no damage at all.

Florence then and now. La Repubblica.

Florence then and now. La Repubblica.

Florence – It is hard to imagine that exactly fifty years ago, Florence was under very deep water after the River Arno burst its banks.  1966 was a terrible year for the historic and beautiful city.  There has been much to say in the newspapers and there is still real concern that the defences are not good enough.  Only a few months ago, a riverside road collapsed, along with a row of parked cars.  An enormous amount of money is needed to further improve things and what with the financial crisis, this is now getting very serious indeed.

Mappa Sosmica - Seismic Map. La Reppublica

Mappa Sismica – Seismic Map. La Reppublica

I read an article in the newspaper this morning, which really shows the country’s seismic risk areas.  If it was not so serious, I would have laughed at the little men in black hats on the map, indicating the areas controlled by the Mafia who have been responsible for the building and rebuilding of properties, and blamed for the inferior quality of materials and design. I must add, that our little area of Tuscany, is outside the worst danger zone and hope it will not stop you lovely people from visiting next season.

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King Crimson, La Repubblica

But to brighter things.  Thank you to our good friend Flavio who asked me if I knew that The Cure was currently touring.  I did not know, but it was too late to get tickets anyway.  But I did know that King Crimson were celebrating fifty years in rock with a celebration tour here.  What’s this, you don’t remember them? O Dio!  They were hugely popular between 1969 and 1974, when their progressive rock music stretched across to Jazz and classical.  Robert Tripp, the brilliant lead guitarist, took the band through many changes of members and styles, after reaching number 5 in the UK album charts in 1969.  In 2015 the band, with its unusual front of three drummers and four guitarists, had a very successful tour and their concert in Toronto ‘Live at The Orpheum’ was recorded and released as an album.  I love their track ‘Starless’ a lengthy piece and seriously clever, which will give you goose-bumps.  King Crimson – Starless https://youtu.be/FhKJgqxNDD8  via @YouTube

Italian cheeses at La Dispensain Fiano. Foto J Finnigan

Tuscan cheeses at La Dispensa in Fiano.
Foto J Finnigan

Anyway, that’s got my rock thing out-of-the-way, so back to Fiano and morning coffee.  Today, Sunday, La Dispensa was very busy with locals.  It’s hard to believe that the place didn’t exist three months ago!  The Italians are very quick to turn a place into a home from home, and so we are able to enjoy coffee and catch up on the newspapers in good company.  La Dispensa also has a lovely range of cheeses, which along with local wines, is my biggest downfall, so I had to buy some yet again.  Otherwise we eat very sensibly!

Pasta and white truffles photo J Finnigan

Pasta and white truffles
photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile the olives have been mostly harvested now and the truffle hunters are out an about seeking that illusive Tartufo Bianco (White Truffle).  The best way to enjoy them is thinly sliced, using a truffle slicer, over buttered tagliatelle.  Not spoiled by adding them to a creamy sauce, as a certain local restuarent did the other day and my man had to send the dish back!

Finally, I’m itching to tell you that I have finished the first draft of ‘The Italian Connection.’  However, having read it and edited, I found myself launching into more chapters as my imagination suddenly took off again!  So, another couple of weeks or so and I’ll be satisfied; I hope!

Well, that’s enough for now.  My man is taking me up to C’era una Volta in Lucardo for lunch, where Paolo is currently serving up a delicious leek and potato soup, and he has the latest Tartufo Bianco on the menu.  Mmmmm.

Have a great week and do drop me a line.  I love to hear from you!

Salute June x

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my lovely Friends and Followers

As you know, I always like to bring you fun stories and nice things about our lovely little bit of the Chianti Hills, also snippits of what I have read in the local and sometimes national news.   So I will get the not so nice news out-of-the-way very quickly.

Autumn valley below our house. Foto J Finnigan

Autumn valley below our house. Foto J Finnigan

Tuesday, our bit of heaven was hit by a 3.9 earthquake.  There was a massive bang under the house and things started to rock, so being prepared for anything I got outside grabbing my disaster bag on the way.  We deliberately park our car away from the house, so I got inside and waited.  Now it probably only lasted a couple of minutes, but seemed an awful lot longer.  But we were very lucky, no damage at all, so the house has proved pretty resilient.  Not so lucky were the inhabitants in the Perugia area in Umbria, who suffered a much worse earthquake a couple of days later.  Then Wednesday, along came the hurricane winds and heavy iced rain.  This went on for more than three hours taking out trees and causing flooding & landslides.  My route to Fiano was blocked by a landslide on Thursday morning so I turned around and headed for Certaldo for my morning coffee.  Since then, the weather has been glorious, sunshine and cool fresh air.  Hard to believe it really happened!

The vineyard outside our front gate. Foto J Finnigan

The vineyard outside our front gate. Foto J Finnigan

So back to the nicer things in life.  The countryside is looking and smelling absolutely gorgeous, what with all the rain and now the warm sunshine.  Yesterday we managed to sit outside and enjoy an aperitivo before lunch, bathed in sunshine.  The valley below us has shed much of its leaves, however, and beautiful bare Silver Birch trees glow white against the remaining autumnal colour.  The vineyard below our front gate, now harvested, is glowing with striped colours, representing the different grape varieties to be found in each vineyard.  One can never get tired of Autumn in Chianti.

Little Wine Windows in Florence. La Repubblica

Little Wine Windows in Florence. La Repubblica

Now we can reach Fiano again, and over coffee I read a really interesting article about Little Wine Windows, or rather I Finestrini del Vino.  Everything sounds so much better in Italian, don’t you think?  Now these little windows are what remains of the way the Florentines sold their personal wine production direct to the public over the last few centuries.  Imagine, you tap the little window, pay your centesimo di lira and out comes a hand with a glass or jug of wine!  I just love this idea and these little windows are all over Florence.  Now there is a new society, which is dedicated to preserving them and for your further interest you must visit their website which can be read in Italian, English or German!  Go to http://www.buchettedelvino.org  It’s a truly fascinating story.

Radiohead rocks in Tuscany. La Reppublica

Radiohead rocks in Tuscany. La Repubblica

And what about the music scene, you ask?  Well, our latest touring band is ‘Radiohead’.  You know that alternative rock band at the height of their fame during the early 90’s.  An adventurous band, which incorporated electronic elements into their music, one of their classic songs being ‘Climbing Up The Walls.’

Italian shoes and leather look. I love this. Foto La Reppublica magazine

Italian shoes and leather look. I love this. Foto La Reppublica magazine

What else?  Oh yes, I must show you this picture.  It’s an advertisement for shoes, but I just love the whole outfit!  Despite the fact that I buy leather shoes and boots, I can’t quite bring myself to wrap myself in leather.  So a leather look outfit like this suits me fine.  Even my black biker jacket is faux!

But enough of that, time to get this blog off to you and to join my gorgeous man for an aperitivo.  Life eeeez good, life eeeez now.

Salute June x

Ps do visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

'My Father, The Assassin'. Book one in the series.

‘My Father, The Assassin’. Book one in the series.

'The Bolivian Connection' Book two in the series.

‘The Bolivian Connection’ Book two in the series.

 

 

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