Question Marks and Full Stops with Kim Dinan

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Greetings! A couple of weeks ago, I've shared some inky feelings on the Yellow Envelope by Kim Dinan. This was one of those I-wish-I-had-genie books. "I wish, I wish I could travel to far-off places, to the great, big out-there". Imagine if you also have a yellow envelope in your pocket with just 3 rules: 

33841448Rule #1: Don’t over think it
Rule # 2: Share your experiences
Rule # 3: Don’t feel pressured to give it all away
Now wouldn't that make for a great travel memoir? Throw in some great writing, a few humorous situations and some food-for-thought (quotes from the Yellow Envelope) and it's a done deal.  Needless to say, when Sourcebooks gave me the opportunity to do a Q&A with Kim Dinan, I immediately had a few things I wanted to ask Kim. But I had to think about it. What do I really want to know? Not that much interested in the weather or the food, but the experiences she will carry with her forever and a day:

 1. Your travels as told in The Yellow Envelope turned you into a wonderful storyteller. Is that fact or speculation? In other words, do you think you would have been such a master at storytelling if not for the experiences during your travels?

Thoreau said that you must stand up to live before you sit down to write. I think that traveling gave me the kind of experiences that I could write about—so many stories that I could choose to tell. If I’d never left home and started on my journey I wouldn’t have had so many life experiences. I’m not sure anyone would have wanted to read a book about my commute to work and my evenings spent in sweatpants! *And there are still authors out there who think somebody would be interested in their bathroom routine.*

2. “The Yellow Envelope taught me how to give, not just money, but to give of myself.” This is just one of a number of thought-provoking quotes from The Yellow Envelope. Do you think your reflections on your travels would have been different if the yellow envelope and its instructions weren’t part of it?

That’s a good question and I’ve wondered about it many times. I do think that we would have still given some money in certain situations, but it definitely wouldn’t have made us as aware about the opportunities to give. The thing about having a yellow envelope is that it’s a constant reminder to keep your eyes open and pay attention to ways that you can be of service. Plus, the yellow envelope gave our travels a deeper sense of purpose. *Have a look at The Yellow Envelope Project on Kim's blog.*

3. If you must pick only one person or only one experience you’ve encountered during your travels and write a whole story about them/it, who/what would it be and why?

I think I would probably write a whole story about the Rickshaw Run, when I drove a three-wheeled motorized rickshaw 2000 miles down the length of India. There were so many wild experiences during that adventure and I met so many incredible people. I really had to pick and choose what to include in the book. I left so many good parts out. *That will make such a great read! Write it please.*

4. Being pregnant while finishing off the last of your travels- best and worst moment?

There were a lot of bad moments while being pregnant overseas! We were living in Mexico right on the beach and I was very, very sick during my first trimester. The smell of the salt water would make me throw up! We also couldn’t flush our toilet paper and every time I walked into the bathroom and looked at the trash can that would make me throw up too. I can laugh at it now but those were some trying months. *Green*

The best part was that there was no question about what our next focus would be when our travels ended, since we came home from our overseas travels with a baby. It’s hard to readjust to being back home, but we had this huge thing to look forward to and that grounded us a bit. *Pink!*

5. Traffic- after your rickshaw race experience, how do you feel about traffic in general? Any tears lately or are all roads simply a breeze after India? *One should always inquire about traffic.* 

After driving in India all other roads seem pretty tame! I still don’t love traffic but I try to deal with it the best I can. 


A big thank you to Kim and Sourcebooks for your time and the opportunity. If you want to know more about Kim Dinan and her travels, please follow her blog on So many places and here's her Goodreads Author Profile:

Kim Dinan is the author of The Yellow Envelope and Life on Fire. Endlessly curious about the world, she has backpacked to over twenty-five countries on five continents and has called India, Mexico and numerous campgrounds around the USA home. Her love of the outdoors landed her a coveted job on Backpacker Magazine’s Get Out More Tour and has compelled her to climb mountains in the Himalayas, raft frigid rivers in Patagonia, and walk five hundred and fifty miles across Spain on her own. Her writing has appeared in Parks and Recreation Magazine, Northwest Travel Magazine, Trailer Life Magazine, Go Explore Magazine and OnTrak Magazine, among others. Her popular blog, So Many Places, was named one of the best outdoor blogs by USA Today and has been featured online by such sites as Huffington Post and BuzzFeed. She is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and lives in Ohio with her husband and daughter. 


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Friday Meets - 21 April 2017

Friday, April 21, 2017

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Greetings! It is a beautiful day in my hometown. The sun is shining and it's just a bright bright sunshiny day! So let's talk books for the weekend.

Meet me on Friday @ Friday 56 for a bit of Book Blogger Hop to kick-start the weekend with Book Beginnings.

Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice. For this date, you will need the following:

  • Grab a book (Yes, any book. But it might get you to your other Friday activities a bit quicker if you just grab the book you are currently reading)
  • Turn to page 56 or 56% on your e-reader
  • Find a sentence or two (your other Friday activities might determine this)
  • Post it!
  • Remember to post your link on Freda's Voice and to visit the other guys in the linky.
  • And don't forget to list the title of the book and the author as well.
Seeing that it is such a beautiful day in my beautiful country, I've decided to feature two books by South African authors today. 

I am currently reading Why you were taken by J.T. Lawrence and so far definitely so, so good.  


34564330"As soon as you can, Cat. The list, it's a ..... kind of a ...... poisoned chain letter. It's not just a list. It's a hitlist."
"Slow down Keke. You look manic. Too much caffeine?"
"I'm not fucking around, Kirsten, you need to listen to me. It's a HITLIST. You are ON IT. Someone wants you dead. You need to leave your apartment."
"You're not making any sense. Why would anyone want to kill me?"

Ooh, tell me more! 

 popcorn angela lansbury eating popcorn murder she wrote rivited GIFIn tomorrow's world prowls a creative - and ruthlessly efficient - assassin who won't stop until Kirsten is killed. A troubled woman approaches Kirsten with a warning and a key and is later found dead. Was the woman just another victim of the Suicide Contagion or is there something more sinister at play? The key leads Kirsten to the Doomsday Vault and a hit list of seven people - and her barcode is on it. Edgy and original, Why You Were Taken is a dark cinematic thriller that will keep you guessing till the last page. Goodreads

Let's join Gilion @ Rose City Reader now for Book Beginnings. Every Friday we share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

I hope to start with Hushed by Joanne MacGregor in the next week or so. Not my typical reading preference, but The Little Mermaid has always been my favorite first-runner-up Fairytale Princess (Belle as the Queen of course). So let's give this one a try!

34700710The trick in life, I think, is to figure out what you truly want and then go all out to get it. And what I want, more than anything else, is the Beast. 

Nope, I am not confused with Beauty and the Beast here. This is The Little Mermaid. 

* Hushed - a modern romance inspired by the classic tale of The Little Mermaid*
Would you sacrifice your voice for love?
18-year-old Romy Morgan desperately longs to escape the boring future her parents have planned for her, and explore the world.
When she saves her celebrity crush, superstar Logan Rush, from drowning, Romy is offered a job as his personal assistant. She strikes a deal to reinvent herself in exchange for entering the exciting world of the movies, and love sparks between her and this prince of Hollywood. But Romy soon discovers that she has traded her voice and identity for an illusion of freedom.
When she discovers a dreadful secret with the power to destroy Logan, Romy must choose between love, revenge and finding her own, true element.
If you like contemporary young adult romance with all the feels - and a twist of humor - then you’ll love this refreshingly modern and realistic spin on the classic tale of The Little Mermaid from award-winning YA author, Joanne Macgregor.

Note: this is not a fantasy novel – the only tails, fins and flippers in the story are those on sharks and whales! Goodreads

As always, I will also be joining the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Ramblings of a coffee addicted writer. Every week they will pop a question that you need to answer. Post your answer to your blog, enter your post to the linky provided, make yourself a cup of coffee and go visit the other blogs in the list. 

Today's questions: Would you stop reading a book if an element of the plot strongly clashed with your personal beliefs, or would you continue reading until you finished the book?

Image result for Jessica Fletcher reading gif

My Answer: Good question! Personal beliefs can be categorized in many different things: Religion, Politics, Morality, Sports etc. In the line of my work, I've dealt with many parents who forbid their children to read Harry Potter on the grounds of religious beliefs (but the other books with witches and vampires and werewolves are okay - nothing wrong with that. Just not Harry Potter). I don't have children, but yes - I do belief that parents need to have an open mind, heart and eye when it comes to the books their children read. I'll strongly suggest that you read the book yourself first before you judge a book by it's cover and popular beliefs. 

If you are not a child or don't have to worry about all the horrible sins of this world, I will suggest that you go with your "inner voice" when reading a book and deciding if it clashes with your personal beliefs. I am a Christian, but I don't easily get offended in a book. Morality is a different ball-game for me however. DO NOT let it slide. I will throw the book against the wall. If you want to teach me a lesson, or make a point, or it's just satirical, or even if you want to challenge me - go ahead. I'll read it with pleasure and ponder the prose. But I don't care for books where that what is wrong, no matter your beliefs, are just sliding through the story. I guess you need an example now.... According to Yes by Dawn French ended up against the wall. Did not pick it up and did not finish it.

Has that ever happened to you? What was your reason?


Talk to me! - What are you reading over the weekend?

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Don't Tell Anyone by Eleanor Gray

Thursday, April 20, 2017

32853299Title: Don't Tell Anyone
Author: Eleanor Gray
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication date: 08 December 2016 
Read: April 16 - April 18 2017
Genre: Mystery; General Fiction; Family Drama
Pages: 384
ISBN:  9780738750224
Mareli's rating: 4 stars
Recommend to: Lovers of Whodunnit 
Description: Nearly lost in a fog of grief over the fatal stabbing of her daughter, art historian Grace Neville feels only sorrow as Jordan Dukes is found guilty of murder. Days after the sentencing, Grace receives a visit from Jordan’s father, who claims that his son is innocent and a grave miscarriage of justice has taken place. Jordan’s history of gang-related violence and the fact that he doesn’t have an alibi make his father’s plea hard to believe. But then why does somebody break into Grace’s home and go through her daughter’s belongings? In Don’t Tell Anyone, Eleanor Gray explores the relationship between a mother and a daughter, and the secrets that drive Grace to seek the truth no matter what the cost. Goodreads

Don't Tell Anyone is one of those books that you can actually tell everyone about. Most readers enjoy a good Whodunnit every now and then. Don't Tell Anyone is a decent mystery with a twist or two in the tail. 

 Grace is devastated after the brutal stabbing of her only child, Tara. Her "almost picture perfect life if you take in account where she comes from" was already shattered three years ago when her husband, Archie, walked out on them for a younger, blonder, version. After Tara's death, she basically stopped living. She went through the motions of the trial and when Tara's boyfriend, Jordan Dukes, is convicted of the murder, she thought - just like everything else, this is over.  A couple of days later, Jordan's father Allan Dukes, appears on her doorstep claiming that his son is innocent and Grace is the only one who can help him proof that. Grace can't seem to shake the feeling that perhaps Allan is right and when she discovered someone was snooping around in her house, she starts digging.

Secrets might be taken to the grave, but they are rarely kept there.

A strong point in favor of this novel was the characters. They came from all walks of life and they were all portrayed very well. Grace's family is a real lucky packet, but to me, it was this family dynamic that kept the story together most of all. Grace's ex-husband is woosy and although there is a very interesting twist regarding his new blond girlfriend, I had no sympathy for him. 

Both Grace and Allan are victims of their children's bad choices. That makes it a bit more of a family drama. No matter how hard you try to raise your children well and make the best of difficult circumstances, they will still follow their own minds. Children lie, they hide things from their parents, they make devastatingly bad choices. 

Don't Tell Anyone kept me guessing until the final chapter. The revelation was a bit of a let down however. It will be really very hard for anyone to make an accurate guess about the whodunnit. It was a bit like one of those Murder She Wrote episodes where the killer is randomly picked five minutes before the end. (No, it wasn't the lawyer)

A big thank you to NetGalley and Midnight Ink for the ARC of this novel to review. 


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The Sunday Headlines #4

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Image result for Bunny reading a newspaperGreetings! It's Easter Sunday and time for another edition of The Sunday Headlines where we bring you an update of the past week and give you a forecast of the upcoming week. As always, this post links up with The Sunday Post hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and It's Monday! What are you reading? hosted by Book Date. Remember to give these lovely ladies a visit and add your linky!

It's been dreadfully cold and raining (hallelujah!) over the weekend, so yes - I would much rather spend my afternoon curled up with a book. But I've already skipped Friday Meets and my strict Dutch Reformed background will not permit my conscience to skip another weekly feature. So let's see how short and sweet this can be!

Thalked about this week

Image result for Louisa Clark gif

No Self-help section this week. But off the blog, I did go to the movies this week. Imax. 3D. It was amazing...... Beauty and the Beast official trailer

Image result for beauty and the beast 2017 gif

Forecast for the week

Recently Finished


Currently Reading

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The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (paperback) - Almost halfway. Still very enjoyable.

Uneasy Money by P.G. Wodehouse (audio) - I didn't listen to it at all this week. Shameful. I know. 

Don't tell anyone by Eleanor Gray (kindle, NetGalley) - need to finish off. NEEEEEED to go read my book. (Yes, it's that intriguing)

Cross my heart hope to read

 34502469 23515293 34564330

Still my next paperback: You lost me by Marita van der Vyver (Paperback) - The Afrikaans title of this book is Misverstand and I will be reading and reviewing it in Afrikaans. Apologies in advance to all my English friends. 

Deadly Decision by Regina Smeltzer (Kindle, NetGalley) - this book has been haunting me for months now. Really need to read this one and "set it free". Who saw the movie Lavender? We've watched it on Friday Night. Bit scary, but I did enjoy the plot and the ending was something different and can I say enjoyable? But then, I've always loved a good ghost story....

Why you were taken by J.T. Lawrence (kindle, lucky-draw win) - For if perhaps Deadly Decision is too scary and I've started reading it while home alone.....

Hope you all had a great Easter Weekend! 


What was your Easter like? Read any good books?? 

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Book Travelling Thursdays #4 - The saga of Smelly Cat Part 2

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Greetings! Welcome to another edition of Book Travelling Thursdays, hosted by the  Goodreads group. Should you wish to participate, just follow the instructions at the end of this post. 

Earlier this week, I told you about the newest edition to my household. My very own Smelly Cat! Cover Characteristics - Perfume. Seeing that today's theme for Book Travelling Thursdays is your favorite pet, I've decided to honor my little kitten by featuring Jennie by Paul Gallico

Jennie is the story of a young boy called Peter, who is knocked down by a car. To his considerable astonishment, when he recovers, he is not a young boy, but a cat! 

Fortunately, he meets Jennie, a cat who had been abandoned by her family when they moved away, who educates him in the wiles of the feline world.

It was first published in the UK in 1950 and also published in the USA in 1950, but under the title The Abandoned. Here are the two original covers: 


Those were obviously the days before Covers became really important. The cover below on the left, is the one I have on my bookshelf (it is featured on my photo with Smelly Cat as well!). The one next to it is a re-publish by Penguin Books in 1999 and my favorite cover: 

17566289  610718

The art-work of the following three covers caught my eye as well:

18105740 18105793 338669

And these three captured the atmosphere of this wonderful classic and it's feline heroine:

11756933 25068800 33780481

Least favorite covers:

19034271 23732087

Actually, it's not that the cover of the first one is not nice, it's more the title. The abandoned. That really just doesn't work for me. Makes me want to cry by just reading the title! 

This little one was also abandoned, but now he is the happiest kitten alive. Thankfully the dogs think so too:

Note: Yes, you do cry in this novel. But it's not all bad crying. I promise.


Have you read Jennie? What book would you feature for your favorite pet? Remember to link up!

    Book Traveling Thursdays
  1. Pick a book. At the beginning of every month, a list of themes will be posted. All you have to do is choose a book that fits that theme.
  2. In your blog post, include an explanation of why your chosen book fits the theme.
  3. Look at covers from multiple editions and multiple countries for the book you chose.
  4. Be sure to tag your posts with Book Travelling Thursdays Group so we can all see each other's posts. (Link back on the Goodreads Group)
  5. In your post, include the the following: 
  • The original cover
  • The cover from your country (if there are multiple covers from your country, include them all)
  • Your favorite cover
  • Your least favorite cover
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Jane Steele - Reader, I didn't care for it much

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jane SteeleJane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book is a very good example of a bad habit. The habit of assumption. One assumes that a book is going to be great for oh so many reasons:

1.Everyone is raving mad about it (Sometimes Everyone is just raving mad)
2. That blurb. I mean really. Of course Everyone is going to go raving mad about it. What's NOT to like about -

"A Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre.

Like the heroine of the novel she adores, Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of her aunt and schoolmaster. And like Jane Eyre, they call her wicked - but in her case, she fears the accusation is true. When she flees, she leaves behind the corpses of her tormentors.

A fugitive navigating London's underbelly, Jane rights wrongs on behalf of the have-nots whilst avoiding the noose. Until an advertisement catches her eye. Her aunt has died and the new master at Highgate House, Mr Thornfield, seeks a governess. Anxious to know if she is Highgate's true heir, Jane takes the position and is soon caught up in the household's strange spell. When she falls in love with the mysterious Charles Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him - body, soul and secrets - and what if he discovers her murderous past?"

- I actually get excited just by reading the blurb again.

3. Have you seen the cover? Have you seen the tag-line? Woah! How awesome is that.
4. It's a re-telling of one of the greatest classics on earth.

WHICH IT'S NOT!!!! (No Jane Eyre really is one of the greatest classics, but Jane Steele is not a re-telling of that classic)

Image result for Assumption gif

The first half of the story was great. I read through it quite quickly and yes, there were a number of similarities between the two Janes. Except that the one Jane has a much stronger sense for vengeance than the other one.

"I don't know the term for a child who falls asleep after her first murder and before confessing her sins, but I suspect it is not an intensely complimentary one."

Up until the point where Jane moves back to Highgate House, I honestly believed that all the hype surrounding this book was well deserved and this is going to be a solid 5 star read. Enter Mr Thornfield. Drop one star. The "mystery" surrounding Highgate House is revealed. Another star plummets to earth. Let's drain all the excitement by bringing in some romance. (I LOVED the romance between our beloved Jane and Mr Rochester. So weird and awkward). There was nothing of that disturbed romance between Miss Steele and Mr Thornfield. Damn. And another star simply died.

However, I have to compliment Lindsay Faye on her wonderful writing style. I was rather disappointed with Jane Steele, but I believe it's not the end of the road for me and Miss Faye. Jane Steele had a very strong narrative voice and we all know that a character can only get that from their creator. Hence the 2 stars.

View all my reviews


Any Lindsay Faye books you would recommend? 

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Top Ten most Unique Characters

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Image result for you were born an original quote
Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Tuesday! Today's topic is Top Ten most unique books we've read. Browsing through my reading lists, I've realized that apparently  I have quite a fondness for unique books. (Most probably because I am such a unique creature myself) And then it hit me! Instead of making a list of the most unique books I've read, what about a list of the most unique characters I've encountered in literature? You know, those characters without an equal, the one of a kind. Those characters who just can't be copied. Yes, there are 100's of them floating out there, but these were my Top Ten Favorites:

With his patent leather shoes, his pince-nez reading glasses and his turnip pocket watch - Hercule Poirot knows how to put the little grey cells to good use. He has solved over 50 murders and rather than painstakingly examining crime scenes, he enquires into the nature of the victim or the psychology of the murderer. He predicates his actions in his underlying assumption that particular crimes are committed by particular types of people.

"The girl gave off an aura of distinct dottiness. Perhaps it was the fact that she had stuck her wand behind her left ear for safekeeping, or that she had chosen to wear a necklace of Butterbeer caps, or that she was reading a magazine upside down." - Harry Potter's description of Luna Lovegood.

Yes, I could have chosen any of the Harry Potter characters. They are all unique. But Luna is my favorite. She truly is delightful and "likely to believe 10 impossible things before breakfast". For more reasons (7 to be precise) to love Luna Lovegood, please follow: 7 Reasons to love Luna Lovegood

Image result for bertie woosterWhat ho! Bertie Wooster is my ultimate go-to-for-a-great-laugh character. No comparison. I am however not so sure if that is a good or a bad thing....

One of my favorite Bertie come-backs: (Lady Glossip): "Mr Wooster, how would you support a wife?" (Bertie Wooster): "Well, I suppose it depends on whose wife it was, a little gentle pressure under the elbow while crossing a busy street usually fits the bill" 

Image result for The little prince
The most delightful little man who is in need of a sheep and in love with a rose. One of the unique quotes from the tale: 

“I am looking for friends. What does that mean -- tame?"
"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties." 
"To establish ties?" 
"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world....” 

Yes, Anne teaches us about kindred spirits, but there is no-one quite like her. Even though she thinks there's a whole lot of Anne's: "There's such a lot of different Anne's in me. I sometimes think that's why I'm such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn't be half so interesting." 

I would like to think of myself as a good friend. I have a number of wonderful people in my life (some of them right here on the blogosphere) who call me friend. Everything I know about that concept, I've learned from Anne. I thank you from the bosom of my heart. 

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Still doesn't ring a bell? The crazy girl with the massive smile and quirky dress sense who went to a concert with a man in a red dress? The red dress reference doesn't help? Okay - let's try bumblebee tights? YES! That one. There's a lot to be learned from Louisa. Mostly that a nice cup of tea can fix any and everything. And to always keep smiling.

Easily one of the uniquest characters to make this list. And my least favorite character of all time. Lots of things to be learned from him. Most importantly, DO NOT get your portrait done. Having your portrait done seems to have the same effect as turning into a vampire - it beautifies you to such an extent that you are utterly irresistible to man or woman. Unfortunately it also turns you into a self-centered, whining little shit. (Yes, I do believe taking to many selfies might have the same effect. Be ware!!)

Speaking about Vampires - the one, the only, the original  and still the best vampire for all eternity. No further introductions would be necessary. I'm sure of that. 

Image result for different dracula's Image result for different dracula's Image result for different dracula's

Again, I could have used a number of characters from Game of Thrones. That Cersei really is a piece of work, unique I'd say, yes. Not to mention her bastard off-spring. But neither of them are my favorite Lannister. 

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

Last, but most definitely not the least. The most unique character in all the books I've ever read:

10. Enzo

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul, he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master.

 "To live every day as if it had been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live. To separate oneself from the burden, then angst, the anguish that we all encounter everyday. To say I am alive, I am wonderful, I am. I am. When I am a person, that is how I will live my life"

Note: The dog in the photo is not Enzo. It is my dog, Hercules. He is my own version of Enzo.

What unique characters would you add to this list?


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Remember to add you link and to link back to your hostess! And of course, please pay a visit to the other bloggers who share their Top Ten as well.



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