I’m in the process of writing my first thriller novel, which I’m totally excited about. To do so, I want to prepare myself the best way possible. How do I do that? By reading thriller novels, of course! My sister recommended one, and upon reading the book’s blurb, I was hooked, and wanted to get my hands on a copy pronto. Thank goodness for libraries! (I say that because a book by a best-selling author costs more than I’m willing to spend right now.)

Let me first share with you a little bit about the book, including the cover and blurb, and then I’ll go into what my thoughts are.

Velocity

By Dean Koontz

If you don’t take this note to the police . . . I will kill a lovely blond schoolteacher. . . . If you do . . . I will instead kill an elderly woman active in charity work. You have six hours to decide. The choice is yours.
 
The typewritten note under his windshield seems like just a sick joke. But in less than twenty-four hours, Billy Wiles, an ordinary, hardworking guy, is about to see his life take on the speed of a nightmare. Because a young blond schoolteacher is murdered—and now Billy has another note. And another deadline. This time he knows it’s no joke. He’s racing a killer faster than evil itself. And Billy must accept his terrifying challenge: The choice is yours.
 
Think fast. Fear never slows down. . . .

 

Sound goods, right? It did to me! And after reading it, I thought that it was amazing. That’s why I rated it four stars! Let me elaborate.

Dean Koontz did a wonderful job describing the story. There was never a dull moment. I thought it all came together rather nicely. Throughout, I was left wondering who could be the culprit. I also think that the whole premise is crazy! With these hard choices, there’s no way I could make a decision. What a creative thinker Mr. Koontz is. I applaud him for that.

If I liked it so much, why just four stars? Why not a perfect five? There are three reasons why I took this book off from the perfect throne:

  1. Some descriptions were too many, in my opinion. I thought there was information we just didn’t need.
  2. I felt the ending was too easy. Once we figure out things and the victim works his way to victory, it all just goes too quickly. There was barely a fight.
  3. I also didn’t like how the character was too “at ease” with everything. There is no way a person, going through what this character did, would handle it the way he did.

But overall, I liked the book. I’m glad my sister recommended it. I would recommend it as well. To warn you, though, it isn’t clean. But that shouldn’t really come as a surprise, seeing as it’s Dean Koontz and all.

Here is the link to the book’s Amazon page for you to check it out some more:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0345533461

 

A few weeks ago, there tended to be a theme at my house. This isn’t something we planned for, and really I never noticed it until recently as I thought back on it. The theme was:

 

SALSA

 

Why was this the theme for the week? Let me explain.

First of all, on a Wednesday night, the local library hosted free salsa dancing lessons. For someone who has been wanting to do dance lessons for a long time, this was the time to jump on the opportunity. Not only did I get my dance lessons, but they were free, and the type of dance was fun! The best part of it all was that my husband, who wants nothing to do with dancing, was more than willing to appease me. He joined in on the fun, and I would say he was glad to have had the opportunity to learn something new and do something different. For the record, I would do salsa dancing again. I would also try any other dance lessons.

Second of all, we had a lot of tomatoes from our garden that needed to be used up. We have never made homemade salsa before so we had to learn fast. We searched for a recipe that looked good and even doctored it up a bit. After trying it, there are things I would change. It turned out way too watery. Probably because we chopped those tomatoes up to smithereens. Regardless, there are things I’d omit or change all together.

These two things don’t seem worthy of calling “salsa” a theme. But here’s why I would say it was. These were two things we do not typically do. They were new. They were different. They both happened within like two day’s time. It stood out. When something stands out, I can easily see it become a theme. Plus, when the root word of both things is the same, it’s obviously a theme, lol!

Have you had themes you’ve noticed show up in your days, weeks, months, or maybe even years? Were they intentional or by total coincidence?

By the way, do you have any good salsa recipes I should try?

Take a look at this exciting new young adult action and adventure novel, The Student and the Slave, now available for purchase! This is the third book in the Krillonian Chronicles, after The Collar and the Cavvarach and The Gladiator and the Guard.

 


The series is set in an alternate world that is very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone. Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

The Collar and the Cavvarach by Annie Douglass Lima


First, a Little Information about Books 1 and 2: 
Book 1: The Collar and the Cavvarach

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?


Click here to read chapter 1 of The Collar and the Cavvarach.
Click here to read about life in the Krillonian Empire, where the series is set.



The Gladiator and the Guard by Annie Douglass LimaBook 2: The Gladiator and the Guard

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

Click here to read about life in the arena where Bensin and other gladiators are forced to live and train.


 

 

And now, The Student and the Slave, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!

Book 3: The Student and the Slave


Is this what freedom is supposed to be like? Desperate to provide for himself and his sister Ellie, Bensin searches fruitlessly for work like all the other former slaves in Tarnestra. He needs the money for an even more important purpose, though: to rescue Coach Steene, who sacrificed himself for Bensin’s freedom. When members of two rival street gangs express interest in Bensin’s martial arts skills, he realizes he may have a chance to save his father figure after all … at a cost.

Meanwhile, Steene struggles with his new life of slavery in far-away Neliria. Raymond, his young owner, seizes any opportunity to make his life miserable. But while Steene longs to escape and rejoin Bensin and Ellie, he starts to realize that Raymond needs him too. His choices will affect not only his own future, but that of everyone he cares about. Can he make the right ones … and live with the consequences?

 

EXCERPT

In this excerpt, Steene realizes that the arrangements he has secretly been trying to make for his escape may come to nothing after all.

“Guess what? I’ve got two pieces of good news,” said Raymond when Steene joined him in the dining room for lunch the next day. “Those clothes I ordered for you arrived this morning, and it’s just in time, ’cause now you’ll be able to bring them with you to Jarreon and look all professional. We’re leaving tomorrow!”

“Tomorrow?” Steene froze with the tray in his hands. “But I thought your dad’s trip wasn’t until the eleventh.”

“He decided to leave early.” Raymond was practically bouncing in his seat with excitement. “He’s going to take me sightseeing before his work starts, and we’re going to do all kinds of fun stuff. I can hardly wait. This was exactly the sort of thing I was hoping would happen when I quit going to regular school.”

Steene set the tray down and handed Raymond a bowl of stew, his mind spinning. Tomorrow. But he hadn’t heard back from Ellie yet. He’d assumed they still had several more days. How will I find out the details about the escape plan? “I should probably wait here for now and fly to Jarreon closer to the start of the tournament.”

“What? No way!” Raymond looked horrified. “You’re my coach. I can’t get ready for a tournament without your help!


Click here to order The Student and the Slave from Amazon for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through November 31st!

 


About the Author:

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and
later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her
husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at
Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since
her childhood, and to date has published fifteen books (three YA action and
adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, six anthologies of her
students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides
writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction),
scrapbooking, and international travel.

 

Connect with the Author Online:
Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com
Blog: http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnieDouglassLimaAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/princeofalasia
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGoodreads
Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/AnnieDouglassLimaOnAmazon
LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnLinkedIn
Google+: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGooglePlus

Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of the first two books in the series!



 

 

I know that Thanksgiving hasn’t even come yet, but what I am going to share with you today needs to be put out there well in advance. I’d like to introduce to you a different kind of devotional that the whole family can do, and it’s something geared toward Christmas. Without further ado, have a look at this:

 

The 25 Days of Christmas Family Devotional: Making Christmas More Meaningful

Many of us get caught up in the commercialization of Christmas. One way to prevent that is to focus on the reason for the season. Taking a few minutes each day with this different kind of devotional book will help your family think of others. Each day focuses on one word and includes a story from Daniel and Holly’s family, a Scripture reading with the devotional, the YouTube link to a Christmas Carol, and an activity that the entire family can be involved in.

Reviews

“We love it! You posted it just the right time. God’s providence!”

“My kids love it! Especially the song and the activity.”

“The kids like to read the verses during the devotional part. It has been a good way to get the whole family involved.”

Excerpt

Advent

Story

“I have a surprise for you kids,” Mom said as soon as Daniel and Holly walked in the door after school.

“What?” They both wanted to know.

“Follow me,” Mom requested as she walked toward the family room.

Two-year-old Evie followed along behind, clapping her hands and giggling.

“She must know what the secret is,” Daniel commented to Holly.

Holly laughed when Evie shouted, “Sec-et! Sec-et!”

Mom smiled as well. “That’s her new word for the day.”

Then Mom Continue reading “A Christmas Devotional”

Reluctantly Married is the second installment of the Married Series by best-selling author Victorine E. Lieske. This is also the second book from this series that I have read. You can find my post about Mistakenly Married HERE.

Because these are all standalone novels, you can read them in any order. That explains why I have yet to read the first, lol! Someday, though!

Anyway, back to the review. Let me share with you the cover to this book, as well as its blurb, before filling you in on what I liked, didn’t like, and my overall rating.

 

Megan Holloway can’t stand her local morning show co-host, Adam Warner, even though he’s a total hunk. He goads her on-air until she says things she regrets. But since ratings increase each time they have an on-air fight, the producer encourages his behavior.

When a relationship specialist comes onto the show purporting that Adam has hidden feelings for her, she reluctantly agrees to go out with him—on camera. What starts out as one date turns into a viral dating show with Megan and Adam alternating between locking lips and knocking heads.

As Megan fights her growing attraction to Adam, their popularity increases and ABC takes notice, offering them their own program. Not a morning show like Megan is hoping, but a dating show in which she and Adam must marry at the end. With the promise of a hundred thousand dollars and the possibility of scoring what she really wants, her own national program, she signs on.

What she doesn’t know is that Adam has fallen in love with her, and his objective is to get her to do the same.

 

MY REVIEW

This book reminded me of two TV shows. One was Full House. There is an episode where Danny Tanner and Vicki Larson bicker on set. Maybe not exactly bicker, but you can tell there’s tension. Later in the season you see they end up dating and so forth. This is exactly the type of atmosphere you’ll find in Reluctantly Married. The two main characters are co-hosts. You can tell there’s tension. At first it’s for ratings, but things eventually get real.

Another show it reminded me of was The Bachelorette. The climax of this story is the two main characters doing a show pretty much exactly the way The Bachelorette goes. There’s more than one man trying to win the female’s heart. In the end they get engaged.

So having said that, I thought it was kind of cool to relate to some things I have seen before.

The storyline is clean and well written, and started out fun at first. I liked having the “war” between the two characters. There’s even this one date night activity I’d like to try with my husband. If I do, I’ll blog it so you can all know!

There were a couple of things I didn’t like. I didn’t think this was a comedy, even though that’s what the book’s page on Amazon stated. However, that’s just my opinion. I also thought that the storyline got old. Like I said, started out fun at first. After that, though, I just wanted them to move on with it. The whole dating dragged on.

One final thing was how it ended. For most of the book, we see the female’s view. She’s falling for the male. Occasionally you get a small idea that the male is falling for the female, but not enough to warrant the ending. Basically, at the end, it’s the male character declaring his “love”, but I just didn’t feel it. I would have thought the female would have.

All that said, the ending was still great. I always like happy endings!

I have rated this book 4 stars! If you’d like to read for yourself, please go to:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QEE7MHA

This year I have the privilege of participating in an event called ThankfulAuthor. This event is taking place on Angela Hayes’ blog, and what it is, is two authors a day for the month of November share what they’re thankful for. This is now the third year that ThankfulAuthor is taking place, and having been well-received in the past, I’m glad many will get to see my response this year, as I believe it’s an important one.

I titled it “I’m Thankful for What?!!?” because what I share may not be popular, but I think it needs to be said. Here is part of my post:

 

When I signed up for #ThankfulAuthor, the gears in my mind started turning, trying to figure out what I’d want to say. There are simply too many things to be thankful for! To narrow it down to just one was hard. And I didn’t really want to say the same thing that everyone else does. Often you hear people quickly throw out there that they’re thankful for God, their faith, or perhaps their family and friends, or you might even hear one or two say they’re thankful for their jobs. Those aren’t bad things to be thankful for, and I’m beyond thankful for those very things myself. But I wanted to share something less common.

One thought that hit me was that I could share that I’m thankful for where I live. I’m a resident of the great state of Michigan! What’s unique about my exact location is that unemployment is low, the community is pretty safe, and the weather is outstanding. I mean, we rarely see tornadoes, feel only slight tremors from earthquakes, if even that, and wild fires and hurricanes are not something we even have to worry about. The beauty of spring, summer, fall, and winter are fully experienced, making me scratch my head as to why anyone would ever want to leave!

But as grateful as I am for my home here in Michigan, there is something else that I’m thankful for that deserves to be shared with you all. It might leave a lot of you puzzled, but try to bear with me here. What I’m thankful for is my…suffering. The word suffering here could also be replaced with hardships or struggles, if you want. Now why on earth would anyone be thankful for that? Let me explain.

Perhaps the best example…..

 

Please check out my example, as well as the rest of my post, at Angela Hayes’ site: https://authorangelahayes.blogspot.com/2017/11/thankful-author-2017-frances-hoelsema.htmlp://www.authorangelahayes.blogspot.com

 

And since we’re talking about being thankful, I’m thankful for you! I’d like to repay all of you for your support! So today and tomorrow only, here are some cool deals:

  1. Growing Up Neighbors – FREE – www.amazon.com/dp/B00PJGYW40
  2. Next Door Neighbors – FREE – www.amazon.com/dp/B01D8XZJ1U
  3. Unfortunate Events (my newest) – FREE – www.amazon.com/dp/B075FG5MJM
  4. What to Expect When You’re NOT Expecting – $0.99 – www.amazon.com/dp/B07375G9WJ

Thank you for everything, and may your Thanksgiving be grand!

Every Sunday, weather permitting, my family and I go out on a hike/walk. Usually we try out different parks. It was on our way back from a particular park that we found something. Well, I can’t say we “found” it. We’ve known it existed. It’s more like we decided to look into something in hopes to go explore it.

You see, I live in a city along Lake Michigan. Any time we want to go to the beach, we have one direct path to do so. You can see the opposite side of the channel, the houses, another pier, all that. Never did we know how to exactly get there, though.

Enter in this one Sunday we were out walking. We knew the entrance to this “other side” was just ahead. We thought it wouldn’t hurt to check out just how far we could go. Come to find out, there’s a guard shack there. It’s private property and the public is only allowed to enter on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That was good to know! We marked on our calendar the next Tuesday to come and check it out!

Let me tell you, it’s not what I expected. I honestly thought it was going to be this little strip of land with just the few houses that can be seen from our normal route to the beach. I thought this strip of land would lead to the pier we’ve always wanted to check out and that would be it. Boy was I wrong!

I seriously felt like I was in a whole other world! There was like a whole town inside my town, all reminding me of The Truman Show or something. It just looked staged.

We did get up close and personal with the lighthouse, and did walk the length of the pier. Walking back to our car, we kept thinking what a wonderful, hidden gem this was. To show you some highlights from that night, here are some pics:

Just looking at the pics, it seems surreal. I never knew there was all of this beyond the guard shack. To think one could live in a community protected by a guard shack, what a life!

What hidden gems have you found where you live? I encourage you to go and find/explore them!

October Banner

Yesterday we began a countdown. To what? The release of J. Grace Pennington’s new book, October. Yep, she named her book after the month we are in. Check out the great giveaway, and the other posts in this countdown!

About the Book

CoverFor Emily Baxter, life is simple. Her world is made up completely of school, church, and the community in the small farming town she calls home. All that changes one fateful Sunday, when a new girl shows up at Pleasanton Baptist—a girl unlike anyone Emily has ever seen. A girl with long red hair, crystal green eyes, and style and posture like royalty.

A girl named October.

The months that follow are filled with magic—the magic of ordinary things, of finding pictures in the stars, of imagination and a new sense of beauty. But as time goes by, Emily begins to sense that her enchanting new friend may have secrets that could break the spell. Is October really all she seems to be?

About the Author

Author photoGrace Pennington has been telling stories since she could talk and writing them down since age five. Now she lives in the great state of Texas, where she writes as much as adult life permits. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading good books, having adventures with her husband, and looking up at the stars.

Preorder here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076JMZCYX/

Excerpt

We laid in silence for awhile, watching the stars appear one by one, adjusting slowly to the cooling temperature of the summer air.

            “What should we do tomorrow?” I asked at last.

            “Whatever we want.”

            I giggled. “What will we want?”

            She poked my shoulder. “We can’t decide now, silly. That messes up the magic.”

            “Magic?”

            My question had been in the most teasing tone possible, but her reply was as serious as I had been silly. “Whenever a decision is made in the heat of the moment—when we allow ourselves to be carried on joy or sorrow or mere simplicity and quiet—whatever it is, a moment of magic is created. Not always good magic, of course. But magic, nonetheless.”

            From anyone else, it would have been the most absurd thing imaginable. I would have laughed. But here, under the stars, with that hint of wonder I had never heard in anyone else her age—I believed it.

            “Then let’s have a magical day tomorrow,” I said.

            It was dark, but I could feel her smile.

Giveaway

Grace has generously offered a paperback book of her new book as her giveaway prize. You can enter at this link.

Tour Schedule

October 25, 2017
Bookish Orchestrations – Introductory post
God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae – Character Spotlight
Letters from Annie Douglass Lima – Character Spotlight
Lisa Swinton – Queen of Random – Book Spotlight
Audrey Rich – Book Spotlight

October 26, 2017
Frances Hoelsema – Excerpt
Jaye L. Knight – Character Spotlight and Excerpt
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke – Review

October 27, 2017
Liv K. Fisher – Author Interview and Excerpt
Opinions, Thoughts, and General Rambling – Character Spotlight and Excerpt
Leila’s Bookshelf – Book Spotlight
Britbear’s Book Reviews – Guest Post

October 28, 2017
Rebekah Lyn Books – Excerpt
In the Bookcase – Review
Roxbury Books – Character Spotlight and Excerpt
Grace Pennington – Special author’s post

October 29, 2017
Bookish Orchestrations – Giveaway Winner

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Do you like going to parades?

Growing up, we usually did one parade on Memorial Day and then one on 4th of July. There were also a few years in there where we did what was called the Dandelion parade, and that was only because I was in it, playing the flute. Other than that, parades either weren’t happening, or we weren’t going.

On another note, parades always seemed to be the same. You’d have your marching bands, your fire/rescue vehicles, odds and ends, and perhaps some “important” people. Most kids would get their fair share of candy, and when all was said and done, you’d possibly walk away discussing the best part of the whole thing.

Things are different today. At least in my neck of the woods. Now that I’m an adult, I get to choose what I want to do. Before kids, I wouldn’t go to the parades. I didn’t really see the point of them, I suppose. Or perhaps didn’t think they were cool. Who knows. With kids, though, I make an effort to take them because it gets them out of the house, it exposes them to some neat things, and let’s face it, I get excited when they get excited!

Another reason we will take our kids to different parades is because they’re not all the same anymore. Yes, you still have your fair share of the same type of participants (rescue/fire vehicles, “important” people, etc.). But there are new types of parades that I never knew were around when I was a kid (and maybe they never were). One is a fire truck parade where it’s basically all fire trucks. Another is the truck parade. This year, we had tons of semi trucks and other types of trucks making their way down our city’s center. Our boys loved that! There’s also Christmas parades, pumpkin parades, and so many other types of parades! My neck of the woods has sure gotten interesting!

Take for instance this year’s 4th of July. We typically stay more local, but we heard there were going to be some pretty “top dog” type of people at a different parade so we traveled there. It was a hot day, and the parade didn’t get down to our part of the route until an hour-and-a-half after it started. The locals said it is usually forty minutes, and that it was longer due to those “important” people. Other than a few minutes of these flying overhead, we had nothing to do but sit and sweat, waiting.

Normally I would complain or think this would be disastrous because what kids would want to sit around forever in the heat?!? However, I’m so glad to report my kids handled it well. AMAZINGLY well! Who would have thought my kids could do that?!?! LOL! They have their moments.

Anyway, alas, the parade got to us, and, yes, we got to see some “cool” people. The first is a picture of our Governor, Rick Snyder. The second is of our Vice President, Mike Pence.

It’s kind of cool that, in both pictures, it looks like they’re waving at me. At me!!!! And I know both these men aren’t the most popular, but I thought it was still neat to see them, seeing as it’s not a common thing for me or my family. Just the thought that my boys got to see these governmental figures at such a young age amazes me.

So, parades. I’ve come to sort of enjoy them. They’ve grown on me, so to speak. So much has evolved over the years surrounding the idea of parades that they’re just great experiences. The only downfall is that not as much candy gets passed out anymore. Good for the kids because they don’t need the candy, but boo for me because I don’t get it either, lol!

 

When most people say the phrase “water under the bridge,” it’s to mean events or situations that are in the past, and therefore, are no longer important or needed to be concerned about. I’m not about to rehash any water under any of my bridges, but I do want to fill you in on a book that goes by this phrase. I’m talking about Water Under the Bridge by Britney King. Take a look:

 

As a woman who feels her clock ticking every single moment of the day, former bad girl Kate Anderson is desperate to reinvent herself. So when she sees a handsome stranger walking toward her, she feels it in her bones, there’s no time like the present. He’s the one.

 
Kate vows to do whatever it takes to have what she wants, even if that something is becoming someone else. Now, ten pounds thinner, armed with a new name, and a plan, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s created in her mind.

But Kate has secrets. 

And too bad for her, that handsome stranger has a few of his own.
With twists and turns you won’t see coming, Water Under The Bridge examines the pressure that many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a protagonist whose hard edges and cutthroat ambition will leave you questioning your judgment and straddling the line between what’s right and wrong.

 

First off, I want to warn you that this is a slightly dark fiction. Having said that, it’s not clean. As with many thrillers, there is some language. There is also very brief talk of sex, but nothing too graphic mentioned in that department. And there is quite a bit of violence. After all, the two main characters are murders for various reasons.

What I found fascinating about this novel is that it was laid out different than I have ever seen before. Each chapter went back and forth between the female’s point of view and the male’s. You’d think that would make for some possible confusion, but the author did a great job keeping things straight, having the stories match up, and keeping the dialogue flowing nicely so that the reader doesn’t miss out on anything.

I believe the author also did a fantastic job with details. How the characters connected, the chemistry and commitment they had for one another, was well woven in, and made for a great domestic/psychological thriller.

Although I enjoyed the book, I rated it one star shy of perfect…in other words, just four stars. I don’t think there are twists and turns as the book’s blurb indicated, at least nothing that caught me off guard. I also didn’t think there was a lot of depth. It was more following along with how the characters met, got married, and moved on from a possible divorce.

Before I go, I want to mention that this book is FREE. It’s also the first in the Water Trilogy series so there is even more to the story than just this book. To find out more, please visit here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M98YZWL