Beautiful Cambodia

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Latimer: This post has been such a long time coming. For various reasons I never got round to finishing off my South East Asian adventure posts! 

Yummy Fish Amok, a Cambodian dish

Yummy Fish Amok, a Cambodian dish, it’s inside a coconut!

Well, last time I left off, I was leaving Vietnam for Cambodia. I was really looking forward to this. One of the main reasons I’d gone on this trip was to make it to Cambodia. I’d heard such good things about it from my brother, who is still as taken with it now as it was when he’d first been there. It grabbed hold of him somehow. And, now I know why.

For those of you that don’t know, Cambodia was once the jewel of South East Asian; prosperous and full of very well educated people. It was once the ancient empire of Kampuchea; it ruled South East Asia.

That glorious past was blotted out in the 1970’s when Pol Pot’s terrifying Khmer Rogue communist organisation came to power. I wouldn’t get into the horrific details; these people, if you can call them that, declared that the country had entered Year Zero, and that meant going back to the Stone Ages in some respects. The educated people were viewed as traitors (the  were sent off to the countryside to work as labourers on the farm, the country entered a famine; neighbours were encouraged to ‘spy’ on each other and inform on each other (even though no one did anything, it was all about fear and mistrust).

Pol Pot’s regime committed genocide; they tortured thousands of people, wiped out whole families (men, women and children), sending them off to the Killing Fields.

People leave bracelets at burial markers in the Killing Fields

People leave bracelets at burial markers in the Killing Fields

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When we visited one of the most horrific and infamous prisons, Tuol Sleng (S-21), our guide told us that in Pol Pot’s reign of terror (which he lived through), there were only two words; Friend, or Enemy… Friend meant ‘life’, Enemy meant ‘death’. The Khmer Rouge preached that they had the ‘eyes of a pineapple and ears everywhere’ – they preached that everyone should spy on each other (or face death), and so no one was safe.

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Tuol Sleng prison

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Our guide, his father (a Professor) had been taken by the Khmer Rouge during the regime. They never found out what happened to him.

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This is the dark side of Cambodia. To this day the Cambodian courts are trying the last living high ranking members of the Khmer Rouge (Pol Pot died in the early 1990’s having never acknowledged how he’d tried to destroy his people and his country).

It’s very, very sad, but the Cambodian people are truly incredible. They are strong; stronger than I think I could ever be. I was very touched by what had happened to them, but I think they should be beyond proud of their resilience. 

It was a hard day when we went to Tuol Sleng and then the infamous Killing Field, Choeung Ek. A very hard day. But Cambodia is more than that, so when we went to the amazing Angkor, we got a glimpse back in time at the ancient Kampuchea Empire.

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Walking towards something wonderful

Angkor Wat is the most famous temple in the Angkor complex; it’s a Hindu temple originally. And it was interesting to learn that the languages and scripts of Khmer, Laotian and Thai derive from Hindu and India, not China as I always expected. Many of the temples in Angkor are Hindu; or at least originally, they later became Buddhist.

We got to Angkor Wat for the sunrise – which as it turns out it very popular – haha, of course it is. Anyway, it was packed full of people and I didn’t get a very good picture… but I was there and it was amazing. This is me trying to remember it’s not about the picture but the experience.

Angkor Wat sunrise

Angkor Wat sunrise

Angkor Wat sunrise

Angkor Wat sunrise

This is the sort of photo people try to get, where the temple is reflected on the lake in front... yeah we all tried!

This is the sort of photo people try to get, where the temple is reflected on the lake in front… yeah we all tried!

Inside Angkor Wat

Inside Angkor Wat

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A guy getting a Hindu bracelet in Angkor Wat temple… I still have mine!

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Blessing bracelets inside Angkor Wat

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After Angkor Wat, we went to Angkor Thom, the ‘great city’. This was an emperors capital city during the Kampuchea empire. There is a temple inside that has his face built into the walls.

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My travelling buddha makes it to Angkor Thom – onward Buddha, onward…

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We then went to the ‘Tomb Raider’ temple, where the first movie was shot. The temple is actually called Ta Prohm. It’s spectacular. You might know it as the temple with all the roots on it.

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Cambodia really is an amazing country.

We had the opportunity to visit some schools, built and run by international donations and the people of the New Hope Cambodia organisation (which is fantastic). We had dinner at the school, cooked by local teenagers being trained to enter the hospitality industry, giving them a trade. We also sat in on an English class (the kids were amazing) – there’s one classroom called the Irish Classroom (I wasn’t in it) – it’s because there’s an Irish woman that donated a lot of money to the school. That’s great.

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The thing to remember is after Pol Pot’s regime the country lost it’s teachers and educated people. The schools in Cambodia are far behind the rest of the world and lots of children don’t even go to school. So it was great to see that there are grassroots initiatives for Cambodians to help get their country back on track. 

It goes to show you that you can’t keep good people down; people are more resilient that you’d think.

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After a few days in Cambodia I was back in the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, where I’d started my amazing journey. I had some time to collect myself before flying back home.

As always, I’m thinking of the next adventure to come! 

Shush! It’s a Secret!

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Latimer: I have just learned about the amazing Secret Cinema in London, but guys, it’s a secret so don’t tell anyone 🙂

I would love, love, love to go to one of these. I will make it my mission to experience at least one major Secret Cinema! So, what’s the premise exactly? Well, it’s a fully immersive cinema experience. The Secret Cinema releases what the movie will be, you buy your ticket, then they assign you an identity in line with whatever the film is. You dress up and you turn up to where the Secret Cinema event will be.

The area is a replica of various parts of the film in question, so to use an example, the most recent event was Back to the Future.

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You get dressed up like someone in the Fifties, from the town in question, then you go to the fully immersive town. It was a complete replica of the town square – you could go to the diner, or the school dance. You could talk to the people there, the idea is to ‘be’ in the movie. So, the more you talk to people there, the more ‘story’ you get. They might tell you to do things, or go places. You could even sit down in the diner and have a burger! As in the movie, Biff comes in and fights with Marty and they race outside and jump into a car and drive around the town square! It’s all fully interactive.

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secret cinema

And then, after about 3 hours exploring the area, you go and watch the movie, but there’s still some tricks and stuff. Like an actual DeLorean appears and so on!

It sounds like so much fun. Here are some trailers of what previous movie experiences have been – I would love to have been at the Blade Runner one!

Legend Unleashed, Keeping Secrets 1, Chapter 11

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Ah! Another Wednesday release! Hope you are all still following along!

To celebrate the release of Unbroken Ties, Keeping Secrets, 2 – check out all the details here – we’re continuing our Legend Unleashed, Keeping Secrets, 1, Wednesday chapter release!

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Check back next Wednesday for the next chapter release (10th September)!!

Synopsis:

“Temperance is satisfied with her ordinary life. Dealing with her eccentric, childlike parents is all the excitement she needs. That changes when Alastair Byron returns home.
After a failed matchmaking attempt by her father, sparks fly between her and Alastair-just not the good kind.
They are forced together though, when they are implicated in a grisly murder. Their search for the truth leads them to a secret world beneath Carwick, filled with werewolves, wizards and other magical faey.
However, uncovering the truth is far more dangerous than they’d ever imagined.
There are secrets within secrets.
Even Alastair may be more than he seems…”

Catch up from the beginning here:

Legend Unleashed Prologue to Chapter 4,

Legend Unleashed Chapter 5,

Legend Unleashed Chapter 6 

Legend Unleashed Chapter 7

Legend Unleashed, Chapter 8 

Legend Unleashed Chapter 9 

Legend Unleashed, Chapter 10

The newest chapter is: Legend Unleashed, Chapter 11

Please share if you can!

Magical Music

spotify

We both love listening to music – check out our song board if you don’t believe us! – so we’ve decided to set up a spotify account, to share our favourite tunes, or discover more! Spotify is a really cool music app; it lets you listen to music for free and you can make your own playlists.

You can set up an account for free too!

We’re going to start making some playlists. Check us out if you like! We already have one playlist up there, so let us know what you make of it (or stay tuned for more) ->

Search using this: 

Legend Unleashed, Keeping Secrets 1, Chapter 10

LU_NEW_deviant

Ah! Another Wednesday release! Hope you are all still following along!

To celebrate the release of Unbroken Ties, Keeping Secrets, 2 – check out all the details here – we’re continuing our Legend Unleashed, Keeping Secrets, 1, Wednesday chapter release!

Unbroken_Ties_DEVIANTART

Check back next Wednesday for the next chapter release (3rd Sept)!!

Synopsis:

“Temperance is satisfied with her ordinary life. Dealing with her eccentric, childlike parents is all the excitement she needs. That changes when Alastair Byron returns home.
After a failed matchmaking attempt by her father, sparks fly between her and Alastair-just not the good kind.
They are forced together though, when they are implicated in a grisly murder. Their search for the truth leads them to a secret world beneath Carwick, filled with werewolves, wizards and other magical faey.
However, uncovering the truth is far more dangerous than they’d ever imagined.
There are secrets within secrets.
Even Alastair may be more than he seems…”

Catch up from the beginning here: Legend Unleashed Prologue to Chapter 4, Legend Unleashed Chapter 5, Legend Unleashed Chapter 6 and Legend Unleashed Chapter 7 and Legend Unleashed, Chapter 8 and Legend Unleashed Chapter 9

The newest chapter is: Legend Unleashed, Chapter 10

Please share if you can!

Unbroken Ties is Out!

Unbroken_Ties_DEVIANTARTIt’s here!!

Our new book, Unbroken Ties is now available! It is the second book in our Keeping Secret series. It’s been published in paperback and ebook format. You can get it from Amazon and Smashwords at the moment, with Barnes and Noble, Apple, Sony and Kobo all soon to follow!

We just want to take this time to thank every single person for sticking with us, for all the supportive messages, for asking about the sequel to Legend Unleashed, and for waiting so patiently for it to appear! Our dedication comes straight from the heart, and hopefully says it all for us:

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For those of you who haven’t read the first book, Legend Unleashed, check it out here.

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And here’s the book trailer for the first book to wet your appetite:

Thinking about Who

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Latimer: I used to be a pretty big Doctor Who fan back in the David Tennant days. I really loved the show. I loved Rose and the 10th Doctor’s relationship.

I watched religiously up until Rose left; I was heartbroken, I cried (seriously cried).

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For me, for a time, Doctor Who was the best show ever. After Rose left, I hung on for a while, with Martha and Donna; then when Rose returned for a while, I was right in the thick of it again.

When David Tennant left, I bowed out of Doctor Who.

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I didn’t want you to go either!

I didn’t really understand what it meant before, but everyone has ‘their’ Doctor. When the new guy comes, you kind of get repealed, thinking ‘that’s not him, it’s not him!’, and you get annoyed when the show goes on and forgets ‘your’ doctor, and you have to leave to heal and get over the loss of a friend.

You find yourself watching the show from the side-lines and you start to get further and further away, until you’re just not watching anymore.

Then you pop back for the anniversary special. You pop back because of old friends, because of your Doctor.

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I have nothing against Matt Smith, or Amy Pond, or Clara; they just weren’t mine.

I found myself popping back out of curiosity, for the new Doctor’s appearance this weekend. And, I really felt for the 11th Doctor’s generation of Whovians.

The whole first episode was about coming to terms with the new Doctor, who is older and Scottish. I didn’t understand why they picked such an older actor, but I assumed they had their reasons. I didn’t feel strongly about the decision, just curious to why they’d shifted so much.

The first episode seemed to be all about making Clara feel bad for not liking the new Doctor because he was older. And it felt a bit like Clara was representing the audience in a sense. But last time, I couldn’t jump on board with Matt Smith, because he wasn’t my Doctor (regardless of his youth and attractiveness).

But well, Capaldi seems like he’ll be an interesting Doctor, he’s more brooding and intense than the other Doctors seemed to be. It looks like the character is potentially getting darker, which is interesting.

I do still feel sorry for the 11th Doctors followers, because it really does hurt to lose your Doctor. I’m still not back on board, and I’m not sure I ever will be. I still miss the 10th Doctor and Rose 😦

Legend Unleashed Chapter 7

LU_NEW_deviant

Ah! Another Wednesday release! Hope you are all still following along!

Again, in anticipation of the release of Unbroken Ties (Keeping Secrets, 2), we’re releasing some new chapters of Legend Unleashed (Keeping Secrets, 1) every Wednesday (next release 13th Aug!)!!

Synopsis:

“Temperance is satisfied with her ordinary life. Dealing with her eccentric, childlike parents is all the excitement she needs. That changes when Alastair Byron returns home.
After a failed matchmaking attempt by her father, sparks fly between her and Alastair-just not the good kind.
They are forced together though, when they are implicated in a grisly murder. Their search for the truth leads them to a secret world beneath Carwick, filled with werewolves, wizards and other magical faey.
However, uncovering the truth is far more dangerous than they’d ever imagined.
There are secrets within secrets.
Even Alastair may be more than he seems…”

Catch up from the beginning here: Legend Unleashed Prologue to Chapter 4, Legend Unleashed Chapter 5 and Legend Unleashed Chapter 6 and get the newest chapter here: Legend Unleashed Chapter 7

Please share if you can!

And look forward to the August 2014 release of Unbroken Ties!

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Good Morning Vietnam

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Latimer: What else could I call a blog post about Vietnam? It’s a phrase I overused so very much while in Vietnam. I said it basically every morning, and if I forgot, I’d say it mid-way through the day.

This post is a continuation of my trip around South East Asia, as it’s getting to the end of summer now; I find myself reminiscing more and more about my adventures in the past. They were so good; they make me consider what the next adventure will be!

But well, back to my South East Asian adventures! I had made it through Thailand and Laos, with lots of fond memories and exciting adventures, onward to Vietnam, a place that I was expecting to love, though I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting to love about it…

I was right about the loving part; it’s a gorgeous, bustling fun place, full of amazing places to see and history to learn about, all inter-spaced with yummy food, cool art and random livestock on bikes (the motorbike is everything in Vietnam!)

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Beer corner, Hanoi where local people sell beer and we all watch the crazy traffic go by, as we sit on the street and drink. Yup. I randomly met up with some of my China-travel buddies here too, so the world is a very small place guys!

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Bun Cha, Vietnamese delicacy, Hanoi

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Crash site of Senator John McCain’s plane, shot down by the Viet Con during the Vietnam war (it is still there in Hanoi where it fell)

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They are super happy about having shot down this plane, so it’s very well sign posted – I think it’s because Senator John McCain is a Senator now

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This is the Hilton Prison, Hanoi. Hilton was a nickname placed on the prison, by the prisoners, who were American POWs

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Motorbikes on the streets of Hanoi

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More yummy Vietnamese food!

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Uncle Ho (Ho Chi Minh) propaganda artwork for sale in Hanoi

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Artwork, Hanoi

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Chinese monument in Hanoi – there is a heavy Chinese influence in Vietnam, as the country was part of/occupied by the Chinese during it’s history (Vietnam feels like it has more Chinese influence than, Laos, Thailand or Cambodia)

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Halong Bay

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Sunset, kite-flying off the back of our boat in Halong Bay

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Yes, that is a cow on the back of a motorbike… yeah

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Food wraps and kawaii fingers, Hue

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Vietnamese dragon and my Chinese Travelling Buddha, in the Vietnamese ‘forbidden city’, Hue

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Just on the road in Vietnam, amazing

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Blurry Buddha and me in an old American war bunker, on the road

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The Mighty Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City (kinda)

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Fresh coconuts on the Mekong Delta

Travelling Buddha gets around, here he's at the Chu-Chi Tunnels

Travelling Buddha gets around, here he’s at the Cu-Chi Tunnels

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Tofu, noodles and veggies, yum!

I saw a lot of amazing places, but my favourite had to be the laid-back beautiful Hoi An, I could have spent a long time there, it was a small, but very lovely town?

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Beautiful wedding couple. As in Chinese tradition, red is the colour for the bride in Vietnam, not white

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Laid back streets of Hoi An

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Hoi An streets

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A bridge across the river, Hoi An

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Lanterns, beautiful Vietnamese lanterns

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Sunsets on its way over Hoi An!

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A cool eatery Hoi Ah, though it looks very Spanish or something!

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Super fresh noodles and yummy avocado smoothie (delicious!), Hoi An

Lanterns and more lovely Lanterns, Hoi An

Lanterns and more lovely Lanterns, Hoi An

Hoi An has a lovely river running through it. I went on a boat ride during the sunset and cast some lanterns out on the water, sending my wishes with it!

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It’s where people get clothes made lots of the time, but it has some cool art shops also, and also, the best tea shop I have ever been in in my whole life. It’s called Reaching Out Teahouse and it’s run by deaf and mute staff, so everything is done by indicating via the menu and also these little notes where you can ask for a re-fill of water etc. It is a Fairtrade shop and it works with people with disabilities in the community to find employment and live an independent life, so it’s well worth supporting. They also sell these amazing crafts in the shop – and all the tea cups and cutlery (metal and ceramic) are made by the Reaching Out artisans.

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Used to communicate with staff

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Iced coffee, with coffee ice… haha

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Crafts from the shop

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Traditional seating

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The tea tasting menu (3 types) – soooo good, plus you get three interesting treats with it! Like, eg., a sweet potato swirl, or green tea biscuit

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A platter of very interesting treats!

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The famous Vietnamese coffee (iced) – three type tasting menu here! It was so good!

It was really serene and it was nice to sit in this traditional style teahouse and look out of the open shutters at the front at the people passing by in the street. Some Chinese tourists randomly stopped in front of the windows and took photos with us Westerns in the background, which was… well, hilarious and random, but I had noticed this happened a lot in China also, so I was kind of used to it, in a very weird way!

Vietnam was a brilliant place, I would definitely go back. Maybe one day I will, but from there it was onward to the place I had wanted to visit the most, Cambodia (and the stunning Angkor Wat… what)!

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Unbroken Ties, Keeping Secrets 2

We’re back! Yes it has been a while, but we’re picking up lots of momentum recently and everything is back on track and progressing nicely!

So here it is, the cover for our next book, due out at the end of August – drum roll please… Unbroken Ties, Keeping Secrets 2!

Book 2 cover!!

Book 2 cover!!

We hope you guys like it! Please let us know what you think. The cover was designed and made my ourselves here at MLR and we’re v.happy with the results!

So, yes, this is book 2 in our Keeping Secrets series (Young Adult, Urban Fantasy), continuing on from Legend Unleashed (Keeping Secrets 1). The synopsis for Unbroken Ties is…

Unbroken Ties, Keeping Secrets Book 2

Trouble is brewing and tensions are high in Carwick, where Temperance is struggling to belong.

The wizards distrust her, the werewolves despise her, and someone wants her dead.

With Halvard’s duties drawing him further from her, and the surprise return of her brother, chaos grips Carwick, and Temperance soon finds her loyalty to her family tested like never before….

We hope you’ll come back to Carwick with us for the next story! If you haven’t already checked out Legend Unleashed, please click here to read some excerpts and see the book trailers! Or you can pop on over to Amazon!