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I Belong


Fantastic Fables: M. J. Scott’s Lily on Cinderella

**Visit Tynga’s Reviews today for her Hansel & Gretel Fantastic Fable from Lisa Mantchev & a chance to win SO SILVER BRIGHT and a special giveaway of Bloodhunt from Shannon Butcher**

We’re moving back into familiar territory with today’s Fantastic Fable from debut author M. J. Scott.  Mel’s heroine, Lily, is here to give us her version of the classic tale of Cinderella.  Welcome to the Half-Light City, the gritty setting from first book in Mel’s dark urban fantasy series, SHADOW KIN (available on September 6th).  Imagine a city divided.  A city held together by nothing more than a treaty-and even then, just barely.  Want to know more?  Be sure to read the excerpt below to get a taste of this addictive story.  Thanks to the always awesome team over at Penguin/Roc, two of you who comment on this post will win a copy of the book!  See details below

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My heroine wouldn’t have a lot of time for faerie tales.  Sold into servitude as a baby, raised by a ruthless Blood Lord, she’s clear on her place in the world and the practicalities of doing what you need to do to survive. Happy endings aren’t for her. Unsentimental, yet, I like to think, before what happens to her in the course of her own story, if she had the chance to help someone like herself, she might just risk taking it….

Not Quite A Fairy Godmother

Once upon a time…

It was the voices that caught my attention.  High pitched, nasal with a nasty whine of privilege and command.  A familiar tone, brimming with certainty that the world should shape around the speaker to their satisfaction. Pecking at someone like a flock of crows around a downed lamb.

I turned towards those voices–three of them–snapping and snarling and spotted the women they belonged to.

Three polished to within an inch of their lives human women stood on the front stairs of the townhouse opposite, obviously waiting for a carriage that hadn’t arrived. Their gowns and jewels sparkled but their eyes and faces were sharp with petulance. Three identical too-yellow blonde heads tilted downwards, taking turns to berate their quarry. In the lamplight, their hair glittered strangely, revealing dun shades beneath. Apparently they’d used a cheap charm rather than bleach to achieve that poisonous shade. Why anyone would want to was beyond me.

Move on. Humans were none of my concern this night. But then the trio parted enough and I caught a glimpse of the girl. Younger, unpainted and dressed in an ugly brown dress nothing like the over frilled rainbows of the three crows. An ugly brown dress not warm enough for the chill of this early winter evening. The crows had furs around their arms and hands. The girl just looked too pale, standing hunched a little against the cold.

For a moment, something flashed on her face.  A look of utter longing and helplessness. Something that spoke of her being trapped and trussed and bound inescapably to the crows.

In an instant it was gone, her face pulled back to a careful blankness as she ducked her head and let them caw their displeasure.

Turn away. But I stayed still, stomach twisted with a stab of recognition. I knew what it was to be bound and trapped and chained. Knew how to pull yourself inwards to nothingness to try and avoid provocation.

No hope of escape.

Turn away. There’s work to be done. Or I would be the one pecked and punished on my return.

But instead I stayed and watched until the carriage arrived and the crows clambered into it.  And when the girl sighed and watched them go with envy on her face, then turned and walked back into he house, closing the door behind her, I couldn’t help myself. I stepped into the shadow, walked across the road and into the house.

It was quieter than I’d expected. Three women dressed like that should have a house full of servants but there were none to be seen and the only sound I could hear was someone humming a quiet sad tune. The house was not large, and though the furnishings were expensive, they were worn and there were fewer of them than there should be. The crows were keeping up appearances, it seemed. They didn’t have the money for dresses and jewels. Nor servants. Which made me wonder who exactly the brown girl was.

The humming led me to the kitchen and the brown girl, who sat in front of a range, hands outstretched, tears falling as she hummed. The tears made me pause. Who knew how to deal with tears? But when she sighed once more, swiped a hand over her eyes and straightened her shoulders, curiosity got the better of me. I stepped out of the shadow.

“What’s wrong?”

The girl jumped almost a foot, and shrieked, though she cut it off quickly. “Who are you?” She backed away and her hand reached for the large knife lying on the table.

Sensible girl. Know where your weapons are.

“A friend,” I said softly. “You don’t need the knife.” I had several of my own and if I chose to use them, she’d never be quick enough to stop me.

Her eyes — large and green if somewhat reddened by tears — narrowed. “How did you get in?” She didn’t let go of the knife.

“You left the door unlocked,” I lied.

“I-“

“Why were you crying?”

She frowned. “Why do you care?”

“Maybe I can help. Who were those women? Did they hurt you?”

“No.”

The reply was a little too fast. Perhaps under that brown dress there might well be fading bruises. I knew those too.

“No,” she repeated. “It’s just…”

“What?”

She sighed and put the knife down.  “It’s just that I wanted to go to the ball too. If Father were still here, I would have gone.”

It was my turn to be startled. Not a servant then. Family? Not blood perhaps.  Though blood doesn’t guarantee good treatment, the brown girl didn’t look like the crows. She was prettier for a start. Her hair was a deep brown, not the tortured blonde of the crows, her skin pale and smooth and even in the ugly dress she had a certain elegance. A spark that drew the eye.

“Where is your father?”

“Dead,” she said. The green eyes went flat for a bit. “And Mama Marla,” she said the name with a venomous twist that made me think my guess of a second marriage might just be right. “Says there’s no money for all of us to go the ball. That Gloria and Amber are older and need to marry. She thinks one of them is going to catch the eye of the Wilberforce heir.”

I didn’t know every in and out of the highest levels of human society–it wasn’t my world—and there were no princes in the City but Eric Wilberforce was close to such a thing. Mama Mabel had an overambitious eye if she thought the younger crows could catch such a prize. And obviously she didn’t want brown girl spoiling their chances. I glanced at the clock over the range. It was early yet, not quite half an hour beyond eight o’clock.  The ball would barely be starting.

You have work to do, shadow. I had deadlines of my own this evening. But hours yet before I had to meet them.

I studied the girl before me. My own chains were permanent. Unbreakable, I had learned over many years. No prince for me. But here was somebody who could, perhaps, escape. The one who held my leash would never know, if I was careful.

I made up my mind. “What’s your name?” I asked the brown girl.

“Ella.”

“Well Ella, how would you like to go to a ball?”

It went quickly enough after I convinced Ella I was serious. I left her doing her hair, warning her against using a glamour as she reached for a tin box on Mama Mabel’s dressing table.  There were charms against glamours, after all, and the humans had mages who could see through Fae work. I left the house and hailed a hackney, travelling to Gillygate where I knew there was a modiste’s shop. I’d past it earlier in my evening’s travels. I was hardly the girl to be picking anyone’s clothing – I refused to wear dresses myself – but there was one pale shimmering green gown – so pale a green to be near silver – that I thought might do. And, above it on a rack sat a pair of shoes that were beaded in silver and the same pale green, so that from a distant, they sparkled in the light as though they were made of glass.

I bundled them into a box and set off to a nearby livery. One look at me and the owner produced his finest carriage and a driver. My chains had some side benefits. Fear of my displeasure–and my master’s–being chief amongst them.

The driver smelled of fear as he drove me back to the house. Good. He would follow my orders and stay silent about this night.

“You must leave by midnight,” I told Ella when stood before me transformed into someone far different from the hunched brown girl. A glittering silver beauty who  could definitely catch the eye of a prince.

“Why midnight? Who are you?”

She’d asked me that before.  I shook my head.

“Just be back.”

Midnight would give me time to put everything back as it should be and still fulfill my other tasks of the evening before I had to return to my own cage. Midnight would give her enough hours to maybe change her life. At worst, give her a taste of freedom, which was more than I could give myself.  I stepped back and surveyed her one more time. I had done all I could do. There was no magic here that could let me set her free. Now it was up to her.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

About M. J.:

M.J. Scott was born in Melbourne, Australia but grew up in the green and rolling hills of South Gippsland, Victoria. Raised by two teachers, her love of reading was always encouraged and books willingly provided to feed her reading habit. She moved back to Melbourne to attend university, where she did an honours degree in a subject completely unrelated to writing fiction. She still works in that field and gets to write a lot of documents that do not involve assassins, mages, vampires and romance.

Her two great fiction loves have always been fantasy and romance, having grown up reading Tolkien alongside L.M. Montgomery and Susan Cooper, Diana Wynne Jones and David Eddings mixed with Heyer, Austen and all the romance books she could find. Therefore, it was somewhat inevitable that when she finally decided to start writing down the stories in her head, those stories incorporated both genres.

Her unpublished novels have won a number of awards including the Romance Writers of Australia’s Emerald Award and Valerie Parv Award and the Romance Writers of New Zealand’s Clendon Award. She was also a two time finalist in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award.

Shadow Kin is her debut novel and has won praise from three New York Times bestselling authors. Her urban fantasy-like stories in an historical alternate world setting are a fresh twist on the genre.

Her life, apart from the day job, revolves around books, writing, the odd sewing, knitting, spinning or quilting binge, resisting the lure of dark chocolate and taking orders from her cat.  She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia.

You can visit M. J. around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from M. J. Scott?

Shadow Kin

__________________________________________________________________________________

This giveaway is provided by Penguin/Roc

Two winners will each receive a copy of Shadow Kin by M. J. Scott

Available on September 6, 2011 from Penguin/Roc

About the Book:

On one side, the Night World, rules by the Blood Lords and the Beast Kind. On the other, the elusive Fae and the humans, protected by their steadfast mages…

Born a wraith, Lily is a shadow who slips between worlds. Brought up by a Blood Lord and raised to be his assassin, she is little more than a slave. But when Lily meets her match in target Simon DuCaine, the unlikely bond that develops between them threatens to disrupt an already stretched peace in a city on the verge of being torn apart…

Click HERE to read an excerpt

Pre-Order from

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

GIVEAWAY GUIDELINES:

1. Leave a comment for Mel, let us know what you think of this fable, book or series.

2. +1 entries for tweeting about this contest, blogging about it, linking via your sidebar etc…(please tell me where!).

3. Giveaway is open to U.S. only.

4. Please include your email address in your comment.

5. All Fantastic Fables winners will be announced on September 7th.

6. The winner will be picked with the help of Random.org.

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50 Responses to “Fantastic Fables: M. J. Scott’s Lily on Cinderella

  1. RickiNo Gravatar
    1

    Cinderella is such a classic!
    rickimc[at]aol[dot]com

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  2. SandyG265No Gravatar
    2

    I’m really enjoyimg these takes on classic tales.

    sgiden at verizon.net

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  3. larineyNo Gravatar
    3

    I like seeing this from the ‘godmother’s’ pov. Very interesting and fun I want to know more about the world. moc.oohaynull@3891yeniaRL

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  4. SusanNo Gravatar
    4

    I loved the story. Thanks for the giveaway.

    sab5723 at hotmail dot com

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  5. LexiNo Gravatar
    5

    Love the cover! This book sounds so good (added to my TBR list right now).
    Ella…great story.

    Thanks for the chance to win this!!!

    GFC follower
    eyesofblueice (at) gmail (dot) com

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  6. Tanyaw1224No Gravatar
    6

    I liked this view of cinderella =) I’d much rather have her as a fairy godmother than the original version…lol Hard core! I think Shadow Kin sounds like a great read and would love to win a copy. Thanks for the chance =)
    +1 tweeted at https://twitter.com/#!/Tanya1224/status/104575760576155649
    Tanyaw1224(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  7. Danielle DNo Gravatar
    7

    Love the story :)

    Have had this on my TBR list for a few weeks already.

    +1 posted on my fb page

    Thanks for the giveaway

    drakenfyre75[at]msn[dot]com

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  8. AnneNo Gravatar
    8

    Shadow kin sounds good. I’d like to give it a try.

    acm05atjuno.com

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  9. Low KeyNo Gravatar
    9

    Loved the fable. I’m amazed by how awesome these takes on classic tales continue to be! :D

    Thank you so much for the giveaway and story!

    moc.loanull@eikrahsditziwt

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  10. VivienNo Gravatar
    10

    Great fable! Loving it :)
    +1 spread here
    http://www.goodreads.com/event/show/128597-fantastic-fables-m-j-scott-s-lily-on-cinderella

    Vivien
    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

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  11. kelsey. dobbinsNo Gravatar
    11

    Aw that’s a really cute story too! I’ve been loving all the fairy tale remakes :)

    I’m following. and here’s my tweet https://mobile.twitter.com/#!/itzKelseyD/status/104625555302920195

    Poisnivyred AT gmail.com

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  12. Viki S.No Gravatar
    12

    I really liked this one – it was cute.
    Tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/Jovial_1/status/104632645941608448
    Am a follower

    vsloboda(at)gmail(dot)com

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  13. Jennelle SNo Gravatar
    13

    I loved this take on the fairy tale, and I can’t wait to read this book.

    jlynettes @ hotmail . com

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  14. Donna/BLHmistressNo Gravatar
    14

    I really like this version of Cinderella, it was and always been my fave tale/fable.

    vampiremistress2010(at)gmail(dot)com

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  15. AmyNo Gravatar
    15

    The Half-Light City series sounds really good. I love stories filled with faeries and magic and this series seems to have that. I’d like to see how Lily and Simon form their bond and perhaps fall in love.

    angeldream3[AT]gmail[DOT]com

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  16. erinNo Gravatar
    16

    Great story! I’ve had this book on the top of my To Be Released wish list for a long time!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    moc.liamgnull@1rednefe

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  17. Stephanie EcksteinNo Gravatar
    17

    Wow that was great!!! I’ve always loved the Cinderella story and this version was really good, the dress and the shoes sounded beautiful. This book looks really good too, and I love the cover.

    +3 GFC and FB follower

    ten.tsacmocnull@99nietskce

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  18. M.J. ScottNo Gravatar
    18

    Glad you’re all enjoying the fable! Cinderella has always been one of my fave fairie tales. Good luck in the contest.

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  19. BrandyNo Gravatar
    19

    Absolutely loved the Cinderella story <3
    I was hooked on Shadow Kin before I even read the excerpt. Can't wait to read the rest of it, and excited that it's part of a series! :)

    I tweeted@ recusant_angel. I'm not sure how to link….

    <3 + :)

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  20. AmyS.No Gravatar
    20

    It’s a different way to look at Cinderella. I like it.

    truebloodfan AT rock.com

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  21. AmyS.No Gravatar
    21

    +1 Posted on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Vamper_Fan/status/104689504480264192

    truebloodfan AT rock.com

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  22. RachaelMNo Gravatar
    22

    I liked the Cinderella story provided. The book Shadow Kin looks very interesting and I have added it to my wishlist. Thanks for the giveway.

    +1 for tweeting:
    http://twitter.com/#!/ERachaelM/status/104703063587168256

    moc.oohaynull@ylluccmleahcar

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  23. MLNo Gravatar
    23

    I really, really liked this take on Cinderella. The impulsive kindness of someone who sees a kindred spirit, sees hope and potential and takes action-it’s rare and commendable. This fable struck a cord with me. Thanks so much for sharing it.

    mljfoland AT hotmail DOT com

    +1 Tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/Rogue237/status/104709889661747201

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  24. Bethany C.No Gravatar
    24

    I love the cover for this book! And I’m also digging that twisted Cinderella in the pumpkin pic.

    gfc, fb and twitter follower- Bethany C., Bethany Cardone, @bcardoo79

    b(dot)cardone(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  25. Barbara ElnessNo Gravatar
    25

    Wow, what a fantastic story, I liked the character of Lily and I’m eager to read Shadow Kin to learn more about her.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com
    GFC follower

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  26. Audra HoltwickNo Gravatar
    26

    Great story– I want more
    moc.ssenrekciwnull@eidua

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  27. JenMNo Gravatar
    27

    I hadn’t heard of this book but I like dark urban fantasy and this story definitely has that tone. I’ll have to be on the lookout for this.

    jen at delux dot com

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  28. Maria (pronounced Mariah)No Gravatar
    28

    Another great take on an old fable and yet another book I hadn’t heard of that I would love to read!

    Tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/Maria_Smith_76/status/104979555781062656

    mmafsmith at gmail dot com

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  29. EileenNo Gravatar
    29

    Congrats on the book! Can’t wait to read the book!

    ceileen71@yahoo dot com

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  30. Lenna HNo Gravatar
    30

    Your roots are my roots, romance and fantasy. I am intrigued by the world you’ve built in Shadowkin. I’d love to win this and learn more. I am also drawn to you by this KINDNESS of the “Fairy-Godmother” of this tale. It shows your personal character slant that I find refreshing and real.

    glittergirl54[at]ymail.com

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  31. Stacy (UrbanFantasyInvestigations)No Gravatar
    31

    This looks awesome, I have it on my wishlist.

    +1 linking via your sidebar http://urbanfantasyinvestigations.blogspot.com/

    Chllybrd(at)gmail.com

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  32. StephanieNo Gravatar
    32

    I have really enjoyed books involving wraiths so far, I can’t wait for this one.

    +1 spread here http://www.goodreads.com/event/show/128677-fantastic-fables-m-j-scott-s-lily-on-cinderella

    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

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  33. PabkinsNo Gravatar
    33

    That was a very sweet and sad story. I love her writing style and I’m looking forward to reading this book!
    also tweeted
    http://twitter.com/#!/Pabkins/status/105147055973994498
    tlabunski –at> gmail

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  34. Lisa RichardsNo Gravatar
    34

    Awesome retelling of Cinderella.
    +1 http://twitter.com/#!/alterlisa/status/105151435087425536
    (\___/)
    (=’.’=)
    (“)_(“)

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com
    http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com/

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  35. Mickie TNo Gravatar
    35

    That was a good variation on Cinderella – a bit dark, but all the more realistic for it.

    And the excerptof the new book? I am hooked! I want the rest Right Now.

    mdturett at juno dot com

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  36. Cassandra Hernandez-RuizNo Gravatar
    36

    Shadow Kin looks really interesting I’d love to read Mel. Thanks for the giveaway.
    moc.oohaynull@05ardnassaczednanreh

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  37. AmyNo Gravatar
    37

    This book sounds awesome! Gotta have it.

    moc.liamtohnull@lryg_knip

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  38. Van P.No Gravatar
    38

    I’ve been wanting to read this ever since I first heard about it.

    Littopandaxpress(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  39. PamkNo Gravatar
    39

    great story and your book sounds fantastic.
    scrtsbpal at yahoo dot com

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  40. PamkNo Gravatar
    40

    I tweeted
    http://twitter.com/#!/Pamk258/status/106191646865113088
    scrtsbpal at yahoo dot com

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  41. Marg @ Clockwork ReverieNo Gravatar
    41

    The premise of the book has me really intrigued. Plus, I have a soft spot for stories involving assassins who transform into heroes.

    Tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/ClockworkRevery/status/106237718136242176

    gosia727(at)gmail(dot)com

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  42. Denise ZNo Gravatar
    42

    What a wonderful post – I really enjoyed reading the twisted, I mean new twist on Cinderella :) Thank you for sharing with us today and for the incredible giveaway – I really want to read this book !

    dz59001[at]gmail[dot]com

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  43. Brittany HardyNo Gravatar
    43

    This series looks similar to Jaye Wells’ Sabina Kane series. Which kicked ass. Definitely on my Wish List!

    brittanynoelle at gmail dot com

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  44. InnocentButlerNo Gravatar
    44

    I haven’t read your series yet but I want to!

    I am a twitter follower (@tjotjoc) and a GFC follower

    tjotjoc at gmail dot com

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  45. Steph JonesNo Gravatar
    45

    I’m excited to read the rest beyond the excerpt. Thank you for a chance to win this book.(moc.oohaynull@3677znojfts)

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  46. Jennifer KallhoffNo Gravatar
    46

    This book sounds really cool! I’ve added it to my Goodreads To-read list!

    Kalliandra2007(at)gmail(dot)com

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  47. Marlene BreakfieldNo Gravatar
    47

    I enjoyed that take on Cinderella and never imagined a godmother quite like that.
    marlenebreakfield(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  48. Deb MoreyNo Gravatar
    48

    This sounds like an interesting take on the fairy tale and I’m anxious to see how it turns out.

    auntiedeb(underlinespace)98(at)yahoo(dot)com
    moc.oohaynull@89_bedeitnua

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  49. Pam S (pams00)No Gravatar
    49

    Enjoyed the darker feel to this and the spin on the fairy godmother. Shadow Kin sounds like a fantastic read. Love the concept.

    pams00 @ aol.com

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  50. Pam S (pams00)No Gravatar
    50

    https://twitter.com/#!/pams00/status/111507850215432192

    pams00 @ aol.com

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