Friday, May 31, 2013

COVER REVEAL: Heartstrings by Heather Gunter

Cover Reveal
By Heather Gunter
Anticipated Release date: August 2013

Everyone thinks of me as this happy and upbeat person. What they don't know, is that I carry a deep, dark secret. Something horrible happened to me a year ago, and I have kept it quiet all this time. I was fine for a while, but somehow it’s chosen this time to come back, and it's eating at me--like a cancer.

I need to tell someone about it, I just don't know how. I'm pushing everyone I love away, including my mom and my best friend Charlie.

Then there is Will. Handsome, sweet Will. We went out on a date a while back, but then the incident happened leaving me crushed and him confused.

How do you tell someone you care about all of your secrets, and will they still want you when the truth comes out?

About the Author

When not writing or updating her Into the Night Reviews book blog, you will find Heather curled on the couch reading, surrounded by her children and four dogs. Her cravings for music and books are insatiable. One of her favorite things to do is sing and used to have a dream of becoming a singer. The dream has since changed and is now to become a full time writer. She holds a strong anti-bullying conviction and voices it regularly. This is her second book in the Love Notes series. She resides in Canton, GA with her husband, 3 boys, 4 dogs, 1 cat and 2 ferrets.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review: Pieces of You by Cassia Leo

In Relentless, college student Claire Nixon and surfer Adam Parker each had a painful past too heavy to carry alone. Claire tried to push Adam away, but Adam's relentless pursuit of her heart and her secrets made her wall come crumbling down.

Though their hearts will never be whole again, Claire and Adam now know they are stronger together than they are apart.

But now Claire's attending college a hundred miles away from Adam. With their relationship already hanging by a thread, Adam is sent to Hawaii on business.

And rock star Chris Knight is back in Claire's life.

Chris wants his ex-girlfriend back and he knows just how to get her: only he has the power to mend the final missing piece of Claire's broken heart. Now Claire must choose between a long-distance relationship with Adam and a second chance at love, family, and home.

Remember how I said that I didn’t read the end out of order when I read Relentless? Well, I held true to my word and stayed the same for this one. Again, I’m so glad I did that! Although, because of this, I was so focused on reading that I had quite a few mishaps in my real life because of it. You know, like being late to drop off my kid at daycare and then realizing at 9:40 at work that my dress was on backwards… but these things happen. There was a story that need to be read…

So at the end of Relentless, I was pretty open about the fact that I was TEAM ADAM. There was no swaying me. And then I started Pieces of You. It starts right where Relentless ends with Chris trying to inch his way in. By 10% in to the book, I was starting to waver on which team I was on. Chris was getting to me in a good way. He wasn’t the cocky jerk I thought he was going to be. He was so much more!

Chris proved to be much more than I originally thought. He was much more in tune with Claire, much more giving, and just all around amazing. Chris proved himself over and over throughout the story. He showed that he was willing to go to whatever distance he needed to go to continue to be in Claire’s life. I thought for sure that he would be sneaky & backhanded in his quest to win her heart, but he wasn’t. He was honest and open with her.

Adam. I absolutely adored him in Relentless. I thought the guy could do no wrong. Then in this story, he kind of irritated me. He made decisions and I understood WHY he made those decisions, but they really pissed me off. He could’ve done things differently. He could’ve communicated his intentions more effectively. There were so many things that he could’ve just done differently and I would’ve still been firmly planted on Team Adam. Now by the end of the story, did he redeem himself? Absolutely. At the end of the story, I was back to being in love with him.

Claire. Gah. She’s so broken. She makes so many decisions throughout the story that made me just want to shake her! But I understood *why* she did those things. I got it. She’s had a life nobody dreams of and virtually no support for the majority of it. I have a soft spot for that girl. I have read various people saying they don’t like her or that she is wishy washy, but wouldn’t you be that way if you’d had her life? Of course she struggles with attachment issues. Of course she struggles with communication. How could she NOT struggle with those things? I cannot wait to see her grow throughout the next story. By the end of Pieces of You, she had finally opened her eyes.

I can confidently say that I am 100% on Team Undecided. I want them all to have their HEA, whether it is Claire/Adam and Chris finds a new love or Claire/Chris and Adam finds a new love. I just want them all to be happy at the end of this series.

Cassia Leo did not disappoint in her style of writing in this story. It continues to flow and continues to grasp your attention entirely. You continue to be captivated by the twists the story takes without it being ridiculous. Write on, Cassia, write on! I am ready for more Adam, Chris, and Claire!


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REVIEW: Relentless by Cassia Leo

Claire Nixon is a twenty-year-old college dropout with a secret.

To Claire, Adam Parker is just another flirty customer at the cafe, until a chance encounter and seemingly innocent comment spurs a bet between them. The bet is simple: If Adam can get Claire to reveal the secret that made her drop out of college, she has to re-enroll. If he doesn't succeed, she gets to keep her secret and he has to stop stalking her at the cafe.

Claire thinks she has this one in the bag. She's perfected the art of forgetting her past. But she isn't prepared for Adam's relentless pursuit or for him to share his own secrets. And she's definitely not prepared for her rock star ex, and her secret, to come banging down her door one year later.

*New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to strong language, drug use, and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.*
Most of you know that I’m REALLY bad about reading books out of order. I frequently read the end by about 25% in to the book. It’s bad and I know it. Right off the bat with this book, I knew I couldn’t read out of order. I am SO glad I didn’t read the end ahead of time!

Right away I liked Claire. Cassia has a way of writing that makes you instantly connect with all of the characters. For Claire, you know that there is something more to her. I had several ideas of what her “secret” was. Some I was ok with and some I prayed that it wasn’t true. By the end of the book, I had pretty much guessed it and was satisfied. But there were so many twists throughout the story that captured my attention.

Adam. Oh Adam and all of his stupid freaking jokes. I mean, the jokes that are the type that are so ridiculously stupid that you have no choice but to laugh at them. I really liked him right off the bat. I totally rooted for him to win Claire’s heart. I wanted him to put her back together and help her feel complete. He was sweet, loving, and absolutely amazing. Adam isn’t without his own secrets and many of his REALLY surprised me. They really made me fall a little bit harder for him.

During the entire story, Cassia kept my interest without adding unnecessary drama. Her writing flows smoothly throughout the entire story and keeps you focused.

At the close of this story, I didn’t hate Chris anymore, but I was FIRMLY on TEAM ADAM.

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Monday, May 27, 2013

REVIEW: Unbreak Me by Lexi Ryan

“If you’re broken, I’ll fix you…
I’m only twenty-one and already damaged goods. A slut. A failure. A disappointment to my picture-perfect family as long as I can remember. I called off my wedding to William Bailey, the only man who thought I was worth fixing. A year later and he’s marrying my sister. Unless I ask him not to…
“If you shatter, I’ll find you…”
But now there’s Asher Logan, a broken man who sees the fractures in my fa├žade and doesn’t want to fix me at all. Asher wants me to stop hiding, to stop pretending. Asher wants to break down my walls. But that means letting him see my ugly secrets and forgiving him for his. 
With my past weighing down on me, do I want the man who holds me together or the man who gives me permission to break?

Wow. This book. Seriously, it totally caught me off guard. From the first page, I was 100% sucked in. I couldn’t put it down. It was not at all what I expected. The first page had me giggling and I did laugh a bit throughout the book, but really, it’s not funny at all. It’s a love triangle with no clear cut winner initially. Even in the end, you still like all of them. And I will say this – I really hope that the guy that doesn’t end up with Maggie gets his own book. I still really enjoy him and think that he is a good guy and really deserves his very own Happily Ever After.
Maggie. Oh. My. Gosh. My heart breaks for her. Nobody should have to live through what she does. But she is so. Freaking. Strong. And she is so amazing. Right off the back, you want to rescue her, but she doesn’t need rescuing. She’s sassy, but broken. She’s strong, but sweet. She’s got a heart of gold and is so giving. This girl had to make some decisions on her own that would’ve been hard for anyone that had a support system.
While Will & Asher both are main characters, I feel like this was Maggie’s story. They are both amazing guys that I enjoyed reading about. I really enjoyed getting to hear their sides of things – that really helped to understand why they did some of the things that initially had me scratching my head.
So, if you want a book that is going to captivate you from page 1 – this is it! You will get sucked in and not want to be disrupted until you get to the last page. You’ll hold your breath at parts, probably cry at other parts, and even laugh a little. Mostly, you will read an amazing story about a very strong girl.

Em and I had the pleasure of reading this book together.  This almost never happens anymore so we were giddy!  We both agreed that the silly and lighthearted scene that started this story did not prepare us for where we were about to go.  And when I mean go, we went there mind, heart and soul.  Wow, this was a powerful read.  I even had to put it down a couple of times just to take a break.  It affected me that much.

Unbreak Me by Lexi Ryan is a heartwrenching story of a girl who has so much hurt and sadness bottled up inside of her.  She hides behind an *almost* phony reputation and her outwardly flirtatious persona.  Once all of the layers are slowly and reverently peeled away by an amazingly sweet and patient man, Maggie is able to find happiness and set herself free from all of the emotional baggage she has held on to.
I loved the execution of this story.  I was surprised at how emotional and attached I became to Maggie considering she is not your typical heroine.  Well done Lexi Ryan!  This one will definitely stay with me for awhile.
xo, D
As soon as we finished this, within about 30 minutes of each other, Em and I started the chit chat….
Em:  Done!  I loved it.  I felt that it was executed soooo well.
D:  It was very emotional for me.  I really felt for Maggie.
Em:  I thought the ending was perfect.  And yes, it was emotional for me too.
D:  It unraveled very slowly and carefully.  And yes, I thought the ending was good too.  Cute, for such a dramatic book J
Em:  The love triangle was not predictable and I found that I liked both guys!  I hope she does a story for (we won’t say his name!!!)
D:  Yes, me too! I liked him just as much and felt like he was sort of lost at the end.  His story needs to be told and he needs a HEA!
I’m glad Maggie’s family ended up having some redeeming qualities.
Em:  I ended up liking Krystal and Maggie’s mom.  I also love that Asher did not encourage her to hate them but instead pushed in the right direction.
D:  He was better than any therapist!  Her self- loathing was heartbreaking.  Thank goodness for the Granny.  She was hilarious and provided some much needed comic relief!
Em:  It was really nice to read a standalone!
D:  Great job Lexi Ryan!!!

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Friday, May 24, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Review & Giveaway: Love Notes by Heather Gunter

How do you cope when the people you care for hurt you the most? When the way you feel on the outside, smothers you on the inside. And when you are left to face your demons alone, will you learn that only you have the power to overcome them?
Charlie has never had it easy. Between the constant moving and the incessant fat comments and jokes from her father, her self-worth is nonexistent. Her reflection in the mirror shows her nothing but a plain Jane. Music is the only thing that keeps her sanity in check.
Charlie catches the eye of the town star quarterback, Maverick. With her curves, her brunette hair, and the voice of an angel, Maverick has never met anyone like her. Everything that is different about Charlie just makes Maverick like her more.
Unfortunately, Charlie doesn’t see it herself. Proving it to her may deem harder than he thinks, especially when tragedy strikes and tears them apart.
Now standing on her own two feet she may finally learn exactly who she is, what’s she’s capable of and how very un plain Jane she really is.

Let me start this with the fact that when it comes to YA romance, I either really really like it or I really really don't. Some are just so cheesy while others are so sweet, perfect, and raw. Love Notes was definitely in the sweet, perfect, and raw category! Once I started this book, I couldn't put it down. I flew through it and was kind of sad to see it end!

There's something about watching teenagers fall in love. It is so fresh and so raw because they aren't quite jaded yet and their baggage is limited. In Charlie's case, her baggage is limited but it is so serious. My heart seriously broke for her every time she had to go in to her home. I just wanted to snatch her up and runaway with her. Heather did an amazing job from the beginning of making you fall in love with Charlie. You couldn't help but feel her pain and want a new life for her. Watching her fall for Maverick and let him in made me just smile. It was perfect. They acted like teenagers without being cheesy or annoying. Charlie's issues didn't magically disappear because Maverick appeared and I really liked that. It kept the book more realistic.

Throughout the book, we get glimpses of Maverick's POV. While it is Charlie's story, it was really nice to see why he was doing the things that he was doing. Maverick was the perfect teenage male. He absolutely adored Charlie and treated her perfectly, but made some really stupid decisions at times. I was glad to be able to read WHY he made some choices. Any teenage guy should take a lesson from him on how to treat a girl. It was so sweet.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one! It dealt with some very serious issues involving verbal abuse, self-esteem, and weight. There were times that my heart absolutely broke for Charlie. I wanted to jump in that book and kill her parents b/c of how they treated her. But, the story was told perfectly and flowed so well. I cannot wait to read Tori's story later this year in Heart Strings!

About the Author

When not writing or updating her Into the Night Reviews book blog, you will find Heather curled on the couch reading, surrounded by her children and four dogs. Her cravings for music and books are insatiable. One of her favorite things to do is sing and used to have a dream of becoming a singer. The dream has since changed and is now to become a full time writer. She holds a strong anti-bullying conviction and voices it regularly. She resides in Canton, GA with her husband, 3 boys, 4 dogs, 1 cat and 2 ferrets.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Blog Tour: Review, Interview, & Giveaway: Then, Again by Karen Stivali

Sometimes you have to lose it all to find what you really need.
Photographer Kay Turner is dealt a double whammy when she flies home for her grandmother’s funeral to find her boyfriend with another woman. Now with two losses to mourn, she retreats to her newly inherited beach house to clear her head.
Everything at the beach is familiar: the sounds of the ocean, the scent of her grandmother’s perfume—and the irresistible smile of James Margolis. The man Kay spent her adolescence pining for is every bit as charming as she remembers.
James always thought of Kay as “a nice kid”, but he feels something very different for the woman she’s become. Especially when he asks if she’d be willing to part with some of her grandmother’s recipes for his new restaurant—and they wind up sharing much more than culinary secrets.
But as their relationship deepens, Kay finds herself caught between the demands of her dream career as a travel photographer, and a chance for happiness with the one man she’s wanted for a lifetime.
Warning: This foodie romance contains sensual scone baking, a heroine who discovers one bad apple hasn’t spoiled her appetite, and a delicious hero you can’t help but crave. Blend well, serve hot.

What a fun story! The storyline was interesting and easy to follow along, the sex was hot, and the food sounded delicious.
I didn’t have a ton of expectations for this book because I didn’t know a ton about it. I was so happy that when I started to read it, I really enjoyed it! From page 1, I was intrigued. I wanted to know the characters and figure them out right away.
It was very interesting to see how James & Kay, who were both very focused on their careers learned to navigate and balance work life with romance. Throughout the book, you could feel their struggle and just wanted to shake them and tell them to take a chance. I loved that they communicated well, for the most part. They were pretty up front with each other and it saved us from a lot of angst.
The chemistry between the 2 of them is undeniable and totally hot right from the start! I really liked that the author didn’t waste her time with tension between the two of them. I think I would’ve exploded if she had.
Overall, I really, really liked this book! I am so glad I got to take a chance on reading this new one! Though, be prepared… you’ll want to eat the entire time you are reading!

How did you get involved with your publisher or press?
I pitched ThenAgain to an editor from Samhain Publishing at the RT Convention in 2012. She liked the story and gave my submission to one of her editors and that’s how I got my offer.  I was thrilled. Samhain is a company I’d always wanted to work with and I was delighted that they loved the story. My second book with Samhain (Leave The Lights On) will release in November 2013. (I also still write erotic romances for Ellora’s Cave and sexy women’s fiction for Turquoise Morning Press. I have upcoming releases with both of those companies as well.)

How does your writing process look? Consistent with regular amounts of word counts daily/weekly… or more sporadic with a gush of words all at once and then a dry bed for a while?
I’m always doing something writing related (writing new fiction, editing a piece, blogging to promote a new release, critiquing other people’s stories) but I tend to write my books in spurts. (Ha.) Once I see a full idea for a book, from start to finish, I usually sit down and write the whole thing all at once. Three of my published books (Holding On, Decadence (coming summer 2013) and ThenAgain (available now!)) were  NaNo projects (National Novel Writing month, where you try to write a whole book in a month). I write insanely fast once an idea has taken full shape in my head so I do well with writing from start to finish in once big rush. That works better for me than writing in little bits and pieces.
When I’m working on a particular project it’s not uncommon for me to write 3-4k a day (12-16 pages a day). Sometimes I go as high as 8k. It really depends how much time I have and how clear the story is in my head. I get very driven and focused once I’m immersed in a story and I physically need to finish it. I push until it’s done then I let it sit a few weeks before I even look at it. After I take a pass at it then it goes to beta readers. Then I fix what they point out. Then I hand it in somewhere.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
There are always elements of real life in my books, but the situations and characters are always completely fictional. One of my pet peeves is being asked “is that based on so and so?”. None of my characters are based on any real people. Not even celebrities. They’re completely figments of my imagination. What’s real are the places they live, the jobs they have, their hobbies or careers.
In ThenAgain the beach town is fictional but it’s based on Ocean City, NJ where I’ve vacationed for the past 15 summers. It’s a quiet little town with an awesome boardwalk. I love to go there and the sights and sounds are a permanent part of my memory so I wanted that in the book.  Likewise there’s always some mention of food in my books. Food has always been a huge part of my life. I cook, I’ve worked extensively in the restaurant and catering industries and, honestly, I just love food. I can’t imagine writing a book where food doesn’t play a big part in the character’s lives. People eat and they share meals together. They cook for each other. Foods remind them of different events and times in their life. It’s important. It’s sensual. It’s always got a place in my books.
What character have readers asked you the most about? Which left an impression on them and did it surprise you?
Without question the character I most often get asked about is Daniel (the star of Meant To Be, the sequel Holding On and two short stories, All I Need and White Wedding). The most common question I get is “If Daniel ever leaves Marienne can you give him my number?” He’s had a lot of marriage proposals. Several requests for secret trysts. He’d be a very busy man if he weren’t so loyal to his fictional love, Marienne.
I had hoped that female readers would adore Daniel as much as I did while writing him. (And let’s face it, I can’t seem to stop writing him, he obviously got to me, that sweet-but-cheeky Brit.) What surprised me the most was the number of men who adore him. I expected men to say he was an unrealistic guy or that he was annoying because he’s so damn charming---instead they seem to think he’s a great guy. That shocked me. In a good way. One of the best compliments I  ever got on Meant To Be was from a (very straight) male reader who told me “Hell, he’s so perfect I’d leave my woman for him.” Just thinking of that comment makes me smile.
What project are you working on now?
I’m working on FOUR projects right now:
Just In Time is a companion/follow-up novel to Meant To Be and Holding On---it’s the story of Justine who is a secondary character in both novels. It’s due out  January 2014.
I’m toying with an idea for a companion novel to my next Samhain release (Leave The Lights On) because the best friend in that book seems to be demanding his own book. I have it worked out in my head but haven’t started writing quite yet.
There are two contemporary romances that I have underway. Both are friends to lovers tales but with extremely different takes. I’d tell you more…but I can’t yet.

About the Author

Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies and fictional British men. When she's not writing, she can be found cooking extravagant meals and serving them to family and friends, who never seem to mind the excessive quantities she tends to prepare. She attributes her ability to multitask to the fact that she rarely sleeps, which gives her more hours every day. Prior to deciding to write full time Karen worked as a hand drawn animator, a clinical therapist, and held various food-related jobs ranging from waitress to specialty cake maker. Planning elaborate parties and fundraisers takes up what's left of her time and sanity.
Karen has always been fascinated by the way people relate to one another so she favors books and movies that feature richly detailed characters and their relationships. In her own writing she likes to explore the dynamics between characters and has a tendency to craft romantic tales filled with sarcasm and sexy details. Although she writes in three genres (erotic romance, contemporary romance and women's fiction) all of her stories are love stories with happily ever after endings.
Karen has published several erotic romance novels with Ellora's Cave including two award winning stories: Always You (published September 2011, First Place Winner of the RWA Passionate Plume Award - 2012)and Marry Me (published June 2012, First Place Winner in the NEC-RWA Bean Pot Reader's Choice Award - 2013).
Her works of women's fiction, Meant To Be, and its sequel, Holding On, (published by Turquoise Morning Press in August and November 2012, respectively) both made multiple  Best of 2012 lists and are rated as true gems and recommended reads.
Karen's latest release, Then, Again is a contemporary foodie romance published by Samhain Publishing.
To learn more about Karen  and all her upcoming books you can visit her website where she blogs original recipes, sassy commentary on The Bachelor, and tidbits about her journey in the writing world. Karen can also be found attempting witty banter on Twitter.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Exclusive Excerpt: My Unexpected Forever by Heidi McLaughlin

So back at the end of December, we all found this new author, Heidi McLaughlin, and her new book, Forever My Girl. Everyone I talked to fell in love with Liam & Josie. But not only that, we got to fall in love with Nick in My Everything in March.

Beyond Nick, Liam, & Josie, though there were some others that I fell in love with. Katelyn & Harrison quickly captured my attention. There was something about those two from the very first time that they met that drew me in. Then at the end of Forever My Girl, Heidi gave us a glimpse in what’s to come. Sure enough, we are getting Harrison & Katelyn’s story! AND I CANNOT WAIT.

(And I might have a slight obsession with Harrison that resulted in making a shirt that says, “Team Harrison”. Maybe if you all are really nice, I’ll show you a picture of me wearing it. Not sure about that yet…)


(this is from Katelyn’s POV) 
(Please note: This is unedited and subject to change)

“What do you need a wagon for?” I turn to find Harrison behind me. He gazes down at me. His eyes are soft and forgiving, showing no mention of our earlier conversation.
“Elle’s tired. I can’t carry her so I need something to put her in or her and I need to go back to the hotel.”
Harrison nods. He bends over and says something to Elle before he picks her up from behind and places her on his shoulder. Her face beams as she steadies herself.
“We won’t be needing the wagon,” he says to the clerk who shrugs. 
I stand there stone-faced as he walks out of the store, ducking when they get to the entrance, with my baby on his shoulders.
“Hey is that Harrison James?”
“No,” I say as I leave.
“Harrison?” he stops and faces me. His sunglasses are covering his eyes again and it makes me wonder if Elle did that for him. “You don’t have to carry her, she can walk.”
Harrison looks up at Elle while she looks down at him. They smile at each other as if they are sharing their own secrets. “Princess Elle, I’m your Henchman, what say you?”
I smile and laugh at the way Harrison is talking to her.
“Take me to my palace and I shall feed you for the night,” Elle says in her princess voice. Good lord he fell right into her game.
“We’re good, Queen Katelyn.” Harrison smiles as they walk off.

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Trailer: Branded by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki

Twenty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best. 

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me. 

I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. 

My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

Release Date: June 28

About the Author
Abi Ketner is a registered nurse with a passion for novels, the beaches of St. John, and her Philadelphia Phillies. A talented singer, Abi loves to go running and spend lots of time with her family. She currently resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her husband, triplet daughters and two very spoiled dogs.

Melissa Kalicicki received her bachelor’s degree from Millersville University in 2003. She married, had two boys and currently lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Aside from reading and writing, her interests include running and mixed martial arts. She also remains an avid Cleveland sports fan.

Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.

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