Monday, July 18, 2016

Dance and Be Glad by Melissa Wardwell (Promises from Above #2)

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About the Book




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Jillian Matthews is a widowed mom and owner of a dance studio in a small farming community. When her husband died nine years ago in the desert of the Middle East, a piece of her died as well and she lost all joy in the day to day blessings. Tiny dancers and her daughter, Katie, are her main focus until an old flame, Michael Emerson, waltzes back into her life, awakening things she thought dead and gone.
Dr. Michael Emerson told himself he was happy with his bachelorhood after a messy divorce. He thought his life as an ER doctor and yearly missions work left  no room for a wife and family. When tragedy strikes and he is left with an unforeseen situation, he must evaluate his life and make some major changes.

My Review:

The series: 
What God Brings Together is the first and I plan to have a review for it up soon. Then comes A Christmas Wedding. Then comes Dance and Be Glad. They all tie together, so reading them all is a good idea, but they can be read alone.

Jill's husband has passed. She is raising a daughter, Kate, by herself. Meanwhile, her high school sweetheart is back in her life. Not only has Micheal been divorced, his brother and sister-in-law just died in an accident. He has current custody of his niece, Emily. Kate is an early bloomer and that is causing added stress for Jill. Micheal is just struggling with being an instant dad and being a full time doctor. Now things are really getting interesting! 

Jill and Micheal are drawn towards each other, and even their offices are next to each other. Jill is a dance teacher. I really liked that a great deal! What happens next is a good journey into these people's lives. 

This book started out as a narrative in style, and then after a few chapters swaps over to the telling of the story style. I really enjoyed this book even more than the first one. 

Carol :) 

About the Author
Head shotI am an independently published author of Christian romance.
I wear many hats from one day to the next. I am a devoted wife, basketball and dance mother, teacher, taxi service, friend, caregiver, daughter, sister, and now, published author. Seeing all that is enough to make my head spin. But more importantly, I am the Daughter of the Most High King.
I was raised in and still reside in a little farm town in Mid- Michigan called Corunna. It’s quiet and simple, just the way I like it. If I can’t live out in the country among the corn fields and trees then living in this small town works for me.  My husband and I have been together since high school and have 3 children, all of whom we homeschool. It has been quite the journey, but I couldn’t ask for a better life.
I decided to give writing a try because I needed something to occupy my down time, but after reading my first draft of my first book, What God Brings Together, I then understood that God had a much bigger plan.  God does not give His children a desire just so that it can go to waste. I never anticipated the journey God would put me on through writing, but I am excited to see what He has in mind for the future.
I have always felt a call to reach out to women and mothers, to encourage them in their lives. So naturally, all my stories revolve around women who are mothers: single mothers, widowed mothers, young mothers, married mothers, and even women who have a mother’s heart but no children of her own.
My greatest hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life. Lord, knows we have earned it.

Guest Post from Melissa Wardwell

When I wrote the first book in this series, “What God Brings Together”, it wasn’t supposed to become a series. It has seemed to have a mind of its own and is spiraling into other books.
You met Dr. Michael Emerson in the first book as the third wheel to Emma and Ryan’s crazy triangle. As soon as I finished it and read through it one last time, Mike’s character begged to have his own story. I felt bad giving such a nice guy a sad ending. So an idea formed for a story focused on him but it took me a while to decide on who his other half would be. I was sitting in front of the dance studio two of my kids attend, and it hit me. A Dance teacher and studio owner. From there the story went out of control- in a good way. The dance studio is the actual studio my kids dance at, and much of the descriptions of the location are the same as the space. The town is even the real town this studio is in. It is such a quiet place and I love it.
I live in the area this series takes place. The county has a funny name as it is a Native American name – Shiawassee. It is nothing but small towns and farm land. New Lothrop, the main location for this story, has a population of approx. 600. I spend many hours there because of dance and I have grown to love the quiet little farm town.
I like to bring light to actual business in some of my work, so when I chose to write in Infinity Dance Company I had to include the location. There is also a neat little coffee shop that I talk about in this book that is also an actual coffee shop.
I am all about promoting local business, so if I can plug a cool business in my books, I will.
You will see a bit more of another character from the first book, Tiffany, and you’ll get some insight into her story as well but you won’t get the full picture until the release of “I Know the Plans” which is set to come out no later than next spring – hopefully. I also introduce a new character in “Dance and Be Glad” whose story is heartbreaking but you won’t know much more until book four “Redeemed Through Grace” comes out in 2018.
“Dance and Be Glad” is about finding joy in the middle of uncertainty and the scary moments in life. We can let the sudden changes bring us down or we can look at them as an opportunity to learn something new. I have witnessed a lot of tragedy and sudden losses in my personal life to learn that God still has me in His hands even when I feel like my world is crumbling. My prayer is that each reader can have a similar revelation.

Blog Stops

July 13: Carpe Diem
July 14: Sue Stinnett
July 15: KarensKrayons
July 17: Petra’s Hope
July 17: Splashes of Joy
 July 24: Quiet Quilter

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Melissa is giving away a wonderful package that includes a hand-crafted necklace. Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/9ec0

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Going Up South by Janet W. Ferguson and Leaving Oxford - Southern Hearts Series



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To purchase your own copy of Going Up South, click here.

My Review :

I was so fortunate to get to read this series. It starts with Leaving Oxford. I had to read this series when I found out Mrs. Ferguson was writing about Mississippi, and living there. I have some ties, so that drew me from the start. Once I started reading, I was soon involved in a story of a young woman with a broken heart. Sarah Beth has been through the wringer. Now she is being drawn to someone, but she doesn't want more pain. Jess was going to be a pro ball star, but life didn't turn out like he planned either. Sarah Beth copes with panic attacks, and takes comfort in a puppy she hadn't planned on raising. Now everything is changing. Sarah Beth doesn't want to leave Oxford, but what if her only road to healing and happiness is getting out of Oxford? Book one of this series has romance, and healing and lots of sports, and plenty of realistic Southern living. I appreciate that, being a Southern gal. ;) At the end of Leaving Oxford, I picked right up with Going Up South! 

The emotions that were in Leaving Oxford are now dwarfed by the effects of the life events in Going Up South. Dylan is angry, and with cause to an extent. He has a son, and that child doesn't have his name, or the relationship with him. How could this be possible? Angry and determined Dylan is going to fight for his rights to his child. 

Looks like this will be a long, hard, complicate drawn out war, so Cassie is brought into it to mediate an agreement between Dylan and his child's mother. Cassie herself has a son, and an ex-husband. Her heart hurts, and she has pain that God has to heal. Cassie has a bigger problem now. Is her draw to Dylan just because her son needs a father figure? Is this going to be too much like her ex? What about the fact that he is pretty much a client? If their friendship grows into love, will Dylan loose his son? As they become closer, will they find healing for their brokenness, and forgiveness from their past mistakes? 

What if they get together only to find out that Dylan is following his absentee father's footsteps? So many lives hang in the balance and the scales will be tipped the most on who decides to follow God's plan for their lives. A plan that isn't always easy, and isn't always pain free. 

With the steady Mississippi backdrop that I still enjoy, this book was a very good read and set us right up for the third book in the series which I am looking forward to reading! 

Carol :) 

About the Book 
goingupsouth-ferguson-ebookwebNo one told him he had a son.
Actor Dylan Conner is furious. Not only has he been left out of his child’s life, the baby boy has been given another man’s last name. Determined to be a better father than the sorry guy who’d left him and his mother, Dylan fights to ensure a significant place in his son’s life. Unfortunately, his bad-boy reputation overshadows his good intentions. Only one woman in this small town sees beyond his Hollywood image. And he’s falling for her. Too bad she’s the custody mediator.
After her scandalous divorce in the small town of Oxford, Mississippi, attorney Cassie Brooks has no intentions of practicing law again. The humiliating experience left a bitter taste for love, marriage, and her profession.
Now friends need Cassie’s help in a custody negotiation, and her role demands she remain objective. She never expected to be drawn to Dylan Conner—the actor who everyone warns is bad news. Not only is the mediation at stake, but so is her heart.
About the Author
janetprofileJanet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served her church as a children’s minister and a youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space.

Guests Post from Janet W. Ferguson

Hi, I’m Janet W. Ferguson, and I’m so excited to meet the readers of Celebrate Lit!
I’ve always been an avid reader, but I’ve had an odd career path prior to writing.
With a Banking and Finance degree, I took my first job working at a brokerage firm handling their mutual fund trades. After the market crashed in the late 80s, I took a job managing a large, upscale apartment community. During this time, I married and became a stay-at-home mom and church volunteer. My volunteering eventually led to a staff position as children’s minister. After five years, I felt my calling had changed, and I left the job, not really sure what God had in store. Haphazardly, my husband suggested I apply at our local schools. Not long afterward, I certified in teaching and became the library media specialist at the large public high school near our home. I met so many wonderful young people as children’s minister and high school librarian.
During my times as a librarian, I had a story idea for about seven years, but never made time to try my hand at writing. Finally, after my elderly parents passed away, and I felt it was time. I wrote every evening for three months, and finished my first story which was Leaving Oxford. I spent the next three years learning about the craft of writing and editing that story. Yes, there was much to learn! In the meantime, one secondary character from Leaving Oxforddemanded his own story… From that, came Going Up South.
I tend to write what I know, and I’m from the peculiar and wonderful state of Mississippi. My first story was set mostly in Oxford, Mississippi. The charming town made the perfect backdrop for book 1. So book 2 is also mostly set in Oxford, although the characters go on a mission trip to Honduras.
The hero of Going Up South, Dylan Conner, is a funny and charming actor that made a number of appearances in Leaving Oxford. From outrageous costumes to intense flirting, he just had a personality as large as the characters he portrayed on the screen. In Going Up South, he realizes that he fathered a child, but he had been left out of the baby boy’s life. Though he’d never planned to have a family, due to his disappointment in his own father, seeing the child, his child, changes his mind.
Dylan’s not sure how he’ll raise a child or what to do, but he finds help in his new friend and custody mediator, Cassie Brooks.
The scripture theme for this series comes from Isaiah 61. This particular book draws on “He binds up the brokenhearted.”
The heroine, Cassie Brooks, is still hurting from her scandalous divorce in a small town. Unlike my last heroine in Leaving Oxford, Cassie had done things the way she’d been taught, avoiding alcohol, drugs, and sex outside of marriage. And her heart was still broken by an unfaithful husband. I wanted to show that life just hands out some tough blows, no matter how hard we try to do the right thing, but God is there in the midst of it all. He does bind up our broken hearts.
I pray that you are uplifted by this story, and whatever hurts life has dealt you, that you find comfort in the arms of our faithful Father. Blessings!

Blog Stops

July 8: Bigreadersite
July 11: Pause for Tales
July 17: Quiet Quilter

Giveaway

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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Delilah by Angela Hunt

Sampson and Delilah. Even now her name is a bad girl name. What could possibly motivate a woman to seduce a man and then eventually cause his death? The scripture verses only go so far. 

Angela Hunt gives us a possible perspective on this infamous woman from the Bible. In this book, we meet Delilah, a woman who's step father has passed. She and her mother are now under the dictatorship of her step-brother. 

This is life changing for her. Meanwhile, Sampson, when he wasn't doing acts of great renowned, was an "ordinary" guy with a calling on his life. He longed for what most men do, a wife and kids. Delilah is not from his linage. He is a Nazarite, sworn to serve God and follow some set rules. 

She is an exotic, beautiful pagan Egyptian. These opposites are not just attracted, but deadly. Told from both "sides" of the story, this book was well interwoven with scripture and rich in the settings of the time. I enjoyed it. 

My copy came from Net Galley and Bethany House in exchange for my honest review and nothing more.

Nice Cover- Don't you think so too? 

About
A Complex and Compelling Glimpse at One of the Bible's Most Notorious Women
Life is not easy in Philistia, especially not for a woman and child alone. When beautiful, wounded Delilah finds herself begging for food to survive, she resolves that she will find a way to defeat all the men who have taken advantage of her. She will overcome the roadblocks life has set before her, and she will find riches and victory for herself. 

When she meets a legendary man called Samson, she senses that in him lies the means for her victory. By winning, seducing, and betraying the hero of the Hebrews, she will attain a position of national prominence. After all, she is beautiful, she is charming, and she is smart. No man, not even a supernaturally gifted strongman, can best her in a war of wits.
Angela Hunt  author of more than 100 published books and with nearly 5 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the New York Times bestselling author of The Note, The Nativity Story, and Esther: Royal Beauty.Romantic Times Book Club presented Angela with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 2008, Angela completed her PhD in Biblical Studies in Theology. She and her husband live in Florida with their mastiffs. She can be found online at www.angelahuntbooks.com.

A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell

There is a Haven on Orchard Lane, and for that haven, those in need of its respite and healing. Former actress Charlotte Ward finds herself needing to reconnect with daughter, Rosalind. In fact, Rosalind is going to have to help take care of her mother, who has a husband that treats her badly. He's a jerk, using her for all her financial worth, and treating her like a prisoner. Her hope of any kind of life left at all is her daughter. A daughter who she failed in so many ways, thinking that she was doing the best thing for her. There is a great deal of pain that needs healing there. 

Meanwhile, Rosalind appears to have found love, or at least romance. She went to the book store for Sci-Fi books, and came away with a lot more than just books to read. She found Jude, and his dog Jinny. Now how will that turn out? So many questions, and such amazing answers as the pages go by rather quickly. The good, bad, ugly, hurting, forgiven, and much more are all in this book. I liked the Victorian era it was portrayed it, and I didn't think this book left anything too major hanging without answers. 

My copy came from Net Galley and Bethany House in exchange for my honest review and nothing more.





About

An urgent escape . . . a wounded heart . . .
Will Charlotte find the solace she longs for at the cottage on Orchard Lane?
Famed actress Charlotte Ward stepped away from the Victorian London stage five years ago. Now in desperate circumstances, she tries to restart her career--only to experience a complete collapse. Against her better judgment, Charlotte's estranged daughter, Rosalind, comes to her mother's rescue and moves her to a quiet English coastal village where her mother can evade the gossip columnists, at least for a time. 

Charlotte is grateful to re-establish even tenuous family ties with Rosalind. As one with regrets over her own romantic past, she's happy to see love blossom for her daughter. For Rosalind, however, it's time away from teaching, and now she must care for the mother who wasn't there for her. And what could possibly be more complicated than romance?

But there can be no permanent escape from the threats of recent months. As the privacy they seek is threatened, mother and daughter must make some difficult decisions--ones that jeopardize those they care about most.

Beloved Author Lawana Blackwell Returns With a Charming and Memorable Tale!



Lawana Blackwell has thirteen published novels to her credit, many of them set in the English countryside of the 19th century. She and her husband live in Frisco, Texas.

Friday, June 24, 2016

From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden

I have liked Elizabeth Camden's books in the past, but this one is possibly my favorite. It's 1897 Boston, and Stella West is in town. She'd rather be in London, but something happened. 

Editor Romulus White wants Stella to work for him and his cousin, Evelyn. They run a magazine called the Scientific World. 

Stella has a job, and her reason for being where she is isn't a job per say. She is out to find her sister's killer. Finding Gwendolyn's killer is paramount to her. Things are hard, and glum, but then Romulus seems to hold some keys. 

Does he believe like the others that her sister's death was an accident, or will he work to help her get resolution and closure? 

This book is in-depth, and rich, and had so much to it! From the editorial aspects to Stella's work and hobbies, it is very alive in the telling, and deep in characters. 

My copy came from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review and nothing more.



About
Stella West's artistic talent made her the toast of London, but when her beloved sister dies under mysterious circumstances she abandons everything and heads for Boston. With single-minded determination she fights to pierce the ring of secrecy surrounding her sister's death. Upon meeting Romulus White, a publisher with connections into every important power circle in the city, she quickly realizes he could be a valuable ally in navigating Boston society.

Romulus has been pursuing Stella for years to create art for his magazine. Her luminous illustrations are the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry, and he will stop at nothing to get her on board. 

Sparks fly the instant they join forces, but Romulus is unsettled by the unwelcome attraction he feels toward Stella, fearing she might be the one woman who could disrupt his hard-won independence. He may have finally met his match in Stella, but is helping her solve the mystery of her sister's death worth the risk to his publishing empire?

Elizabeth Camden is the author of eight historical novels and has been honored with a RITA Award, Christy Award, and Daphne du Maurier Award. With a master's in history and a master's in library science, she is a research librarian by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. She lives with her husband in Florida. Learn more at www.elizabethcamden.com.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Frayed By Kara Terzis

Ava Hale, her sister is dead and she is writing her letters. Why did Kelsey get killed? Then her sister's old buddies show up in Ava's life. Mainly, Rafe Lawrence, her sister's BFF. Now that she has an inside edge into her sister's life, which she was somehow missing, will she find the answers she seeks about her sister's death? 

My problem was that the end of the book felt like it was pasted out of another book. It didn't fit properly at all, and that bothers me. 

My copy came from Net Galley I'm exchange for my honest review and nothing more.

Frayed
By Kara Terzis
June 7, 2016; Tradepaper, ISBN 9781492631736



Book Info
Title: Frayed
Author: Kara Terzis
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Summary:

Ava Hale will do anything to find her sister’s killer…although she’ll wish she hadn’t. Because the harder Ava looks, the more secrets she uncovers about Kesley, and the more she begins to think that the girl she called sister was a liar. A sneak. A stranger. 

And Kesley’s murderer could be much closer than she thought …

A debut novel from Wattpad award-winner Kara Terzis, Frayed is a psychological whodunit that will keep you guessing!


Buy Links:
Barnes&Noble-  http://ow.ly/v3PD300XLUi
BooksAMillion- http://ow.ly/l26N300XMcA

About the Author:

Kara Terzis was twelve when she wrote her first novel, and has not stopped writing since. Later she started publishing her work on Wattpad where in 2013 she won Sourcebooks Story Development Prize. She lives with her family in Sydney, Australia. You can visit her online at www.diaryofateenwriter.wordpress.com

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @kara_terzis

Excerpt from Frayed:

Dear Kesley,
My therapist tells me I should write you a letter. Every time I see her, she asks whether I’ve started, and every session I tell her it’s a stupid idea.
But here I am, writing a letter to a dead girl. I tried saying it’s morbid, but that ran dry when she said it could be therapeutic. Like flushing all my thoughts and feelings out of my system and onto paper.
I pondered over where I should start the letter. Where, after all, did our story begin? From the moment you were born…or died? I chose the latter, thinking that at least the letter would be done quicker that way.
Starting this letter is one of the hardest things I’ve done, Kesley. There are so many places I could start, but I chose this place. So here goes nothing, Kesley, because it began, and ended, with you.
And that end began when Rafe Lawrence came back to town.
CHAPTER ONE
The unhealthy growl of a car pulled me from my thoughts. I fixed a smile onto my face as my best friend, Lia Zhang, pulled up to the curb.
The window slid down with a hum and she poked her head out the opening. Her long curtain of glossy black hair looked sleek and model-like, achieving a quality that all those hair product ads promised. Lia’s half-Filipino, half-Chinese heritage showed through in the flawlessness of her skin, too. 
“Get in,” she said. “You must be freezing your ass out there.” 
I shivered at her words, only just then noticing the way that the cold seemed to bite at my skin, but I ignored the foreboding feeling that crept up on me. I walked around to the passenger seat and slid in, the warmth from the heater engulfing me. Oddly enough, I didn’t find it comforting at all. 
Music pumped from the car speakers, but on seeing my gaze flicker toward it, she rolled her eyes and turned it down. She knew I hated music.
“You were ten minutes late,” I said. “Why?” 
She pressed her lips together before she laughed. “Yeah, I know. Such a rebel, right? ‘Cause, like, I have a record of being so punctual anyway.” Lia was always known for being late. Fashionably, but still——late was late. Time was precious. It could seep past you without you even knowing. 
And then, in the blink of an eye, it could vanish. 
I tilted my head in her direction. I knew Lia like I knew the back of my hand. Better, probably. And by the way her eyes were too focused on the road ahead, I knew that something was wrong. Just like it always did, her facade cracked.
“Just don’t be angry at me, okay?” she whispered. 
“You know I won’t,” I said, and despite the thick cloud of depression that still covered me, I managed a small smile. Or a replica of what used to be my smile, anyway. Most people didn’t look deep enough to see the difference.
Lia shot me a skeptical look, but answered. “I ran into someone this morning, at the café.”
“Who?” I asked. 
“Rafe Lawrence.” 
My mind went blank for a moment as I stared out the window. I was distantly aware of the thumping coming from my chest, getting louder and louder as the seconds ticked passed. Breathe, Ava, breathe.
“Yeah,” said Lia. “I know, right? He leaves, and suddenly, a few months after Kesley dies—” She broke off with a stiff glance in my direction. “Anyway,” she continued, “he’s back now. He told me that he wants to talk to you.” I swallowed, but my throat was dry. It felt like I was swallowing parchment. My tongue felt too thick in my mouth and I couldn’t seem to form any words.
“Right,” I managed. 
“You’re not going to go, right?” she said.
I hesitated. Was I?
“Don’t be insane, Ava. You know the boy has issues. I never understood what Kesley even saw in him, anyway.” Her jaw tightened for a fraction of a second.
“They weren’t together like that,” I said, cutting her off swiftly. An instant defensiveness had sprung up inside me of me.
“If you say so,” Lia muttered, eyeing the marked road that stretched ahead of us. I sighed and glanced out the window once more. Lia and I were both stubborn; we both thought that we were always right. That was where we clashed. Continually. But she was also the best and only friend that I had, so I clung on tight to her.
She and Jackson were the only ones I had left
But I also knew Lia had seen Rafe as more than just a friend of Kesley’s, something she’d deny profusely, as he’d rejected her on multiple occasions.
I’d always wondered just how bitter she felt toward Kesley about that. 
The pine trees were a blur of green and brown as we sped past, heading in the general direction of the one school that Circling Pines had. Winter was drawing closer by the second, though the thought didn’t bother me. At least it would give me an excuse to stay indoors all day. 
“What exactly did Rafe tell you?” I asked Lia as we passed the only shopping strip: a collection of café’s and overpriced clothes shops.
“Not much,” Lia admitted. “Only that he wanted to meet you for coffee this afternoon to talk.” There was a pause, a very deliberate, prolonged pause. “I also told him that you wouldn’t go.”
“Lia…”
“I know! I’m sorry! But you can’t actually be considering this.”
I folded my arms over my chest and glared at the pine trees. My hands shook, and I resisted the urge to ball them into fists. “Until you give me a good reason why, then I’m going,” I said in a surprisingly calm voice.
Lia tapped the steering wheel in a melodic sort of way, though I knew it was more of a nervous habit than a conscious thought. It looked like she was fighting against something she wanted to say, as if she was worried it might get me upset. I’d seen that look plenty of times in the past weeks. 
“What’s bothering you?” I said.
“What do you really know about Rafe?” she blurted out.
“Um. He was a year younger than my sister, spent way too much time in juvenile detention, my foster mother never liked him much—”
“Okay, okay,” interrupted Lia. “But I mean, what do you know about Rafe and your sister?”
“I don’t know, she never told me much about him, all right? Can we just leave it at that?” The school gates were coming into view, iron-wrought and impressive looking, with ivy that clung to the metal like a winter coat.
“Fine,” said Lia. She angled the car into a free parking space near the back of the almost full parking lot and killed the engine. The lot was deserted. Everyone must have been in class already, meaning that Lia and I were horribly late. Lia pulled the car keys out of the ignition and stuffed them into her jacket pocket with a brief glance in my direction. “All I’m saying is that your sister was murdered, and there’s a killer on the loose.”
Her words sent a chill through me more than the bitterly cold air outside.


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