New to You (4): Sarah Reviews Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer {+ a giveaway}

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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Next up for New to You is Sarah from What Sarah Read. I was really excited she signed up and wanted to read Letters to the Lost. You will see in her review that Gail and I have been telling her to read it for a long time. Check out her review below and find out! (Make sure you check out the giveaway at the end!)

New to You (4): Sarah Reviews Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer {+ a giveaway}Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
on April 4th 2017
Amazon, Goodreads

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

About a year or so ago I started hearing some buzz about an upcoming new release called “Letters to the Lost” and I was immediately intrigued. More specifically, Andi and Gail were raving about the book and how amazing it was (they both read it in one day), so I KNEW I had to add it to my TBR shelf. I added my copy to the pile of books on my nightstand and it just sat there…and sat there…and sat there. For almost a year. Even after I continued to hear amazing things about it from many other friends, I never got around to grabbing it off the shelf to actually read it. I look back at all those months I wasted and wonder why I was such a fool. How could I have waiting SO long to read such an amazing book? I will be eternally grateful to Andi for hosting this feature and finally giving me that push to read “Letters to the Lost”.

I absolutely loved the dynamic between the main characters, Juliet and Declan. The good girl and the bad boy trope is in full effect, but in a totally unique and refreshing way. These two get to know each other before they even meet each other and I absolutely loved how the relationship between them unfolds with plenty of twists, turns and bumps along the way. The chemistry that Juliet and Declan have is undeniable and I couldn’t get enough of the letters they shared back and forth. Their relationship was messy, complicated and not at all your standard boy meets girl love story. They were perfectly imperfect. For all the differences between them, the letters they wrote showed that they had more in common then they ever could have imagined. They bonded over their grief and their feelings of isolation, and even without ever meeting, they confided their deepest emotions in each other. The feels are SO STRONG in this book and I loved every minute of it.

All that being said, I think the thing I loved the most about this book was how the author refused to fall back on labels and assumptions, and instead challenged them. In ways both obvious and those more subtle, Kemmerer shows us that you can never really know what is going on in someone’s life and that you shouldn’t always jump to conclusions. “Letters to the Lost” has some shocking secrets and twists I never saw coming and I was completely invested in the story. Give me a book about friendship, emotions, family dynamics, self-discovery and, yes, falling in love…and I’m a very happy reader. This one had it all!

Oh, and I know this review is supposed to be about “Letters to the Lost”, but I can’t end my obsessive fangirling without mentioning the companion novel coming out next month, “More Than We Can Tell”. It’s technically not a sequel but does take place in the same “universe” and features one of my favorite characters from Letters, Declan’s best friend Rev. As hard as it may be to believe, I actually loved it more than Letters…and that is saying a LOT! It’s even more heart-breaking and complicated and I cried my eyes out several times. If that’s not a reason to pre-order I don’t know what is.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 3, 2018. It is US ONLY!

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Thanks Sarah for signing up for New to You! I’m so happy you loved Letters to the Lost AND More Than We Can Tell. Really such a fantastic companion series!

Have you read Letters to the Lost yet? If so what about the companion?

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New to You (3): Kelsey Reviews The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash {+ a giveaway}

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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Next up for New to You is Kelsey. She was the one that started this whole thing when she read and reviewed Parallel so it was only fitting she came back. When she selected her books I thought The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash would work for her. Check out her review below and find out! (Make sure you check out the giveaway at the end!)

New to You (3): Kelsey Reviews The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash {+ a giveaway}The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
on June 14th 2016
Amazon, Goodreads

Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Archie and Veronica. Althena and Noth.…Graham and Roxy?

Graham met his best friend, Roxy, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.

But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.

When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be…even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.

Andi and I have always had very similar tastes in books, and I always turn to her for some recs when I need them. So, when she started this feature I was so excited, because I knew there were books on there she has been telling/yelling at me to read (I actually have an ‘Andi Told Me To Read This’ shelf on Goodreads). Out of the few I chose, her final choice for me was The Geeks Guide To Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash, and as always, it was a great choice indeed!

The setting and overall theme for this book is one that I have not come across too often yet in my reading: hardcore fandoms and New York Comic Con, and I loved it! I think as a reader I can totally appreciate the characters enthusiasm for their favorite author Robert Zinc and his series The Althena Chronicles as I do with book series and characters that I love (ahem, finding a book signing last minute in NYC and making my mother run 2 miles with me to meet Morgan Matson. Worth it.). Comic Con has always been something my husband and I have wanted to attend, and now I REALLY NEED TO GO.  Hearing the descriptions of the convention center, the cosplay they saw, the exhibits, and just the overall energy has just heightened that want and definitely boosted it up on my “things to do” list. I think I even picked up on some good advice – i.e. have a plan! Have a schedule! People are crazy!

I want to be friends with these characters in real life. Graham just seems like the real deal to me – thoughtful, nerdy, creative. He wants to tell his best friend, Roxy, that he has feelings for her, and he wants to do it in a fashion worthy of a book or a movie. He plans an elaborate couple of days at NYCC centered around everything she loves, and while they are there he would find the perfect time to tell her his feelings. He gives it his all, but well, life throws one curveball after another at him (as it so often does).

I know Andi said something similar in her blog, but this book is just SO REAL and so authentic. Real situations with real outcomes that honestly aren’t always ideal. Things didn’t go as planned, ideas didn’t work, and timing didn’t always work. BUT its how life kept moving and going on as it would for anyone of us, and sometimes things just work out they way that they should in the end. Between this setting and this fun group of friends (and new friends) this book was an easy thumbs up from me! Can I have a sequel about Casey or Felicia now?? *grabby hands*

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 16, 2018. It is US ONLY!

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Thanks Kelsey for signing up for New to You! I’m so happy you loved it. And I’m thrilled I have a special shelf on your Goodreads!

Here’s my review of The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love.

Have any of you read anything by Sarvenaz Tash?

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New to You (2): Lauren Reviews All in Pieces by Suzanne Young {+ a giveaway}

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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First up is Lauren from Bookmark Lit. She came to me with the book she wanted to read because I have been talking about it for years. 🙂 So without further ado, here’s Lauren’ thoughts on All in Pieces by Suzanne Young. (Make sure you check out the giveaway at the end!)

New to You (2): Lauren Reviews All in Pieces by Suzanne Young {+ a giveaway}All in Pieces by Suzanne Young
Published by Simon Pulse
on November 8th 2016
Amazon, Goodreads

“Anger-management issues.”

That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.

The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy.

Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own, a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself—except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant.

And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely.

I’m already a huge fan of Suzanne Young’s books, but for some reason I kept putting this one off… even with Andi’s frequent recommendation. I jumped at the chance to read this for her blog because I knew that I’d finally have to do it – no excuses! I think the biggest thing that was deterring me is that I don’t really do heavier contemporaries. I like fluffy romance and don’t spend a lot of time being sad during books anymore. Well, clearly something worked with this book because I sat down and finished it in one sitting on a Sunday morning.

The premise of the story is that Savannah assaults her ex-boyfriend when he insults her younger brother. She spends most of her time taking care of Evan, going to her new school to deal with her anger management issues, and hanging out with her best friends. Her ex, Patrick, is still after her, looking for an apology, when she starts spending time with someone else from her class. Cameron is gorgeous and sweet and I totally fell in love with him. Savannah starts to open up again and soften her hard exterior. I loved her friendship with Retha and Retha’s boyfriend, Travis, even if it wasn’t necessarily the healthiest. There was a decent amount of girl-hate and judgement, plus dealing with their problems through violence, but I still felt myself drawn to them and understanding where some of their anger came from. Savannah was not a perfect character by any means. She was stubborn and unwavering in her support of her brother, even if it wasn’t always what was best for his future. I always appreciated where she was coming from even if I wanted to shake some sense into her almost every single chapter.

I don’t want to spoil too much about what happens, plot-wise, but I will say that everything comes to a head later in the story and it broke my heart. It’s a really hard story, but it’s one worth telling. I adored the last few chapters of the book and am really happy to note that it was relatively drama-free (at least romance-wise), which I love. I learned that I should absolutely never sleep on a Suzanne Young book, even if it doesn’t seem like a ~me~ book. The only reason this doesn’t get a full five stars from me is because of the frequent frustration with Savannah and the way some problems were handled, even though the constant fighting did make me smile way more than something like that should have! The moral of this story is to always listen to Andi when she yells at you to read a book, especially if the book is by one of your favorite authors and you have no excuses!

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 1, 2018. It is US ONLY!

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Thanks Lauren for signing up for New to You! I’m so happy you loved it. Fills my heart with joy!

Here’s my review of All in Pieces.

Have any of you read All in Pieces?

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It’s a Celebration {giveaway}

5 years is a long time to do anything. I mean you are typically only in high school for 4 years. College is roughly 4 (although my school was 5). People sometimes don’t even last a year at a job. But for 5 years I have nurtured my little corner of the internet and have made Andi’s ABCs what it is today, my place to share my love of all things books, clothes and more recently handmade cards.

Happy 5 year Blogiversary to me!

In the 5 years I have been doing this (I have been doing it longer, but I was co-blogging at Galley Smith when I started), Andi’s ABCs has had a lot of ups and downs and has gone through changes. My very first post basically showed I knew nothing about the journey I was in for. I had no pictures, no banner, well no anything really. It was just words. How silly of me.

Over the 5 years the blog went through some changes.

I had three different banner design/looks. The 1st two were of my own creation, but last year when I hit year 4 I decided I was going to have someone make something for me so I hired the amazing Rachel of Hello, Chelly and she wowed me with her design that captured exactly what I wanted. She captured everything I wanted Andi’s ABCs to feel like with an awesome banner and design. I can’t thank her enough. Not to mention she is one of my favorite people I don’t get to see enough *stupid distance*.

I had some features come and go. There has been The ABCs, Book a Date, and Parallel Time Loop (to name a few). I’ve done blog tours, had guest posts, and got to interview some of my favorite authors and people (Perkins, Kenneally, Akins, Young). I’ve gotten to post on Simon Teen’s blog, Riveted Lit not once but twice (All in Pieces, Alex, Approximately) and I would LOVE to do it again. And I have gotten to moderate signings for Sarah J. Maas (2 times, once co-moderating on a freaking stage in an auditorium with Sarah from What Sarah Read), introduce AC Gaughen and Emery Lord, and moderate a signing for Tiffany Schmidt and AC Gaughen. Not to mention run a panel at Boston Teen Author Fest with Sarah. I have also been lucky enough to go to BEA  (2014, 2015) BookCon once, and ALA Midwinter when it was held in Boston. I have also been able to host the Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge in 2017 and again in 2018 (SIGN-UP!).

Over 5 years I have also read some really fantastic books. You all know that Anna and the French Kiss is my favorite. I’m not very subtle about that [shrugs]. But I have also found some other books that are just fantastic. My new blog feature, New to You, is going to showcase some of these, but here is just a sampling (click on the cover for the review):

Over 5 years I probably have close to 50-100 books that hold a special place in my heart and have become some sort of favorite. But for the sake of time These are just a sample. Who knows, maybe one day I will do a post of my top 100 books. 🙂

I have also been lucky enough to meet some of my favorite authors. Some I have spent time with at signings, others just sitting at a bar having drinks. Some I even consider friends which I never would have expected when I started. I can’t list them all but some of the highlights have been Miranda Kenneally, Sarah Dessen, Sarah Maas, Sarah Ockler, Tiffany Schmidt, Emery Lord, AC Gaughen, Jodi Meadows, Rainbow Rowell, Morgan Matson, and of course the one and only Stephanie Perkins. There have been plenty of others in between like Leigh Bardugo, Kristin Cashore, Marie Lu, Marissa Meyers, Lauren Oliver. Honestly I could go on and on. But just know what a privelege it has been to meet every author I have had the chance to.

Truly though the best part of this 5 year journey has been becoming friends with some of you. Whether you are a fellow blogger, a reader that I have connected with on Twitter, or someone I have became actual friends with, I couldn’t have done any of this without you. Getting to meet some of you and talk to you either on Twitter or over text has made these last 5 years amazing.

      

And because all of you are the reason this blog exists it’s time for me to say thank you with a giveaway.

This giveaway is for an Amazon Fire 7, 7″ display Tablet with Alexa and surprises picked out by me. The giveaway will run from 1/11/18 to 1/25/18 at 11:59PM EST. It is US ONLY. I love you my international readers but shipping is just too much. Giveaway accounts will be disqualified so please don’t enter if you are just a bot looking for free stuff.

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Make sure you stick with Andi’s ABCs this year. There will be a boat load of giveaway over the year for my new feature New to You with all of these books as a possible prize at different times:

There will also be giveaways for the monthly topic posts for the Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge so sign-up for that. Other new features will include My Favorite Things, What I’m…, and a yet to be announced idea I plan to do with Gail from Ticket to Anywhere.I am alos heading to ApollyCon in DC in March where I will see many of you fab people and get to finally meet Suzanne Young. And I hope to go to ALA in New Orleans and hang with some of my Fantasy Football girls. It’s gonna be a good year and I hope you follow around.

Now if you stuck around to read this whole post and not just jump to the giveaway, I will leave you with this:

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Spotlight: Busted – Gina Ciocca {giveaway}

Spotlight: Busted – Gina Ciocca {giveaway}Busted by Gina Ciocca
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
on January 2nd 2018
Amazon, Goodreads

Catching cheaters and liars is a lucrative hobby—until you fall for one of the suspects. Perfect for fans of Veronica Mars, this new novel from the author of Last Year’s Mistake will steal your heart!

Marisa never planned to be a snoop for hire. It wasn’t like she wanted to catch her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. But as her reputation for sniffing out cheaters spreads all over school, Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.

And her next case? It’s for ex-frenemy Kendall. She’s convinced her boyfriend, TJ, has feelings for someone else and persuades Marissa to start spying on him. But the more Marisa gets to know sincere and artistic TJ, the more she starts to fall for him. Worse yet, the feelings seem to be mutual. Marisa knows she needs to give up her investigation—and the spoken-for guy who may just be the love of her life. Then she uncovers new secrets about Kendall and TJ, secrets that take “cheater” to a whole new level…

Buy Links:
Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Chapters | iBooks | Indiebound

About Gina Ciocca

Gina Ciocca graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in English, but in her mind, she never left high school. She relocated from Connecticut to Georgia, where she lives with her husband and son. When she's not reading or writing, you can find her taking long walks around the lake in her neighborhood.

 

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Marisa’s Top 5 Tips For Sleuthing:

Hey there. Marisa Palmera, Private Eye here. Okay, so I don’t actually call myself that, and neither does anyone else. In fact, I never meant to become a sleuth-for-hire. But spend one night scaling your best-friend’s boyfriend’s house to take incriminating pictures, and suddenly everyone wants you to be something you’re not…and when they’re willing to line your sadly lacking pockets for it, it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

So, should you find yourself an unwitting Girl Friday (or even a witting one… Is “witting” a thing?) like I did, here are some tips that just may save your butt:

1. Always have a camera handy. Whether it’s your cell phone, or the fancy camera you borrowed from your school’s yearbook club, you never know when you’ll need to snap an evidence shot. Just, um, make sure you turn off the flash if said camera is aimed through a window into a dark living room. I may have learned this the hard way.

2. Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Sounds ominous and dramatic, I know. But if someone gives you the vibe that they shouldn’t be let out of your sight? GO WITH IT.

3. Think fast. Suck at lying? Me too. Get over it, because you’ll be fudging the truth a lot.

4. But know when to say no. Weave enough white lies, and suddenly they’re a sticky, tangled web with you trapped inside. Know when it’s time to run, and do it like the flames of hell are licking your feet.

5. Don’t fall for the person you’re investigating. Yeah. You’re just gonna have to do as I say and not as I do on this one. Oops.

My eyes darted from TJ’s dark, furrowed eyebrows to the logo on the left breast of his shirt and I sat up straighter.

“Um, where’d you get the Maple Acres shirt?”

His expression didn’t change. “Maple Acres.”

I fought the urge to roll my eyes. “Right. I meant, do you work there?”

“Yup.” He sat back in his chair and pulled at the logo, stretching the white cotton away from his chest before turning his attention back to the computer screen.

“Long time now.”

As soon as he said it, my memory was triggered. I’d always thought he looked familiar but could never quite place where I’d seen him. As I thought back to every trip I’d taken to Maple Acres, twice a year since I was two years old, the image of a boy with dark curls stuffed beneath a knit cap and a heavy flannel coat that made him look like Paul Bunyan clicked into place. The farm stretched over two hundred and fifty acres, selling pumpkins and cider and offering hayrides and a corn maze in a fall, then Christmas trees that you cut down yourself in the winter. The place had a storybook quality to it that I loved, and I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to figure out TJ was a part of it.

“We go there for our tree every year. I think I’ve seen you.”

TJ kept his eyes on the screen. “Probably. I’m usually bundling the trees or in the checkout area. Sometimes I drive the tractor for the hayrides.” He glanced over long enough to shoot me a half smile. “Maybe you’ve seen the back of my head.”

That would’ve been an occasion I definitely hadn’t noticed him. The one and only time I’d taken a hayride had been the lone trip I’d made without Charlie or my dad, both of whom are allergic to hay. I’d gone with Jordan. Superman himself could’ve been driving the tractor and I would’ve been too busy drooling over Jordan in his plaid button-down with the sleeves rolled up around his gorgeous forearms to notice.

Vom, vom, vom. I pushed the chunks down and forged ahead. “So, that thing you didn’t want to do the last time we talked, is that… still an issue?”

“Uh, no. That fell through, so my article should be good to go on Monday.”

He’s not making this easy for me, that’s for sure.

“Take your time, really. I hope you didn’t cancel your plans because of me.”

He glanced over and gave me a wry smile. “No.”

“So, um, the tree farm. I go all the time.” I mentally slapped myself. Twice a year is all the time? “Do you live nearby?”

“You know the green colonial across the street behind the barn?”

“Uh huh.”

He smiled again. “That’s my house.”

“Wait, I thought the owners lived there.”

“They do. We have for my whole life.”

“Your family owns Maple Acres?” I blinked a few times, dumbfounded by my own dumbness.

“Well, co-owns. Have you seen the guy with the white hair who sneaks free gourds to all the little kids at Halloween? That’s my Uncle Roger. He’s there all the time, but my dad does more of the financial stuff.”

My face lit up. “That’s awesome! I love that place! I took a picture of the white barn from the top of the hill once and tried to sketch it. All the trees had snow on them, the sky was this amazing gray color and the pond was reflecting it” – I remembered mid-babble that I’d veered off course and reigned myself back in – “anyway, let’s just say it was magical, but drawing isn’t my strong suit. So, um, if you didn’t move, then why did you switch schools?”

TJ’s eyes slid back to the computer screen and his shoulder tensed ever so slightly, as if I’d brought up something he didn’t really want to talk about. Now I was getting somewhere.

“Our property is right at the intersection of three town lines. Technically, I could’ve gone to any one of the high schools.” He stabbed a few keys with his pointer finger, eliciting three clipped clicks. Maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me, but I swore his jaw tightened. “I left Templeton because it was time for a change of scenery.”

“It must’ve been hard, though, transferring for your senior year.” And pretty odd, in my opinion. “I’m sure you had a lot of ties there.”
TJ’s fingers paused in mid-air over the keyboard and he looked at me. “Not that many.”

This time when he turned his attention back to the screen, I knew our conversation had ended. He ran a hand through his hair in a gesture that had a definite undertone of irritation. Whether it related to my question or some memory pertaining to the school, I couldn’t tell. But when I caught sight of the leather bracelet on his wrist, my desire to exclaim OMG THAT’S GORGEOUS WHERE DID YOU GET IT almost overruled my desire to ask what the hell his comment was supposed to mean. I’d been baiting him to say, “Yeah, my girlfriend goes there.” He hadn’t. What did that mean?

Maybe nothing.

But damn it all to hell, I suddenly had to know for sure.

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