Review: Start Here – Trish Doller {giveaway}

Review: Start Here – Trish Doller {giveaway}Start Here by Trish Doller
Published by Simon Pulse
Published: August 13, 2019
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five-stars

Two teens go on a life-changing sailing trip as they deal with the grief of losing their best friend in this heartwrenching, hopeful novel from the author of Something Like Normal and In a Perfect World.

Willa and Taylor were supposed to spend the summer after high school sailing from Ohio to Key West with their best friend, Finley. But Finley died before graduation, leaving them with a twenty-five-foot sailboat, a list of clues leading them to destinations along the way, and a friendship that’s hanging by a thread.

Now, Willa and Taylor have two months and two thousand miles to discover how life works without Finley—and to decide if their own friendship is worth saving.

From acclaimed author Trish Doller comes a poignant tale of forgiveness, grief, and the brilliant discoveries we make within ourselves when we least expect it.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

It’s safe to say I’m a Trish Doller fan girl. I don’t think she could write anything that I won’t love. My love started with Something Like Normal, her debut, and has only grown. So when I heard about Start Here I was so excited. There is something I love about a good friendship book and mixing one of my favorite authors with a favorite kind of story? YES PLEASE! And I am happy to say Trish hit it out of the park with this one.

Start Here is the story of Willa and Taylor, two girls left behind after their best friend Finley dies. The plan was always for the three of them to sail from Ohio to Key West, but when Finley dies before graduation the two remaining girls reluctantly decide to go using the 25 clues that Finley left for them. With time and a lot of distance to go, Willa and Taylor try to figure out if they have a friendship without Finley or was she the glue that held them all together.

What I personally loved about Start Here was the journey. Not the literal journey of the 2000 miles from Ohio to Key West, but the journey of Willa and Taylor. Both of these girls are just lost without the one person that made them feel like they were special like they had someone to belong to. With her death, they were both gutted and not sure how they fit in the world or with each other. Over their trip and with the help of Finley’s clues, they learn who they are, what they are made of, and how they work as a duo instead of a trio. That was what I loved the most. Watching these 2 girls figure things out and have meltdowns and fights and breakdowns was what made this book a 5 star read. It captured the essence of loss and moving forward and uncertain friendships to perfection.

Start Here is a book that you definitely need to add to your TBR. It is romance light, but friendship heavy and something everyone should read. I highly recommend going on this journey with these complicated characters.

Giveaway for one copy of Start Here by Trish Doller. US ONLY. Ends 11:59pm EST 8/19/19.

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New to You (19): Kate Reviews Something Like Normal by Trish Doller {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 Kate from Beyond Bookish. When Kate signed up she mentioned how she heard some really great things about Trish Doller (ALL TRUE!) and how she has been meaning to read her. It was perfect! I love Something Like Normal so much and I hoped she would too. Let’s see what Kate had to say:

New to You (19): Kate Reviews Something Like Normal by Trish Doller {giveaway}Something like Normal by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Published: June 19, 2012
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five-stars

When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.

As a school librarian I am constantly looking for stories that introduce my students to different types of characters and experiences. I generally have little issues finding female stories and characters but I constantly struggle reaching boys since many (in my specific experience) either do not like to read, or lean more towards nonfiction and/or sports books. Something Like Normal is an absolutely perfect realistic fiction that will definitely speak to the teens that I work with and has truly made an impact on my reading experience as well!

Here are three reasons to pick up this awesome book!

1. An Unlikely Hero
Travis, while being a typical (albeit flawed) teen is also a combat war veteran. I have never read or heard of a story that has a veteran protagonist in YA and it intrigued me from the very beginning! I knew immediately that Travis was going to be a very special character and I have been book talking him to many of students ever since. Travis is real, complex and complicated and it really shows that you can make mistakes, feel regret but strive to do better. Your mistakes do not define you. I personally identified with him because I felt like I grew up with boys just like him. Boys that went into things with the absolute best of intentions but face the harrowing and real challenges that they must deal with.

2. Imperfect Family and Relationships
Travis is not always painted in the best light but his family and friends certainly have their own issues as well. His father is emotionally abusive and constantly finds fault with his oldest son. Again this can be all too typical for many young people where in they feel their only way to escape is to get as far away as possible. Once Travis comes back home he is dealing with his own demons (plus a not so healthy dose of PTSD) which many of his friends are not sympathetic to, this is just a reality of life and I loved how the author approached it with such a beautiful amount of grace and humility. I certainly do not feel that we as the reader are meant to dislike his friends and family as much as we are to understand that these sort of relationships can be very complex especially surrounding the type of issues that Travis must face.

3. Treatment of Mental Illness
I love it when we get to see proper depictions of mental illness of young people in YA fiction. Even within the best circumstances (which Tyler doesn’t necessarily have) things like anxiety and depression can be a real problem and is a huge struggle for a large amount of teens. As someone who struggles with mental illness and family members who deal with PTSD I can understand this stigma surround therapy, medication and other treatments. In Travis’s case he feels that he must deal with any issues involving his friend’s death as a man and as a soldier which ultimately does not go in his favor. I think this is  probably a common view amongst men and soldiers which makes the barrier to treatment even that more difficult. It is rare to get this perspective in a YA story but I feel it is so important and a necessary piece for young people to see, those dealing with mental illness or not. Doller did a fantastic job of creating a story that is sympathetic but not preachy and allowed for a great journey as Travis continues to grow and learn as he begins to heal.

I could not recommend this novel more! I really am so grateful that Andi allowed me to read and review it. I really suggest this story for anyone serving teens (teachers, librarians, counselors), those struggling with mental illness and especially those who do not feel like they see themselves in what they read. We need more stories like this and I hope Something Like Normal is the catalyst for more amazing stories like it!

Twitter: @beyondbook_kate // Instagram: @beyondbookish // Blog: beyondbookish.com

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Thanks Kate for signing up for New to You. Travis still breaks my heart when I think about him. I’m so happy you loved this gem of a story!

My review of SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL

Giveaway is US only and ends on November 4, 2018 at 11:59pm EST.

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On My Radar – May Releases (9)

I’m not sure if this is a common fact in the reading world, but I know us bloggers all know this…May is the month when all the books are released. I swear every week there is a new book we are all dying to read that is coming out. One year I had 3 favorite authors releasing books on the same day, I’m looking at your Sarah J. Maas, Morgan Matson and Kiera Cass.

Luckily this year I don’t have a ton releasing on one day. They are spaced out and I have been lucky enough to read three that I was really excited about. At least the pressure is off there. But there are still a lot coming out in May that I want so I figured I woudl share ones that are on my radar and ones that should be on yours.

On My Radar – May Releases (9)A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3) by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Published: May 2nd 2017
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Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

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On My Radar – May Releases (9)The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Published: May 16th 2017
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Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake and spending quality time with her parents. But when her mom's cancer reappears, Lucy falters-in her faith and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend "pauses" their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp-one for troubled kids-Lucy isn't sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

Emotionally-charged and unforgettable, Emery Lord's storytelling shines with the promise of new love and true friendship, even in the face of life's biggest challenges.

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On My Radar – May Releases (9)The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Published: May 16th 2017
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There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

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On My Radar – May Releases (9)In a Perfect World by Trish Doller
Published by Simon Pulse
Published: May 23rd 2017
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Caroline Kelly is excited to be spending her summer vacation working at the local amusement park with her best friend, exploring weird Ohio with her boyfriend, and attending soccer camp with the hope she’ll be her team’s captain in the fall.

But when Caroline’s mother is hired to open an eye clinic in Cairo, Egypt, Caroline’s plans are upended. Caroline is now expected to spend her summer and her senior year in a foreign country, away from her friends, her home, and everything she’s ever known.

With this move, Caroline predicts she’ll spend her time navigating crowded streets, eating unfamiliar food, and having terrible bouts of homesickness. But when she finds instead is a culture that surprises her, a city that astounds her, and a charming, unpredictable boy who challenges everything she thought she knew about life, love, and privilege.

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On My Radar – May Releases (9)The Fashion Committee by Susan Juby
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers
Published: May 23rd 2017
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Charlie Dean is a style-obsessed girl who eats, sleeps, and breathes fashion. John Thomas-Smith is a boy who forges metal sculptures in his garage and couldn’t care less about clothes. Both are gunning for a scholarship to the private art high school that could make all their dreams come true. Whoever wins the fashion competition will win the scholarship—and only one can win.

Told in the alternating voices of Charlie’s and John’s journals, this hilarious and poignant YA novel perfectly captures what it’s like to have an artistic drive so fierce that nothing—not your dad’s girlfriend’s drug-addicted ex-boyfriend, a soul-crushing job at Salad Stop, or being charged with a teensy bit of kidnapping—can stand in your way.

With black and white art custom-created by fashion and beauty illustrator Soleil Ignacio, the book is a collector’s item, perfect for anyone with a passion for fashion.

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On My Radar – May Releases (9)When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Published by Simon Pulse
Published: May 30th 2017
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A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

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I have been lucky enough to read The Names They Gave Us, In a Perfect World, and When Dimple Met Rishi. I highly recommend you get those books on my TBR if you don’t have them there already. They were all amazing and wonderful. Personally I’m waiting for ACOWAR the most because I need all the Rhysand I can get in my life.

If you are looking for other books on my radar you can check out my May shelf on Goodreads HERE.

What’s on your radar in May?

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On My Radar: 2017 Wish List (4)

There are a lot of really fantastic books coming out in 2017 that I am so excited to read. Some of my favorite authors have new books that I just need to gets my hands on desperately. With that said there are some I just really want more than others, so much in fact I stalk Netgalley and Edelweiss for them and I’m not ashamed of this at all. What are those books? Funny you should ask. I have a handy list right here:

On My Radar: 2017 Wish List (4)Corruption by Jessica Shirvington
Published by HarperCollins
Published: March 7th 2017
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The thrilling finale to bestselling author Jessica Shirvington's Disruption series.

How do you live with yourself when you've deceived the one you love?
How do you move on when the person you've been fighting to save betrays you?

Two years ago, Maggie Stevens began the hunt. Four weeks ago, Maggie's world fell apart, when she finally found what she'd been looking for. And when Quentin, who had blindly trusted her, unraveled her web of lies.
Now, Maggie lives in the dark. But she's not about to stay there. Not when she still has to bring M-Corp down. Not when there is still a chance she could win him back.

In the exhilarating conclusion to Disruption, Maggie must do whatever it takes to show the world the truth. And the price for her quest? Everything.
But for who?

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On My Radar: 2017 Wish List (4)The Adjustment by Suzanne Young
Series: The Program #3
Published by Simon Pulse
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How do you go back to a life you can’t remember? Find out in this follow up to the New York Times bestselling The Program and The Treatment.

Tatum Masterson never went through The Program. She never had her memory stripped, never had to fight to remain herself. But when Weston, her longtime boyfriend and love of her life, was taken by handlers, she hoped he’d remember her somehow—that their love would be strong enough.

It wasn’t.

Like all returners, Weston came back a blank canvas. The years he and Tatum spent together were forgotten, as well as the week when he mysteriously disappeared before The Program came for him.
Regardless of his memory loss, Tatum fights to get Weston to remember her. And just as they start to build a new love, they hear about the Adjustment—a new therapy that implants memories from a donor. Despite the risks, Tatum and Weston agree to go through the process. Tatum donates her memories from their time together.

But the problem with memories is that they are all a matter of perspective. So although Weston can now remember dating Tatum, his emotions don’t match the experiences. And this discrepancy is slowly starting to unravel him, worse than anything The Program could have done.

And as the truth of their life together becomes clear, Tatum will have to decide if she loves Weston enough to let him go, or to continue to live the lie they’d build together.

Prepare for your Adjustment.

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On My Radar: 2017 Wish List (4)The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Buy on Amazon
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From acclaimed author Emery Lord comes a vibrant, compelling story of love, loss, faith, and friendship.

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

Emotionally-charged and unforgettable, Emery Lord’s storytelling shines with the promise of new love and true friendship, even in the face of life’s biggest challenges.

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On My Radar: 2017 Wish List (4)In a Perfect World by Trish Doller
Published by Simon Pulse
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From critically acclaimed author Trish Doller comes a gorgeous, hopeful, and heartbreaking novel, set in Cairo, Egypt, about the barriers we tear down for the people and places we love most.

Caroline Kelly is excited to be spending her summer vacation working at the local amusement park with her best friend, exploring weird Ohio with her boyfriend, and attending soccer camp with the hope she’ll be her team’s captain in the fall.

But when Caroline’s mother is hired to open an eye clinic in Cairo, Egypt, Caroline’s plans are upended. Caroline is now expected to spend her summer and her senior year in a foreign country, away from her friends, her home, and everything she’s ever known.

With this move, Caroline predicts she’ll spend her time navigating crowded streets, eating unfamiliar food, and having terrible bouts of homesickness. But when she finds instead is a culture that surprises her, a city that astounds her, and a charming, unpredictable boy who challenges everything she thought she knew about life, love, and privilege.

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On My Radar: 2017 Wish List (4)Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape.

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

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On My Radar: 2017 Wish List (4)Untitled by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
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Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.
In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

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What are the 2017 books on your radar?

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Review: Violent Ends – Shaun David Hutchinson, et al.

Review: Violent Ends – Shaun David Hutchinson, et al.Violent Ends by Shaun David Hutchinson, Neal Shusterman, Brendan Shusterman, Beth Revis, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Courtney Summers, Kendare Blake, Delilah S. Dawson, Steve Brezenoff, Tom Leveen, Hannah Moskowitz, Blythe Woolston, Trish Doller, Mindi Scott, Margie Gelbwasser, Christine Johnson, Elisa Nader, E.M. Kokie
Published by Simon Pulse
Published: September 1st 2015
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four-stars

In a one-of-a-kind collaboration, seventeen of the most recognizable YA writers—including Shaun David Hutchinson, Neal and Brendan Shusterman, and Beth Revis—come together to share the viewpoints of a group of students affected by a school shooting.

It took only twenty-two minutes for Kirby Matheson to exit his car, march onto the school grounds, enter the gymnasium, and open fire, killing six and injuring five others.

But this isn’t a story about the shooting itself. This isn’t about recounting that one unforgettable day.

This is about Kirby and how one boy—who had friends, enjoyed reading, playing saxophone in the band, and had never been in trouble before—became a monster capable of entering his school with a loaded gun and firing on his classmates.

Each chapter is told from a different victim’s viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he’d become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties. This is a book of perspectives—with one character and one event drawing them all together—from the minds of some of YA’s most recognizable names.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I went through a span recently where I had trouble finding a good book. Everything just felt blah or just okay. I wanted to be wowed but I was scared to read something I was super excited to read. Instead I went on gut instinct and picked a back list book that I had been excited to read. I went with Violent Ends and I’m so happy I just picked it and didn’t over think the selection. It really helped my semi reading slump.

I say this a lot but I just don’t know what to really say about Violent Ends. I’ve read a few school shooting stories over the years but there was something different about this one. This one really made me think. It isn’t told from the point of view of the shooter. It isn’t told from the point of view of a victim or girlfriend/boyfriend. It is told from a variety of point of views. Each one is different in terms of connection to the shooter. Some are very close, some are in small ways. But each story just makes you think about how you would feel if you were that person and this tragedy happened to you or around you. By the story being written this one you really got to see all sides of the shooter and a variety of aspects of people’s lives.

Did I love all the stories the same? No. Some I thought were stronger than others and one I thought was just weird. But they all lead to one thing, a story of a group of people effected one way or another by a troubled boy.

I do warn you that this book isn’t something you can read in one sitting or even over a short span of time. I took almost 2 weeks to read it because it is heavy and emotional and thought provoking. I had to take breaks and step back because I was just sad reading it. That right there is a testament to all the authors and the reason why you should check Violent Ends out.

 

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