Month: September 2019

Ten Books I’ve Read with Numbers In Their Titles

Posted September 30, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 26 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! These week’s topic, which is all about numbers, was submitted through the form by Emma @ Words and Peace! Thanks for such a fun topic, Emma! I chose to highlight books I’ve read and enjoyed that have numbers in their titles. I was hoping to do number 1-10, but that got way too hard so here we are.

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

A fun memoir told in letters about an American woman who buys books from (and gets very close to the people who work at) a quaint bookshop in London through years of correspondence.

Three Mages and a Margarita by Annette Marie

I never read urban fantasies, but this was so much fun! A non-magical girl gets a job bartending for a guild of magical people and gets mixed into some things.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

A whirlwind romance between an American girl and a Dutch boy across Europe, and all in one day!

The Designated +1 by Ellie Cahill

Two friends agree to be each other’s plus ones at all the weddings the get invited to so they can avoid the singles table!


Miracle On 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

A lovely Christmas romance set in New York City.

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

A dystopian YA, where a group of children who survived an apocalyptic event hide out in a superstore in the hopes of riding things out.

The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Lo witnesses a murder on board a luxury yacht, but nobody (passengers or crew) will admit to this victim ever having been on board.

738 Days by Stacey Kade

Survivor of an abduction gets to meet her celebrity crush, and they end up needing each other more than either of them thought.

438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea by Jonathan Franklin

The title kind of says it all. lol. This is the true story of a man who was lost at sea for 438 days and survived.

Six Months Later by Natalie Richards

Girl falls asleep in study hall and wakes up six months later to a life she doesn’t remember living.

Which books with numbers did you pick this week?


Top (Eleven) Books On My Spooky Fall 2019 To-Read List

Posted September 23, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 36 Comments

Happy fall! During this time of the year I love to read spooky, atmospheric mysteries and Gothic romances. They give me the perfect stormy fall vibes, and I love that! Do you have any specific kinds of books you like to read this time of year? Here’s a few I hope to get to before Halloween!

I’ve never read Simone St. James, but her books sound great and I’m excited to get to a few of them this season!

Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James

In 1919, Kitty Weekes, pretty, resourceful, and on the run, falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House—its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms. It’s known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it?

Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman… or maybe both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both.

An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James

In 1920’s England, a young woman searches for the truth behind her uncle’s mysterious death in a town haunted by a restless ghost…

Oxford student Jillian Leigh works day and night to keep up with her studies—so to leave at the beginning of the term is next to impossible. But after her uncle Toby, a renowned ghost hunter, is killed in a fall off a cliff, she must drive to the seaside village of Rothewell to pack up his belongings.

Almost immediately, unsettling incidents—a book left in a cold stove, a gate swinging open on its own—escalate into terrifying events that convince Jillian an angry spirit is trying to enter the house. Is it Walking John, the two-hundred-year-old ghost who haunts Blood Moon Bay? And who beside the ghost is roaming the local woods at night? If Toby uncovered something sinister, was his death no accident?

The arrival of handsome Scotland Yard inspector Drew Merriken, a former RAF pilot with mysteries of his own, leaves Jillian with more questions than answers—and with the added complication of a powerful, mutual attraction. Even as she suspects someone will do anything to hide the truth, she begins to discover spine-chilling secrets that lie deep within Rothewell…and at the very heart of who she is.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

This one has been recommended to me for years now pretty much every time I ask for Gothic recommendations, and I’m so excited to read it! I think I need to force myself to have time this year.

In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

I love the idea of a person trapped in a painting. It sounds so creepy!

I was obsessed.

It was as if he called to me, demanding I reach out and touch the brushstrokes of color swirled onto the canvas. It was the most exquisite portrait I’d ever seen–everything about Lord Denbury was unbelievable…utterly breathtaking and eerily lifelike.

There was a reason for that. Because despite what everyone said, Denbury never had committed suicide. He was alive. Trapped within his golden frame.

I’ve crossed over into his world within the painting, and I’ve seen what dreams haunt him. They haunt me too. He and I are inextricably linked–bound together to watch the darkness seeping through the gas-lit cobblestone streets of Manhattan. Unless I can free him soon, things will only get Darker Still.

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

This sounds so awesomely creepy and unique. My Secret Santa sent me this book last Christmas, and I’ve been purposely saving it until Halloween time because I just know it’ll be perfect!

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But pregnant and widowed just weeks after their wedding, with her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her late husband’s awkward cousin for company–or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure—a silent companion—that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of the estate are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition—that is until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.

A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, The Silent Companions is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect—much like the companions themselves.

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

A Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre! I’ve never read the original, so I won’t be able to compare the two but I don’t even care. It’s Gothic, and it sounds like a lot of fun.

Reader, I murdered him.

A Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre.

Like the heroine of the novel she adores, Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of her aunt and schoolmaster. And like Jane Eyre, they call her wicked – but in her case, she fears the accusation is true. When she flees, she leaves behind the corpses of her tormentors.

A fugitive navigating London’s underbelly, Jane rights wrongs on behalf of the have-nots whilst avoiding the noose. Until an advertisement catches her eye. Her aunt has died and the new master at Highgate House, Mr Thornfield, seeks a governess. Anxious to know if she is Highgate’s true heir, Jane takes the position and is soon caught up in the household’s strange spell. When she falls in love with the mysterious Charles Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him – body, soul and secrets – and what if he discovers her murderous past?

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

I’ve always wanted to read a Kate Morton book. I’ve heard they’re so good, and this one sounds creepy! I’ve got in on audio, and the sample I listened to sounds perfect for Fall!

A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WWII. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiance jilted her in 1941.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in ‘the distant hours’ of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

Morton once again enthralls readers with an atmospheric story featuring unforgettable characters beset by love and circumstance and haunted by memory, that reminds us of the rich power of storytelling.

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

From the author of the beloved Ruth Galloway series, a modern gothic mystery for fans of Magpie Murders and The Lake House.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favourite literature.

To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn’t hers, left on the page of an old diary: “Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me.”

Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?

The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr

A post-mortem photographer unearths dark secrets of the past that may hold the key to his future, in this captivating debut novel in the gothic tradition of Wuthering Heights and The Thirteenth Tale.

All love stories are ghost stories in disguise.

When famed Byronesque poet Hugh de Bonne is discovered dead of a heart attack in his bath one morning, his cousin Robert Highstead, a historian turned post-mortem photographer, is charged with a simple task: transport Hugh’s remains for burial in a chapel. This chapel, a stained glass folly set on the moors of Shropshire, was built by de Bonne sixteen years earlier to house the remains of his beloved wife and muse, Ada. Since then, the chapel has been locked and abandoned, a pilgrimage site for the rabid fans of de Bonne’s last book, The Lost History of Dreams.

However, Ada’s grief-stricken niece refuses to open the glass chapel for Robert unless he agrees to her bargain: before he can lay Hugh to rest, Robert must record Isabelle’s story of Ada and Hugh’s ill-fated marriage over the course of five nights.

As the mystery of Ada and Hugh’s relationship unfolds, so does the secret behind Robert’s own marriage–including that of his fragile wife, Sida, who has not been the same since the tragic accident three years ago, and the origins of his own morbid profession that has him seeing things he shouldn’t–things from beyond the grave.

Kris Waldherr effortlessly spins a sweeping and atmospheric gothic mystery about love and loss that blurs the line between the past and the present, truth and fiction, and ultimately, life and death.

The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox

A town gripped by fear. A woman accused of witchcraft. Who can save Pale Harbor from itself?

Maine, 1846. Gabriel Stone is desperate to escape the ghosts that haunt him in Massachusetts after his wife’s death, so he moves to Maine, taking a position as a minister in the remote village of Pale Harbor.

But not all is as it seems in the sleepy town. Strange, unsettling things have been happening, and the townspeople claim that only one person can be responsible: Sophronia Carver, a reclusive widow who lives with a spinster maid in the eerie Castle Carver. Sophronia must be a witch, and she almost certainly killed her husband.

As the incidents escalate, one thing becomes clear: they are the work of a twisted person inspired by the wildly popular stories of Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. And Gabriel must find answers, or Pale Harbor will suffer a fate worthy of Poe’s darkest tales.

The Deep by Alma Katsu

Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.

This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner’s illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers – including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher – are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .

Brilliantly combining fact and fiction, the historical and the horrific, The Deep reveals a chilling truth in an unputdownable narrative full of unnerving moments and with a growing, inexorable sense of foreboding.

Do you have any recommendations for Gothic novels or novels that have the same feeling as these?
What do you plan to read this Fall?


Top Ten Favorite Snacks to Eat While Reading

Posted September 16, 2019 by Jana in About Me, Top Ten Tuesday / 28 Comments

Today’s TTT topic was submitted by my mom, and I love it! Anything involving food is great, in my opinion. I only drink water, so I’m just going to talk about the things I love to eat while reading. And, let’s be honest… I’ll eat these things anytime. I don’t have to have a book with me. lol

Double Dark Milano Cookies

Buttery Popcorn

Dove Milk Chocolate

Tortilla Chips

Christmas Cookies

String Cheese

Goldfish Crackers

See’s Candies Dark Butterchews

 

Haagen Dazs Milk Chocolate Ice Cream Bars

Strawberries and Chocolate

Hungry yet? I am!
What do you love to eat/drink while reading?


Top Ten Books On My To-Read List That I’m Avoiding

Posted September 9, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 28 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! This week’s topic was submitted by Caitlin @ Caitlin Althea through the TTT top suggestions form, and is about the books on my to-read list that I’m avoiding reading for one reason or another. Perhaps I’m intimidated by the page length or the hype surrounding the book. Maybe it’s a book I know I should read, but am not really excited about. Or maybe it’s a book I’ve hyped up so much in my own head that I’m scared of disappointing myself. lol. Whatever the case may be, I know we can all think of a book or two that’s book on our to-read list forever and it might just stay there indefinitely. I’m excited to see which books those are for you!

1. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
My mom loved this book, and it’s a classic that I’ve heard about so much over the years. I watched the miniseries based on the book and enjoyed it (and the music), but this thing is huge and I’m really worried it’s not going to have enough going on to keep me interested.

2. The Botticelli Secret by Marina Fiorato
I feel like I got this from Costco eons ago because I love Italy and the back of the book says this is super exciting and suspenseful, but I never pick it up! I’ve gone through my books multiple times over the last few years, and I always get to this one and think I’m for sure going to get rid of it and then I read the back of the book and I’m excited about it all over again. It’s a cycle I can’t break, so maybe I should just bite the bullet. I don’t know what I’m waiting for.

3. Into Thin Air by Cindy Miles
This is another book I keep coming across on my shelves that I consider getting rid of until I read the back. It sounds like so much fun and like something I’d really enjoy, but I guess I worry it’ll be too cheesy or hokey because of the cover.

4. Beauty by Robin McKinley
I know I haven’t read this one because of the hype. People love this book, and I love Beauty and the Beast retellings so this should be a no-brainer. But what if I don’t like it? It’s happened to me before.

5. Juliet by Anne Fortier
This thing is HUGE. But it sounds so good! I love historical mysteries and Italy and I’ve heard great things. But it’s a really big book.

6. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
This is another hyped book I bought LONG ago because it was recommended to me. I LOVE spy books and historical fiction. And it mentions the Scarlet Pimpernel, which I love. So I should love this. Maybe I’m just never in the right mood?

7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I really, really want to read this! I love the BBC adaptation, and I’ve read multiple retellings. I love the story, so I should read the original. I even have the pretty Barnes & Noble leatherbound, so I have no reason not to read it. I think I’m scared it’ll be hard to get through and then I’ll be a fraud for loving everything about this book but the book. lol.

8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
I’ve never read this series before (only the first book), and you’d have to be living under a rock to not know the spoilers for the series so now I’m scared to continue. I don’t want to get attached to anyone!

9. My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris
Ah, the oldest unreviewed book on my Netgalley account (sheesh I’ve been reviewing forever). It sounds adorable, I’m just never in the mood. No idea why.

10. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
Everyone loves this and what if I don’t? And what if I do!? It’s a big series to commit to!

Talk me into (or out of) reading these please!!


Interview with Annie Sullivan | Tiger Queen Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted September 4, 2019 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 5 Comments

Interview with Annie Sullivan | Tiger Queen Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour for Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan! As the organizer for this tour, I got the opportunity to interview Annie!


Interview with Annie Sullivan

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. Your bio says that you teach at the Indiana Writers Center. How does this job impact your writing career?

I taught a couple classes there and love teaching there. I love giving back to writers—especially local writers—who are trying to break into publishing. I know how hard it is to break into this business, so any tips I can give them can go a long way to helping them achieve that goal.

I have a real day job at Wiley Publishing. I work in their marketing department. I love my team their. However, it can be hard to fit in writing time around my real work. But, I’ve mastered writing late into the night and then getting up for work the next day. Who knew all it took to become published was never sleeping again [I’m joking of course ;) ].

2. What have you learned since your debut novel, A Touch of Gold?

I’ve learned to trust my own writing more. I know when something isn’t working. I don’t have to wait for someone else to tell me that. I’ve also learned how amazing it is to have other friends in this business who you can go to when you need a listening ear or word of advice. It’s such a great community.

3. What are some books you think everyone (teen or not) should read?

Ahh!!! How do I choose? I’m just going to give you a long list of books that I love and that have impact:

1.) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
2.) Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
3.) Caraval by Stephanie Garber
4.) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
5.) Cinder by Marissa Meyer
6.) The Giver by Lois Lowry
7.) Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

4. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing/working?

I’m a runner, so I enjoy running and working out. That also helps me work through story ideas. I also love traveling! I’m always off on a new adventure, which is probably why I’ve visited every continent! Outside of that, you can find me reading and watching TV!

5. What’s next for you?

The sequel to A Touch of Gold—called A CURSE OF GOLD—comes out in October 2020. It’s going to be filled with even more adventure, Greek mythology, and heart-pounding action!!! I cannot wait for readers to see what’s next for Princess Kora…and they might just meet some new characters along the way—one of which has been one of my favorite ones to write EVER!

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. What about “The Lady, Or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton inspired you to retell it? What does the original mean to you?

I read Stockton’s tale in grade school, and it has a cliffhanger ending. That one time reading it really set my mind ablaze. How did the story end? What choice did the princess make? I just knew that I had to give the story the ending that it always should have had…at least the ending it should have had in my opinion anyway!

2. How does an author successfully retell a story and add something new, while remaining true to its inspiration?

I think you’ve hit it right on the head in your question. You keep the vast majority of the story like the bones of a body. Then, you have to build the flesh and blood around it so that it comes to life in a new way. You always have to give it something new so that readers have a reason to read the story because you don’t want it to be too similar to the original. I think in my version, I’m hoping having the Princess have to fight in the arena against suitors to win her throne is enough of a twist to the original to get readers interested!

3. Tell us about Princess Kateri. What kind of heroine is she?

Princess Kateri was practically born with a sword in her hand, and she is ready to enter the arena to win her right to rule—which she has to do because of an old law. She’s talented yet stubborn. She doesn’t think she needs anyone’s help…until her last opponent in the arena is announced as the one man she’s never been able to beat in a fight. Then, she has to scramble to figure out how she’s going to win her throne! She’s a character that I love and that I can’t wait for the world to meet!

4. What do you hope readers take away from Tiger Queen?

Empowerment. I want readers to see Princess Kateri facing her biggest fears with sword in hand, and I hope they take away that they too have the strength to face whatever it is life throws at them. I want them to enter the fantasy worlds I create and come out of them believing a little more in themselves and their place in the world. I want them to find the tiger within.


Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan
Published by BLINK on September 10, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction  —  Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Add to GoodreadsAmazonB&NBook Depository

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.


About Annie Sullivan

Annie Sullivan is a Young Adult author from Indianapolis, Indiana. Her work has been featured in Curly Red Stories and Punchnels. She loves fairytales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling and exploring new cultures. When she’s not off on her own adventures, she’s teaching classes at the Indiana Writers Center and working as the Copy Specialist at John Wiley and Sons, Inc. publishing company, having also worked there in Editorial and Publicity roles. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram (@annsulliva).

Website | Twitter

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Five Books I Enjoyed That Are Outside My Comfort Zone

Posted September 2, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 32 Comments

This week’s TTT topic is books I enjoyed that are outside of my comfort zone. These books could be genres I’m not typically interested in, subject matter I’m not usually drawn to, etc. I don’t push myself much since I insist that reading be a fun and pleasurable experience for me, and not a growing or learning experience (at least not all the time) so I only have five picks this week.

1. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
I went in to this thinking it’s bookish and it could be fun, but I didn’t have very high hopes. It’s a memoir and I’m super selective of which ones I read, so I wasn’t entirely sure it’d be a win for me. But it ended up being very fun! I’m actually reading the sequel right now, and it’s delightful. Helene is very funny.

2. Three Mages and a Margarita by Annette Marie
This is adult urban fantasy, which I seriously never read. It wads an Audible Daily Deal one day, and my friend sent it to me because he thought I might like it. Guys, I’ve binged the entire series since. And it’s weird because there’s no romance! That’s another thing that makes it a very non-Jana book. The audio is fun, and I like the fantasy elements and the banter between characters. I’m looking forward to the release of the next book in October. It must be noted that I hate the book cover so much.

3. The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
I read this only because I heard the audio was really good. There’s pretty much no romance and I’m not usually a steampunk fan, but the audio was amazing and I ended up loving this book!

4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This one was out of my comfort zone because I hate crying. lol. As such, I tend to avoid WWII fiction. It’s also narrated by Death, which worried me. But it’s such a beautiful story.

5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
I’m not a fantasy for fantasy’s sake kind of person. I don’t love magic on its own. Either one of these story elements require romance, and there’s none in this. lol. I’m also not so much a middle grade fan right now, but I knew I had to give Harry Potter a shot. I really loved it! Now I just have to read the rest of the series.

Which books have you really enjoyed that were outside your comfort zone?

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