Monday, June 29, 2015

My 5 Favorite Reads So Far This Year

Can you believe 2015 is halfway over? The first part of the year has been pretty awesome for me -- I went to Hawaii, Dallas and New York City, I saw Florida Georgia Line and Hozier in concert, and I read 38 mostly decent books.

The topic for this week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is the best books we've read so far in 2015. I kept my list short, with only 5 titles, but they were all fantastic books that I'd fully recommend.

I did notice, compiling this list, that I last read a truly amazing, unforgettable, up-all-night book back in April. I think it's time for another one! Any recommendations? Without further ado, here are my five favorite reads from the first half of 2015.

1. Red Rising (and Golden Son) by Pierce Brown
I absolutely loved the first and second installments of Pierce Brown's Red Rising series. The books are exquisite page-turners and I can't wait for the conclusion of the trilogy in January -- except that then there will be no more books! If you have not yet discovered "Red Rising," I urge you to check it out ASAP!

2. The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
The first book in this series, "The Bone Season," was pretty good, but I was totally hooked by the second installment, "The Mime Order." I spent a handful of days where all I did was eat, work and read this book.

3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I only gave "Ready Player One" four stars because I thought the prose could've been brightened up a bit. But this fantastic story has totally stuck with me and it is definitely one of my favorites. I'm anxiously awaiting Cline's new book, "Armada,' which comes out in a couple weeks.

4. Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre
I read "Fives and Twenty-Fives" as part of my goal to read more military literature, being that I'm an Air Force spouse. I was blown away. It was a beautiful, terrible, amazing read.

5. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This book takes post-apocalyptic fiction to a different level and I really enjoyed this beautiful, gripping, fun read.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

What To Read Next? Decisions, Decisions, Glorious Decisions!


Yesterday morning I finished Janet Evanovich's new release, "Wicked Charms," and was confronted with that delicious question we bookworms love: what to read next. So many options, so many characters to love and hate, so many adventures to take!

It's rare that I have more than one or two books waiting in the wings, but I went on a bit of a requesting spree at the library and I have five books checked out! "The Ice Twins" was recommended by two of my co-workers at the library and the other four are on my summer to-read list.

I'm not in the mood for anything in particular, so I decided to choose my next book by reading the opening lines of each novel:

The Kill Artist: The restorer raised his magnifying visor and switched off the bank of fluorescent lights. He waited for his eyes to adjust to the murkiness of evening in the cathedral; then he inspected a tiny portion of the painting just below an arrow wound on the leg of Saint Stephen.

I, Ripper: When I cut the woman's throat, her eyes betrayed not pain, not fear, but utter confusion. Truly, no creature can understand its own obliteration. Our expectation of death is real but highly theoretical until the moment is upon us and so it was with her.

The Ice Twins: Our chairs are placed precisely two yards apart. And they are both facing the big desk, as if we are a couple having marital therapy; a feeling I know too well. Dominating the room is a pair of lofty, uncurtained, eighteenth-century sash windows: twin portraits of a dark and dimming London sky.

The Girl You Left Behind: I was dreaming of food. Crisp baguettes, the flesh of the bread a virginal white, still steaming from the oven, and ripe cheese, its borders creeping toward the edge of the plate. Grapes and plums, stacked high in bowls, dusky and fragrant, their scent filling the air.

I'll Give You the Sun: This is how it all begins. With Zephyr and Fry -- reigning neighborhood sociopaths -- torpedoing after me and the whole forest floor shaking under my feet as I blast through air, trees, this white-hot panic.

What lines pulled you in, intrigued you, made you want to keep reading? Which book would you pick up next if you were me? If I were choosing a book based solely on the opening sentences, having no idea what the book was about, I'd go with the tantalizing and vivid food description of "The Girl You Left Behind." And so, my next read is:

Friday, June 26, 2015

Knitting FO: Thestral Tracks Scarf

Thestral Tracks Scarf
Pattern: Kernel
Yarn: Malabrigo Finito in Plomo
My Ravelry project page

My mom asked me to knit her a scarf to match her new eggplant-colored fleece jacket... way back in November of last year. Mom picked out the pattern she liked and chose a yarn color and then I dillied and I dallied and suddenly it was January! I cast on, but I wasn't feeling a lot of knitting mojo then and it took me a ridiculous five months to finish this baby. Luckily I was able to give it to her in May when we all went to New York City on vacation (the picture above was taken from the balcony of the Hell's Kitchen apartment we rented). Un-luckily, she won't have need of it for several more months. Sorry, Mom!

I did a lot of work on the scarf while listening to "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" on audiobook and that's how I ended up with the Thestral Tracks name. The pattern is called Kernel and I can see why, but for some reason that name didn't appeal to me. It's a stretch, but the diamonds kiiiiind of look like horse/thestral prints.

My pattern notes are on Ravelry, but I will say that I knit several extra repeats of the 16-row pattern. Since the yarn is fairly thin and the pattern is lacy, I wanted to make sure it would actually provide some warmth. I made sure to knit it long enough to be wrapped twice around the neck.

I'm pretty pleased with the way this scarf came out. I love the (fishtail?) edging with the bead band (it's a bit hard to see, but there are two rows of charcoal-colored beads between the scarf edging and body) and the Malabrigo yarn has such a gorgeous subtle color variation throughout. And, of course, it was delicious to knit with!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book Review: "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson

"The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson
390 pages (plus notes and bibliography)
First published in 2003
My rating: 4 out of 5
Image from Goodreads

The Short Of It:
This easy-to-read non-fiction book is a dual narrative about the head architect of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and a serial killer who hunted the city's young women during the same time period. It was educational, creepy and fascinating!

The Long Of It:
The story of the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 -- the stunning White City where things like the Ferris wheel, the zipper and Juicy Fruit gum made their debut -- is interesting by itself, but add in a cold and calculating serial killer on the loose and you've got a page-turner of a tale.

Chicago architect Daniel Burnham was selected as the fair's director of works, overseeing the design, construction and implementation of the fair. We meet him as a young man -- rejected from both Harvard and Yale -- and follow him as he rises to become the greatest architect of the time. It is in Burham's chapters that we watch the fair's progress, from lobbying for it to be held in Chicago to meetings of the top architectural minds of the day (in which they agreed that all the buildings would be white -- thus "the White City") to construction delays and disasters to the fair itself, in all it's splendid, immense, humbling glory. Writes Larson: "The fair was so perfect, its grace and beauty like an assurance that for as long as it lasted nothing truly bad could happen to anyone, anywhere."

Unfortunately that was far from the truth, as evidenced by our other main character, Dr. H. H. Holmes -- a stone-cold killer with a proclivity for beautiful, vulnerable young women -- who took great advantage of the huge influx of people to Chicago. A murderous mastermind, Holmes constructed a large office/apartment building and made sure to include an airtight vault and a crematory (which he told builders was a glassworks kiln). No one knows how many victims Holmes killed before he was caught, but the estimates ranged all the way up to 200. In prison Holmes wrote, "I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing."

Larson writes with vivid detail -- and it'll make you appreciate the 21st century! He brings late 1800s Chicago back to life for the reader, from the Jack-the-Ripper-obsessed Whitechapel Club to the exorbitant belly-ache-inducing menus of the day's fanciest dinners to the rather horrifying pork slaughterhouses. I particularly liked this colorful passage:

"In poor neighborhoods garbage mounded in alleys and overflowed giant trash boxes that became banquet halls for rats and bluebottle flies. Billions of flies. The corpses of dogs, cats, and horses often remained where the fell. In January they froze into disheartening poses; in August they ballooned and ruptured...In rain any street not paved with macadam oozed a fragrant muck of horse manure, mud, and garbage that swelled between granite blocks like pus from a wound. Chicago awed visitors and terrified them."

While "The Devil in the White City" -- particularly the Burham chapters -- could be slightly dry at times, overall it was a great book. It read like a novel and kept my interest throughout, and I learned so much about historic Chicago in general and the World's Fair in specific.

My one complaint about the book is that I wished it had more photos! The buildings and characters were described in great detail, but I really like visuals for stuff I'm reading about. I came across a perfect complimentary book at the library called "The Chicago World's Fair of 1893: A Photographic Record" by Stanley Appelbaum and I highly recommend a similar companion piece while reading this book. Larson tried his best, but words alone can't do justice to the grandeur and scale of the fair's architecture.

Monday, June 22, 2015

My 10 Fave Top Ten Tuesday Topics

It's the fifth anniversary of The Broke and The Bookish's awesome weekly list-making meme, Top Ten Tuesday! To celebrate, they've asked us to choose our 10 favorite TTT topics. I only started participating in mid-2013, but I still had a great time looking back through past topics.

Click on the links to see my posts!

From Etsy shop WonderFlies
I could do this post again two times over! There are so many awesome book-related things I'm lusting after!

4. 10 Bookish Quotes (April 2015)

6. Top Animal-Themed Books (Favorite Books In X-Genre) (March 2014)

I really like the Top Ten Tuesday quarterly to-read list posts as well as the end-of-year sum-ups. I enjoy thinking about what I want to read next and reviewing all the books I've read each year and deciding on the ones I loved most. These are my favorite posts to browse on other blogs -- I'll inevitably discover new reads or be convinced I should read something I was unsure about. So my last two favorite TTT topics are:

10. My 10 Favorite Reads This Year (2013/2014)

Book Review: "The Kind Worth Killing" by Peter Swanson

"The Kind Worth Killing" by Peter Swanson
First published in 2015
311 pages
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
Image from Goodreads

The Short Of It:
This book has a bit of the twisty psychological thriller about it, but while it was a fast and intriguing read I wasn't blown away. Not bad, but not quite as spellbinding as I expected.

The Long Of It:
Two strangers, a handsome, rich businessman and a mysterious red-headed archivist, meet at a bar in London's Heathrow Airport. The man, thinking he'll never see the woman again, tells her he discovered his wife has been cheating on him. The woman kindly offers to help the man kill his adulterous wife.

Why would someone volunteer to help carry out a murder -- a murder of a possibly innocent stranger -- for a man she met by chance encounter a few minutes before? Lily Kintner, our beguiling archivist/murderess, has quite an interesting story to tell.

This thriller is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, lies and misconceptions, shifting allegiances -- all of which kept me on my toes. It also raises some thought-provoking questions about morality and death. Does killing a bad person make murder acceptable? Lily thinks so. And at parts of this novel, you -- who wouldn't hurt a fly -- might start to understand her point of view.

"The Kind Worth Killing" was a decent read that kept my interest. I'm not quite sure what held me back from liking it more than I did -- maybe the fact that there really wasn't anyone to root for? Our protagonists are equal parts likeable and crazy, though maybe part of the book's cachet is that the author can make you sympathize with a sociopath. I'm not going to shout from the rooftops to read this book, but if it's already on your radar you might as well give it a try.

"...survival was everything. It was the meaning of life. And to take another life was, in many ways, the greatest expression of what it meant to be alive."

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I Judge Books By Their Covers: "Our Endless Numbered Days"

I read "Our Endless Numbered Days" a couple weeks ago on the drive to and from New York City. It was a really good book about a young girl whose survivalist father takes her out to the wilderness and convinces her they're the only two humans left on the planet; they live alone in a shack in the woods for 9 years. (Here's my review.)

This novel has two vastly different covers and I'm curious how I would've felt seeing both covers before I read the book (since I feel one fits the story better). Which one do you prefer? Have you read "Our Endless Numbered Days"? (If not, you should!) 

The cover on the left is the e-book/U.S. cover, and the artwork on the right is the U.K. edition.

These covers, man... neither one is quite right for the novel! The cover on the left looks like it belongs on a children's picture book. Yes, there's a ghostly form about to tap the girl on the shoulder, but it could just be her make-believe friend or a childish imagining. The colors, the font and the hand-drawn artwork are pretty and aesthetically appealing, but it brings to mind something whimsical and light. That's not this book.

The U.K. cover, on the other hand, is more on the right track. I really like the picture of the hut in the woods and the handwriting-like font used for the title, which could easily have been written by 17-year-old Peggy telling us her story. However, it's almost a little too sinister. The stark black, white and red make me think it could be a serial-killer thriller or detective story. The colors all look good together, but maybe changing the color of the author's name to something other than blood-red would make it not too whimsical, not too spooky, but just right.

Both covers are intriguing in very different ways and both have lovely artwork; I'd grab both of them off a shelf -- though neither one quite represents the story accurately. But it's really no contest; for this book, the U.K. cover definitely wins.

Winner: U.K. edition

Friday, June 19, 2015

Book Review: "The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption" by Jim Gorant

"The Lost Dogs" by Jim Gorant
First published in 2010
279 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5
Image from Goodreads

The Short Of It:
This sometimes-difficult, sometimes-endearing book details the Michael Vick dog fighting investigation and the unprecedented fate of the rescued pit bulls. It's a great read for any dog lover -- and an essential one for anybody who thinks he's a fan of Michael Vick (grrrr!).

The Long Of It:
"The Lost Dogs" will sicken you. It'll make you angry. It might make you cry. It will also make you smile, laugh and cheer for the resilient group of pitbulls rescued in 2007 from a dog fighting ring bankrolled by NFL quarterback Michael Vick.

The investigation of Bad Newz Kennels -- housed on Vick's rural Virginia property -- quickly became the most high-profile dog fighting case ever. "The Lost Dogs" details the investigation and court proceedings, but the book's main focus is on what happened to the 51 dogs taken from the Vick compound.

Normal protocol for rescued fighting dogs at that time was automatic euthanasia. But some people on the Vick case wanted these pitbulls to have a chance, and they argued for a different, unprecedented tactic. Eventually it was agreed that the dogs would be evaluated individually by a panel of experts, the options being fostering/adoption, sanctuary and euthanasia.

No one could fully predict how the Vick dogs would react in the real world, but all but one were given a shot -- an amazing surprise and a huge victory for the law enforcement officers and rescuers trying to give the pitbulls a second chance. The dogs had a lot to overcome, but despite their almost across-the-board fear issues, many went on to be adopted. A handful even became therapy dogs -- and by default perfect ambassadors for the misunderstood pitbull breed.

I initially had a hard time getting into "The Lost Dogs." The first section, which tells the story of the intrepid group of people determined to bring Vick to justice, was a little dry at times and I had trouble keeping the main players straight. It was also really hard to read about the conditions at the Vick "kennels" and the horrific murders of the underperforming canines. ("Vick and friends had not simply eliminated these dogs with a cold efficiency, they'd beaten them first. This revelation added another layer of brutality to an already nasty case.") I ended up putting it down for a few weeks, but when I picked it back up I whizzed through the rest of the investigation section and then devoured the second half, about what happened to the dogs after they were taken from Vick's compound.

"The Lost Dogs" really opened my eyes to the horrors of dog fighting and I learned a lot about dog fighting in general and the Michael Vick case in specific. The author helps us feel connected to the animals by focusing on the stories of a few particular dogs, and even writing from the dogs' perspectives at times. I wish the book had been more tightly edited -- the writing wasn't terrible but it definitely could've been better, and there were a few annoying typos. Still, though, I'm so glad someone decided to tell this important story. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

10 Books On My Summer Reading List

Summer is here! It means evening walks, sweet corn, sun tea and bare feet -- not to mention reading in my amazingly comfy hammock!

Today for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, we get to talk about our summer reading plans! I did really well with my spring to-read list; I read all 10 books (two of which will definitely be on my best-books-of-the-year list) as well the three books I didn't get to from my winter list, and I'm really proud of myself!

It's been a while since I've read a good mystery or historical fiction novel -- or for that matter any really superb up-all-night page-turner -- so I've got both those genres on my list. I'm also planning to read a graphic novel (my first true one!), a YA title and a non-fiction book this summer.

I've got plenty of new summer releases on my radar too. You can see those in last week's Top Ten Tuesday post about the new books I'm most looking forward to for the rest of the year. Almost all of them come out this summer! (A couple of the must-read-ASAP books from that list are "Wicked Charms" by Janet Evanovich and "Armada" by Ernest Cline.)

Do tell: Have you read any of the books on my to-read list? What books are are on your radar this summer?

I won (I won something!!!) this book from Goodreads last month and I'm hoping to get it read this summer, too. The cover (a beautiful rainbow eucalyptus tree) just evokes a summery feeling, so it should fit right in!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Book Review: "The Marauders" by Tom Cooper

"The Marauders" by Tom Cooper
First published in 2015
304 pages
My rating: 3 out of 5
Image from Goodreads

The Short Of It:
This gritty little oddball of a book, set in Louisiana during and after the BP oil spill, had promise but didn't quite come together for me. It was a fairly interesting story, but I was left wondering what the point was.

The Long Of It:
Five different stories and a handful of kooky characters come together in this quirky and slightly dark tale, which is set in a Louisiana bayou against the backdrop of the horrific BP oil spill of 2010.

Jeanette, Louisiana, is a small shrimping community on Barataria Bay. The swampy bay was once a hideout for pirate Jean Lafitte, and Lindquist -- one of our narrators -- has spent his life toting around his trusty metal detector and searching for the Lafitte's fabled buried treasure. He's the town outcast; not only is he hell-bent on finding gold, he's also missing an arm and is never without his Donald Duck Pez dispenser fully stocked with Oxycontin and Percocet.

We've also got Wes Trench, a 17-year-old who works on his father's shrimping boat and has a tragic Hurricane Katrina story; Cosgrove and Hanson, two hapless criminals who embark on a ridiculous money-making scheme; the Toup brothers, twins who've got a whole island in the bay covered in marijuana plants; and Brady Grimes of BP, who has the unenviable task of convincing Jeanette's residents to accept a meager settlement for their trouble rather than following through with a claim.

Unbeknownst to our motley cast of characters, their stories are all vaguely interconnected. Alligators, guns, drugs, prosthetic arm thefts, shrimping boats and pirate booty are involved.

Cooper's writing is readable, creative, funny and metaphor-filled, but -- though I read it quickly -- it was never quite a page-turner for me. And Cooper's characters seem a bit forced at times; they're maybe a bit too much the stereotypical quirky weirdos. "The Marauders" errs more on the side of a character-driven novel (and a setting-driven one), which I often struggle with because I want plot, purpose, meaning and resolution to my books. Cooper's cast held my attention, but I wanted a firm conclusion for our five disparate stories and I didn't feel I really got that.

For the first 3/4 of the book, I expected it to earn a solid 4 stars. But, while I could glimpse themes of family, forgiveness, belonging, home, sense of place, and tradition amongst the moronic antics of some of our characters, it just wasn't enough to satisfy me. Cooper did a really nice job of evoking a vivid setting and creating some intriguing nutcases, but I wanted more: more about their pasts and futures, more about the oil spill, more to show me why I should care about their stories, and more something to beef up the plot.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My Etsy Wish List: June

It's time again for me to share some awesome Etsy finds with you! Since my last Etsy post, I did a bit of shopping and ordered two necklaces, one bracelet and one pair of earrings -- all gorgeous -- as well as some customized mason jar mugs for a wedding present. Oh, how I do love Etsy! Do you have a favorite Etsy shop? Do tell!

Etsy shop: HAWKHOUSE
Price: $50
My birthstone is opal and I've been keeping an eye out for just the right piece of opal jewelry for a while. I don't ever wear rings besides my wedding and engagement rings, but these are pretty enough that I just might consider them! I love the rustic copper edging -- it perfectly sets off the beautiful opal! The shop offers a larger size too, but I'd most likely go with this smaller option.

Etsy shop: happyment
Price: $34
I already ordered one pair of earrings from this shop and I LOVE them. They're my new favorites and I've gotten compliments every time I've worn them. I will definitely be ordering more from happyment, and I've been eyeing this pretty mint-green pair.

Etsy shop: AbbeyPark
Price: $34.64+
I'm always looking to add more long necklaces to my jewelry collection. This one is stylish and classic -- and reasonably priced.

Etsy shop: Stampede1
Price: $12.50
This shop has lots of hand-stamped metal products -- bookmarks, magnets and picture clips. I'm not sure a bookmark is worth $12.50, but I like them nonetheless.

Etsy shop: HitherRabbit
Price: $38+ (depending on name length)
What a fun, funky pet portrait! I love the idea of framing it with an embroidery hoop.

Etsy shop: WonderFlies
Price: $4.50
Again, kinda pricey for a bookmark, but this shop has several options with wine and coffee stains. Possibly a DIY idea? (P.S. How could it possibly cost $2.50 to ship a paper bookmark?! Highway robbery, I say!)

Etsy shop: LaDaDesigns
Price: $50+
For the Harry Potter addict in your life! I doubt I would ever wear this enough to justify the price, but how cool is it?! This design features "Daily Prophet" clippings and the shop also has a Marauder's Map option.

Monday, June 8, 2015

13 Upcoming 2015 Releases I'm Excited About

It's the middle of 2015 already! Crazy, huh? So how's your reading year going? I've had a terrific year so far. I've read almost all 4- and 5-star books and I'm well on my way to reaching (and even surpassing) my goal of 65 books! I've been gripped by some really awesome reads this winter and spring, and I'm hoping the summer and fall will bring just as great of a bounty.

There are lots of promising new releases coming out in the next few months, and for this week's Top Ten Tuesday list hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, we're talking about the 10 new books we're most looking forward to for the rest of 2015. (P.S. This list was originally 10 books long and then I realized I forgot two, and then I discovered a new one! I didn't have the heart to leave any off -- so we have 12!)

Release date: today! (June 9)
A few months ago I read "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" and I was thrilled to see that Annie Barrows has a new book coming out. This one is way, way longer than "Guernsey" but I definitely want to give it a try. It's also historical fiction and set in West Virginia, 1938.

Release date: June 23
I love Janet E., and I especially like her new-ish Wicked series. I'm really excited for "Wicked Charms," the third installment.

Release date: June 23
This book sounds fantastic and right up my alley! I've already got it requested from the library so hopefully I'll get it soon after it comes out!

Release date: July 2
I'm so intrigued by this book! It sounds like it'll be a fun and magical adventure. Also, I'm curious why there's a slightly sinister-looking octopus on the cover!

Release date: July 14
I just recently read (and loved) "Ready Player One" and I was so psyched when I found out Ernest Cline has another book coming out! (P.S. I like this cover so much better than "Ready Player One"!)

Release date: July 28
This book has gotten a lot of hype and I hope it lives up to my expectations!

Release date: July 28
"The Paris Wife" was one of my favorite books of 2012, so I'm looking forward to McLain's latest. It's about another real-life woman, the extraordinary-sounding Beryl Markham in 1920s Kenya.

Release date: August 4
Well, I've read every single other book in the Meg Langslow series so of course I'll be reading this one too. It's a Halloween mystery, so I'll save it for September or October.

Release date: September 22
"Let's Pretend This Never Happened" was ah-maz-ing and so, so funny. I think "Furiously Happy" will still be laugh-out-loud humorous, but it's about Lawson's battle with mental illness so it will likely have some more serious moments too. I love the crazy-eyed raccoon on the cover -- he fits just perfectly with the title.

Release date: September 29
I loved "Me Before You" and I'm excited to see where life has taken Louisa!

Release date: October 6
I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to own this new full-color illustrated edition of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"! I was super-excited when the box-set with the new cover art came out a couple years ago because I loved seeing another part of the story depicted artistically. What am I going to do with a whole entire book of Harry Potter pictures?! I'm just a little miffed that this book isn't being released on September 1st -- which fortuitously happens to fall on a Tuesday this year. I can't be the only one who thinks that would be perfect!?

Release date: October 13
One of my favorite literary heroines, Lady Emily, returns in a mystery set in the south of France. This is the tenth Lady Emily book and I've loved them all. I also like how the books are released every October -- the perfect time for a cozy-ish historical mystery!

Release date: October 20
Kate Morton's "The Secret Keeper" was one of my favorite novels of 2013 and I've been meaning to read more of her books ever since. I am going to make it a point to read this one! And it comes out exactly a week before my 30th birthday. Hopefully we'll be taking some kind of fun getaway, so perhaps I'll be reading this sitting on a beach or relaxing by a river in the mountains surrounded by colorful leaves!
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