Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Sunday, May 29, 2016

2016 Book 161: THE ASSISTANTS by Camille Perri



The Assistants by Camille Perri 
ISBN: 9780399172540 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780698180802 (ebook)
ASIN: B013Q7094K (Kindle version)
Publication Date: May 3, 2016 
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons


A wry and astute debut about a young Manhattanite whose embezzlement scam turns her into an unlikely advocate for the leagues of overeducated and underpaid assistants across the city.  Tina Fontana is the hapless but brazen thirty-year-old executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the all-powerful and commanding CEO of Titan Corp., a multinational media conglomerate. She's excellent at her job and beloved by her famous boss—but after six years of making his reservations for restaurants she'd never get into on her own and pouring his drinks from bottles that cost more than her rent, she's bored, broke, and just a bit over it all. When a technical error with Robert's travel-and-expenses report presents Tina with the opportunity to pay off the entire balance of her student loan debt with what would essentially be pocket change for her boss, she struggles with the decision: She's always played by the rules. But it's such a relatively small amount of money for the Titan Corporation—and for her it would be a life-changer . . . The Assistants speaks directly to a new generation of women who feel stuck and unable to get ahead playing by the rules. It will appeal to all of those who have ever asked themselves, "How is it that after all these years, we are still assistants?"
Tina Fontana is a struggling thirty-year-old living in New York City. She works as the personal assistant to the boss of a multinational media conglomerate and makes barely enough to survive, much less pay off her college debt. Tina has no idea how much her life will change with one computer entry in The Assistants by Camille Perri.

Imagine working for a man that spends more on golf clubs (purchased to play one single round of golf) than you make in a month. Imagine this same man spends more on one monogrammed cotton handkerchief (that he considers to be just as disposable as a tissue) than you make in a week. Tina has worked for just such a man for six years and she's still barely able to survive. After receiving a reimbursement check for an airline ticket that she paid for out-of-pocket and was then comped, she struggles with whether to return the check or keep it to pay off her student loans. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, she keeps the check and pays off her loans. She's then blackmailed into helping to pay off the debts of one co-worker and then another. Tina struggles with the morality of what they are doing. As this "pay-it-forward" or "pay-it-down" (all the monies are used to pay down student loan debt) idea gains momentum, the idea garners publicity and becomes legitimized through crowdfunding. All the while, Tina and her coworkers are asking the hard-hitting questions of why were we lied to when told we needed a college education to get ahead and why are we are still struggling with basic survival on our wages, especially since we aren't lazy but hardworking people? 

I found The Assistants to be a fast-paced read that captured my attention from the first page to the very last. Ms. Perri has incorporated humor to take away a bit of the sting from the battle cry of millennials, "why isn't this system working for us?" This is a generation that has gone to college, graduate school, law school, and/or medical school, racking up tens of thousands of debt. This is a generation that works 50-60 hours work weeks and is still struggling with the basics (rent, utilities, and groceries). Although The Assistants may be a somewhat lighthearted fictional look at this generation and their problems, it nonetheless highlights some serious issues facing these millennials. I enjoyed all of the characters, especially Tina, Emily, and Wendy. These women may have started out as "Robin Hood" type figures, but quickly come into their own with their "pay-it-down" assistance program (if only it were a reality). The Assistants provides a behind-the-scenes look at the world of assistants and their bosses' unrealistic expectations. If you're looking for a fun read that has its roots in reality, then look no further, The Assistants may just be the book for you. I'm looking forward to reading more from Ms. Perri in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes from BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Book Showcase: THE HOUSE OF BRADBURY by Nicole Meier




The House of Bradbury by Nicole Meier 
ISBN: 9781940716381 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781940716398 (ebook)
ASIN: B01DJWHB3O (Kindle version)
Publication Date: May 10, 2016 
Publisher: Spark Press


Mia Gladwell's life is going nowhere. The media has skewered her debut novel, her fiance Carson, a successful Hollywood producer, has jumped ship, and now she's living in her sister's carriage house unattached, unemployed, and uninspired. Then she learns that the Los Angeles estate of iconic author Ray Bradbury is up for sale, and she feels an immediate urge to buy the wonky old house, convinced that moving into the late author's home will inspire her to create her best work yet. Life in the Bradbury house is not what Mia imagined, however. Soon after moving in, to fulfill a debt she owes to Carson, she agrees to take in a pill-popping young actress as a tenant, and suddenly she finds herself in a balancing act between her needy ex, an unpredictable starlet, and her disapproving sister, who's keeping a close eye on her. Add to this a series of mysterious sketches left at her doorstep by a stranger, and Mia s life is more complicated than ever. As she searches for clues, though, Mia discovers insights into her own life. Maybe moving into Bradbury's house was a big mistake but maybe not.


Read an excerpt from The House of Bradbury here.




Meet the author:



Nicole Meier is a native Southern Californian who pulled up roots and moved to the Pacific Northwest. She works as a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. She lives in Oregon with her family. The House of Bradbury is her first novel.




Connect with the author:

Website     |     Twitter     |     Facebook     |     Goodreads     |     Instagram



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Book Showcase and Giveaway: WILDE LAKE by Laura Lippman

Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
ISBN: 9780062083456 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062083470 (ebook)
ASIN: B014PNZB74 (Kindle version)
Publication Date: May 3, 2016 
Publisher: William Morrow


The bestselling author of the acclaimed standalones After I'm Gone, I'd Know You Anywhere, and What the Dead Know, challenges our notions of memory, loyalty, responsibility, and justice in this evocative and psychologically complex story about a long-ago death that still haunts a family.
Luisa "Lu" Brant is the newly elected—and first female—state's attorney of Howard County, Maryland, a job in which her widower father famously served. Fiercely intelligent and ambitious, she sees an opportunity to make her name by trying a mentally disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death in her home. It's not the kind of case that makes headlines, but peaceful Howard county doesn't see many homicides.
As Lu prepares for the trial, the case dredges up painful memories, reminding her small but tight-knit family of the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man's life. Only eighteen, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Now, Lu wonders if the events of 1980 happened as she remembers them. What details might have been withheld from her when she was a child? 
The more she learns about the case, the more questions arise. What does it mean to be a man or woman of one's times? Why do we ask our heroes of the past to conform to the present’s standards? Is that fair? Is it right? Propelled into the past, she discovers that the legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. Lu realizes that even if she could learn the whole truth, she probably wouldn't want to.


Read an excerpt from Wilde Lake here.


Meet the author:

Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about "accidental PI" Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor’s Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association.

Ms. Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended city schools through ninth grade. After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md., Ms. Lippman attended Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her other newspaper jobs included the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light

Ms. Lippman returned to Baltimore in 1989 and has lived there since. She is the daughter of Theo Lippman Jr., a Sun editorial writer who retired in 1995 but continues to freelance for several newspapers, and Madeline Mabry Lippman, a former Baltimore City school librarian. Her sister, Susan, is a local bookseller. 

Connect with the author:

Website     |     Twitter     |     Facebook     |     Goodreads     |     Instagram 










Enter to win 1 of 2 hardcover copies of Wilde Lake (open to residents of the United States and Canada only, sorry). This giveaway ends on May 31st at 11:59 PM ET. The winners will be announced by 10:00 AM ET on June 1, 2016. These books have generously been provided by the publisher, William Morrow, and will be mailed by The Book Diva's Reads to the winners.

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

2016 Book 153: DON'T YOU CRY by Mary Kubica


Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica 
ISBN: 9780778319054 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781459294868 (ebook)
ASIN: B0181W5CBU (Kindle version)
Publication Date: May 17, 2016 
Publisher: MIRA


New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica returns with an electrifying and addictive tale of deceit and obsession 
In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she's the person Quinn thought she knew. 
Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.  
As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl's spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.


Quinn Collins awakens on a Sunday morning in Chicago expecting to find her roommate, Esther Vaughan, preparing for church. What she finds instead are an empty bedroom and an open window. Unsure of how to proceed, Quinn searches Esther's bedroom and finds a weird letter and information that Esther has legally changed her name. That same morning, Alex Gallo is working in a small resort town diner in Michigan and becomes enamored with a customer he calls Pearl. Alex knows nothing about Pearl except she is a distraction from his mundane life. Instead of being away at college, he has stayed in town working a menial job just so he can take care of his alcoholic father. Over the course of one week, both Quinn and Alex come to realize that it isn't really possible to know another person and that the past is never far from our present in Mary Kubica's latest release, Don't You Cry.

I'm a huge fan of suspense thrillers and psychological thrillers and Ms. Kubica has crafted another fine example of a psychological suspense thriller with Don't You Cry. Even though I was dealing with a migraine, I couldn't stop thinking about this book and impatiently awaited resuming my reading (yes, it is just that good!). Don't You Cry pulled this reader in from the first few chapters and kept me enthralled until the very last page. The story is told in alternating voices of Quinn and Alex and the action takes place over the course of one short week. And there's a lot crammed into that week: remembrances of friendship, family drama, coming-of-age angst, hazards of small town life, hazards of big city life, and hints of romance. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced and gripping story and can highly recommend it to readers of suspense or psychological thrillers. If you're not sure about this genre, then I suggest you add all three of Ms. Kubica's titles (The Good Girl, Pretty Baby, and Don't You Cry) to your TBR list, because after reading just one of her books you're sure to be a fan.

Read an excerpt from Don't You Cry here

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley and a print copy from BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2016 Book 130: THE CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER by Phaedra Patrick

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick 
ISBN: 9780778319337 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781459293908 (ebook)
ASIN: B016UEUIF6 (Kindle version)
Publication Date: May 3, 2016 
Publisher: MIRA


In this poignant and sparkling debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure 
Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden. 
But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam's death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam's possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he's never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife's secret life before they met—a journey that leads him to find hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places. 
Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters with big hearts and irresistible flaws, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a curiously charming debut and a joyous celebration of life's infinite possibilities. 


Watch the book trailer:




Arthur Pepper is a widower that has a set daily routine; up at a certain time, wearing specific outfits, eating at exact times, etc. Exactly one year after his wife's death he decides to clear out her belongings. He unexpectedly finds an inexpensive gold charm bracelet in a pair of boots and this sets him off on a quest to find out more about his wife's life before their marriage in The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick. 

I found The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper to be a very fast-paced, cozy, and sweetly sentimental read. Arthur's quest to learn more about his wife is just as much a journey of self-awareness as it is a way to learn more about her past. Arthur discovers that each charm represents a fascinating chapter in her life. An elephant charm representing her brief period as a nanny in India, a tiger charm given to her by a renowned playboy figure that is fascinated by tigers (so much so that he keeps a few on his estate), and more. What he ultimately finds out is that his wife was a woman that had traveled and touched the lives of people, young and old. I rather enjoyed Arthur's travels and discoveries, as well as his rekindled relationship with his children. He also comes to realize that routines are nice, but breaking them won't cause the world to end. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper has a lot to offer, but the reason you should read it is simply because it is a delightful read. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Patrick in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Monday, May 16, 2016

Guest Post: John Lansing, author of DEAD IS DEAD

I'm always pleased and honored when authors take time out of their busy schedules to stop by The Book Diva's Reads. Today, I'm pleased to host a visit by the author of the soon to be published Dead is Dead and a host of other fine books, John Lansing. Mr. Lansing will be discussing his top ten list of authors he reads in the crime/thriller genre. You'll probably be adding a few of these to your TBR list.



One of the most important things someone who wants to write a Crime/Thriller can do for themselves is to read work by the best authors in the genre. And if what you're shooting for is to write a series, it's a great help to read the first book the author penned, to see how he or she introduced their protagonist.

I always follow up by reading the next few books in the series to see how the author summarizes the first book. It's a delicate balance. There has to be enough information so that each title can operate as a stand-alone, but still give the reader an understanding of the franchise. But, too much becomes repetitive and can bog down the new narrative line. 
There’s nothing more exciting to me than finding a new author that peaks my interest. Speaks to my crime/thriller voracious appetite, and keeps me glued to the page. Then I know I can happily look forward to reading their entire library. 

This is my top ten list. Writers that I revisit time and time again. Let me know if they work for you.


1. Raymond Chandler. He's a grand master and reads like a comfortable, old, black and white movie. Start with The Big Sleep and you're off and running.
2. Dashiell Hammett. Another major blast from the past. The Maltese Falcon is a perfect starting point.
3. Michael Connelly. Started out as a court reporter and became one of the best crime writers in the business. The Black Echo was his first. And it helps to read him in order. You get more depth out of Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch, his detective. I'm rereading The Black Echo as we speak.
4. James Lee Burke. I’ll use the word brilliant. Very intense, but always worth the read. The Neon Rain is the first of his famous Dave Robicheaux Novels.
5. Dennis Lehane. A Drink Before the War was his first. This writer can do no wrong.
6. John Sandford. Lighter fare, but totally addictive and well constructed. His first novel was Rules of Prey. I just reread the book last week, and it keeps me going back for more.
7. Ian Rankin. A Scottish Author that makes Edinburgh his stomping grounds. The first in his Inspector Rebus Series is Knots & Crosses. Fine crime fiction.
8. Walter Mosley. Blond Faith is the first of his Easy Rawlins Mysteries. Tons of fun. And a history of LA from a black perspective. He's a terrific writer.
9. Robert Crais and his Elvis Cole/Joe pike novels. The Monkeys' Raincoat is his first. His protagonist Elvis Cole is a glib detective who's easy to spend time with.
10. Jo Nesbo. I just finished his entire Detective Harry Hole Series. Start with The Bat, and you'll be downloading his books and losing sleep in the process.

Okay, there are more on my list, but I think these will keep you busy for a while. I hope you enjoy.

John



Dead is Dead by John Lansing 
ISBN: 9781501147562 (paperback) 
ISBN: 9781501143564 (ebook)
ASIN: B0191YI6GA (Kindle edition)
Publisher: May 30, 2016
Publication date:  Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing

From the "pulse pounding" (Kirkus Reviews) writer of TV hit Walker, Texas Ranger comes a riveting Hollywood thriller that will keep you captivated until the shocking conclusion.
Retired Inspector Jack Bertolino gets his first taste of the erratic nature of Hollywood when A-list producer, George Litton, options one of Jack's recent cases for a film.
Jack is engaged as the film's technical advisor, which stars It Girl Susan Blake. But more importantly, he's on hand to keep a protective eye on Susan, who's being harassed by a disturbing cyber-stalker.
But that's not all that starts to turn Jack's world upside-down. When a five-year-old girl is shot dead in her family's living room, just blocks from where the movie is being filmed, Jack realizes there are threads connecting the movie, the murder, a brutal gang of brothers, and a terrifying body count.
Will Jack be able to find justice for the young girl and keep Susan safe? Or will this be his last and fatal trip to Hollywood?


Author Bio:



John Lansing, started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre performing the lead in the Broadway production of "Grease," before putting together a rock 'n' roll band and playing the iconic club CBGB.

John closed up his Tribeca loft and headed for the West coast where he landed a co-starring role in George Lucas' "More American Graffiti," and guest-starred on numerous television shows.

During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced "Walker Texas Ranger," co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and co-executive produced the ABC series "Scoundrels."

John's first book was Good Cop Bad Money, a true crime tome he co-wrote with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano.

The Devil's Necktie, his first Jack Bertolino novel, became a bestseller on Barnes & Noble and hit #1 in Amazon's Kindle store in the Crime Fiction genre. Jack Bertolino returns in John’s latest novel, Dead Is Dead, the third book in his detective series.

A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

Catch Up with John:


author's website author's twitter author's facebook


Tour Participants:












This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for John Lansing. The giveaway begins on May 15th and runs through June 30th, 2016.

There will be TWO (2) winners for this tour. One winner will receive one $15 gift card from Amazon.com (US Only) the other winner will receive a copy of Dead is Dead by John Lansing - US Residents may choose either an eBook copy or a Physical version however Winners outside the US will only be eligible for an eBook version.

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

2016 Book 79: THE MURDER THAT NEVER WAS by Andrea Kane



The Murder That Never Was by Andrea Kane 
ISBN: 9781682320006 (hardcover)
ASIN: B01C0ZQT8Y (Kindle edition)
Publication date: May 17, 2016  
Publisher: Bonnie Meadow Publishing


Given the opportunity, would you assume someone else's identity and leave your old life behind? A serendipitous crossing of paths between Lisa Barnes, a down-on-her-luck job seeker, and Julie Forman, a personal trainer to an Olympic hopeful, forever changes the course of both women's lives. One winds up dead and the other finds herself a fugitive, hiding behind one lie after another as a cold-blooded killer methodically hunts her. Desperately trying to stay alive, the terrified woman enlists the help of Forensic Instincts, a rogue investigative team that clandestinely operates in the gray area between legal and illegal. 
Safeguarding their client's deception, Forensic Instincts digs into dangerous territory as they try to find out who's after their client and why. Meanwhile, bodies are piling up in Chicago, New Jersey, and Vermont as a megalomaniacal genius will stop at nothing to eradicate anyone who threatens the success of his medical breakthrough. With an unhinged client and a monstrous criminal enterprise as its adversary, Forensic Instincts is forced into uncharted territory to protect their client and save one of their own from becoming the next corpse. Forensic Instincts is an unorthodox, criminal investigative team that carefully navigates the fine line between legal and illegal. The team consists of a behaviorist, a former Navy SEAL, a techo-wiz, an intuitive, a pickpocket, a retired FBI agent, and a human scent evidence dog.


Lisa Barnes never had too many breaks in life until she meets personal trainer Julie Forman. Julie gives her a job and a place to live. After witnessing the cold-blooded murder of her benefactor, Lisa has only one thought...run. She changes ID with Julie and quickly leaves town to start a new life with a new name in The Murder That Never Was by Andrea Kane.

Lisa Barnes was a foster child that never seemed to catch a break. The only good thing that came from her years in the system is her friendship with Miles "Milo" Parker. Once she opts to assume Julie Forman's identity, she runs to Milo. Milo's computer skills help her to make a seamless transition from Lisa to Julie and the two leave Chicago behind for New Jersey. Once they arrive in New Jersey, the new "Julie" opens a fitness facility and begins to enjoy her new life. Unfortunately, the new Julie has ties to the old Julie's life in the form of one former client. A client that was training for the Olympics. A client that will never be able to compete again due to performance enhancing drugs. A client that the old Julie tried to help before getting killed. Meanwhile in Manhattan, Emma, the newest addition to the Forensic Instincts (FI) team, is heartbroken over the story of the murdered Lisa Barnes in her old hometown. Her distress over Lisa's sad demise leads to a behind-the-scenes, informal investigation by FI's computer guru Ryan, which leads to the entire FI team investigating this murder and stumble upon the unrelenting quest of a madman to eliminate all obstacles in order to fulfill his dream of perfection.

The Murder That Never Was is the fifth and latest addition to the Forensic Instincts series by Ms. Kane. As with previous books in this series, there's murder, mystery, and mayhem. This book also adds identity theft, performance enhancing drugs, drug cartels, and the emotional carnage of being a foster child into the mix. Emma is the latest addition to the FI team and the youngest, but I liked the fact that everyone took her concerns over the murder of a fellow foster child into consideration and launched their own investigation. I particularly liked the relationship dynamic between Lisa/Julie and Milo, as well as their inventiveness in order to survive. Ms. Kane provides a fascinating glimpse into the devastation wrought by performance enhancing drugs into the lives of amazingly talented athletes (whether the usage is with or without their knowledge). I found The Murder That Never Was to be a fast-paced read and a great addition to the Forensic Instinct series.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes via Partners in Crime Tours. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Tour Participants:












This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Andrea Kane. There will be 6 US winners. One There will be THREE (3) winners for this tour. The winners will each receive an eBook copy of The Murder That Never Was by Andrea Kane. The giveaway begins on May 9th and runs through June 9th, 2016.

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