Sunday, April 30, 2017

Goodbye DaysGoodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

[actual rating: 3.5 stars]

Carver Briggs, has a normal life with his best friend's “Sauce Crew” who do everything in life together. After sending one fateful text of an inquiry of location to Mars, Blake, and Eli who were driving somewhere, all three are killed in a car crash instantly. Left as the only survivor of the squad, Carver questions who’s to blame for this terrible event that made his life spin out of control.

TW for this review: self-harm, suicide, homophobia

I have extremely mixed opinions about this book. On one hand, I perceive this as a beautiful celebration of life, and on the other hand, there were some extremely problematic sections in the text which really bothered me and wasn’t amusing. Therefore I will try to divide this review into two sections:

“For the most part, you don't hold the people you love in your heart because they rescued you from drowning or pulled you from a burning house. Mostly you hold them in your heart because they save you, in a million quiet and perfect ways, from being alone.”

At its heart, this is an exploration of grief, guilt, and the fear of moving forward while leaving such a big part of yourself behind. The blurb really caught my attention, because I feel like this could be a cautionary tale for teenagers to think about what they do and what consequences can result because of this. Don’t mistake the stereotype of this genre, this is far from a fluffy contemporary.

The mental illness representation in my opinion, was quite accurate. (view spoiler)

“He grins and starts making elaborate tying motions with his hands. He fits an invisible noose around his neck, tightens it, and jerks it upward, sticking his tongue out the side of his mouth. I stifle a laugh and pantomime opening a bottle of pills and dumping the whole thing in my throat… We meet eyes again. Under his deck, Blake of pantomimes cutting his wrist.”

These lines are inexcusable and should not be even placed in the text. There is no correction, Blake and Carver consider this whole action sequence as a joke, because they are currently in a classroom with a shitty teacher that pisses them off. Nevertheless, there is no excuse for this type of disgusting joking of attempted suicide.

“Yeah, well you’re gayer than… riding a white pony through a field of dicks… ‘It’s cool dude. We just need to have a gay-joke training montage, where you’re running while I ride my bike, and lifting weights while screaming gay jokes, all in preparation for your redemption from this humiliating defeat.”

Not having or having a gay friend doesn’t give you the excuse to make these homophobic, and then while apologizing saying: “There aren’t really homophobic. None of us are. We just---didn’t think.” Excuses excuses who do you think you are?

“Funny how people move through this world leaving little pieces of their story with the people they meet, for them to carry. Makes you wonder what'd happen if all those people put their puzzle pieces together.”

Yet quotes like these make me recognize the value that this book brings. Quotes like this blow my mind and make me love Zentner’s writing style even more.

**Thanks to bloggingforbooks and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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Ending Survey

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
I think the most daunting hour was nearing the around the 20s, because it became increasingly difficult to not just collapse and fall asleep on my desk.
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next year?
Any volume of Saga or Lumberjanes, because it's a quick read that has a lot of pictures, so it's easier for your brain to process this at the dead of night. 
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season?

Would like some collective tab that announces all of the winners of the prizes, because otherwise all of the way of communications are scattered, and you take to keep on checking multiple blogs/social medias.
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

All the Twitter chat questions and involvement of the participants.I love making new friends!5. How many books did you read?
8 total books, with a total number of pages 1687 
6. What were the names of the books you read?

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
I think that my favorite has to be GOODBYE DAYS, because it's a beautiful celebration of life and I adored all of the characters.
8. Which did you enjoy least?HOME (Binti #2), but the only reason why is because I hadn't read the first one therefore I was very confused on what is going on with the worldbuilding and character development.
9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
Definitively doing it next time, would love to spearhead some of the future Twitter chats that are going on.

See y'all in September! 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Hour 13 Update

Here are the three books that I've finished, currently have scattered thoughts so will update and review later
Have Read:

Currently Reading: 

Opening Meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? – On the beautiful East coast in the great garden state of NJ.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? – Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? – I gathered up all of my favorite snacks into a stockpile, so we've got: pretzels, raisins, caramel candies, cheese, and of course my favorite--the grapefruit.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! – Hello y'all, I'm Mars, a queer teenager blogger who devours YA books like nobody's buisness. I've been blogging consistently for about one year, and this is my third round of Deweys.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? – DNF way more and way more quickly. Previously readathons I have made myself slug through books that I hated or weren't really entertaining at all. Also, going to try to do a bunch of pictures for the Instagram challenges.

Well, fellow readathoners, Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Convenient EscapeThe Convenient Escape by Robert Downs
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book could have been executed much better, if the author just took the time to develop the one-dimensional characters a little bit more by telling us their backstories and life decisions that lead them to this point. We start off with with Veronica (our MC) running away from a kidnapper in the middle of the woods and abandoning her heels in order for speed, trying to do anything to escape. Coincidentally, she happens to stumble upon Peter, an old acquaintance from high school. From there she uses force on him, for his cooperation and provision of resources (cars, guns, etc.)

The title has it exactly right, everything was too convenient, too coincidental. As a reader, I knew exactly where this story was going since the first chapters (romantically, thrillery, etc.) Instead of playing it on the safe side of storytelling, Downs could have crafted a shocking twist or a legitimate inconvenience that would prevent it from being relatively easy for the characters.

Multiple things in this book I found to be unrealistic. The fact that Veronica was able to actually hold Peter hostage for such a long number of hours at first; I mean he's a soldier who served in Iraq. I'm pretty sure that he's made of tougher stuff than submission, so if he really wanted to leave, he easily could have.

Another thing, is how Anthony's character was portrayed. He literally goes around hiring secretaries and disposing of them for his disgusting sexual desires, and then uses them to go and seduce the people that he wants to kill. He was by far my least favorite character, the worst of the villians in this story, because he manipulated everyone and made it all seem like such a bore. I had a strong urge to skip all of the chapters with his POV, because every word was physically repulsive to me.

The most frustrating thing about this whole story, was that instead of Veronica going straight to the police station and disclosing all of the information that she knew about her bosses as well as describing the abduction that happened to her; she decides to take unnecessary risks and handle this alone in an unsafe environment to her and the public around her. Almost every decision that she made was completely irrational, and I just couldn't understand what was happening.

Lastly, I've read this book before. Not this exact book, but one where it goes like: employee finds some undesirable information about the people that she's working for, decides to take matters into her own incompetent hands, finds a partner/boyfriend who she comes to completely trusts, and goes on a mission to stomp out the bad guys herself. Excuse me, I think that there could be better way of creating a thriller, especially in a world endless with possibilities.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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Monday, April 24, 2017

The Perfect StrangerThe Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After Miranda's first book, All the Missing Girls which blew me away, I had nothing but high expectations for this book. This book has no connections to the previous, yet still has an underlying theme of the darkness lurking at the edges of reality.

Leah Stevens is a crime investigative journalism, who had a falling out with her company because of libel charges that were put forth. So she decides to escape her past by moving into rural Western Pennsylvania with her mysterious roommate, Emmy. But the truth catches up with you and bubbles up to the surface, as Leah comes to learn again.

Two dead bodies are found in this town, which is a place for people to migrate to begin a new start. Leah decides that she wants to get involved in this case, because she has personally holding at stake, and also get involved with some insider information that leads her down a path or connecting the dots in this stories. I appreciate how the author gives us some snippets and mini-flashbacks, to give us clues. However, I think that it took our MC way too long to figure out this who-dun-it, and I started getting a little bit impatient and frustrated with the time frame.

I've never read a thriller like this before, because there was debate if the "missing girl" actually existed(was she an actual girl or just a figment of imagination), which I honestly felt like a cheap plot device or lazy writing. This was also written in chronological order in first POV, which has the standard format for thrillers that are exciting, yet in comparison to the unique format, this fell a little bit flat.

We are only in Leah's head, who is a likable but unreliable narrator, and has a scattered trains of thoughts and a mess in her life. After a certain point, I rather did not enjoy spending so much time from her perspective; it would have been much better to can an overall take-a-step-back view of the situation at hand. Honestly, at most points I viewed her as an untrustworthy source of information, because of course you can twist the facts like you want them and always view them through your lens.

With all of that in mind, Miranda still manages to deliver something deliciously mysterious. Her writing has the perfect mix of the past and the present, along with trying to overly-focus on the details that may link one case to another. She's just the author to take you by your hand at the start, and send you on a wild ride (or a wild goose chase) for an unidentifiable person.

The ending was also very disappointing, there was no huge confrontation in which everything got solved and the criminal got caught. Sure, I don't like tidy endings in most thrillers, but in this case I think that the author played it too safe and left it too open ended, ultimately leaving me unsatisfied with the outcome.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"We're all just wandering through the tundra of our existence, assigning value to worthlessness, when all that we love and hate, all we believe in and fight for and kill for and die for is as meaningless as images projected onto plexiglass."

This book was an absolute masterpiece and an absolute mindfuck of a sci-fi world.

"Are you happy with your life?" are the last six words that Jason hears before becoming unconscious and waking up in an unfamiliar, different world. At first, he doesn't even know if he's experiencing a dream/hallucination or which reality is the one that's real. The biggest question that he is trying to answer is: how does he get back to the people that he loves, the family that he left behind.

"I thought I appreciated every moment, but sitting here in the cold I took it all for granted. And how could I not? Until everything topples, we have no idea what we actually have, how precariously and perfectly it all hangs together."

Throughout this novel, we then go through a series of these types of introspective thought about: appreciating the things that we already have, finding our identity, how we perceive what reality is, the choices that we make or that we don't make. Because of our first POV, and the psychologist who appears in a good chunk of the book, this proved to be an interesting psychological study.

"The other (view spoiler) want the thing in the world that is the most precious in the world that is the most precious to me--my family."

This can classified as a love story, between a husband and wife and their son, between what their family means and how it grounds them in whatever life they choose to live through. That's what makes it so emotional, so gripping and soul-searching for both the narrator and so that the reader can relate. In my opinion this was the most important element of the book because it erased the indifferent and made us empathize with the struggles of our MC.

"It's a mystery. But there are clues. Most astrophysicist believe that the force holding stars and galaxies together--the thing that makes our whole universe work--comes from a theoretical substance we can't measure or observe directly. Something they call dark matter. And this dark matter makes up most of the known universe."

The scientific explanations blew my mind and probably went way over my head, but nevertheless could still captivate my attention completely. The way that the author writes it provides so much intricacy, and why this novel is titled is (the title sentence, if you will) captures the meaning and themes even more clearly.

I have to admit at first I had to adjust to Crouch's writing style. It could be described as short and choppy, but I thought that the voice of a screenwriter was shining through the pages. From page one, I just knew that this was meant to be adapted onto the big screen. There are repetitive phrases that are like lists, and lots of short phrases that just get dropped to the next line-in the middle of a thought. In a way though this fits right along with the fast paced tempo that Crouch is aiming for, so I grew to really appreciate . The result of his writing was making this an extremely quick read that was unputdownable, the kind that's so excellent that you can't help but read it in one sitting.

**Thanks to bloggingforbooks and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinion are my own.**

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Friday, April 14, 2017

The Twelve Lives of Samuel HawleyThe Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Everything breaks if you hit it hard enough.”

This novel follows the unique father-daughter relationship between Loo, a quirky teenager who had a rough-n'-tumble relationship, and Hawley, a mysterious man with a hidden past filled with regrets and mistakes. Set in the quaint New England setting of the Atlantic shore, we follow the messy nests of secrets and lies, and the criss-cross railroad tracks that this creates within the various connections in town.

Could be described as grit-lit mystery, in which the father teaches her daughter of survival skills like jumping a jar, shooting at the bullet range, etc. Loo's childhood being pretty unstable and unconventional, her transferring to seven different schools throughout her childhood. Objectively, I could recognize that Loo would have had a traditionally "better" childhood if she had stayed with her grandmother, however the things that she went through with her father was both heartbreaking and bittersweet.

How this book is set up, there is one chapter for the story behind every bullet hole that Hawley has acquired. Other chapters are alternating from Loo's POV, little vignettes of her life from twelve-years old to seventeen years old. I would dare say that this was done very successfully because I felt like we could get to know the characters much more in-depth, through their thoughts on life and their reactions of certain events.

Hawley has a peculiar way of life and tradition, where he hangs memorabilia, a type of shrine place in the bathroom, and always carries several guns wherever he goes and in whatever he packs. There's an element of grief, because Loo's mother drowned when she was just an infant.

Overall, the writing was beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to experience this coming-of age story through my new favorite characters': Loo's eyes.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

We Stood Upon Stars

"We search mountaintops and valleys, deserts and oceans, hoping sunrises and long views through the canyons will help us discover who we are, or who we still want to be. The language of your hearts reflect that of creation because in both are fingerprints of God."

[Actual rating: 2.5 Stars]

This book explores the journey of life and what fatherhood means, the wonder of looking up at the stars, camping in the West,etc. I think that this book has the potential to be an insightful and introspective piece of travel memoir art, if it's read at the right time to the right audience. However, being a female teenager, nothing in this book interested or applied to me personally, and so that's why I found it hard to get into it.

My favorite passages were those where Thompson describes all of the motorcycle rides with his grandfather and sees canyons, valleys, and tunnels. Those seem to be heartfelt, and his grandfather is a wise old man who brightened some of the dull stories and also gave us insight into the kind of contemplation that was taught to him, and in return pass this on to his two sons.

Generally though, I found myself skimming through most of these short camping stories, because a lot of the moral lessons are repetitive. Things like how he wants to be a better father by exposing his sons into the wild west and all the dangers that come in, how he has these moments with God that change him to be a better person. That's all good and nice, however this type of reflection would have been more suited for a short novella or even longer essay. 

On the other hand, in memoirs I like when all of the other characters are fleshed out and seem realistic, not paper-cut with roles. That's what it seemed to be here; the wife fulfills the life partner and romantic elements that are needed, supporting her husband in all of her endeavors. We don't even get one insightful shred about how their relationship actually functions, we don't really see the individual personalities of his two sons (the only details being that they're eight and ten years old). 

Overall, if you enjoy travel memoirs that talk about landscape and faith, this just might be the book for me. For me, however, it fell incredibly boring and flat as a result of this disconnection.

**Thanks to bloggingforbooks and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinion are my own.**

Monday, April 10, 2017

2017 SerendipiTEA Tour Featuring When Planets Fall Author Abby Reed + Giveaway!

I've always wanted to have a chance to host a book tour on my blog, for as long as it's been alive. Right now, not only do I get to do that, but this is also a tour that I in part created. It was an honor and privilege to work with these sixteen debut authors and put together a beautiful and packed tour of their novels. Today I'm extremely excited to be focusing in on WHEN PLANETS FALL by Abby Reed, who I consider a friend.

Here's a little bit about this book:

“In this richly imagined start to a new sci-fi series, Reed brings optimism to the goal of solving entrenched violence in a galaxy far, far away. . . A propulsive, sharply crafted tale about a planetary war.” –Kirkus Reviews
If you enjoy books with disabled characters, sibling relationships, moral greys, body modification, and don't mind a bit of blood . . . in space . . . then you might like WHEN PLANETS FALL!
Breaker's home is cleaved by blood. The three tribes on the planet Scarlatti, whose only difference is their blood color, each want to exploit Breaker's valley for themselves. The feudal tension has already claimed red-blood Breaker's leg and his older brother. Now all this 18-year old wants is to maintain the tenuous peace in order to keep his little 'stroid of a brother alive. Malani, a red-blood raised blue, is a kidnapped POW and only wants to return to her adoptive home with her dangerous blue secrets. Luka, a red-blood stewing for trouble, wants to right wrongs done to his family and bathe his home in justice.

All three intersect when Breaker discovers a wrecked starship and is given seven days by the green-bloods to fix and hand it over as a weapon. Breaker must decide if aiding his enemies is worth the home he knows and his family's life. War is coming. And war respects no boundaries. And war leaves no survivors."

This is book #1 in STARS FALL CIRCLE series.

You can purchase it here:

A little bit about Abby Reed!

Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if. She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, WHEN PLANETS FALL, will be published in May 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing.
Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Find her online at

A little bit about her tea life! 

This photo should sum up my tea life: 

Yeah. Did I mention I like tea?

I like the caffeine. I like that it's water (I live at high-altitude!) I like the flavors. It's like eating a scent, and since scents are strong memory triggers, it's like eating a memory. Every time I drink something rose-based, I'm reminded of the way I felt when I visited the Queen's Rose Garden in England. I feel at peace, surrounded by beauty, even if I haven't left my office.

All about her tea contribution:

My WHEN PLANETS FALL tea is a custom cinnamon vanilla roobios mix. It smells very warm and makes me think of home. With rooibos as a base, there's no caffeine. And, fun fact: rooibos is supposed to be good for headaches!

Cinnamon is a very important scent to Breaker. To him, it's a scent that symbolizes his brother's death, loss, and a never-ending cycle of violence. I knew that had to be a main part of the tea. The vanilla is representative of the pupal fruit that grows on Scarlatti. It's a main part of their diet and has a sweeter taste. I chose rooibos because a) it's red, and the color red is huge in Breaker's world. B) Rooibos is supposed to be inflammatory, which is good for migraines, and Luka, one of the POVs, gets migraines.

What's included in the giveaway prizes?

Delicious Giveaway Link Below!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the Serendipitea Tour online!

April 1st–The Regal Critiques: JM Sullivan with THE WANDERLAND CHRONICLES

April 2nd–Ohana Reads: Leah Henderson with ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL

April 3rd–YA and Wine: KM Robinson with GOLDEN

April 4th–The YA Book Traveler: F.M. Boughan with CINDERELLA NECROMANCER

April 5th–YA Wednesdays: Linsey Miller with A MASK OF SHADOWS

April 6th–Bibliobibuli YA: Leslie Hauser with CHASING EVELINE

April 7th–Rattle the Pages: Gwen C. Katz with AMONG THE RED STARS

April 9th–Pirates and Pixie Dust: Amber Duell with FRAGILE CHAOS

April 10th–lollipopsbooks: Abby J. Reed with WHEN PLANETS FALL

April 11th–SimplyAllyTea: Carrie Ann DiRisio with BROODING YA’S HERO GUIDE

April 12–Bookish Fan Girl: Amanda Hanson with SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL

April 13th–For the Sake of Reading: Rosalyn Eves with BLOOD ROSE REBELLION

April 14th–Redd’s Reads: Meg Eden with POST HIGH-SCHOOL REALITY QUEST

April 15th–Tales of the Ravenous Reader: Kristin L. Gray with VILONIA BEEBE TAKES CHARGE

April 16th–Little red bookshelf: Chelsea Sedoti with THE HUNDRED LIES OF LIZZIE LOVETT

April 17th–Emily Reads Everything: Shaila Patel with SOULMATED

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Waking Gods (Themis Files #2)Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

[Rating: 3.5 stars]

A daring sequel to a thrilling first novel, however slightly inferior. Second book syndrome, or perhaps not enough spent with my favorite character may contribute to my indifferent to this continuation.

Plot-wise it's absolutely fascinating and was moving along quite rapidly. Planet Earth is being invaded by more and more of these "alien robots" that are threatening the very international safety. Chaos ensues and the storyline goes from there, involving all of the same characters that were featured in the first book.

There was more of a sense of deathly urgency, which of curse ensured that there was a decrease in solid character development that I was desperate to see. However this (endearing) train wreck didn't keep my on my toes. I think that the author tried, and quite frankly failed at creating that authentic urgency that's needed in this thriller-esque thing. The format stays exactly the same as it was in the first installment (interviews and short diary entries) however because of certain event and the need for more narratives to fully flesh out the character.

Funny, I expected this alternative world to expand, but instead I felt like it was narrowing. We spend a significant among time solving mysteries in the details of under the microscope and examining DNA. Sure, there were some profound passages that explore the idea of space, infinity, etc. just as could have been expected from Neuvel.

(view spoiler)

Lastly the ending: omg! Neuvel really has a knack for writing abstract cliffhangers. Not only did you not expect them, but they are completely out of the world of things that happened; that they change the playing board completely. I'm expecting that this is a set-up for the third installment.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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Monday, April 3, 2017

The BarrowfieldsThe Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The more I read these types of books, the more I discover that dysfunctional family sagas are not my cup of tea. Let's face this, "debut" author sometimes tend to overuse this tope to create a barebones plot outline.

I wish that I could say that I've found an exception to the rule, but this one is unfortunately not what I was hoping it was. We follow Henry, a child of two ambitious artists that live in a dark and ghostly mansion at the top of the hill, that's rumored to be haunted because of the previous owners mysterious deaths. It seems that his father is a depressive alcoholic who neglects everything and everyone around him for his sacred "writing" which he considers his whole life. His mother has put up with this behavior for years, and has not ben a comforting mother figure to neither him nor her daughter Threnody. Henry seems to take the mother and father role in her life. The setting is a small rural town in Northern Appalachia, where both the father and son want to escape but ultimately their town calls them back (see the repetitive patterns yet?)

As for the writing, where is the editor or was there any editing work done on this? You could not believe the number of "and"s and repetitive phrases that were repeated in the same sentence/paragraph. Lots of the word choice and sentence structure felt very discombobulated to the point that I felt frustrated with it. I just thought that this needs a lot more work writing-wise. One might say: "But readers like me should maybe move past that since after all he is a debut author, so cut him some slack right?" (I have greater expectations, and also if the writing sucks, it's ruins everything so...)

I was also disappointed in the way that the adoption process was handled. There is a certain character who is in a relationship with our MC and then of course something about her biological parents is revealed and our MC is the fire to ever notice the answer. I just thought that whole section wasn't well thought-out and unrealistic in terms of legal stipulations and then how the information was even discovered.

One of the only things that I genuinely enjoyed where the flashbacks to Henry and Threnody's sibling relationship when they were children. He used to read her books and make up stories and sing to her every night before bed, which I thought was really sweet and showed a caring side in his otherwise unlikeable nature. That point in time was absolutely precious to watch unravel, although I can't say the rest for the same of the book.

**Thanks to bloggingforbooks and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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