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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Deja Vu Review (4) – Childhood Favorites and Banned Books

The Deja Vu Review is a weekly meme hosted by Brittany at The Book Addicts Guide. Its an opportunity to revisit old books you might have read before you launched your blog, but that you think should maybe still be highlighted.

A book that reminds you of your childhood

With this week being Banned Books Week and many books from my childhood showing up on the list I thought I would take the opportunity to post a few of them. Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a mother that let me read pretty much anything I could get my hands on (even romances), and I remember all the trips we used to take to the local library when I was growing up and moving from the children’s section, to what at the time was a very limited YA section, to the adult section (I still remember discovering Danielle Steele when I was in my early teens…lol!).

1. Anything Judy Blume

When I hit my teenage years, I pretty much devoured all the Judy Blume books that I could get my hands on. Are you there God, It’s Me Margaret, Deenie, Tiger Eyes, Blubber – I found something in these books that I could relate to. It was surprising to me, when I looked not only at the Banned Book list from 1990-1999, but also 2000-2009, that books by Judy Blume still appeared. Many of her books have been out 30+ years now, but there must be something scary in think (snerk) to make them still show up. It will be interesting to see, now that Tiger Eyes (one of my favorite books by her) has been made into a movie, whether it makes it back onto the list.

Judy Blume’s books have also stood the test of time. Just last year, in one of the various reading challenges I do, we were asked to read some childhood favorites, so I took it as an opportunity to listen to Tiger Eyes and Are You There God, Its Me, Margaret. And I still found myself laughing hysterically hard at the “we must, we must, we must increase our bust” section.

2. Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson
Katherine Paterson’s classic about two friends and the world that they create for themselves – I had a place that I used to go and hang out with, luckily none of my friends ever died like in the book. But there was something so innocent about Jess and Leslie’s relationship. I didn’t realize that this was on the banned/challenges list until last year when I was doing some reading on Banned Books week – cited reasons include the promotion of the use of vulgar language (because damn and hell is said); the showing disrespect to adults and then the ultimate death of a main character. Here is a link to a really good blog detailing some of the challenges to the book – Bridge to Terabithia

3. The Witches – Roald Dahl
I loved pretty much all of Dahl’s books growing up – prior to discovering Judy Blume, he was one of my favorite authors (and I just recently discovered that he has several books of short stories for adults available – heaven!). While not exactly one of my favorites, I remember the enjoyment of reading the Witches and just a few years ago, watching the movie that was released. The following journal article takes a look at some of the controversy surrounding The Witches – it is a bit dense, but an interesting read

There are so many other books that I would love to mention here, but my blog post would then go on and on and on, and no one wants that right?

What about you guys – What books remind you of your childhood (banned/challenged or not)?

As a bonus at the end of the week, I’m going to collect all the names of people who have commented and throw them in the drawing for some kind of prize (yet to be determined).

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2012 in Deja Vu Review, Reading Events

 

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Banned Book Week – 30 September – 6 October

September 30th sees the launch of the 30th anniversary of celebrating Banned Books. Banned Books Week started in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Since then more than 11,300 books have been challenged.(1) Books may be challenged for a variety of reasons, according to the top 10 list compiled by the American Library Association (ALA), in 2011, the most challenged books and reasons were:

1.ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) – Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

2.The Color of Earth (series) – Kim Dong Hwa
Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

3.The Hunger Games trilogy – Suzanne Collins
Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence

4.My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy – Dori Hillestad Butler
Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

5.The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

6.Alice (series) – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint

7.Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit

8.What My Mother Doesn’t Know – Sonya Sones
Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit

9.Gossip Girl (series) – Cecily Von Ziegesar
Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit

10.To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Reasons: offensive language; racism

I can’t say that I have read all of the books on this top 10 list, but since I’ve read The Hunger Games, I am going to use that as my example. According to the reasons cited above, it has been banned because of anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence.
Anti-ethnic – I’m guessing this is because there is really not much description of various ethnicities through-out the book, unless it has to do with the movie and the controversy regarding the selection of the actress that played Rue
Anti-Family – hmm, so Katniss volunteering to enter the games in lieu of her younger sister is anti-family? or the fact that she and Gale routinely had their names entered into the drawing more than others in order to provide for their family…
Insensitivity – not sure how to categorize this – maybe the fact that many of the tributes didn’t react when they killed one and other – except for Katniss mourning Rue’s death – or maybe later on in the books when people are fighting in the Civil War and there is no time to stop and mourn the dead – I don’t know
Offensive Language – I’m blanking on any specific instances of this, but if anyone knows of any feel free to let me know
Occult/Satanic – ditto to my above comment – from what I remember from reading all 3, there is no mention religion in any form, in fact, I wondered if that was one of the things that disappeared during the initial revolution
Violence – so this is maybe the only objection that I see worthy from all 3 books – there is lots of killing, some of it gruesome – but as most of it is told through the eyes of Katniss, you see the perspective of a teenager. But at the same time, war is violent – there is really no such thing as a peaceful war…so I don’t know how else Collins could have portrayed the actions of what occurred in the world that she built.

Either way, yes, there are various reasons why this book has been banned, do I agree with the banning, hell no! I believe that it is up to the parents of the children to decide what their (and only their) kids should read. No parent other than me will tell me what my (non-existant) kids can read – until they start feeding them and clothing them.

What books on the banned book list are you planning on reading this year?

I have 2 planned – 1984 (George Orwell) and The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2012 in Reading Events

 

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Audiobook Review – Weekend Warriors – Fern Michaels

Weekend Warriors
Author: Fern Michaels
Series: #1 in the Sisterhood series

Narrator: Laural Merlington
Run Time: 6 hours and 6 minutes

Book Description:
The first in an exhilarating new series following a group of extraordinary women who are out to see justice done … a step at a time Nikki Quinn is devastated when her best friend Barbara is knocked down and killed by a hit-and-run driver who claims diplomatic immunity. But Nikki has her work and her lover, fellow lawyer Jack Nolan, to keep her going, whereas Barbara’s mother, Myra, has nothing. Festering in a sea of recriminations and hatred, unable to gain a sense of perspective, Myra is lost…until one day she switches on the evening news and sees Marie Lewellen, mother of a murder victim, take matters into her own hands and stab her daughter’s killer. An idea is born, and within months Myra and Nikki have drawn together a group of women who have one thing in common: they have been failed by the American justice system, they’re down but they’re not out, and they’re ready to find their nemeses and make them pay. First up is Kathryn, a long-distance truck driver who was raped at a road stop by three motorcyclists as her paralysed husband watched, helpless. Banding together, the Sisterhood plot the ultimate revenge — but with dissension from inside the group and out, there’s no saying if the plan will work until the moment of truth arrives

Review:
In the words of my non-existant Jewish grandmother, oy vey…where to start…looking back over my reading history, I don’t know if I had ever picked up a Fern Michaels book before, but after listening to Weekend Warriors, I can tell you for certain that I won’t be picking up one in the future. Whoever classifies this book as a romance has some serious delusions – there is nothing romantic about male castration as a form of revenge (yes, this is completely spoiler-ish and I don’t care). I didn’t see one whit of romance in any of the going-ons in this book. I would more accurately describe it as revenge based women’s lit and not even good on that account. Thankfully, it was only 6 hours long in audio format (so about 220 pages and I managed to listen to most of it in just over 2 days – this is one time that I wasn’t too mad at my long commute because I could simple tune out when needed). If I hadn’t had this scheduled into several different reading challenges, I might have even DNF’d it – but since I did, I persevered.

The premise had potential – a group of women, gathering to together to right the wrong’s done to them by the legal system. But it was the execution that just didn’t hold water – one of the main characters was a lawyer and she almost immediately says that she’ll be involved…now, I know there are corrupt lawyers (as there are individuals in any career field), but to knowingly agree to commit the crimes that were discussed as revenge just made me cringe. Not only that but this super rich woman decides to essentially invest all her money into this scheme (since it was her idea to begin with) and all of a sudden she has a technology suite to rival something you might see in the Batman movies for technical prowess and a “butler” who is like an ex-CIA agent…and it just doesn’t improve much from there…

I wish I could say that the narration helped to improve on a bad book, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case either. I’m not sure if I have ever listened to anything narrated by Laurel Merlington before, and am not sure if I will seek her out again in the future. Maybe if it were for a book by a favorite author, but I wouldn’t listen to anything by an unknown author and narrated by her because in general I struggled. Yes, she was a competent narrator, but it just seemed like there was something missing. I had a hard time visualizing the different characters in my head because there didn’t seem to be much vocal differentiation between them – and when you have a cast of 10 women, 5 of whom are fairly dominate that is something that is needed.

I know that I could not recommend the author, and would hesitate to recommend the narrator to anyone. But that being said, I would be more inclined to give the narrator a second chance than the author…overall, 1 star for the book, 2 stars for the narration – 1.5 stars overall.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Review – Highland Guardian – Melissa Mayhue

Highland Guardian
Author: Melissa Mayhue
Series: #2 in the Daughters of the Glen series

Book Description:
Ian McCullough is neck-deep in his own trouble. A half-mortal descendant of Faeries, he’s been a Guardian for more than six hundred years, but he’s never encountered a woman like Sarah. Assigned to protect her, he finds the job tougher than he could have imagined. Oh, he can handle the stalker, and even the renegade Faeries trying to kidnap her. But falling in love means forsaking his role as Guardian — which is some-thing he could never do.

But there is no denying the passion that exists between two souls fated to be together.

Review:
Sometimes when you dig through your ancient purchases file you find a good read – I think I bought this book like 3 years ago not long after I got my kindle and I went crazy buying books. Then I promptly forgot about it until recently when I came across a recommendation for the first book in the series and I remembered that I had enjoyed the first book in the series, and had bought at least the next few to read. So I dug it out. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the read. Fae’s in general are a favorite paranormal creature of mine to show up in books and are often overlooked in the craze of vampires and werewolves that seems to dominate paranormal romance currently.

In terms of character development, I liked Sarah the main female character, but there was just something about Ian that irked me – its hard to describe – maybe it was because he was fae and had that immortality thing going on – but I’m not sure. The cast of secondary characters were also fun and I can’t wait to read later books in the series to see if they re-appear. I have a feeling (although its been a while since I read the first book) that the characters in that one did make an appearance in this one – but I can’t remember…(whoops)…

Overall, cute read if you like paranormal romance and are looking for something new to try out. If you like the Fae storyline, you could also check out Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series (Paranormal Romance) or Fever Series (Urban Fantasy) or the first book in Charlotte Featherstone’s Sins and Virtues series – Lust. I’d give Highland Guardian 3.5 stars.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Undone – Karin Slaughter

Undone
Author: Karin Slaughter
Series: #3 in the Will Trent series; #1 in the Georgia series

Narrator: Natalie Ross
Run Time: 16 hrs and 7 min
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Book Description:
When a tortured young woman enters the trauma center of an Atlanta hospital, Dr. Sara Linton is thrust into a desperate police investigation with Special Agent Will Trent and his partner, Faith Mitchell. Though guarding their own wounds and their own secrets, Sara, Will, and Faith find that they are all that stand between a madman and his next victim.

Review:
One of the things I love about Karin Slaughter’s books is that she isn’t afraid to go dark – and for me the darker the better. Such is the case in Undone. Having kind of jumped around her various series’ in the last year or so (Book 1 and 6 in her Grant County series and book 4 in the Will Trent series), you would think that I would have learnt to actually read books in order. I did feel kind of lost a few times when the history of various characters were mentioned but since all the books in the series are interlinked, I knew to expect that.

Undone opens on a dark and deserted road (which I guess could be kind of a cliche) but totally wasn’t and the reader (or listener) in my case, is quickly sucked into the case by Will’s actions. It was great seeing Sara Linton show up as a character again showing how the Grant series books ended (but I won’t tell you what happened there), as well as seeing Will and Sara interact for the first time. Now that I have read Undone, I want to go back and re-listen to Broken which is the first book by this author that I read and that i have to admit, I enjoyed but was also completely lost character wise during. There were so many twists and turns through-out the book that I didn’t figure out who the killer was until right before they were revealed.

I have come to realize that I like Natalie Ross’ narration of audiobooks over the last year. I loved her narration of the last 3 books in Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series and listening to her narration of Undone just sealed my enjoyment of her narration skills. I loved how all her different voices were do distinct and she had a nice southern twang that I experienced while living in Georgia without it being too overwhelming. I started listening to Undone on the drive home from a concert one night and found myself wanting to take the longer route home so that I could listen to more of it before I had to stop.

Overall, I’d give the book 4 stars and the narration 4 stars and highly recommend it to people who enjoy police procedurals, mysteries, and thrillers. But if you dont’ like the dark and disturbing, this book isn’t for you.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Books Featuring Sports

So I was going to get all caught up on my reviews before I headed out of town for a Virginia Tech football game (Go HOKIES) but like normal that didn’t happen….but while I’m sitting outside enjoying the gorgeous weather and scenery, I thought I would pose the following question to you guys:

What is your favorite sports based book? It can be fiction or non-fiction…enquiring minds want to know

For me, it is probably a toss up between Rachel Gibson ‘s Chinook Hockey series and Susan Elizabeth Phillips Chicago Stars series. Although I did enjoy the stand-alone book, Scored by Lily Harlem that I recently read

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Musings

 

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Review – Burning Alive – Shannon K. Butcher

Burning Alive
Author: Shannon K. Butcher
Series: #1 in the Sentinel Wars series

Book Description:
Three races descended from ancient guardians of mankind, each possessing unique abilities in their battle to protect humanity against their eternal foes-the Synestryn. Now, one warrior must fight his own desire if he is to discover the power that lies within his one true love…

Helen Day is haunted by visions of herself surrounded by flames, as a dark-haired man watches her burn. So when she sees the man of her nightmares staring at her from across a diner, she attempts to flee-but instead ends up in the man’s arms. There, she awakens a force more powerful and enticing than she could ever imagine. For the man is actually Theronai warrior Drake, whose own pain is driven away by Helen’s presence.

Together, they may become more than lovers-they may become a weapon of light that could tip the balance of the war and save Drake’s people…

Review:
I wanted to like this book so much, but it was a disappointment. It had been recommended several times to me on the Paranormal Romance boards over on Amazon and for the most part, there are a good of people there that I trust when it comes to recommendations – but for some reason this there just seemed to be something missing.

I had been reading Burning Alive for maybe 3 or 4 chapters and from what had occurred in the story, it seemed like I was missing some kid of back story…so I can off to goodreads to check and see if there was maybe a prequel that I was missing, but nope. So I had to content myself with scratching my head and hoping that more about the world was explained later one. While as it progressed more of the world came out, but by the time I finished it, I was still so confused about the world, I was glad to see the book done. I normally have a rule about reading at least 2 books in a series before deciding if I want to continue it or not, but I’m not sure if I want to spend the money on buying the second book. If my library has a copy I may go that route, otherwise, I don’t see myself reading another one. Overall 1.5 stars…

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Animal Magnetism – Jill Shalvis

Animal Magnetism
Author: Jill Shalvis
Series: #1 in the Animal Magnetism series

Narrator: Karen White
Run Time: 10 hours and 32 minutes

Book Description:
Co-owner of the town’s only kennel, Lilah Young has lived in Sunshine, Idaho, all her life. Pilot-for-hire Brady Miller is just passing through. But he soon has Lilah abandoning her instincts and giving in to a primal desire.

It’s Brady’s nature to resist being tied down, but there’s something about Lilah and her menagerie that keeps him coming back for more.

Review:
Jill Shalvis is a name that commonly comes up in romance forums for people looking for contemporary romances to read, but for the life of me, prior to listening to Animal Magnetism, I couldn’t read if I had read anything by her. I don’t think I had, or I have just forgotten (which is entirely possibly, since I am always making jokes about my mind being as leaky as a sieve). So I was looking forward to picking up Animal Magnetism and listening to it and overall, I have to say that it was an enjoyable listen.

The first thing that drew my attention to the book, even before I bought the audio was the cover. I am a sucker for dogs and the eyes on the one on the cover just made my heart go awww (very similar to what my German Shepherd does to me most days – and which is he actually doing right now, since I am typing and not playing Frisbee for the 10 millionth hour today…). And the fact that there was a hot guy holding the puppy, even better -lol – what can I say. There was something about Brody, after I started reading AM that just drew me in. I think it is the guy who is a nomad, trying to find out who he is and ending up back where he began that just draws me in. Although, I will say that Lilah did kind of bug me. I understand the whole wanting to be independent, heck, I am very much like that. But at the same time, there is a difference between being independent and being stupid, and I feel that she definitely bordered on the latter, not the former.

Looking back at my audio listening, I also couldn’t believe that I had never listened to anything done by Karen White prior to this – so it was a two-fer of newbies for me. I’d chatted with her several times in one of my goodreads groups, and after listening to her narration, I know that it won’t be the last time that I listen to anything done by her. I liked her range of voices for the different characters and she was even able to pull off 3 distinctive male voices, which is something that I often find female narrators have a hard time doing (and the same can often be said for males voicing females). As I was listening to her narration, I could see all the characters in my head.

The production of the audio was excellent and I had no complaints about the quality of the download from audible. Overall, I’d give both the book and the narration 3.5 stars, but rounding up to 4 for the consistency between the two.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Review – Laugh with the Moon – Shana Burg

Laugh With The Moon
Author: Shana Burg

Book Description:
Thirteen-year-old Clare Silver is stuck. Stuck in denial about her mother’s recent death. Stuck in the African jungle for sixty-four days without phone reception. Stuck with her father, a doctor who seems able to heal everyone but Clare.

Clare feels like a fish out of water at Mzanga Full Primary School, where she must learn a new language. Soon, though, she becomes immersed in her new surroundings and impressed with her fellow students, who are crowded into a tiny space, working on the floor among roosters and centipedes.

When Clare’s new friends take her on an outing to see the country, the trip goes horribly wrong, and Clare must face another heartbreak head-on. Only an orphan named Memory, who knows about love and loss, can teach Clare how to laugh with the moon.

Review:
This is another book that I likely would never have picked up if I wasn’t doing my read around the world challenge. Set in Malawi (which prior to this I only knew through mentions of it on Grey’s Anatomy) it is the story of a teenager who goes (against her will) with her father who has volunteered to be a doctor there. He had previous spent time there when he was younger and wanted to go back. In the beginning Clare drove me nuts and I couldn’t help but feel that she was acting like a spoiled brat. It wasn’t until about mid-way through the book that you found out a lot about what had happened to her in the previous year and felt kind of sorry for her. In the end, my perception of both her and her father changed – I ended up liking her a bit more, but felt that her dad was a bit self-obsessed and couldn’t see that his daughter was suffering.

You could tell just from the reading and the vivid portrayal of life in the country that she had spent time there which was confirmed by reading her bio after the fact. This would be a really good book to teach in a classroom because of the life-lessons that are illustrated in the book. The rise of YA fiction set in Africa and other countries makes for a wide variety of books that could be used in the classroom. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read about Africa, or who wants to get their kids involved in reading about kids in other countries. 3.5 stars overall.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself – Alan Alda

Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself
Author/Narrator: Alan Alda
Run Time: 6 hours, 1 min

Book Description:
On the heels of his acclaimed memoir, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, beloved actor and bestselling author Alan Alda has written Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, an insightful and funny look at some of the impossible questions he’s asked himself over the years: What do I value? What, exactly, is the good life? (And what does that even mean?)
Picking up where his bestselling memoir left off–having been saved by emergency surgery after nearly dying on a mountaintop in Chile–Alda finds himself not only glad to be alive but searching for a way to squeeze the most juice out of his new life. Looking for a sense of meaning that would make this extra time count, he listens in on things he’s heard himself saying in private and in public at critical points in his life–from the turbulence of the sixties, to his first Broadway show, to the birth of his children, to the ache of September 11, and beyond. Reflecting on the transitions in his life and in all our lives, he notices that “doorways are where the truth is told,” and wonders if there’s one thing–art, activism, family, money, fame–that could lead to a “life of meaning.”

Review:
I’ve always liked Alan Alda – I grew up watching MASH re-runs on TV, and to this day, it is a comfort show for me. 99.9% of the time, I have already seen the episode, but there is the odd-occasion where one that I don’t remember ever watching pops up. So when I was browsing the shelves at the library one day and came across this audiobook, I jumped on the chance to list. As with the Ellen DeGeneres one, it is narrated by the author, and after listening to it, I don’t know if I could have named anyone better suited to do it.

Each chapter in the book is based around one of the various speeches that he has been invited to give over the years – at college graduations; for various professional societies and the events in his life that have influenced what he talks about and how he came to give the speech. So in and of, itself there is a lot of personal memories. But it also has his known sardonic humor that many of us probably remember from his role as Hawkeye (I mean, who can forget him making gin in his tent…).

The production of the audiobook was good, although, the CD’s when I listened to them, you could tell that they were a bit older and there were a few jumps here and there – but it didn’t distracted me too much. I’m def. going to be checking out Alda’s other memoirs in the future. 3.5 stars.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2012 in Book Review

 

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