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First Line Fridays – 4 May 2018

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books.

Spring (or is it summer?) is definitely in the air and i’m still stuck in a hotel room traveling for work – although the end is in sight – i’ll be home mid-next week! But before that happens, I have an 8hr drive tomorrow and then a 5hr one Monday evening (yay, i’m sooo excited…NOT!). So my First Line Friday for today is the audiobook that is next up on the pile.

I pulled up to Soulwood and let the truck lights shine on my house and garden. The trees were leafless, stark branches reached up to the sky and down to the earth, roots thick and gnarled and digging deep.

From:
Curse of the Land – Faith Hunter
Series: Soulwood, Book 2 (spun-off from the Jane Yellowrock series)

And since i’m listening to the audiobook – narrated by Khristine Hvam.

From Goodreads:
Before Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she had no one to rely on, finding strength only in in her arcane connection to the dark woods around her. But now she has friends in the newly-formed PsyLED team to keep her grounded—even if being part of the agency responsible for policing paranormals presents dangers of its own…

After training at the PsyLED academy, Nell returns home to her woods to find the land feeling sick and restless. And that sickness is spreading. With the help of her team, under the leadership of agent Rick LaFleur, Nell tries to determine the cause. But nothing can prepare them for the evil that awaits: an entity that feeds on death itself. And it wants more…

What about you – what is (or was) the first line of the book you are currently reading (or listening)?

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2018 in First Line Fridays

 

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2018 Audies – Paranormal Nominees

The paranormal category for the Audies is one that I have listened to on and off over the years – there have been several years where it has been heavier on the paranormal romance/urban fantasy side of the house where I have jumped on the chance to listen and others where it has been weirder stuff that I haven’t been as interested in. This year the nominees were definitely more on the paranormal romance/urban fantasy side of the house, so it was a no-brainer to pick it as a category.

The Nominees for the Paranormal category are:
Curse on the Land: Soulwood, Book 2 by Faith Hunter, narrated by Khristine Hvam, published by Audible Studios
Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones, narrated by Lorelei King, published by Macmillan Audio
Finding My Pack by Lane Whitt, narrated by Cooper North and Aletha George, published by Tantor Audio, a division of Recorded Books
Nights of the Living Dead: An Anthology edited by Jonathan Maberry and George A. Romero, narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Rex Linn, Gabrielle de Cuir, Adenrele Ojo, Richard Gilliland, Ray Porter, Kristoffer Tabori, and Kasey Lansdale, published by Blackstone Publishing
Silver Silence by Nalini Singh, narrated by Angela Dawe, published by Tantor Audio, a division of Recorded Books

Initial Thoughts on the Nominees:
☼ This will be the third book by Faith Hunter that I have listened to over the last year, to include the first book in this series which was nominated for an Audie in the same category last year and she is rapidly moving her way up my autobuy pile. Without a doubt, Khristine Hvam is a favorite narrator of mine and has narrated many of my 5 star listens.

☼ Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series is one of those that has grown progressively weaker as the series has continued (normally its the reverse). I find Charley to be annoying and hasn’t really grown as the series has progressed – but thankfully, Lorelei King’s narration has been a saving grave over the last few books as I started listening and not reading them.

☼ Lane Whitt is another new to me author that I will get to experience during this iteration of the Armchair Audies. Although Goodreads reviews of this seem to be fairly hit or miss among my friends, it does have a fairly high rating overall; but it is written in first person (according to several reviews) which I’m not a huge fan of. Both Aletha George and Cooper North are new to me narrators – so i’m intrigued to see how they do.

☼ The Night of the Living Dead anthology might be the entry in this category that I am most intrigued about – I’ve found most Zombie books to be intriguing on how they each approach the outbreak – but this anthology goes back to the founding of the genre. With multiple authors and narrators – It’s hard-pressed for me to decide what i’m most looking forward to with this entry.

☼ Last but not least is the most recent addition to Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changling series – when compared to the Charley Davidson series which I’ve found to get weaker over each book, the Psy-Changling series continues to grow and evolve and bring more depth and intricacy into the story-telling. This is a re-read for me (or is it re-listen…) – I’m not a huge re-reader in general, but typically, I’ve found listening after reading has just opened my horizons even more. I’ve listened to a few books narrated by Angela Dawe in the past – I find her a solid narrator but she isn’t a favorite of mine.

My Prediction:
My prediction for the winner in this category last year was the Faith Hunter book and while it didn’t win, I was excited to see the next book nominated this year. So my initial prediction is:
Curse on the Land: Soulwood, Book 2 by Faith Hunter, narrated by Khristine Hvam

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2018 in Armchair Audies, Listening Events

 

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2018 Armchair Audies

Over the last 3 (or is it 4 years?), I have avidly participated in the Armchair Audies hosted by Jennifer at The Literate Housewife! Over the last year I’ve had a great time listening to books in various categories – from Romance, to Erotica, to Paranormal to Young Adult. One of my favorite times is reviewing each of the categories and figuring out which ones I want to listen to for that year. There is some method to my madness and other just flimsy.

This year, the minute I saw that the nominees in the Romance category were mostly what I would definite as traditional romance, I was excited to listen to it again after a sabbatical of several years (I’m sorry, but I can’t get behind Nicholas Sparks being nominated in a romance category!) This was the first year that I didn’t opt to do the Erotica category – after reviewing the nominees and realizing that I had previously given 2 authors of the 5 nominees 2 or less stars while listening – I didn’t feel I could be unbiased in my listening. Paranormal has been a category that I have listened to several times now and while I have already read one of the books nominated (because its Nalini Singh), I’m looking forward to the books in this category – three of them are series that I have in progress (including the re-read/listen) and the other two look intriguing. The final category this year was a toss-up for me between Young Adult, Mystery, History/Biography or Suspense/Thriller – but ultimately it came down to which audiobooks were the most readily accessible for me to get my hands on (thank you Charles County Maryland Public Library for having such a great audiobook collection) – so the third category for my 2018 Armchair Audies is Thriller/Suspense.

I don’t know about you guys, but i’m looking forward to an awesome three months of listening to see if i can figure out who the judges think is the best of the nominees in the category! Wish me luck!

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2018 in Armchair Audies, Listening Events

 

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Audiobook Review – Seven Years – Dannika Dark

Paranormal nominee banner

seven yearsSeven Years
Author: Dannika Dark
Series: #1 in the Seven series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Nicole Poole
Run Time: 11hrs and 24min
Audiobook Producer: Tantor Media
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Tantor Media

!Warning Spoilers!

Description:
Seven years ago, my world ended.
Seven years later, my new life began.

It’s been seven years since Lexi Knight lost her brother in a tragic accident. On the anniversary of his death, her brother’s best friend shows up unexpectedly – a man she hasn’t seen since the funeral. He is no longer the boy Lexi once knew, but a dangerous-looking man with tattoos and dark secrets. He broke her trust and abandoned her family, yet what he reveals makes it impossible to stay angry. Lexi has been secretly infatuated with Austin since childhood, so finding out he’s a Shifter just makes him sexier. Dammit.

Austin Cole has returned to the city where he grew up, and just in time. He’s lived a hard life these past seven years, and the shadows of his past are threatening to destroy Lexi’s family. It’s time that she learned the truth about her brother, but there is a shocking twist that Austin never saw coming. Now he must protect her family when her mother and sister wind up in mortal danger. Will Lexi learn to accept the truth about who he is, and can Austin salvage a relationship from the ruins of their past?

Destiny will find you.

Review:
Out of all the books in the paranormal category for the Armchair Audies, this is the one that had me worried the most about the listening – which is kind of funny, since this kind of paranormal romance is normally right up my alley – but I had previously tried to read the book last year and ended up putting it aside around 50%. Most of my concerns about the book had to do with the world building (or lack there of) and where the story was going. However, earlier this year, the audiobook started to be mentioned more and more in several of the Audiobook groups on Goodreads and people seemed to really like the narration. So when it was nominated for an audie, i figured that i would give it another chance, since I know that often not so good books can be made more enjoyable with the right narrator. Unfortunately for me, while Nicole Poole made the book slightly more enjoyable, it was a struggle for me to finish listening.

For me, my biggest issue with this listen was (as with my previous attempt) the world building. Lexi was just a normal girl (or so she thought) and then all of a sudden, she discovers their are shifters in the world and not only that, that she is one. And she just takes it all in stride…i mean, i don’t know about you, but if i found out that I was a shifter, I would probably freak the shit out. From there, I just had trouble with any suspension of disbelief – i mean, i know that is required when reading books with paranormal elements, but yeah, I just didn’t understand the world that the author had created and that for me made the book a struggle. Honestly, I do think that the story in general had potential, if the world building had been stronger/more developed. But with the number of people that enjoyed this book, then maybe its just me.

I feel kind of bad for Nicole Poole, because to me no matter what she did, I felt that she was working with a substandard book and I had a hard time judging her fairly because of my lack of enjoyment for the storyline. That being said, I think she has a lot of strengths as a narrator – she had a diverse range of voices for the different characters. Her pacing seemed to be spot on (but that being said, i did consider speeding it up in a few places to just get the book moving). I even didn’t really have an issue with her male narrations, which for me, is often where I have issues – male narrators sometimes struggle with female voices and vice versa. But her narration of Austin was solid – it didn’t seem to be too wishy-washy (for lack of a better word) with solid tenor intonation throughout. She also did a good job with the narration of Lexi’s little sister, which is also something that I have found narrators struggle with, the little kid which out it being too high-pitched and babyish. The audiobook production by Tantor Media was the same high quality that I’ve come to expect from them, based on my previous experiences.

Overall, while Nicole Poole’s narration was solid and I gave it a solid 3.5 stars, unfortunately, it couldn’t counter-act a substandard story, which I only gave 2.5 stars. While others enjoyed Seven Years and the subsequent books in the series, it just didn’t work for me. But hey, that is what makes reading (and listening awesome), not everything works for everyone, which is why its great that there are so many options out there.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2016 in Audiobook Review, Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Lycan Fallout 2: Fall of Man – Mark Tufo

Paranormal nominee banner

fall of manLycan Fallout 2: Fall of Man
Author: Mark Tufo
Series: #2 in the Rise of the Werewolf series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Sean Runnette
Run Time: 11hrs and 23min
Audiobook Producer: Podium Publishing
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Audiobook Producer

Description:
Mike is back. Devastated by his loss he strikes out on a doomed journey to wipe the earth of the Lycan scourge, with his faithful companion Oggie by his side. Bailey, a distant relative of Mike’s best friend BT, joins him but for different reasons. Azile struggles to reign him in, while a world already pushed to the edge begins its fall over the precipice. When all is lost, can anything ever be won? Join Mike on another epic adventure as he fights foes both new and old

Review:
Every year when I listen to my chosen armchair audies nomination, there is at least one book that I discover, that not only is totally new to me but one that never would have crossed my path. But Fall of Man has so far (after listening to multiple books in several categories) that book for me in 2016. I’ll admit that while I like dystopia type stories, those that are based around a nuclear holocaust type scenario, typically don’t pique my interest, but this was intriguing with the mix of both werewolves and lycan, which in Rufo’s world are 2 separate/distinct beings (one good and one evil).

I was a bit concerned as I started to listen to the Fall of Man because it is the second book in a series. Especially when the description of the book ending with “Join Mike on another epic adventure as he fights foes both new and old” – I had to wonder, what Mike gotten up to in the previous book? words like epic were used, so i expected something that was a roller-coaster of a ride and Tufo didn’t disappoint – while the narration of Fall of Man was 11hrs long, it definitely didn’t feel like it. There was very much a journey-ish feel to the story – as Mike traveled through a country that had been destroyed and was trying to recover. I think one of the more interesting scenes to me was when Mike used a rifle to shoot at invaders that were encroaching on territory – but as technology they were so far advanced from anything that was currently in existance, but Rufo had a way of writing the scene that it reminded me of when I was learning to shoot my rifle when preparing for deployment a few years ago – the adjustment of the sights, aiming firing, fixing again, etc.

Sean Runnette is another new to me narrator that i have encountered during this years Armchair Audies, although he has an extensive backlist (like 200+ audiobooks extensive) – although since the majority of them are in the sci-fi/fantasy realm so not necessarily a genre i listen a lot to. That being said, he had a very smooth reading style that just sucked you in. i felt like I was on the journey with Mike – seeing the world that had been destroyed through his eyes; fighting the lycans and making friends with the werewolves. The speed and pacing of Runnette’s narration was perfect – there are times where I want to speed up or slow down the audible app, but in this case, i didn’t.

The audiobook producer of Fall of Man – Podium Publishing – was also new to me, but i found that the audio was high quality and well produced. Looking at their website, they have lots of audios I would be interested in listening to from many new to me and familiar narrators (hello, R.C. Bray). So I know they will be on my list in the future.

For me Fall of Man was what I am terming my surprise listen of the 2016 Armchair Audies. An unknown author and narrator to me but both of whom I will pick up again in the future. Overall, I gave 3.5 stars for the story itself and 4 stars for narration.

 

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Armchair Audies Overview – Paranormal

Armchair Audies

So a little bit delayed with my third and final post in the my Armchair Audies Overview series, but something you got to save the best for last (or do you?). Paranormal is the second category that I reviewed last year and overall it was one of the strongest ones for nominees (IMHO). I had a REALLY hard time picking what book was going to be the winner, and it also opened me up to a bunch of new authors that I had never before heard of (several of who I have read more of since then). I’ll admit that I was excited to see that Seth Skorkowsky (author)/R.C. Bray (narrator) got a nomination for the second book in the Valduan series (the first one was one of my top ranked nominees last year).

The PARANORMAL Nominees are…

the dead houseThe Dead House – Dawn Kurtagich
Narrator: Charlotte Parry and Christian Coulson
Audiobook Publisher: Hachette Audio

Description:
Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .

Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Initial Thoughts
One of my favorite listens recently was Anna Dressed in Blood, a YA mystery and the description of The Dead House kind of gives me the same vibe. The idea of a story being told through letters is something that I enjoy, because it makes for a different approach that can be either hugely successful or a total fail. Both the author, as well as the narrators are new to me and I’m intrigued to see how the dual narration will play out – how will the narration be split between the male/female narrator.

hounacierHounacier – Seth Skorkowsky
Narrator: R.C. Bray
Audiobook Publisher: Audible Studios

Description:
Eleven years ago, atheist MALCOLM ROMERO met a god. Now he’s a demon-hunting voodoo priest armed with a holy machete named Hounacier.

After the murder of his mentor, he returns to New Orleans to catch the killer. But more is at stake when Malcolm finds himself betrayed, and his holy blade stolen. Now Malcolm’s only hope to save his soul and to recover HOUNACIER, is the Valducan knight sent to kill him, MATT HOLLIS, the wielder of the holy revolver DÄMOREN.

Initial Thoughts:
ok, so i’ll admit, I did a bit of a fan girl dance when I saw Hounacier had been nominated this year. Damoren was one of my top ranked picks last year and I bought this one when it was released a few months ago (but as my norm, I hadn’t had a chance to listen to it yet…) It was something different in the urban fantasy realm, that is so often dominated with the kick-ass female trope (don’t get me wrong, I like them as well, but they can get a bit tiring after a while). I can’t wait to see how the adventures that started in Damoren continue

fall of manLycan Fallout 2: Fall of Man – Mark Tufo
Narrated: Sean Runnette
Audiobook Publisher: Podium Publishing

Description:
Mike is back. Devastated by his loss he strikes out on a doomed journey to wipe the earth of the Lycan scourge, with his faithful companion Oggie by his side. Bailey, a distant relative of Mike’s best friend BT, joins him but for different reasons. Azile struggles to reign him in, while a world already pushed to the edge begins its fall over the precipice. When all is lost, can anything ever be won?

Initial Thoughts:
So my initial thought from reading the description – who is Mike and why is he back? I know that this is bk 2 in a series, but I also know that I don’t have time to go back and listen to the previous book, so i’m hoping that it can function ok as a stand-alone. I’ll admit that I was intrigued by the description and that it was likely something that would catch my eye if I was browsing audible titles. The narrator is new to me but from looking at Audible, he has a pretty substantial backlist for me to check out if i like his narration.

seven yearsSeven Years – Dannika Dark
Narrator: Nicole Poole
Audiobook Publisher: Tantor Media

Description:
Seven years ago, my world ended.
Seven years later, my new life began.

It’s been seven years since Lexi Knight lost her brother in a tragic accident. On the anniversary of his death, her brother’s best friend shows up unexpectedly – a man she hasn’t seen since the funeral. He is no longer the boy Lexi once knew, but a dangerous-looking man with tattoos and dark secrets. He broke her trust and abandoned her family, yet what he reveals makes it impossible to stay angry. Lexi has been secretly infatuated with Austin since childhood, so finding out he’s a Shifter just makes him sexier. Dammit.

Austin Cole has returned to the city where he grew up, and just in time. He’s lived a hard life these past seven years, and the shadows of his past are threatening to destroy Lexi’s family. It’s time that she learned the truth about her brother, but there is a shocking twist that Austin never saw coming. Now he must protect her family when her mother and sister wind up in mortal danger. Will Lexi learn to accept the truth about who he is, and can Austin salvage a relationship from the ruins of their past?

Destiny will find you.

Initial Thoughts:
So this is really the one book in this category that I am skeptical about because I tried to read it a year or so ago and didn’t make it past about the 20% stage. I’ve also heard some reviews of the audiobook and it seems that several people felt the same way as I did on my initial attempt to read. But I am willing to give it a second try – here’s hoping…

white trash zombieWhite Trash Zombie Gone Wild – Diana Rowland
Narrator: Allison McLemore
Audiobook Publisher: Audible Studios

Description:
Angel crawford has buried her loser past and is cruising along in undead high gear–that is, until a murder-by-decapitation sends her on a hazardous detour. As Angel hunts for the killer, she uncovers a scheme that would expose zombies to the public and destroy the life she’s built, and she’s determined not to rest until she finds out who’s behind it.

Soon she’s neck-deep in lies, redneck intrigue, zombie hunters, and rot-sniffing cadaver dogs. It’s up to her to unravel the truth and snuff out the conspiracy before the existence of zombies makes headline news and she’s outed as a monster.

But Angel hasn’t quite escaped the pill-popping ghosts of her past–not with an illicit zombie pharmaceutical at her fingertips. Good thing she’s absolutely sure she can handle the drug’s unpredictable side effects and still take down the bad guys…or maybe she’s only one bad choice away from being dead meat–for real this time.

Angel knows a thing or two about kicking ass, but now the ass she needs to kick might be her own

Initial Thoughts:
I’ve heard about this series on and off over the last few years, but I’ll readily admit that zombie fiction normally isn’t my thing – and here’s hoping that book 5 in the series will act decently on its own because I don’t have the listening (or reading time) to get back to the rest of the books. The narrator, Allison McLemore, has a relatively small repitoire of audiobooks out there, but enough to maybe check out more by her in the future depending on how White Trash Zombie Gone Wild Plays Out.

Initial Predictions:
1. Hounacier – Seth Skorkowsky
2. The Dead House – Dawn Kurtagich
3. White Trash Zombie Gone Wild – Diana Rowland
4. Lycan Fallout 2: Fall of Man – Mark Tufo
5. Seven Years – Dannika Dark

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2016 in Armchair Audies, Listening Events

 

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Audiobook Review – Suffer the Children – Craig DiLouie

Audies nominee paranormal

suffer the childrenSuffer the Children
Author: Craig DiLouie
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrator: R.C. Bray
Run Time: 11hrs 26min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Suffer the Children presents a terrifying tale of apocalyptic fiction, as readers are introduced to Herod’s Syndrome, a devastating illness that suddenly and swiftly kills all young children across the globe. Soon, they return from the grave…and ask for blood. And with blood, they stop being dead. They continue to remain the children they once were…but only for a short time, as they need more blood to live. The average human body holds ten pints of blood, so the inevitable question for parents everywhere becomes: How far would you go to bring your child back?

Review:
WARNING: Book contains scenes that may be nightmare inducing to parents of young children
It is very rare that I need to pause listening to a book mid-way through for a mental break, but Craig DiLouie’ Suffer the Children made me do just that. I’ll be upfront and say that horror is normally not a genre I would pick up, although there are some authors that I will stick my toes into that field just for them (and I guess the same could be said for narrators I enjoy). In fact, this book never would have crossed my reading/listening path, if it hadn’t been nominated for an audie in the Paranormal category but I am so glad that I had the opportunity to listen to it.

First things first, this isn’t your normal vampire fare (or how vampire fare has come to be written recently) – if I had to draw parallel’s it is much more like the old school dracula type vampire, rather than the new romance-y ones. There was nothing nice/romantic about these but that being said, there wasn’t anything really original about the vampires either. For me, the draw in the book was more the philosophical take on how far would you go – it reminded me a lot of the questions asked in the morality class I took in college – if you had to kill 5 or 1 which would you pick? what was the solution for the greater good. I don’t necessarily know if that was what DiLouie was trying to convey in the book (I have a feeling that it was), but that is where my mind went. The prevailing question – what would you do for just one more hour, one more day with your children? I’m not a parent and the idea of having to make that choice is just horrific to me, I can’t imagine who someone who is a parent and listening to this would react.

I will say that I wasn’t expecting the book as it did – although that ending kind of makes sense…it kind of makes me wonder what happens next…

R.C. Bray, once again, brought his skillful narration to the book and it was via this that I felt myself cringing in places and ending up having at least one nightmare during the course of listening. (BTW, tweeting that to an horror author will get you a huge thanks…lol). Having listened to Bray narrate several books in different sub-genres (sci-fi; urban fantasy and now paranormal/horror), its safe to say that he is going to be an auto-buy/listen in the future. Its hard to peg exactly how his narration worked – maybe the fact that I found myself physically cringing in places as I heard his narration of different parts or the fact that I was so invested in what happened to the different characters that hearing what happened to them made me sit in my car in shock for a good 20 minutes one day.

Both the book and the narration were a solid 4 stars for me and I know that I will be checking out more work by DiLouie in the future (even if his writing scares the beejeebers out of me at times). Hopefully with more narration by R.C. Bray in the future.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Armchair Audies, Audiobook Review

 

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