3/31/14

Top Ten Gateway Books


It's Tuesday and time for another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful people over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is top ten gateway books.  I'm going to break this down by genre (or my approximations of genre) and highlight the books that got me into particular genres.

Paranormal


Of course, the obvious answer in this category is Twilight.  I will give credit to Twilight and say that this series got me into YA in general, but credit goes to Daughter of Smoke & Bone and City of Bones for showing me that realistic worlds with a touch of magic and the paranormal are worlds worth my time and attention.

Fantasy


I consider myself to be a very tentative fantasy reader.  Although I ADORE the Harry Potter series, I often find fantasy to be too confusing in its world-building.  BUT, I tentatively dipped my toes into the fantasy world last year and fell head over heels with The Girl of Fire & Thorns and this has renewed my enthusiasm for fantastically unique reads!

New Adult


In all honesty, I'm having a bit of trouble grasping the whole "new adult" concept which, sometimes, seems like it's synonymous for "super sexy teen read."  Perhaps it's just that I've picked the wrong books and/or haven't read enough of the genre just yet.  But with that being said, Colleen Hoover's Hopeless and Lauren Graham's Someday, Someday, Maybe are two of the BEST BOOKS that I read last year, and ones that I highly recommend.

Contemporary


John Green and Sarah Dessen are, in my opinion, the King and Queen of contemporary YA.  I've been reading contemporary books as long as I can remember (hello, Sweet Valley High!), but these two definitely represent the best of the BEST.

Dystopian


I read The Hunger Games trilogy long before I started blogging, but Divergent was the first post-blogging book that really started my love for the dystopian world.  After Divergent, I read a LOT of dystopian books in quick succession.

Have you read any of these books?  Let me know in the comments below!  Thanks for stopping by my post =)
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3/27/14

Life of a Blogger - Favourite Animals


My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat has just started this awesome new feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is favourite animals.  This is an easy one -- cats!  I never used to be a cat person, until I met my husband and fell in love with his orange cat, Smek (pronounced Shmek, which means "stud").


In April of 2011, we lost our fur son to a heart attack.  After our hearts had healed and we had time to grieve, we just knew that we needed another fur baby to fill our hearts with love once more.  We went to the SPCA one night "just to look" and fell in love with Romeo.  His name at the SPCA was Love because he has a black patch on the inside of his right paw that looks like a heart.  It was his Marilyn Munroe mole that sold us!  He has the best temperament -- so chill and affectionate, and has adjusted SO well to having Marko in the house.


What about YOU?  Do you have a favourite animal?  Are you a cat person too?  Leave me a comment below!
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3/21/14

Life of a Blogger - Travel


My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat has just started this awesome new feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is travel!  I feel like I haven't traveled a whole lot, but when I look over my list at the places I've been, it seems otherwise.  Regardless, I love to travel and would love to do more, especially once Marko's old enough to appreciate seeing the world.

In Canada:
My husband and I do an annual roadtrip to Alberta to visit his parents in the summer.  Last summer, we flew out because we weren't sure how Marko would handle two long days in the car, but I'm looking forward to doing more summer road trips in the future!

Growing up, my family camped a lot around British Columbia and Alberta.  I also visited Quebec on a school trip in Grade 7 and we went on a family trip around the Maritime provinces the summer after Grade 12.

In the United States:
Growing up, we also did a lot of camping trips in Washington and Oregon.  I've been to Disneyland twice, Disney World once and worked for a summer at an all girls camp in upstate New York.  My family also spent a week in New York City in 2006 and I can't WAIT for the opportunity to go back again.

International travel:
The summer after Grade 9, I went on a Girl Guide trip to England.  In 2002, I was selected to represent Canada at an international Guiding conference in Switzerland.  In 2009, my husband and I visited Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia on our honeymoon!  These three trips are definitely the highlights of my travel experience, and I absolutely cannot WAIT to go back to Europe again!

What about you?  Where have you traveled?  Have you visited any of the same places that I have?  Leave me a link to your post and I'll stop by to visit!
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3/20/14

A Look Back at Winter ...

I've been posting a look back at the past season for a while now, but the volume of posts over the last couple of months made this task a bit daunting.  I've decided to adopt a slightly different format, and just highlight some of my personal favourite posts that I shared over the past season.

Seasonal Highs

Although my reading rate has slowed down a little, due to me being back at work and back at school, I did read some amazing books this winter.  Favourites include: Allegiant, Lovely Dark and Deep, Scarlet and Cress.

I also met Marissa Meyer and had my whole series of books signed!  I missed seeing her when she was last in town, and so I was thrilled to be able to meet her this time.

I started participating in Novel Heartbeat's meme called Life of a Blogger.  The goal of these posts is to help you to get to know me, the girl behind Writer Grrl Reads, a little bit better.  There's far too many posts to list here, but check out Jessi's site here if you're interested in joining in!

Jessi and I are also co-hosting the 2014 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (sign-ups are still open if you want to join!)  I've been quite proud of my series reading accomplishments so far, and looking forward to knocking even more series off my TBR this year.  I'll have a monthly re-cap of my series reading accomplishments, paired with my monthly series spotlights on upcoming releases and the next books off my TBR pile.

Seasonal Lows

I thought I'd like Faking Normal more than I did, and I also DNFed Tease.  I toyed with the idea of sharing a review for Tease in a discussion post on DNF books -- to review or not to review?

This belongs under seasonal highs AND seasonal lows but, since the lows section is so short, I'll add it here.  I went back to work at the end of January and, although it was hard leaving Marko at daycare, he's doing really well with adjusting to his new routine!  He even waves goodbye as soon as I drop him off in the mornings.  Also, I was able to leave behind my old job and move onto bigger and better things.  So far, this new company has been AMAZING to work for and I couldn't be happier.

Thanks for stopping by!  As always, your comments warm my heart!
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3/19/14

Marissa Meyer - Lunar Chronicles

I'm not really going to bother writing a formal review on Scarlet and Cress, the second and third books in the Lunar Chronicles.  The story began with Cinder and, if you haven't read these books, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  Stop reading this and GO NOW.  Seriously.

I can't BELIEVE I waited this long to read Scarlet.  Seriously.  I received a copy for my birthday last year, and the book sat on my shelves for nearly a year before I finally picked it up.  In fact, I ordered a copy of Cress before I even read Scarlet.  Bloggers had been raving about Cress and I knew that I would love the series.  And I did.  Oh, how I did.

BUT, what is even better than my love for the series is this: I MET Marissa Meyer!  In fact, it was her impending visit to Chapters that spurred me into motion and got me back into the series.  I finished Scarlet the night before her signing and gobbled up Cress afterwards.  And I cannot WAIT for Winter.  C'mon 2015!

Here's a pic of us at the signing, as well as my signed books!



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3/18/14

Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR


It's Tuesday and time for another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful people over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is my favourite -- putting together my TBR list for spring!  I absolutely suck at sticking to these lists ... but they're really fun to put together!  Since the focus this year, for me, is on series, I'm going to post five series that I plan to finish and five that I'd like to start reading.  Here goes...

Top Five Series to Finish

1. Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver
You guys, this was on my fall TBR list AND my winter list -- this must happen!
2. Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano
Ditto.
3. Pure Trilogy by Julianna Baggott
I had an e-galley of this one, which expired, and now have a library copy -- excited to see how the trilogy ends!
4. Shatter Me Trilogy by Tahereh Mafi
Can't wait to see how this one ends!
5. Miss Peregrine by Ransom Riggs
Hey, why not throw the husband half of the writing team onto the list?

Top Five Series to Start

1. Arclight by Josein McQueen
2. Rebel by Amy Tintera
3. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
All three of these books have an e-galley up on Edelweiss.  I want to read the first books in the series, and then see if I like them enough to keep going and help spread some pre-release love for the series!
4. Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Amber @ Books of Amber left me such a sweet comment, and I remember witnessing her dying on Twitter after reading the sequel to this one.  I need a book that will break my heart and tear me apart.  It's been too long since I've had that experience.
5. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
I asked for your help to choose a series to start and the response for this series was overwhelming!  Even though fantasy scares me a little, I'm going to give it a shot.  Anyone want to hold my hand?

So, there you have it -- the top ten books that I will (try to) read this spring!  What's on your reading list this season?  Leave me a link to your top ten Tuesday and I'll stop by to visit!  Thanks for reading!
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3/17/14

Maybe Someday - Colleen Hoover

Last summer, I binge read all of Colleen Hoover's books.  After I read Hopeless, I couldn't get enough of her books!  I read, and liked, all of them, but none of her subsequent titles have sucked me in as much as Hopeless did.  Unfortunately, neither did Maybe Someday.

There were a few aspects of this story that I did like, but most of the book fell flat for me.  Colleen definitely knows how to tell a story and, just at the moment where my interest was waning, she'd throw a plot twist in that came out of left field and I'd be sucked back into the story.  Her characters are real and the reader definitely feels the emotions along with the characters.

I had some major issues with the storyline itself.  I can't say too much without being spoilery, but I found the actions of the characters to be irritating and, in some cases, very hypocritical.  At several points in the book, I wanted to reach into the book and just smack some sense into them.  All of Colleen Hoover's books have highly over-emotional characters and, while this is her style, I found this book to be a bit over the top, which prevented me from identifying with what the characters were feeling because I was rolling my eyes at the ridiculousness of the situation.  Although I know that, in intense emotional situations, we really do FEEL profoundly, there was just something about the characters' reactions and situations that was too contrived and over the top.

I have a feeling that I'll probably be in the minority with this review, since Colleen Hoover has such a huge following.  I'm definitely still a fan and will be anticipating her next book, but this one just didn't work for me.  If you like Colleen's books, I'd still recommend checking it out -- hopefully you'll like it more than I did!

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Netgalley.  The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my opinion of this book in any way.
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3/14/14

Friday Favourite - The Neverending Story

When I was younger, I used to read a LOT of fantasy novels -- make believe worlds were so much better than reality.  Since I'm currently reading Days of Blood & Starlight, I'm slowly rediscovering my love of fantasy ... and I thought I'd share one of my all-time childhood favourites with you today.

I first read The Neverending Story the summer between Grade 5 and Grade 6.  Grade 5 had been a really bad year for me at school, as I was bullied quite badly by a boy in my class who continually teased me for my big glasses and my love of reading.  I was in a Grade 5/6 class and he was in Grade 6.  All of my friends were in the other Grade 5/6 class, so I was really lonely and just retreated further into my world of books.  I remember absolutely falling in love with the story since I shared Bastion's feelings about escaping reality and disappearing into the fantastical world of a story.  When I reached the last page, I sobbed because the book was over and it wasn't really a neverending tale.

Grade 6 was a much better year for me and I wrote a book report on this book and my teacher gave me an A+!  Then, in Grade 7, things kind of fell apart for me at school again as my group of friends turned on me.  Unable to cope with the feelings of isolation, I buried myself deeper in my world of books and read and re-read this one so many times that the book is literally falling apart.  Part of me wants to replace it, since I know that Marko won't really be able to read it in its current state (seriously -- if you hold it up, chunks of it fall out!).  At the same time, I know that I'll never be able to really say goodbye to my copy ... we've been through so much together!

Have you read The Neverending Story?  Have you seen the movie?  I love the old-fashioned-ness of the movie version too, but the book is so, so, SO much better.

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3/13/14

Life of a Blogger - Favourite Place


My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat has just started this awesome new feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is my favourite place.  I grew up on an island -- a large island, but an island nonetheless.  This meant that, no matter what direction you headed, you'll inevitably end up at the ocean.  Now I live further away from the ocean, but I can still drive there if I wanted to.  After spending most of my life in close proximity to the water, it would be hard for me to consider living anywhere else.  There's something about the clean freshness of the air that comes from being near the water that just doesn't compare.  Plus, there's something calming about sitting on a beach with my back against a driftwood log, just gazing out at the waves crashing on the shore.

What about you?  What's your most favourite place of all?  Leave me a comment below!
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3/11/14

Ask Again Later - Liz Czukas

After reading some heavy series titles, I was in the mood for a lighter contemporary.  If you're in a similar mood, then this is the book for you!  I read the entire thing in two days, which is no small feat with a one-year-old running around the house!

Heart decided to go to the prom with her friends, the No Drama Prom-a crew, but then she gets asked to prom by not just one boy, but two!  One is a friend from theatre, the other a friend of her brother's who has just been dumped by his girlfriend.  Unable to choose what she should do, she decides to flip a coin.  The story then progresses between two alternate proms: one that takes place if the coin chooses heads, the second if the coin chooses tails.  It was a really interesting narrative structure, even if it had its confusing moments where I couldn't remember which boy was heads and which was tails.

All in all, not the most amazing book that I've ever read, but definitely still worth a try, especially if you're looking for a lighter read!

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Edelweiss.  The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my opinion of this book in any way.
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3/10/14

On DNF Reviews

I DNFed a book a couple of weeks ago, and have been thinking about whether or not to share a review on the blog.  I wrote a short paragrah on Goodreads, explaining my reasoning behind DNFing the book, and sent this paragraph to the publisher, since it was an e-galley, but I haven't decided if I should post a review here on the blog.

Personally, I really like reading DNF reviews.  I know one of my favourite bloggers, Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat, has a monthly feature entitled Books I Didn't Finish.  I love reading these posts because Jessi is so honest and sincere in her explanation of why she didn't like a particular book, and chose to not finish it.  Also, honestly, reviews for books that I didn't like are often easier to write than reviews for books that I enjoyed.

For some unknown reason, I have not yet posted a DNF review on the blog.  I have written some on Goodreads, from a few phrases explaining why I couldn't finish the book, to the longer rant that I shared on Julie Cross' Tempest.

The book in question is Amanda Maciel's Tease, which is being published next month.  I read just over half of my e-galley, and then I just couldn't read any further.  I found the main character to have absolutely no remorse and I just couldn't identify with her.  I could probably write a fairly long (and possibly ranty) review; however, I just keep hesitating on whether or not I want to do this.  And I don't know why!

On the one hand, I definitely don't want my blog to be filled with only positive, glowing reviews, because I don't feel that that's helpful.  Personally, I trust a reviewer more who doesn't fall head over heels with every books she reads, because then I know that the reviews are genuine.  My reviews generally fall in the 3 to 5 star range (although I don't post ratings, this is just based on my Goodreads ratings), and I think that's mainly because I usually won't finish a book that would be rated lower than 3 (although I have plowed through the odd two-star book).  This makes me wonder if I should share some thoughts on books that I really didn't like, just to balance out the spectrum?  I really respect those bloggers who share their thoughts on books, regardless of how they felt at the end, because it really provides balance and perspective on books.  For example, Allegiant was quite controversial around the blogosphere and, after I'd finished reading it, I enjoyed seeing people's very differing opinions on the book.

What are your thoughts on DNF reviews?  Do you like reading them?  Do you think I should take the plunge and share my thoughts?
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3/8/14

Book Haul [9]

Happy Saturday everyone!  The comments that I received on last month's book haul were so sweet, so I've decided to make an effort to do these more regularly.  I have to admit that hauls are some of my favourite posts to read on other blogs too, so I hope you like reading mine!

I spent the last of my Amazon giftcard on these three:


I received Unravel Me as a gift from my Secret Santa this year, so I had to buy a copy of Shatter Me, even though I've already read it, just so that I'd have the full trilogy.  They look SO PRETTY on my shelves!  The Lunar Chronicles look gorgeous as well -- I love how they all match!


I won Lovestruck Summer in a giveaway hosted by the girls at Rather Be Reading.  I'm saving this one for the summer, since it looks like the perfect beachy read!  I took back a whole pile of books to the used bookstore and spent my lunch break scouring the shelves for new titles.  Finally, I settled on Shadow & Bone.  I borrowed this from the library last year, but DNFed it when I just couldn't get into the world building.  Lauren @ Lose Time Reading recently read it and RAVED about it.  Since I know she's not super into fantasy (like me), I thought I'd give it a second shot.


Both Burn and Maybe Someday are review copies from Netgalley.  My e-galley of Burn has already expired (oops!) but my library just received a copy so I'll be reading that one in print instead.  I didn't realize that Maybe Someday was posted on Netgalley until just a couple of days ago.  I'm super excited to read it and hopeful that I can finish it by the release date -- I binge read everything of Colleen's last summer, and I'm excited for another one of her books.


Anna Godbersen's books are a bit hit and miss with me, but the Marilyn Munroe aspect of this book intrigued me.  I was a bit surprised to see that it's 400 pages!  I read (and loved) Chris Bohjalian's Trans-Sister Radio for a book club meeting years ago, and have since bought a couple of his other books, but haven't read them yet (terrible, I know).  The premise of this one sounds REALLY intriguing: a homeless teen who lives in an igloo made of ice and trash bags filled with frozen leaves?  Yup, I'm intrigued.  Both of these books are review copies from Edelweiss.

Have you read any of these books?  If you've posted a book haul, please leave me a link in the comments below and I'll stop by.  I love seeing what's new on your shelves =)
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3/6/14

Life of a Blogger - Camping


My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat has just started this awesome new feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is camping!  I used to camp A LOT, but I haven't camped now in YEARS.  I was into Girl Guides when I was younger, and went through all of the branches ... from Brownies to Guides to Pathfinders to Rangers.  Then, I was a Guide leader for four years and a Pathfinder leader for two years.  Add all that up, and that's an awful lot of camping!  I've done it all, from camping in a cabin to sleeping in a tent with no bottom to camping in a foot of snow.  Perhaps it's just because I did so much camping in my younger years, but I really have no desire to camp anymore.  This will probably change when Marko grows up since it'll be a fun family activity, but at the moment ... no thank you!

One of my favourite camping moments was one of the very first camps that I took my Guide group to when I first became a leader.  We came up with the idea of having a celebrations theme, so we celebrated all of the holidays throughout the weekend.  On Friday night, we started with New Year's Eve, had heart-shaped pancakes topped with strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast for Valentine's Day, an Easter egg hunt and the Olympics in the afternoon and Thanksgiving dinner that night.  On Sunday morning, before the girls went home, we had Christmas morning and gave them all a small gift to take home.  The girls all had a blast, and it was a really fun camp to plan and organize.

My worst camping moment is probably a week-long camp that I did up north in Prince George, the summer after Grade 7.  Although the camp itself was a lot of fun, it rained the entire week.  Not just rain, but torrential downpour at times.  We were all soggy and still had to do a lot of the outdoor activities.  I remember jumping into an absolutely frigid lake because I'd signed up to do syncronized swimming and all I wanted to do was jump right back out of the lake.  After shivering through what felt like an eternity (but was probably only 30 minutes or so), we had to shower in icy cold water so that we wouldn't get swimmer's itch from the lake water --- brrrrrr!  And all this while it continued raining!

What about you?  Are you a camper?  What's your best or worst camping moment?  Leave me a comment below!
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3/4/14

Panic - Lauren Oliver

I finished reading this one a few weeks ago, and have been procrastinating on writing my review since then.  Usually I review books within a day or two of finishing them, otherwise I run the risk of forgetting my initial thoughts and feelings.

On Panic, I'm really torn, and I think this it is this feeling that has left me somewhat lost in terms of finding the words to review it.  It's Lauren Oliver, so I want to shout to the world how much I love her and her writing.  Panic definitely does have some elements that are very Oliver-esque.  Her beautiful prose has its moments in this book, where I'd back up and re-read a passage a second time, marvelling at her ability to put phrases together.  On the other hand, I didn't love the story.  Considering the storyline centres around a group of teens playing Panic, a daredevil-type contest that takes place over the course of a summer, I felt that the story should have been more of a page-turner.  I'd pick up the book, read a few pages, and then not pick it up again for a couple of days.  This made me sad.  With Lauren's other books, I've gobbled up chunks of the book in one sitting, unable to put the book down.

I didn't love the characters either.  There were certain moments where they were likeable, but I didn't find myself rooting for any of them.  The story is told in alternating perspectives (but both third-person) between Heather and Dodge.  I liked Dodge's character a little better than Heather's, but not by much.  Both characters have their motivations for winning Panic (and it's large cash prize), but I just didn't care enough to root for either of them.  Most of the time I found myself shaking my head at how this small town continually turned a blind eye away from the events of this contest -- most of the things that they did were downright dangerous!  All of adults in the book are the stereotypical YA story adults -- not very present and completely un-adult-like.  While I understand that adults don't usually play a significant role in YA books, it just seemed like the adults were all a bit too checked out in this book for it to still be realistic.

Panic was an okay read for me.  I had a tough time rating it on Goodreads, wavering between two stars and three stars.  Ultimately, I opted for three because it is still a Lauren Oliver story and has some of her beautiful writing scattered through.  I just hope she can come up with a better story next time.

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Edelweiss.  The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my opinion of this book in any way.
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3/2/14

Days of Blood & Starlight Read-a-long!



Last month, I re-read Daughter of Smoke & Bone; this month it's time to dive deeper into Karou's world with Days of Blood & Starlight.  This is a completely NO PRESSURE read-a-long ... join us in reading the second installment of this series in preparation for the release of Dreams of Gods & Monsters next month!

I first picked up this book in January last year; however, due to my pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel, I wasn't able to physically hold up a hardcover novel and sadly had to return it to the library unread.  Then, when Marko was a few months old, I checked it out of the library again, eager to dive back into Laini Taylor's writing.  I struggled through the first chapter, unable to remember what happened in the first book.  Now, with Daughter of Smoke & Bone fresh in my mind, I can't WAIT to find out what happens in the second book!
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3/1/14

Series Spotlight - March Edition


Welcome to the March edition of the Series Spotlight!  This is a monthly feature where we'll highlight some of our anticipated series books that are releasing this month, as well as which series are on our TBR piles for this month!

NEW RELEASES ...

After last month's whirlwind pile of releases, there actually aren't any releases this month that I'm dying to get my hands on.  Hopefully, this will give me a chance to take a deep breath and get caught up!

FROM MY TBR PILE ...



Sever was on my fall TBR list AND my winter TBR list.  For my birthday last year (which is in March), I got Requiem, Scarlet and Sever.  Since I managed to read only Scarlet last month, and then got sucked into Cress before I had a chance to pick up Requiem, I decided that this one has been sitting on my shelf for almost an entire year, and it's time to bid a fond farewell to the series!


What about you?  What's on your TBR pile this month?  Let me know in the comments below!
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