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Posts Categorized: 4.5 Stars

Monday, March 7, 2016

Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Posted by Irish in 4.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan MatsonThe Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster on 03 May 16
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 496
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Also by this author: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, Second Chance Summer, Since You've Been Gone

Place(s) Traveled To: Stanwich, Connecticut

First Line(s): I flexed my feet in too-tight shoes and made myself stand up straight, trying to ignore the rapid fire clicking of cameras going off all around me.

Dear Reader,

Oh how you are in for a treat when it comes to Morgan Matson’s newest book, THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING. Unlike the title this book was everything I expected and more. I adored the character of Andie who is struggling a bit due to a scandal her political father finds himself in which ends up messing up some of her carefully laid plans. Andie is the sort of girl who doesn’t just have a 5 year plan, she has a 10 year plan, and the spreadsheets to go along with it. She’s smart and driven and most importantly she’s focused. So she’s at a bit of a loss when her premium, hard won internship is yanked out from under her right before she’s supposed to depart and at a bit of lose ends for the summer. All the prime internships have filled up months ago and she’s adrift on trying to find something to fill that gap on her college applications.

But sometimes the unexpected isn’t the worst thing that could happen and maybe, just maybe, traveling on the road not taken is the best decision that you can do. Which is how Andie finds herself walking dogs for the summer complete with a clever spin on how to make it work on her applications and discovers something about herself and all her carefully laid plans. She gets to spend more time with her friends and actually living life while also getting to know her father a little bit more. Her father has been mostly absent for years due to his politician job and so there there a bit of clashing when he tries to parent a girl who has parented herself just fine for the last few years.

Unexpected Everything Quote

As with all Morgan Matson books there are some fun cameos from past characters and its always fun to catch these little glimpses. Matson also really excels at the character development and I loved the journey that Andie takes from the girl she thought she was to the girl she really is. I loved her friends and her romantic interest Clark and I loved watching Andie walk on the unexpected path. I totally devoured THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING and I loved almost ever word of it. I could have done without the book excerpts, which were a little too reminiscent of FANGIRL for me, and ones that I ended up skipping entirely as the book went on. Though I did like the story that Andie and Clark talked about on their walks and thought that was a lot of fun to read. And while I would like to read that story, and even the one in the excerpts, I would prefer to have a full book and not these random snippets that don’t add to this particular story.

Like most Matson books, I devoured THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING. It made my heart ache and I couldn’t read the words fast enough. This book made me long for summer days and hanging out with friends and I totally wanted to partake in Palmer’s Scavenger Hunt. THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING is a wonderful book of family and friendship and finding your way. Its a great book that shows that maybe what you’ve always thought you wanted isn’t really what you need. Its a book that reminds you to enjoy life and friends and knowing that every day is a day of self-discovery and that your life journey is always unfolding. THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING is sure to wow all Morgan Matson fans and hopefully bring new ones into the fold. I know that, as with all Matson’s books, that I’ll be re-reading THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING often and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Unexpected Everything

Add Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-half-stars
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Friday, August 14, 2015

Review: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Posted by Irish in 4.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Review: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley FitzpatrickThe Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Series: My Life Next Door, Book 2
Also in this series: My Life Next Door
Published by Dial on 18 August 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Also by this author: My Life Next Door, What I Thought Was True

Place(s) Traveled To: Stony Bay, Connecticut

First Line(s): I’ve been summoned to see the Nowhere Man.

 

I really don’t know where to begin on bringing my thoughts about THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO by Huntley Fitzpatrick as I just fell head over heels for this story. I first fell for Tim Mason when he made an appearance in MY LIFE NEXT DOOR (my review) and I was so happy when Fitzpatrick announced that he was getting his own story. But I was a bit wary as well as there were part of MY LIFE NEXT DOOR that I could have done without. I didn’t need to worry though because this book was such an amazing read that I found hard to put down once I started it. Tim’s story just made my heart ache and I just loved how he was with Alice. Though I could have done without the whole Brad storyline especially since it just felt so unresolved. There were things started that weren’t followed through on and it just seemed to have been forgotten about towards the end.

To say I had a lot of feelings for THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO is an understatement you just have to look at my Goodreads updates to see that I had a lot to say and that doesn’t even include all the notes and highlights that I made throughout my egalley. THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO just hit all the right notes for me. This book gave me ALL THE FEELS and I just wanted to reach into its pages and hug Tim a half dozen times over. I loved how he was with Alice and I mostly loved how their relationship progressed. I also loved the addition of the younger Garretts which says a lot because normally I’m pretty anti-children in books since they always seem so forced. The secondary characters were all delightful and I loved each and every one…well with the exception of Nan, Grace Reed, and Tim’s dad. Those characters I just wanted to shake and kick out of the story.

 

Boy Most Likely To Quote

THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO isn’t a perfect book but it was perfect for me during the time in which I read it. I loved the growth of Tim’s character from how he was at the start of MY LIFE NEXT DOOR. I loved how he stepped up and did the right thing even when there were questions on if it really was his responsibility or not. Though I do think that that part of the storyline was wrapped up a little too neatly for realism. But its a book and when you love a book you can forgive its flaws which is what I do with THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO. Oh all Fitzpatrick’s books this one is my favorite. I think it will always hold a special place in my heart for just how well Fitzpatrick dealt with a difficult issue and with how she portrayed Tim’s growth and maturity.

This is a book in which I’ll sing its praises to anyone who asks. Its one that you can read independently of MY LIFE NEXT DOOR as Fitzpatrick does do a good job of explaining what came before but to get the full picture it probably is best to read in order. I liked how there was no big WTF-ery in this one as I found with MY LIFE NEXT DOOR and I loved Alice’s strength when she was dealing with the vile Grace Reed. Oh how I disliked Grace Reed!! THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO is a fast paced read that you won’t want to put down. You’ll get sucked into its pages and just fall in love with this world and the Garretts all over again. This one is a must read so you should run write out and grab a copy of it today.

irishdarkblue

IR - Boy Most Likely To

Add First & Then by Emma Mills to Goodreads. (Review coming soon.)

Add Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-half-stars
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Monday, June 29, 2015

Audio Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Posted by Irish in 4.5 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Audio Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire SáenzAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Narrator: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on 09 April 2013
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Family, Friendship, GLBT, People of Color, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Length: 7 hours and 29 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads

Place(s) Traveled To: El Paso, Texas // Mesilla, New Mexico // Tuscon, Arizona (1987-1988)

First Line(s): One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. All I knew was that when I was looking for readalike recommendations for Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (my review) this was a title that was mentioned often. As I was in need of a new audio and the BPL had a digital copy to borrow I took it as a sign and requested. I then quickly feel head over heals for Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana. Ari is a loner and so he doesn’t know what to make of Dante when he approaches him and offers to teach him to swim. Ari tries to push Dante away but its not long before the two share an unbreakable bond. The narrator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, made for a perfect Aristotle and I think that he captured Ari’s voice perfectly. Miranda got all of Ari’s angst and inner turmoil as he tried to figure out his place in the universe.

Aristotle and Dante is a great coming of age story as the two friends grow up in the late 80s in that odd in-between state of no long boys but not really adults either. There is lots of confusion and struggle as they try to become their own person even as their parents don’t always want to let them go. Aristotle and Dante is a lyrical read and Miranda’s narration just really brings the words of the story to life. And the words that make up this story! Oh my stars, Sáenz writes such a beautiful story that I just wanted to quote ALL THE THINGS because almost every line had some meaning or resonated with me in some way. That beautiful prose along with Miranda’s excellent narration helped give me all the feels with this book and even now, just thinking of the story, it makes my heart ache in that way that I love.

Aristotle and Dante Quote

At its core, Aristotle and Dante, is a book about friendship as well as a book about identity. Its easy to forget the struggles of being a not-quite-adult but Sáenz does an amazing job of capturing that time in a person’s life. I loved Ari and hearing his inner thoughts but where this book shines is in the richness of the language and the secondary characters. Ari’s parents, Dante, and all the others really flesh out this story and bring it to life. When listening, you are immersed in Ari’s world and you become part of the story. I didn’t feel as though I was an observer I felt like I was right there in this world and I hated when it ended.

Aristotle and Dante isn’t a perfect read and there were times when I felt it was a bit disjointed but overall this was a story that I fell in love with. Its a book that I wished was longer so I could spend more time with this amazing cast of characters. Its also a book that I rushed out and bought a physical copy of and immediately re-read all of my favorite bits almost before the last word of the audio was spoken. This was a book that may not appeal to all but for me, I was in the right time and place for it and it was everything I didn’t know that I wanted in a book. This book. Oh this book. I really don’t know what else to say but if you trust my opinion, even the tiniest bit, then you need this book in your life.

irishdarkblue

IR - Aristotle and Dante

 

Add Anything Could Happen by Will Walton to Goodreads. (Review coming soon) – Similar themes of searching for ones identity.

Add Simon vs, the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.) – Similar themes of friendship, character voice, and feels.

 

A book and a song

Every so often I stumble across a song that just makes me think of a book. This song often makes for a good soundtrack to the story in some way. For Aristotle and Dante that song is I Lived by One Republic.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Forget Me by K.A. Harrington

Posted by Irish in 4.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Forget Me by K.A. HarringtonForget Me by K.A. Harrington, Kim Harrington
Published by Putnam Juvenile on 07 August 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Espionage, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Mystery & Detective, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Suspense, Thrillers, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: River’s End, Massachusetts // Littleton, Massacussetts

First Line(s): He lied to me.

Forget Me by K.A. Harrington is a contemporary mystery set in a small New England town. Its a book that is made for conspiracy therorists and mystery lovers alike. The story is told through the eyes of Morgan who witnessed the hit & run accident that killed her boyfriend Flynn a few months before Forget Me begins. Looking for some sort of closure she goes to post the one and only photo she has of him online and learns that he might not be dead after all. This leads her and her BFF Toni to start investigating this Evan Murphy to see if he is really Flynn. Now while Morgan and Toni are no Veronica Mars they don’t do a too terrible job at sorting through the facts. Though there are times when they are a bit more like Laverne and Shirly and so even as the tension rises there are still moments of humor.

Forget Me is a book of abandoned places and creepy clowns, its filled with lies and misdirection, there is mystery and drama and everything else in between. There is a romantic storyline but its not the dominate feature of the story. There are excellent secondary characters in Toni and Reece and I just loved all the scenes they were in. I loved Morgan for her doubts and for those things she knew to be true. I loved her relationship with her parents and how real it was. I especially loved the banter between Morgan and Toni and how they complimented each other as friends. I also adored Evan and there were some moments in this story that made my heart ache in that way that I love.

The mystery is fast paced and there are some red herrings thrown in along the way but its not so super complicated that those well versed in mysteries can’t figure things out before the big reveal. But neither is the story so obvious that it can be figured out on page 2. Forget Me is a fun mystery with some edge of your seat moments and I am going to miss this world that Harrington has created. I liked this town and I liked these characters and I kind of wish this was the start of a series just so that I could see more of them all. Though at the same time everything ends in a good place so I am totally satisfied and I turned the final page with a happy sigh that only comes when finishing a good book. All in all I think that this is my favorite Harrington book to date and its one that I am sure will be re-read at some point in my future. If you are a lover of a well-told story then you should totally pick this one up!

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irishdarkblue

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forget me2
four-half-stars
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Friday, February 7, 2014

Movie Thoughts: Vampire Academy

Posted by Irish in 4.5 Stars, Movie Thoughts, Review9 Comments

Vampire AcademyTitle: Vampire Academy (Official site)
Tag Line: They suck at school
Release Date: 07 February 2014
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 104 min
Genres: Action | Fantasy | Comedy | Mystery
Series or Standalone: Series
Where Seen: Theater (screening)
Production Company: Reliance Entertainment
Distributed By: Weinstein Company
Director(s): Mark Waters
Writer(s): Richelle Mead (novel), Daniel Waters (screenplay)
Stars: Zoey Deutch (Rose Hathaway), Lucy Fry (Lissa Dragomir), Danila Kozlovsky (Dimitri Belikov), Gabriel Byrne (Victor Dashkov), Dominic Sherwood (Christian Ozera), Sarah Hyland (Natalie Dashkov), Sami Gayle (Mia Rinaldi), Cameron Monaghan (Mason), and Olga Kurylenko (Headmistress Kirova)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Vampire Academy is a series of books that I absolutely adore. In a time when the market was flooded with vampire stories Vampire Academy stood out as the world is self-contained and doesn’t involve humans. There is no love story between a centuries old vampire and a human and that makes it a refreshing change from most vampire books out there. When I learned that there would be a movie based on the books I was both thrilled and wary as we all know what horrible things Hollywood can do to the books we love. Then when I saw the first trailers I was even more wary as the marketing sucked. All the trailers made it seem like this campy, tongue-in-cheek comedy and didn’t seem to have anything to do with the books that I loved. The only thing that gave me a little bit of hope was that Richelle Mead, the author of the books, had made statements saying how happy she was with the finished product. But even with those assurances I may have waited until this movie was available on Red Box before trying it out.

So when the opportunity came up to see a screening of Vampire Academy I grabbed two of my good friends and dashed off to see it. We were all fans of the book so we could all compare notes and memories to see how this page to screen adaptation unfolded. In the end, we were all very pleased with the final product. In fact, my main complaint is that it was too short and I wish there was more and I base this on run time only. For  when you are sitting in the theatre it feels right. The plot of Vampire Academy was also very true to the books. There were little elements added in and some that were removed but nothing so major that leaves fans of the story wondering what the writers were thinking or if they’d even read the books. The pacing was well done and even though I wish it had been longer it never felt rushed or slow. The writers also did a great job of introducing all the main players as well as the mythology of this vampire world.

Zoey Deutch was a perfect Rose in my book. She was strong and sassy and just nailed all her lines as well as the action scenes. The rest of the supporting cast also excelled in all their roles as well. Everyone cast fit into that image that I had about them when I read the books. The only disappointments were with Lucy Fry who fell a little flat for me and there was just something about her that I just never fully connected with. I also felt that Cameron Monaghan was super underutilized as Mason and if you don’t know the books then you don’t know just how close a friendship that he and Rose have. Danila Kozlovsky and  Dominic Sherwood both sizzle in their roles as Dimitri and Chritian, respectively. Kozlovsky and Deutch have a lot of chemistry on screen and it just plays in so well to part of their story ARC. Sarah Hyland as Natalie was a surprise hit and I loved what she brought to the role. Although it was hard to seperate her from her Modern Family alter ego, Haley, and I kept expecting more sarcasm and less bubbly.

I really enjoyed this movie and I was so glad that I decided to see it in the theatres. This is one that I know I’ll watch again at some point and it left me with a burning desire to go back and re-read the series all over again. I also loved the soundtrack of the film and found myself downloading it onto my iPod not long after getting home from the theatre. Vampire Academy was very well done and I think that everyone should go see it. Don’t be fooled by the horrible marketing! If you liked the books then you will like this movie.

My Recommendation: If you are a fan of the books or just like good movies then you’ll want to catch this one in the theatre.

 

irishdarkblue
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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Review: Blood Phantom by Rhiannon Hart

Posted by Irish in 4.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Blood Phantom by Rhiannon HartBlood Phantom by Rhiannon Hart
Series: Lharmell,
Also in this series: Blood Song
Published by Curtis Brown on 09 December 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Novella, Young Adult
Pages: 30
Format: eBook
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Also by this author: Blood Song

Place(s) Traveled To: Xallentaria, Pergamia

First Line(s): A day must be divided up into equal segments, each devoted to a single purpose.

Blood Phantom by Rhiannon Hart is a prequel novella to her Lharmell series which begins with Blood Song (my review). Blood Song was a book that I feel head over heels in adoration. I just loved the rich and detailed world that Hart had created. In Blood Phantom we get an early look at the events that lead to Zeraphina and her family traveling to Pergamia as told from Rodden’s point of view.

I loved Zeraphina’s voice in Blood Song but the character of Rodden was always intriguing. He’s this big, brooding, almost larger than life character. He’s a man of few words but I just loved him all the same. Roddon is a man of secrets and so I was intriguied at the idea of a novella from his POV as maybe we’d get to learn what some of those secrets were.

Alas, that is not to be with Blood Phantom but that doesn’t make this novella as less disappointing. I really enjoyed Rodden’s voice and as with most novellas I wish that this one had been longer. Just as we were starting to learn a bit more about Rodden and the events behind Blood Song. I think I could be quite happy and content if Rhiannon Hart decided to retell the whole series from Rodden’s POV. If you are a fan of the series or just thinking of checking it out then I highly recommend you picking up Blood Phantom. I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed.

irishdarkblue

four-half-stars
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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Audio Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

Posted by Irish in 4.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult4 Comments

Audio Review: The Program by Suzanne YoungThe Program by Suzanne Young
Narrator: Joy Osmanski
Series: The Program,
Also in this series: The Treatment, The Remedy, The Epidemic
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on 30 April 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Emotions & Feelings, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Suicide, Young Adult
Length: 10 hours 56 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Also by this author: The Treatment, The Remedy, The Epidemic

Place(s) Traveled to: Town outside of Portland, Oregon

First Line: The air in the room tastes sterile.

I’d heard rumblings about The Program by Suzanne Young since it was announced and while I was looking forward to it I was a little wary as well. There are just so many dystopias out there and so many have been a disappointment that at first I wasn’t sure about this one. Then more of my blogger friends started to talk about it and so when an opportunity came up to review the audio I thought I’d give it a chance. But it wasn’t until Andi from Andi’s ABCs started to rave about it that I decided to move it up in my listening queue.

To say that I liked it is a bit of an understatement considering that I listened to all 11 hours in roughly 2 days. I spent almost any entire day in the office listening as I work and I during the course of my day I wanted to cry, cry harder, and then smack a book character (or two upside the head). In The Program, teen suicide is an epidemic and the government has developed a way to “save” them be eliminating those memories that lead to their downward spiral. Teens in this world are under constant surveillance and are afraid to show emotion in fear that they might get flagged and sent to the Program. In The Program we learn the story of Sloane and James and its one of the most heartbreaking and uplifting stories that I’ve read. I loved reading about their story and even though they made my heart break they often gave me that wonderful heart achy feeling that I love in books.

The Program is an emotional journey and a heartbreaking story that reminds me so much of one of my favorite movies, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Both the movie and this book deal with big questions of memory and just how far would you go in order to protect yourself, or someone else. In Eternal Sunshine people pay to have certain memories erased for various reasons…mostly because they are painful in some way. In The Program similar memories are forcibly removed from teens under the guise of saving them.

But without all of your memories, the good and the bad, are you really you? How much are you changed when you don’t fully remember who you are? Life can be painful but its those moments that help define us and who we become just as much as the happy memories do. So its no surprise that one reason teens in The Program fear being sent away so much is because those that return seem to come back empty and changed from who they were before.

The Program isn’t just about memory and how it defines a person but it also deals with the question of love and relationships. The phrase x and y are meant to be or that they will be a couple forever are used often by teens and adults alike when they think they are in love. Sometimes a relationship works and other times it doesn’t. Think of the person that you love most, if they were erased from your memory do you think that some part of you would still know them? Do you think that you would find them again?

The one problem I had with The Program was the epilogue. I am not a huge fan of epilogues as it is as they are often a let down. Usually because they try so hard. And while this one doesn’t try hard or jump decades into the future it does change POVs. This normally wouldn’t bother me but the scene captured  in this epilogue was just so…blah. Its an almost exact rehash of something earlier and it just didn’t resonate with me at all.

I really enjoyed The Program and I do look forward to seeing where things go in the next book of this duology. If you like dystopians you may like this one. If you are a bit wary of them this could be a good one to try as its kind of dystopian light in that the world hasn’t gone through anything cataclysmic. The world is just like ours with just a few differences. If you are a fan of the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind then you will probably enjoy this book as well. If you haven’t seen the movie but liked this book then you should totally check it out (its also currently available on Netflix streaming).

About the Narrator

Joy Osmanski is the narrator of this audio and this is my first time listening to a book that she’s voiced. Overall she did a good job though there were times when she mixed up voices, sometimes in the same scene so that was a little off putting at times. Though never enough to take me out of the story completely. I enjoyed her style and would definitely listen to her again.


four-half-stars
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