Book Reviews

ARC August Review: The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter

40242200._SY475_Summary: WELCOME TO THE FOREST OF GOOD AND EVIL.

A DREAM COME TRUE…AND A LIVING NIGHTMARE.

Far, far away, in the realm of Enchantia, creatures of legend still exist, magic is the norm and fairy tales are real. Except, fairy tales aren’t based on myths and legends of the past—they are prophecies of the future.

Raised in the mortal realm, Everly Morrow has no idea she’s a real-life fairy-tale princess—until she manifests an ability to commune with mirrors.

Look. See… What will one peek hurt?

Soon, a horrifying truth is revealed. She is fated to be Snow White’s greatest enemy, the Evil Queen.

With powers beyond her imagination or control, Everly returns to the land of her birth. There, she meets Roth Charmaine, the supposed Prince Charming. Their attraction is undeniable, but their relationship is doomed. As the prophecy unfolds, Everly faces one betrayal after another, and giving in to her dark side proves more tempting every day. Can she resist, or will she become the queen—and villain—she was born to be?

The battle between good and evil is on.


I really enjoyed this book a lot.  The concept was incredible and the plot was super addicting. I absolutely loved the prophecy and the mystery it created for us to figure out as the story and characters progressed, and it was set up nicely for us right at the beginning- creating a really magical and addicting story.  The plot is full of action, romance, adventure, and has a million twists and turns.  I couldn’t wait to see how everything played out through the lens of the prophecy.  What really makes this book special though, is the depth and complexity of the characters.  Showalter really turns this fairytale retelling into an exploration of good and evil, and how our choices affect our fate.  The knowledge of the prophecy really messed these people up. Our narrator, Everly, was a fascinating character and I loved her.  Supposedly fated to become The Evil Queen in Snow White, she is constantly conflicted about what is right and what actions she should follow through, always fighting against her prophesized future.  While she grows a lot throughout the story, there were a few developments that seemed to come out of nowhere and were a bit muddied. I felt that her emotions would do a complete 180 with very little prompting, and it often left me a bit confused as to how we got to this point.  Most of the time I was on board with her though, and I loved her strength, feistiness, and her “evil”, or dare I say human, tendencies.  Her relationship with Prince Roth started out a little bit insta-lovey, but we are inside a fairytale after all, and it grew into a much deeper bond that was incredibly steamy and their chemistry was squeal-inducing.  The other characters involved in the prophecy all went through complex emotional turmoil while trying to figure out which role they played and what their futures held.   This book is a wild ride of love and betrayal, magic and adventure, and steamy romance wrapped up into a beautifully created fairytale world that I really hope to see more of in the future.

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Book Reviews

ARC August Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford

37777083Summary: For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.


I am so happy about this book.  This was one of my most anticipated releases at the beginning of the year, and when I was able to snag an ARC of it I was thrilled.  Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.  It is SO unique, and as someone who reads a lot of YA Fantasy that is not something I can say a lot.  The world-building is fantastic and really interesting and I am enamored with the whole concept of the story.  I was fascinated by the oceanic world of Varenia, and its stark contrast to the ruling mountain kingdom of Ilara.  The Varenian’s unrelenting focus on beauty and perfection created such an interesting atmosphere and added such depth to the characters.  I loved watching Nor navigate the intricacies of this strange court intrigue, and the mystery surrounding the kingdom and how and why the relations between Varenia and Ilara were established.  The plot moved quickly and I thought the overall pacing was really nice.  I was fully engaged in the action throughout the story and it definitely kept me turning the page.  I really connected with Nor’s character and her relationship with her family, her sister Zadie most of all.  Nor’s relationships with her village were established so well in the beginning, that the new relationships she made in Ilara kind of felt a bit underdeveloped- including her relationship with her love interest.  I do wish there would have been more instances to back it up, but they did have chemistry, and I can understand Nor falling for someone who wasn’t entirely focused on her outer appearances for the first time in her life.  My only real and minor grievance with this book was the ending.  It wasn’t bad, and I did enjoy the twist, but it felt a bit rushed like the author wasn’t sure if there would be another book so she had to quickly close the plot in a way that didn’t quite work for me.  It seemed final, but there are still so many open-ended and not fully developed plot points and details that I am wondering about.  I’m really excited that there is another book coming out that will hopefully solve this issue for me.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to get back to Varenia and see what is going to happen next.

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Book Reviews

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim Review

42815556Summary: Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

*I received an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.  Thanks to Randomhouse Children’s for the opportunity!*


Ok. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book, and I was so wrong.  It’s really good.  It is a beautifully written story that has everything you could want out of a YA fantasy novel.  The adventure is epic and fun, the romance is swoony, the system of magic is interesting, and the main characters are wonderfully likable.  I absolutely loved the Chinese culture in this book, especially its influences on the magic system.  It all works so seamlessly and transports us to a really vibrant world that I can’t wait to see more of.  The whole story has a traditional folklore feel to it as well, which adds a level of maturity and simplicity in the storytelling.  Maia is a great heroine and really comes into her own by the end.  I loved her arc, but I do wish we could have seen it progressing a bit stronger throughout.  The chemistry and tension with her love interest are fabulous from the get-go, and the pace of their relationship was perfect.  The journey they take together is fun and fantastical and super fast-paced.  The ending packs a punch and left me wanting more.  I am so pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book and I cannot wait to see where this series goes.

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Book Reviews

Review: Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop

41824802Summary: Fourteen-year-old Peter Green can’t remember how he died.
All he has are his pajamas, a silk tie, and a one-way bus ticket to Mrs. Battisworth’s Academy and Haven for Unliving Boys and Girls, a strange and spooky school for dead orphans like himself. But that’s all he needs: the Unliving Academy has everything, from vampires in the hallways, to monsters in the cafeteria, to ghosts in the basement.

And that’s just the teachers; the students are far stranger.

As Pete learns to fit in with his new supernatural schoolmates, he starts to discover his own uniquely undead abilities, and even begins enjoying his life after death…but he just can’t shake the feeling that he’s forgotten something (or somebody!) important.

Somebody he left behind in the land of the living.

Somebody he loved very much.

Somebody who’s in terrible danger. 

Peter Green and the Unliving Academy is the captivating first installment of Angelina Allsop’s Unliving series of young adult fantasy novels. If you like reading about fun-filled adventures, fully realized new worlds, and the most unlikely of heroes, you’re sure to love Allsop’s spirited coming-of-age tale.

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review*


My Thoughts: This book has so much potential.  The concept is brilliant, the characters diverse, and the world is unique and interesting.  Unfortunately, all of it was a bit underdeveloped.  Peter Green has died and shows up in Purgatory with none of his memories, where he is sent to an AfterLife boarding school for children.  I was on board with this concept and plot right away and was ready to dive into this adventure and see this wild world of AfterLife… but there wasn’t enough world building for me.  Sure, there were a lot of cool things and crazy creatures, but there were no rules set to establish the world, and the systems of magic, concretely enough.  We got little hints of it while Peter is learning about his “skills” at school, but it just felt to me that anything could happen there and it would just be accepted as a kooky part of the world instead of having a true basis in the way the universe was set up.  I absolutely loved the different portals and purgatory, the magical skills to be learned, and the entire concept of having a full life- complete with a job, family, community, etc.- after death.  It was so clever and unique that I just wanted it to be established on a deeper level.  The characters were sweet, but once again underdeveloped.  I couldn’t remember who was who most of the time because all we really got about them were their names.  I don’t even remember what Peter Green looks like, other than that he wears pajamas and a tie, and he didn’t really have a memorable personality.  Peter’s new best friends Scoot and Charlie were fun.  I loved Charlie’s unapologetic vanity and hunger for gossip and Scoot’s toughness and I would have loved to see a deeper relationship build between them all.  The plot was exciting and fun, but unfocused.  There were a lot of great scenes and ideas but there wasn’t a solid enough through-line, and many of the plot points felt unnecessary and distracting, even if they added entertainment value.  I don’t think the plot was used to it’s fullest in helping to create the world and develop the characters.  Overall, the ideas in this book are out of this world and I loved the concept and I just don’t think the execution lived up to its potential.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

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Happy Top Ten Tuesday everyone! We have a fun and exciting topic today from That Artsy Reader Girl, and that is the Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2019! There are so many amazing books coming out this year, and I keep finding more.  Here are the ten books that I am eagerly awaiting the most in order of release date!


House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

August 6th

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Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake

September 3rd

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American Royals by Katharine McGee

September 3rd

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The Babysitter’s Coven by Kate Williams

September 17th

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Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

September 24th

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No Judgements by Meg Cabot

September 24th

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The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

October 8th

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

November 5th

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The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

November 19th

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Children of Vice and Virtue by Tomi Adeyemi

December 3rd

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Aren’t they beautiful? What books are you guys looking forward to? Let me know in the comments so I can add them to my list and we can freak out together 🙂

 

 

Book Reviews

ARC Review: Kingsbane by Claire Legrand

40523458Summary: In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller Furyborn, two queens, separated by a thousand years, connected by secrets and lies, must continue their fight amid deadly plots and unthinkable betrayals that will test their strength—and their hearts.

Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien—but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.

Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity’s long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption—fear of becoming another Rielle—keeps Eliana’s power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted—by embracing her mother’s power, or rejecting it forever.

*I received an ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


My Thoughts: I was on the fence about continuing this series after my lukewarm reception of Furyborn, but I’m glad I did.  While I still wasn’t crazy about it, I liked Kingsbane more than I liked the first book.  The characters continued to grow, and I loved finding out more of Rielle’s history and how it contributed to Eliana’s future.  Where Rielle was my favorite character in Furyborn, it actually switched to Eliana for this one, and I found myself looking forward to her sections more.  The switching perspectives continued to move the plot and intrigue along nicely, but for some reason, each switch was more jarring to me and took a second to adjust in each chapter.  I do wish we could have a bit more knowledge about the magic systems and the angels because it still wasn’t 100% clear for me.  If you can get past that though, the plot was exciting in both timelines and I really loved watching them weave together.  The ending was totally unexpected and had my jaw on the floor.  I was riled up after finishing for sure.  I am now too invested in the plot to not be along for the ride, and I anxiously await the conclusion in book three.  I really do think that if the magic and the angels were fleshed out better, this series would knock it out of the park, but until that ferocious ending, it was a fairly average read.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: I Spy the Boy Next Door by Samantha Armstrong

PrintSummary: Four p.m. spy sessions are the highlight of Mallory Taylor’s day. Observing the boy next door—one with a body and an attitude to match—has her perched beside her window so often it can’t be healthy.

When she finally convinces her mom to let her go to public school, Mallory comes face to face with her neighbor, Troy Parker. And he makes it clear he wants nothing to do with her. His rejection awakens a newfound tenacity and maybe even a touch of recklessness. But when Troy starts to show up when she needs him the most, Mallory can’t help but wonder if there’s more to him than he’s let on.

Taking chances, breaking rules, and following her heart is all new to Mallory. And no one warned her just how fickle hearts can be. When she discovers that Troy isn’t at all the guy she imagined him to be, secrets rise to the surface that will change her life forever.

*I received a copy of this book from Koru House Press in return for an honest review! Thanks to them and Samantha Armstrong for the opportunity!*


My Thoughts: This book was really different than what I expected.  I anticipated a light-hearted, opposites attract YA romance and that is not what this was.  Our main character, Mallory, has lived a very sheltered, home-schooled existence for her whole life, all while crushing on Troy, her next door neighbor, from afar.  Once Mallory convinces her overprotective parents to let her go to school, she finally gets the chance to come face to face with him and the story begins… but nothing much happens for a while.  There is a lot of moodiness and unwarranted behavior from him, and confusion from her, but they don’t really have that many interactions.  I was so confused as to how they fell for each other when they had such minimal contact.  In fact, none of the relationships between Mallory and the other characters were really developed enough to be believable.  They would have one interaction, and then they’d be best friends.  There was a bit of very exaggerated sexual tension between Mallory and Troy, but without a strong build-up to their connection, it didn’t fully work for me.  Out of nowhere, the book becomes an episode of criminal minds and while I wanted to find out what was going to happen next, I was thrown by the sudden change in mood and plot.  The twist did help explain more about Mallory’s character, but overall the whole book just felt a bit incohesive and underdeveloped.  I think if Mallory and Troy’s relationship had a stronger foundation and actually built to a smolder instead of going from zero to 100, the whole thing might have worked better.  Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get on board with this one.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Book Characters That Remind Me of Myself

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Hey fellow bookworms! This week’s topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is Book Characters That Remind Me of Myself.  This topic is surprisingly hard for me because I’m having a hard time drawing a distinction between characters that actually remind me of myself and characters I that would be cast as, or would like to play as an actor.  So here are 10 characters that I related to for a mix of reasons.

1. Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Celaena Sardothien is one of my favorite characters of all time.  I related to her immediately.  She loves so fiercely but can also be selfish and impulsive.  She has unapologetic self-esteem, which I find so refreshing in a fantasy heroine.  I also share her love for the finer things in life with no shame.

2. Shane from Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

When I was reading this book, I really felt like she was speaking my thoughts.  Shane’s love for books and pop culture really resonated with me.

3. Elloren Gardner from The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

I definitely relate to Elloren’s journey of moving to the big city and opening her mind to so many new experiences and ways of thinking.

4. Franny from Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Franny is an actress trying to make it in NYC…. that’s literally my life and daily joy/struggles.

5. Celia Lytton from The Spoils of Time Trilogy by Penny Vincenzi

I relate to Celia’s passion for literature and her family.  She will do what it takes to get what she wants.

6. Elizabeth from The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

I remember reading this series and feeling like I was Elizabeth.  I connected with her storyline and always feel like I would have been just like her if I lived in that time period.

7. Lara Jean from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Lara Jean’s relationship with her sisters really struck home for me and my own sisters.  She is also a bookish, hopeless romantic just like me.

8. Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Mia’s thoughts were my own at one point, I swear.  I felt like I was her when reading those books.

9. Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Like Marianne, I definitely lead with my heart and emotions and face the consequences later.

10. Scarlett from Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Like Scarlett, I am a rule follower and I hate defying authority.  I also have a fierce love and protective sense over my younger sisters.

Book Reviews

ARC Review: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

41147279Summary: From one of the most followed booktubers today, comes Again, but Better, a story about second chances, discovering yourself, and being brave enough to try again.

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.

Release Date: May 7th, 2019
*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Christine Riccio, and Netgalley!*

My Thoughts: WOW.  I am obsessed with this book.  From the first Harry Potter reference, I knew I was going to love it.  Riccio’s writing style and Shane’s voice are absolutely hilarious and there were times when I felt like she was inside my brain.  Shane is a totally lovable and entirely relatable character.  All of her bookish fandom and pop culture references killed me, and I just loved the way her mind worked.  I was rooting for her to come into herself the whole time and I loved watching as she figured out what she truly wanted.  As someone who fell in love with London on my own travels, I was so excited to be transported back and was definitely living through Shane’s study abroad experience.  Her flatmates were such a great grouping of characters who all had their unique, fun quirks.  Babe with her Disney obsession and aspiring actor, Atticus, were my favorites.  Then there was Pilot Penn, Shane’s crush.  Their dynamic and chemistry were fantastic and while there were moments that he made me mad, I totally understood the conflict.  I think my favorite thing about this book was reading their witty, flirtatious banter.  There were several swoon-worthy moments that had my stomach all fluttery.  The big twist in the middle of the book caught me totally off guard and seeing it play out was so exciting.  As you can tell, I just really loved this book and I have very little, if any, negative comments.  From the romance to the friendships, to the wanderlust, and finally discovering who you are meant to be, this book knocked it out of the park and I can’t wait to see what Riccio does next.

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Book Hangover

 

 

Book Reviews

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer Review

43204703Summary: Fall in love, break the curse. 

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom. 

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

My Thoughts: I was completely absorbed by this book.  When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about getting back to it.  Right away from the first chapter, we get a gripping intro to the curse that set up the rest of the story perfectly, as well as our two male main characters, Rhen and Grey, and their relationship to each other.  Both men were complex and interesting, and the more we found out about their pasts, the more I fell in love with them.  Then we meet our heroine, Harper, who I really grew to like.  At first, I was kind of indifferent towards her, but her arc is great.  I loved the portrayal of her cerebral palsy.  It was just a part of who she was rather than her entire identity.  The two different perspectives were a perfect way to tell the story too. The juxtaposition of Harper’s casual, sarcastic voice to Rhen’s more formal, fairytale-esque voice was really effective. The pacing of Harper’s relationships with all of the people in Emberfall was done really well, wasn’t rushed, and felt realistic.  Knowing that to break the curse she had to fall in love with Rhen was a great added pressure to their growing relationship and trust.  Emberfall was beautifully created and vibrant, and I loved how the curse affected the rest of the world.  The plot was so quick and engrossing, and I couldn’t put it down.  The cliff hanger ending was an added bonus, and I cannot wait to see where this story is going to go.  As a Beauty and the Beast fanatic, I was a little hesitant to read a re-telling of my favorite story, but it definitely held up and I loved it.

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