Tag Archives: reading challenge

The Challenges of Summer Reading

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Do you find that making time for reading in the summer can be a challenge? There are so many outside things to do: go on hikes, take your kids to cool off at the pool or splash pad and BBQ’s with friends.

However, as busy as we are in the summer, my kids have seemed to be enticed by the chance to win prizes through our local library’s Summer Reading Program. Each week they record time spent reading (or being read to for my smallest child) and get entries into draws for prizes for every one hour read. The program has offered my kids a lot of incentive to sit down and read a book during their down time instead of staring at the TV.

For those adults who love to read AND win stuff, there are also Adult Summer Reading Programs too. Check out your local library to see if they are offering one; often the adult prizes are pretty nice!

There are so many benefits to reading, not just for children but also for developing adult minds as well. I found this article examining the “Science-Backed” health benefits of reading.

  1. Reading increases intelligence
  2. Reading boosts your brain power
  3. Reading makes you more empathetic
  4. Flipping pages of a book helps with your understanding and comprehension skills
  5. Regular reading has been linked to decreasing your chances of developing Alzheimers disease
  6. Reading helps you relax and overcome stress
  7. Reading before bedtime can help you fall asleep faster
  8. Reading out loud to your children inspires your children to want to read more

And finally, how is your 2017 Reading Challenge progressing? I am currently at 45 books for this year, but I will admit that the last month or two I have slowed down a bit. A few of my most recent reads and/or reviews are:

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the WaterInto the Water by Paula Hawkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a while to get into this book. I appreciated the multiple points of view and it kept the storyline interesting. My biggest critique is I felt there was a bit too much back and forth for my liking. I would have preferred fewer points of view in favour of a more in-depth characterization. I have to say I liked Girl on the Train more than Into the Water but I would definitely still recommend this book and enjoyed it. Give it a try!

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict (Expected Release Date January 01, 2018)

Carnegie's MaidCarnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sudden death on a trans-Atlantic journey opens up a future far different than Clara Kelley could have ever imagined. As an immigrant to America from Ireland, Clara is expecting nothing more than some steady low paying employment so she could help support her family back home. A tragic accident upon the vessel Envoy has left one Clara Kelley deceased and given the other a chance at a future far better than was anticipated. A caller is waiting for the Clara Kelley who has been offered employment as a highly desirable ladies maid for one of the richest families in America and Clara jumps in the carriage. Clara has only a second to choose her fate and decides to carve out a future for herself.

Clara is transported to Philadelphia where she meets the wealthy and innovative Carnegie family. She learns how to pretend to be something she is not and eventually finds a friend in the eldest son of the Carnegie family, Andrew Carnegie.

Carnegie’s Maid is a historical fiction about class differentiation, industrialization and the many forms that love can take. This story reveals how not just the drive for success, but also love for ones family can at times cloud our judgement and affect our morality. Clara and her master Andrew Carnegie share a special understanding of ideals and both want to provide financially for their families. In a way they both help each other succeed.

I really enjoyed Carnegie’s Maid and would definitely recommend it. I appreciated the author’s writing style and felt like it was a well written, captivating story. (view spoiler) Furthermore, I could have also used more of Andrew’s point of view; his characterization wasn’t developed enough for me. The beginning of the story gives the reader a little taste of who Andrew is but otherwise the story is entirely from Clara’s point of view. I feel as though more insight into the thoughts of Andrew Carnegie would have helped the overall success of the story.

I want to thank NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the opportunity to read and review Carnegie’s Maid.

The Ways of the World (The Wide World Trilogy #1) by Robert Goddard

The Ways of the World (The Wide World Trilogy #1)

Short for Chameleon by Vicki Grant

Short for ChameleonShort for Chameleon by Vicki Grant

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am pleasantly surprised at how much I liked Short For Chameleon and how hilarious it is at times. Vicki Grant keeps the story short and sweet and adds just the right amount of quirkiness to each character. The main character Cam works for his Father’s business “Almost Family Surrogate Agency”. The business employs people to pretend to be relatives of clients who are willing to pay to have fake relatives for social obligations. As a result, Cam is constantly finding himself in unusual situations. I think teens and young adults would find this novel engaging, funny and entertaining. I only hope that there is more to come from Cam and his new friend Raylene.

I also want to thank GoodReads, Vicki Grant and the publisher HarperTrophyCanada for a free copy of this book.

View all my reviews

 

~ Happy Summer Reading ~

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Light Summer Reading and Spring 2017 New Releases

Sunset in Leduc copy

Spring has come and I am excited to get to spend more time outdoors. Gardening, going for walks or just stopping to take pictures of the beautiful Spring scenery has taken up more of my time than reading/blogging. However, I do want to give you some new (and a few old) release books that you may want to check out. I will be honest in saying that my reviews are not always positive and sometimes I just simply don’t engage with the plot or style of writing. BUT I have done some of the leg work for you which might help you decide between what new release books you may or may not want to pickup for your next camping weekend.

Also, next to come on my READ50 list for this year is The Last Neanderthal by Clair Cameron – I’ll let you know what I think when I am done!!

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore (Release date March 2, 2017)

An Emotional and Tension Filled Glimpse of Life in Bristol During the French Revolution

Birdcage Walk

Baroque is the word that comes to mind after finishing Birdcage Walk . Drama, tension and poetic influence is how I would describe the book. I cannot say that I loved this new novel by Helen Dunmore. I felt the plot was missing some key climatic elements. I did not care for the heroine Lizzy, I was hoping for her to rise above her situation and so many times she let me down. Diner was very unlikable and controlling but yet Lizzy would throw herself into his arms again and again. Lizzy doubted herself so many times I struggle to call her the heroine. Lizzy’s half-brother seemed to be the best thing that happened to her in the entire novel, and yet when it came to a decision between her brother and her husband, she chooses her husband.

What I do feel Helen Dunmore excelled at was her descriptions and settings in the novel. She vividly captures what life was like in Bristol at that time in history. Her writing is poetic and sensual as she attempts to depict what emotional trials people might have faced during the French Revolution. However, Dunmore’s repeated insertion of political discussion into the dialogue felt forced and did not really add anything to the development of the characters or the narrative.

I would recommend this book to my friends but I am not sure I would reread it.

I do want to give my appreciation to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for a free ARC copy of Birdcage Walk . Thanks again.

Island Girls by Nancy Thayer (Also available as an audio book)

Island Girls

Island Girls was a fun read and the characters all had unique personalities. The plot kept along at a good pace and I think it would be a perfect summer read. However, this novel is not deep nor has overly complex character development.

As a stipulation to their deceased father’s will, three very different women find themselves stuck sharing their father’s Nantucket home for an entire summer. Arden, Meg and Jenny all begin the summer with their own agendas while trying to survive just a few months together as a blended family. Rory Randell was handsome and wealthy but left behind a mess of emotional drama between his three daughters, two ex-wives and latest wife. Rory’s three daughters have one summer to fix the drama and grievances they have with each other in order for them to inherit the family home. This is an enjoyable read but do not expect deep insights or believability. I liked it, but some things are just too good to be true in my opinion.

A Suitable Affair by Erica Taylor (Expected Publication June 6, 2017)

A Suitable Affair
You won’t be disappointed!

A Suitable Affair is a light-hearted and entertaining read. Lady Susanna Macallistar, the heroine of the story, finds herself with a large dowry but she is falling short in her search for eligible suitors. The one gentleman who has offered to court her is too compliant and boring, a stark contrast to her own vibrant and adventurous personality. After a random and potentially dangerous encounter with a stranger in Hyde park, Susanna finds herself drawn to the newcomer, Ian Carlisle, the handsome Earl of Westcott. Ian has trouble ignoring the magnetism between Susanna and himself but his affection is clouded by his troubled past and his quest to bring a murderer to justice. Susanna turns out to have a few secrets of her own as she struggles between society’s expectations of a Lady and her own ambitions.

The writing style at the beginning of A Suitable Affair is verbose in my opinion. The author uses too many words in the characters dialogue and some of the sentences and descriptions are awkward. Susanna does not need to describe in length her motivation behind everything and she often repeats the same thing in two different ways in one conversation. After the first few chapters the writing style becomes less forced and the characters conversations flow more smoothly. The plot is entertaining from the beginning with the murder mystery keeping the storyline complex and engaging. And of course the romance isn’t too bad either! I appreciate that Susanna’s character is not just adventurous and witty but she is also brave and intelligent. The more the plot progresses the more interesting and developed Susanna’s character becomes.

I would not hesitate to recommend A Suitable Affair to my friends and I think if some of the wordiness in the first few chapters could be edited out I would definitely rate it 5 out of 5.

I also want to thank Amberjack Publishing and NetGalley for a chance to read an advanced copy of A Suitable Affair .

The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon (Release Date May 18, 2017)

The Last Piece of My Heart

So far so good! I have only read the Prologue and the first three chapters but I am left wanting more! I hope Bridget’s story continues along the path of being exciting and fun with hint of romance. There is a small chance that the plot of this novel will be predictable but as it is my first time reading a novel by Paige Toon I cannot say for sure one way or the other. I can say that so far the first three chapters are entertaining, convincing and witty and that Paige Toon’s novel has drawn me in. I can’t wait to read The Last Piece of My Heart in its entirety.

Thank-you also to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read a pre-release teaser of the novel.

And last but not least…..have YOU read Into the Water by Paula Hawkins and what did YOU think of it? And which do YOU prefer, The Girl on The Train or Into the Water

Happy Reading

~ Adrienne

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And then we are discussing Book Clubs

Does reading have to be a solitary and personal experience? The quiet and peacefulness that accompanies reading is part of what draws me to a new book but discovering a great book does not have to be individualistic. Book Clubs are a great way to find new genres to read and also a great way to find new friends who share your passion for literature.

Do you have a book club that you are already apart of and have advice to share with those looking? In all honestly I can say that I have not participated in very many book clubs. Because I did a minor in English in University, it often felt like all of my classes were large group book clubs.  I remember being amazed in my first English course how my opinion of a book could be so different from someone else’s. Every person in my class had their own feelings about the plot, characters, resolution and even the writing style of the books we read. At first it upset me and left me feeling frustrated; I might have absolutely hated an ending and someone else liked it (sometimes even the professor) but after a while I realized that other people’s interpretations of literature can help you broaden your own worldview. If this wasn’t the case then group analysis of books would not be as beneficial or widespread. Canadian Living discusses 10 benefits of being a part of book club:

  1. Community
  2. Intellectual stimulation
  3. New books and new people
  4. A break from everyday life
  5. The freedom to be honest
  6. Friendship
  7. Self-expression
  8. Lifetime connections
  9. Spending time with other women (men)
  10. A welcome space for strangers

http://www.canadianliving.com/life-and-relationships/community-and-current-events/article/10-benefits-of-joining-a-book-club

I think all of these reasons are valid and helpful. I know many people who would LOVE to join a book club but do not know where to find information on some or the knowledge of how to start one up themselves.

So have I convinced you and you have decided that a book club is what you need? You might want to do a bit of research before joining just any book club and/or announcing to all of your friends that you are starting up your own. Here are some of the questions you might want to ask yourself before starting up a book club:

  • What will be the theme, genre, style

    • What types of books are you interested in? Are your friends that you want to ask to be apart of your book club interested in the same types of books as you or will you be flexible? If you only read Historical Fiction or Sci-Fi books you might bore everyone after book #2. I would recommend having some kind of book guide to help you choose your titles (ie. reading Canada Reads Longlist or Hot and New Fiction lists from Amazon & Chapters/Indigo, or only New Canadian Authors)
  • Make some (new) friends

    • Give word to your existing friends that you are starting up a book club and what type of books you will be reading. Let them know that if they aren’t interested to share the word. You probably want between 5 and 15 people in your club but that doesn’t mean those have to be people you are already connected with. This is a great time to make some new friends outside of your regular social bubble.
  • Set some guidelines

    • Pick a location, doesn’t have to be your own home. You might decide to meet at a different person’s house each week or to take the pressure off trying to have a clean house you could choose a quiet coffee shop or library to meet. Meeting outside of the home also checks off the “A break from everyday life” benefit of a book club. Pick a time to meet that works for most of the people you hope to have attend (ie. after bedtime or on a weekend). Pick a duration. Nobody likes to go to stuff that they are expecting to be 1 hr long only to find themselves stuck for 2+ hrs. Just give an idea of how long you plan for each meeting to be so that people know what to expect.
  • Pick a Co-Leader(s)

    • You do not want to be the only person picking the books for your book club, for many reasons. Good co-leaders can help you keep up on what other people would like to read (this may not coincide with your own opinion). They can also take the reins if and when you miss a meeting. Everyone has their own talents and yours might not be social media or keeping up on emails. Pick some friends to be co-leaders that are reliable and maybe fill a few of the gaps in your own abilities.
  • Keep a record

    • Social media is great at helping with this. You could open up a free blog (wordpress.com) or have a Facebook group for your book club. That way you can let everyone know where and when you are meeting and maybe even keep notes and write down ideas. Want to be apart of an ONLINE ONLY book club? You might think that is weird but it is actually pretty common. You can find book clubs online for just about any interest or genre or author.  Goodreads Groups is great for this and it will even send you emails when someone comments on a thread or makes a new post in the book club you choose to follow.

For those local to me in Alberta, the Leduc Public Library offers a book club in the evening on the third Wednesday of every month (http://leduclibrary.ca/content/spring-adult-programs-registered). They even offer a writing club if you are looking to get some creative juices flowing. 

For some book reading guides and to follow other book club ideas this is a great website too: http://www.readinggroupguides.com

I’d love to hear about your book clubs and what you are reading and how you decided on your book lists! 

Happy Reading!!

 

 

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Setting Reading Goals & Annual Reading Challenges

Now that 2017 is firmly underway, what sort of reading challenge have you set for yourself? Some people struggle to read one book a month and others are like a sponge and cannot find enough books to read. With annual events like Family Literacy Day and Summer Reading Games participating in literacy awareness can be easy. Schools host Book Fairs and the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week as well as many new baby programs now include a free book to families with their newborn packages.  Many libraries in Alberta even offer free library cards; I believe access to libraries and their services should be free across Canada, why not?

When it comes to reading goals, do you include your family in your challenge or just plan it for yourself? I tend to not include my children in my reading goals but I do include any chapter books that I read to them in my yearly book count. My kids do like to participate in our local library’s annual Summer Reading Game and it challenges them to try new types of books and find fun ways to read. Recording your books on a website such like Goodreads is an easy way to keep track of all the titles you have read and helps you track your progress. In addition, Goodreads has book giveaways you can enter to win free books; sometimes just reading through the list of giveaways on Goodreads can spark your interest in a genre that you may not have considered trying before.

@Savvyreader also has a 50 Book Pledge website up and running for 2017 which is another great way to record the books you read this year, write some book reviews and connect with other readers.

I have done a bit of research and people seem to love book challenges that want you to read specific types of books, ie. “read a book written by a Canadian author”. Popsugar has a checklist style book challenge for 2017 which is printable: http://www.popsugar.com/love/Reading-Challenge-2017-42561300. Furthermore, you can record your progress in this challenge and join the group with the many other readers also aspiring to this goal on Goodreads called the Ultimate Popsugar Reading Challenge group.

If you are loyal to very specific genres, you might want to try looking through this website with the “Master List” of reading challenges. This list is sure to have a reading challenge for just about anyone.

For those just starting out and wanting something different, a good starting place is always the Canada Reads Longlist. The 5 finalists from this list are posted on January 31, 2017.

We will all get to a point in our book challenges in 2017 when we are at a loss of what book to try next. I would recommend then turning to some of your favourite authors websites and blogs and see what they are reading. Chances are good that you will also like many of the same books your favourite author is reading and might even find another favourite author to add to your list. Another option is to try to find something local. Has anyone in your city/town recently published a book? You would probably be surprised at how many people you know that will know someone else who has written and published a book. Supporting local authors is important and helps to build a sense of community.

Here is a list of some of recently published books I am looking forward to reading for my 2017 READ50 list:

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Witch Switch by Sibeal Pounder (Arc Book Courtesy of Goodread’s giveaway)

Veiled by Cyana Gaffney (Leduc, AB local author)

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell, #2) by Deanna Raybourn

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

 

 

 

 

 

 

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READ50 2017 to be continued..

READ50 2017 Here I Come!

My list of to-read books for this year is quite short so if anyone has any recommendations let me know! I love book series, Historical Fiction, Cookbooks, Mystery and many other genres so feel free to comment with some recommendations!

Here is my to-read list so far:

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

 

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

 

The Whistler (Whistler, #1) by John Grisham

 

The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe

 

All In (Only One Night, #1) by Simona Ahrnstedt

 

Death of an Avid Reader (Kate Shackelton, #6) by Frances Brody

 

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

 

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig

 

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

 

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell, #2) by Deanna Raybourn

The Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody, #1) by Elizabeth Peters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MY READ50 Finale for 2015!

2015 is all finished and so is my READ50 list for 2015 (full READ50 list http://wp.me/P5G0BQ-m). I am a day behind in getting my post up for my list but here it is! I am looking forward to another year of great books and always appreciate any recommendations from friends.

One of the first books up on my READ12483610_10153688307355700_546424048_n50 list for 2016 is pre-release book I was gifted by author Nikki A. Lamers: The Unforgettable Summer. I will hopefully have a review on it for you soon.  

I am also looking forward to a few reads that I never got to in 2015:

  • The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny, Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella, The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory, and Off The Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha  Van Leer. 

50 ~ What Pet Should I Get by Dr. Seuss

Book #50 of my READ50 for 2015!!!

My daughter was gifted this book at Christmas. It is a Dr. Seuss book which was not published during his lifetime (posthumously, to be grammatically correct). I will give you the one line response from my children once we finished reading it (see below). It will basically explain everything that you will need to know about this book.

But first, I want to explain what was going through my head as I was reading it to my children. The book starts with all sorts of pets that Jay and Kay could get. As I am reading I can’t help but think this book can only end poorly if the kids can only choose ONE pet and they start out already wanting both a dog AND a cat. Someone is going to be upset, either the dog lover or the cat lover, etc. Then you add in a fish and a Yent – of course we all know what a YENT is right? And then things just get very complicated by adding in a hypothetical angry Dad which can also only mean disaster for Jay and Kay (insert visual on Dad mandating time-outs and Jay and Kay having melt-downs). After all of this going through my head while I am reading the story, I am met with a very abrupt and inconclusive ending. I am left feeling undecided about how much I like this book. I know I am not alone in this because I have since watched the faces of many adults as they read What Pet Should I Get? only to laugh and say “I know, right!?!”

And so, I will leave you to my spoiler ending and wish you happy reading for 2016!

***Contains a spoiler.

Tukari and Brynn collectively:
“So, we don’t get to find out what pet they get? That’s dumb.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24968109-what-pet-should-i-get?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

49 ~ A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn (Veronica Speedwell Mystery, Book 1)

My favourite author! I really liked Veronica Speedwell and this seems like a fresh new series for Deanna Raybourn. I did find some of the descriptions to be a bit repetitive. We understand that Veronica is different, unusual etc. but reminding the readers over and over again gets annoying. Otherwise a great fun read and I always look forward to reading Deanna Raybourn’s books. Honestly her novels are some of the only books I have read multiple times.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23160039-a-curious-beginning?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

48 ~ The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series #1)

Tops my fav 5 list for 2015. I can’t wait to read some of the other books in this series. I love mysteries and what is better than a female heroine who is partnered with the famous Sherlock Holmes? I can’t say I have ever REALLY read a book about Sherlock Holmes but I have watched enough TV in my life to understand his character. I enjoyed getting to know Sherlock Holmes from the perspective of Mary. At the young age of 15, Mary becomes Holmes’ apprentice after dazzling him with her intelligence and quick wit. Mary is strong and self-assured but clearly has need of friendship after her family is killed in an accident. Holmes’ takes Mary under his wing and trains her in the art of solving mysteries and how to be a successful detective. Along the way it becomes apparent that Mary and Holmes each have their own strengths and they learn to rely upon each other the most when their lives are at risk. I really appreciate Mary’s desire to learn and take control of her own life while acknowledging that she still needs the guidance and experience of her mentor. Mary is a strong heroine but I also learned a lot about Sherlock Holmes through reading this book. I can’t wait to read more of Mary and Holmes’ adventures in the rest of the books in this series.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/91661.The_Beekeeper_s_Apprentice?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

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The Final Countdown

Happy Holidays! It’s the last month for my 2015 READ50 challenge and I only have 3 more books to go!

I have finished up the last published books in the C.S. Harris series Sebastian St. Cyr. I really enjoyed all of these books. At the core of each of the stories is a little piece of true British and/or French history as well as some conspiracy theories which the author uses as inspiration for her fictional tales. The historical aspects of the novels are what draw me in and the author does a good job at making the events in the story seem historically believable.

I would classify this series as solidly in the Historical Fiction genre but leaning slightly towards Mystery. Romance is not prevalent in the themes of these novels but rather they are mysteries full of revenge, conspiracy and murder. Some threads in the storyline progress very slowly and leave me wishing there was more development to Sebastian and Hero’s characters from novel to novel. I find as a reader I only get tiny bits of what Sebastian and Hero are thinking. Furthermore, Hero plays a very small role in the last few novels. It would be nice if she came more to the forefront in the next book(s) in the series because I think she has the makings of a strong heroine.

C. S. Harris’ next book in the Sebastian St. Cyr series, When Falcons Fall, is scheduled to be published March 01, 2016. If you are looking for a good mystery series I highly recommend these books. For those in the Leduc Public Library system you usually have to request the books as they all seem to be scattered around Alberta rather than one library holding the entire series.

P.S. Random fact: The author C.S. Harris is just a pen name and the author’s real name is Candice Proctor. She also pens under the name C.S. Graham for a Thriller Series. http://www.csharris.net/author.php

47 ~ Who Buries the Dead by C. S. Harris

  • Beheadings, Slave Traders and Murder

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18590094-who-buries-the-dead?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

46 ~ Why King’s Confess by C. S. Harris

  • Lost Dauphin, Peace talks between France and England, French Revolution

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18114102-why-kings-confess?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

45 ~ When Maiden’s Mourn by C. S. Harris

  •  Camelot, Lady of Shallot, Murder of Upper Class Maiden

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11879594-when-maidens-mourn?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

44 ~ Where Shadows Dance by C. S. Harris

  •  International Politics, Natural vs. Unnatural Death, Lies and Diplomacy

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8450509-where-shadows-dance?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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