Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
Genre: YA Dystopia
Expected Publication: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 384

The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan's chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she's destined to become a murderer.

When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.

I really, truly did not know what to expect once I jumped into this novel. I've never read any works by Sophie Jordan and the idea itself for this book was pretty original. Like, really? A killer gene? Sign me up for that! So, yeah. As you can probably tell, I was super excited to read this book. Plus, that cover is pretty sweet looking. And look at her hair! They make little DNA strands!

To begin with, while she had an awesome name, Davy didn't evoke much of an emotional response from me. Now thinking on the book, nothing unique stood out from her in my opinion. But, she wasn't intolerable, and I did like her. She goes from riches and spoils to mistreatment and constant fear and her adaptation to her new situation was interesting to watch.

I always get fired up over mistreatment of others and inequality, and while reading this novel, I was going crazy. It's so sad--and fascinating--to see how people react to something they don't know and ultimately see it as a danger. Those tested positive of having HTS are discriminated, segregated, stripped of their rights, publicly ridiculed, and much more. It was just crazy and scary to read about, to see human nature at its worst. I was angry! How could people do this to one another? Just completely despicable! And because of this, and an interesting plot, I tore through this book.

There's a lot of dynamic to the characters in this book and it kind of makes you wonder: Who are the real monsters? Those with a killer gene (or an excuse for why people are homicidal, in my opinion) or those who dictate who the monsters are? And a great example of one of those dynamic characters would be Sean, who in reality would scare the ever-living bejesus out of me. Like, was he good, was he bad? I don't know but he sure had a nice bod.

Uninvited was a nice surprise. I think I'll read more from this author because I certainly enjoyed this one. Also, she'll be going on the Dark Days tour and I definitely plan on being there! For fans of dystopia or tales of the oppressed, I think this will make a great read.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Avalon by Mindee Arnett

Avalon by Mindee Arnett
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Expected Publication: January 17th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Page Count: 432

A ragtag group of teenage mercenaries who crew the spaceship Avalon stumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten the entire galaxy in this fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi adventure from author Mindee Arnett.

Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they're damn good at it. Jeth doesn't care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents' ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he'll go to get the freedom he's wanted for so long.

Avalon is the perfect fit for teens new to sci-fi as well as seasoned sci-fi readers looking for more books in the YA space-and a great match for fans of Joss Whedon's cult hit show Firefly.

 *A review copy was provided from the publisher*

So this book just so happened to appear when I needed it most. I absolutely love everything sci-fi. I harbor so much love for anything that involves space. And I've been thinking lately to myself "Where's a new and different sci-fi novel out there?" And then this one was like "Heeeeyyy". So, yes, this novel came at a very convenient time.

I didn't absolutely love Jeb, but he was a pretty cool guy. Even though he was technically some delinquent and thief and stuff, he was a good guy that would do anything for his family, friends, and his ship, Avalon. But still, I didn't connect with him on any level. I also didn't find him to be that much of a dynamic character, but he wasn't intolerable. He was just kind of there as the story was told and I can't help but think that the disconnection was caused by the novel being written in third person.

Another little bone to pick was the insta-romance. Okay, it wasn't more of an instant romance than it was instant random crush. I don't know about you, but I don't randomly start crushing on a person whom I barely know about. I just didn't buy it, especially in the situation that they were all in. Every time said crush feels would be mentioned, I'd just groan internally because I found it to be a wee bit on the rushed side.

But I did enjoy the book a lot! If you don't focus on the characters but stay into the plot and all the shit that's going down, this novel was pretty darn cool! Like, unexplainable things are happening and plots are getting twisty before you even know it and none of it was in the least (in my opinion) that predictable and once you got into that, the book's pages flew by. It is very original, from the repertoire of books I've read, and I was a content reader.

Avalon was the perfect mix of Firefly and total coolness and I recommend that everyone pick up this book sometime. The pace was quick and those four hundred or so pages flew by. I cannot wait to read the next installment! There's so much I want to know about this world still!

4 Splashes

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Unhinged by A. G Howard

Unhinged by A. G Howard
Genre: YA Fairytale Spinoff
Expected Publication: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: Amulet
Page Count: 384

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she'll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

Hosting a Splintered read-along was probably one of the best decisions I've made this year. I'd been lusting for it, what with the beautiful cover, and I just couldn't wait to read it. And now, after a few months, I've been given the opportunity to be apart of Krazy Book Lady's ARC tour of Unhinged and I am a happy book blogger.

Soooo, Alyssa bothers in the aspect that she's always doubting her childhood friend Morpheus. This also could be due to the fact that I'm Team Morpheus all the way, but Al's manner in the way that she treats Morpheus has always bothered me. However, she is such a dynamic character. Being in her position, I wouldn't know what world I belonged to either. Save a bunch of crazies in this unfamiliar land or save the lives of those you know and consider normal? So, I mean, I have to give her some credit and having half the mind for doubting an inhabitant of Wonderland, but I still think she acted a little poorly.

WOAH. I have to say that this was a great sequel to Splintered. I have to admit that I had no idea where the author could have brought the next book. All I knew was that I wanted another. The plot thickens when Alyssa has to decide which world to save and be a part of. Troubles definitely get more troublesome when some certain characters *ahem* Red *ahem* just won't go away.

So I loved the growing relationships between Alyssa and her mom and Alyssa and Morpheus. We really didn't get to know Alyssa's mom very well in the first book and, in this one, readers get an inside look at the not-crazy mother. And I cannot tell you how much I was swooning over Morpheus in this book. You're perfect, moth boy!

One thing that really distinguishes A. G Howard from other authors out there in the world is her writing. Beautifully vivid and dark. Her original spin on a favorite fairytale of mine and her incredible writing made the perfect recipe for me. I always feel like I'm being transported into Alyssa's story once I open her books. Sometimes I feel like I'm missing that originality in pieces nowadays, sadly.

Unhinged was a great addition to the Splintered series and I absolutely cannot wait for the next one. I am totally flipping out over that ending! And if you've not read Splintered yet, I highly suggest you do. With gorgeously descriptive writing, a dark mood, a fast pace, a twisty plot, and Morpheus, it'll make a great read for anyone. 

5 Splashes

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (6)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews where bloggers get to share what pretties they've acquired recently.

So, yeah. I definitely haven't done one of these in a while. And what with me at Comic Con in October, I procured many books. And then I also went on a requesting spree over at Edelweiss, so thanks to them, I'll be kept busy with these many beautiful titles!

For Review:

[All links lead to Goodreads]

*procured from Comic Con

And that's all! Whew. So, what pretties has everyone else gotten? Link me up!

Friday, November 29, 2013

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
Genre: YA Mystery
Expected Publication: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 384

Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 688) is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.

Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary (which Ruth’s mother had asked her to read in order to redact any, you know, sex parts), sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer.

*A review copy was provided from the publisher for me to review*

Never in my life have I met a character like Kippy Bushman. And never in my life have I ever related more and found humor in the awkward behavior as in this book. Kippy Bushman, if she were an animal, would definitely be my spirit animal, okay? Many books have tried and failed to accomplish the awkward trope, making the character more cute than awkward, which has always bothered me. Like, no one barely reacts to something awkward that a character does, and if that character were me, I would have been given hell over it. Kippy was absolutely awkward it was perfect. And I totally got it, too. And she was so determined, too, in everything that she did. She definitely wasn't a dull character.

I can't tell you the last time I read a murder mystery novel. It certainly has been a while. Usually, you don't see teenagers gallivanting around town as they try to pick up clues, because let's face it, teenagers aren't going to be the ones to solve murders or be taken seriously. So, obviously, it's not a realistic genre for YA. However, with a strange balance brought to you by the author, the whole clue-searching thing didn't seem all too far fetched.

I was pretty much hooked right from where Kippy accidentally puts salt instead of sugar in cookies meant for the reception after her best friend's funeral. Right from there I knew that I would absolutely enjoy this novel. And not all of Kippy's story is light, fluffy, and awkward. There's a lot of emotions and darkness. A lot of the characters are pretty messed up. Kippy's still emotionally unstable from her mother's death,  Davey Bushman, Ruth's older brother, has PTSD, and being that they're not the norm is this small town, they've almost been exiled. And it's fascinating to see all the dynamic of it all.

I was definitely kept guessing throughout the novel. I became wrapped up in Kippy's emotional tale and along with the dark humor, this novel easily became one of my favorites of the year. Kathleen Hale is a debut author, and while her first book doesn't come out until January 7th, I'm hungering for other works by her.

4.5 Splashes

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Warrior by Ellen Oh

Warrior by Ellen Oh
Genre: YA Fantasy
Expected Publication: December 31st, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 327

First an outcast, now a hero.

But her fight rages on.

Kira, the yellow-eyed demon slayer who fiercely protected her kingdom—and the crown prince—has been proclaimed the Dragon Musado of the prophecy. With the defeated the evil shaman.

But it wasn’t enough.

Hansong is in chaos. The Demon Lord’s minions have infiltrated the city, treason is brewing among the military ranks, and Kira is buried by the overwhelming loss of her parents. She’s also plagued by the annoying feelings that blossom whenever she’s around Jaewon. But she is determined that nothing will stop her from finding the second treasure needed to fulfill the Dragon King’s prophecy. Not even the army of half-breed demons hot on their trail. If only she could learn to trust others…

Her father always said one person can change the world. Will it be Kira?

*An advanced copy was provided for me to review*

I thrive for anything imaginative, new, and epically badass.  And yay for me, I found all these elements in Ellen Oh's Dragon King Chronicles. Since when do you get to find a book series that focuses on Asian culture rather than more of a European/white dominant one? Or one that doesn't focus on a romance or turn primarily into one? I don't think I've read anything like these books, which is the best thing ever.

I truly love Kira. She's a very consistent character who does, while it might not seem like it since she's such an experienced fighter and mature character in general, learn valuable lessons. She's such a strong and noble character who doesn't enjoy moping around too much (which tends to be a popular trend in strong YA characters. I love emotional breakdowns, but I despise constant moping.) I also love how much Kira values her family! She'd do anything for them and her friends, which basically is almost a majority of the plot, besides the whole find-the-prophecy-treasures thing.

I can already see how people will be discontent with the lack of romance, but to me it's perfection. To begin with, I'm not big on romance, but for Kira, she's not either. She experiences love through her family and she's completely inexperienced when it comes to loving *whispers* boy-men. So when she does find a boy-man, she doesn't know what to do or how to act and she doesn't like that. Also, she doesn't need some significant other to lean on, and for her to suddenly fall in love would be uncharacteristic and, in my opinion, would ruin the plot. And with what little the author has given us, not only do I want more for later on, but I ship them harder!

Warrior is almost like the show Supernatural, what with the demons taking over and going all apocalyptic on all the humans. And Kira and her buds must braves these dangers to save the world, essentially, while many don't believe what is happening or believe in Kira, for that matter. I enjoy how the plot (not only for its somewhat Supernatural elements) is set and with it's quick pace, I flew through the pages and was finished with the book in under a day. 

The Dragon King's Prophecy will possibly always be a favorite series of mine. Oh transports readers right into a Korean fantasy setting, with rich culture and interesting characters. Kira poses as a strong and independent character that doesn't come off as the cliche martyr of the story. And with Warrior's ending, I'm left wanting more. So obviously, I can't wait to see what happens next and I hope that others will enjoy this book as much as I did.

5 Splashes

Friday, October 25, 2013

Unbreathable by Hasfah Laziaf {Guest Post + Giveaway}

Unbreathable by Hafsah Laziaf
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publication: October 29th
Publisher: Self Published
Page Count: 379

One hundred and fifty years ago, Earth was destroyed, and the remaining humans fled to the dusty red planet of Jutaire, where the only oxygen is manufactured, food is scarce, and death strikes often.

When Lissa's father discovers Earth still exists, she accidentally inhales the toxic air of Jutaire, and in one breath, discovers she isn't quite human.

Her father hangs for his discovery, and Lissa knows the Chancellors will come for her, for she saw the Earth that night too. With nothing to lose, she sets out to expose the truth. It isn't long before she meets Julian, a beautiful boy who can breathe the toxic air like she can - and shows her that the Jute, the original inhabitants of the planet, are more tangled in their lives than she knows.

But the Chancellors are only pawns in a greater game - one where the Jute control everything. Worse, the Jute plan to leave Jutaire for Earth, but to get there, they need her. And they'll stop at nothing until Lissa is in their clutches, even if they kill every human in the process.

The race for Earth has begun.

Unbreathable is a tale of love, redemption, and sacrifice, and one girl's struggle to find her place in a world where she doesn't belong.

About Hafsah
Hafsah Laziaf was born on the east coast on a hot summer day in 1993, raised on the west coast and is now stuck in the middle – in Texas – with more books than she can read. She’s the designer behind IceyDesigns and the blogger behind IceyBooks. 
UNBREATHABLE is her debut novel

I'm so glad to be a part of the tour! Today, I'll be sharing a guest post from the lovely Hafsah and a giveaway. I hope that you will pick up and enjoy this book as much as I did! Review will come sometime next week.

 Self Publishing vs. The Traditional Publishing Route

The best decision I've ever made also happens to be the one I never wanted to make.

When I first started writing, I had this weird notion that I would easily find an agent and a publisher.  Of course, I had no idea how publishing worked. I had no idea it wouldn't happen.

Fast forward three novels later, when I had just finished writing UNBREATHABLE, I had the notion again. This time, I knew I had something 'magical', as a friend likes to say. But I had accumulated hundreds of rejections for my past novels and I wasn't ready to be optimistic.

So I sent out a batch of five queries in September of 2012 and waited a few hours. Then sent another. And another.

15 queries were out for 1 week before I started getting requests. Not from any agent either - from several top agents I never dreamed of signing with.

In the end of my one-month querying period, I had gotten 15 requests. A few of them responded with rejections. A few never responded to this day. And yet another few asked for revisions.

I was ecstatic, of course. I had been writing for two years with countless rejections based on my query alone. But here were some, not one, but SOME, agents asking me to revise it? And resubmit it? That they really liked the concept and wanted this fixed and that changed?


Fast forward a few months later, January of 2013. I sent the revised manuscript in. And the rejections started trickling in. Why? They never said.

But UNBREATHABLE never left. It lingered. I loved the story so much. But I loved it even more because of the response I received from my early readers and then real, actual agents.

The rejections left me devastated. But it made me wonder WHY it happened. And the more I researched, the more I noticed how difficult and competitive the YA science fiction market had become. And how in two years, YA science fiction set in space would be a thing of the past.

At the same time, a friend had just self-published her own novel, and was encouraging me to do the same. But I was one of those people who frowned at taking that route. Who was terrified at being alone - no agent, no editor, no gigantic company backing me up.

But the more I thought about it, the more logical the idea seemed. Yet, I was terrified.
So before I could change my mind, I sat down and wrote an announcement post at 11PM and went to bed. The post went up at 6AM and I spent the whole night regretting it, worrying over it, and finally, stressing over the outcome.

But since 6AM that day, I haven't regretted my decision once.

And now for the giveaway! There will be two winners! The paperback will be US while the ebook will be international.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 23, 2013

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Genre: YA Post-Apocolyptic
Expected Publication: September 24th, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Page Count: 320

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

Oh. My. God. Where do I even begin with this book? It absolutely surpassed my expectations and blew me away. If the colourful cover doesn't draw you in, the premise for the novel better.

I'm all for strong female leads. I love them more than I can describe. They're kickass and don't over analyze petty things likes their appearance. Like Katniss, Lynn is a strong and tough character. She's killed people to protect her water source and basically her life and isn't afraid to do it again. Her character growth throughout the book is something you'd have to read for yourself it's so good, too. It's also believable. Being someone who hasn't interacted with anyone else but her mother, she's weary of others and I'm glad to see that carry throughout the book, even though she does change significantly by the end of the book.

So there isn't anything fluffy about this book, either. It's gritty and dark and sepulchral and dangerous. There is no point when Lynn is completely safe, even if she is hunkered down in her basement. This book went down a plot that I wasn't expecting, but I still loved it. I've always wanted to read a dystopian where it truly had a dark and gritty feel to it. You get it occasionally, like in The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa, but it's not very often where the mood is convincing to the story.

Also, I've always kind of had a tiff with these kind of dystopian books where the main character practically ends up finding their soul mate. I personally don't think out of the very little humans left on earth that you are going to find your lover for life on a whim when society is crumbling and there are little to none people you can trust. So I liked how there wasn't really any romance in this book--loved it, really. Don't get me wrong; I love my romance. But when something like that seems uncharacteristic of the character or unnecessary or unbelievable to the plot, I don't see a reason for it.

I whizzed through this book in less than a day. I just couldn't put it down. I think that this book definitely places as one of my favorite books of the year and I don't even like dystopians as much as other people seem to. Just not that crazy over it. I would definitely recommend this to both non-dystopian and dystopian readers alike. Circling mainly around the main character Lynn, Not a Drop to Drink is a great tale about love, sacrifice, death, loyalty, and survival.

4.5 Splashes

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Girls in YA {Discussion Post}


Is it just me, or is it that almost every time I open a book, the main heroine has a problem with her physical appearance? Don't get me wrong. Being a teenager myself and a girl, I do notice that type of self-consciousness in others and in myself. It's not even out fault for thinking this way, either, but maybe YA is playing that out that stigma too much?

Growing up, girls will always worry about how they look. It's been hardwired into our brains that if we don't look like that DD-cup bombshell beauty with perfectly applied makeup and skinny limbs, we're not what's considered beautiful or hot, sexy, and very attractive. It's not our fault. But I don't think that this is every girl's main priority worry growing up through adolescence. I may just be speaking for myself, but, never have I felt truly insecure about my image 24/7. And, unless my friends haven't told me, neither do they care so much, either.

What I can't stand in YA books is that readers obviously know that this leading heroine is attractive and smart and talented in some way. We know this because 1) There's a love triangle. And let's face it, if the girl's got game, she's doing something right, or 2) When have we ever watched a successful movie where the leading and super hot hero love interest is interested in someone who isn't attractive? Never. To me, there is no definition between what is considered attractive and what is not, but all media focus on a certain kind of attractive. And this also includes books. 

I'm not blaming authors and I'm not bashing books. I love books and I love authors. But what I think is that we need more female characters that are more confident in their appearance. This, meaning that the main girl can be all geeky and awkward and socially inept, but know that she is pretty and smart and in command of who she is.

Do I think I'm attractive? Uhhh, yes and no. I find that I am too skinny and my hair is flat and boring. I don't think that my face or body is all that stunning, but not only is it not a major issue for me, but I also am confident in who I am in some ways. I never wear makeup. Mainly, it's because I'm lazy and don't like makeup, but I also know that I don't look that unattractive without it. I don't consider myself to be pretty, but I think I'm cute. And that's what counts. Also, within the six years of high school I've been in, two boys have admitted that they had a crush on me. While that may not be all that impressive, it proves that I'm not all that ugly. I mean, there must be something that's physically appealing about my face that others see as well, along with my personality.

Instead of sending this message out to young girls that read YA that it's okay to think you're unattractive because, someday, your handsome prince will come and sweep you away, let's do something else. To me, this just makes the main heroine look like she's fishing for compliments and is in complete denial when her potential boyfriend insists that she is beautiful. While this idea has many perks (like relating to all those other girls that don't think that she's attractive and is a great technique for making character growth), it also has its downfalls, because this, in some ways, makes that girl look weak and a damsel, when in all actuality, that character's not because she ends up saving the day in the end. 

What I think should happen with girls in YA is: make those girls confident in who she is right from the very start. What YA books are teaching the younger demographic is that it is okay to not like her body or her face because eventually, some guy will see the true beauty within her. That's not good! And to think I almost fell for this, too! Women shouldn't have to wait for the man. Women can be confident and women can be in control and women of all kinds can be pretty. I think I see this trend more in dystopia of female confidence than I do in, say, contemporary or paranormal. Perhaps this is why dystopia is a growing, popular genre?

Maybe I'm speaking nonsense here, but it's what has been on my mind. What are your thoughts? Do you think this is true? Do you disagree? Tell me what you think!
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