Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Current Happenings...



I really need to try and do a monthly personal update on here so that there is a little more depth to this lovely blog. So lately we have been finishing up house projects and planning for spring. We have a lot we want to do outside this spring so we plan while it is snowy outside. 

So here are a few things that have been happening this month:

I have been reading some excellent new fiction as many of my favorite authors have new releases this time of year. In particular was the Curse of Misty Wayfair and it really got me thinking about mental health. I might need to do a post on this topic one day. 

Exodus has been interesting to read as has Proverbs. There are so many details that I never noticed in Exodus before and it is amazing that no matter how many times I read a passage I tend to learn something new. 

I survived an entire day without coffee or caffeine! *Gasp* I love coffee but I have noticed that it is better for me to slow down on the caffeine intake. 


Before and After































We put a new floor in our living room. Out with the old carpet and in with new vinyl plank flooring! It looks great and is so much nicer with the dogs. 


I have been drinking more NingXia Red from Young Living. It is full of antioxidants and really is very good for you. I have also been using Thieves essential oil to ward off the germs. 



Figuring out our garden and where to put it and what to grow. This is so fun but being a new place makes it a challenge to start fresh.



We made a short visit to see family in the mountains where there was lovely snow. We even got a sled ride in a couple of times. 


 My mother in law got me this Southern Living Slow-Cooker Suppers special edition magazine. It has some of the best recipes! I have a lot of cookbooks but this little gem is a surprise. 

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/specialfeatures/victoria-s3-everything-you-need-to-know/#


Victoria Season 3 started this month so of course we had to re-watch the first two seasons.  We are slightly obsessed. If you like history you will enjoy it. 

 So there is a small tidbit of life in January. Thanks for reading! :)




Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Secrets at Cedar Cabin Review






About the Book


From USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble comes the third book in her beloved Lavender Tides series. 

Her mother lied about her identity and her husband wasn’t who she thought he was—can Bailey even trust herself anymore?

Running for her life in the wake of her mother’s murder, Bailey Fleming escapes to the only place she can think of—a remote, dilapidated cabin in Lavender Tides. Intending to finally get to the truth behind the lies of her past, Bailey only finds more questions when bodies are discovered near her cabin hideout along with traces of a dangerous human trafficking ring. In an unlikely partnership with FBI agent Lance Phoenix, Bailey races to understand the mystery surrounding her life and circumstances before the murderer tracks her down. 

Meanwhile, Lance is determined to rescue his sister, Ava, who was abducted after running away from home as a teenager. An unexpected lead brings him to the remote cabin, and he wonders if Bailey—with her suspicious past and strange connections to his sister’s case—is really who she claims to be and if she can somehow lead him to Ava. 

Filled with Colleen Coble's custom blend of suspense and romance, Secrets at Cedar Cabin takes us back to the evocative landscape of Washington's coast where nothing is quite as it seems. (Goodreads)


My Thoughts

Well I have read most of Colleen's suspense so I was happy to pick up her latest. The first part of the book had me interested. I was curious how the characters would play out and such. The book really slowed down for me about halfway into it. I didn't find it to be as suspenseful as some of her previous books. The topic of sex trafficking is important and I think it is something people tend to forget about or pretend it isn't relevant. I appreciated that Colleen brought up tough subjects. I just didn't love this book and had a difficult time getting to the end. But if you are a Coble fan you should pick this book up and decide for yourself. I do still look forward to her next book as I know how talented of an author she is from reading so many of her previous novels. 

Three stars.

"I received this book from BookLook for free. All opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review. " 




Top Ten Tuesday: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List

Today's Top Ten Tuesday!


I haven't added very many books it would seem recently but there are plenty on the list! 
 


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Monday, January 28, 2019

Castle on the Rise Review

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 About the Book

A storied castle. A band of rebels. And a nation chasing the centuries-old dream of freedom . . . What legacy will they leave behind?

When Laine Forrester travels to France to attend her longtime friend's vineyard wedding, she expects to find a bride on the brink of a fairy-tale life. But after a series of unforeseen setbacks--a devastating diagnosis, a castle restoration put on hold, and the emergence of deep-seated family dynamics that threaten to derail the new couple's fledgling marriage--it seems the storybook life Laine had imagined for her friend--and once, for herself--is suddenly crumbling before her eyes.

With hopes of resurrecting a happy ending for one of them, Laine throws support behind her friend and agrees to accompany the couple to the groom's family home in Ireland, where the merging of a mysterious inheritance, long-buried wounds, and a fractured family set out to upend the trip from the start. It's in the unlikely corners of a historic Dublin pub, and across the wide-open moors bordering Ireland's majestic Wicklow Mountains, that Laine is slowly drawn in by the land and the people, sparking hope for something she never imagined possible: the courage to heal. But with secrets of her own--and a heart afraid to trust again--Laine must determine how much she's willing to risk in mending the broken places within herself, and whether she believes that even through the depths of our pain, a beautiful story can emerge.

Set in three time-periods--the revolutionary era of the late eighteenth century, Ireland's turbulent Easter week of the 1916 Rising, and present day--Castle on the Rise weaves a story of legacy, conviction, and redemption against the backdrop of Dublin's storied streets, and the stretch of Ireland's stunning emerald shores. It raises the question: given the choice between the fairy tale or a life of truly anchored faith--which legacy would you choose? (Goodreads)

My Thoughts

Kristy has such a unique writing style and her books hold a lot of depth. Like the previous novel, this story has a lot going on with three different story lines. I really enjoy multiple time line books but there are times when I think it can just be too much. I liked this overall story but honestly at times I thought there was too much going on between all of the characters and timelines. My favorite was the present day story and I thought those particular characters well developed. The setting of course is wonderful and I would love to visit such a place. I think it is fun that Kristy actually got to visit Ireland to research this book! I am eager to read the next novel, and if you wish to be swept up into an Irish adventure, you will enjoy this book. 

Four stars. 
"I received this book from the publisher for free. All opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review."
















Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Just Read Tours: With This Pledge Review and Giveaway

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Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander, the first full novel of the Carnton series, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

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Title: With This Pledge

Series: Carnton, Book 1  
Author: Tamera Alexander  
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: January 8, 2019  
Genre: Historical Romance  

History takes on vivid life in the stunning first full-length installment of USA TODAY bestselling Tamera Alexander’s new series, The Carnton Novels.  

What can a woman—a mere governess—do against the scourge of slavery?

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Clouston’s quietly held principles oppose those of the Southern Cause—but when forty thousand soldiers converge on the fields of Franklin, Tennessee, the war demands an answer. The Carnton home where she is governess is converted into a Confederate field hospital, and Lizzie is called upon to assist the military doctor with surgeries that determine life or death. Faced with the unimaginable, she must summon fortitude, even as she fears for the life of Towny, her fiancĂ© and lifelong friend.

As a young soldier lies dying in Lizzie’s arms, she vows to relay his final words to his mother, but knows little more than the boy’s first name. That same night, decorated Mississippi sharpshooter Captain Roland Ward Jones extracts a different promise from Lizzie: that she intervene should the surgeon decide to amputate his leg.

Lizzie is nothing if not a woman of her word, earning the soldiers’ respect as she tends to the wounded within Carnton’s walls. None is more admiring than Captain Jones, who doesn’t realize she is pledged to another. But as Lizzie’s heart softens toward the Confederate captain, she discovers that his moral ground is at odds with her own. Now torn between love, principles, and promises made, she struggles to be true to her heart while standing for what she knows is right—no matter the cost.

From the pages of history and the personal accounts of those who endured the Battle of Franklin, Tamera Alexander weaves the real-life love letters between Captain Roland Ward Jones and Miss Elizabeth Clouston into a story of unlikely romance first kindled amid the shadows of war.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | CBD | Book Depository

EXCERPT

Head HERE for an exclusive excerpt!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Tamera Alexander is a USA Today bestselling novelist whose works have been awarded and nominated for numerous industry-leading honors, including the Christy Award (two-time winner, seven-time finalist), the RITA Award (two-time winner, four-time finalist), the Carol Award, the Maggie Award, the Booksellers Best Award, and Library Journal's top distinction, among others. After seventeen years in Colorado, Tamera and her husband now reside in Nashville, Tennessee, where they live a short distance from Belmont Mansion and Belle Meade Plantation, the setting of Tamera’s two USA Today bestselling Southern series.  

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

TOUR GIVEAWAY

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(1) winner will win a release copy of With This Pledge + $10 Amazon Gift Card

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight January 14, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm January 28, 2019. US only for a print copy of the book. International winners will receive an ebook. Gift card prize will be issued as an e-gift card. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.



Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.
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 My Thoughts

I think that Tamera Alexander is a terrific author. With this being the start of a new series I was thrilled to get my hands on this book! I thought the character development was really well done throughout the story line. There is a ton of history, and it isn't a terribly fast moving book but not boring by any means. I didn't know much about this location and the Civil War so I found that side of things to be really interesting. It is incredible what people can endure and that so many of our ancestors witnessed some pretty horrific things. This book isn't easy and it is pretty graphic when it comes to battle wounds. I love that this is a real story and setting. I need to visit so I can see Carnton myself. The romance was very well done and I just loved all of the characters. This is a great book for history lovers! Five stars. 

"I received this book from the publisher for free. All opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review."













 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Curse of Misty Wayfair Review





About the Book

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother--who is battling dementia--compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns--and with it, Heidi's fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined? (Goodreads)


My Thoughts

Jaime has such a unique way of writing suspense. I have read her previous two books but this one was a tad different. I think the creepiness was stronger in this book but also perhaps a deeper storyline. I loved all of the characters and both storylines. Dual timelines are my favorite and they read together nicely. I loved how Jaime created characters that are out of the ordinary because real people are all different. I love how she makes the reader see beyond the appearance of a person or personality traits. She gives you a deeper look into who they actually are as a person on the inside. God made people unique and this book really brings it home in reminding us that. 
I highly recommend reading this in the daylight or when you are not alone. : ) 

Five stars!

"Thanks to Bethany House for giving me a free copy. All opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review." 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018

I typically read many new-to-me authors each year. Here are ten I came up with that I read in 2018. Thanks for stopping by for another Top Ten Tuesday!



Nicole Deese
Nicole Deese



Jaime Jo Wright
Jaime Jo Wright


Lindsay Harrel
Lindsay Harrel

Patti Callahan
Patti Callahan



Delia Owens
Delia Owens


Sarah    Clarkson
Sarah Clarkson



Cindy R. Wilson
Cindy R. Wilson



Erin  Bartels
Erin Bartels

Simone St. James

Simone St. James

Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman

Sunday, January 13, 2019

In the Shadow of Croft Towers Review

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 About the Book

From debut author Abigail Wilson comes a mysterious Regency tale of secrets and spies, love and treachery.

Orphaned Sybil Delafield jumps at the opportunity for a position at the mysterious Croft Towers. She believes she was hired to act as companion to a dying woman, but a highway robbery and a hostile welcome from the Chalcroft family cause her to wonder if she was actually hired to help someone spy for France.

An unsolved murder adds intrigue to this already secretive family, and Sybil recognizes Mrs. Chalcroft’s handsome grandson as one of the infamous highwaymen who robbed her. Sybil must determine if this man's charming smile and earnest eyes speak the truth or if he is simply using her like others in the house. Everyone seems to have something to hide, and Sybil must decide who to trust while also coming to terms with the truth about her own past. (Goodreads)



My Thoughts

This is an outstanding debut! I was fully engrossed by this story I couldn't put it down. I loved the characters and Sinclair is now a favorite hero of mine. The best part of the story was all of the mystery surrounding every single person in the book. I love a good mystery that you can't solve within the first few chapters. While there was a constant intrigue there was also some rather humorous parts that had me giggling. The romance was very well done and not over the top all while being swoon-worthy. This book reminded me a bit of a Julie Klassen novel. Needless to say this was a wonderful read and I am eager to get my hands on Abigail's next book!

FIVE STARS

"I received this book from BookLook Bloggers for free. All opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review."











Chosen for Christ Review


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 About the Book

Do you long to know your unique purpose? Do you feel you have a calling but wonder how to fulfill it?

As we pursue a sense of purpose and scramble to be the ones chosen for internships, graduate schools, marriages, careers, or some special honor, we often tie our identity to people, places, and clear plans that leave us frustrated and unfulfilled. We feel like we’re missing the life we’re supposed to live and we somehow veered off course. We ask questions like, “Is this God’s plan for me? How do I know? What is His plan, anyway?” What if Scripture not only answered these questions but also taught us an entirely new way of living? Instead of waiting for the perfect person, place, or plan, what if we lived, above all else, as chosen for Christ?

Chosen for Christ invites you to step into the life you’ve been missing. You were chosen for a Person, not a plan. Now it’s time to live out your calling to:



worship Jesus

live as His treasured possession

belong to a new household

become like Jesus

display God’s power

complete the good works He designed for you

live differently from the rest of the world
In a world fixated on personal purpose and impact, Chosen for Christ presents a new way to think about calling. Each chapter includes discussion questions that will help women embrace their identity as chosen ones and step into a new way of living each new day.

Chosen for Christ completes Heather Holleman’s vivid verbs trilogy, which also includes Seated with Christ and Guarded by Christ. It works wonderfully as a stand-alone book or as a powerful companion to her previous works. It also provides an expansion of ideas that appear briefly in Holleman’s devotional Included in Christ. (Goodreads)




My Thoughts

This book was a tad difficult for me to get completely into. Non-fiction is tricky and while there are some nuggets of truth and good in this book, it wasn’t as I was expecting. There is some great encouragement in a few chapters but a few times I felt like the issue discussed was made more complicated and confusing. I enjoyed the fun stories that were added in those always add more depth. Perhaps some more Bible verses on each topic would have been good too.
 
Three stars.

"Thanks to Moody Publishers for offering me a free copy. All opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review."










Thursday, January 10, 2019

Flights of Fancy Review and Tour with Celebrate Lit


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About the Book

Flights of Fancy
Title: Flights of Fancy
Author: Jen Turano

Genre: Christian Historical Romance, Gilded Age
Release date: January 1, 2019
Publisher: Bethany House
Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she’s always known and finds herself to be an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.
Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely on his own merits. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he’s unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner.
Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when mysterious incidents on the farm and the truth of Isadora’s secret threaten those they love, they’ll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance at happy-ever-after.

Click here to order your copy!

About the Author

Jen Turano
Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO.

Guest post from Jen

Q & A With Jen Turano

“Flights of Fancy” is the first book in the American Heiress Series. What inspired you to write this series?
The inspiration for this entire series started off with a What If? All of my proposals for new series start off that way, and this time it was – What if Consuelo Vanderbilt had balked when her mother insisted she marry the Duke of Marlborough – and then that led to – What if she’d run away until her mother came to her senses? Just like that, an entire series was born – a bit of a different take on American heiresses because in all three books, my heiresses might decide to go a tad…rogue. We start off with Miss Isadora Delafield – who does run off to avoid marriage to a duke, then we get to meet Miss Poppy Garrison, who is an unexpected heiress but who can’t quite seem to get a handle on the expected social decorum of the day, and then the final book revolves around Miss Beatrix Waterbury – who gets banished to Chicago after she annoys her mother one too many times, and once there, well, gets up to a bit of mischief.

How do you come up with the names of your characters?
I find most of my names as I research the New York Four-Hundred, although I normally take a first name here, a last name there so I’m not stepping on any toes by writing about an actual historical figure – except for some of the main figures in New York society back then, such as Mr. Ward McAllister – who was the social arbiter of the day, or Mrs. William Astor, who was the queen of that society. What I don’t do is simply make up names, no matter how outrageous they may appear. And, no matter how I may love a certain name, if the character decides it doesn’t suit them, that’s it, it’s out and I’m back to the drawing board.

How do you picture your character? Do you use Pinterest, magazines, movies?
Odd as this may seem, I don’t use pictures for my characters. They start off in my mind as a blurry figure, and then, they develop from there – I like to keep my descriptions of them somewhat vague on the pages so that the reader can imagine them exactly the way they’d like them to be.

What are some of your favorite resources for historical research?
I’ve been building up a research library over the past few years and now have over 200 books dedicated to the Gilded Age. My favorites are – “A Season of Splendor” by Greg King, “Society as I Have Found It” by Ward McAllister, “The Gilded Age in New York – 1870-1910” by Esther Crain, and “ ‘King Lehr’ and the Gilded Age” by Elizabeth Drexel Lehr.

The setting for “Flights of Fancy” is a bit of a departure for you since it’s set in and outside of Pittsburgh. Any reason for that?
My mom was born in Pittsburgh, and unfortunately, her father, a prominent attorney back in the day, died when she was only four. I thought it would be cool to set a story in Pittsburgh, which would then allow me to really dive into some research. And get this – while I was doing that research, I found this obscure journal called “Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. In that journal was a bit about my great-grandfather, Fred, his wife, Susie, my grandfather, and his brother and sister, but I’d never heard about this brother, who apparently died quite young. One of the most fabulous research tidbits I’ve uncovered to date.

What are you working on now?
I’ve just recently turned in the content edits for the second book in this series, “Diamond in the Rough,” and I’ve also turned in a novella about the Harvey Girls that will be coming out in a novella collection in Fall, 2019. With those out of the way, I’m now starting the third and final book in the American Heiress series, Miss Beatrix Waterbury’s story, but I’m having a bit of a struggle with the hero at the moment – he was supposed to be Edward, but he doesn’t want to be an Edward – I think he wants to be Norman – but, time will tell on that one – don’t hold me to the name – it’ll depend on if he changes his mind or not – pesky characters.

You seem to enjoy adding animals in many of your stories. Will we find any animals in “Flights of Fancy?”
Since Miss Isadora Delafield ends up on a farm, I do believe you will find a few animals, such as an adorable cow by the name of Buttercup, a few goats that seem to have a great liking for laundry, and…there might be some chickens.

Thanks for stopping by today, everyone! Always enjoy visiting with all of you – in fact, that’s the best part of my job!
All the best,
~ Jen ~

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, January 10
Among the Reads, January 10
Through the Fire, January 10
To Everything A Season, January 10
Reflections From My Bookshelves, January 11
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 11
Blogging With Carol, January 11
Southern Gal loves to Read, January 11
Back Porch Reads, January 12
KarenSueHadley, January 12
Godly Book Reviews, January 12
Daysong Refections, January 12
Livin Lit, January 13
The Christian Fiction Girl, January 13
The Becca Files, January 13
Texas Book-aholic, January 13
Rebekah’s Quill, January 14
Blossoms and Blessings, January 14
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, January 14
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 14
All-of-a-kind Mom, January 15
Just the Write Escape, January 15
Stories By Gina, January 15
God’s Little Bookworm, January 16
The Meanderings of a Bookworm, January 16
Splashes of Joy, January 16
Janices book reviews, January 16
Happily Managing A Household of Boys, January 17
Mary Hake, January 17
Maureen’s Musings, January 17
Bibliophile Reviews, January 17
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 18
Baker Kella, January 18
Simple Harvest Reads, January 18 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 19
Captive Dreams Window, January 19
Robin is Bookish, January 19
Carpe Diem, January 19
Have A Wonderful Day, January 20
Life with the Tribe, January 20
Inklings and Notions, January 20
Rachel’s Back Talk, January 21
Inspiration Clothesline, January 21
amandainpa, January 21
A Baker’s Perspective, January 21
Locks, Hooks and Books, January 22
Pause for Tales, January 22
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, January 22
Raining Butterfly Kisses, January 23
Live Love Read, January 23
A Rup Life, January 23
Bigreadersite, January 23

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away a grand prize of a trunk filled with all of Jen’s full-length novels released to date!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
GIVEAWAY

My Thoughts

I have been a long time reader of Jen Turano. Her books are full of humor and awkward moments that make you laugh out loud. This book is the first in a new series and it is fun to see how she takes a character from privilege to a housekeeper. I enjoyed the setting and the overall idea but I had a hard time loving the characters. This book was okay due to the humor and simply being a lighter read. I don’t think it was Turano’s best but still entertaining. Three stars.

“Thanks to the publisher for offering me a free copy. All opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.”

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

TTT: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019

There are so many great books coming out in 2019! I believe all of these come out between January and March! Some of my all time favorite authors are listed so I am pretty eager to get my hands on these. I am so thankful for such talented authors who continue to write stories for us readers!


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