Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

The Grace YearThe Grace Year by Kim Liggett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

In a dystopian world, in an area knows as The County, girls are banished from their community during their 16th year. It is believed that at that age a girl’s true magic will be revealed.

These girls apparently are so dangerously magical that they threaten to steal husbands from wives, driving the wives crazy with jealousy in the process.

The girls are sent to live together in a fenced-in compound in the woods. Once there they must completely survive on their own, navigating their powers, for a full year.

This year is known as the Grace Year. When the year has passed, the survivors return to the community, get married, have babies, take care of their husbands and live happily ever after.

Tierney James has always dreamed of a better life, but when her Grace Year arrives she knows she is helpless to stop it.

Shipped off with the rest of the girls, she decides to try her best to motivate them all to work together in order to survive. It doesn’t have to be that bad, does it?

Unfortunately, not all of the girls play nice together and a true Lord of the Flies situation unfolds. This is their first time truly on their own, without any adult supervision, and it shows.

These girls get brutal real quick!

Before she knows it, Tierney is literally on the brink of death, with seemingly no allies.

How will she ever make it through her Grace Year alive?

This was definitely an interesting examination of women’s rights, relationships and roles within society. The dystopian world, both inside and outside of the County, was harsh and compelling.

There was a lot of drama amongst the girls and definitely some savage moments.

I want to reread this someday when things calm down a bit. I felt like with all the unsettling things happening in the world currently, my mind was wandering quite a bit.

I feel like I may be able to get more out of this story when I can concentrate better. Some of it felt very surface level and I do think that is more due to my mental state at the moment than the book.

Absolutely if you are interested in a YA-version of The Handmaid’s Tale meets Lord of the Flies, you should pick this up.

That’s pretty much a perfect description of this disturbing tale. Although I wasn’t crazy about the romantic elements, I think overall it is a solid story.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. My apologies for taking so long to get to it!

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Review: The Return by Rachel Harrison

The ReturnThe Return by Rachel Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elise, Julie, Mae and Molly have been best friends since college. But as with many such relationships, as time goes by and circumstances change, friends can sometimes see each other less and less.

For this fabulous foursome, that is definitely the case. They all live pretty far apart geographically and it can be tough to stay close over such distances.

Two years ago, the unimaginable happened. Julie disappeared while on a solo hike in Acadia National Park, a 47,000-acre belt of wilderness on the rustic coast of Maine.

Understandably, the women are devastated to have lost one of the their own. Although they have a funeral after a significant amount of time has passed with no sign of Julie, Elise genuinely doesn’t believe she is gone.

Lo and behold, it seems Elise was right, at some point after the funeral, Julie reemerges. She just shows up at home one day with no memory of where she has been or what has happened to her.

Everyone is stunned. How can this be?

After Julie has had some time to acclimate to being home, the women decide to gather for a reunion weekend at an up-and-coming boutique hotel in upstate New York.

All traveling separately, Elise, the narrator of our tale, is the first to arrive. She immediately feels disturbed by the eccentric hotel. The whole atmosphere is just so bizarre.

Once all the women have arrived, they joke and laugh and try to make the best of their surroundings.

Luckily for them, they are the type of friends that no matter how much time has passed, they can pick right up like they were never apart.

The more time that goes by however, the more they begin to notice that Julie is different.

There’s something very wrong with her. It seems she is falling apart minute by minute. Her odd behavior and appearance; let’s not even get into the smell, but who’s going to talk to her about it?

They’re scared, even though mostly, they won’t admit it.

Well, I’ll tell you, they weren’t the only ones that were scared. This book had moments that legit creeped me out. I’m talking contemplated putting it in the freezer.

There was so much to enjoy about this. I loved, loved, loved the setting. Reminiscent of a locked room mystery as it was slowly revealed to the reader what was going on with Julie.

I also enjoyed the dynamic among the women. I found it to be very relatable as far as relationships go post-college.

The horror element was unique to me. I have never read anything that went in the direction this ultimately went in.

It did give me heavy Jennifer’s Body vibes and I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out this author had watched that movie more than once.

Although I can see where some people may be let down by the ending, for me it worked. That is how I would have wanted it to end.

At it’s heart, this is really a lovely examination of friendship, if you can believe that from a horror novel, but those friendship aspects tugged at my heartstrings.

I have no aspirations to ever write a novel, but if I did, it would pretty much be this book. Take from that what you will.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing, for providing me a copy of this to read and review. It was a fantastic time!

I am really looking forward to reading more from Rachel Harrison.

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Blog Tour: Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox #3) by Julie Kagawa

Hello, my lovely book friends. I hope you are all doing well in these troubled times. I hope you are safe and healthy.

As we are all aware, the world is suffering through a pandemic at the moment and many of us have been asked to shelter in place in order to help stop the spread of this virus.

Because of this, many schools  and workplaces have closed. Additionally, a lot of events that a great many people were looking forward to have been cancelled.

In the book world, author tours have been cancelled, along with bigger events such as NoVaTeen and Book Con either being rescheduled or called off entirely.

One thing we can all count on however, is new books being released on Tuesdays. Oh, how I love Tuesdays!!!

This coming Tuesday, March 31, 2020, my most anticipated YA book of the year is set to be released: Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa!!!

Night of the Dragon is the third and final book in the Shadow of the Fox series, a Japanese-inspired fantasy series that literally stole my heart when I first picked it up last year.

From the very first chapter of the first book, Shadow of the Fox, I was hooked. Kagawa’s writing style is so pleasing, the lush world, the cleverly crafted characters, all of it combined to be a recipe for an absolutely engrossing tale!

At this point you may be thinking, yes, this sounds great, but what is it about?

In the land of Iwagoto, the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, has the power to bring forth the Kami Dragon.

The dragon is capable of granting the summoner a single wish. If they are pure of heart, theoretically, all is well, if they are not, all hell will break loose.

In order to protect the land, the scroll was divided and the separate parts hidden away to prevent such disastrous consequences from happening, as it had in the past.

People are always searching for the parts, however, as combining them again could grant the summoner unrivaled power.

Yumeko, has been raised in the Silent Winds Temple where one piece of the scroll has been hidden away. When the Temple is attacked by demons, Yumeko is forced to flee, with the scroll.

She promises the monks she will transport it to another temple, where she will then receive further directions. Trained her whole life to hide her Yokai nature, half kitsune, half human, Yumeko is a master of illusion and mischief which obviously aides her in her travels.

Some clarification if you are new to Japanese Fantasy, a Yokai is a type of supernatural being in Japanese folklore. A kitsune, is one type of Yokai, a fox spirit that frequently appears in such folklore.

In the past couple of years, I have read a few different books with kitsune main characters and I feel it is a very fun perspective to read from!

On the run, Yumeko meets up with Kage Tatsumi, a samurai of the mysterious Shadow Clan.

Tatsumi has been sent out in search of the scroll. He finds Yumeko close by the now destroyed temple and promises to get her to her destination safely. Of course, he has no idea, she actually carries what he seeks.

They meet up with another character along the way, Okame, a ronin, basically a traveling samurai without a master. He begins to travel with them and quickly became my favorite character. A source of almost constant humor, I just cannot imagine this story without him!

In addition to the lush world and fantastic characters, this triology also has one of my most loved tropes in literature: A QUEST. A ragtag group of characters trying to get from Point A to Point B, overcoming obstacles along the way, nothing keeps me turning pages faster.

At its heart, this is a fantastic quest story.

The stakes, the secrets, the magic, the world, I think you can tell I fell head-over-heels for it all. And don’t even get me started on the hella SLOW-BURNING romance!

The second book in the series, Soul of the Sword, continues directly on from the events of the first book, doing what it should: upping the stakes and continuing to build out the complexity of the world.

Another way I like to describe this entire story, if you aren’t sold already, is anime come to life. The atmosphere and tone of this is so dynamic, it leaps off the page and into your minds-eye so clearly. It’s honestly tremendous.

I am currently halfway through the final book. Honestly, I am taking my time with it. I don’t want it to end!!!

So far, this story, again, has continued to build, I know the final scenes are going to be epic. Kagawa has such a beautiful way of showing you the world. I have never felt confused. In fact, I am completely immersed. When I am reading it, the rest of the world could stop and I wouldn’t even notice.

During this difficult time, if you need a way to escape, something to immerse yourself in to forget life for a while, I cannot recommend this series strongly enough.

Now is the perfect time to get lost with Yumeko and Tatsumi, to go on that adventure and maybe save the world. Who knows?

I want to thank the publisher, Inkyard Press, for blessing me with an early copy of this book. I am thoroughly enjoying it and plan to finish it later today. Make sure you check back in for my full review. Also, if you have read these books, let me know your thoughts in the comments below or contact me through any of my social media links.

Where ever you are and what ever you are doing, I hope you are doing it in good health and happiness. Love you all!

Cheers & happy reading!

 

 

 

Review: The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates #1) by A.K. Larkwood

The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates, #1)The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It.
Is.
Done.

Phew. I feel so accomplished having completed this.

Csorwe is a teenage girl who has been raised to be the sacrificial wife of the Unspoken One, an ancient god living within the earth.

Locked into a tomb on what is to be the day of her death, a mage appears and offers to rescue her and provide her with a new life.

She decides to accept his offer and flees with him. Over time she lives with him and trains to be his assassin.

She feels she owes him everything. She owes him her life and thus, is extremely loyal to him and his goals.

The mage, Belthandros Sethennai, is a very powerful man who is also on a mission. His aim is to regain control of the lands from which he was exiled.

In order to do so, he wants Csorwe, along with another young person in his employ, Tal, to seek and return to him the Reliquary of Pentravasse.

This Reliquary is said to hold immeasurable knowledge and the one able to capture that will increase their power to new heights.

…or something like that…

Okay, so, I will admit this was a little hard for me to grasp. I never felt like I truly understood the world. For example, Csorwe, is an Orc, which I never really knew until I read someone else’s blurb about the book.

I knew there was something going on with her, as she is described as having tusks, but I thought maybe she was some sort of elephant human hybrid or something.

But even knowing she was an Orc, didn’t really piece the rest of it together for me. Were they all orcs? Were there humans? Were there all sorts of magical beings living together in harmony like in Middle Earth?

I genuinely don’t know. If you know, comment down below.

I am also of the opinion that this was entirely too long. There were two distinct portions of the book, or quests if you will.

There is a quest for an object. Once that point is resolved, you think, it could be over. This is it.

But no, it is not. Characters are separated, there’s still a baddie out and about, it would have been a great place to leave off prior to a second book.

Then there is a completely new quest to find a particular person.

Again, I feel like that could have made a great second book. If it had been broken up that way, I think the world could have been built out more and perhaps the author would have more time to really focus on that instead of trying to cram it all into one.

Overall, this was a mixed bag for me. I felt the pacing was off.

There were moments when I was really into it and then a few pages later, I would be bored, and back and forth it went until the end.

It did have moments of greatness and I don’t want anyone to think my minor critiques make this a bad book. It’s a good book, I just feel the story could have been better served if formatted differently.

It also isn’t an easy read. I did end up mentally exhausted after reading it for a half hour or so. I could have made it through more quickly if it didn’t take me 8.5-minutes to pronounce each name.

My favorite part of this was the relationship between Csorwe, and a religious adept, Shuthmili. Their friendship-to-more was beautiful. I waited a long time to get to it, but it was worth it.

In short, although this wasn’t perfect for me, it did have some strengths. If you can make it through the weaknesses, it is a pleasant, though entirely too long, read.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

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Review: Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

Darling Rose GoldDarling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

Patty Watts was arrested and charged with poisoning her daughter, Rose Gold.

An alleged case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, Patty was purported to have been abusing Rose Gold her entire life.

As a late teenager, Rose Gold confesses some things to a neighborhood friend and the adults around her end up putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

Ultimately, Rose Gold testified against her Mother in court and she was sentenced to five years. As you can imagine, this has led to an estranged relationship.

Darling Rose Gold follow two perspectives, both Patty and Rose Gold.

We follow Patty after she is released from serving her time and Rose Gold after her Mother is prosecuted up through the present day.

As Patty is released, she is picked up outside the prison gates by Rose Gold. It seems during the interim of her time away they have begun the process of healing their relationship.

Rose Gold is now a mother herself, of little Adam, and has purchased her own home. Since Patty has nowhere to go, it is decided that she will move in with them until she can get back on her feet.

This book is full of messed up twists and keeps its intensity throughout as the timelines come closer and closer to merging.

I love this type of format. I always end up racing through so fast to get to that climatic scene at the end.

About mid-way through I knew hoped I knew where this was going. It went there and I was hella happy about it.

A revenge story is one of my favorite tropes of all time. This one satisfied me in that regard and was full of masterful manipulation.

I have often mentioned that I love a good long-game; this story had that in spades. Well played, Wrobel.

There were definitely parts that made me uncomfortable, particularly the focus on Rose Gold’s ruined teeth, but I understand where the author was coming from in framing it that way.

Rose Gold and Patty definitely shared one of the most f*ed up relationships I have ever read. It’s also one I remember for a long time.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to more from Stephanie Wrobel.

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Review: The June Boys by Courtney C. Stevens

The June BoysThe June Boys by Courtney C. Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

The Gemini Thief is a serial kidnapper who has been plaguing Tennessee for the past decade.

Every year, three boys are taken, kept for a year and then released.

When one of the currently kidnapped boy’s body is discovered, however, it is assumed the Thief has escalated. He has never killed before. Was it an accident?

Either way, authorities and citizens alike become desperate to get the bottom of the mystery.

Thea Delacroix has been seriously hunting the Thief ever since her cousin, Aulus, disappeared. Not everyone believes she is correct when she says he was one of the Thief’s victims, but she knows it’s true.

Unfortunately for Thea, she begins to suspect her own father may be responsible. His eccentricities definitely make it possible for him to be the culprit everyone is searching for.

What should she do?

The story follows Thea and her closest friends as they investigate her father and follow leads in an effort to find the missing boys.

Interspersed throughout the narrative are letters written from her cousin, Aulus, during his captivity. These are penned, The Elizabeth Letters.

Through the letters we get a glimpse of how dire the situation is for the boys remaining in the Thief’s grasp.

A couple of things, there were some pretty series formatting issues with the copy of the e-ARC that I read. Particularly during The Elizabeth Letters things were so jumbled, it was hard to tell what was supposed to go where.

With this being said, it made this one a little hard to rate. I am positive that these issues have been cleared up in the final copy.

Therefore, I am basing my rating on what I know this story to be: well written and intense.

I thought the writing was great. The intensity was high throughout the whole story.

There are aspects of this that are hard to read. It is dark and the author doesn’t shy away from showing how desperate the boys in captivity are.

I also wouldn’t say it was uplifting, however, there is a message of hope, higher power and meaning. In my opinion, it was a solid YA Mystery/Thriller, best enjoyed by individuals who like their stories to go dark and stay there.

While not for everyone, I personally enjoyed this. I have a feeling if I would have read a finished copy, as opposed to the ARC, I would have ended up giving this a solid 4-stars.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Regardless of the formatting issues, I did have a good time reading this!

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Review: Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

Foul Is Fair (Foul Is Fair #1)Foul Is Fair by Hannah Capin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a modern retelling of Macbeth, this is absolute genius.

‘For one fleeting second I’m proud of every bruise and every scratch–
the dark handprints on my arms and my neck and my ribs–
my broken claws–
the slash across my cheek–
–because every mark they left, everything they did, didn’t even get close to breaking me.’

On the night of her sweet sixteen, high schooler, Elle, along with her best friends, Mads, Summer and Jenny, plan to crash a St. Andrews Prep party.

They are in the highest of spirits, dressed to the nines, feeling like queens of their world. Nothing can touch them. That’s what they think anyway.

Then the golden boys, the wolf pack, of St. Andrews selects Elle as their next victim.

They chose the wrong girl.

After drugging her drink and raping her, she is left for her friends to rescue. From that moment she vows, she will not play their victim.

They have stolen her power, but she will stop at nothing to get it back.

Recreating herself, Elle, now Jade, enrolls at St. Andrews, infiltrates the golden boy’s world and plots their downfall.

She will reign, in her own world, as well as the world of St. Andrews Prep.

Seducing golden boy, Mack, he becomes her greatest pawn. She puffs his ego and works with his ambition to rattle the St. Andrews hierarchy to its core.

She promises her best friends, her coven, that she is not falling for him, but their mutual interests lie within one another. A Queen needs her King.

Y’all, I think you can tell how much I loved this book. I was so impressed with the courage it would take to write this story.

A revenge story that doesn’t apologize for going all the way. This is about a girl, stripped of her power, fighting tooth and claw to wrest back that power from those who stole it from her.

I speak from the heart when I say this is one of the most empowering stories I have ever read.

Don’t let them define you. Your role in the world is defined by you, no one else.

I fully understand that this will not be for everybody. The writing is extremely unique. I found it to be lyrical and raw.

The homage it plays to the original story of Macbeth was nothing short of brilliant, in my opinion.

So impressed with this. Will read anything else Hannah Capin chooses to write. Brava!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I have no doubt this will be on my favorites list of 2020.

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Review: A Forgotten Murder (Medlar Mystery #3) by Jude Deveraux

A Forgotten MurderA Forgotten Murder by Jude Deveraux
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

When romance novelist, Sara Medlar, arranges a trip to the UK for herself, her niece, Kate and their friend, Jack, she has more in mind than a relaxing family vacation.

They are headed to Oxley Manor, a stately British home, that her friend Stella has recently converted, with generous funding from Sara herself, into a luxury hotel.

The Manor house has quite a history, including the disappearance of two young people a couple decades before. Assumed to have run off together, that fact was never confirmed and their whereabouts never discovered.

Sara feels inspired by the mystery and her plan is to go to the house, inviting all the folks who were there the night of the disappearance, to finally weed out the truth.

Then, obviously, she will write a book about it.

This book was such a delight to read. It has a classic cozy mystery format with a fun group of main characters.

I loved Sara, Kate and Jack. Their chemistry is engaging and definitely a hoot to read. Together they bring some serious amateur sleuthing skills and y’all know I eat that stuff up!!

This is actually the third book in the Medlar Mystery series. I haven’t read any of the other books and had no problem jumping right into this and enjoying the heck out of it. It was fast paced, with plenty of twists and red herrings.

Since reading this, I have added the first two books in the series to my ‘to be read’ list and definitely plan to get to them. I think with these three solving mysteries, my attention could be held for years to come.

Although the ending got truly wild, I am so happy to have a new go-to cozy mystery series.

Thank you so much to the publisher, MIRA, for reaching out and bringing this book to my attention. Also, a hearty thank you to them for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and it is clear y’all know my tastes!

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Review: Watching From the Dark (DCI Jonah Sheens #2) by Gytha Lodge

Watching from the Dark (DCI Jonah Sheens, #2)Watching from the Dark by Gytha Lodge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up **

This was everything I wanted it to be. Gytha Lodge, you have made me a happy girl.

Signing on to his standard 11 o’clock Skype date with his girlfriend, Zoe, Aidan Poole can tell right away something is off.

For one, Zoe isn’t in front of the camera. He observes her, but then she goes into the bathroom and starts running a bath.

Anticipating something kinky may be in the works, he sits back and watches.

Things take a disturbing turn however, when he observes a shadowy figure entering her apartment and then the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

Next he hears sounds of a struggle. Zoe is being attacked and there is nothing he can do!

Well, you’re probably thinking, he could call the police. But he doesn’t.

Not right away, anyway. He ultimately does end up calling the next day, but if Zoe were brutally attacked, wouldn’t he want to get her help as soon as possible?

If you think this sounds like an intriguing way to a kick off a story, you’re absolutely right!

When his odd crime report makes its way to the desk of DCI Jonah Sheens, he and his team decide to take on the case.

Soon they discover, Zoe didn’t survive the attack. Now tackling a murder investigation, Sheens and the team dig deep into her life, friend group and mysterious relationship with Aidan.

I really enjoyed the first installment to the Jonah Sheens series, She Lies in Wait, and was highly anticipating this release.

I am happy to report this exceeded my expectations. I feel like Lodge’s writing has matured in such a pleasant way. The investigatory aspects of this were so strong.

I loved being back with Sheens and the other officers. They work so well together as a team and that is nice to see. Often there can be a lot of drama within investigative units, so it is nice to see a group that works together in a supportive way.

I do think this can be read as a standalone, so if you haven’t read the first book, please don’t let that keep you from picking this one up. If the premise sounds good to you, jump on it.

I have a feeling you’ll be adding the first book to your TBR after. As you should, because it is great too!

As for me, I am so excited about the potential for this series. I hope it lasts a long, long time. I know I will be picking up every single one that gets released.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Random House, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I truly appreciate it. I am looking forward to reading so much more from Gytha Lodge in the future!

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Review: No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez

No Bad DeedNo Bad Deed by Heather Chavez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My head is spinning. Wow, that was a wild ride!!!

Driving home from work one night, Cassie Larkin sees what she assumes to be a domestic conflict happening on the side of the road.

She stops her car and calls 911. Although the operator tells her to remain in her vehicle, Cassie cannot sit idly by while this woman gets assaulted or worse.

As she breaks up the altercation, the man tells her that if she lets him kill this woman, he will let her live. Basically, this woman’s life for hers, but Cassie isn’t having that.

Eventually, the man flees, but unfortunately he does so in Cassie’s van. Now the psycho has her handbag, complete with identification, family photos, address, and her house keys.

Without putting too fine a point on it, this is basically my worse nightmare come to the page. Reading this opening scene, I was so prepared to throw this book in the freezer.

It’s like Heather Chavez knew exactly what to write to freak me the heck out!

And I cherish that.

When Cassie’s husband disappears the next night, on Halloween, while out trick-or-treating with their 6-year old daughter, her instincts tell her something is terribly wrong.

After she reports it, it seems the cops just believe this is a case of a man leaving his family. Cassie knows better, however, and begins her own investigation.

While it did surprise me that the cops didn’t take his disappearance more seriously, especially considering they knew the crazy, violent guy who stole her vehicle had her keys and information, I did love Cassie getting involved and looking into his disappearance herself.

Amateur sleuthing is one of my favorite tropes in a thriller and I think Chavez did a great job with it here.

This story took so many crazy turns, there was no way to predict what was going to happen next. As secrets begin to come out from Cassie’s own dark past, you know the final reveal will probably blow you away.

The final scenes did not disappoint!

I was so impressed with this. I was creeped out almost the entire time and it was so much fun. I cannot wait to read more from Chavez!

Thank you so much to the publisher, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I truly appreciate it!

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