Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

Published: October 1, 2009
Publisher: Speak
Pages: 365
Source: Owned
Format: Kindle ebook

Goodreads SynopsisAn ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today’s bestselling authors – John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle – bring all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

Buy it here – Amazon India | FlipkartAmazon US | The Book Depository | Add on Goodreads

My View: I have been wanting to read this book for ages. It’s no secret that I love John Green, especially after Looking for Alaska (Read my fan-girling review here). The Fault in Our Stars was nice too (Read my review here). So when I was looking for books to read during Ho-Ho-Ho Read-A-Thon, I immediately grabbed onto it.

I was almost tempted to skip to the John Green story first but I am glad I didn’t. The stories are to be read in sequence to make sense. I guess I went in with too many expectations. It was a John Green book after all! As far as the other authors are concerned, I have never read Lauren Myracle. I have read The Name of the Star (The Shades of London Book 1) by Maureen Johnson (My review here) which I thought was okay.

The book starts off with “The Jubilee Express” by Maureen Johnson which was the best of the three.  It had a good plot, believable characters, various twists and turns and a nice end. If it had been for this story by itself, the book would have gotten 3 stars.

The next to follow was “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle” by John Green which was surprisingly the least liked story by me. It had none of the usual John Green magic. I felt it was stretched where it wasn’t necessary and cut short where it was. The plot lacked depth, the characters didn’t really get me to root for them and the story lacked lustre. A complete fail and a blow to my expectations.

Finally came “The Patron Saint of Pigs” by Lauren Myracle. First things first, I want myself a teacup pig. Well, I wanted until I read all about it. Nope, I can’t be cruel to animals and under-feed them so that they remain cute and little. Plan aborted. As far as the story is concerned, the plot had some depth, the characters although superficial were make-do and the story derived its own happy end.

Overall, my hopes from this book were dashed. I might be a bit overcautious in buying John Green books from here on. A favorite author does not necessarily lead to a good book, I have realized.

2/5 stars – It was okay but nothing special.

2stars

Dear Kalam Sir by Saji Mathew, Jubie John

31189204Date Published: July 27, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 224
Source: Review Copy provided by Bloomsbury Publishing
Format: Hardcover

Goodreads Synopsis: Based on the dearkalamsir community art project by LetterFarms, the book is an original convergence of art, articulation and passion, using the simple yet powerful tool of postcards. Inspired by Dr. Kalam’s exemplary life and words, it delves into the dreams and aspirations of contemporary India, especially the youth, uniquely handcrafted with a humane touch.

Underlining the extraordinary power that lies with ordinary people, this book is a first-of-its-kind anthology of handwritten postcard tributes for a public leader, ever.The messages are filled with endearing sentiments and echo India’s profound love for Dr. Kalam and its unparalleled unity.

Kalam sir continues to live in the hearts and minds of India’s future, and dearkalamsir is a handwritten compendium of that spirit for generations to witness.

Buy it here – Amazon India  | Add on Goodreads

My View: Dr APJ Abdul Kalam has had this unprecedented hold over everyone from children to adults to elderly. His President-ship was the most peaceful, non-conflictual one India had ever seen. He was rightly named the People’s President. He was loved and respected and endeared by all. His books were downright motivational and had hundreds of readers.

Last year, India lamented the death of Dr Kalam with waves of sorrow. It was then that LetterFarms, a Kochi-based NGO decided to pay him a tribute. An art project was launched inviting people all over India to write postcards on his 84th birth anniversary. Postcards poured in from 200 cities all over India.

The chosen few that have found a place in this anthology are mind-stirring and sentimental. Some wrote his quotes, other drew his portrait while still others expressed his ideals through pictures.

The anthology is full of colors and feelings that reverberate in your mind long after you have closed the book. Sometimes we forget the legendary figures and this book served as an awakening call for me to remember Dr Kalam and his life-long work for our nation and its people. It is a glaring testament to how motivational his life has been for the people especially the youth. The way his words have captured the thoughts and feelings of people all over is unbelievable.

The book itself along with its cover is a beautiful piece of art to behold. The star-speckled sky on the cover leaves way for so many interpretations to its relation to Dr Kalam and what he represented.

A must-read and keep for every personal library.

Here is a sneak peek-

4/5 stars – I really liked it. 4 stars

(All opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced.)

Huge thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for providing the review copy.

Have you been to this booklover’s paradise yet?

So I mentioned I would tell you about this super amazing place I visited last month. Same time last month I was in Japan at a place I want to scream about from the rooftop. Although I am a very planned kind of person when it comes to my trips, this time I didn’t get much time to do that. However, thanks to a friend who recognizes my hunger for books, I came to know about this wow place. The thing is she had no idea I was visiting Japan in July but something made her send this my way in May of this year. I would call it sheer good luck and destiny on my part. And that’s how I came to know about Book and Bed, Tokyo.

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That looks like a beautiful cozy library, doesn’t it? But it’s so much more than that! Right behind that bookshelf are beds. Yes! Little comfy beds, your own type of a nook inside of a bookshelf. Did you gasp yet? I thought so. I booked one the moment I came to know because I saw them filling up pretty soon. And there I was on 28th July 2016.

I arrived pretty late and it took me quite some time to find it even though it’s in a very prime location in Ikebukuro and hardly 2-3mins walk from the nearest subway. Extremely well located, with lots of places to visit nearby, this is a gem of a place.

It’s on the 7th floor, I was greeted by a receptionist who was from Bangladesh! Yeah, in Japan, you run into people from so many different countries as they work to pay for their education in Japan. She was very friendly and helped me with the formalities. And then I saw my bed. Do you see that girl up there? No, that’s not me but my bed was the one on the left of her, that night. Perfectly located!

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Later, I went around the place taking a tour. The shower was compact but comfortable. You need to make sure you open the washroom door slowly else you end up hitting the person walking outside in the narrow passing way. However, they were the least of my worries. The place doesn’t have a kitchen except you can make yourself a cup of tea or coffee for a charge. I browsed through the bookshelves and spied some English books amongst lots of Japanese ones. That was a bit of disappointment. A lot of these were Japan travel books while others were popular and not so popular English ones. I picked up this stack to read through and settled at the far end of that sofa, looking down at the road 7 floors down from that window on the right.

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I started off with The Gift of Nothing, the cute children’s book and finished it within minutes. Then I moved onto the Japan Travel guide. Flipped through it for around half hour before moving onto Birthday Stories by Haruki Murakami. I have read two of his books, Kafka on the Shore and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage. And before coming to Japan, I tried to locate him down because I had so many questions from Kafka on the Shore that I needed answers to. However, I couldn’t find his address. While reading the preface of this book where Murakami talks about his place in Tokyo and looking out the window, I was looking out the window on my left trying to find his place amongst the high rise buildings of Tokyo. It was such a surreal feeling to read Murakami in his own country where he may be sleeping just a few miles away from me. I read through a few stories before getting into my comfy bed and reading away until 1:30am when my eyes couldn’t keep open and I let myself fall asleep.

Sadly, next morning, I had to vacate by 11. I awoke late, had a shower and left, already missing the place a bit.

If you aren’t short on cash, I would recommend booking a couple of nights here. One night was too less.

Do not miss this when in Japan! Highly recommended!

What have I been reading?

I have been away from the blogging world but certainly not the reading even though it reduced significantly. Here’s a recap of what I have read since 2015. You can expect some of these reviews in the next few posts.

July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 2016

December 2015

November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015

April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

 

Have you read/ loved/ disliked any of these? Any reviews that I might read on your blog for one or more of these books? Comment with links and I will come visit.

 

Upcoming Post: Have you visited this booklover’s heaven? Stay tuned for more.

Comeback Announcement!

book-774837__180Ah! I have waited for this moment for so long now that it almost seems surreal. I wrote my last post on May 12, 2015. At that time, I told myself to take a little break while I pen down my PhD thesis. I assured myself I will be back in no time having submitted by thesis in a jiffy. Boy, could I have been more wrong! I really should have realised long back that PhD is a kind of monster that has a life of its own. No matter what your goals, deadlines and plans are, it takes its own sweet time reaching the finish line. And that’s precisely what happened. So here I am now. It’s been a month since I submitted by thesis. Woot woot! Not so much. There’s still the much dreaded viva to await but oh well, I can’t wait anymore. So here I am, announcing my comeback. My reading did suffer a lot this past year but I haven’t totally given up. That can never happen. Never. So I have hoards of books to review and hoards more to read. And I went to a super special place last month that I am dying to tell you about. So that’s going to be my post right after the one where I tell you what I have been reading this past year. You have to, have to, totally watch out for it.

I hope, really, really hope, I still have some readers who are reading my blog because I have so much to share. See ya all very soon!

25 hours, 50 books! Upto 60% off!

I love The Book Depository for its free shipping and I am a big fan of it’s 25 hours offers. I just wanted to spread the news. Happy book shopping!😀 Go crazy!

So what is this thing?

The Countdown promotion will run for 25 hours, starting at 9am BST, Tuesday 12 May 2015. There will be a new book available on our homepage for a great price every 30 minutes. The last one will go up Wednesday 13 May 2015 at 10 am BST.

Can I buy all the books?

You can buy as many of the books as you like; we offer free worldwide delivery, so there is no harm in shopping again & again throughout the day. You are however limited to three copies of each book per person — it’s only fair that as many people as possible get to grab a bargain.

What happens if I’m checking out and the books run out?

The book you’re ordering is only definitely yours when you see the confirmation page — up to that point if someone beats you to it, then sorry you’re out of luck. We hope everyone will get at least one of the titles they’re after.

These offers are really good, are they the same books as normal?

Yes — we’ve done some very special deals with some very special publishers to bring you these great bargains.

Oops. In all the excitement I bought a book I don’t want.

That’s fine, no worries. Just let us know via the form on ourcontact us page and we’ll cancel the order for you.

Is there a way to find out what the next offer is?

No, sorry, the fact it’s a secret is all part of the fun!

I added a book to my basket and it was removed, what happened?

Sorry, the book sold out during the time it took to add it to your basket, better luck next time.

I fell asleep waiting for the next product and missed it — can I still get it at the offer price somehow?

Sorry, no. These offers are known as WIGIGs in the trade (When It’s Gone, It’s Gone); after the offer is over you’ll often be able to buy the book again but at the normal price.

How long are you doing the offer for?

A new title will be added from 9am BST on Tuesday 1 July to 9:30am BST on Wednesday 2 July. Then we’ll all need a bit of a lie down.

Are the products on offer still shipped for free?

Yes, indeed they are. We have free worldwide delivery.

Are there any tricks to get through the checkout quickly?

We recommend that you set up an account (although you don’t need one to shop) and add a credit card ready, save fumbling around when too excited (though you will still need your CVV number). 

Don’t miss out!

Who, Me? by Tina Sharma Tiwari

Date Published: April 2015
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 262
Source: Review Copy provided by Random House India
Format: Paperback

Goodreads SynopsisIs love only about how you look? Will a makeover change Tara’s life? Can it change anybody’s life? When plain Jane Tara is dumped by her fiancé at the altar for a stunning rich heiress, it shakes her confidence. However, she’s not ready to give up. She will do whatever it takes to win her Arun back. Even if it means undergoing a complete makeover!

The school reunion is her big chance. So when Tara turns up there, completely transformed glamorous and sexy-she gets more than her fair share of attention, especially from Arun. It seems her plan is working. But soon the unexpected begins to happen and Tara finds herself in a dangerous situation. She stumbles upon secrets she’d never known. Life shows her how unpredictable it is!

Buy it here – Amazon India | Flipkart | Add on Goodreads

My View: If you read my blog diligently, you know my strange habit of being wary of Indian authors for the most part. I do like some of them like Jhumpa Lahiri and I did like Mohsin Hamid (read previous review). But most of them I don’t get along with in terms of the writing.

Since I had the pleasure of going to the book launch of this one, I decided to give it a go. Also, the fact that the author is a journalist helped me take that brave decision. So was my decision right? Let’s see.

I didn’t like the cover at the first glance, it was only when I held the book in my hand was I able to appreciate that dual dressing bit and realised it was very clever and tastefully done. Well done, Pia Hazarika. I wonder why her name sounds familiar. Will look that up later.

Going past the cover, as is the norm, it took me some time to settle in with the writing. Over time, I didn’t find it difficult to traverse my way through. There were absolutely no typos, no grammatical errors as was expected of a journalist cum writer and I am glad for that.

The book is set in chick lit genre and I believe I knew that when I started reading it. Over my reading though, the book seemed to have transcended its genre from chick lit to thriller. I am not sure how I felt about it though.

The things that I liked about the book includes its being error-free and some very comical situations that had me smiling if not laughing out loud. Well done on that, you author, you!

Things that I would have liked to steer clear of – I understand chick lit does assume some innocence and stupid acts on the part of the protagonists but sometimes it got on my nerves (am I becoming a feminist by the day?). I know one shouldn’t compare books but I am reminded of Janet Evanovich series and how one tends to laugh a lot when reading her books but there are no hard feelings and no way-beyond-stupid acts. I think I had major issues with the book’s plot because I see women as strong and intelligent. Although I did see glimpses of those in another character, I somehow wanted the protagonist to have those too. I wanted to shake some sense into her. But, oh well, if I am feeling strongly for the characters, the author has done her job well, hasn’t she?

Another thing that irked me was the kind of mixing of genres, not that I mind it. But in this book, it seemed more of a forced entry than casual sneakiness. And somehow the reality was lost and the book became a hugely fictional, impossible account of a main character. That was when I realised I didn’t connect with the book any more.

Fantasies are all around us and we want to live in one. But for books termed any other genre than fantasy, I expect realistic situations and thus wasn’t too happy with the way the book advanced. The plot wasn’t for me, personally. The characters, however, were well etched and thought out. And the writing was smooth and flowing.

If you’re into chick-lit and love some thrill mixed with it, you would like this easy, breezy read. I finished reading it in two days, so that’s something.

2/5 stars – It was okay. 2stars

(All opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced.)

Huge thanks to Random House India for providing the review copy.

Book Launch: WHO, ME? BY TINA SHARMA TIWARI

Date: April 2, 2015
Time: 6:30pm
Venue: Monkey Bar, Vasant Kunj

I am unable to go to most book launches because either they are held in Mumbai or at obnoxiously early or late timings but this one was on the right day, at the right time, so I made it.

It wasn’t difficult to trace Monkey Bar at Vasant Kunj. I liked its ambience and the easy, casual mood. The service was good and the snacks delectable. The author, Tine Sharma Tiwari (senior journalist and anchor with Times Now) looked resplendent in a little black dress. She was soon joined by the ravishing Kanika Kapoor (playback singer, Baby Doll and Chittiyan Kalaiyan) and Rishi Raj, stylist.

rishi-raj-tina-sharma-kanika-kapoor_142831234750

And so began the chit chat and the book launch. Rishi Raj on his impression of the book said, “The book has a chick-lit cover and here’s where I would like to say that don’t judge the book by its cover. This story is about going beyond appearances and how important or not a superficial outward appearance is. One tends to assume who the other person is based on how he/she is dressed but that’s merely the tip of the iceberg, there’s more to them than that. It’s like you discover them page by page, as in the book.

The author, Tina Sharma pitched in here to say that the book is about self discovery and about women realizing that the only person they have to love is themselves.

On being asked how she relates to the book, playback singer, Kanika Kapoor said she did it in more ways than one- “I see my life in it, myself in it, every woman in it. It’s about the reality of life and what we go through. We have our inhibitions and fears. As a woman, you can’t be yourself. The day you start loving yourself, it will change your life, like it did for me. I look forward to reading the book.”

The book is about a physical makeover which leads to other discoveries by the protagonist about herself.

Rishi Raj went on to say “How you treat yourself is how the world treats you. I once did a makeover for a 50 year old clinically depressed client and it turned her life around.”

On being asked by Tina, how far will you go to change yourself for the person you love, Kanika replied that she would change herself and do everything for the person she loves. While Rishi Raj smartly quipped, “Let love do it for me instead of me doing it for love. I will do it for me and not because it will make someone else happy.”

Rishi Raj and Tina Sharma Tiwari then read from the book to give the audience a glimpse of what was in store for them.

tina-sharma-tiwari_142831234740

On being asked where she saw herself in the book, Tina replied, “The book is about friendship, the protagonist steps out from home for the first time, lives on her own while doing a job. She is tasting independence for the first time. I had a wonderful four year period where I was in a similar situation and I have written about it.”

On why she chose this title, Tina answered, “There is this point towards the end where comes a revelation for the protagonist and she realises someone she had always kept at length from herself had a crush on her and her reaction is “Who, Me?” and that’s where the title comes from.”

And with that the launch came to an end and I walked out with the book in my hand.


Buy it here- Amazon India | Flipkart | Add on Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:

Is love only about how you look? Will a makeover change Tara’s life? Can it change anybody’s life? When plain Jane Tara is dumped by her fiancé at the altar for a stunning rich heiress, it shakes her confidence. However, she’s not ready to give up. She will do whatever it takes to win her Arun back. Even if it means undergoing a complete makeover!

The school reunion is her big chance. So when Tara turns up there, completely transformed glamorous and sexy-she gets more than her fair share of attention, especially from Arun. It seems her plan is working. But soon the unexpected begins to happen and Tara finds herself in a dangerous situation. She stumbles upon secrets she’d never known. Life shows her how unpredictable it is!

Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London by Mohsin Hamid

Date Published: November 27, 2014
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 252
Source: Review Copy provided by Random House India
Format: Paperback

Goodreads SynopsisFrom “one of his generation’s most inventive and gifted writers” (The New York Times) , intimate and sharply observed commentary on life, art, politics, and “the war on terror.”

Mohsin Hamid’s brilliant, moving, and extraordinarily clever novels have not only made him an international bestseller, they have earned him a reputation as a “master critic of the modern global condition” (Foreign Policy). His stories are at once timeless and of-the-moment, and his themes are universal: love, language, ambition, power, corruption, religion, family, identity. Here he explores this terrain from a different angle in essays that deftly counterpoise the personal and the political, and are shot through with the same passion, imagination, and breathtaking shifts of perspective that gives his fiction its unmistakable electric charge.

A “water lily” who has called three countries on three continents his home—Pakistan, the birthplace to which he returned as a young father; the United States, where he spent his childhood and young adulthood; and Britain, where he married and became a citizen—Hamid writes about overlapping worlds with fluidity and penetrating insight. Whether he is discussing courtship rituals or pop culture, drones or the rhythms of daily life in an extended family compound, he transports us beyond the scarifying headlines of an anxious West and a volatile East, beyond stereotype and assumption, and helps to bring a dazzling diverse global culture within emotional and intellectual reach.

Buy it here – Amazon India | Flipkart Amazon US | The Book Depository | Add on Goodreads

My View: To tell the truth, the only reason I picked up this book in the first place was because the author was famous for having written The Reluctant Fundamentalist which went on to become a major motion picture. Otherwise, a book with a title like that would have been easily glossed over.

The book has been divided by essays into three parts – Life, Art and Politics. It’s difficult to choose which part I liked the most. But yes, I found the first two parts more easy to read and interesting while the final one was heavy and dry on the palate.

I liked the way the essays have been structured. It starts with giving us a glimpse into the author’s life which makes it easier to appreciate what comes later on. We see the world through his eyes and experiences and it lends itself a different voice than the world might see from their side of the spider’s web.

The author’s journey through his career changes, his personal life and travel within the three countries makes for an interesting narrative. In seeing the world-view through his eyes, one finds oneself wondering at the objectivity and its absence in all things meaningful.

The essays in the Art section also made for a gripping read. With my interest in all things related to books, I could identify where the author was coming from. His essays about rereading books, likeable characters, Murakami, great American novel and the change of reading experience through ebooks found a resonance within me. They made for a page turning read.

Let me now talk about the Politics section. Frankly, I have zero knowledge and/or interest in politics. But every so often, with the help of books like these, I try to keep myself abreast of the goings-on in the world. And that’s precisely where this section stepped in. The essays give a plethora of events to think about, to reflect upon. Looking at the drones and war from an insider’s perspective lends it an air of honesty and raw brutalism that makes one shudder. It’s easy to read about it in the news than to hear someone who has been through it and knows the ins and outs. It would be easier to side with the US on its drones and air strikes when its labelled as a fight with terrorism but when you hear it from the horse’s mouth do you realise it carries within it so much more than just that. The essays give a refreshing albeit heart rending stance to the whole situation. Frankly, it was difficult to go through it. It was unsettling and as is easier, one tends to pass by what is uncomfortable or evokes disturbing emotions. But I needed to know the bird’s eye view of things and not just what the newspapers tell me and hence I read it, every single word of it. It didn’t help settle my perturbed emotions but surely helped me realize that one can never see the panorama from just one side. And now that I have touched on the philosophical, let me give it a rest. And you go read the book.

Highly influential and well-written. Would definitely be trying the author again.

4/5 stars – I liked it. 4 stars

(All opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced.)

Huge thanks to Random House India for providing the review copy.

Power Play by Danielle Steel

Date Published: March 13, 2014
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 352
Source: Review Copy provided by Random House India
Format: Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis: Fiona Carson has proven herself as CEO of a multibillion-dollar high-tech company – a successful woman in a man’s world. Devoted single mother, world-class strategist, and tough negotiator, Fiona has to keep a delicate balance every day.

Meanwhile, Marshall Weston basks in the fruits of his achievements. At his side is his wife Liz who has gladly sacrificed her own career to raise their three children. Smooth, shrewd and irreproachable, Marshall’s power only enhances his charisma – but he harbors secrets that could destroy his life at any moment.

Both must face their own demons, and the lives they lead come at a high price. But just how high a price are they willing to pay?

POWER PLAY is a compelling, heart-rending portrayal of love, family and career – the perfect read for fans of Penny Vincenzi, Susan Lewis and Lesley Pearce.

Buy it here – Amazon India | FlipkartAmazon US | The Book Depository | Add on Goodreads

My View: It had been quite some time since I read Steel and I had almost forgotten what it was like. So when I saw this opportunity, I jumped at it. Oh, a random fact that I came across, she was born a day before India got her independence. Striking coincidence.

Woah, she sure is a writing machine. She has 200+ distinct works listed on Goodreads and she works on more than one book at a time! I wish I had her brains and writing skills. She is still writing away and she’s almost 70! I hope my brains continue to run by the time I am that age.

Anyway, about the book, I am glad to have come across it at just the right time. I needed an easy read that would read itself while I lay around. It did do that for the most part except when it elicited emotions in me that weren’t so friendly. When the lazy read became an edge of the seat thriller and I was almost afraid to look for fear that something bad will happen. Yeah, it’s one of those books.

Although I was hoping for a more intense connection between the two protagonists since the writer was closely following their lives, it turned out that the reader was merely to look at the gender differences between the power roles. And that one did see. But I wish there was some connection to tie them both together somehow.

The book does seem to end on a happy note if one may call it that. There could have been a myriad set of endings going with that storyline. This was the one Steel had in mind.

I did enjoy the story for it’s being an easy read but I think my other Steel reads have been better and so I was looking for more perhaps.

Nevertheless, this makes for a good, breezy read highlighting the difference between power play among the genders. Not always true but mostly so.

3/5 stars – I liked it. 3 stars

(All opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced.)

Huge thanks to Random House India for providing the review copy.

It's all about Books!

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