Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mini Reviews (15)

I love Catherine the Great.  She is one of my favorite historical figures so I was really excited to read this book.  It focuses on a Russian art specialist named Tanya Kagan in present times and the young Catherine the Great in her early years in Russia.  I was completely sucked into this story and I could not put the book down.  I enjoyed reading about Tanya's work and her life as a Russian immigrant.  I loved this book until the last few chapters.  The ending was awful and so unexpected.  It made me hate Tanya in so many ways and it was just really disappointing.  I had so much hope for Tanya and to have all of that crushed in the last few pages was so frustrating. I'm giving this book 3 stars because 90% of it was really good.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Virgin's War by Laura Andersen

I LOVE this series so much.  I am so sad to see this trilogy end but this book was fantastic.  I love Andersen's characters and it was great to see how the story wrapped itself up.  I really hope that we will get to more of the characters in future books.  There was one part that had me in tears; I knew it was going to happen but I kept hoping that it wouldn't.  I know it was right for the story but it was so sad.  I would recommend any of Laura Andersen's books; they are the best! 5 stars.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen by Alison Weir

I have been a fan of Alison Weir's books for a long time so I feel really bad because I didn't love this book.  It was an interesting story and I liked getting to see Katherine's side of things but it was so long.  I get wanting to give a very detailed view of her life in England but the story dragged on.  There were parts of the story that were fast paced but overall, it was drawn out for too long.  The story is well-written and it's rare to get Katherine's perspective and early relationship with Henry; I did enjoy those aspects which is why I'm giving it 3 stars.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: "The Perfect Neighbors" by Sarah Pekkanen

Synopsis:  Newport Cove is one of the safest neighborhoods in the US, where spontaneous block parties occur on balmy nights and all of the streets are named for flowers. Here everyone lives out the American Dream – cute kids, strong marriages, burgeoning careers – but what really goes on behind closed doors?

Kellie Scott has just returned to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home mom. She’s adjusting to high heels, scrambling to cook dinner for her family after a day at the office—and soaking in the dangerous attention of a very handsome, very married male colleague. Kellie’s neighbor Susan Barrett begins every day with fresh resolutions: she won’t eat any carbs, she’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour, and she’ll stop stalking her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Gigi Kennedy seems to have it all together—except her teenage daughter has turned into a hostile stranger and her husband is running for Congress, which means her old skeletons are in danger of being brought into the light.
Then a new family moves to this quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac. Tessa Campbell seems friendly enough to the other mothers, if a bit reserved. But the neighbors notice that no one is ever invited to Tessa’s house, and there’s something a bit off about her husband. Soon, it becomes clear that Tessa is hiding the biggest secret of all.

My Thoughts:  Sarah Pekkanen's books are so good.  Whenever I pick one up, I always know that I'm going to get sucked into a really great story! What attracted me to the book was the mystery surrounding Tessa's character but Kellie, Susan and Gigi's stories completely pulled me in.

I loved the setting for the story.  The author did a great job of creating this quaint all-American neighborhood and a tight knit community.  The neighbors were a unique group of people with a hilarious list serve/email newsletter (I loved the quotes from the list serve at the beginning of each chapter!).  Even though the idyllic setting masked a group of real people with real problems, I feel like the neighborhood was kind of a character in, and of, itself.

All of the main characters in the story were great but I think that I liked Susan the best.  I liked that she seemed so relatable; she was very three-dimensional with real world problems.  She wasn't your typical caricature of the woman scorned; she acknowledged her role in her marital issues and I liked that.  Tessa was also super interesting in that I really had no clue what direction the author was going to take her in until the end.  I was kind of worried there would be some weird 'Gone Girl' type twist at the end and I was happy that the author didn't go there.  I really felt for her and the mix of emotions she must of been feeling but I do kind of wish that there was more about her in the story.  I would have liked to have known more about what she was going through; the big reveal seemed just a little bit rushed and I was left wanting a little bit more.

Overall, this was a great book!  I've been in a major reading rut lately but this book quickly pulled me out.  I would definitely recommend checking it out! 4 stars.

The Perfect Neighbors is available for pre-order at Amazon.

About the Author:

SARAH PEKKANEN is the internationally bestselling author of Catching Air, The Opposite of Me, Skipping a Beat, These Girls, The Best of Us, and Things You Won’t Say. Her work has been reviewed and published in People, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Washington Post, and USA Today, among other publications. She lives with her family in Chevy Chase, Maryland.  

This book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Mailbox Monday (60)

I have lots to share in my Mailbox Monday post today!

Hey y'all! It's been a busy weekend and I'm so glad I have Monday off tomorrow. Yippee! We celebrated my daughter's birthday yesterday so it's kind of been a whirlwind for the past few days.

I say this ALL the time but I really need to stop buying books.  Last week I had a Barnes and Noble coupon burning a hole in my pocket and then I found that a book I had been wanting went on sale (a really good sale) so I couldn't help myself.  I now should be fully stocked on non-fiction and am seriously considering the need to stop buying books for the rest of the year.

Purchased (from Amazon and Barnes & Noble):

What books did you pick up this week?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts (16)

Happy Thursday! I'm linking up with Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts over at Bookishly Boisterous.

1.) I have to stay away from eBay.  It's the devil! I just bought all of these Nancy Drew books to add to Julia's collection.  When she gets older, she is going to have a fully stocked library of my favorite childhood books.   In addition to the books I've purchased for her, I still have a bunch of my old books (like Anne of Green Gables, Chronicles of Narnia, etc.) at my mom's house.  I can't wait until she is old enough to read these!

2.) I'm in a huge reading rut right now.  I want to read all the things but I seem to keep picking up duds.  I've only read two books this month; I have two more that I'm working on but I probably won't get beyond that.  I really need a good book to get me back in the swing of things!

3.) We are having my daughter's third birthday party this Saturday.  I've done a really good job of scaling back after the huge event we had last year but it's still stressing me out.  I have to accept that I don't have time to clean every inch of my house and people are just going to have to deal with it.

4.) I am excited to work on Julia's birthday cake.  We are doing a kind of sprinkle theme for the party so her cake will hopefully look similar to the picture above.  Or I could just wind up with a huge pinterest fail and serve cupcakes instead.

5.) I have decided to start the Presidential reading challenge and have bought my first two books.  I don't know how long it will take me to get through it but I'm excited to get started.

6.) I have become obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack and have been listening to it on repeat.  I can't believe I took so long to listen to it.  I always seem to be suspicious of things that are super popular (which explains why it took me YEARS to start Harry Potter).   Listening to the soundtrack what inspired me to start the challenge.  Even though I have a degree in history, my focus has always been on European history and I have very little knowledge of American history.  I seriously knew nothing about Alexander Hamilton before now.

7.) I need a new show to binge watch.  I just finished the last seasons of Downton Abbey and The Americans and have no idea what to watch next.  Ideas?  I really want to go back to Criminal Minds but if I start, I don't think I'll ever sleep again.

8.) I am originally from a lovely coastal city in SoCal and have decided that I will never adjust to the wretchedly hot midwestern summers.  I'm ready for fall weather!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Book Blast and Giveaway: "A Moment Forever" by Cat Gardiner

02_A Moment Forever

A Moment Forever (Liberty Victory Series #1) by Cat Gardiner

Publication Date: May 28, 2016

Vanity & Pride Press

eBook; 600 Pages

Genre: Historical Romance

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In every footlocker, hope chest, and heart full of secrets there is a story waiting to be discovered and told.

In the summer of 1992, a young writer is bequeathed the abandoned home of a great-uncle she never knew. The house has a romantic history and is unlike any home she has ever seen. Juliana Martel felt as though she stepped into a time capsule—a snapshot of 1942. The epic romance—and heartache—of the former occupant unfold through reading his wartime letters found in the attic, compelling her on a quest to construct the man. His life, as well as his sweetheart’s, during the Second World War were as mysterious as his disappearance in 1950.

Carrying her own pain inflicted by the abandonment of her mother and unexpected death of her father, Juliana embarks on a journalist’s dream to find her great-uncle and the woman he once loved. Enlisting the reluctant assistance of a man whose family is closely related to the secrets, she uncovers the carefully hidden events of her great-uncle's and others' lives - and will ultimately change her own with their discovery.

This story of undying love, born amidst the darkest era in modern history, unfolded on the breathtaking Gold Coast of Long Island in 1942. A Jewish, Army Air Forces pilot and an enchanting society debutante—young lovers—deception—and a moment in time that lasted forever.

A Moment Forever is an evocative journey that will resonate with you long after you close the book. Romance, heartache, and the power of love, atonement, and forgiveness transform lives long after the horrors and scars of the Second World War have ended.


The closed door to the attic appeared innocuous, but like the pleasant personas and expressions many people conveyed, Juliana felt it was a dead giveaway that something terrible hid behind it. She was, after all, an example of that. Her deepest wounds, she believed, were cleverly masked behind her jovial expressions and happy demeanor, but she didn’t realize that the signs were evident in her near anorexic figure.

However, on this late afternoon, she felt open and liberated after surviving the luncheon with her mother. She had bared her inner feelings and animosity then came home to clean the vintage kitchen. Feeling renewed, she went to the grocer around the corner because her white Frigidaire looked as hollow as she had felt these last eleven years. Strangely, she was in the mood to cook a cheeseburger.

From the top of the staircase, Juliana could still hear the record player from the parlor. Melancholy tunes by the Ink Spots and Ella Fitzgerald filled the entire house. She hoped it would carry up into the attic, thinking the soulful music would transport her back to the era and mindset of William when he had last locked the garret.

Yes, it was locked and after an hour of searching the house high and low, she finally found the key inside a small box in one of the dresser drawers. Beside the brass skeleton key sat a gold signet ring with engraving upon the face: propellers and wings surrounded a small diamond at its center. The inscription along the inside of the band read, “With Love, Mom and Dad.”

“Here it goes,” Juliana said before holding her breath and nervously turning the key. She felt on the verge of a full-blown panic attack.

The door creaked like all the others in the house and her heart rate sped up as it had time and again in the course of this home’s unveiling.

Once the door was fully open, she pulled the slender cord hanging against the wall, illuminating the narrow passage by the bare light bulb fixture.

Each step up the steep staircase issued a groan from the hardened planks beneath every footfall of her black Converse sneakers until she stood at the top, fiercely gripping onto the simple banister. She looked around the large, dark room before taking the final step into the unknown, mysterious, and yet-to-be-discovered past of her great-uncle. After working herself up to it for the last two days, Juliana had been expecting something ominous and frightening in the attic, yet instead she felt a sense of peace coupled with sadness. Her thoughts traveled to her father, and her emotions became even more pronounced. Her eyes welled with tears at the morose tranquility the attic emanated.

Essentially, but for a couple of trunks and a few boxes neatly placed upon a shelf, the attic was empty, having lain undisturbed and unfilled since its purchase in December of 1942.

If these walls could talk, they would tell her how William had slid his footlocker under the eave after placing the last of its contents within and how he had waited one full year before doing so. They would tell his grand-niece how he waited until the very last minute to place the newspaper over the windows. Once beige strips of masking tape were now an aged, burnished orange. The empty space staring back at the modern-day interloper represented the very reason for William’s departure.

Although expecting the worst in the attic, she wasn’t prepared for the emptiness. She had imagined cobwebs extending from box to box and odd pieces of furniture and tools that had long outgrown their usefulness. She thought the attic would surely be filled with scary dolls and broken strollers, perhaps a rocking chair or an eerie mirror, maybe even some Dorian Gray-type painting and faded photographs. Expecting an antique cemetery of sorts filled with memories, stories, and voices of the past residents who had once lived at 300 Bradford Road, she was surprised by the vacant space before her.

The startling emptiness of the room confirmed to her that no happy memories had ever been created in this house. The house never became a home, had never filled with children’s laughter or generations of family dating back to its initial construction. No household item ever had the luxury of being used enough to justify its disregard, saving and eventual storing on the third floor. It was clear to Juliana that Primrose Cottage was only a place where William laid his head, not his heart. True life had never infused these walls. The attic led her to believe he had been a bachelor—never married, never had children, never sharing his life, let alone this house, with anyone. The starkness of the attic revealed the loneliness of the man at the time of his departure.

03_Cat GardinerAbout the Author

Born and bred in New York City, Cat Gardiner is a girl in love with the romance of an era once known as the Silent Generation, now referred to as the Greatest Generation. A member of the National League of American Pen Women, Romance Writers of America, and Tampa Area Romance Authors, she and her husband adore exploring the 1940s Home Front experience as living historians, wishing for a time machine to transport them back seventy years.

She loves to pull out her vintage frocks and attend U.S.O dances, swing clubs, and re-enactment camps as part of her research, believing that everyone should have an understanding of The 1940s Experience™.

Inspired by those everyday young adults who changed the fate of the world, she writes about them, taking the reader on a romantic journey. Cat’s WWII-era novels always begin in her beloved Big Apple and surround you with the sights and sounds of a generation.

She is also the author of four Jane Austen-inspired contemporary novels, however, her greatest love is writing 20th Century Historical Fiction, WWII-era Romance. A Moment Forever is her debut novel in that genre.

For more information please visit Cat Gardiner's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Wednesday, June 15

A Holland Reads

Passages to the Past

Thursday, June 16

Susan Heim on Writing

History From a Woman's Perspective

Friday, June 17

Book Nerd

CelticLady's Reviews

Saturday, June 18

The Never-Ending Book

Monday, June 20

New Horizon Reviews

So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, June 21

Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, June 22

A Literary Vacation

The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, June 23

Library of Clean Reads

What Is That Book About

Friday, June 24

The Recipe Fairy

Monday, June 27

Cafinated Reads

The Reading Queen

Tuesday, June 28

The Gadoury Dreamer

Wednesday, June 29

Beth's Book Nook Blog

Singing Librarian Books

Thursday, June 30

Oh, for the Hook of a Book!


To win an eBook of A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner please enter using the GLEAM form below. Two eBooks are up for grabs!


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.

– Only one entry per household.

– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Moment Forever Book Blast

04_A Moment Forever_Book Blast Banner_FINAL

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Mailbox Monday (59)

It's time for a quick and dirty Mailbox Monday post! 

Happy Sunday y'all!  I only received one book this week but I thought I would share anyway.  I am so behind with my reading so it's a good thing that only one came in.  I had an awesome reading month in May but June has been a super slow one.  I've been wanting to read this one for a while so I'm glad I my library hold finally came in!

From the Library:

I hope everyone has a great week!  Leave your link so I can check what your books for new books!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

#FitReaders Weekly Check In (10)

I haven't done one of these in a long time but I am linking up with #FitReaders today.  It's hosted by the Geeky Blogger Book Blog and That's What I'm Talking About.

I've been working really hard to get back in the groove of doing serious exercise.  For most of the year, I have just exercised by walking; there's nothing wrong with that but my body needs more strenuous exercise in order to lose weight.  I also really need to build some muscle back up because my body just feels awful lately (I feel like an old lady!).  I started doing Couch 2 5K again; this is my third time doing it and I love how it helps my body get used to running again.  I just finished week 3 yesterday so I'm really excited about that.

For the past two weeks, I have exercised 5 days.  Three days a week I have been doing the C25K runs and then the other two days, I have been doing Jillian Michael's "Ripped in 30" DVD.  I really love that workout.  It's hard but it's so much better than the 30 Day Shred.  I am hoping that starting next week, I can move to working out six days a week. 

This week I actually started doing some of my workouts in the morning.  For many many years (until I had my daughter), I would get up between 4:00 and 4:30 in the morning to workout because that worked best for me.  Since my daughter has had a lot of sleep issues, working out in the morning has been impossible.  She is sleeping better for now (knock on wood!) so I decided to try it out this week.  I did three of my workouts in the morning which made my evenings much less stressful.  I have to really start making myself go better earlier but I think I am going to try to do most of my workouts in the morning.  It's a great way to start the day!

I don't want to talk about my eating.  I am using My Fitness Pal again and did okay last week and pretty good this week.  The next few weeks will be tricky with Father's Day, my daughter's birthday and the 4th of July but I'm going to try do the best I can. 

Anyway, that is all!  I'm terrible at keeping up with these posts but I'm hoping to do better over the next few months.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: "Bela's Letters" by Jeff Ingber

02_Béla’s Letters

Béla's Letters by Jeff Ingber

Publication Date: February 18, 2016

Paperback; 596 Pages

ISBN: 978-0985410025

Genre: Historical Fiction

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“Béla’s Letters” is a historical fiction novel spanning eight decades. It revolves around the remarkable life story of Béla Ingber, who was born before the onset of WWI in Munkács, a small city nestled in the Carpathian Mountains. The book tells of the struggles of Béla and his extended family to comprehend and prepare for the Holocaust, the implausible circumstances that the survivors endure before reuniting in the New World, and the crushing impact on them of their wartime experiences together with the feelings of guilt, hatred, fear, and abandonment that haunt them. At the core of the novel are the poignant letters and postcards that family members wrote to Béla, undeterred by the feasibility of delivery, which were his lifeline, even decades after the war ended.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the Author

03_Jeff IngberJeff is a financial industry consultant, who previously held senior positions at Citibank, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation. His latest book is "Bela's Letters," a family memoir based on his parents, who were survivors of the Hungarian Holocaust. Jeff also has written a screenplay entitled "The Bank Examiners." He lives with his wife in Jersey City, NJ.

For more information visit Jeff Ingber's website. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, May 25

Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Spotlight at The True Book Addict

Friday, May 27

Spotlight at The Writing Desk

Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Saturday, May 28

Spotlight at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Monday, May 30

Excerpt at Diana's Book Reviews

Friday, June 3

Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Monday, June 6

Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, June 7

Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, June 8

Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Interview at New Horizon Reviews

Thursday, June 9

Guest Post at New Horizon Reviews

Friday, June 10

Review at New Horizon Reviews

Monday, June 13

Review at CelticLady's Reviews

Spotlight at It's a Mad Mad World

Tuesday, June 14

Spotlight at The Mad Reviewer

Thursday, June 16

Review at Nerd in New York

Friday, June 17

Spotlight at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, June 21

Excerpt & Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, June 22

Review at Bookish

Thursday, June 23

Spotlight at Beth's Book Nook Blog

Friday, July 1

Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Monday, July 4

Blog Tour Wrap Up at Passages to the Past


To win a copy of Béla's Letters please enter using the GLEAM form below.


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 4th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.

– Only one entry per household.

– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Béla's Letters

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mailbox Monday (58)

Another Mailbox Monday post coming at ya!

It's been a good week overall and I picked up a bunch of new books this week.  We're working on getting ready for my daughter's birthday in a few weeks so I'm not sure when I will have time to read everything but I'll try to fit them in when I can!  It's been super hot here this weekend so we've had lots of pool time this weekend; it's been so relaxing that I'm not sure I want to go back to work tomorrow!

Anyway, here is what I picked up this week.

From the Library:

 For Review (from the publisher):

Purchased (for nook):

What books did you pick up this week?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Mini Reviews (14)

This book is the sequel to The Secret Daughter of the Tsar (which I really liked) and follows Veronica as she travels to Russia to claim the role as the heir to the Romanovs.  The story flashes back and forth between Veronica's story and the story of Grigory Potemkin who was one of Catherine the Great's lovers.  I really enjoyed the Potemkin story line; it was unique and intriguing.  The rest of the story was just okay; Veronica's story was slow and I had a hard time staying interested in what was happening to her.  I also found the past and present stories to be poorly connected so it almost seemed like they were two separate books.  3 stars.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a fun read and I loved the combination of historical fiction and fantasy!  The magical aspects were neat and I really enjoyed the descriptions of St. Petersburg.  I read a lot of reviews comparing this book to Shadow and Bone which I think is unfair because they are so completely different.  I didn't love the ending (I was hoping it would be a bit happier!) but it left enough of an opening for a second book.  I am eager to see where the story goes next. 3 stars.

A friend of mine gave me this book and I am so glad she did.  My daughter is almost 3 and let's just say that toddlerhood has been interesting.  I loved how honest (and hilarious) the author was about all the 'interesting' things toddlers do.  I laughed out loud multiple times while reading this and I especially enjoyed the sections on sleep (or lack thereof) and eating.  We've had the hardest time with those things at my house and the author's observations were spot on.  I wasn't a huge fan of the sections on parents who don't shower because eww  but otherwise, it was a huge hit with me. 5 stars.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Mailbox Monday (57)

Hi y'all! I'm linking up with Mailbox Monday again this week.

I swore this year that I would cut back even more on review books but that does not seem to be happening! I have found so many that I want to read and can't say no to so oh well!

Purchased for Kindle:

For review (from the author):
For Review (from NetGalley):
What books did you pick up this week? 

Friday, June 3, 2016

May 2016 Wrap Up

Hey y'all!  May is over and summer is here!  I'm so excited to be done with my class (I got an A) and I'm ready for summer reading, the pool and binge watching NetFlix!

May was my best reading month for the year! I have read 26 books so far and my goal is 52 so I am half way there.  At this time last year, I had read quite a few more books but I'm pretty happy that I stayed on track considering how crazy the past few months have been.  I did set two reading goals for May (read a non-fiction and a book I own) and I managed to accomplish both of them.  I think for June I am going to shoot for two non-fiction and two books I own so we'll see how that goes!  I also am going to try to post something on the blog at least once a week.  I really miss the blog but need to get the motivation to work on it. I didn't do so hot with the rest of my May goals but oh well! I just started Couch to 5K again this week so I am excited to work on that over the summer as well.

Here are my stats for the month of May:

-8 books read
   -2 non-fiction
   -3 historical fiction
   -2 review books
   -4 library books
   -1 books I own
   -4 ebooks

What I read in May:

1.) The Beast by J.R. Ward - 4 stars
2.) Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll - 3 stars
3.) The Midnight Watch by David Dyer
4.) The Tsarina's Legacy by Jennifer Laam - 3 stars
5.) Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland by Christopher Browning - 3 stars
6.) Toddlers are A**holes, It's Not Your Fault by Bunmi Laditan - 4 stars
7.) Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates - 4 stars
8.) The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye - 3 stars

Happy Summer!
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