Book Review: 13 Dates

13 Dates

Title: 13 Dates

Author: Matt Dunn

Page: 334 pages

Plot: When Noah Wilson first encounters the quirky, opinionated and very beautiful Angel Fallon, his world is turned upside down. It’s clear she’s not his normal type, but Noah can’t stop thinking about her—which doesn’t bode well for the blind date he’s already late for.

Convinced by his friend (and self-professed dating expert) Marlon that thirteen dates is all you need to fall in love, Noah decides to give it a try with Angel. They should be incompatible: she’s impulsive and he’s a planner; he wants to settle down and she doesn’t ‘do’ relationships—or anything, for that matter—the way Noah is used to. But there’s something about Angel, and Noah can’t shake the idea that all they need is twelve more dates.

Despite some near-disasters involving rock climbing, saddle sores and jellied eels, it seems his plan may actually work. But even if they do reach the magic number, can that really mean they’ll just fall into their happily-ever-after?

Thoughts:  I would like to start the review by explaining the book title. Noah’s friend, Marlon had once read a theory in a Cosmopolitan magazine that it takes 13 dates to know if you really love somebody and are not just infatuated by them. Hence the title.

Noah is the male lead in the book. He showcases artist in his gallery. He is sweet, corny, socially awkward and sometime’s irritating. He is looking for a companion in life and wants to settle down. His friend, Marlon sets him up on a blind date. Noah decides to make a quick stop at Starbuck right before his blind date and bangs into Angel.

Angel, our female lead is a strong, independent, adventurous, unconventional woman who believes in living life one day at a time. Their first encounter scene is really comically narrated. Noah realizes that Angel is the one for him, but Angel has her own baggage. The question is will Noah be able to convince her to overcome her baggage? Will Angel let herself commit to Noah?

The plot is very light hearted, sweet and romantic. The writing in most places is causal and easy going. The punctuations are a little haywire.  I liked the lead characters and their chemistry. The plot will make you believe in love at first sight and in the power of love.  The book does have a very predictable course but there is a feel good factor about reading the book.

I liked that Noah, who otherwise seems to be unsure about things knows the minute he sees, rather hears Angel’s voice that she is the one for him. Inspite of Noah and Angel being poles apart, they find a way to make things work. Plus Mary, Noah’s land lady adds her own flavor to the story.

The book is a light-hearted romantic comedy which can be read in one sitting. It gives you a feel good factor in the end.

Ratings: 3/5

PS: Thanks to author and Netgalley for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Mahabhatra Code

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Title: The Mahabharata Code

Author: Karthik K.B. Rao

Page: 191 pages

Plot: “The Mahabharata Code is a personal account of the main protagonist Narayan Rao (NR), who claims to be an astronomer with NASA. NR and a few other crew members agree to take part in the NASA mission to visit this mystery planet from which they had received mysterious signals. Here, they meet a man with a long flowing white beard, and he introduces himself as Vyasa. He reveals that he has a crazy plan in mind and seeks NR and his members’ help in implementing this plan. He intends to recreate the entire Mahabharata on this planet to restore the faith of the primitive simpletons here.

As the Mahabharata incidents start unfolding, NR realizes that Vyasa intends to recreate them page by page here, if not paragraph by paragraph. Also NR begins to realize that his son, Krishna, who is being groomed by Vyasa as Vishnu’s avatar, is nothing more than a pawn in Vyasa’s scheme of things. Other incidents of Mahabharata also unfold according to the original epic. Pandavas and Kauravas grow up hating each other and finally the restaging plan culminates with both the warring sets of cousins facing each other in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Inexplicably, like the original epic, Arjuna develops cold feet seeing his own cousins, teachers and relatives on the opposite side. He seeks Krishna’s divine intervention. Is the brainwashed “alien” Krishna prepared for this intervention?”

Thoughts:  I have watched the epic of Mahabharata on television as a child and over the years have read multiple retellings of the age old epic from different perspective. But when I read the synopsis for ‘The Mahabharata Code’ the plot was different from what I had read before. It had a sci-fi element added to it and I had to give this one a read.

Narayan Rao is an Indian astronaut working with NASA. He is chosen as one of the crew members to visit a mystery planet. He chooses to go there with his better half, Shrishti. Little did they know that they will play a major role in restaging the great epic of Mahabharata on an alien planet.

I found the plot to be very fascinating with aliens, spaceships and Mahabharata put together. The author’s imagination for bringing these aspects together in a book is worth a mention. The narration has its highs and lows. There are times where the narration dips especially where Narayan and Shristi are having a conversation. What appealed the most to me in the book was the logical explanation given for various events which were otherwise considered “mystical”. I loved the part where Krishna is narrating the Gita to Narayan.

The characterization could have been better. I could understand what all the characters where upto but didn’t really connect with any of them. But what I really liked about the characters is the justification given for their actions.

I would recommend you to pick this book up if you are looking for a varied retelling of Mahabharata.

Ratings: 3/5

PS: Thanks to author and TBC for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Summer of Impossible Things

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Title: The Summer of Impossible Things

Author: Rowan Coleman

Page: 432 pages

Plot: If you could change the past, would you?

Thirty years ago, something terrible happened to Luna’s mother. Something she’s only prepared to reveal after her death.

Now Luna and her sister have a chance to go back to their mother’s birthplace and settle her affairs. But in Brooklyn they find more questions than answers, until something impossible – magical – happens to Luna, and she meets her mother as a young woman back in the summer of 1977.

At first Luna’s thinks she’s going crazy, but if she can truly travel back in time, she can change things. But in doing anything – everything – to save her mother’s life, will she have to sacrifice her own?

Favorite Quote: “Stories are the only things that can ever really change the world. The stories that people believe in are the only ones that matter. Those are the stories that have the power to change everything we think we understand.”

Thoughts:  This book is a sci-fi, time travel fiction about a girl named Luna who is grieving the loss of her mother. She and her sister visit their mother’s birthplace to clear matters only to find themselves in more ambiguity than ever.

After landing in Brooklyn, Luna is magically able to travel through time and encounters her young mother in 1977. The story takes us through Luna’s struggle to firstly understand that she is not a lunatic but is able to travel through time and secondly to undo the course of actions that had taken place in 1977 to change the traumatic future. Will she make sacrifice for love?

The plot is very thought provoking. It makes you think about your past and how acting a little differently could have impacted your future. It is a book that will make you think hard even after finishing it. The writing is fantastic and truly magical. The book is a little long buy worth the read.

If you are a cynic give this book a shot and you might just start thinking differently.

Rating: 4/5

PS: Thanks to author for sending me a copy of the book via Netgalley.

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Book Review: Our Souls at Night

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Title: Our Souls at Night

Author: Kent Haruf

Page: 179 pages

Plot: In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.

Favorite Quote: “Who would have thought at this time in our lives that we’d still have something like this. That it turns out we’re not finished with changes and excitements. And not all dried up in body and spirit.”

Thoughts:  This book was written by the author on his death bed. It is an unconventional tale of two old people trying to find comfort in each other and facing resistance from the society and their children. Addie Moore and Louis Water are neighbors in the small town of Holt, Colorado.  Both of them have lost their spouses and their children are away living their own lives. Both in their seventies live alone and crave companionship.

Days still pass by with chores to do but nights are the toughest. Addie and Louis make an arrangement where at night Louis visits Addie’s home. They talk about their lives, their wishes, etc and find solace in each other’s company. Soon in the small town the rumors spread and Addie and Louis have to deal with the people and even their children.

This book is nothing like what I have read before. The plot is different from what I usually read and also the age bracket of the protagonists especially being portrayed in this light. The characters are well carved and easy to sympathize with. The narration is seamless and poetic at times, though I don’t know why the quotations before the speech are completely edited. It got a while for me to get use to reading like this.

Overall, the book is about two old people trying to make the last leg of their lives finding comfort in companionship. The story is beautiful, tender and heart touching.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Book Review: A Spool of Blue Thread

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Title: A Spool of Blue Thread

Author: Anne Tyler

Page: 358 pages

Plot: “It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon.” This is how Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. from Red’s father and mother, newly-arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red’s grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their anchor.

Brimming with all the insight, humour, and generosity of spirit that are the hallmarks of Anne Tyler’s work, A Spool of Blue Thread tells a poignant yet unsentimental story in praise of family in all its emotional complexity. It is a novel to cherish.

Favorite Quote: “But it has occurred to me, on occasion, that our memories of our loved ones might not be the point. Maybe the point is their memories—all that they take away with them”

Thoughts:  I picked this book up last month since I was in a mood to read a well written family drama and this was my choice since Anne Tyle is famous for quirking up family tales. ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’ revolves around the Whitshank family. The soul of the narration is the mother, Abby Whitshank.

The book tells us about the three generation of the Whitshank family. There is nothing remarkable about their family but like most of the families, they believe they are special. The story mostly takes us through the lives of the family members, their wills, regrets, dimensions, family dynamics, evolution of their family, etc.

It is a slow paced novel and very realistic in nature. The story progression is very slow which makes the book dull at times. A crisper edit would definitely have attracted more readers.  The story is not striking enough but what makes the book stand out is the character build up and the narration. The characters are very well studied and portrayed interestingly. Empathizing with the characters and their quirks was easy.

This book is for the patient readers who enjoy a well characterized novel and slow and steady unveiling of the story.

Rating: 3/5

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Book Review: Let it Snow

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Title: Let it Snow

Author:  Maureen Johnson, John Green, Lauren Myracle

Page: 365 pages

Plot: Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Favorite Quote: “I always had this idea that you should never give up a happy middle in the hopes of a happy ending, because there is no such thing as a happy ending. Do you know what I mean? There is so much to lose.”

Thoughts:   The book has three stories written by the three best selling YA authors. The plot is based around the time of Christmas. All three love stories are interconnected in some way and towards the end we see all the three couples brought together. Let’s see each story one by one.

The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson: We follow Jubliee here. She has her Christmas planned with her “perfect” boyfriend Noah. Until her parents are put behind bars and she has to leave for Florida immediately. It’s snowing heavily and her train cannot go further and she is stuck in Gracetown where she meets Stuart, a sweet boy whose family offers Jubliee shelter until the storm ends. Her encounter with Stuart makes her realize a lot of things about herself.  It is a very cute tale of meeting a stranger who helps Jubliee with self realization and turns a nightmarish Christmas into the best one.

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A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green: Tobin, Angie (famously known as Duke) and JP are watching a James Bond movie while it is snowing outside. Tobin gets an unexpected call from a friend working at the Waffle House that a Christmas miracle has taken place and the otherwise dull Waffle House is filled with Cheerleaders. He commands Tobin and his friend to come there immediately with Twister. Considering this as a once in a life event all three of them struggle their way through the snow and finally reach the Waffle House only to realize that Tobin and Angie have always liked each other.  It is a very sweet story about two friends liking each other but not realizing it. I felt that the story was a little dragged but the end made up for it.

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The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle:  Addie and Jeb are having relationship troubles and they break up right before Christmas. She emails him to meet her at Starbucks and his not turning up means only one thing. He is not interested in patching up. On top of it Addie impulsively colored her naturally beautiful blond hair ‘Pink’. Plus her best friends think she is self obsessed and she doesn’t think about others as much. On the day of Christmas Addie has an early morning shift at Starbucks. In between she has to pick up a teacup pig for her best friend. She has so much going within her and experiences a major moment of self discovery. There are lots of ups and downs in their relationship but they still stick together through it all. I kind of like this tale the most.  Plus angels and teacup pigs add a flavor to it.

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All three tales are sweet, funny at times, mushy, cute and hilarious. This is a light hearted book, perfect to read on a lazy, cozy afternoon, curled by in a blanket with a cup of coffee.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Book Review: Encounters of a Fat Bride

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Title: Encounters of a Fat Bride

Author: Samah Visaria

Pages: 159 pages

Plot: Madhurima Pandey is twenty-five, single, and gradually coming to terms with the annoying ‘you’re next’ nudges from family and friends. But soon they realize that chances of finding a groom for her are slim-mainly because she’s not. At 93 kilos, she knows she isn’t the ideal weight for marriage, even if her family believes she’s the ideal age.
Despite her reservations, the hunt begins, and so does a spree of rejections until Harsh comes along. Madhu cannot believe that a boy with no obvious flaws has agreed to marry her. Low self-esteem makes her suspect he’s either impotent or a homosexual, but she doesn’t turn down the proposal immediately.
A negligible period of courtship and a hurried engagement follow. But does Madhurima really find her happily-ever-after? Or are there more surprises in store?
Jovial, witty and unapologetically honest, Madhurima Pandey’s story of struggle and survival in the run-up to her D-Day gives you a refreshingly new take on the big fat Indian wedding.

Thoughts: In ‘Encounters of a Fat Bride’ we follow Madurima Pandey, our twenty-five year old protagonist whose family is looking for a groom for her in a typical arrange marriage set up. Madhurima is well educated and independent but not really an “ideal” bride as per the society because she weight 93 kgs. While her friends are having fairytale weddings, she is facing several rejections due to her weight. This causes a serious damage to her self esteem. The story revolves around Madhurima’s struggle to find a groom until the day of her wedding. Even the chapters are titled as a countdown to the wedding.

The book unveils from Madhurima’s perspective. Her sarcasm, anecdotes and take on things add an essence to the story. The flow of the book is seamless and the language is simple. The characters are quite relatable and realistic.  The gamut of arrange marriage and its effects are very well portrayed. I finished reading the entire book in a day. I was eager to find out who and how does Madhurima marry.

The book is a lighthearted, funny read that addresses the issues like body shaming, concept of arrange marriage, dowry, etc in a way that it appeals the reader and also highlights these issue.

Ratings: 4/5

PS: Thank you to the author for giving me a copy of the book for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Spy

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Title: The Spy

Author: Paulo Coelho

Page: 208 pages

Plot: In his new novel, Paulo Coelho, best-selling author of The Alchemist and Adultery, brings to life one of history’s most enigmatic women: Mata Hari.

HER ONLY CRIME WAS TO BE AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN

When Mata Hari arrived in Paris she was penniless. Within months she was the most celebrated woman in the city.

As a dancer, she shocked and delighted audiences; as a courtesan, she bewitched the era’s richest and most powerful men.

But as paranoia consumed a country at war, Mata Hari’s lifestyle brought her under suspicion. In 1917, she was arrested in her hotel room on the Champs Elysees, and accused of espionage.

Told in Mata Hari’s voice through her final letter, The Spy is the unforgettable story of a woman who dared to defy convention and who paid the ultimate price.

Thoughts:   The Spy is based on the life of Margaretha Zelle, famously known as Mata Hari an exotic dancer who bewitched the most influential men of her time. The book is a historical fiction based during the World War 1.

As a child, Margaretha Zelle was abused by her school principal. She got married to an Indonesian solider and escaped from her home town. Soon she realized that her husband was an abusive man and she tried to put up with it for a few years but after a point she left him and their daughter behind to find solitude in Paris. In Paris she started a life as an exotic oriental dancer and in no time gained popularity amongst the Parisans for both wrong and the right reasons. Soon her lifestyle brought her into suspicion and she was charged of being a double agent and arrested by the French in 1917.

The opening of the book is with a bang on a very crucial note where Mata Hari is being executed by a firing squad and she refuses to wear a mask and faces her death in the eye. Mata Hari is a tale of a woman who dared to defy the conventional norms of the society and had to pay the price for it. There are many books written on Mata Hari but what sets this book apart is the format of the writing. It is written as a letter from Mata Hari to her lawyer and a reply from her lawyer to her. We feel Mata Hari’s pain, enthusiasm, passion, shame, courage, numbness all of it. The author has taken creative leverage and added his own version of fiction to the real story to make the book interesting.

If you like Paulo Coelho’s book and historical fiction do give this book a shot!

Ratings: 3.5/5

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Book Review: The Corner Office

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Title: The Corner Office

Author: Katerina Baker

Page: 180 pages

Plot: Tara Johnson’s sacrifices are about to pay off: a senior executive at thirty-five at a Fortune 500 company, she’s one of the two finalists in line for a Managing Director position. Unfortunately, her rival of fifteen years, the charming, infuriating Richard Boyd, is just as qualified, and unlike her, he’s willing to cross pretty much every line to get what he wants.

Of all the things Tara stored in the attic to make it to the top, it’s her personal life she misses the most. That is, until she starts a steamy affair with sex god Aidan, her direct report. Interoffice relationships with a subordinate can mean the end of a career, and when Richard finds out, it’s the perfect opportunity to take his high-heeled nemesis out, especially since he’s still nursing a grudge against Tara for rejecting him years ago.

But Tara’s increasingly domineering lover has his own dark secrets, endangering more than just her career. As her liaison spirals out of control, salvation will come from the man she always thought she hated, and perhaps the only one to truly understand

Thoughts:  ‘Corner Office’ is a contemporary romance novel revolving mainly around Tara Johnson, a thirty five year old, ambitious senior executive, running for the position of a Managing Director at a Fortune 500 company. She has given it her all, ignored her personal life and relationships to reach where she is. But she is not the only one aspiring to be the Managing Director. Richard Boyd, a fellow senior executive, a rival of Tara’s since fifteen years is ready to give it all to become the MD. He is a charmer and he pretty much gets whoever, whatever he wants with much ease. The rivalry and the constant bickering between Tara and Richard is quite a lot of fun to read. Tara has always been a rule abider until the day Adian, joins her team and she gets into a steamy affair with him. This is against the office policy and the story picks up from here on.

Tara’s character is much likable from the beginning itself. I like her go getter spirit, the way she is focused yet when it comes to her mother she leaves everything behind and attends to her needs, even the tiniest ones and the way she inspires her fellow women employees at Women’s Network. Richard’s character is the one that you will strongly dislike at the beginning but fall in love with towards the end. Adian’s behavior was a bit ambiguous and hence the course of his actions was not justified well. His character seemed to change drastically in a short time. I really didn’t understand why such a strong person like Tara did not put him in his place sooner. Towards the end I really wanted to know who gets the corner office and how. Hopefully there will be sequel.

The story is narrated from Tara’s point of view. The writing is smooth and apart from the romance, the premise also offers a lot of corporate politics, stalking, blackmailing, etc. I quite liked the book. It was a quick read. I wish the author good luck for her book release and I definitely look forward to reading more books from her.

Ratings: 3.5/5

PS: The book releases on 23rd June, 2017.  I would like to thank the author and the publication for sending me the ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Mary Poser

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Title: Mary Poser: Butterflies and white lies as Bollywood Comes to Nashville

Author: Angel A.

Pages: 478 pages

Plot: The recipe for a warm and humorous story…

In a modest bowl of Nashville, gently place a girl who is Country music, Bible belt, and a Steakhouse foodie.

Then add a surprise portion of exotic and handsome Anglo Indian, who is a passionate Bollywood director, vegetarian and Hindu.

Stir vigorously on a bed of intense attraction.

At first, the ingredients will seem to clash and separate.

Keep stirring…

Include a dollop of jealous boyfriend and a meddling mother.

Splash in a serving of fun and mischievous friends. Keep stirring…

Add a dash of crazy aunt and a minister father to keep the flavors working together.

Sprinkle in even more complicated family members to taste.

Cook on high emotions.

The secret ingredient that cuts through the sweetness is a final layer of shocking revelation that adds a surprising depth of flavor.

Finish with a twist of ‘Oh My God! Is she really going to do that?’.

Serve as tasty bite-size chapters in a novel dish of mayhem and madness with a side of Country music and Bollywood dancing.

Thoughts:  This book had me at the mention of Bollywood. I had to pick it up and find out an American’s perception about it. Mary Poser is plotted in Nashville, also known as the Bible belt.

Mary’s family is a traditional Christan family, making her an ideal daughter even if she has to let go off her dreams. Mary attends a Film Festival with her friends one night and meets this dashing Indian film director, Simha. Both are drawn towards each other and connect instantaneously. Bam! Mary’s conscious reminds her that she cannot fall in love with a non Christian man but her heart says otherwise. And the turmoil begins… With on and off communication and a lot of drama, Mary and Simha try to find their way in and out of this situation.

The plot seemed promising but the writing failed to live up to the mark. The characterization demanded more strength. The religiousness and at times racism came across more strongly than the love story. I couldn’t connect with Mary’s character since it didn’t seem realistic. Her choices in life were appalling and seemed too extreme. I enjoyed Mary’s and Simha’s love story in bits and pieces. The fact that for most of the book Mary was dating another guy she wasn’t in love with, diluted the love story.  What I really liked was Rumi’s quote references made at the beginning of each chapter. I loved the end with the butterflies in it.  To wrap it up, this was a mediocre book with mediocre plot and weak characterization.

Ratings: 2.5/5

PS: – Thanks to author for sending me a copy of this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

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