Book Review: City of Glass

Feb
23
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
City of Glass City of Glass by
Series: The Mortal Instruments #3
Published by in 2009
Genres: , ,
Pages: 541
Source:
Goodreads

To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters -- never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.
As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadow-hunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her new found powers to help save the Glass City -- whatever the cost?

My Review:

Wow! What an epic way to end an amazing series! As I read the first two before I started blogging, I’m going to use this as more of a review of the whole series,  mostly so I don’t spoil too badly (despite their hype on the blogosphere, many people IRL have yet to read these – a majority of my friends included!)

One of the things I really loved about this series is the way Clare mixes her fantasy genres. I mean, obviously this is a paranormal series, but it combines different genres of paranormal into a world that makes sense. She explains how all the paranormals came to be in the world, which I love, and then expects them to work together (which they don’t always, but such is the way of things, isn’t it?). Eventually they work it out though and she finally fixes all the things that just struck me as wrong in the end. (Actually, that’s the wrong way to put it. It’s not that there was anything wrong with her writing, it’s just there are a few things that she sets up to be “wrong” and she finally tells us how they can actually not be wrong… and I’m making it worse, aren’t I? Just go read it!)


Another thing I love about the series is how vivid Clare’s writing is when it comes to personality. When I read a book, I don’t much care what the characters look like. In fact, most likely I’ll have skipped over the character description without realizing it and fabricated the character’s looks in my head based on their personality. Before the first Harry Potter film came out I could have sworn Malfoy had black hair. Not even kidding. Character description just isn’t that important to the story for me (except when it is, of course. Nobody could miss that Harry’s eyes are Emerald Green). Clare gives the characters such vivid personalities that I not only had pictures of them in my head, I was casting them for a possible film. I see books that way anyways, and I’m always very excited when one of the most vivid ones ends up becoming a film! I’m so excited for this one, and while I’m a little sad they didn’t get Molly Quinn for Clary, I’m still holding out hope for Darren Criss as Magnus (OMG yes please!)


That’s probably it for me before the weekend (birthday tomorrow, Jury Friday, Opera Sat. night EEP! I’m too busy!) Thank you all for sticking with me through this dry spell. I promise to make it worth your while as soon as I can – keep an eye out!





Book Review: The Name of this Book is Secret

Feb
20
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Name of this Book is Secret The Name of this Book is Secret by
Series: Secret #1
Published by in 2007
Genres: ,
Pages: 364
Source:
Goodreads

When adventurous detectives Cass, an ever-vigilant survivalist, and Max-Ernest, a boy driven by logic, discover the Symphony of Smells, a box filled with smelly vials of colorful ingredients, they accidentally stumble upon a mystery surrounding a dead magician's hidden diary and the hunt for immortality.

My Review:

I really, seriously, loved this book! I know, I’m a few years behind in reading it (it first came out in 2007), and my friends have been telling me to read it for years, but it wasn’t until I saw it on sale at my local Borders that I really decided to pick it up and actually do so. Why did I ever wait so long?!

I’m sure the comparison between this book and the Series of Unfortunate Events has been made many times over, but this book didn’t just remind me of that series (which I haven’t finished by the way, which is probably why that comparison isn’t as strong). No, the main thing this book reminded me of was the film Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. It wasn’t a huge film – it came out around Christmas in 2007 and had Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, and Jason Bateman in it, along with this really talented kid actor named Zach Mills. Reading this book has inspired me to go rewatch the film, which means there will probably be a review up soon, so I’m not going to go into too much detail. The important part for this review, is that between the illustrations and the tone of the narrator, I had a lot of fun imagining that this book was actually written by the bookbinder Bellini, who lives in the basement of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (which is a toy store). The resemblance pretty much ends there, but I had so much fun with imagining how he knew this story, and why he was telling it.

The other fun thing about this book is that the author doesn’t tell you everything. In fact, he points out that he hasn’t told you things, and makes it very clear that the names and faces of the characters have all been changed so anything he told you could be a lie. My imagination always goes wild at that point. The writer in me absolutely loves it when an author gives it express permission to participate in the story. There’s even a chapter at the end where he gives you all the facts and then a ton of blank lines for you to write in your own ending! Though, of course, the reader in me won’t let me deface a book by writing directly in it. Maybe eventually I’ll fold up a few pages with my version and just stick them in without attaching them to anything.

I would definitely recommend this book to a friend, because it is such a fun read. But the people I would love to recommend it to are the younger, perhaps more reluctant readers. This is an easy, engaging read that is perfect for kindling (or re-kindling) a love of reading!





Book Review: Blameless

Feb
15
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Blameless Blameless by
Series: Parasol Protectorate #3
Published by in 2010
Genres: ,
Pages: 374
Source: ,
Goodreads

Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.

My Review:

I always find it so hard to find things to say about a sequel without spoiling the first (or second) of the series. For those of you who have been living under a rock, the Parasol Protectorate is an epic steampunk series, set in a Victorian England where the supernatural is every day. I don’t think I ended up reviewing the first two last fall, so first I’m just going to say, I love this world. Carriger has really done her research on this time period, and thought long and hard about how the society would have been different in this situation. The world is vividly described and makes me wish I lived during that time – to me that’s the best indicator of good world building. If I want to live there (no matter how awful the situations in the story are) you’ve done a really good job.


The other thing I loved, especially about this specific novel in the series, is that when I finished, I wanted to go get out my WIP and write. I wanted to build my world because I was so inspired by Carriger’s world building. I can’t write right now because of school, but it was a near thing. It is a very rare thing for me to feel that after reading a novel – usually I just want to read more – and I would like to thank Gail Carriger for giving me that inspiration. 


I had a feeling that this novel is really setting up the next book. We finally get some interesting facts about Alexia’s condition that seem to be setting up something bigger, and I can’t wait until the next one comes out to find out how she is going to resolve this. At the same time, I don’t want it to end, because being without new stories for this world will be very upsetting. I might even have to write my own new stories once it’s finished!


If you haven’t read this series, you must, must, must find yourself a copy of Soulless NOW!





Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by
Series: Harry Potter #5
Published by in 2003
Genres: ,
Pages: 870
Source:
Goodreads

The fifth hefty installment to J.K. Rowling's renowned Harry Potter series takes a uniquely psychological and intensely dark turn, bringing the boy wizard at odds with his own identity and friendships as he continues to fight He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Now fifteen years old with four Voldemort battles under his belt, Harry feels frustrated about the growing public skepticism about the Dark Lord's return. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Magic is also voicing its doubt, and all of Hogwarts comes under the watchful eye of an oppressive Ministry representative. Despite the additional problems of looming O.W.L. exams and Hagrid's inexplicable absence, Harry's main preoccupation is his vivid dreams that take him to places -- and make him witness events -- that horrify and intrigue him. These dreams provide a shocking clue to his very existence, and when eventually they lead Harry to confrontation, the wizard must cope with a tragic death and a telling prophecy about his future.

My thoughts:

Well I certainly didn’t expect to finish this one before the end of the month. Then again, I didn’t expect to come down with a cold either. Gotta look at the bright side though, right?

Oh my. What to say? This book has been lovingly dubbed Harry Potter and the Pillar of Angst by my friends. I can’t say I blame them. There’s a lot of psychological stuff in there with very little action. On the other hand, some of my absolute favourite quotes in the whole series are from this book. For example: In response to Harry’s accusation that his friends won’t look at him not the other way around, Hermione says “Maybe you’re taking it in turns to look and keep missing each other?” I don’t know why but that line always makes me giggle!

I also love the development of Peeves in this novel. In the first four he was merely an annoyance (and I loved him for it – I have often said Peeves was my favourite character). But now he takes on some character with a real enemy in Umbridge. And what’s more, I love the fact that he bows to the Weasley twins when they tell him “Give her Hell from us!” and the way McGonagall is so frustrated at Umbridge that she tells him the chandelier unscrews the other way.

This was the first book I really started to look at names for. Umbridge is the one who really got me thinking – there’s a word in English that sounds like Umbridge that pretty well describes what the other characters feel towards her (though I have no idea how it’s spelled so I’m not even going to try). That got me thinking about other significant names. For example: Lupin = Wolf in Latin and many romance languages, Malfoy = “Bad time” in French (spelled slightly differently), even Voldemort = “Fly from death” also in French. But what really got me thinking was the first time I read it in French, because while some of the names were based on French, others got changed. Snape became Rogue, probably because Snape is based on an English word (I haven’t been able to find one, but that’s my best guess). This was probably also the point where I began scrutinizing every word for clues to how it would end – it was fun coming across my little pencil underlining every once in a while and going “Yeah I was soooo off there!”

Anyways, that’s it for me on the Potter-thon, hope you all had fun!





Book Review: Leviathan

Jan
25
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Leviathan Leviathan by
Series: Leviathan #1
Published by , in 2009
Genres: ,
Pages: 440
Source:
Goodreads

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

My Review:

One of the things I love about Scott Westerfeld’s writing is the way he gets into the heads of his characters. He gets everything right down to the slang. Though some might argue that it makes it harder to understand his stories, I feel that in the end it makes the characters more lovable. I will admit it took me a while to get into the story, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. I carried the book with me everywhere and I’m pretty sure I made some people around me mad, because the slightest few minutes of nothing to do and I would pull out the book to read a few pages.


One thing I will say on the other side, the world was really complicated for a “real world” scenario. I personally was intrigued – I wanted to fly on Deryn’s Leviathan, and learn how to drive Alek’s Walker. But I think it would be really helpful to have a sort of guide book to the world. I want to know about all of the Darwinist’s beasts (I want a message lizard!) and I would like to read (or possibly even write) an encyclopaedia of all the beasts and machines involved. Then again, I’m fascinated by those kind of things, and some people may find that a bit off-putting.


I am so glad I decided to buy this instead of a book I’ve already read, and I am so excited to read the next one!





Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by
Series: Harry Potter #4
Published by in 2002
Genres: ,
Pages: 734
Source:
Goodreads

Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup with Hermione, Ron, and the Weasleys. He wants to dream about Cho Chang, his crush (and maybe do more than dream). He wants to find out about the mysterious event that's supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn't happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. Unfortunately for Harry Potter, he's not normal - even by wizarding standards. And in his case, different can be deadly.

My thoughts:

It seemed to take forever to get through this one! I am so ready to move on to the next book, but I didn’t want to skip anything. That’s cheating after all. So, after finishing, my thoughts are as follows:

1) Watching that awful excuse for a movie had coloured my view of this book more than I expected, especially since I read the book way before seeing the movie. It’s actually not that bad – probably because the details are what makes the story and most if not all of them got left out in the film.

2) I know Rowling probably meant to be all metaphorical and whatnot on the whole house elves issue, but I’m still not sure I understand what she was getting at – it’s so confusing when the slaves themselves assert that this is what they want. Is Dobby really that odd, or have they been brainwashed for too long to know the difference? I like to think of myself as on Hermione’s side, because, well, I’ve always seen myself as a real life version of Hermione, but sometimes I have to agree with Ron – she’s not even listening to the House Elves!

3) I love Hagrid for many reasons, but one of the most important ones is:
“You all righ’?”
“Yeah”
“No, yeh’re not. ‘Course yeh’re not. But yeh will be.”
We’ve all been there. We’ve all had someone ask us if we’re alright, and out of whatever stupid ideas we have about the situation we say “yeah I’m fine.” And you know what? Some days you just want them to look you straight back in the eyes and say “Liar”

4) Dumbledore is awesome and I wish Richard Harris had lived long enough to at least finish the role.

5) It’s really amusing to note where they had to have changed a British word for an American, and others where they didn’t. This is especially true since I spent a year there learning their slang, and translating on both sides of the ocean (I’ve been watching Primeval with a friend here, and every once in a while they’ll say something and she’ll look at me like “whaaaaat?” It usually takes me a minute to figure out why she’s confused). I’m also amused by the fact that none of these things that I could never have understood before detracted from my previous readings, or really added all that much to this reading – and so I would like to say to the publishers “Leave the originals alone, thank you! Americans aren’t all that stupid, and it doesn’t change anything!”

There’s more I could say, but I think I’ll leave it there for tonight. I’m going to take a break from Harry Potter for a few days, hopefully get some other reading done, and then back to it this weekend.

 





Book Review: The Lost Hero

Jan
16
1 COMMENT • This post is filed under: Book Review
The Lost Hero The Lost Hero by
Series: Heroes of Olympus #1
Published by in 2010
Genres: ,
Pages: 557
Source:
Goodreads

Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?
Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.
Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god.

My Review:

OMG, MORE PLEASE! I flew through this novel in two days, constantly on the edge of my seat!

I’ll admit, mythology is kind of my thing. When we did Ancient Civilizations in Elementary school, I was always the one working on mythology for my final project. I still remember the boxes and boxes of notecards I had on Egypt (one of the more difficult ones because every single town had their own deity on top of the standards – who all had a different name depending on where the city was, talk about confusing!). I’ve also always liked the idea of those Gods in modern times. So when I first heard about the Percy Jackson series, I thought I had to read it, just to see what the hype was about.

When I finally did get around to reading it, I thought it was pretty good, but I could tell that it had been written for a younger audience than me. For what it was it was pretty awesome, so I kept reading. By the time I got to the end of the series, most of the enjoyment for me was recognizing the Gods I’d studied and loved when I was the same age as Percy. It was ok, and I would recommend it but it wasn’t on the level of Harry Potter.

Then I read The Red Pyramid. I had high hopes for this one, mostly because I absolutely loved the Egyptian Gods, and I thought they would be much more interesting. I was slightly disappointed to find I had trouble getting through that one. That may have been somewhat due to my extremely stressed mood at the time, but I found the characters too young to relate to, and aside from the occasional self-referentiality Riordan put in, there wasn’t much exciting. This may have something to do with the writing style – it felt uncomfortable that he made it a transcription of a recording, and every time he interrupted the narrative to remind us that we were supposed to be hearing a recording I got rather annoyed. Just tell the story! That said, when the next one comes out I’ll keep reading, in hopes that it was mostly due to my mood and not the writing.

So then, going in to The Lost Hero I had lowered my expectations slightly. After all, the previous books had mostly flopped for me because I had such high expectations, and honestly, no one could have lived up to them (not even if I’d tried to write them myself – that probably would have flopped worse!) I decided I would go in to this one not expecting anything from him. I tried my best to forget everything I knew about mythology and focus on the story.

I needn’t have bothered. Finally, Riordan has captured my attention! I found the characters engaging and relatable, even though they are a little young compared to me. I spent most of the novel trying to figure out what was going to happen (that’s a huge seller for me, and I have fun doing it, even if it does ruin the novel sometimes – the good ones it shouldn’t ruin, because I shouldn’t be able to figure it out). This one literally had me stumped until the final clue only a few pages from the end. This truly is a new myth, much as the very first Percy Jackson book seemed, not following the archetype of any of the ancient ones.

Another big seller for me in this novel was the mixture of Roman and Greek mythology. Most authors treat the two mythologies as completely separate entities – you have to chose one or the other – probably because they are so similar. I love the way that Riordan acknowledges these similarities, but highlights the fact that the Romans defined their Gods slightly differently. Riordan explains it all in his book, but the Roman Gods were shifted slightly from their original Greek to be more in line with Roman values, and that is portrayed beautifully, especially in the relationship between Thalia and Jason, and the different forms the Gods appear in.

I am so excited for the next book Son of Neptune and I cannot wait to see where he goes with his works in general. I find it interesting that he started with Greek mythology, and is concurrently running Roman and Egyptian (that’s the order I always thought of them in historically). I would love to see him add more mythologies to his world – there are so many to play with! He hints at a strong background in Cherokee heritage for Piper (wouldn’t it be awesome if her Grandfather, who is often mentioned was a Cherokee Demigod?). I also am waiting with fingers crossed for him to come out with a series on Norse Mythology, as that was always one of my favorites, and personally I think Rotterdammerung would be an awesome time to get Demigods of all mythologies together to save the world.

This novel, for me, has finally brought Riordan’s writing up to the standard of Harry Potter. I will be collecting all of his novels and recommending them to friends whenever I can!





Book Review: Eric

Jan
14
0 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review
Eric Eric by
Series: Discworld #9
Published by in 2002
Genres:
Pages: 224
Source:
Goodreads

An inept demonologist wants three wishes granted--to be immortal, to rule the world, and to have a beautiful woman fall in love with him. But instead of a demon, he calls up Rincewind, the most incompetent wizard in the universe. Because Eric gives him no other choice, Rincewind tries to grant him his wishes--with hysterical results.

My Review:

This book is supposed to be a satire on the story of Faust (in fact, many of the covers for other editions list it as Faust with a strikethrough and rewritten as Eric). I will be the first to admit that I know practically nothing about the Faust legend and what I do know is filtered through retelling upon retelling in various mediums. I don’t really feel qualified to judge it in relation to Faust, because I don’t know the original.

In relation to the rest of Pratchett’s work though, I’d say this is the runt of the litter – mediocre at best. Rincewind was never my favourite storyline of his (what can I say, I have a thing for Sam Vimes and Captain Carrot!). Without knowing what he is parodying and honestly having trouble finding the “funny” I’m just not impressed.

The one redeeming factor, for me, was Pratchett’s portrayal of Hell. I like the idea of boredom as Hell, because he’s right, once you’re dead, you have no body and therefore shouldn’t be able to feel the pain of the fires… Anyway, that bit made me chuckle a bit, and was actually quite good, though I lost track of what was going on towards the end.

So, overall, a mediocre read – I would only recommend it to someone who is desperate for a new Pratchett book, not someone looking to read Pratchett for the first time.





Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by
Series: Harry Potter #3
Published by in 2004
Genres: ,
Pages: 435
Source:
Goodreads

For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.
Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter's defeat of You-Know-Who was Black's downfall as well. And the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, "He's at Hogwarts... he's at Hogwarts."
Harry Potter isn't safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.

My Review:

This book has always been my favourite of the entire Harry Potter series, so this time around, I decided to read it with that in mind and try to figure out why. While I don’t have one specific reason, there are several possibilities.

1) Remus Lupin – No, he’s not my favourite character in the entire series. But, and call me Hermione if you will, I want to take his class! I don’t care what he’s teaching – in fact he could teach me Science if he wanted (BLECH!) and I would probably still take the class.

2) I have a thing for time-travel – I hadn’t even considered this before now, but going by my two favourite things (this book and Doctor Who) and my recent addiction to Primeval even though it is sooooooo CHEESY, this is a definite possibility. I shall look into it.

and 3) I love all the possibilities at the end of this novel – Really, I think this is the most likely reason. Even though I’ve read the rest of the series and I know where Rowling is going with this, I finished this one feeling that the possibilities were endless. And all those amazing possibilities are like a drug for the imagination – if I had even known about it then, I would probably have started writing fanfic after this one. I would still write fanfic about what happened after this one, if not for my thing about going against canon.

oh and possibly 4) the music for this movie was AWESOME – I don’t care if you don’t like the film, you have to admit this is the best score John Williams has ever written – and I had the music running through my head the whole time I was reading.

So there we have my thoughts on the 3rd Harry Potter. All in all, I’d say I’m on track for my goal since it’s been approximately a week and a half and I’m about to hit halfway (though of course the books only get longer, so we’ll see). Oh and school started yesterday, so posts may be a little fewer per week. I daresay you would rather that anyway, since I’ve been averaging two a day when I had nothing else to do and therefore bombarding your inboxes (sorry!).

 





Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by
Series: Harry Potter #2
Published by in 1999
Genres: ,
Pages: 341
Source:
Goodreads

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.
And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny.
But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone - or something - starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects... Harry Potter himself!

My Review:

I don’t really have a “review” as such for this one, but three thoughts struck me that I thought I’d share.

1) Whoever cast Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart was a genius. I don’t care if he’s not like that in real life, his characterization was perfect!

2) The clues were all there. I was just too wrapped up in the story the first time around to see it. It’s nice to read it again and go “wow I was dumb for not seeing that.”

and 3) This really is the filler novel of the series. It’s Harry Potter, ergo it’s good, but it doesn’t stick out. In fact, some days when I’m being particularly thick, I can’t even remember the plot.

On to book 3, my favourite of the entire series!

 





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