2019 End of Year Survey

Every year I do this survey created by Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner, and so, to continue tradition, here we are again!

**2019 READING STATS**

Number Of Books You Read: 17
Number of Re-Reads: 6?
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy

best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2019?

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – This book touched and reached the darkest parts of my heart and mind as I could relate so much to the grief this boy had for his mother. It was hands down my favorite book of the year and I’m so incredibly glad to have given it the chance it deserved. You can check out my full review here.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

The Chase by Elle Kennedy – As far as guilty pleasures go, the romance series that Elle Kennedy has written were some of my favorites that I’ve read in a long time, so naturally I was excited to read about one of the main character’s sister from the previous series in this novel, but alas, I found her quite aggravating. I mean, there’s a lot of sex in these books, which I’m fine with, but man, sometimes there was just a bit too much sex drive even for me. You can check out my full review here.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – I didn’t except to enjoy this as much as I did, but I did enjoy it! Although some of it was kind of boring and dragged on, the romance was adorable and the finding out about ones was great. You can check out my full review here.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Since having a seasonal bookstore job, I’ve recommended a few books, including things like the Grisha trilogy, The Starless Sea, the Mortal Instruments series, etc. And they’ve gotten them, so yeah!

 5. Best series you started in 2019? Best Sequel of 2019? Best Series Ender of 2019?

Best series started: Fushigi Yuugi by Yuu Watase – this is a reread for me as I’ve read this entire series multiple times when I was a teen, and it’s just been super nostalgic for me.

Best sequel: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan – as this is my first time reading the Percy Jackson series, I’ve been highly enjoying the story and books, and this sequel was super fun and exciting with the stakes being higher. You can check out my full review here.

Best series ender: I haven’t read one yet this year, so… lol

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2019?

Probably Patrick Ness. I loved A Monster Calls so much, so I’d love to give his other books a try, too!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Embrace Your Weird by Felicia Day – I read her first book earlier this year, and I’m still reading this one because it’s an activity book, but it’s so fun to just write and create with abandon. It’s something I need because I’m too focused on making things perfect that I need to be able to let go and be more loose with creativity.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson was definitely unputdownable, epic, action-packed, and thrilling. As an epic high fantasy there was just so much put into the world and the characters that I wanted to know what was going to happen next. It was a really great book, for sure. If you want to check out my full review, click here!

 9. Book You Read In 2019 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Risk by Elle Kennedy – This next installment in the Briar U arc was so much more enjoyable for me, and it had a lot more in depth real moments that I was much more drawn to than The Chase. If anything, I’d reread this one for the angst, steamy bits, and that great hate-to-love dynamic I love haha! You can check out my full review here.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2019?

I have three favorites, don’t judge me lol

11. Most memorable character of 2019?

The cast of characters from Fushigi Yuugi just because I know them so well and love them so much lol

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2019?

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I love Laini Taylor’s writing so much, and this book is so lyrical and magical in its execution. I seriously love how beautifully it’s written.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2019?

Forever and always talking about A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness because this book means so much to me. A book about grief and how it can manifest into the world – not just internally, but externally, too.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2019 to finally read? 

The Percy Jackson series… Just like the Harry Potter series, I seriously missed out on some awesome books during my childhood lol I’m trying to make up for it in my adult years.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2019?

And that’s how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2019?

Shortest book: Fushigi Yuugi volume 4: Bandit – 189 pages

Longest book: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – 45 hours 37 minutes of audiobook (physical book is actually 1007 pages long, including appendix stuff)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Have I mentioned The Way of Kings, because my mouth dropped open so many times throughout listening to the audiobook that it was crazy. I also laughed out loud, cheered, grew angry, etc, with the audiobook. It was a really great experience.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Hades and Persephone foreverrrrrrrrrrr~ Lore Olympus is an amazing webcomic series and I want everyone to go read it. Go. Now. Do it.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

I loved the dynamic between the characters in The Way of Kings. Everyone was connected in some way through different people, so even if they didn’t meet in this volume, there was still a larger overarching connectedness between everyone that I loved seeing. The web grows bigger, my friends.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2019 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

As I’ve stated before, I loved her first series of the students at Briar University, and this book in the Briar U arc was super good.

21. Best Book You Read In 2019 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:

This was the literal most hyped book I read this year, and it was really good, so thank you everyone across all social media platforms lol

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2019?

I quite liked Rook from An Enchantment of Ravens, not gonna lie. An immortal faerie lord who wants to learn more about humans and not just look at them like they’re objects for his own gain? Yes, please.

23. Best 2019 debut you read?

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

My dudes, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson was so immersive in its design from top to bottom. The way Sanderson writes his settings and worlds is second to none, I swear. From towering spires to rocky cliffs to war camps, small townships, and high storms. Oh man, it’s such an amazingly vivid world.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Lore Olympus, Castle Swimmer, The Four of Them, Plain Boy and Prince, to name a few, are all webcomics and all freaking good and adorable.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2019?

A Monster Calls actually made me cry at the end, so, yeah.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is one I haven’t finished yet, but it’s one that sucked me in pretty quickly and held onto me until I hit a reading slump earlier this year. It’s a book set in England with an American witch, a British vampire, forbidden romance, dark secrets, and mystery. It’s really good! I’d seen it pop up a lot whenever I was browsing books on Amazon, so I decided to give it a go and am glad I did.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

I mean, none of the books or comics I’ve read have crushed my soul, so… I don’t really have an answer.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2019?

I read this autobiography by Felicia Day, and since I generally don’t read biographies of any kind, this was definitely the most unique in that aspect. But also, her book Embrace Your Weird is unique because it’s a book that makes you draw in it, create around it, rip out pages, cut things out, etc. I really like her as a writer!

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

*insert the bad shit that happened in Lore Olympus that has the entire fandom pissed off with good reason* 😀

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2019?

I’ve actually really pulled away from the book world in the last year, but I do have a couple of new favorite booktubers that I enjoy watching:

Rachael Marie’s Book Journey

PeaceLoveBooksxo

Codie’s Book Corner

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2019?

Do I Have That Book? | Challenge

This was a really fun post to make because I got my husband involved to help me find all of these books, and luckily we found one for each question (even if it did take a while lol).

3. Favorite bookish related photo(s) you took in 2019?

4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?

The Leigh Bardugo signing at Brookline Booksmith in Boston was so fun and Leigh herself was such a delight! You can read about my whole experience here!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2019?

Participating in challenges and tags again was really fun. I know I haven’t blogged much the last few years, but I still try to post when I can and when I have enough energy to do so. So I really enjoyed the Do I Have This Book? challenge and also attempting (and failing) to participate in readathons like the Medievalathon and the Book Junkie Trials.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

I’ve been emotionally and mentally drained for years now due to my mom’s dementia diagnosis a few years back, plus work stress, moving states, etc. So reading and blogging have been put so far back on the back burner that I oftentimes don’t think about it anymore. I still keep up with comics, though, because I’ve learned to rely upon visual stimulation to bring about happiness into my life. It’s been a rough time, friends, but I’m slowly starting to piece myself back together and get back into the hobby of reading for fun again.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Camp NaNoWriMo 2019 had the most views, as far as I could tell by my stats. I might also be looking at the wrong figure lol

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

2020 Reading Goals & Challenges – this is my way of dedicating myself to reading, albeit a slow one, plus I just like hearing about and seeing other peoples’ goals (even if they don’t stick to them lol).

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

The bookstore I work at currently is an independent book store, which is cool, and the staff is very friendly and stuff. I don’t plan on staying there past the season, but the store itself is also cute. Plus, you know, supporting a small business is awesome.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I’ve completed one goal from last year, which was to have half or more of the books I read already exist on my shelf, which, thanks to my manga, I completed that goal! …that’s it. Didn’t reach any other reading or personal goals this year. Oh well.

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2019 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2020?

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I will finish it, goddamn it.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2020 (non-debut)?

Even though I’ll only be on the second book in this massive series, I’m excited for the fourth volume of the Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson! One day I’ll get to read it. One day…

3. 2020 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I haven’t been keeping up to date with releases and stuff, so if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know!

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2020?

Other than the one I mentioned above, again, I haven’t been keeping super up to date with things, so… I don’t really have one.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2020?

Actually post more consistently again than once every few months would be cool.

6. A 2020 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

Haven’t read any yet, but I have a few arcs from work of books coming out in December and January.

The Risk | Book Review

Title: The Risk
Series: Briar U #2
Authors: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Elle Kennedy Inc.
Publish Date: February 18, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Fiction – Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Kindle eBook

A sexy standalone novel from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy. THE RISK takes you back to the world of hot hockey players, feisty heroines, bro banter, and steamy scenes… 

Everyone says I’m a bad girl. They’re only partly right—I don’t let fear rule me, and I certainly don’t care what people think. But I draw the line at sleeping with the enemy. As the daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, I’d be vilified if I hooked up with a player from a rival team.

And that’s who Jake Connelly is. Harvard’s star forward is arrogant, annoying, and too attractive for his own good. But fate is cruel—I require his help to secure a much-coveted internship, and the sexy jerk isn’t making it easy for me.

I need Connelly to be my fake boyfriend.

For every fake date…he wants a real one.

Which means this bad girl is in big trouble. Nothing good can come from sneaking around with Jake Connelly. My father would kill me, my friends will revolt, and my post-college career is on the line. But while it’s getting harder and harder to resist Jake’s oozing sex appeal and cocky grin, I refuse to fall for him.

That’s the one risk I’m not willing to take. 

I’ve gotta say, I definitely enjoyed this book much more than the first stand-alone in the Briar U arc. It was funny, heartfelt, steamy (as always), but also showed more sides to people than just those in the universities, and I think that really played a big role in my overall enjoyment of this book.

Brenna is, probably, my favorite person. She’s tough as nails, she wears red lipstick as her armor, she doesn’t give two shits if someone doesn’t like her, she’s sassy, intelligent. She’s a woman after my own heart. I also very much admire her self-control of her temper in certain parts of the book, because I don’t think I’d be a big enough person to be able to hold my tongue to the kinds of comments she received numerous times from some of the men in the novel.

Jake is… well, he’s a steamy man, I’ll give him that, and he’s alpha, which, if you don’t know what that means, it means he’s the kind of person who’s in charge, who takes the lead, doesn’t take “no” for an answer, is very loyal to his team. Well, Jake will take “no” for an answer, so he’s not the kind of stereotypical jerk alpha that I’ve read in stories before. But he definitely exudes a presence in the book. People just notice him, and not just because he’s handsome as heck.

We also got to see smatterings of Summer from the first book, The Chase, as well as Fitz, Hunter, Mike Hollis, and one new character whom I LOVE and am soooo glad she’s getting her own book: Rupi. I fell in love with her almost instantly. She’s very quirky and determined and very much won’t take “no” for an answer.

The plot centered a lot around the hockey tournaments that Jake’s team, Harvard, and Brenna’s dad’s team, Briar, are preparing for and to face each other to go onto nationals, but it also centers a lot around Brenna striving to get her dream internship. I appreciated seeing that side of the field and how, yes, even today there’s a lot of misogyny in the sports broadcasting field. It was believable the way some of the men talked about women, and like I said earlier: I applaud Brenna for holding her tongue, because I really don’t think I would have been able to.

There was also a smaller second element to the plot that played into it about Brenna’s past, and let me tell you: the story behind her past was a shock that I did not see coming and I literally did a double take reading it. Definitely a good plot twist.

The dynamic between Brenna and her father is also one I understand, even if my own dad isn’t quite like hers. I understand how hard it is to want to be close, but not understanding how to get close, or when that closeness faded away. And the ugly shame that comes with feeling you’re a huge disappointment to your parent. It was very much a real moment, and I almost cried as a result of it.

The sex scenes were quite steamy, as expected of these Briar University books, which I’m not complaining about. The scenarios were different almost each time, the romance aspect felt a little rushed, but also the chemistry between the two had already been established, so it was an overall great element to the story.

I only wish there had been a different ending. Not that the ending was bad, I was just hoping we would have seen slightly farther into the future, or that there had been just one more chapter.

But I definitely recommend the book if you’re reading the Briar U arc, and even if you’re not and want a steamy romance, then definitely pick this one up!

★★★★½☆

The Chase Book Review

Title: The Chase
Series: Briar U #1
Authors: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Elle Kennedy Inc.
Publish Date: August 4, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Fiction – Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 378
Format: Kindle eBook

Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right, because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother. 

And that his best friend has a crush on me. 

And that I just moved in with them. 

Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates? 

I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing? 

He knows where to find me.

Diving back into the stories of the college students of Briar U was something I was really looking forward to! I remember loving the original four books of the first series, instantly hooked on the hot hockey dudes and the beautiful girls they fell in love with.

This story, though? It… kind of fell flat for me. But that’s not to say that it still wasn’t enjoyable as far as entertainment value is concerned.

So let’s talk about the characters first:

Summer is Dean’s sister (he’s the main lead in The Goal) and as such, she’s drop dead gorgeous like her brother and has just a big of a personality as he does. And as much of a sex drive as he does. Of course she’s more than just that, and it’s often revealed and talked about throughout the story how she wants to be seen as more than just her family’s money or more than just her looks: she may not be academically smart, but she’s got a lot of passion for fashion, which is what she’s studying; she believes in woman power and building other women up instead of tearing them down; and she had an orbit about her that draws people in.

She’s also a lot of drama. Like. Holy crap, a lot of drama. I found myself often thinking that a lot of her reactions were over the top and that they didn’t really warrant to be as such for the situation. I get that’s supposed to be her personality, but a lot of the reactions seemed forced or even out of character.

Colin Fitzgerald is one of the hockey players for Briar U and he’s a tattooed, video game designing man who wants to work for a big game company when he graduates. He’s even made his own video game and has others he knows beta test it, which is pretty cool. He’s also very sexually driven, I found throughout this story, which is fine but sometimes I thought it was a bit much. He also has a bit of social anxiety, which is understandable given his back story and the way he grew up.

So, as far as plot goes: there was a lot of back and forth between Summer and Fitz (obviously, it’s not called “The Chase” for nothing) where they would often inner monologue how they’re very attracted toward the other and they want to get in each other’s pants, but never know what the other is thinking.

My biggest issue with this was how it made the characters feel so shallow and kind of two dimensional. So much of the plot centered around the sexual aspects that I felt it took away from the characters and their growth, because I actually did find the stuff happening outside and around them interesting.

I found that the anxiety was handled really well, though, and it was very believable how the characters tried to cope with their anxiety, either on their own or with help from another.

Overall, I found this to be a book that focused highly on entertainment value than on character development, which is fine, but I still wish we could have seen more come out of the characters. Some of the situations felt forced or rushed or pretty unbelievable, but otherwise it was a fun story with steamy scenes and some laughs.

★★★☆☆

Leah On the Offbeat Review

leahontheoffbeatTitle: Leah On the Offbeat
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Pages: 343
Format: Hardcover

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Well, let me tell you: this is the first actual novel I’ve read TO COMPLETION in… months. Many months. I still can’t believe it. It took me around probably six to eight hours to read the thing. And I really enjoyed it!

It was great jumping back into the world of Creekwood and it was great getting a story from Leah’s perspective, while also still seeing Simon and Blue (even though they weren’t the main focus). I loved her voice and how she really talks like a young adult – swearing, sarcasm, tumblr posts. She was such a fun character that really cared not only for her body as a plus sized young woman, but also as a bisexual person. Though she was only out to her mom (which is still awesome that her mom accepted her regardless), it only really start to make things difficult as time progressed in the story.

I found that the romance aspect of the book was done well, though sometimes it did feel like a little hiccup here and there with how it went. I overall thought that it was fairly realistic as to how it turned out, but I kind of wish I got a better feel for the love interest. I understand the strain on the friendship, but it still felt to me like I was missing some of the love interest’s personality.

I also didn’t really get a feel for just how tight knit the friendship between Leah, Anna, and Morgan were, despite it supposedly being so strong in the beginning. Although, if it were my friend, I would be very pissed about the comment that was made, too, but I don’t know if I would continue to be mad even after an apology. I don’t know, that felt rocky at best and I don’t really know how the friendships would have lasted after the end of the book.

Other than that, I felt like it was a fun, light hearted story, with dashes of drama inside. I like how Leah was both proud of her body, but also self conscious, because that really does show the two sides of the coin (as a plus sized woman, myself, I can speak to this very feeling). I think that the book overall was a great read, though I feel like I am missing out on a few threads that weren’t completely tied at the end (I don’t want to ask them here for fear of spoilers).

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, light-hearted story about a teen girl who’s trying to come to terms with her emotions as well as figure out who she is as a person, and the relationships she has around her, then definitely pick up this book! I hope that you’ll like Leah as much as I did.

I rated this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

A Silent Voice Series Review

asilentvoice1Title: A Silent Voice
Series: 7 Volumes Total
Author/Illustrator: Yoshitoki Oima
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Genre: Manga – Young Adult – Contemporary
Format: Purchased paperbacks

LEARNING TO LISTEN

Shoya is a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can’t hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes their favorite target, and Shoya and his friends goad each other into devising new tortures for her. But the children’s cruelty goes too far. Shoko is forced to leave the school, and Shoya ends up shouldering all the blame. Six years later, the two meet again. Can Shoya make up for his past mistakes, or is it too late?

This will be a series review, so I will be covering all seven volumes of this series. There may be spoilers, but I’ll do my best to keep this spoiler free.

This manga series is, in a word, stunning. I love the art and the characters and the story, and I’m so glad that it was so critically acclaimed in Japan because of the heavy subjects that it undertakes and how it’s executed in the story itself.

The story itself is about a boy named Shoya who always wants to have fun and never be bored. He often takes dangerous risks with his friends (such as jumping off bridges into shallow-ish water) in order to find those moments of fun and adventure. When his friends decide to cool it with all of the dangerous stunts, that’s when Shoko, a deaf girl, is transferred to his class and he thinks of her as kind of like a boss he has to beat in a video game.

Of course, that doesn’t exactly turn out well in his favor. He bullies Shoko without realizing he was being a bully by yelling at her, ripping out her hearing aids, and just causing chaos for Shoko. His other friends join in and eventually she has to transfer again.

That’s also when Shoya’s friends turn against him and he pretty much becomes a loner for the next six years.

I love how the story uses X’s over people’s faces because we’re seeing everything through Shoya’s point of view, and he doesn’t think about or care about anyone. Only when someone does something nice to him does that X fly off of their face and he sees who they are and becomes friends with them. I thought that that concept was demonstrated really well and that it was very important to the story itself.

When Shoya runs into Shoko six years later in high school, he returns the notebook she used to communicate with the other students to her and, to her surprise, he also learned sign language so he could communicate with her.

He tries very hard to redeem himself and make up with her and show her that he’s extremely sorry for the way he was as a kid, and though I thought this was sweet I oftentimes found that it became overbearing the way he was going about it. I did see immense growth in him, though, and I was glad to see that he was also affecting others around him in a positive way.

Shoko was a very defining character as well not only because she was deaf, but because she always tried to be kind to everyone and not let things get to her – at least on the surface. There are a couple of darker moments with her that made me want to reach out and comfort her. I thought that she was a very generous and warm character and I’m so glad to see some sort of deaf representation in manga (which I’ve never seen before).

There were also characters who were fat, or had a very ugly personality, or who was once bullied, or who tries her best in everything. Even Shoko’s younger sister is “different” in that she takes pictures of dead animals and dresses like a boy. I loved that there were so many varied personalities, body sizes, and disabilities shown in this series.

The plot, overall, was one that gripped me and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. It was cute in many places, and there were a few times where I felt some things were unnecessary or were just too extreme, but the main story was very gripping and I loved it to bits.

If you’re looking for a diverse manga set in Japan, then I highly, highly recommend A Silent Voice.

Each volume has it’s own rating, but for my series rating I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

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