Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

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The Great American Whatever Review

February 22, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

The Great American Whatever ReviewThe Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on March 29th 2016
Pages: 278
Source: Library
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, Flying Lessons & Other Stories
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three-stars
Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before the car accident that changed everything.
Enter: Geoff, Quinn’s best friend, who insists it’s time that Quinn came out—at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy—okay, a hot guy—and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually end happily—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story.
Tim Federle’s beautiful YA debut is laugh-out-loud sad; a wry, winning testament to the power of old movies and new memories, one unscripted moment at a time.

This is the first full length Tim Federle book that I’ve ever read! I’ve previously read two short stories of his that were published in anthologies, but that’s it. I’m happy that I finally read it, because I’m a big fan of everything that he represents and have followed him on Twitter for some time now. Anyway, this was a nice introduction to him. I’m definitely going to check out his Nate books and whatever he writes next in the future. However, this book simply wasn’t my favorite, which makes me sad. I can’t completely put my finger on what it is, but it was missing something for me. This just didn’t click for me as a whole. I think it was a good book, it just wasn’t great for me. I recommend this if you don’t mind angst and enjoy books that have a snarky/clever protagonist.

Quinn is a pretty interesting main character. I’m always a fan of sarcastic and witty protagonists and Quinn did deliver on this front to an extent. This probably isn’t a fair comparison, but the book in general did remind me a bit of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which is one of my all time favorites. I think that Quinn’s personality didn’t stand out in the way that Simon’s did. Quinn was very sarcastic and hilarious in the beginning, but I think he did lose a little of that as the book continued. I know that some of that is due to the rather serious subject matter, but I think that isn’t enough of an excuse to not still have a strong and memorable personality. He was still interesting, but not my favorite.

So there is a romance in the book, but I honestly don’t feel like it’s super essential to the plot. I liked it and I thought that it was a great example of a summer romance. The boys weren’t a couple that I rooted for necessarily, but I think it was still important for Quinn’s general character development. I wanted to focus more on the things that I liked and disliked. So a positive is that I thought the humor was clever and fun. I also felt like a lot of the secondary characters were well developed and complicated. I thought the stories were interesting and layered. There was one storyline in particular that had a twist to it that I honestly didn’t see coming at all. That was a pleasant surprise for me. I thought the romance was relatable and intriguing. The LGBTQ rep was also awesome. Quinn wasn’t out of the closet yet, but his sexuality still wasn’t a huge part of the plot either, it was just a natural part of it. What I didn’t like is that I was truthfully pretty bored. I wasn’t always entertained for whatever reason. Maybe it was the story that just didn’t totally click, but it didn’t work for me. The pace just seemed rather slow as a whole. Like I mentioned earlier, it seemed to be missing something essential. I thought that the concept was interesting, but the execution wasn’t as great as I was anticipating it to be.

My review might sound rather negative, but I don’t mean it to be! I think that it was a solid novel, just not the best. I’m pretty likely to forget about it sooner rather than later. It wasn’t painful to read or anything, I still believe that Federle is a great author and I want to read more from him. He has such a unique and compelling voice as an author and I’m dying to read more of it. I can’t help but compare it to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and it just didn’t come close to that. I liked the book, but it wasn’t my favorite. I hope that people read it because it’s still an interesting and important book!

three-stars

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Blog Tour: Lucky Few Review + Giveaway

June 7, 2016 Blog Tours, Giveaways, Reviews 3 ★★★★

Blog Tour: Lucky Few Review + GiveawayLucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee, K.E. Ormsbee
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on June 7th 2016
Pages: 384
Source: Simon & Schuster
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four-stars

I received this book for free from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In the tradition of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl comes a hilarious, madcap, and quirky debut novel about a group of oddball teens struggling to find themselves when facing their own mortality.
The life of homeschooler Stevie Hart gets all shook up when she meets a strange boy, Max, who survived a freak near-fatal accident and is now obsessed with death. He enlists her and her best friend, Sanger, to help him complete his absurd “23 Ways to Fake My Death Without Dying” checklist. What starts off as fun begins spiraling downward when Stevie’s diabetes sabotages her fumbling romance with Max, Sanger announces she’s moving out of state, and then death—real death—cuts close to home.

Oh man, this book was such a pleasant surprise to say the least. Lucky Few is a quirky coming of age story that had me sold at the comparison to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. It did remind me of that fabulous story, except this one has kissing, summer, and more sentimental scenes in general. Anyway, this is a book that you simply need to read! The plot might sound a bit strange to some of you guys, but I promise that the author makes it work with her hilarious pop culture references and her well developed characters. This was one of my favorite reads of the summer so far!

Stevie is a homeschooler who wants people to know that the stereotypes about homeschoolers aren’t completely true, and she’s one of the normal ones. Nevertheless, she still lives a relatively sheltered life for the most part. She goes to co-op classes with the other homeschoolers and also hangs out with her closest (and pretty much only) friend Sanger. Stevie also struggles with type I diabetes which has shaken her up tremendously. Everything changes when the new kid Max asks Stevie and Sanger to help him tackle his list of 23 ways to fake his own death before summer school begins. Though she’s hesitant at first, she gives in when she finds out that Sanger is moving in just a few months and this will be the last chance to bond together.

I absolutely adored Stevie. She’s a hilarious main character and I loved her pop culture references, specifically the ones involving Gilmore Girls because I totally agreed with everything she said about Rory. Stevie is a passionate person, who loves protesting things when it comes to what she believes in. Seriously, she’s a member in an environmental group where they are protesting about pollution that will affect the neighborhood pool that she loves. I guess that I respect everything that this character stands for, and I really related with her from the very beginning.

Max is yet another character that I loved. Max had a near death experience after a freak accident happened to him, and that’s why he moved in with his grandpa to start over. His grandpa lives next to Stevie, and that’s when the two first meet. Yeah, the fact that he came up with a list of ways to fake his death 23 times is definitely weird, but it actually works. As the book progresses, we’re able to understand Max better, and I really sympathized with him. He never doubts his feelings for Stevie, and I loved how sure he was about her. He’s a super swoony guy, what more can I say?

Stevie doesn’t like Max at first, she thinks his list is completely morbid, and it is in a way. She ends up agreeing to help him out because Sanger is moving, but things gradually progress between them. He opens up to her about his past, and she gets why he wants to complete this list so badly. Soon enough, this friendship turns into more, and I thought the romance couldn’t have been written any better. It wasn’t a perfect relationship, but it felt so real for a first love.

Sanger has been Stevie’s best friend since they were both really young. It hits Stevie hard when Sanger tells her that she has to move to Pennsylvania (they live in Texas) because one of her moms accepted a new job. Oh yeah, did I mention that she has two moms? I loved seeing that! I’m a huge fan of Sanger, she’s hilarious and such a loyal friend to Stevie. I also loved how she called Stevie “Nicks” because she’s convinced that she named her after the legendary singer Stevie Nicks, though her parents claim that she was actually named after an aunt. The point is, she was a lovely character.

Not only were the main three incredible, the supporting characters were also beautifully developed. I particularly enjoyed Stevie’s cousin Joel, who lives with Stevie and her parents. He’s also homeschooled, but he’s a bit more social and athletic than his cousin. Towards the end, he started acting super weird and moody. All I’ll say is that it was a heartbreaking situation. Ultimately, I really enjoyed his relationship with Stevie. There was also a girl named Jessica who was a fellow homeschooler who Stevie slapped a label on right away as being anti-social and overly sheltered. In the end, it turned out that there was a lot more to Jessica. I loved that the author made her such a complex character.

This was a great book that I recommend to anyone looking for a summer read. It’s not your typical coming of age story, but that’s what I liked so much about it. This was a quick read that I was able to read in just a few hours. Lucky Few is sure to make you laugh out loud and maybe even shed a tear or two. It’s not ridiculously depressing or anything, but it still has enough depth to it that the story is always entertaining. Be sure to check this one out!

ABOUT KATHRYN ORMSBEE:

KathrynOrmsbee

Hello! I am a ginger girl who writes stories. My debut novel, THE WATER AND THE WILD, is a Middle Grade fantasy out now from Chronicle Books, with a sequel to follow in Fall 2016. My YA debut, LUCKY FEW, will be published by Simon & Schuster in Summer 2016. THE HOUSE IN POPLAR WOOD, a standalone MG fantasy, comes out in 2017.

I was born and raised in the Bluegrass State. Then I went off and lived in places across the pond, like England and Spain, where I pretended I was a French ingénue. Just kidding! That only happened once. I also lived in some hotter nooks of the USA, like Austin, TX. Now I’m back in the land of Proper Autumn.

In my wild, early years, I taught English as a Foreign Language, interned with a film society, and did a lot of irresponsible road tripping. My crowning achievement is that the back of my head was in an iPhone commercial, and people actually paid me money for it.

Nowadays, I teach piano lessons, play in a band you’ve never heard of, and run races that I never win. I likes clothes from the 60s, music from the 70s, and movies from the 80s. I am from the 90s.

Are you still reading? Then you are a phenomenal human being and deserve a great big virtual HUG. Thanks for visiting, and enjoy your stay!

xoxo Kathryn

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Tour Schedule:
Week 1:

 
Week 2:

Giveaway:

3 Finished Copies of LUCKY FEW (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

four-stars

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The Unexpected Everything Review

May 5, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★½

The Unexpected Everything ReviewThe Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 3rd 2016
Pages: 519
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Since You've Been Gone, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour
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four-half-stars
Andie had it all planned out.
When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.
Important internship? Check.
Amazing friends? Check.
Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).
But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.
Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.
And where’s the fun in that?

This was yet another incredibly adorable contemporary romance from Morgan Matson! I can always count on this author to create some seriously fabulous book boyfriend, MC’s, and to happen during the summer. I’m really impressed by her fourth novel. I’m not sure if this was my favorite, I think Since You’ve Been Gone holds that title, but I certainly enjoyed it. I recommend reading this while at the beach or just out on a nice day in the sun. It doesn’t even take place at a beach, it just has that vibe that will instantly make you long for the season. Anyway, I recommend this to all contemporary romance fans out there who also enjoy other themes like friendship and family as well. I can’t wait to see what Morgan Matson writes next.

The story revolves around Andie, a girl going into the summer before her senior year who dreams of being a doctor. Everything comes crashing down when her popular congressman father is being thrown into the spotlight over a scandal. Due to this scandal, Andie finds herself having to change her plans of attending a pre-med internship at Johns Hopkins all summer. Though she has no experience with dogs, she takes a job as a dog walker. It’s there that she discovers that there’s more out there than the careful plans she’s always expected to follow. 

Andie has so much character growth. She starts out being this safe girl who has to be mostly in control of things. As the summer goes on, Andie slowly realizes that there is so much that are simply out of her hands, and she has to come to terms with this fact. At some points, I was annoyed by Andie’s behavior, but I still understood why she did it. She suffered a horrible loss when her mother died and her father was off in Washington instead of with her. I was glad to see Andie slowly but surely develop into an even more incredible human being in general. 

The love interest has a big thing to do with why I enjoyed this book so much. Clark is totally my new favorite boyfriend from Matson, and that’s saying a lot since I’ve loved them all. The reason why I loved Clark so much is that he’s definitely the type of guy I’d actually go for. He’s on the awkward side, a bit nerdy, smart, and a bestselling author. Oh yeah, his fantasy series was made into a popular movie franchise. He also never beats around the bush with his feelings for Andie. Once they start dating, he becomes close with her friends, which is equally hilarious and endearing. My point is, he’s just the perfect boyfriend in every single way. 

Considering that I love Clark so much, it’s no surprise that I’m a huge fan of this romance. It starts out a bit awkward between them, but the attraction is clear from the start. I like that they don’t spend most of the book fighting their feelings, they become a real couple. It actually reminded me a lot of This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen, which is one of my favorite YA romances. The relationship between Clark and Andie just felt a bit similar to Dexter and Remy in that one. Both love interests are awkward but sure, while the MC’s are not so confident due to past experiences. Clark and Andie certainly don’t have a perfect relationship, but who does? It all just felt so honest and real to me. 

A big part of this novel has to do with friendship and family. I absolutely love Andie’s core group of friends. It consists of three girls: Toby, Bri, and Palmer. Palmer’s longtime boyfriend, Tom,  is an honorary member of the group who strikes up a serious bromance with Clark. I love how they are all just completely there for each other regardless of the situation. So onto family which I briefly touched on, Andie’s dad is spending the summer at home with her because of an ongoing investigation on him. At first, Andie isn’t happy about how he suddenly tries to be a present father after such a long time away. I was glad that the drama between them really didn’t last that long. Instead, they become even closer and it’s very touching and refreshing to see. 

In the end, I’m beyond glad that I was able to get my hands on this one. It’s easily Morgan Matson’s best book yet, in my opinion. One of the few problems that I had with this was how long it was. The book was over 500 pages long. While none of it was particularly boring, I still think the book would have been just as amazing with some parts being cut. All that aside, I can’t recommend this contemporary romance enough. You definitely need this in your life if you’ve never read anything from this author yet! 

four-half-stars

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Holiday Book Review: Ex-Mas

December 13, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

Holiday Book Review: Ex-MasEx-mas by Kate Brian
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on October 6th 2009
Pages: 224
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three-stars
Two Exes. One holiday adventure. Merry Ex-Mas?
Seventeen-year-old Lila Beckwith's parents just left for vacation, and Lila's all set to throw the holiday party of the season. But when her Christmas-obsessed little brother, Cooper, discovers that global warming is melting the North Pole, he and his best friend, Tyler, take off on a runaway mission to save Santa.
Lila has to get Cooper safely home before her parents get back on Christmas Eve. But the only person who can help her is Tyler's older brother, Beau — a.k.a. Lila's musician, anti-everything ex-boyfriend.
It'll take more than a Christmas miracle for Lila and Beau to overcome their differences and find their fugitive brothers. But could a journey destined for disaster help these polar opposites fall in love...all over again?

So in a similar fashion to one of my favorite bloggers Lauren from Bookmark Lit, I’m also going to be writing some holiday style book reviews. I was pleasantly surprised by this book, sure it was ridiculously predictable at times and on the cliche side, but I still felt like it was a cute and fluffy light read which is exactly what I was looking for in a holiday read. A lot of these books that are labeled as Christmas books hardly touch on anything holiday related at all which is totally frustrating. So it was great to find a book that had not only Christmas themes, but also had a road trip as well! I really enjoyed Kate Brian’s writing and look forward to reading more from her.

When I first started this review, I planned on adding creative Christmas decorations, but that requires quite a bit of effort so I think I’m just going to provide my thoughts and also describe how festive it was as a whole. I’ll start off by saying that Lila seriously bothered me in the beginning. I didn’t get why she was so obsessed with popularity and I wasn’t a fan of how she believed that being a hipster like Beau was such a bad thing. Personally, I loved Beau’s taste in music and found his personality to be charming. I mean, who can resist a boy who plays the guitar AND sings anyway? Definitely not me. Gradually, I did find Lila to be more tolerable but I can’t say that I ever really loved her as a character. As for both Beau and Lila’s little brothers, I thought they were hilarious and clever.

How festive is it?

In the book, Lila’s parents are out of town and so she’s in charge of her little brother. However, her brother and Beau’s little brothers decide that they have to save Santa, so they hop a train by themselves, leaving Beau and Lila to chase them halfway across the country. So yeah, it’s really NOT all that much about Christmas but it still had more of a holiday feel than most of the other “Christmas” YA books that I’ve read here lately. I recommend it if you’re looking for a quick read that is cute and quirky! Is it a perfect book? Of course not, but it’s still a fun read.

three-stars
Rating Report
Plot
three-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
three-stars
Cover
four-stars
Overall: three-stars

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Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour Review

September 11, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★½

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour ReviewAmy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 4th 2010
Pages: 344
Also by this author: Since You've Been Gone, The Unexpected Everything
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four-half-stars
Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it's Amy's responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn't ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip - and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar - especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory - but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.

I’ve recently read one of Morgan Matson’s other books, Since You’ve Been Gone and I loved it. So the bar was set pretty high going into this one. It’s safe to say that this book was everything I hoped for and even much more than that. This author has definitely made me a huge fan of her work, although I’ve still yet to read Second Chance Summer but that’s on my TBR list after liking these ones so much. This was a great read about friendships, relationships, grief, forgiveness, and letting go. I really enjoyed Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and recommend it if you’re looking for a fun and sweet read.

Amy is a likable and relatable main character. I personally related to her since she was involved in theatre and that was something I always loved growing up. While this is obviously something that not every person out there is going to relate to, it just caused me to have more of an investment in the character, if that makes any sense. What can I even say about Roger? He’s on the nerdy side, but he’s also beyond sweet and charming. I found his love for history and specifically explorers to be extremely endearing. He also made the best road trip mixes of them all. Seriously, one of the huge highlights of the book for me was getting to read Roger’s latest mix which was mostly relevant to the state they were visiting or something on the topic of road trips. Both of the pair’s personalities balanced one another out, and I loved them as they got to know one another better on their big road trip.

As a couple, they really worked for me. They didn’t know hardly anything about each other when the trip first began, but gradually they formed a friendship that slowly but surely developed. Part of me wished that Amy would have been more aware of Roger’s feelings for her when us as a reader began to notice his attraction and protectiveness over her. However, the other part of me knows that the relationship moved at a more realistic pace the way that Matson wrote it. Anyway, the relationship between them was just so real and rather swoon worthy.

The reason why I didn’t give this book five stars is very picky of me. I just kind of wish there was more character and plot development. Not everything was resolved between Amy and her mom. The ending was cute but I was hoping for more of a conclusion to officially wrap everything up. Needless to say, I loved the music choices made by Matson, all the characters, the road trip plot, and so much more. It was just the kind of book I needed to read after all of these heavier angst filled books I’ve been reading lately.

four-half-stars

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P.S. I Still Love You Review

August 29, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

P.S. I Still Love You ReviewP.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2) by Jenny Han
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 26th 2015
Pages: 337
Source: Library
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four-stars
Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

This was a delightful companion novel to the wildly popular “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.” I’m going to start things out a little differently by recapping the book since it’s been awhile since the first book was released so some who read it then may not remember all the details. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you check it out before you read any further.

Towards the end of the first book, Lara Jean and Josh kiss and she also realizes that it’s really Peter who she wants to be with. She makes out with Peter while they are away on a school trip and Lara Jean hears that Peter is telling people that they had sex. Regardless of how betrayed she feels, she still knows that it’s Peter who she is in love with. The book ends with Lara writing a letter starting with “Dear Peter” and that’s it.

In “P.S. I Still Love You” it picks up directly with the letter which I think was really smart of Jenny Han since readers were desperately wondering what Lara Jean would say to him. In the letter, she admits that she loves and cares about him. She goes and delivers the letter to him herself and the two end up getting together. Drama then pretty much goes down again and again in the book. The most important drama that happens between them is that Peter starts hanging out with his ex girlfriend Gen, while a blast from both of Peter and Lara Jean’s past gets in contact with Lara. John is one of the guys who received the letters from the first book but he just now got back to her. Lara will have to somehow make a choice between two boys that she has loved for a long time now.

The thing about Jenny Han’s writing is that you get automatically swept up in every character but sometimes you may not always absolutely love that character. Honestly, I found Lara Jean to be beyond
irritating and whiny at times. She also really let her insecurities take over as she attempted to push people she cares about away. However, she does grow so much as a character and I think it’s great that she has these completely relatable flaws. Peter is a complicated character but I’ll talk about him more in the next paragraph. My favorite character is definitely Kitty, Lara Jean’s little sister who is so mature that it’s easy to forget she’s still in middle school. One of the funniest moments came from Kitty confessing that she watched The Sopranos, I literally laughed out loud. She’s the comic relief of these books for sure.

I don’t understand why Jenny Han has to have love triangles in the majority of her books. (Besides the Burn for Burn books) If you can’t already tell, I can’t stand love triangles. I love the relationship between Peter and Lara Jean although it does have it’s flaws, but they still make sense together. Lara Jean’s fascination with John, a sweet childhood friend of both Peter and Lara Jean, also makes sense in its own way. Although it’s over, Peter and Gen also made sense together and Lara Jean struggles with seeing them together, even though Peter picked her. The boy has communication issues and he doesn’t stand up for her like he should, but it’s clear that he cares for our girl Lara. I won’t lie, at times I was rooting for John and I’m sure you might feel that way as well. The ending is just completely satisfying and that’s the main reason why I rated this a 4 instead of a 5.

I know fans of the book are probably hoping Han will write another novel since all of her others are trilogies. Personally, I’m more than happy with her closing this story here because I think we were given more answers and no more questions. Regardless, I’ll always love these stories and will continue to buy any book written by Jenny Han!

four-stars

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