Saturday, April 30, 2011

Weekend Event :: Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

I am so excited about attending this event this weekend! I have been itching to go to this ever since I found out about it last year. Can't wait to share my experience with you all afterwards!

Friday, April 29, 2011

TGIF :: 3 :: Standalone or Series?

Happy Friday! This feature is from GReads and I recap the posts from the week and also ask a fun question. TGIF everyone!

This Friday's Question:

Standalone vs. Series: what's your stance?

There are times when I actively choose not to read because I can get compulsive about it when I get started. I get so into the book that I choose reading over sleep and then I end up staying up way past my bedtime on a school night and I pay for it the following day. That being said, I am very much drawn to book in a series.

I think my love of series developed when I discovered The Baby-Sitters Club around 3rd or 4th grade. Like many other girls my age, we devoured each book and quickly moved onto the next one even though they all had similar formulas for the story format. The Baby-Sitters Club is one of the reasons why I started to read much more avidly as a child and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Scholastic recently re-released The Baby-Sitters Club with new covers to replace the outdated, very 80's-looking covers. I know my students don't pick up the BSC books in my library because of the old covers.

A few years ago they also started doing graphic novels as well and I loved reading them, even as an adult. It was interesting how much the characters have been modernized for the young generation of today. I'm hoping that these two efforts might help get these well-loved books into the libraries of today's young girls.

I think I am a series reader because when I finish a book, especially a really good one, I always want to linger in the story a little longer. I don't want to leave the characters that I've gotten to know and the places that I've "lived" in for a little while. I realize that often times there are sequels that just don't live up the first book or two. However, then again there are series like Harry Potter that just got better and better as it went on.

What about you?

This week's posts:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Throwback Thursday :: 2 :: Shel Silverstein

This week's Throwback Thursday is in honor of National Poetry Month. I know there's only a few more days in April, but thought I'd give a little love to the poets out there.

I LOVED Shel Silverstein when I was kid. Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic and then when I was a little older, Falling Up. I used to always check those out of the school library and try to memorize the poems. I remember reading his books, cover to cover, with all the silly poems and pictures inside. I think one of my favorite ones is where the kid try to sell his sister, I don't quite remember the exact title. Needless to say, I did have my own little sister AND brother of my own. :) I remember when I first started to understand poetry around 5th or 6th grade. Sarcasm started to make sense.

As a teacher, my students still love the Shel Silverstein books and they often go missing from my classroom library.

Shel Silverstein's books were some of the first poetry books I ever read and I thank him for making poetry fun - for me and many, many other young children.

Do you have a favorite Shel Silverstein poem?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In My Mailbox :: 1 :: BBP Giveaways 2011

A few weeks ago, I attended the Book Bloggers and Publishers Online Conference. It was very informative and I enjoyed learning about the ins and outs of book blogging. One of the perks of this conference was the free book giveaways from the various publishers sponsoring the conference.

Above is a photo of the books I requested and received from the giveaways. I love getting books in the mail! It includes:

The one I am looking forward to reading the most is Un Amico Italiano: Eat, Pray, Love in Rome by Luca Spaghetti. First of all, I have to say that I was one of the few people it seems that did not enjoy the book Eat, Pray, Love. In fact, the only part of Eat, Pray, Love that I did enjoy was the "Eat" part that took place in Italy. All the different foods she ate seemed delicious. I enjoyed his "character" in the book. In fact, I liked him much more than Elizabeth Gilbert, which is why I am hoping to enjoy hearing the story from his perspective in this book.

Here is a synopsis from Goodreads:

When Luca Spaghetti (yes, that's really his name) was asked to show a writer named Elizabeth Gilbert around Rome, he had no idea how his life was about to change. She embraced his Roman ebullience, and Luca in turn became her guardian angel, determined that his city would help Liz out of her funk.

Filled with colorful anecdotes about food, language, soccer, daily life in Rome, and Luca's own fish-out-of-water moments as a visitor to the United States-and culminating with the episodes in Liz's bestselling memoir, told from Luca's side of the table-Un Amico Italiano is a book that no fan of Eat, Pray, Love will want to miss.

Thanks BBP!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Library Lending on the Amazon Kindle

It was announced last week from Amazon that you will soon be able to read e-books borrowed and downloaded from libraries on the Amazon Kindle. This was quite exciting news because that was one of the few things lacking in the Kindle as an e-Reader compared to all the other ones (NOOK, Sony, etc.)

Here is the blurb from Amazon's website:

Later this year, Kindle customers will be able to borrow Kindle books from more than 11,000 libraries in the United States through the new Kindle Library Lending feature.

When Kindle Library Lending is launched, you will be able to check out a Kindle book from your local library and start reading on any Kindle device or free Kindle app for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone. Kindle Library Lending will provide the same unique features as Kindle and Kindle books, including the ability to read on any Kindle or free Kindle app, Whispersync technology that synchronizes your notes, highlights and last page read, real page numbers, and more. After a library book expires, if you ever decide to check it out again or purchase it from Amazon, all of your annotations and bookmarks will be preserved.

You'll be able to borrow Kindle library books from any of the more than 11,000 libraries that work with OverDrive, the leading provider of digital content solutions for libraries.

Availability of books and length of loan will vary by library. Kindle Library Lending will only available for U.S. customers at launch.

That is awesome! While I am still mulling over my decision to buy an e-Reader or not, this definitely adds a whole new element to the decision. I was sold on a Kindle last year, but when I found out that it wouldn't read ePubs (which is the file that libraries offer), I quickly changed my mind. I might have to change it back. My birthday is coming up in a few months! *ahem* hubby *ahem*

What do you think about this new feature? Do any of you currently have a Kindle? Does this added feature change anyone else's mind about purchasing on in the future as well?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bookshelf Monday :: 2

This week's featured bookshelf could actually be more realistic for our future home someday. This is from Real Simple and is actually what used to be a bedroom closet. I could see this working in a bedroom that's being used as an office or workspace. Take off the doors and put in some sturdy shelves... and ba-da-bing, you've got yourself a library!

There are more details in the Real Simple article on how they transformed this closet into a library if you are interested.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekend Photo :: 1

I hope you have a lovely weekend! Weather is looking good for us and Spring is in the air! I'm thinking it's time to go outside to enjoy the sunlight and maybe even find a shady spot to read.

image courtesy of: dustjacket attic (This beautiful editorial was photographed by Corrie Bond and styled by Lara Hutton and features model Annika Kaban for Country Style AU Dec 2010.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

TGIF :: 2 :: Emotional reader?

Just came across this new feature for Fridays on GReads to recap the posts from the week and to ask a fun question. TGIF everyone!

This week's question didn't pertain to me, so I went back and chose another week instead.

This Friday's Question:

Book Tears:
Do you get emotional when you read?
Which books had you in tears?

I am a pretty emotional person to begin with so that kind of throws off the scale in terms of being "emotional while I read." I would say that I do get VERY emotional when I read. I really get into some stories and when the book is over, I have a hard time getting over the book. I go into a "book mourning" period sometimes and it takes a couple of days for it to pass until I'm ready to pick up a new book.

My all-time favorite book, as of today, is The Time Traveler's Wife. One of the reasons why I love this book so much is because of how it related to my life when I read it for the first time. At that point in my life, my boyfriend at the time (who is now my husband), was serving overseas in the Peace Corps for 2+ years. We were still together, but anyone who has ever been in one will attest to the intense challenges of a long-distance relationship. When I read the book for the first time, I would sympathize with Clare because she was always the one left behind. In my relationship at that point with Adam, I was always the one who stayed behind while he went off on his various adventures.

Here are the first couple of lines from the book:

It's hard being left behind. I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he's okay. It's hard to be the one who stays.

I keep myself busy. Time goes faster that way.

I go to sleep alone, and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I'm tired. I watch the wind play with the trash that's been under the snow all winter. Everything seems simple until you think about it. Why is love intensified by absence?

Long ago, men went to sea, and women waited for them, standing on the edge of the water, scanning the horizon for the tiny ship. Now I wait for Henry. He vanishes willingly, without warning. I wait for him. Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting. Why has he gone where I cannot follow?

Those words just pierced my heart the first time I read it because it was almost exactly how I felt when Adam left.

I will never forget how I stayed up watching the sun rise while finishing this book and calling Adam bawling incoherently because how much I related to this story. I wrote it to him on my old blog (xanga!) and it was actually his birthday when I finished.

Here is what I wrote 6 years ago:

I finished my book! I woke up around 1am this morning, after passing out on the couch yesterday... and finished it around 730am. I've never cried so hard for a book ever in my life... Tuesday's with Morrie brought me to tears, but nothing like this. It was like a tidal wave of feelings I didn't know how to deal with all at the same time. It's such a great story. And I am filled to the overflowing brim with words and the desire to put words to the feelings I can't seem to hold back.

I finished it hours ago and slept for 3 hours, and now with swollen eyes, I can't shake the feelings that this story has stirred up in my heart. It's opened a floodgate of reclusive emotions that I have been numbed to for the sake of being able to cope and go through each day with Adam being away for so long. I have recently complained about this numbness because the desire to "feel" again has overwhelmed me lately with the thoughts of being able to finally see my love, my silly boyfriend that makes me laugh and smile and the world melt away consuming my daily thoughts and dreams at night. I have on numerous occasions been ironically bitter at this numbness because while it's firmly rooted in both my conscious and subconsciousness, my longing to just be in the same room with him again surpasses the strength of the numbed feelings and releases the pain of missing someone every once in awhile, until I can push it back into what has become a huge reservoir of emotions behind those floodgates.

Well, this book has opened those floodgates and the emotions are pouring out in huge gushes. For the longest time, these feelings overflowing inside of me today have become foreign to me. I've worried time and time again that I have forgotten how to "feel"... that my coping mechanism of numbness has gotten too strong in strength... but I'm comforted now as I am dealing with this rush of emotions. Even though "feeling" again is somewhat unfamiliar to me right now and there's an aching in my chest similar to the one I had for months after Adam had left to the Peace Corps, I'm happy to know that I have not completely forgotten and that my soul has not completely hardened over these past 13 months. Every once in awhile, I have these dreams of him, where we're hugging, holding or kissing... and I get the same rush of familiarity. And for a moment, a short one, I feel like he's real... like he's right in front of me. Whenever I wake up from these dreams disoriented, I wake up confused to where I am and I immediately look for him beside me or listen to hear if he's gotten up to brush his teeth or something. When reality kicks in, and it always kicks in HARD, I can't help but close my eyes and hope I can fall asleep again to continue my dream.

I'm happy to feel again. I didn't think it would happen to me without actually being around Adam and while it has totally caught me off guard and I feel unbalanced, in the recluse of what I thought was becoming a cold, hardened soul... I welcome this opening of the floodgates because I have not felt like my complete self in a long time. I think the feeling of "something always missing" won't go away til Adam's really in front of me in the same room, but this experience has helped to fill in the "gap" a bit. I'm so happy to feel again.

For a long time now, I think I've been in a rush... a rush to be with Adam again. Just to be near him again. I think I need to slow down a little bit and really enjoy this journey. The journey is more than the destination, right? So, for the first time in what feels like forever, I am in no hurry. I'm excited that God will unfold this love story, on His time and with His Wisdom.

Needless to say, I highly recommend "The Time Traveler's Wife"... more than any other book I have ever read. AND that includes books I love from my fave author, Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, The Wedding, etc). The story will grab hold of your heart and won't let go even after you put the book down. It fills you with joy in celebration of the enduring love between Henry and Clare. I love how the characters are developed. They become a part of you, and for me... I feel grateful and thankful that I can understand or am beginning to understand that kind of "love" because I have been blessed with my very own "traveler" whom I love more than I think I will ever truly comprehend in my lifetime and keep falling in love with despite the circumstances of our journey together so far.

While it's not difficult to hook Jasmine into a great love story, this book is definitely a rare find and a unique gem out there that I am so glad that I haphazardly discovered while purusing a bookstore one random summer day. Even if you're not a die-hard hopeless romantic like I am, you'd be enthralled with the twists and turns of Henry's time travels. And if you are a die-hard hopeless romantic like I hopelessly am, then you'd savor up this novel as much or even more than I did.

This story will pull on your heartstrings. It will challenge you to think about your own purpose in life and how much our past, present, future plays into that purpose. It will leave you thinking about love and the true meaning of love... about the relationships we have and how it's intertwined with our journey of life. As you engross yourself into this book and allow yourself to let go and fall headfirst into it's emotions and feelings, you can't help but feel like you've been there for their whole lives, along the whole journey... watching on the outside, knowing things they don't know of yet but wish you could say to them. It'll force you to think about time and how short life really is... leaving you to feel like you need to slow down to enjoy each day, enjoy each moment - the same way you feel when you long to savor each moment Henry and Clare have together and wish they could have more of when the story is over. When you turn that last page, you're left wanting more. With an insatiable desire to stay with Henry and Clare a little while longer. Not many stories or books can do that and I have a feeling that this story will sit in my thoughts and my heart for a long time to come.

And it did...

To this day, it is still one of my favorite stories ever and when I reread it again a couple of years ago... it still had the same profound effect after I finished. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend that you do.

This week's posts:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Throwback Thursday :: 1 :: The Secret Garden

I am going to start a weekly meme called, "Throwback Thursday," that's been floating around in the blogging world for a few years now. Different blogs do it differently. I'm going to do what Jenny at Take Me Away started in 2009 and post an old favorite each Thursday on my blog.

So for this first installment of Throwback Thursdays, I am going to share one of my childhood favorites, The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett. I came across this beautiful cover on Pinterest a couple of weeks ago and fell in with love it! It was designed by Jillian Tamaki for the Penguin Thread Project. Isn't it beautiful? I hope to actually purchase it when it comes out in the fall.

Here is a full cover image. I would love to see it in person and even though I know they would not let me, I would love to run my fingers over it to feel the different textures. Yes, I'm the kid the goes to the museum and wants to touch everything.

The Secret Garden was one of my favorite childhood books. I devoured books when I was in elementary school and this one was of my absolutely favorites. I loved the idea of having a special key to a secret place that only you knew about. When I pictured it in my mind, it was filled with beautiful, colorful flowers. The main character, Mary, doesn't just keep this garden all to herself, she shares it with her cousin who is ill in hopes that it will help to heal him, inside and out.

Here is a summary from Goodreads:

What secrets lie behind the doors at Misselthwaite Manor? Recently arrived at her uncle's estate, orphaned Mary Lennox is spoiled, sickly, and certain she won't enjoy living there. Then she discovers the arched doorway into an overgrown garden, shut up since the death of her aunt ten years earlier. Mary soon begins transforming it into a thing of beauty--unaware that she is changing too.

But Misselthwaite hides another secret, as Mary discovers one night. High in a dark room, away from the rest of the house, lies her young cousin, Colin, who believes he is an incurable invalid, destined to die young. His tantrums are so frightful, no one can reason with him. If only, Mary hopes, she can get Colin to love the secret garden as much as she does, its magic will work wonders on him.

What was one of your childhood favorites?

image courtesy of: Jillian Tamaki

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Review: The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeil

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Published December 22nd 2009 by Hyperion
(first published March 10th 2007)

Initially, I picked up this book because I was attracted to the colors on the cover. I am a sucker for pretty covers. Also, I was intrigued by the idea of a knitting club and owning a wool shop by the seaside. I only have very novice knitting skills, but I've been interested in the idea of attending a "Stitch n Bitch" group to learn more. I think this book was an indirect way to participate in one.

The story revolves around Jo, whose husband dies in a car crash right after he reveals that he's been having an affair and wants a divorce. After his death, she moves to a seaside town with her two young boys. She takes over her grandmother's wool shop and makes new friends with various people in town. These friendships help her through this difficult time in her life as she figures out what she's all about.

I had a hard time finishing this book. Sometimes I enjoy reading books that are easy to relate to because it feels like a typical day for any person. However, this book felt too much like that. It never really gained momentum for me and I struggled to finish it. The characters lacked depth and I actually had a hard time keeping track of all the characters since none of them really had much of a back story. The story jumps all over the place from event to event without really give much detail to each one. Plus, I wanted more of a leading man in the story. I won't say more than that, but I was hoping for more of a love story. What I did enjoy about this book was the friendship she developed with a famous celebrity and how they help each other through challenging circumstances.

Overall, it was a light read and might be good for you if you are looking for something quick, easy and uncomplicated.

This is book #10 of the year. I am participating in the 2011 Goodreads Reading Challenge. My goal is to read 50 books this year.

If you are interested in this, you can request it at It is currently on My Bookshelf.

image courtesy of: me (I drew the cover myself.)

2011 Pulitzer Prize Winner

The 2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners were announced yesterday. I almost exclusively read fiction and their 2011 Fiction Winner was "A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan. I just added it to my to-read list. It really sounds interesting!

Here is a synopsis from the publisher:

"Jennifer Egan's spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other's pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.

We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist's couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We plunge into the hidden yearnings and disappointments of her uncle, an art historian stuck in a dead marriage, who travels to Naples to extract Sasha from the city's demimonde and experiences an epiphany of his own while staring at a sculpture of Orpheus and Eurydice in the Museo Nazionale. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life — divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed-up band in the basement of a suburban house — and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco's punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang — who thrived and who faltered — and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie's catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou's far-flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall.

A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to PowerPoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for both--and escape the merciless progress of time--in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers."

Have any of you read it before? What did you think?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bookshelf Monday :: 1

Here is a feature where I post lovely bookshelves that I've come across on the Internet. I am OBSESSED with bookshelves and one of the main reasons I want to move out of our apt and into a bigger home is so that I can have more space for my books. We are slowly running out of room in our little abode right now.

Today's photo has books arranged by color. Every since I've seen this image a few years ago, I've wanted to try to arrange my books that way. My only problem is our bookshelves are in all different rooms in our apartment and it wouldn't work for us. So right now, there is no order to how my books are organized. They are roughly organized by hardcover vs. paperback, my books vs. my husband's vs. my daughter's... but that's about it.

One day... one day...

image courtesy of: chotda

Friday, April 15, 2011

TGIF :: 1 :: Fictional Settings

Just came across this new feature for Fridays on GReads to recap the posts from the week and to ask a fun question. TGIF everyone!

This Friday's Question:

Fictional Places:
If you could visit any fictional setting in a story, where would you go?

  • The first place I thought of was Hogwarts in Harry Potter. I mean, seriously, who would NOT want to go to Hogwarts after reading Harry Potter?! I am DYING to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando so that I could visit Hogwarts, get a wand to choose me at Ollivander's and drink a butter beer. Until the baby gets older though, I guess I'll just have to wait anxiously for my acceptance letter via owl. So many things I would love to do in Hogwarts. I would love to read a book in the Gryffindor common room and have a meal in the Great Hall. The geek in me would even like to take classes. *bows head in shame* I could just go on and on...
  • When I was a kid, I really wanted to go Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory in the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. When I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, what I loved the most about the book was that it made me feel like I was 10-years old again and reading Charlie and Chocolate Factory for the first time. All the magic and imagery! Who didn't want to be Charlie Bucket winning the last Golden Ticket and be able to visit the candy factory? A chocolate river, 3-courses in a piece of gum, and everlasting gobstoppers... a child's dream come true!
  • My last answer is not a specific place, but more of a general one. I love reading historical fiction. In particular, I have read several Phillipa Gregory's books and I am obsessed with the Tudors. I would love to spend a day in one of her books, not as a main character, but as a lady-in-waiting on the sideline witnessing all the action from the outside. Plus, I think it'd be cool to have to wear beautiful dresses all the time. Maybe it's the little princess in me that is dying to get out? ;)

Where would you go? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

National Library Week

NYC Public Library by tanism

It is National Library Week this week, April 10-16. I wouldn't have the love for books that I have today if it weren't for my local library as I was growing up. It makes me sad that the funding for libraries keep getting cut in so many cities.

The American Library Association (ALA) is holding a twaiku (twitter haiku) contest asking people to share their love of libraries on twitter in 140 characters or less. Today is the last day of the contest and all tweets must be tagged #nlwtwaiku. Winners will receive an Amazon gift certificate! Also, you follow @atyourlibrary on twitter for the latest ALA updates.

Here is my haiku:
A child who loved books
Unlocked worlds of wonderment
So many thank yous

Feel free to share your own haiku in the comments!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A new beginning...

This blog has been rolling around in my head for almost a year now. I came across Lenore's Book Blogger Convention Scholarship and decided to finally take the plunge and start a new blog. I have so many ideas and I am excited to get started.

Here is what I wrote in my submission for Lenore's contest:

I always had a deep love of reading. All my life, I’ve been an avid reader. As I’ve gotten older, I have developed a strong desire to share my love of reading with others. On most days, it takes the form of sharing it with my 5th grade students. When I’m not wearing my teacher hat, it’s takes the form of little conversations I share with my friends and family when I’m asking for book recommendations or raving about the latest book that has kept me up all night. Lately, I’ve developed an obsession with sharing my thoughts online about my reading via Goodreads, Facebook, Visual Bookshelf, LibraryThing, PaperBackSwap, etc. I am actually surprised that it’s taken me this long to finally put it all together and decide to start a book blog. The idea of it has been rolling around my head for almost a whole year now. There are many things that I feel like other readers might benefit from if I shared them.

However, there have been many fears holding me back. Mostly, it’s the fear of no one reading my blog, but it’s also the fear of not being the best writer because I am insecure about my writing abilities and even my reading abilities. What if I read too slow or I don't read enough? Whenever the urge would surface to start blogging, I would find myself thinking, “Why would anyone want to hear what I have to say? I am just one very small fish in a very big ocean.” After much encouragement from my husband, I decided a week ago to learn more about book blogging. So, I Googled “how to be a book blogger” and the “book blogger convention” came up. Of course, who doesn’t love a good convention? So I clicked it on it and on the very front page was your scholarship opportunity. I would love to learn all about book blogging at the convention, but even more so, I would love to meet and chat with other book bloggers. You have inspired me to bite the bullet and take the plunge. I finally set up my blog. I am excited and nervous about what it will become. While I still hold many fears and insecurities about this whole process, I am proud of myself for believing I have a voice and also something worth sharing. And even though it would be awesome and such a blessing to win this scholarship, I am mostly thankful for this opportunity and the push to believe in myself. Thank you.

So there you have it... my reasons for starting this blog. Thank you for taking this journey with me.


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