S: The Scholar by Dervla McTiernan #atozchallenge

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted

The Scholar by Dervla McTiernan – Cormac Reilly #2

When Dr. Emma Sweeney stumbles across the victim of a hit and run, outside Galway University, late one evening, she calls her partner, Detective Cormac Reilly, bringing him to the scene of a murder that would otherwise never have been assigned to him.

A security card in the dead woman’s pocket identifies her as Carline Darcy, a gifted student and heir apparent to Irish pharmaceutical giant Darcy Therapeutics. The multi billion dollar company, founded by her grandfather, sponsors university research facilities and has funded Emma’s own ground breaking work. The inpuiry into Carline’s death promised to be high profile and high pressure.

As Cormac investigates, evidence mounts that the death is linked to a Darcy laboratory and, increasingly to Emma herself. Cormac’s running of the case comes under scrutiny, and he is forced to question his own objectivity. Could his loyalty to Emma have led him to overlook evidence? Has it made him a liability? – blurb

My Thoughts

This is the second book in the Cormac Reilly series. I really enjoyed the first book, The Ruin, so was looking forward to reading the this book. It did not disappoint at all. There was always enough happening in this story, to keeping me turning the page. There were many unexpected twists and turns. The characters were believable, even the unlikeable ones.  In my opinion, many crime novels have one dimensional characters, but not so in this novel.

I read this book before I read the first in the series and it does stand alone. The events in the first novel are explained well so as not to lead to confusion.  There is no need to start with the first book, though I have gone back and read it. I couldn’t not after reading The Scholar. I had to know more about the main characters who had really interesting back stories.

Recommendations

“Taut, tense and darkly addictive, The Scholar is a treat for lovers of fine crime writing.” – Candice Fox

“Atmospheric and beautifully paced, with nuanced characters and a gripping plot – the Scholar has it all.” – Chris Hammer, author of Scrublands

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Dervla McTiernan

Dervla McTiernan is the author of The Ruin, The Scholar and The Good Turn. The Ruin was published in 2018 and is the first in the detective Cormac Reilly series. The Ruin was a top ten bestseller and an Amazon Best Book of July 2018. Dervla was a New Blood Panellist at Harrogate Festival. The Scholar was published in 2019 and was a top five bestseller. The Good Turn will be published in 2020. The Ruin has been optioned for TV by Hopscotch Features

Published in 2019 by Harper Collins Publishers
Paperbook, 377 pages.

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R: The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan #a-zchallenge

The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan – Cormac Reilly #1

The Ruin (Cormac Reilly, #1)

 

Summary

It’s been twenty years since Cormac Reilly discovered the body of Hilaria Blake in her crumbling Georgian home. But he’s never forgotten the two children she left behind…

When Aisling Conroy’s boyfriend Jack is found in the freezing black waters of the river Corrib, the police tell her it was suicide. A surgical resident, she throws herself into study and work, trying to forget – until Jack’s sister Maude shows up. Maude suspects foul play, and she is determined to prove it.

DI Cormac Reilly is the detective assigned with the re-investigation of an ‘accidental’ overdose twenty years ago – of Jack and Maude’s drug- and alcohol-addled mother. Cormac is under increasing pressure to charge Maude for murder when his colleague Danny uncovers a piece of evidence that will change everything…

This unsettling crime debut draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t – or won’t. Perfect for fans of Tana French and Jane Casey. – blurb

My thoughts

Set in Ireland, this is an excellent and fast paced crime novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, the characters and the twists and turns along the way. I read this book very quickly, over just a couple of days, as I couldn’t put it down. Lovers of mystery and crime, I’m sure would enjoy this book.

This is a debut novel, which looks to become an excellent series.

Recommendations

“The Ruin is the kind of book you will inevitably find yourself recommending to every person you know, and probably also that lovely person who makes your coffee. It’s blisteringly good.” – Readings

“Dervla McTiernan gives us a gripping mystery set in Galway. It’s a complicated, page turning story, that touches on corruption, clandestine cover ups and criminal conspiracy. As moving as it is fast paced.” – Val McDermid

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Dervla McTiernan

Internationally bestselling and critically acclaimed writer, Dervla McTiernan is the author of The Ruin, The Scholar and The Good Turn. The Ruin was published in 2018 and is the first in the detective Cormac Reilly series. The Ruin was a top ten bestseller and an Amazon Best Book of July 2018. Dervla was a New Blood Panellist at Harrogate Festival. The Scholar was published in 2019 and was a top five bestseller. The Good Turn will be published in 2020. The Ruin has been optioned for TV by Hopscotch Features.

 

Published 2018 by Penguin Books. Paperback, 380 pages

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Q: Quick by Steve Worland #atozchallenge

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted

Quick by Steve Worland
Audiobook read by Sean Mangan

Quick

Summary

Melbourne, Australia: Round One of the Formula One World Championship. Billy Hotchkiss no longer races a v* Supercar, but that doesn’t mean he’s lost the need for speed. When the young cop uncovers a diamond heist in progress, he leaps into action and almost captures the thieves.

Lyon, France: Interpol are convinced the thieves are connected to Formula One. And they think this Australia ex race driver is just the guy to stop them.

Sent undercover with an unwilling French partner, Billy is thrust into the glamorous world of international motor racing as the diamond heists continue. But as Billy closes in on the thieves, a far more sinister threat is revealed.

With the fate of a city, and the lives of half a million people in the balance, Billy will need to drive like never before to stop the worst act of terror since 9/11 – blurb

My Thoughts

Definitely, fast paced and action packed, this novel took me on a roller coaster ride. I was exhausting reading about the exploits of the main character, Billy. I found myself immersed and wanting to know more about the fast paced world of big money, fast cars and Formula 1. A great action ‘boys own’ type adventure, which is an easy, fast read, with lots of comedy.  I enjoyed the characters and their banter also.

The lower star rating is due to action, adventure not being my genre of choice. Fans of these type of books may give a higher rating.

Recommendation

“Hands down, one of the best action adventure novels, I’ve ever read” – Steve Waugh

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About the Author

Steve Worland

Steve Worland has worked extensively in film and television in Australia and the USA. He has written scripts for Working Title and Icon Productions, worked in script development for James Cameron’s Lightstorm and wrote Fox Searchlight’s Bootmen, which won five Australian Film Institute awards.

Steve also wrote the action-comedy telemovie Hard Knox, the bible and episodes of the television series Big Sky and the Saturn award-winning Farscape. The family film Paper Planes, which he co-wrote, will be released worldwide in 2015. His novelisation of the screenplay will be released at the same time.

He is the author of the action-adventure novels Velocity, Combustion and Quick and is currently writing his fourth book.

Published 2014 by Michael Joseph: Penguin Australia
Audiobook 11 hours 47minutes

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Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho #atozchallenge

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted

The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho

Summary

The Pilgrimage recounts the spectacular trials of Pauli Coelho and his mysterious mentor, Petrie, as they journey across Spain in search of a miraculous sword. The Pilgrimage paved the way Paulo Coelho’s international best selling novel, The Alchemist. In many ways, these two volumes are companions -to truly comprehend one, you must read the other.

Step inside this captivating account of Paulo Coelho’s pilgrimage along the road to Santiago. This fascinating parable explores the need to find ones own path. In the end, we discover that the extraordinary is always found in the ordinary and simple ways of everyday people. Part adventure story, part guide to self discovery, this compelling tale delivers the perfect combination of enchantment and insight –goodreads

Translated by Alan R.Clarke

My Thoughts

When I first came across this book, I was drawn to it for two reasons. Firstly, I am a fan of Coelho, having read The Alchemist a number of times. I list it as one of my favourite books of all time. Secondly, I did my own pilgrimage of The Camino de Santiago in 2014, so was extremely interested to read what Coelho had to say about his experiences.

I knew The Pilgrimage would focus on the mystical experiences of the author. This really interested me, as my own experiences of the walk were fitness related rather than mystical or religious.

I have read this book twice, and each time, I pick up something new from it. I have found that to be the case in each of his books that I’ve read.

For me, The Pilgrimage didn’t disappoint but I am aware that I have a bias towards the subject matter. It is possible that a reader without that bias, or without having experienced The Camino, wouldn’t get the same enjoyment out of this book.

Recommendations

Coelho’s writing is beautifully poetic, but his message is what counts…….he gives me hope and puts a smile on my face” – Daily Express

“His books have had a life enhancing impact on millions of peopleThe Times

Quotes

“We must never stop dreaming. Dreams provide nourishment for the soul, just as a meal does for the body.”

“We always have a tendency to see those things that do not exist and to be blind to the great lessons that are right there before our eyes.

We always know which is the best road to follow, but we follow only the road that we have become accustomed to”

My Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Paulo Coelho was born in 1947 in Rio de Janeiro. Before dedicating his life completely to literature, he worked as theatre director and actor, lyricist and journalist. In 1986, Coelho did the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, an experience later to be documented in his book The Pilgrimage. 

His books are written in Portugese and translated into English.

This 25th anniversary edition published October 2012 by Thomson’s Publishers. Hardcover, 320 pages.

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O: On Writing by Stephen King #atozchallenge

On Writing: A memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Summary

There is a reason why Stephen King is one of the bestselling writers in the world, ever. Described in the Guardian as ‘the most remarkable storyteller in modern American literature’, Styephen King writes books that draw you in and are impossible to put down.

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near fatal accident in 1999 – and how the inextricable link betwenn writing and living spurred his recovery.

My Thoughts

On Writing is so much more than a text book on creative writiing. It is also part memoir and contains so many tips for aspiring writers. I’m not an aspiring writer but as I read this book, as a Stephen King fan, I wanted so soak up all the advice and how-to infomation that he was giving about writing.

As is usual with King, he writes with humour and ensures that his book is a ‘page turner’ – even if it is merely a book about writiing. I absolutely loved this book, and can see myself coming back to it again and again.

Included at the end, is a chapter listing books that are favourites of King – he says because he has been entertained by them.

I’m sure all fans of Stephen King would love this book.

Recommendations

“The childhood memoir is a triumphant display of wit, storytelling and guts. His advice to writers is hard-nosed, practical and level headed in the classic journalistic Orwell-Hemingway tradition” – Evening Standard

“Absolutely fascinating….basic instructions….sensible advice” – The Sunday Times

“A fascinating combination of autobiography and personal voyage through the books and films that have inspired the phenomenally successful author….an invaluable insight into his working methods that will no doubt be pored over by aspiring authors throughout the world….a subtle and revealing portrait of his home life and the recent traumatic car accident” – Publishing News

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

King at the 2007 Comic Con

Stephen King is a No. 1 Best Selling Author many times over. He is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. Many of his books have been adapted into major films and TV series. King received the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2007, he won the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and in 2015 he received America’s National Medal of Arts.

He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist, Tabitha King.

First published 2000 by Hodder & Stoughton
This edition published in 2012
Paperback, 354 pages, including booklist

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Needful Things by Stephen King #AtoZChallenge

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted

Needful Things by Stephen King

Summary

Castle rock, Maine, where Polly Chalmers runs You Sew and Sew, and Sheriff Alan Pangborn is in charge of keeping the peace. It’s a small town, and Stephen King fans might think they know it’s secrets pretty well: they’ve been here before.

Leland Gaunt is a stranger – and he calls his shop Needful Things. eleven year old Brian Rusk is his first customer, and Brian finds just what he wants most in all the world: a 1956 Sand Koufax baseball card. By the end of the week, Mr. Gaunt’s business is fairly booming. At Needful Things there’s something for everyone.

And of course, for everyone, there’s a price. For Leland Gaunt, the pleasure of doing business lies chiefly in seeing how much people will pay for their most secret dreams and desires. And at Needful Things, the prices are high indeed.

For alan and Polly, this autumn week will be an awful test – a test of will, desire, and pain. Above all, it will be a test of their ability to grasp the true nature of their enemy. they may have a chance……

But maybe not, because, as Mr. Gaunt knows, almost everything is for sale: love, hope – and even the human soul.

With a demonic blend of malice and affection, Stephen King says farewell to the town he put on the map – and delivers another spellbinding testament to his dark genius. – blurb

My Thoughts

This is my second reading of this book. It became one of my favourite Stephen King books when I first read in when it was a new release in 1991. This second reading had me falling in love with the story and especially the characters, all over again.

In my mind King is intending this book to be a warning about materialism. Every thing that you want can be bought at Needful Things. But every thing comes with a price. The shelves may look empty, but every thing you need or want is there.

Needful Things has everything that fans have come to expect from a Stephen King – suspense – humour , action, the unbelievable that is believable, and really great characters. Stephen King is the master of characterisation.

As often happens in a King novel, you will come across people you know from earlier novels. I love that about his novels.

Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About the author

King at the 2007 Comic Con

Stephen King is a No. 1 Best Selling Author many times over. He is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. Many of his books have been adapted into major films and TV series. King received the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2007, he won the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and in 2015 he received America’s National Medal of Arts.

He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist, Tabitha King.

Published 1991 by Hodder and Stoughton
Hardcover, 698 pages

Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, I’d love to know your favourite book. I promise to reply to all comments.

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M: The Memory by Lucy Dawson #AtoZChallenge #audiobook

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

 

The Memory by Lucy Dawson
Audio book read by Clare Corbett

Summary

A haunting domestic drama about families and secrets.
“She’ll never forget…..I’ll never forgive. People always notice my daughter, Isobel. How could they not? Incredibly beautiful….until she speaks.”

An unsettling, little-girl voice, exactly like a childs, but from the mouth of a full grown woman. Izzie might look grown up, but inside she’s trapped. Caught in the day it happened…the day that broke her from within. .

“Our family fell apart that day, and we never could pick up the pieces.”

goodreads

My Thoughts

This book is described as an “unputdownable psychological thriller.” As a mystery I really enjoyed it, but to me it was not a psychological thriller. There wasn’t enough suspense for that in my opinion. To say that there is a supernatural theme to this story, doesn’t give anything away, but it does become a bit creepy at time. The story had many twists and turns, and unforeseen things happening which lead to an unexpected ending that I didn’t see coming. In my opinion this book is a great mystery with an inventive plot.

Audiobook – the narrator was able to portray the eeriness in this story where it was necessary. It didn’t lose anything at all in this format.

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About the author

 

Lucy studied Psychology at Warwick University before becoming a children’s magazine editor. Her first bestselling book – His Other Lover – was published in 2008. Since then she has published four other novels and her work has been translated into numerous other languages. She lives in Exeter with her husband and children. Lucy finds writing in the third person uncomfortable.

 

Published in 2018 by Bookoutre
Paperback, 338 pages
Audiobook Published by Bolinda Audio, 10 hours 16 mins

#2020 Aussie Author Challenge

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The Lost Boys by Paul Byrnes #atozchallenge

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

The Lost Boys by Paul Byrnes: The Untold Stories of the under-age soldiers who fought in the First World War

Summary

In the First World War of 1914-1918, thousands of boys across Australia and New Zealand lied about their age, forged a parent’s signature and left to fight on the other side of the world. Though some were as young as thirteen, they soon found they could die as well as any man. Like Peter Pan’s lost boys, they have remained forever young. These are their stories. – blurb

This extraordinary book captures the incredible and previously untold stories of forty Anzac boys who fought in the First World War, from Gallipoli to the Armistice. Featuring haunting images of the boys taken at training camps and behind the lines, these tales are both heartbreaking and rousing, full of daring, ingenuity, recklessness, random horror and capricious luck.A unique perspective on the First World War, is military history made eeply personal, a powerful homage to youthful bravery and a poignant reminder of the sacrifice of war. – inside cover

The Lost Boys: The untold stories of the under-age soldiers who fought in the First World War

My Thoughts

A heartbreaking record of the underage boys who enlisted for WW1. The information was taken from service records and family interview. There was quite a bit of speculation about the way things may have been but that is understandable, and gives colour and a personal touch  to to the stories of these boys.
Photos of the boys in uniform are included. When looking at these photos, it’s very difficult to understand how recruiters could possibly have thought them to be over age. Most of the boys looked like baby faced young boys playing dress ups in soldiers uniforms. The sadness of that brought tears to my eyes.

A beautifully presented hardcover book with dustjacket. Black and white images of war are imprinted on the hardcover.

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

 About the Author

Paul Byrnes joined the Sydney Morning Herald in 1976, reporting from various corners of the world, for a decade, before specialising as a feature writer and film critic. He was director of the Sydney Film Festival for ten years,  until 1998. In 2007, he won the Pascall prize, Australia’s highest award for critical writing in the arts. This book is the result of a lifelong interest in the First World War. He lives in Australia and France

Published in 2019 by Affirm Press. 364 pages including index

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#2020 Aussie Author Challenge

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K:Kin by Nick Brodie #AtoZChallenge #aussieauthor20

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Kin: A Real People’s History of our Nation by Nick Brodie

Summary

From convicts, goldminers and sailors, to high country horsemen, nurses and soldiers – and almost everyone in between – KIN is about generations of real people living real lives. Join historian and archaeologist, Nick Brodie, as he traces his family back to their first arrivals in Australia. As their lives intersect, KIN provides a unique historical insight into Australia’s past: colonies grow and wars are fought as Nick follows his people and their children across land and sea, in their everyday occupations and through their hardships and most memorable events. Follow Nick’s journey to discover how his kinfolk lived, the bigger story of the history of Australia, as their stories become both his and ours. – blurb

My Thoughts

The author uses stories about his own ancestors to create a full and thorough explanation of Australian history. I really enjoyed this book, but as family history and Australian history is my passion, be aware that I could be biased. I loved the ancestry charts included and really enjoyed following the lives of the author’s ancestors. Even though Kin is a very thorough history of Australia and of his own ancestors, it is very easy to follow.

Kin is based on very thorough research, both ancestral and historical. My only criticism would be that I’d have liked to have seen a list of sources at the back of the book. But this is addressed by the author at the end, where he gives his reasons for not including them.

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Nick Brodie is a historian, archaeologist, writer and university lecturer. Born in country New South Wales, his fascination with the past dates back to when he was old enough to dig in his parent’s backyard. The rusty objects and broken bottles he uncovered have since been lost, but his tenacious curiosity and a passion for exploring history remain – back cover

Published in 2015 by Hardie Grant Books
Softcover, 370 pages including index, acknowledgements and authors notes.

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2020 Aussie Author Challenge

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Journey from Venice by Ruth Cracknell #AtoZChallenge #aussieauthor20

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Journey From Venice by Ruth Cracknell

Summary

Grand Dame of Australian theatrical community, Ruth Cracknell, much loved by the people of Australia,  tells of her journey from Venice when her husband takes ill.

Venice beckons, promising Paradise regained fro Ruth Cracknell and her husband Eric, as they set forth on a carefully planned holiday.

What they are seeking is time. Time to think, time to gaze, time for each other. But from the moment the holiday becomes an uncharted journey, their time is measured.
– from the blurb

Journey from Venice

My Thoughts

As a fan of Ruth Cracknell, in the  much loved TV series, Mother and Son,  I was pleased when I came across this book. I found Journey From Venice to be a raw and deeply personal account of the illness her husband suffered in Venice. At times it read like a travel log or a diary, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book or the sadness of her experiences.

The parts of the book that were about Venice were more enjoyable to me than when the story focuses on their life in Australia. I found this memoir to be deeply sad, as I read about the roller coaster ride experiences of the end of life of Ruth’s much loved husband.

 Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About the Author

Ruth Cracknell lived in Maitland, NSW, in early childhood, before her family moved to Sydney. She was educated at North Sydney Girls’ High School and began a professional career in radio at the age of twenty. she travelled to England, where she worked for the BBC in radio, returning to Sydney in 1954.

In theatre, she was known for her interpretations of both classical and contemporary drama as well as for her particular flair for comedy. She also worked extensively in film, television, radio and animation, and won numberous industry awards. She is perhaps, best know for her role as Maggie Bears in the ABC series Mother and Son.

A member of the Order of Australia, Ruth was awarded honorary doctorates from Sydney University and the Queensland University of Technology. She died in 2002, aged 76.

Published on 22 February 2001 by Viking Australia. 288 pages

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