Discovering Authors and their Works


With the discovery of an audiobook lending app from my library, comes the fruitful task of managing to read some books from my TBR that are long overdue. But on the other side of that coin is the discovery of new authors to obsess about and consequently acquiring more books.

Admittedly, Salman Rushdie is a household name in the annals of widely-known literary geniuses whose work I’ve considered as an unattainable dream. I didn’t think his writing would gel with my pedestrian comprehension skills. But when I found The Golden House available for download, I snapped it up right away. I had very little expectations as to how much I would enjoy the book. I knew it was going to go over my head. To my surprise, it proved me wrong. Now, I’m scrambling to find some of his novels. I picked up his controversial, award-winning novel, The Satanic Verses right away.

Preston Norton isn’t new to the YA world. But his most recent work, Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe, took my breath away. It was a beautifully written novel about grief, family, and friendship cultivated in an otherwise unwelcoming world. His book is easily one of my favourite reads this year and would be the diving board to plunging into his writing.

Ronald H. Balson’s Liam Taggart and Catherine Lockhart series is a true discovery. I could not stop reading/listening to the book. The first in a series about a lawyer and a private detective who became partners in a case about a World War II survivor set in exacting his revenge against a Nazi. My introduction to his work was breathtaking, heartbreaking, and simply beautiful. It had the air of making the reader feel wholly involved.

I love discovering authors and their work. It allows me to venture out of my reading comfort zone and examine how far I’d grown as a reader and as a person.

Have you discovered any good writing lately?

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On the Night Table with Susanna Kearseley

As a certifiable bibliophile, I’m always curious to see what a person is reading. So I take advantage of any opportunity that I can get to see what an author/blogger/celebrity is reading at any given moment. Well, today, I have Ms. Susanna Kearsely. She’s incredibly busy, I know this. But she’s such a lovely person for indulging my quirks.


I don’t read much fiction while I’m writing. Every writer is different, but for me, I find that if another storyteller’s voice is strong, it sometimes influences mine without my even knowing it, so I usually stick to more visual entertainment like movies or TV while writing.

Between books, though, I do try to make a dent in my ever-growing TBR stack.

These five books are closest to the top. The fact they’re all male-authored mysteries is because the novel I’ll be writing next, The Vanished Days, has a mysterious storyline narrated by a man, so I’m doing research—pleasure reading with a purpose:

Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry, by D.B. Jackson—the first two books in his Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy series set in pre-revolutionary war era Boston, with a conjurer hero named Ethan Kaille.

Cloudland, by Joseph Olshan, a literary thriller based on a true story of unsolved crimes, set in Vermont, and written by the award-winning author of Clara’s Heart.

So Disdained, a World War II thriller by one of my favourite writers, Nevil Shute. I’ve read most of his novels, but I’ve purposely held back a few, like this one, to reward myself with between writing my own books.

and,

The Man From St. Petersburg, by Ken Follett. I read this one years ago, when it first came out, but I’ve mostly forgotten the finer details of the plot, so I’ve cycled it back again onto my reading pile.

Give it a week, though, and I’m sure there’ll be other books piled on top of these. My TBR bookstack grows like a weed. I can’t help myself.


Thank you for sharing, Ms. Kearsely. These books sound intense in their own way. Piqued my curiosity, to say the least. 🙂

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Read Recently: Knitting in the City Edition

Penny Reid easily became an auto-buy author for me as soon as read her serial, Elements of Chemistry. I loved the story so much that I reach for it time and time again when I’m in need of a good romance. But I soon found other books of hers that are phenomenally good. Knitting in the City is one of those series that I’ve grown to love. The characters are well-rounded; the dialogues are off the charts witty, and the romances are simply heart-fatteningly good. Bonus: every single one of the books are hilarious! 

So while I was on an extended leave from the blog, and while I suffered from the worst case of reading slump, Penny Reid was my saviour. I’ve read the majority of the books in this series. But during my time off, I discovered these other books that I did not know existed.

Neanderthal Marries Human
by Penny Reid


I’m such a huge fan of this series. I can’t believe I ever stopped following the books. I love Janie & Quinn. They’re a match made in heaven. Janie’s practicality and intelligence play evenly with Quinn’s stoicism and wit. This follows the trials and tribulations of their engagement and subsequent marriage. Hilarity and hijinx ensue.

 

 

Ninja at First Sight
by Penny Reid


Ack. Greg & Fiona’s beginnings. My heart. <3 If you’ve been following this series, you’d know that Fiona is an ex-CIA operative who now manages their home without her husband Greg. And it’s because of his job. I fell in love with the way they kind of tried to stay away from each other to no avail. Greg is hilariously British. He’s sarcastic and witty. Fiona is serious and intelligent. I love these two!

 

Marriage of Inconvenience
by Penny Reid


Rounding up this series is book #7 to Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City series. I do believe this is the last book, and it’s the story of Dan the Security Man and Kate, the heiress in hiding. I also love this story even though at times, I wanted to kill a few people. Lol. Regardless, Dan and Kate made it worth my while. I love the epilogue. I love seeing their respective kids grow up. I do hope we’ll read their stories in the future.

 

Scenes from the Hallway
by Penny Reid


This is a series of stories featuring Kate and Dan the Security Man. I love seeing their beginnings and the reason for why they were apart for most of the Knitting story line. This is a preamble to book #7, so to speak. It’s a lovely story between Kate and Dan – their palpable attraction even through their time apart. They truly struggled and it’s all because of a miscommunication between them. Oh horrors of horrors.

 

Other Books in this Series

Have you read any books from Penny Reid? Which is your favourite?

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Timeless Tour Discussion Questions

Hello. As you know, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of Simon & Schuster Canada’s Timeless Tour endeavor. It features three books depicting stories from three time periods. As a fan of Historical Fiction, this was a great experience for me as it allowed me to see three stories from different eras. So today, I’d like to share with you what I’ve thought so far.


What was your favorite historical time period among the Timeless Tour reads? Did you know anything about this period before you began reading the book?

As a creature of comfort, it would be easy for me to dream about living in Versailles where excess was rampant and decadence was the norm. But I supposed living it up in that time period would depend on the hierarchy of my social status. There’s also that language barrier thing that limits my knowledge to French numerals and days of the week. So I don’t think living in that time period would work out so well for me. 

In Promises to Keep, I was shown the idyllic lives of the Acadian people in the East Coast during the 17th century. It offered a bountiful farmland and an abundant sea. It shows a life that left most of its inhabitant cocooned in contentful simplicity. That is until the English invaded and ruined the party. What happened next was immeasurable hardship and loss for the Acadian people. Resilient though, as they may be, I can’t say the same for myself.

Now, who wouldn’t want to live in historic Siena, Italy? The entire country is on my bucket list so it would be easy to assume that I’d pick the 15th century to time travel to, right? Besides the fact that I wouldn’t know the first thing about living life in medieval times (that creature of comfort thing is very inconvenient), this is the Black Plague period, y’all. Where people died in the thousands! So no, I wouldn’t want to go back to this era only to suffer the same fate.

So I’m faced with a conundrum. If given the choice, which era can I truly find myself living in? Well, since all three presents different challenges, I supposed I’d pick the one where I’ll be able to control my destiny and choose Versailles. I can learn a trade and work if my social caste falls below what’s considered bourgeois. And the language barrier thing is not really all that challenging. If it can be learned, I can handle it.

How did the historical events in each book influence the character’s choices and personalities?

The one thing that the heroines in all three books have in common is resilience. It would be easy to write off Jeanne (The Enemies of Versailles) as one who’ve used the basest form of feminine power to influence her stature in life, but regardless of the method, she did what she could to change things with nary a thought to propriety. Don’t get me wrong, she realized that she was being used by the dubious and powerful Du Barry but in turn, she found a way to use this to her advantage.

Amongst the three, Amelie, perhaps was a person who characterized resilience and strength in the most obvious way possible. The incredible struggle she and her family went through during the Expulsion of the Acadians didn’t lessen her resolve to hope, to believe, and to live. And though at times she seemed like she’d reached the end of her rope, this girl just kept strengthening her resolve until she found renewed courage.

Beatrice, on the other hand, was propelled by the love of her brother who had become her father since they were orphaned when he was only 17 years old. She was also very intelligent (neurosurgeon) and very brave for continuing her brother’s quest despite having the odds stacked against her. She found a way to delay her grief if only to fulfill her brother’s legacy. Finding herself in the 13th century with no means to get back to the present didn’t faze her. She worked with what she knew and used her intelligence to survive.

If you could invite one of the Timeless Tour leading ladies (Beatrice, Jeanne, or Amelie) to dinner, who would you choose and why?

I feel like Beatrice would have a lot of stories to tell. Besides the fact that she knows a great deal about the human brain, her stint in the Middle Ages must’ve given her a different perspective about the world in general. Even though she’s a Scientist first and foremost, I can tell she’s a thinker as a whole. And the lady never stopped learning. She’s very intuitive, curious, and completely adaptable.

The Scribe of Siena starts in the present before Beatrice is transported back in time to 1347, whereas Promises to Keep and Enemies of Versailles are firmly rooted in one timeline. How did this change your reading experience?

I don’t think there’s no other way for this story to begin but at the present time. I mean, considering time travel is a key element to this novel, starting it in the past wouldn’t nearly have the same effect. I love this book. It’s perfect the way it is. 🙂

In the past, powerful women have been written out of textbooks. How do the protagonists of the Timeless Tour novels challenge the misconception that women in history were passive, submissive and dependent?

The women in the three novels were all resourceful and resilient creatures. They found ways to overcome obstacles even while restrained by the ties that bind them. Jeanne used her beauty to change her station in life; Amelie stood up to the soldiers that were holding her family hostage. With each loss she suffered, she picked herself up because she had a family who was dependent on her. Beatrice’s quest to continue her brother’s work was met with resistance from the local scholars who seemed to have their own agendas working in the background. Not to mention, her courage shown when she was transported to the Middle Ages. So time and time again, these women exuded strength, fierceness, and audacity unheard of the time period which they belong.


Thank you for joining me today and I’m sorry this took a bit long. I wanted you to see the fierceness of these women with whom I had the pleasure of reading. 

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Top Ten Tuesday [18]: Flash Reads

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is about the books that I’ve read in a flash. These are books that are incredibly short but not necessarily serials.

We Should All Be Feminists
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

52 pages. Read in March 2015

 Feminism explained in a clear, concise manner. If you’ve ever struggled to explain what it is,  Adichie’s TEDx speech is a must-read. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has their own definition. But this tiny little book is the bible I adhere to.

 

 

Morphine
by Mikhail Bulgakov

64 pages. Read in December 2013

It literally took me half an hour to read this book. It’s about a doctor’s tragic love affair with depression and morphine. This is Bulgakov in his rawest, I thought. I remember reading it at a time when I was desperately clawing my way out of the deepest pits of a reading slump. It did the trick!

 

 

Ronit & Jamil
by Pamela L. Laskin

Audio, 1 hr and 29 min. Read in March 2017

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book so when it came out, I got it right away. I’m not gonna lie, I thought there was a mistake when I saw the length. I didn’t realize this book was written in verse, which is no big, except it felt incomplete and it didn’t really live up to my expectations.

 

 

You Will Not Have My Hate
by Antoine Leiris

99 pages. Read in February 2017

I don’t think anyone would soon forget the horrors of the terrorist attacks in Bataclan, Paris. When men opened fire at a concert, killing 90 people in the theater alone. One of them was Antoine’s wife. She left a husband and their son barely two years old. Three days later, he wrote this letter to her murderers. This book is sad and hopeful in equal measure.

 

 

This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life
by David Foster Wallace

138 pages. Read in March 2017

There’s never been a book more powerful than this one. David Foster Wallace’s one and only commencement speech is an eye-opener about life, compassion and how we’re programmed to think.

 

 

The Housekeeper and the Professor
by Yōko Ogawa

180 pages, Read in March 2014

If you’ve ever found Mathematics romantic, this book is written with you in mind. Admittedly, I picked up this book because of the underlying allusion to a romance in the title. Boy, was I disappointed! Still, this book was amazing. It made me appreciate Math in a whole another spectrum.

 

 

Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump
by Aaron James

144 pages. Read in June 2016

Fuck this guy. Seriously. Fuck him. <– Real thoughts about this book and its subject. I think I’ve already made my position known about President Shit for Brains. Anyway, Aaron James philosophies on how America got here.

 

 

The Strange Library
by Haruki Murakami

96 pages. Read in 2015

Wildly imaginative. Totally crazy and absolutely out of my range as far as fiction goes. Sadly, this was my baptism of fire in the world of Murakami. And we didn’t get on well. He pulls his readers in fantastic realms that only his brilliant mind could conceive. Unfortunately, I missed the bus on this one. Still, a nice intro, if I may so myself.

 

 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman

178 pages. Read in 2013

Speaking of brilliantly weird books, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is another one that went over my head. A book so odd that to this day, I couldn’t describe exactly what it was about. One thing I’ve deduced from reviews of his work is that they have the overwhelming characteristics of a fairy tale anointed by the Grimm Brothers themselves.

 

 

Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nahesi Coates

154 pages. Read in 2016

I read this in December when it seems like I was angry every fucking day. Oddly enough, I felt a sense of unburdening after finishing this book for the second time literally hours after I read it the first time. I took stock of where I am and how it bad it could still be. And I hate that my perspective in life was suddenly a little better at the expense of another’s.

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On the Night Table [45]: March TBR


Hello.

Every month, I always try to make it a point to tackle review copies first before anything else. March is no different. Aside from Moon Called by Patricia Briggs, the books on my pile are for review that’s been sitting on my shelf for a time now.

Nostalgia by MG Vassanji won the Governor General’s award for literature here in Canada. It’s about a man who is suffering from Leaked Memory Syndrome. It’s when memories of his past lives come seeping out from the deep confines of his brain. It has such an interesting premise, but I must admit that it’s intimidating me a little bit.

I’ve decided to re-read Moon Called by Patricia Briggs in an effort to get this series off my TBR. I own the first 6 books and since this series has been widely loved by practically everyone I know, I thought it was high time.

I’m a huge fan of suspense/mysteries, so The Girl Before is right up my alley. Looking forward to reading this one.

I’m more than halfway done with I See You and enjoying it so far. I had assumed that this book will not be out until April, for some reason so I’m a little late in posting my review.

READ LAST WEEK

Seven Days of You was cute. Oryx And Crake was insane. Act Like It was pretty good but not as good as Pretty Face.

So this has been my week. I’ve been relatively absent from the blog for no other reason than tiredness and laziness. I’ve written a few posts to get me through the week, though so I’ll try to be on schedule this time.

Have a great week, everyone!

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On the Night Table [44]: Reading Update


The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine | The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman | I See You by Clare Mackintosh


Hello.

How was your weekend? We’re about four days away from the dreaded inauguration, you guys. How are you planning on spending the day? Besides the fact that I have to work, I’m going to do my darnedest to steer clear of the social media and any tv broadcast about it. But if you guys have any suggestions on what I can do that will be more productive, let me know. I’m open to anything.

Anyway, I’ve got more January books on my night table this week. I’ve been doing so well with my review copies but I’ve also been requesting a lot of books from Net Galley lately. I’ve been bad. So so bad. Also, I just noticed that Net Galley is giving us a chance to improve our review stats so I took advantage of that this weekend by submitting the reviews for the ones that I didn’t. I’m so glad. My reviewing percentage is pretty sad, to be honest, so I’m thankful for the opportunity. It also gives me a chance to see which books I have on my Kindle that I need to read. Gah. The number is staggering.

R   E   A   D   THIS   W  E   E  K

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan was a solid read. Gritty, gory and not at all the kind of werewolf stories I’ve read in the past. Wait For It by M. O’Keefe was a good read, but I found the characters to be different from when I first met them in the preceding books. Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia was a fantastic read as well. I’ve already reviewed The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer and Born A Crime previously so you know how I felt about them. Little Heaven was on the blog last week.

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you’ve been up to lately. 🙂 Have a great week, dear readers. I know it’s not going to be the greatest, but I hope you’ll make the best of it, anyway.

 

 

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Top Reads of 2016

The One that Pulled Me into the Abyss.

My Review

A Little Life is perhaps, the darkest book I’ve read in a long time. It features a character who wouldn’t know happiness even if it was staring at him in the face. Because even if he was surrounded by the people who genuinely loved him, he was always waiting for the other shoe to drop so accepting that love was tremulous task. This was a hard read, but I truly feel that I was a better person after the crying jag.

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The One that Gave Me Perspective.

My Review

There is nothing easy about this novel ( though, easier than A Little Life, admittedly). This is about the racial climate in contemporary America, and Jodi Picoult did her best, albeit reluctantly, to tackle this issue most of Americans wish should remain buried in their painful past. This book gave me pause as I ruminated on how difficult it is to be successful, to be educated, and still be disrespected and discriminated because of the colour of your skin.

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The One that Pulled Me Out of the Abyss.

My Review

After the trauma of watching a demagogue be elected as the president of the United States, I was not in a good place. I was angry and shocked. And since books have always been the panacea I tend to reach for when I’m feeling down, The Hating Game pulled me out of that dark place. I just knew that rereading it would be the perfect thing that would help me forget the misery of the day.

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The One that Made Me Like Science Fiction.

My Review

Science Fiction, much like Fantasy, is a genre that I could never quite figure out. But this page-turner made me believe that I could truly love Sci-fi in its simplest form. Simple, because this book isn’t inundated by jargon and long sterile narratives that tend to steer me away from the genre. I’ve always believed that discoveries have the tendency to bring out the best and worst in humans. Mr. Neuvel certainly didn’t shy away from showing all the immoral things we’ll subject ourselves to in the name of Science. With a combination of dry humour and ingenious story-telling, Sleeping Giants was the perfect example of Sci-fi for the masses.

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The One that Whisked Me Away to Another Place and Time.

My Review

This book always makes me want to ramble on about how beautiful it is. The writing, the scenery, the characters…everything about it perfectly captures the small town charm, the grandeur of the old world Hollywood setting, and the stories of the people that tie these worlds together.  Beautiful Ruins was cozy, warm and funny it all its subtleties. It’s a book full of passionate people, visceral settings, and rich in history spanning decades. The perfect beach read…couch read…bed read.

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 The One that Made Me Feel Inadequate.

I have re-read this twice already. Each re-read more powerful than the last. Still, the impact is greater for someone like me to comprehend. It could be because I’m not African American, nor do I live in the States. But the power of Mr. Coates’ words – his desperation, his hopes, his warnings – leap off the pages with intense clarity. And yet, I get it. I get the hopelessness. That feeling that in some ways, his body, his son’s body were never their own. As easily as freedom may come to some, to African Americans, freedom is a fleeting fancy. Despite the progress that America has had over the years with the racial injustices of times gone by, African Americans are still shackled by the colour of their skin.  And to deny the existence of such discrimination is naive and dangerous.

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Feed My Reader

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I need some good romance recommendations, y’all. Since my Kindle came back to life, I’ve managed to read a bunch of really good romance novels. I’ve particularly enjoyed Vi Keeland’s and Penelope Ward’s collaboration. But ever since then, the rest of the books that I’ve downloaded wasn’t really floating my boat. So I’m wondering if you can recommend something good and easy.

I’ve taken to re-reading the books that I’ve recently downloaded which sucks because I’m wasting valuable reading time. So I’m wondering if you’d recommend something good for me?

Tropes  I Like

  • Once Again, with Feelings. I suppose this is better known as second-chance romance; where one of the characters left abruptly (or not) for whatever reasons, then come back. They realize that whatever they’re searching for somewhere else was right where they were all along.
  • I Hate You but I’m not Going to Kick You Off My Bed. Ah when characters realize the hate they feel for another is directly proportionate to how much they want to sleep them. Sometimes, these characters will go through a self-hating spell that tend to get annoying. But hey, the sexy times tend to be hot when tempers are a part of the equation.
  • One Night Stand = Bun in the Oven. I looove this trope. I know some of you probably hate surprise pregnancies in romance novels but I can’t get enough of them! I love that moment when the dad sees their spawns and recognizes why the face looks familiar.
  • I Want To Take A Ride on Your Harley. Bikers. Yep. They’re cavemen and they’re infuriatingly bossy. But I love reading these books even though the feminist in me wilts every time I say that out loud.
  • I’m Julia Roberts to Your Richard Gere. Billionaires, man. Billionaires. This is one of those instances when I’m embarrassed to admit it, but, hey. We’re friends, right? And my secret is your secret. *winks*
  • Heaving Bossoms and Flowing Locks. Otherwise known as historical romance, yo. Y’all have been all over them lately and I can’t freaking keep up! Give me the bestest you can think of that has a combination of one, two, or three of the above tropes I mentioned. That would be super cool!

So let me know if you have some good recommendations for me because goodness knows I need something to be happy about these days. Sigh. 

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On The Night Table [40]:

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The Farther He Runs by Lynda Aicher | Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel | Swan Riders by Erin Bow


Hello!

Do you ever feel like your days have become an endless cycle of waiting for the weekend to come? I wait so long for the weekend then it goes by in a blink of an eye. So here we are. It’s Monday again. Thankfully, there’s a long weekend coming up so I’m pumped for that. But I bet it’s going to be a long week ahead.

You know what I’ve been doing nowadays? I think I’ve mentioned it before how big of a fan I am about apocalyptic films and since getting Netflix and Amazon Fire, I’ve been gorging myself silly. I’ve been watching pretty much every single superhero movies I could get my hands on. I just watched Xmen Apocalypse and Batman vs. Superman. I feel like I’m missing a storyline in B vs. S because I was so confused. So further research and perhaps a rewatch is in order. I also watched Legion the other day; it’s amazing how I could easily see the angels in Susan Ee’s books in this film. Have you seen these movies?

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. This week’s reading pile consists of two SciFi novels and one M/M romance. I thought The Farther He Runs would be a great way to cleanse the palate after reading those two books. Sleeping Giants is amazing so far. It’s an Experimental Fiction about a little girl who fell into a giant mechanical hand and grew up to lead a team to recover all the missing pieces. It’s very interesting in all the ways that matter – especially the way it’s written.

I’ve barely started The Farther He Runs so I’m reserving judgement and I’m hoping Swan Riders will be better since The Scorpion Rules was a total bore. It’s also very confusing. At the end of it all, my life neither improved nor worsened by reading the book. I hate when that happens.

Read:

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Have a great week, everyone! September is upon us. Oddly enough, I’m looking forward to the changing of the season. My kids are going back to school soon as well and I’m sad about that. I know, I know. I shouldn’t. But I love having the kids at home. Anyway, happy reading!

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