Welcome to Marjay's reading blog.

Mothers and Daughters

Mom has been gone for a couple of years now.   Every once in awhile, I force myself to go clean out more things that were hers especially when I am not sure why I still have it. This weekend I discovered a cache of clothes - not sure why they were there - or the purpose for keeping them - but they are now gone.  I still find myself missing her at odd times, but even years before she was physically gone, she was not always present. It was not always easy making sure she was safe and I think that is when I started to like to read stories about mothers and daughter sometimes.  I like to see into other people’s relationships - kind of like a voyeur.   

This week, three of the books highlighted a main character with a nasty mother. One who made choices that hurt children on purpose.  Sometimes it was to keep their daughters in line and sometimes it was to punish them for interfering with their life by being born.  My mom wasn’t like that even though she grew up in a household where her mother was more difficult. I know for characterization some books really highlight some characteristics to make the reader feel more powerfully for or against the main character.  WOW it did work for me this week!

In Harper Sloan’s last two books,  Kiss My Boots and Cowboy Up, the mother left not taking the children without a backward glance. It was only after years of garbage from their dad did they find out not all of the children were even his.  Their mother left and went on to drink and drug herself into a world where she needed 24/7 care. In the third book, that I am presently reading, Complicated by Kristen Ashley, the mother of the main character is worse.  She treats her daughter like an ATM and when she doesn’t get what she wants, she will make a scene or find a way to damage her daughter, by hurting her or people around her.  

I know that all books have to have a main character with some conflict to make the book a good story.  I know that books have to have antagonists to offset the protagonist.  Those are story elements that add to the story and help you find interest and purpose in the novels.  I know most people (like me) do not have horrid the mothers like in these novels.   I am sure as well that that the mother’s characteristics were enhanced for the purpose of the story, but wow - just wow.

Books read this week

Hunter by Melody Anne

Gabe by Ruth Cardello

Kiss My Boots by Harper Sloan

Cowboy Up by Harper Sloan

The Drifter’s Mail Order Bride by Cassie Hayes

Second Chance Girl by Susan Mallery


Book I am still reading

Complicated by Kristen Ashley


Literature is the most agreeable way to ignore life…

Literature is the most agreeable way to ignore life…

With the end of baseball, I have found more time for reading.  It is amazing how much time opens up when the TV is not turned on. It has been so wonderful.  I have had a chance to read some books for Net Galley and some books for me!  So much reading that I had to actually plug in my kindle this afternoon!  Usually I don’t have to plug it in on Sunday,

The rain last weekend did some serious damage and caused cancellations all over the place.  I felt lucky that I did not lose electricity like I have in the past.  That allowed for some found time for reading!  Today is another cold and rainy day, so the cats and I cuddled and I read.  Gizzy is actually becoming more friendly and wants to be petted a lot more.  It is a balancing act to pat both cats and keep my place in a book… hahaha.

The reading always decreases my worries about getting things done and all the irritants and concerns in life.  It is even better if I can wrap up in a blanket or be in the sun!  Time slips away and hours can pass before I even realize and look up.  I love that I can be so totally involved in a story that the world dissolves and I become part of the story.  

Today I read The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg.  The book was magnificent and I found myself totally immersed in the story.  I love how she draws her characters with such beautiful language and the story brought me on a meandering journey into what makes a family.  

Books read this week:

Christmas in Kilts by Bronwen Evans and others

Ride Wild by Laura Kaye

Inked Memories by Carrie Ann Ryan

The Lady and Mr Jones by Alyssa Alexander

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

Read a few weeks ago but just catching up with the blogs

Luke by Barbara Freethy



martha lawton

A Rainy Day

A Rainy Day

This fall seems to be flying by so quickly.  We have had some nice color and warm weather.  The sun has been out and many of us have been outside as much as possible.  This weekend though we have a northeaster coming through.  For those of you away, that does not mean the storm is coming from the northeast.  In fact it is the opposite, it is heading northeast.  During winter a northeaster would mean staying home and reading… Unfortunately, during this season it means rain - lots and lots of rain.  Luckily we are dry here so the storm is a welcome event except for the large amount over a short time period and the wind.

For me, a rain day means a reading day.  I didn’t have that luxury today!  I ended up having to go do laundry and then grocery shopping.  The worst part was carrying in all the baskets and bags.  The best part was while I was at the laundromat I was able to read. I am reading a Susan Stoker book called Justice for Erin.  The book is good, although I am not far into it and am looking forward to finding time to read.  

Yesterday, I met my sisters in Wilmington, Vermont and one of the places we stopped in was a small independent bookstore.  I managed to leave without any new books, but it was a close call.  I continue to have so many books to read with not a lot of time…  I wish for a perfect rainy day where I can curl up and read…..  Sigh

Books I read this week

Christmas in Kilts by Bronwen Evans and others

Left to Chance by Amy Sue Nathan


Currently reading

Justice for Erin by Susan Stoker


Access and Practice

The weather is saying it’s summer during the middle of the day and fall during the morning and evening.  The birds are migrating, the apples and pumpkins are ripening, and I am growing older. Yup, another birthday has come and gone.  When I actually look in the mirror, I can see the wrinkles of time creeping in around my mouth and eyes.  I am okay with those as long as they are laugh lines.

I watched two podcasts recently about reluctant and low readers.  There were several strong points made, but the one that struck me the most was that there is a much better chance of the book being finished when the student picks out the book to read. I found myself thinking about that statement for some time.  The statement predisposes that a student has access to a book that they can read and that the student understands how to pick out a book that they can read.  

With all the cutting of budgets of schools and libraries, this statement becomes even more important.  How to get students and books together at the right time and the right place becomes more of an art than a science.  The necessity of funding is just another way that our educational system can cause or continue to cause reluctant readers another roadblock to reading.  The students need a hook, a catch, an onramp (onramp idea from Jonathan Strickland, an editor of Black Rabbit Books).   Reading success comes from practice and access.

I am honored that others are willing to let me research and purchase new books to help connect readers and books. I am though - just one cog in a huge wheel of teachers, librarians and parents who all can make a difference.

Books read this week:

Thread the Halls by Lea Wait

Touch of Red by Laura Griffin

The Dog Walker’s Diary by Kathryn Donahue


This Week's Musing

I am glad to see September and the beginning of October in the rear view mirror.  It was a very busy time and this quiet weekend was a needed.  The Red Sox are all done for the season.  I am still quite busy at work with all the planning and grading.  I am done (maybe) for the season with the garden art.  However, I must admit the larger eater of time has been the computer recently. I have been hooked on LulaRoe and on a new game on Facebook called Word Connect.  Both have sucked time out of my day tremendously!  My goal for next week is less computer and more reading.

This week I did finish four books and am working on another one right now.  It is amazing how much I read over the weekend as compared to the weekdays.  My list from Netgalley and on reserve from the library are quite short.  I am hoping to get some more time this week, but there is more baseball on, so no assurity on that front.  

This week Elise Cooper interviewed Christina Dodd about her newest book, The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream.  The book was a great read that I truly enjoyed.  The interview was very interesting and has made me look forward to the next book!

This week’s reading was all about romance for me.  The books usually have an easy to read format and allows me enjoyment figuring out what twist and turns might come next. Wrangler’s Challenge while meant to be romance and about horse training was also about Veteran’s Issues. While the author did not focus solely on the medical needs of the returning serviceman, she was able to highlight some of the difficulties of lack of medical care and understanding.

I am looking forward to other genres for the next week or two.


Books read this week:

Wrangler’s Challenge by Lindsay McKenna

Broken Rebel by Sherilee Gray

The Right Kind of Rogue by Valerie Bowman

The Bride Got Lucky by Janna MacGregor

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber


Presently reading:  Truly, Madly Whiskey by Melissa Foster



I am in a reflective mood tonight.  Probably having more to do with another birthday passing.  It is remarkable that when I look in the mirror, I can see lines and wrinkles where there were none.  I don’t seem to mind birthdays like some do.  I guess I see them as an accomplishment, not a horror.  I don’t mind growing older, but I do mind my knees hurting and my fingers becoming stiffer.  Every year when I reflect on my blessings, I am grateful for my family and friends.  To me they are the prize possessions in my world.  

Another week has flown by.  I don’t know when time speeded up, but I do feel a bit like a rat in a wheel.  I have been wondering if I have bit off a little more than I can chew.  I love the art I am creating, I love the career I have chosen and I love writing the blog.  It is time to read the books that seems to eek away without me even having an opportunity to figure out why or how.  Nevermind the baseball playoffs and my two new obsessions with LulaRoe and Word Connect.  Perhaps they are the time suckers added to my day… like that is a surprise. Hopefully the new obsessions melt away quickly.

That is the long explanation for another week of reading few books.  Two this time, although I only have the review for one completed.  The good news is that Elise Cooper pulled off two great interviews with Ned Colletti (the former GM of the Dodgers) and Alix Rickloff.  The other good news is that Diane Chamberlain’s newest book, The Stolen Marriage was great!

Fall is in the air here as colors are beginning to show on the trees.  I do not look forward to the all the weekend traffic as people from away come up to look at the beautiful foliage, but it is a price to pay when living in paradise.  Although with all the rain that is coming, maybe there will not be leaves to be seen. 

Books this Week:

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

Luke by Barbara Freethy ( 7 Brides for 7 Brothers)


What Makes a Good Book?

What makes a good book?

You know the feeling, that of dread.  It sits in your stomach, clenched in fear… In my case I have to put down the book and walk away...with the book calling me back to face the fear that the worst is yet to happen.  I am compelled back to the book to read the next chapter and the next knowing the hammer is still to come… That is what a good book does for you. Compels you forward to the resolution, knowing that the climax is sure to be wonderful or awful or surprising or relieving.

Another hallmark of a good book to me is one that leaves you thinking about it later.  Sometimes you are so emotionally invested in the author or story or characters that you are left missing them like friends who have moved away.  That is one reason I like series, you often get to revisit old friends and find out that their magical life continues to exist.  There are books that are so good, you reread them sighing over each of the points.  Some books haunt you for years.  For me, it is and was The Handmaiden’s Tale.

Good books bring you into their world and hold you into their world forever.  Most of us don’t even realize the impact of some books until after they are over and you realize that hobbit or Muggle has become a normal word in your vocabulary.  Let’s face it, a lot of us live in a world that we wish might be populated by wizards and elves.  Or live in a world where Jamie is a key character.  

Well it is time to go back to reading Katy Regnery newest book, Unloved.  I just know that the book is building up for something.  I hope it isn’t horrible, but my stomach says Cassidy and Brynn have some huge issues to overcome. By the way, I love that Mount Katahdin plays a big role in the book.  It is almost another character.   


Books this week

The Time In Between by Kristen Ashley

Once a Rebel by Mary Jo Putney

Finding You by Lydia Albano

Unloved by Katy Regnery


Musing on Children's Books and other thins

Musings on Children’s Books and Other Things

This year, I start off with children’s books to highlight the literary terms that my students need to learn.   I brought in my favorite books from many years including Miss Rumphius, Beware of Boys and other favorites.  The books are used to illustrate and/or highlight the lesson of the day.  Middle Schoolers will sit and listen to read alouds with rapt attention to these stories.  There lessons range from making the world a more beautiful place (Miss Rumphius) to outsmarting a greedy, hungry wolf (Beware of Boys).  Over the last couple of years, I have added some new books, sparingly to my favorites wanting to keep the numbers of favorites manageable, which is not always an easy task.  The Yellow Star: The Legend of Christian X of Denmark was one of my newest and best finds until this year.

Katharine Nevins of Main Street Book Ends introduced me to Life by Cynthia Rylant, one of, if not the best book ever!  The book’s illustrations are similar to those by Eric Carle in the Hungry Caterpillar.  The plot - very simply - is a story of life, with all its ups and downs and difficulties.  It is a book to ponder parts of life.  The prose is sparse leading to each word being important.  Life is no ordinary children’s book. It is a book for all humans to read and ponder.  It could even be a blueprint of our lives.  

Some of the books the students and I read were

Life by Cynthia Rylant

The Yellow Star:  The Legend of Christian X of Denmark by Carmen Agra Deedy

Fog Cat by Marilyn Helmer and Paul Mombourquette

Beware of Boys by Tony Blendell

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart and David Small

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

Out of the Woods by Rebecca Bond


Thank you readers for allowing me a week off with the Highland Games and family.  As always it was a great time of music, games, food and family.  I also really enjoyed the glorious weather and found myself missing summer already.  I was able to get a bit of reading done and have found some new fun reads to share.


Secrets in Death (#45) by JD Robb

The Vengeance of Mothers by Jim Fergus

Well Built by Carly Phillips and Erica Wilde

The Desperate Bride by A S Fenichal

The Time in Between  by Kristen Ashley

Drop Out (Bad Boys Homecoming #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan

Royal Pain by Tracy Wolff

Rock Me by Carly Phillips


Only ONE Book

It has been a long week.  A week that felt so busy and mind boggling.  Unfortunately, it meant there was little time for reading.  I don’t remember when the last time I only read ONE book was, but that is exactly what happened.  I read one book! And two children’s read alouds - but they don’t count!   

There have been 36 weeks so far in the year and I have read 175 books.  That is averaging over 4 books a week. This summer I read over 5 books a week.  What has happened, other than the world coming to an end?

Most of you know that I have been working on weight loss.  I find that I have trouble being still at times as I have more energy and want to accomplish more.  I know that has been one factor.  

Another factor has been my newest sideline. I have been using old China to make whimsies, mostly for the garden.  I find myself losing hours at a time as I rearrange items to show colors or patterns in a new or different way.  On top of that, every Saturday Morning, I have been going to the local farmer’s market to sell those whimsies.  More of my key reading time - gone.

The third and most invasive factor is that school has restarted.  I have spent time (as I should) planning lessons, changing plans, and replanning lessons.  The need to spend that time constructively has been reading plans, listening at meetings, writing plans outside of meetings and yet again - getting ready for a file review from the state has been exhausting and overwhelming.  I have read two new children’s books to the students, but the satisfaction factor is not as high.

All those factors and all that time gone to constructive items, but wow, so much time lost.  One part I hate the most is that I am five books behind with NetGalley. It makes me feel badly that I am not able to review the books as timely as I would like and they expect. I have not been that far behind for quite a while.  The other part is I feel scattered and sad.  There are dishes to be done, plants to water and rearrange, cats to snuggle and food to make, and no reading time in sight.  SIGH.  I am in mourning over not having time to read… 

Books this week:  

Death Distilled by Melinda Mullet

Out of the Woods by Rebecca Bond (read aloud)

The Yellow Star by Carmen Agra Deedy (read aloud)


Random Thoughts about This Week

I became so entranced by a book last night I forgot to write my blog and update my site.   I doubt that this will be the last time it happens and I know it wasn’t the first time.  The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream was the newest of Christina Dodd’s series about Virtue Falls, and I admit I really wanted to know - who was doing what and why. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and encourage others to try out a Christina Dodd’s book.  

It is Labor Day and for many people around here, the last day to go to the Hopkinton State Fair. I have to admit, I used to eat my way through the fair starting with the gigantic apple cider donuts, moving on to the Philly Cheesesteak (made from Buffalo meat), the fried oreo and all the other treats.  Fair food is so yummy and so bad for you, so I am staying away this year.  SIGH

Labor Day celebrates the Labor Movement toward fair and equal rights for all workers. The Labor Movement gave workers a better chance to make a living wage with realistic hours and pay.  I hope today when you are having your three day weekend and cookouts, you consider the people that worked so hard to help each of us as workers get fair pay.  

As the people in Houston and other areas along the Gulf Coast rebuild their lives I encourage all people to give to the relief organizations what they can.  I admire the ingenuity and work so many did and are still doing to help save people from horrendous situations.

This week school started back up with my students returning and some new ones added in, but my reading time has severely been impacted.  The Red Sox have been losing to the Yankees (the Evil Empire is resurrecting), so not all is right in my world, except for Gizzelda (my youngest half feral kitty) has finally climbed up and curled up in my lap.

The blog has another new item this week, a guest reviewer.  A friend, Elise Cooper has sent us an interview with Kyle Mills - enjoy.  This week’s author interview is with Karen Rose.  Hope everyone has a good week.

This week I read

The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream by Christina Dobb

Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich

Lady Eleanor’s Seven Suitor by Anna Bradley

Click'd by Tamara Ireland Stone 

Today I Pretended

Today I pretended…  all day.  It was good.

I pretended it was a snow day… Luckily I am really good at pretending since it was in the 70s and sunny.  Not that this was hard.  The only rules are that you don’t get out of your pjs and be lazy. There are some other items that help… blanket on the couch, comfort food, plenty of ice tea and books - glorious books!  Snow is not prerequisite.

I spent some time on the deck lazing in the sun and some time on the couch cuddling with the cats.  Oscar was particularly needy wanting to cuddle - that helps.  Gizzie has just started to cuddle on the couch, so that just made it more special.  There was a baseball game on, otherwise it would have been a movie. I started and finished Susan Mallery’s first book in her new series, You Say It First and I started on Tamara Ireland Stone’s newest YA book Click’d.  I wrote up some book reviews I was behind and played Words With Friends.  

It was a lovely quiet day.

Tonight when I go to bed, the alarm will be set.  My clothes will be planned and lunch ready to grab. This week the students come back.  My world will turn a little topsy-turvey as the first days are always a bit messy.  The students who have been able to do what they want and not had to follow rules or leave their electronic devices behind will struggle with rules.  The better the weather, the larger chance they will want to be outside.  Luckily they only come for two days before having the Labor Day Weekend time off.  I have meetings to plan for and paperwork to track down...but all of it starts tomorrow….today it is a snow day.

Books this week:

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

Mr. Big by Delancey Stewart

A Love to Remember by Bronwen Evans

My Fair Lover by Nicole Jordan

In the Heir by Ruth Cardello

You Say It First by Susan Mallery


Sequoia and Heat

I had this whole blog written about my inner geekiness with statistics and numbers, but that is not the blog you are going to get.   I had numbers of books and authors and types of books all delineated out that showed you what type of reader I was and the numbers around it, but to me right now that is not important.  What is important? Feelings, hopes and dreams.  

I have had a hard second part of the week with a splinter the size of a sequoia tree in my left foot. Having the shot to have it removed was painful. (Just a small prick - really doc?) That took away two days of walking into limping and hopping.  By Saturday, I was fit as a fiddle, I thought.  I had all my garden pretties ready to go to the Farmer’s Market and packed by 7:15 am.  The first thing that happened saddens me about my small town - a town official - I don’t know who yelled at me demanding I move my car and demanded to be told me who said I could park there.  I didn’t want to deal with it in a horrible way like she was treating me so I reacted with kindness and did what I could to diffuse the situation and I moved my car. (Never mind she scared off an early customer!) What I didn’t realize is that I wasn’t alright.  I was still fighting off the infection from my sequoia tree and from allergies and didn’t get enough liquid into me.  I dropped things and broke some of my birdbaths and towers (seven of them, to be exact).  That is when I found out about the people around me.  They packed my car and cooled me off when heat exhaustion and dehydration was upon me.  There are many good and bad points to where you live and who you lean on.  I am always grateful for my small town and the kindness of people.  That is what makes a home. Those are the feeling, hopes and dreams that are important.  You hope for people to help you when you are in trouble, but you never dream you will need help, no matter how poorly you feel.  

With all the time keeping my foot elevated and the aftermath of Saturday morning. I have read for almost every free moment.  Not just because my list keeps getting longer (it does), but because I felt like I needed to escape.  I hurt and was exhausted and my best way of escaping is reading.  Reading about other people’s hopes and dreams and how they feel.  Reading about missing children, serial killers and other mysteries kept me from feeling the blues.  Today I am feeling better although the book I am reading right now is so so so sad.  

Tomorrow starts my first day back at work.  I think I am even more tired than I was in June, but it is time to plan for the students and their needs.  So you didn’t get the blog about number geekiness and you didn’t find out who my favorite authors are.  But you did get to feel, hope and dream in my world and how I escaped into others.  

This week from Elise Cooper is an interview with Lisa Scottoline.  Her books are some of the many that I enjoy and I hope you find out more about her by reading the interview and maybe - dipping into her books. 

Meanwhile this week I read:

The View from Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Shattered by Allison Brennan

Tracker’s Canyon by Pam Withers

Exposed by Lisa Scottoline


I am reading The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse


Rule Follower

I find myself in a new spot this week.  For the last year, I have managed to stay ahead of my reading list (from the library, my personal list, other publishers’ lists and the net galley’s list) so that most if not all of the reading can be accomplished before it is due.  I follow my list pretty religiously and keep on the timeline I have planned out.  This week I didn’t.

Before I continue, you need to understand, that my family teases me about being a rule follower. If I am told to have something due by a certain date or to follow a set of directions, I usually try to meet those requirements.  Now granted there are times when I set out on my own path or change somethings to better suit myself, but on the whole I am a rule follower.

My list had three books in a row that I didn’t like.  I hate running into books I do not like. I try very hard to read everything given to me and try to find good points about the books.  I understand that I am not going to like all the books, but I try to only choose books that I have a good chance to finish.  It didn’t work that way this week.  I didn’t like three books in a row.  I felt like I lost at tic tac toe.  

So what did I do?  I went off the list and read an entire series of books about No Prisoners MC.  All five books (really four books and a novella) and felt no guilt.  I enjoyed the series very much and will be putting up the reviews as I have time.  I then went back to the list and know that I will be struggling to keep up with my list and due dates.  OH WELL.  I consider this like have a snow day or a rainy day…  all bets are off and I can use the found time to my advantage.

Now you know the truth… I am a rule follower, until I get upset - then I am not.   

Don’t forget to check out the new author interview section.  I am excited that I am able to offer these interviews to all of you!

Books read this week:

Tiny House on the Hill by Celia Bonaduce

Maxwell by Nicole James

Striker, Jester, Acer, Hook and Lucky all by Lilly Atlas

Make Me Forget by Amanda Adams (no review yet)

Shelter for Sophie by Susan Stoker (no review yet)


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Kirke | Reply 28.08.2017 06.12

August snow days! What a fantastic idea! I've been reading Martin Walker's Bruno series set in rural France full or recipes. Yum

Kirke | Reply 17.07.2017 09.13

Like you Marty, neither my heart nor my brain have ever been able to grasp why an adult would humiliate a learner. Slowness and errors are just part of learning

Barbara | Reply 02.07.2017 06.35

Hey, Marti - Found the blog about your dad. Very nice. I have to tell you that Zane Grey is one of my favorites, too. I've read Riders of the Purple Sage 2-3x

Kathy | Reply 18.06.2017 23.27

What a lovely tribute to your dad! And an excellent example of how a father's attention and a shared love of reading can positively impact a child's life.

Kathy | Reply 29.05.2017 23.45

It IS sad that so few people read, and even fewer actually finish the books they start. I read 12+ books per month and couldn't live without my library card!

Jeannie | Reply 20.02.2017 16.35

Moms are uniquely special and mold us in so many ways. We love them always.

Starry Storyteller | Reply 07.02.2017 16.41

What a nice website! I love how it's done. I love how you organized it with letters. You are a great writer. Check out my website at thewplace.simplesite.com!

Jeannie | Reply 21.11.2016 15.30

I read the sequel After You and am reading One Plus One. Can't wait to discuss the book at book club. So glad you were provoked!!!

Jeannie | Reply 10.10.2016 02.18

Gee, Marti, sounds like you need a hug! Escape this negative world and just read! We love you and would never give you a hard time, unless you merited it! LOL.

Eva Charles | Reply 05.10.2016 20.04

I love Katy Regnery's fairy tales too! All her stories are great. Congratulations on the uptick of traffic on the blog.

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Latest comments

25.09 | 15:11

I enjoyed reading the interview!

30.08 | 21:25

Have loved reading every one of Lisa Scottoline's books. Can't wait for the next one to arrive on bookshelves. Thanks for sharing your remarkable talent!

28.08 | 06:12

August snow days! What a fantastic idea! I've been reading Martin Walker's Bruno series set in rural France full or recipes. Yum

17.07 | 09:13

Like you Marty, neither my heart nor my brain have ever been able to grasp why an adult would humiliate a learner. Slowness and errors are just part of learning

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