Monthly Archives:: May 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

May 30, 2011 Books 8

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? is a weekly event to list the books  finished last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week. It was created by J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but is now being hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books!

Happy Memorial Day! I hope everyone has safe, happy weekend. Don’t forget to thank a veteran! Give them some mad love.

I have been in a slump for, well, it feels like about 2 months now. I put down over 5 books last week, unfinished, something I absolutely HATE to do. It’s unheard of!

Then, oh then, a miracle appeared in my mailbox Friday. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I read it that night, in one sitting, and oh. Oh, what an amazing experience that was. I don’t want to say any more now, I hope to give it a proper review soon, but oh, how I loved it.

Before I started A Monster Calls, I was struggling through Graveminder by Melissa Marr. Since I paused it to read A Monster Calls, I figured I would go back to it. Suddenly it was so much better! A Monster Calls cures reading slumps! I managed to down almost 200 pages Saturday. My daughter is having a sleep over, so I haven’t had much time to read since, but I hope to finish it today. Hurray for holidays!

I was in the midst of The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness when my iPod finally died. The “genius” at the “Genius Bar” at the Apple store informed me there was no fixing it AND it was out of warranty. Don’t that just figure! They are replacing it for half price though, so I guess I can’t complain TOO much. (Even though it was only a year old.) I hope it comes in soon because I am going through some serious iPod withdrawal. *sigh*

Next up? Ship Breaker by Paolo Bagigalupi. I am beyond excited for this one. I just hope this cure holds out.

How was your reading this week? Have any big plans for some holiday reading?

 

Egnéus

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Armchair BEA – Meet Holly from Book Harbinger

May 25, 2011 Books 8

One of the best things about events like this is meeting new book bloggers.  I was lucky enough to get to meet Holly from Book Harbinger- a reader after my own heart. She loves YA, fantasy, urban fantasy, and the occasional literary fiction and nonfiction books. Like me, she is mommy to a boy and a girl and unlike me, she is an assistant librarian! One of my dream jobs! And most importantly, she loves Patrick Ness as much as I do! And she watches Chuck!!!

So, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Holly, the Book Harbinger.

1. Why did you start book blogging? What do you love about it?

After joining Goodreads a few years ago I started writing reviews, which started out very short (3-4 sentences) and grew to 3-4 paragraphs. I’m not a creative writer, but I enjoy technical writing and since leaving university, a full-time office job, and becoming a mostly stay-at-home mom I missed exercising those skills. I was also interested in articulating my response to books and honing my analytical skills in that way. After I was consistently writing book reviews and I’d started following a few blogs, starting my own blog seemed a natural step. I’m not going to lie and say that receiving ARCs and review copies wasn’t on my mind, but I also wanted a place where my reviews would be read more widely and appreciated.

After blogging for a year I can say that I don’t always enjoy writing book reviews like in the past but I’m still very glad I started a blog. I enjoy writing a variety of different posts. Discussion and thoughts posts have been some of my favorites of late. Mostly I love being part of a large online community, where I’m accepted and where I can talk about my love for reading and books in a way that doesn’t exist in real life.

2. What are some of your favorite books so far this year?

I just wrote a post this week of my best reads so far. (Here’s the link.) As for the rest of the year, I’m hoping and predicting that either Magic Slays and Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews, either Forever and Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, and The Demon’s Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan will make the list.

3. If you could only bring three books with you to a deserted island, which ones would you bring?

If we’re not including the boring, practical stuff like the Bible or other religious books and journals I would say see question 4. I would be totally happy with those three books or substituting Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre.

4. What is your absolute most favorite book ever? How about your favorite author?

I hate this question (don’t we all) but going by how many times I’ve reread it, I would say my favorite book is Persuasion by Jane Austen. No matter how many times I read it, I always feel swept off my feet by Anne and Captain Wentworth’s romance. I’ve always connected to Anne but as I’ve gotten older, I feel like I connect to her maturity and regrets more and more. Naturally Jane Austen is also a long-time favorite author.

If we’re going for something more modern, I have no hesitation in saying that Juliet Marillier is a favorite author. Her writing style never fails to please me on a deeper level. I would also have no problems saying that the first two books of her Sevenwaters series, Daughter of the Forest and Son of the Shadows are two of my absolute favorite books as well.

5. Do you have a favorite place to read?

In bed, but it changes when I’m pregnant and has been the couch in other homes.

6. What other hobbies do you have?

Other hobbies?! Blogging and reading pretty much take all up all my free time right now, but DH and I do have a few TV shows we watch religiously (Parenthood, Community, Chuck, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance, The Office). I also sneak in yoga every once in awhile and would love to be an instructor someday. I enjoy running outdoors too and hiking, traveling, visiting museums, listening to music, and going to concerts. I like watching movies but I don’t take the time to see the latest releases like I used to. I’d rather be reading. :D

7. If you were going to BEA this year, what is the one thing you could not miss?

Book Blogger’s Convention, definitely. More than anything I want to meet bloggers I interact with in person.

It was so great to get to meet you Holly! Everyone, add her to your feed readers. She’s a blogger to watch!

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Armchair BEA – Best of 2011

May 24, 2011 Books, Lists 10

So, the suggested topic today, if you’re not doing a giveaway (sorrykids, trying to tighten the purse-strings a bit) is the best books (so far) for 2011. I’ve read almost 50 books so far this year and most of them have been really good! It will be hard to narrow down the field, but here are my top 3.

1. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

2. The Bone series by Jeff Smith.

3. Shine by Lauren Myracle.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss was, in one word, brilliant. I haven’t reviewed it yet, as I’ve been working on it for about 2 weeks. I know I can’t do justice describing just how much I loved this book. Hopefully I’ll get it up here someday!

The Bone series accounts for almost 1/5 of the books I’ve read this year. The series was part of my dare from Debi and once I started reading the series, I couldn’t stop. I bought the next 8 books just so I could fly right through them all and I did just that. This is such a great series, full of heart, humor and fantastic characters and gorgeous art.

Shine by Lauren Myracle. Shine is, without a doubt, the most powerful and moving book I’ve read, so far, this year. Deeply moving, extremely though provoking-it’s a must read for everyone, not just the YA crowd it is aimed at. Everyone should read this book.

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

May 23, 2011 Books, Photos 4

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? is a weekly event to list the books  finished last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week. It was created by J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but is now being hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books.!

I was almost afraid I wasn’t going to have a book to post today! I haven’t finished a book in over a week (I think) and I was getting quite depressed about it. Luckily, I was able to get Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett from the library on my Nook. Good ole Terry hasn’t failed me yet, so I have high hopes for this one.

I also picked up Howard’s End at the Landing by Susan Hill. I’ve barely started but y’all. This author is a reader after our own hearts. If it can hold my wanderlust attention at the mo’ it is sure the be a winner.

Ack! I just found out (because my hubby finally decided to tell me) that I got a book in today! Behold!

Graveminder by Melissa Marr, one of my very favorite YA authors! It’s her first adult book and it came with an awesome flask that says:

“Three sips to mind the dead…”

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

May 2011

Yes, that sound you just heard was me squealing. Eek! Sorry Susan Hill, I think I’m going to go curl up with this one instead. See you soon :P

Check in tomorrow for more Armchair BEA fun!

 

 

Egnéus

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Armchair BEA – Monday

May 23, 2011 Books 13

Monday, May 23Who are you, and how do you Armchair?
You’ll probably be getting a lot of new visitors to your blog this week, so introduce yourself in a post! And if you specialize in a particular genre, share what it is and why you love it. Also, tell us how you’re doing Armchair BEA – where you are, what you’re excited about, what you hope will happen this week.

Me? You want to know about lil ole me? Well, thanks for asking!

Hi there. I’m Heather. And I’m a book nut. A bookaholic. Collector of stories. Lover of words. You know the type. You’re probably one yourself! I come to you today from my home is hot and humid North Carolina. Heavy on the hot and humid today. Whew!

I am totally indiscriminate in my reading choices. I do not choose genres; I choose books. Anything that sounds good is definitely something I want to read. Some favorite authors are: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Jeff Smith, Angela Carter, Jane Austen, Wilkie Collins, Bill Willingham, Melissa Marr, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Salman Rushdie, Michael Chabon, and on and on. It’s not like you have all day. Favorite books? The Graveyard Book by Gaiman, Nation by Pratchett, The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Chabon, the Fables series by Willingham, all of Clare’s, Marr’s, and Black’s books, Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Rushdie, The Woman in White by Wilkie, and yet again, I could go on and on.

As I said, I’m doing my BEA from here, my home, in NC. See?

I got a new Mac this weekend. I am so in lurve with it, even if I don’t look exactly thrilled at the mo;. :)

What I hope will happen? A totally love-a-thon for books, of course!

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Reading Notes; May 19th

May 19, 2011 Books 8

Wow, my darlings, where has this week gone? Oh, right, it went into me fixing my iPod. It decided to die, taking all my 100+ audiobooks, 1000+ songs, and podcasts, movies, etc, etc, with it. It is working, for now, but keeps trying to act up. I see a trip to the Apple store in my very near future. It has been super annoying having to listen to the radio (said in my best contemptuous voice). I should also mention the two (count ‘em TWO!) sick kiddos. Don’t worry, they are on the mend, even if they like to act like it’s far worse than it is.

Drama queen. AND king.

It’s been a long week my dears.

So, how are you? How have you been? What are you reading? Me? Why, thank you for asking! I feel just fine, if slightly tired…. As for the reading, it’s been touch and go this week. Very touch and go, and not purely from a “I need more time” standpoint. Surely you’ve experienced this: You’ve read two parts of a three part series. The third one takes YEARS to come out. YEARS. You check constantly. When is it coming out? First it’s 2009. Then it’s 2010. Then, when you’ve almost given up hope! You see it on Netgalley. OMG you say. FINALLY! You promptly request it. You promptly start reading it. Then, you promptly start feeling…. disappointed?

Say hello to my experience, so far, with The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly. I don’t know what it is.  Too long between books? I don’t think so! I still remember much of what happened in them. Plus, Donnelly has “recap” sections. The characters? For the most part, no! I still love these characters, although, one in particular has made a choice that I am not happy with AT ALL. Have I grown as a reader? Yes! But not to the extent that I would be more advanced than this book I think.

I *think* the problem is there are two many characters. There is too much plot. Too much going on! The first book didn’t have this many characters. Donnelly introduced more in the second book. Now the third has even more! It feels like a cast of thousands! And no one is getting enough screen time; especially my favorite character of all – Fiona – the main character of the first book, The Tea Rose. I adored her spunk, her strength, her courage, her determination, her desire and drive and above all, her love. No, there is not nearly enough Fiona and so far, not one of the other characters measures up to her. I’m about a third of the way through the book, so things do have time to come together.

Thanks to the Big iPod Melt Down of May 2011, I had to take a few days break from Oryx and Crake. I should have finished it by now, but I actually think that break was a good thing for me! I was getting a little…shall we say…exasperated? with it? It felt terribly slow to me. Now, with 20% of the book to go, following a 5 day break, things are moving at a right good clip. I can see this is probably a love-it-or-hate-it book. I’m not sure where I am on the fence yet.  Five days ago, I think I would have been a Hated It. The break helped put things in perspective. I’m starting to see some awesome-sauce around the edges. I can see where Atwood (maybe?) is going and I think I like it. And dude, her vision? It’s freaking scary. This is a dystopian future that scares the pants off me, purely because I can totally see where something similar could happen. And if she goes where I think she’s going, Atwood is a freaking master class in twists, turns, and hair-raising brilliant plotting. We shall see.

Oh, and Campbell Scott? The reader? Awesome. Just. Love. Him.

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Weekend Cooking : Potato-Leek Gratin and Pesto!

May 15, 2011 Weekend Cooking 7

I don’t know that I ever discussed it in length on my blog, but in mid-February, I took on a new goal. Or, rather, a dare. My husband told me if I got down to 125 pounds, he would quit smoking. That meant loosing around 20 pounds. I’m not terribly tall or big boned, so it was a reasonable amount and something I really needed to do for my health (like my grandmother before me, I tend to gain weight around the middle-which leads to diabetes, which she had). I’ve been after the hubby to quit smoking for years now, so I took the challenge. I joined Weight Watchers online, joined the WW meetings at work, and, well, I am currently sitting pretty at 126.

This last pound has been a hard one to loose.

But I feel GREAT. And I think I rather look great too! It’s not so hard to walk up stairs, to walk distances, to bend over and touch my toes…. And it is going to be SUCH a pleasure to see the hubby fight to quit smoking after this fight to loose weight, lemmetellya.

In this effort, I have really stepped up my efforts to eat more fruits and veggies. I ate no meat for three days last week! And last week, I instituted a veggie only night, one night a week. Last night was the first one. And wow was it good! I made this Potato-Leek Gratin which everyone (except the boy. He’s a hopeless I-am-against-all-veggies case. Thank God for Morningstar’s Chick’n Tenders!) loved.  It was so easy and SO delicious. I found it on my favorite haunt Tastespotting. I often go there and search for veg (figuring I’ll find vegetables, vegetarian and vegan recipes) and this one came up bright and early Friday morning. Thank you Just One Cook Book for the excellent recipe! I rounded it off with squash and onions (the first squash from the Farmer’s Market this year!), roasted asparagus (ditto!), and Asiago Peppercorn bread (also from the market) (and much loved by me) (drool). Next week we’ll be having Vegetable Pot Pie with Black Pepper Biscuits. I can’t wait!

Incidentally, the leftovers were just as good for breakfast this morning!

Potato-Leek Gratin

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 stalks of leeks
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. fresh/dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
2 cups Mexican style cheese
3 russet potatoes (1.5 lbs)
Chopped green onions for garnish
1 Tbsp. Panko
Directions:
1. Rinse the leeks and cut in half lengthwise. Chop into 1” pieces and carefully wash the leeks again in running water.
2. Butter a baking dish.
3. In a large skillet, heat the rest of butter on medium high heat. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally and cook until leeks are soft.
4. Meanwhile, peel and slice the potatoes. Cut into ¼” pieces and soak in water until you are ready to use them (prevent from changing color).
5. When leeks are soft, add thyme, salt, pepper, and heavy whipping cream. Simmer another 5 minutes until the sauce gets thickened.
6. Preheat an oven to 400F. Divide the potato, leek mixture, and each cheese according to your baking dish size. I divided them in half as this baking dish is a shallow one.
7. Layer one portion of potatoes in the baking dish, then layer one portion of leek mixture, then another portion of each cheese. Repeat for each layer.
8. Sprinkle Panko and green onion on top.
9. Cover with the aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. To check whether the dish is done, test by inserting a skewer through the foil. If the skewer is able to go through the potato smoothly then it’s ready. Remove the cover and change oven setting to broil. Broil for 2-3 minutes until golden brown on top. Be careful not to broil for too long since you don’t want to burned the dish.
10. Remove from the oven and let sit another 15 minutes before it’s ready to serve.


I also threw this lovely pesto together yesterday. One of the sellers at the market had it as a sample and I just KNEW I had to make it for my sandwiches this week. It’s so easy peasy, a drunk monkey could make it.

Spinach-Scape Pesto

1 pound spinach
8 Garlic Scapes
1 Cup Cheese (I used Parmesan)
Olive Oil

Mix in first there in food processor. Add enough oil to bring it all together. Enjoy!

It’s especially good on that Asiago Peppercorn bread with greenhouse tomatoes (not *quite* time for home grown yet, but they are in the ground!) and mozzarella toasted in the oven. *groan* I may be having it again for lunch today.

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Weekend Cooking hosted by BethFishReads every weekend.  It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

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Faery Tale: One Woman's Search for Enchantment in the Modern World

May 12, 2011 Book Reviews, Books 10

Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World is one of those books that, for me, came at the right place and the right time. It is thanks to Neil Gaiman that I even found it. He mentioned a radio show he was participating in for Wisconsin Public Radio called To the Best of Our Knowledge and it was about The Uses of Enchantment. It included Gaiman, AS Byatt, Salman Rushdie and an author I had never heard of; Signe Pike. While the whole recording is amazing (you can download it here) Signe’s part was particularly fascinating to me:

Just because we’ve all grown up and aren’t supposed to believe in fairy tales and magic doesn’t mean we don’t still need them. This hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge offers conversations with Neil Gaiman, A.S. Byatt and Salman Rushdie about the uses of enchantment. Signe Pike starts things off with her story about the search for magic. She chucked her job at a NY publishing house to looking for fairies in Mexico and the British Isles. Signe Pike talks with Anne Strainchamps about her novel “Faery Tale.

We’ve all wanted to “chuck” our jobs to pursue something we would much rather be doing. Signe actually went out and did it. After the death of her father, Signe found herself feeling lost. Despite her promising career, and the love of a good man, something was missing in her life. Before walking down the aisle, she decides to find it. She quits her job, moves to South Carolina, and then sets out to find something to believe. She sets out to find the faeries.

As she tours through Mexican, England, Scotland, and Ireland, Signe takes us, the reader, to dark glens and ancient forests, sacred sites and the random local pub and meets a whole cast of intriguing characters. She seeks not only to heal the hurt of her father’s death, but looks to find her own lost sense of wonder, of imagination, of belief, and purpose. What she finds along the way exceeds her very dreams and expectations.

I say that Faery Tale came at the right place and the right time because I was (and still am to some extent) having issues with my own beliefs. I know what I believe, but sometimes, well, it’s a struggle. It’s hard to believe in the unseen. In my mind, it took real guts to not only quit her job to go searching for faeries, but to admit that she was in fact LOOKING for faeries. Faeries are not something you hear a lot of adults believing in. I really admire Signe for doing what she did. It was what she needed to do, for herself, and I deeply admire that. I hope to follow her example, not by going out to find the faeries or anything (because dude, some of them sounded kind of freaky!) but to go out and find what I believe in. Not even to find the proof of its existence per say, but to find my faith in it. Signe’s attempts to connect with the spirit world left me yearning to do the same thing. It seems as we age, we loose that sense of wonder and fascination with the world; the wonder and fascinating I see in my own children’s faces. I want to get that back.
Faery Tales was, in a word, captivating. I could not put it down. Signe has a singular voice, full of wonder and heart. It sincerely felt like catching up with an old friend. And the places she went to! I want to go visit them all! Well, all, except for maybe the Mexican hotel she stayed at. If you want to know why, read the book. She has a very unusual experience in Mexico that I know I won’t soon forget!

Thank you, Signe, for your wonderful book. I can’t wait to read about what you do next.

Favorite Quotes (just a few, I could quote the whole book):

When I was a little girl I believed in faeries as a matter of course. To say I was obsessed with faeries wouldn’t be the truth-I simply believed in them is all. When my father took me and my sister walking, I imagined there were faeries everywhere: flitting through the bushes, underneath the toadstools, balancing on the petals of the flowers that forced their way through the snowy winter crust of spring.

This is so ME when I was little. I just never felt quite alone outside. Did you ever feel that way?

Worse, somewhere along the way I lost my faith in humanity.

I began to wonder where all our innocence goes and why we let it slip away, when the thing to do at a time like now is to fight it. How might it change the world if we could reclaim some of our magic? How would we look at one another, treat one another, if each of us recognized that inside every man or woman is alittle boy or girl who loves popcorn, is still afraid of monsters under the bed, or believes that fairy tales really docome true? Maybe we would treat each other with more kindness, more carefully, more respectfully.

I wanted to find something of the beauty of myth that we’ve left behind, carry it’s shreds before us all, so we could acknowledge it, somehow bring it back to life. I wanted to delve back into that world that cradled us when we were young enough to still touch it, when trolls lived under creek bridges, faeries fluttered under mushroom caps and the Tooth Fairy only came once you were truly sleeping. I wanted to see if enchantment was somehow still there, simply waiting to be reached. When I felt my loss, I realized that if I could do anything in this life, I wanted to travel the world, searching for those who were still awake in that old dreamtime, and listen to their stories-because I had to know that there were grown-ups out there who still believed that life could be magical.

And in that moment, I decided, I am going to go find the goddamn faeries.

Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World
By Signe Pike
Pub. Date: November 2010
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Format: Hardcover , 320pp
ISBN-13: 9780399536175
Source: The Library

Links lead to Barnes & Noble where, if you should by the book, I would make an infinitesimal profit.

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

May 9, 2011 Books 7

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? is a weekly event to list the books  finished last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week. It was created by J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but is now being hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books.!

Wow, y’all, what a week! I was so busy last week! I came home every night from work to do more work. Getting the house ready for the Mother’s Day cookout we didn’t get to have yesterday (weather), plus getting the garden ready left this girl too tired to blog! I was almost too tired to read! Thank God for bath time, or I would never get any reading in!

I managed to finish A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness last week. I have a few problems with it, but I enjoyed it. I want to read the next one for sure! More on that soon.

I started listening to Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood. I’m about halfway through with it. You may remember, Atwood was on my list of to-be-read this year AND since I have tried her in print repeatedly with little result, I thought I’d try audio. I’m confused as hell, but I *think* I actually started enjoying the book yesterday while I was working in the garden. It COULD be I’m enjoying Campbell Scott reading it to me, we’ll see. He has a NICE reading voice.

I am currently reading Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett on ye olde Jackson Wilkie Fitzgerald Owens (my nook). After two huge chunksters, I was ready for something light and easy on the brain. Plus, I adore Pratchett and was feeling a little homesick for Discworld. I am so glad I have so many more books by him to read!

Up next? Your guess is as good as mine? I brought home a TON of books from a local book sale this past weekend, so I definitely have plenty to pick from. Want to see?

Click to embiggen…

I got 21 books for about $60. Not too shabby, especially as most of them look brand-spanken-new! Where would you begin?

How was your reading week? What was good? What wasn’t? How ya doing?

Oh, and did you notice the new template? I’m quite pleased with this one; I think it’s a keeper!

 PS: I’ve been made aware of the commenting problem. I *think* I’ve fixed it. Can you hit me up and let me know? Thank you! :)

Egnéus

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