Brief Hiatus

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hi kiddos! I know, I know...I said I was back, but I left again. Here's the dealio...lots of things are happening around the holiday season, and I was just too swamped to jump right back in. That said, I WILL BE BACK on January 2, 2012. Be ready. I'll be better than ever, obviously.

In the meantime, here are some updates on life and why I'm not blogging:

Christmas was amazing. It snowed!

I'm going to NYC for New Year's Eve for some quality family time with my two sisters, my love, my brother-in-law and his two siblings.

I got engaged!!! It's true. I'm getting married!

Eep! Ok, I'll be back on 2/2/12.


Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith Review

Monday, December 19, 2011

Title: Glaciers
Author: Alexis M. Smith
Publisher: Tin House
Publish Date: January 10, 2012
Genre: YA/Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 112
Source: Publisher

Glaciers follows Isabel through a day in her life in which work with damaged books in the basement of a library, unrequited love for the former soldier who fixes her computer, and dreams of the perfect vintage dress move over a backdrop of deteriorating urban architecture and the imminent loss of the glaciers she knew as a young girl in Alaska.

Glaciers unfolds internally, the action shaped by Isabel’s sense of history, memory, and place, recalling the work of writers such as Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, and Virginia Woolf. For Isabel, the fleeting moments of one day can reveal an entire life. While she contemplates loss and the intricate fissures it creates in our lives, she accumulates the stories—the remnants—of those around her and she begins to tell her own story.
Isabel lives her life in her own little world with a love of everything around her, and a pining love for one particular man. It's a good life, but Isabel wants a bit more, and she must contemplate the intricacies of life and discover that there is something more - that her story can be something more if she wants it to be. It's a choice, and in one day, Isabel has a chance to change it all, if only she seizes the day.

Glaciers is a particularly slim book, and it isn't strictly YA, as I pretty much always review on here. So, you're probably wondering why I decided to review Glaciers on my blog. The synopsis is simple, the book is slim and there's an overriding theme in Glaciers of self-discovery, something often boasted and featured in YA novels, but generally glossed over by mundane details and too many love triangles. Alexis M. Smith has crafted a thoughtful novel (though it's precariously close to a novella) that allows us access into a young woman's mind and lends us an insider's perspective into the culmination of the girl next door's experiences in a life-changing day.

Sweet and sparse, Glaciers resonates humanity in the little details. Rather than cluttering a simple message with overly fancy prose and convoluted plot points, Glaciers holds fast to simplicity, letting Isabel sing through the pages. The descriptiveness of her life, and the understated elegance of the novel allows us to feel the relatability of the characters, and the tiny details all compound upon one another to lend us the climactic moment for which we read. Glaciers takes a risk in that Isabel comes alive through the world around her first, rather than in her actions, but it's done well. Glaciers manages to present not only a plot that is familiar in the fact that it is real and tangible, but also a full range of emotions that promises to tug at your heartstrings at least once.

I will say that I do have a penchant for longer books, but Glaciers will stay with me because it's different and because it dared to surpass the mold. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of both YA and adult fiction, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.

I received this ARC free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

In My Mailbox 12/18

Sunday, December 18, 2011

FIRST OF ALL...I am so so so so SO sorry for the sudden hiatus this past week. Some of you may have known, but I recently to the greater Boston area for my new job, and I was renting from a lady whom we all trusted. Well, this lady decided not to pay her mortgage on the place I was renting from her, so the place is under foreclosure. Needless to say, it threw a wrench in my plans. Things are falling into place now, and my lease is being upheld by the bank (thank God), but I needed this hiatus to figure it all out. SO, my point is, I'm back! :)


In My Mailbox is an amazing weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren that features the books we have received during the week. It's so much fun because we get to see what our fellow bloggers stumbled upon this week and add even more to our piles of books! Without further ado, this week I received the following books:

The Raft by S.A. Bodeen (ARC) - Thank you, Feiwel & Friends

Thief's Covenant by Ari Marmell (ARC) - Thank you, PYR

Everneath by Brodi Ashton Review

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Title: Everneath
Author: Brodi Ashton (Twitter)
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Publish Date: January 24, 2012
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 370
Source: Publisher

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

Nikki's been listless and slumbering in Everneath for the past hundred years where the Everlings use their human Forfeits to feed on their emotions and gain both power and strength. But when Nikki wakes, she remembers something - a piece of life and love she had forgotten. So, she decides to return to the real world to say her goodbyes with the little time she has left...just six months until Everneath comes back to claim her again. Nikki wants nothing more than to return home to Jack, but Cole won't let Nikki go without a fight. Does she have what it take to defeat fate and stay with Jack, or will Everneath claim her once and for all.

I've said it time and again, but I suppose it doesn't really hurt to repeat myself. I love mythologically-based stories. That said, so many try too hard to fit a cut and dried mold that they are doomed to fall short. Everneath, however, is a beautiful and dazzling exception to the rule, twisting us into a intricate web of lust and lies based loosely on the story of Hades and Persephone. Brodi Ashton has crafted a sinfully delicious debut, merging a dark and swooning plot with a cast of characters that rage with power and emotion. With a rich and descriptive prose that's both alluring and tinged with darkness, Everneath shows that the classics can be re-made into something entirely new.

The characters are what truly made Everneath for me, above all else. Nikki could very easily have slipped into the humdrum mold of a damsel in distress, but she was fierce. There was a power that emanated from every fiber of her being and resonated through the prose, her relationships and every situation she encountered. Cole was seductive, to be sure. There was a dark beauty around him and a sense of danger that fed (no pun intended) off of Nikki's character. Jack is the most human of the characters in Everneath, adding a measure of predictability that easily helps you swing towards a side in the pseudo-love triangle Everneath creates. That's the other beauty of Everneath, by the way. It only partially buys into the fads of the YA genre. The love triangle isn't all that defined - it wavers into a bit of a square. The love, itself, isn't insta-love. It's slow-burning and it sears throughout the plot, building momentum as the story rages in Everneath. The only part that managed to falter a wee bit for me was the lack of mild intelligence of the adults. I really wish they hadn't so easily written Nikki off. I find that difficult to comprehend.

Overall though, Everneath was surprisingly awesome! It's definitely fresh and original, and it will make you want a second book, like, yesterday. I give it a very strong 4.5 out of 5, and I can't recommend it enough to all YA fans that enjoy paranormal fiction and mythology. Adult fans will also enjoy the darker tone to the story.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington Cover Reveal

Thursday, December 8, 2011

For those of you who don't know, Sourcebooks is finally releasing Jessica Shirvington's "Violet Eden Chapters" in the United States, after being released in Australia first. Beginning with the first book, Embrace, this trilogy has everything that makes the YA genre great - love, paranormal beings and a touch of danger. I am SO excited to be a part of the media efforts for this book, so without further ado...

Violet Eden is dreading her seventeenth birthday dinner. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. The one bright spot is that Lincoln will be there. Sexy, mature and aloof, he is Violet’s idea of perfection. But why does he seem so reluctant to be anything more than a friend?

After he gives her the world’s most incredible kiss – and then abandons her on her front doorstep – Violet is determined to get some answers. But nothing could have prepared her for Lincoln’s explanation: he is Grigori – part angel and part human – and Violet is his eternal partner.

Without warning, Violet’s world is turned upside down. She never believed in God, let alone angels. But there’s no denying the strange changes in her body ... and her feelings for Lincoln. Suddenly, she can’t stand to be around him. Luckily, Phoenix, an exiled angel, has come into her life. He’s intense and enigmatic, but at least he never lied to her.

As Violet gets caught up in an ancient battle between dark and light, she must choose her path. The wrong choice could cost not only her life, but her eternity...

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington will be released on March 1, 2012 from Sourcebooks Fire.

What do you think? 

Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne Artwork Reveal

These days, it's really difficult for a book in the YA market to truly stand out from the crowd. Ever since I saw the cover and read the synopsis of Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne, however, I've been captivated.

There is a darkness to the premise, and there is a twisted undercurrent that I'm just thrilled to experience. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the cover artwork is phenomenal. I'm so excited to say that I'm a part of Sara's art reveal project, with each piece representing a scene in the book. Check out the synopsis and art below to see what has fans buzzing way before the release date!

When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn’t expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she’s going crazy. Fast.

But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she’s come home. She’s even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red.

Faye knows she’s the reason, but what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can’t trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her—and the rest of the world too.
And now, for the fascinating art by Ken Min:

(please click for a larger version)

Not too many books have a full, driving force of artistic talent like this behind their novel, and that's just one of the many reasons that Harbinger should be on your must-read list!

Walk the Path! Explore the whole gallery of Harbinger-inspired artwork HERE.

Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne debuts February 2, 2012.

Author Guest Post: Kelley York of Hushed

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kelley was born and raised in central California, where she still resides with her lovely wife, daughter, and an abundance of pets. (Although she does fantasize about moving across the globe to Ireland.) She has a fascination with bells, adores all things furry - be them squeaky, barky or meow-y - is a lover of video games, manga and anime, and likes to pretend she's a decent photographer. Her life goal is to find a real unicorn. Or maybe a mermaid.

Within young adult, she enjoys writing and reading a variety of genres from contemporary with a unique twist, psychological thrillers, paranormal/urban fantasy and horror. She loves stories where character development takes center stage.
Find Kelley on: Website. Twitter. Facebook.

Write What You Know?

There's something so nostalgic and pretty about Christmas time, and it has nothing to do with the shopping or gifts and the crowds and who's crazy enough to attempt Black Friday shopping or... (You get the idea.) It's just...the atmosphere. The lights and ornaments and the weather.

I have a Christmas-time memory of walking around streets with family, being cold to the bone but wanting to see the done-up houses, and finding a place that was giving out free cups of hot chocolate. I remember how it warmed my hands and the way I held the cup close to my face because the rising steam made my cheeks sting less from the cold. I remember looking up at a house done in a fancy Disney theme, and how excited it made me. It's that sort of feeling I try to recapture every year.

And it's those little things we, as writers, should use when we write and what we, as readers, want to feel when we read. Familiar emotions and triggers that bring forth memories in order to help us relate to a scene or character. We might remember how something smelled, tasted, looked...but more than that, we'll remember how those things made us feel.

When people say "Write what you know," it doesn't mean if you're a 27-year-old female with a desk job, that you have to only write about that. I take it to mean you should use your well of memories to convey a feeling to your readers. We all know heartache, pride, tragedy, love, happiness, loss, smugness... Pinpoint the times in your life where you felt these things, draw on those memories, and it'll use what you know to connect to your readers. Put those memories, good and bad, to some use.


He's saved her. He's loved her. He's killed for her. Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn't protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he's never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn't matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another - Archer is always there,
waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who's ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer's committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn't get what she wants...And what she wants is Evan's death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.
'Kelley York delivers in this impressive debut. I was at the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next! Bottom line, this was unputdownable!!!' 
--- YA Fantasy Guide ---

'How exciting that we live in a time when gay teen protagonists can be just as screwed up as straight ones -- and their stories just as creepy!'
--- Brent Hartinger, award-winning author of Geography Club and Shadow Walkers ---

Find Hushed on Amazon. Barnes & Noble. Goodreads.

Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Favourites

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish. They'd love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week they will post a new top ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.
Top Ten Childhood Favourites:

1. The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Ummmm Nat was my first real literary crush. Seriously, I desperately wanted to be Kit. Heck, I'd pay someone to jump off a boat after me. Plus, I wished I was from Barbados.

2. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - I think I read this around 5th grade, and I really wanted to be Charlotte for a good while. She was brave and adventurous.

3. Salamandastron - I saw my sister reading this series by the amazing Brian Jacques, and I wanted to carry them around because they were big books, and I thought I'd look smart. Needless to say, I fell in love, and this was my favourite at 8 years old.

4. Many Waters - I think it's on every list I feature, seriously. Is it the best-written book? No, but it's beautiful, and the Biblical element is really well-played. This one has a special place in my heart.

5. Time Windows - I think this was my first book with ghosts. I found it scary, but it was also so, so sad. I still have it on my shelves, and I read it every now and again.

6. The Borning Room - It's a beautifully sad story. I found it at a book fair, and I convinced my mum to buy it for me. It's sweet and emotional - a very quick read.

7. Tall, Thin & Blonde - I was an awkward child. Incredibly so. I had a long period of time as the ugly duckling, and I had serious body image issues/disordered eating. My mum bought this for me to convince me there was more to life than the external appearance.

8. Time Enough for Drums - I love, love, love historical fiction, and this series of YA books with female protagonists really spoke to me. Many of the author's books are still on my shelves today.

9. On the Banks of the Bayou - I grew up reading the Laura Ingalls books, and I adored the Rose Wilder series. This was one of the final books in her series, and I just loved how she was growing up. I wanted to emulate her.

10. The Diary of Anne Frank - It's a sad book, for sure, but I had to read it for Honours English in 5th grade, and I was utterly captivated by Anne. Such a beautiful and tragic story.

Thin Air by Lynn Seresin Review

Monday, December 5, 2011

Title: Thin Air
Author: Lynn Seresin (Twitter, Facebook)
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: August 2, 2011
Genre: YA, Paranormal, UF
Pages: 437
Source: Author

Alice Ayre is no ordinary teenager. She took her first name from a statue in Central Park, pulled her last name out of the air (literally), and she’s actually almost a thousand years old. In fact, the only “ordinary” thing about Alice is that she’s in love.

Alice was a sylphid—a winged air spirit—when she spotted Daniel Field camping in the Adirondacks and lost her heart to the handsome NYU student. Intangible to the human senses, her only hope of winning his heart resides in becoming mortal, even though transmutation is forbidden by Paralda, ruler of the air. Risking punishment, however, seems a small price to pay for a chance at true happiness.
Alice is anything but ordinary, but she'd do anything necessary to fit in. She's a Sylphid, a spirit of the air, but a mere human made her want to be more, or less, according to her species. She wants to be mortal. Mortality has a price though, and whether Alice is ready to pay it or not is a serious question. Daniel might be the man of her dreams, but there are rules that Alice must break to find the one she is destined to be with. There's a chance she will fit in famously, but there's always a chance that her past will come back to haunt her.

Thin Air breathes new life into the paranormal genre, introducing readers to an entirely new type of being. Rather than inundating us with the common vampire or werewolf, we're given the ethereal, and we watch as it mingles and bleeds into real life. Author Lynn Seresin has wrote a tale of love and destiny, foremost, then added the paranormal into the mix, giving us the best of both worlds. With intricately detailed prose and a light, almost serene writing style, we can feel the world of air, fire, water and earth spirits. Thin Air risks it all with a new measure of the paranormal and allows the reader to delve into the elemental.

There was touch of brilliance behind Thin Air. Truly, it's a beautiful and unique story, blending elemental spirits into a very humanity-driven novel. We are introduced to Sylphs, who are air spirits, Salamanders, who are fire spirits), Gnomes, who are earth spirits and Undines, who are water spirits. It's an entirely new world within Thin Air, but the author develops the paranormal element very well, balancing it well with the necessary characterization. The setting of Thin Air was also done extremely well. Based on Greenwich Village in New York City, the backdrop of the novel is vivid and alive, lending to the urban aspect of the urban fantasy genre. Daniel and Alice, as a couple, were well-rounded, though I struggled with how quickly Delilah was pushed aside upon Alice's introduction. The other main issue that I had, honestly, had to be with how sweet and serendipitous the evolving relationship was and how abruptly sex was thrown into the mix. Now, I don't mind sex in YA books, but I want to see a true evolution, and I felt it was sudden and rushed and, to be honest, a bit out of place. The ending was also bit hasty for my liking, but at the same time, it did have that element that made you desperate for the next book.

All in all, Thin Air was a good book. Perhaps it wasn't my absolute favourite book, but it was fresh and original, which counts for a lot! I give it a strong 3.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it fans of YA, especially those who enjoy paranormal, paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

I received this book free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

In My Mailbox 12/4

Sunday, December 4, 2011

In My Mailbox is an amazing weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren that features the books we have received during the week. It's so much fun because we get to see what our fellow bloggers stumbled upon this week and add even more to our piles of books! Without further ado, this week I received the following books:

Bewitching by Alex Flinn (ARC) - Thank you, HarperTeen

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (ARC) - Thank you, HarperTeen

Partials by Dan Wells (ARC) - Thank you, HarperTeen

Slide by Jill Hathaway (ARC) - Thank you, HarperTeen

Balthazar by Claudia Gray (ARC) - Thank you, HarperTeen

The Mirage by Matt Ruff (ARC) - Thank you, HarperCollins

New Girl by Paige Harbison (ARC) - Thank you, Harlequin Teen

TGIF: Writing Reviews 101

Friday, December 2, 2011

TGIF is a new(ish) feature at one of my absolute favourite blogs, GReads!, hosted by the lovely Ginger. It's a way to celebrate the impending weekend, and answer fun questions. Most of all though, you get to know a wee bit more about all those awesome bloggers you meet. So, what are you waiting for? Do your own post and head on over to link up!

What's your process for writing book reviews? Any tips or suggestions you would recommend to other bloggers?

First off, I think it's important for me to say that I truly don't believe that there is a right or a wrong way to review a book. Honestly, the only thing you need is an open mind and a true, honest and just opinion. That, however, you can only garner from actually reading, or truly attempted to read a book. It's taken me almost two years to develop my reviewing process, but I've finally nailed it, I believe, and I've made it a true and accurate portrayal of my opinions regarding books. Here's how I review.

1. I read the book. No matter if I struggle or not, I read the book. If I can't finish it, I won't review it.

2. I take brief notes on what did and didn't work for me.

3. I write my own synopsis for the book. Doing so allows me to convey to the reader how I read the book and what I saw going in.

4. I talk about the writing. There are some styles of writing that work well for me. Others miss the mark. Usually, however, there is something about the prose that speaks to me, and I try to highlight that.

5. I ponder characterization and plot points. This is all-inclusive, meaning anything regarding those has to be worked into the review for it to be coherent.

6. I give it a rating on a five-scale. Without doing so, I'm unable to quantify both for myself and for my followers exactly how this book differed from others.

What about you? Do you review books in a specific way?

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr Review

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Title: How to Save a Life
Author: Sara Zarr (Twitter, Facebook)
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
Publish Date: October 18, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 341
Source: Publisher

Jill MacSweeney just wants everything to go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends--everyone who wants to support her. You can't lose one family member and simply replace him with a new one, and when her mom decides to adopt a baby, that's exactly what it feels like she's trying to do. And that's decidedly not normal. With her world crumbling around her, can Jill come to embrace a new member of the family?

Mandy Kalinowski knows what it's like to grow up unwanted--to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, she knows she wants a better life for her baby. But can giving up a child be as easy as it seems? And will she ever be able to find someone to care for her, too?
Jill’s life was shattered by the untimely death of her father, and the pieces don’t seem to fit together anymore. She’s lost and alone, and she’s reeling. Jill can’t bear to let others in to see her pain, but it’s causing her world to collapse around her. When her mother decided to adopt a baby, Jill is certain her mother’s trying to fill the void in the family, and she can’t take it. Mandy, on the other hand, is lost for another reason. She wasn’t loved as a child, nor was she wanted. When she discovered that she was pregnant, she knew her baby deserved more. Jill and Mandy’s lives are tunneling along the same collision course that could either end well, or it could destroy all parties involved forever.

To be honest, I’ve never read a single title by Sara Zarr before in my life, yet here was the golden opportunity with How to Save a Life. Hailed as a truthful and emotional book, I knew it had potential to satiate my appetite for drama-filled and tension-wrought stories and, needless to say, it didn’t disappoint. How to Save a Life opens up the hearts of two girls coping with life, trauma and the emotional rollercoasters that ensue and lets them bleed and spill onto the pages. The prose is real and stark in a way that creates a raw, painful beauty, and Sara Zarr approaches How to Save a Life with utter sincerity and grapples with the nature of love, life and learning to trust others in a world where it can be so entirely overrated. Beautiful and painful, How to Save a Life is a beacon of literary honesty in a world of contemporary fiction.

Jill was such a brutally honest character. Her pain was tangible, and her desperate need for closure was completely sincere, but there was a vulnerability to her despair that made her accessible to the reader in How to Save a Life. Likewise, Mandy was looking for a chance at redemption from the childhood she endured. Her blatant and blind faith in another human being was beautiful and tragic at the same time. She was wary of her abilities to parent a child, and Jill was equally cautious of Mandy’s intentions with the baby. How to Save a Life was a maze of emotion and pain, but the true beauty of the story was in the unflinching and unfailingly honest approach to human nature. Mandy and Jill couldn’t have been more different, but when their lives came together in the story, there were intersections that resonated through both their voices. Speaking of which, How to Save a Life deftly balanced two very unique character voices with ease, providing the reader with a dual perspective of a tragically beautiful story. The confusion and undercurrent of true human emotion and the realistic look into the chaos of the teenage mind only served to heighten and improve the already wonderful story.

All in all, How to Save a Life is a gorgeous, heartfelt read that I’m certain to share with many of my friends and fellow readers, alike. If you enjoy a human approach and a true portrayal of raw human emotion, this is the book for you. I give it a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all YA fans, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


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