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Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy

Gloria Powell has wanted a child since she first said “I do” to the love of her life Andrew.  But ten years had passed and still no children.  When the Powell’s decide to adopt they pay the hefty fees as well as the travel expenses to go to China.  After much hoop jumping, they leave with a beautiful young girl who Gloria feels God told her was “her daughter” since she laid eyes on her.  They decide to call her Joy.  It seems so appropriate.

Then seven years later, a woman names Kai appears in the Powell’s life stating she is  Lily’s (joy’s birth name)  biological sister and comes to share medical records of their mother’s death, a disease it seems that Joy may have inherited as well. Gloria is already struggling in her relationship with the now teenage and rebellious Joy…. what will the entrance of a blood relative due to this relationship, let alone the chance of this disease being in Joy…

Will Kai be an answer to prayer?  Or will this blip now in the family dynamics cost Gloria more than she can possibly handle?

 

Having been to Honduras 8 times (my ninth coming up in just a few weeks here) I was drawn to this book by the topic of adoption.  When you travel to some of these countries and you see these darling children with nothing, you want to scoop them up and take them home…. 

Such as within this story of Gloria, wanting desperately to have a child of her own… and along comes Joy. 

I am not sure what I expected when I picked this book up to read… I know the ending result was so much more.

I am impressed by Patti Lacy’s ability to write a captivating, interesting story, that is not always light on the topics.  For a Christian fiction read I applaud Lacy’s ability to write strong, three-dimensional, flawed characters.  As I read on about what a tough teen Joy was… under my breath I was saying “yes!”  And even better?  Joy is not the only flawed character of the story…. nor does it seem that any topic is off limits – including Christianity itself.

Kai, was a pleasant addition to the read… you have to wonder her motive for entering into the Powell’s life… is she an answered prayer?  Or is she there to  try to pull Joy/Lily back to her roots… or is it a combo of both?

I was kept guessing until the very end … in fact – quite literally the very end… as even the last page reveals a surprise.

Reclaiming Lily is a wonderful read that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys reading about loss, healing, and the pursuit of hope against all odds.

Amazon Rating

Good Reads Review

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map has been updated to include Reclaiming Lily

 

Please see the entire tour schedule for this book here

Thank you to Litfuse Group for allowing me a copy of this book to read and give an honest review

FORBIDDEN by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee (W/ Giveaway!)

The world is no longer as we once knew it.  After an apocalyptic experience, the world seems to have lost that sense of impending doom….  all that is left in a civilization of people who live in peace and fear…. can you have both?

The people left on earth seem to believe so… but really who are these people who are left other than the walking dead… merely shells of what people once were…

Many years have passed since civilization’s brush with apocalypse. The world’s greatest threats have all been silenced. There is no anger, no hatred, no war. There is only perfect peace… and fear. But a terrible secret has been closely guarded for centuries: Every single soul walking the earth, though in appearance totally normal, is actually dead, long ago genetically stripped of true humanity.

Then a young man comes across a vial of blood with a coded message that he does not understand.  Yet when he drinks the blood (mmmm hmmmm… bear with me here) it seems to lead to real life returning all the human emotions that have long been gone!  The sensation is exhilarating!

… but will it also resurrect the old feelings of hate and greed?

Ted Dekker is a New York Times best-selling author best known for mystery and thriller novels, though he has also made a name for himself among fantasy fans. Early in his career he wrote a number of books that would best be categorized as Religious thrillers. His later works are a mix of mainstream novels such as Thr3e, Obsessed, Skin, Adam, and BoneMan’s Daughters; and fantasy thrillers that metaphorically explore redemptive history. Best known among these are his Circle Series (Black, Red, White, Green), The Lost Books (Chosen, Infidel, Renegade, Chaos, Lunatic, Elyon), and The Paradise Books (Showdown, Saint, and Sinner), as well as House (with Frank Peretti). One of Dekker’s most notable works is his mega-series, the Books of History Chronicles.

As found on wikepedia –

click here to learn more about this fascinating author

In recent years I have had a love/hate relationship with Ted Dekker.  The first books I ever read by him were Blessed Child and A Man Called Blessed… both books took my breath away.   Since then I have found some of his books to be good, others to be a bit confusing, and some just downright… WHA?

Which brings me to FORBIDDEN.  You have to hand it to Dekker, he does know how to strike where the iron is hot and dystopian style reads are a big draw and honestly, I think a great genre to touch on for a Christian fiction author… 

the question is… does Dekker deliver?

I did like the pace of the read.  Within a few pages you have a firm understanding of what has happened to the world.

Fear is a big component of FORBIDDEN and while in this read scientists had figured out how to eliminate the need of human emotion, oddly they never could figure out how to dispose of fear… which in its own self is rather interesting when you think about it and rather smart of Dekker to layout the book this way. 

Fear plays a huge role in our current world and while some are devoured by the overpowering fear of the unknown, others in today’s society seem to live on it like adrenaline junkies… waiting for the next big tragedy so they can feel alive… 

In the end,  I have to say I appreciated what Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee built here in this first book in a series.  I found the message of “blood giving life” to be deeply symbolic of the blood of Christ bringing each of us life. 

I would recommend this book to not only those who enjoy Christian fiction, but also Dystopia, thrillers,and sci fi.

I have a copy of this book to give away – if interested, please leave a comment letting me know if you have read Dekker before, and if so what have you read – and if not… what appeals to you about his books to give them a try?

 

Other Faith and Fiction Participants:

This book was read as part of the Faith N Fiction Group

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

Lacey Anne Byer is known for being a good girl.  Her dad is the pastor of the Evangelical church. Having just turned 16, drivers license in check, and a possible leading role in her churches annual Hell House event, things are looking pretty sweet for Lacey’s Jr year.

Then a mysterious boy comes to school.  Ty is good-looking, drives a red 80’s BMW, and has a glint of trouble in his eye that makes Lacey’s heart beat double time.  After all, everyone knows that Lacey is this good girl…. but Ty is new to town.  With Ty, Lacey can reinvent herself to be anyone she desires.

With Ty…

everything can change.

 

Hell houses are haunted attractions typically run by American, fundamentalist Christian churches or parachurch groups. These depict sin, the torments of the damned in Hell, and usually conclude with a depiction of heaven. They are most typically operated in the days preceding Halloween.

A hell house, like a conventional haunted-house attraction, is a space set aside for actors attempting to frighten patrons with gruesome exhibits and scenes, presented as a series of short vignettes with a narrated guide. Unlike haunted houses, hell houses focus on occasions and effects of sin or the fate of unrepentant sinners in the afterlife. They occur during the month of October to capitalize on the similarities between hell houses and haunted attractions.

The exhibits at a hell house often have a theme focusing on issues of concern to evangelicals in the United States. Hell houses frequently feature exhibits depicting sin and its consequences. Common examples include abortion, suicide,use of alcoholic beverage and other recreational drugs, adultery and pre-marital sex, occultism, homosexuality, and Satanic ritual abuse. Hell houses typically emphasize the belief that anyone who does not accept Christ as their personal savior is condemned to Hell.

Wikepedia

 

I read this book as part of the Faith in Fiction group read.  I loved the look of this book… the cover… the title… honestly, both gave me the sense that we were in for a good Christian YA read that would push the boundaries, those are the books I appreciate the most in the genre of Christian Fiction.

First of all let me say that I had never heard of Hell House until I read this book.  I grew up as a casual church attendee with my family, and later in life, after I was married my husband and I became more committed to a church, and now I work as the Family Life Administrator/ Special Event Coordinator  for our church.

What Melissa Walker captures in this book is the innocence of small town life, and what happens when a boy, Ty, who once lived there a long time ago returns with a different look on life and faith matters than what the church is teaching.  While main character Lacey has grown up surrounded by a life of church and faith… Ty gives her a different look at things…  (I was slightly reminded of Footloose)

The adults of fictional small town “West River”, are RELIGIOUS.  They hold their belief system high… teenage pregnancy falls mainly on the girls shoulders (after all, girls are supposed to be more mature and boys… well, they will be boys ;) ), being gay is a choice and there is no such thing as being born “gay”, and alcohol is STRICTLY prohibited, even in moderation.

Lacey has grown in to this belief system as well.. but Ty opens her eyes to the fact that not all things are black and white… this is demonstrated well as Melissa Walkers characters all have some sort of “trial” in their own life or in their families (abuse, addiction, alcoholics, teenage pregnancy, and one friend may be gay).  Even Lacey’s own family had her life cookie cutter perfect for her … actually trying to choose her friends because they were different in their eyes. 

I liked that the book brought up tough faith questions, in a YA manner that allows us to question our faith and explore it.  While I do wish the book would have dived in a little more to these questions, I felt the author did a nice job of leaving it open for interpretation… enough that I as a reader am still pondering over the book, days after I finished it.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a second book come out of this story line… continuing on with how this story could be more fully developed as Lacey is more open to exploring her faith and her relationships.

 

As I mentioned, this review was a book discussed through the Faith In Fiction group.  To see other reviews on this book (and some great thoughts and opinions) check out these posts:

Books and Movies

Book Addiction

My Friend Amy

Book Hooked Blog

Roving Reads

The Ignorant Historian

Wordlily

The 3 R’s Blog

Linus’s Blanket

My Random Thoughts

Tina’s Book Reviews

 

I received my copy of this book for review from the publisher

Bloomsbury Publishing

One Tuesday Morning by Karen Kingsbury

This book sat on my shelf for YEARS and I just never got around to it.

Then I seen it on audible.com and bought it to listen to on audio…. now

with tears in my eyes, I wonder what took me so long.

Sheila

Jake Bryan was a God-fearing man.  He loved his wife Jamie, and his daughter Sierra with all of his heart.  Jake was a fireman in New York City but made it a point to always be home to put his daughter to bed, and spend time with his wife.

Eric Micheal’s was a business man through and through.  When early in their marriage he and his wife Laura,lost their new-born daughter right after she was born.  They were told if they had brought Laura in earlier for more care, they could have prevented this but at the time they did not have the insurance to help pay for doctors appointments.  Eric vowed never again would they be in want of anything.  Now, years later, Eric works all the time…. working his way up the corporate ladder and not looking back.. barely noticing that he is leaving his beautiful blond wife and 6-year-old son behind.  Eric once believed in God – but since his one day old daughter died, Eric really had no time for a God who did not deliver.  Time after all was money.. and money was security.

Then, one Tuesday in September, Eric was on a business trip in New York at the World Trade Center when a plane mysteriously hit the other tower.  Baffled, Eric watches the smoke billow from the building and calls home to tell his wife what happened.  When she asks him to leave the building, he says there is no need – he is safer where he is and continues his work…

just as a second plane comes on to the TV screen aiming for the tower he is in, as his wife screams “Eric!  Watch out!”

and then

silence.

Hours later on this September day, Jamie receives a phone call.  Jake has been found… alive.  He is in the hospital and he has amnesia.  Jamie is so grateful, but Jake does not recognize her.  And as days turn into months, Jamie’s heart breaks again and again as the man in her home tries to remember… but can’t.  And odd flashes are coming to him… of a blond woman… and a little boy….

Twin Towers.... coming up on ten years.

When I recently found this book on audible.com I was thrilled to finally get to know what this book was all about.  When I announced on the Monday What Are You Reading Meme that I would be listening to this, Martha from Martha’s Bookshelf commented that she was about to listen to this too… we teamed up to do our reviews together.

One Tuesday Morning is a phenomenal read centered around the events of September 11th and the tragedy of The World Trade Center.  Author Karen Kingsbury does a wonderful job of handling a hard subject with great care.  The words play out and word after word, I find myself there…experiencing it almost again, but from a different view.  A few times, this book brought me to tears.

One of the questions I had asked Martha for her review was did she find this book believable?  To answer this myself, I did.  What happens in this book through the terror and the grief, and the hope for a miracle… I could see something like this happening. 

Martha asked me if I felt the faith based issues were blended easily into the story or if they felt forced (more preachy).  I would say… a little of both.  For me, I like faith based books with some meat to them – not fluff and all is right with the world…. real life issues, messy even and I think Karen Kingbury delivered… after all, we do have a mix up of identities and a man living with another mans wife -falling in love with her.   There were a few moments in the book that felt a little forced, but I would not say over done – just enough for me notice the push. 

It’s not an easy read, but it is a worthwhile one.  Even if you are not a reader of Christian Fiction I think you would find this book a great read.  There are two more books in this series, and I will go on to read the second one Beyond Tuesday Morning, because I loved the characters and seeing what happens next is very appealing to me.  However – you don’t need to feel that this book left you hanging on for another book… it doesn’t.  You could easily stop right here with this one as it comes to a wonderful close.

Please check out Martha’s review – I asked her a couple of question for her review and thought she had great answers.

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map has been updated to include One Tuesday Morning

I purchased this from audible.com

The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker

Two abandoned souls are on the hunt for one powerful man. Soon, their paths will cross and lead to one twisted fate.

Danny Hansen is a Bosnian immigrant who came to America with hopes of escaping haunted memories of a tragic war that took his mother’s life. Now he’s a priest who lives by a law of love and compassion. It is powerful men and hypocrites who abide by legal law but eschew the law of love that most incense Danny. As an avenging angel, he believes it is his duty to show them the error of their ways, at any cost.

Renee Gilmore is the frail and helpless victim of one such powerful man. Having escaped his clutches, she now lives only to satisfy justice by destroying him, regardless of whom she must become in that pursuit.

But when Danny and Renee’s paths become inexorably entangled things go very, very badly and neither of them may make it out of this hunt alive.

Judge not, or you too will be judged.

 

 

Cue the scary background music right?  And really… you should as Dekker opens his new book with a 10 page written confession written by Danny about what he has done and why he did it.

*gulp*

And just like that I am back in the dark world that surrounds a Dekker book.  If you have read Dekker before this book will not take you by surprise.  Dekker tends to write Dark, and in my opinion, as of late – his books are even darker.  As a Christian author I respect his unique take on putting faith messages into his writing although truth be told – many can read his books and not know they are reading a faith based book.

The Priest’s Graveyard is intense and does speak to the dark mystery lover in me as well as the long buried version of me who in high school loved all things Steven King and then eventually on to Dean Koontz.  The two main characters Renee who is from California, has had her share and then some of drug use and knows what rock bottom looks like.  Danny on the other hand is from Bosnia and has carried with him a long time agenda and now is a Priest in California with an unusual hobby.  ;)  - Think Dexter;)

At Dekker’s usual fast pace you will find this book at times gorey, haunting – and much like a roller coaster it will get your heart pumping a little faster as the plot thickens and you go – up – up – up…. before you come crashing and screaming down to the conclusion.

I have read many of Ted Dekker’s books and can say I enjoyed this one more than some of his recent ones.


Amazon Rating

I have updated the 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map to Include The Priests Graveyard


This book was sent to me for review for part of a blog tour


Jimmy by Robert Whitlow

 

Jimmy has always been a little special.  As a baby he was not developing as quickly as he should and after an incident where he was left in the tub and almost drowned while his mother took a phone call, he has a fear of water to boot.

Now at fourteen Jimmy lives with his dad and step mom who both love him dearly.  He spends time with his Grandparents where his grandpa challenges him to do things he never thought he could like climbing a pole with a safety harness in the back yard, much to Jimmy’s delight and his Grandmother and Step mom’s fury.

Jimmy knows he is different, how could he not when his cousin constantly calls him retard, and kids at school tease him…. but Jimmy is smarter than they all realize, able to do things like work in his dads office, and even testifying in court.

 

It is really hard to explain this audio.  On one hand, I loved this story.  The sweet southern narration of the author Robert Whitlow himself was wonderful.  Jimmy’s story of moving beyond what was expected of him time and again it is heart warming.  Jimmy’s heart is so pure and he always wants to do whats right, including being saved in church, and wanting the same for his Grandpa – so bad that he makes deals with Grandpa to get him to go to church.

Jimmy also has a knack of seeing things he calls “watchers” Angel like people who show up in different situations, some times to help, some times to observe…. Jimmy takes great comfort in them but tells only a few people he trusts about them. I wish they would have developed this part of the read more as while they touch on the watchers a little bit, but  they are sprinkled through most of the book so maybe that is all the author wanted us to have…. not a real idea about them but a glimpse.

Really my only complaint is that as the audio went on it seemed like it was crisis after crisis and that took away a bit of the :real” feel for me.  The audio is 4 hours and 45 minutes and in that time there are five major plots within the story that Jimmy has to go through.  After so much in such a short audio it felt to be too much.

If you can overlook that, I would HIGHLY recommend this in book format or audio.  The story really was good, and in the end… well, I can’t imagine you can walk away without taking a little piece of Jimmy with you.

 

Amazon Rating

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading map has been updated to include Jimmy

I purchased this audio from audible.com

Snitch by Rene Gutteridge

Convinced he has a greater chance to die–of boredom–at his desk job than he ever faced in narcotics, Las Vegas police sergeant Ron Yeager agrees to slip off the retirement track long enough to head up an undercover task force designed to combat the recent surge in auto thefts.

Then Ron gets a good look at his inexperienced team he has been assigned.  Jesse Lunden is a cocky maverick who feels this job is beneath him and he really should be taking the lead.  Then there is Dozer who can not seem to stay awake beyond the morning debriefing, Mackenzie “Mack” Hazard who insists on wearing her faith on her sleeve – all the while trying to be a convincing undercover blue eye shadow, short skirt wearing, wrong side of the tracks girl….and well Whiz… lets just say he didn’t earn this nickname because he is smart… Oh, and lets not forget Kyle, Yeager’s youthful Pastor in desperate need of a sabbatical who really is interested in the whole under cover excitement and would really like to (hint hint hint hint) be a part of the team.

Yeager needs to find a way to make this motley crew a team… and the way it looks now… he has half a mind to turn tail and run, not walk back to retirement as fast as his cane can take him.

 

Snitch may refer to:

 


Snitch is the second book I have read by Rene Gutteridge and I flipped through the pages with great joy.  The storyline was fun and quick – yet also carried a solid plot that held everything together.  The characters were interesting and diverse.

Snitch happens to be the second book in this three book series… Scoop being the first one which I have not read.  (Short story – I wanted to try Rene Gutteridge, I put in for several of her books at the library and this is what came  in, so this is what I read.  :D)  However, I did not feel that I had missed out on anything by not having read Scoop first.  Snitch is a self-contained book and while I enjoyed it enough to be curious about the first book and interested in pursuing the third book,, I do not feel I would need to in order to complete the story.

What I really found in this book was a bit of humorous mystery that was enjoyable to read.  A nice mix of suspense, humor, and even a little romance – but not to the point of sappy.  I liked this book very much and for the second time can say I am impressed with Rene Gutteridge’s style of writing.

Amazon Rating

The 2011 WHERE Are You reading map has been updated to include Snitch


I borrowed this book from my library

Masquerade by Nancy Moser


It is 1886 and Charlotte Gleason is on her way from England to New York with turmoil in her heart.  She is to marry a rich American and never be in want of anything – a man who she has never met.  In a panic she switched identities with her maid, Dora.

For Dora this is a chance of a lifetime, thrust into mansions and pretty gowns…. yet she is tormented by being found out….

For Charlotte it means giving up financial security, but she is willing to take the risk.  What starts as a whim of a spoiled rich girl soon becomes a test of survival, and beyond Charlotte’s darkest nightmares as her “adventure” turns into something else.

And what of the man in New York?


I have enjoyed Nancy Moser’s writing from the  first time I read The Seat Beside me and The Invitation series.  Books that I read years ago, but was reminded of when I opened this book, like being reminded of old friends.

Lately, as the mornings become a little crisper and the scent of fall is in the air, I have been craving Historical Fiction.  Odd?  Maybe, but it seems as the seasons change, so do my reading habits.  Masquerade filled that craving with its descriptions of England and early New York.

Well written and well paced, I had memories of Titanic, not only for my love (LOVE!) of the movie, but for the time the girls travel to America – and their choices become somewhat of a disaster.  I enjoyed reading about the changes in both women, Dora finding that she has a bit more elegance than she had thought, and Lottie (who comes off as extremely snobby and spoiled) has a soft spot in her heart for children.

As I read through the tangled web the two girls have created by their choices, author Nancy Moser pulls God into the mix.  Even through the blunders and mistakes on both sides, God provides and I find myself closing the last page feeling satisfied and warm inside, for a cool Fall morning.

My Amazon Rating

Book Journey has updated the 2010 Book Map to Include Masquerade

394 pages

Cover Story:  Perfect…. a gorgeous dress that could be a disguise…and you can not see the woman’s face.

This book was provided by The Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

A Skeleton In God’s Closet and More Than A Skeleton by Paul Maier

Imagine it is present day and a an archeological team has just unearthed bones in an Israel tomb which all point to be the bones of Jesus.  But how can that be?  If there are bones then doesn’t that change everything we know and believe about the resurrection?

This book is from my 2005 book journals.  I am planning on converting my hand written reviews to Book Journey, and therefore will occasionally be presenting one of the amazing reads of my pre blog days.

This book qualifies as one of those amazing reads.  I have always been a fan of a good suspenseful mystery.  I also like a good Christian Fiction read.  This one gave me a big dose of both with a little theology thrown in for good measure.  The topic of this book blew me away.

What Paul Maier presents in this book is what would happen to the world in the face of the death of Christianity.   Main character Johnathon Weber, an archeologist and Bible Scholar works hard against the clock to prove that these bones could not possibly be the bones of Jesus.

This book is for anyone who likes a good suspenseful novel that makes you think.  To this day, this book brings back wonderful memories and I have two sets on my shelf.  One is mine and one is to loan out to friends.

In Paul Maier’s follow up to A Skeleton In God’s Closet,  archeologist Johnathon Weber is once again called to investigate what is either an elaborate hoax, or the return of Christ.

When Joshua Ben-Yosef, an Israeli from Galilee-born in Nazareth to parents Mary and Joseph-begins assembling twelve followers, attracting crowds, and performing miracles, the world takes notice.  Is this the return of Jesus?

It seems everyone is a believer including Johnathon Webber’s wife Shannon.


You have to hand it to Maier…. he doesn’t mess around with light subjects.  I devoured this book almost as soon as I closed the last page to A Skeleton In God’s Closet.   Another book that really made me think…. how would I react in such evidence?  Seeing is believing….  right?  And if that’s the case…. I can truly understand how people must have struggled with Jesus performing such acts even when he did walk the earth.

The more I think about this book, the more I like it.  This is another one that I have on my “keeper” shelf and have a spare around to loan out.

Dr. Maier is The Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University and a much-published author of both scholarly and popular works.  His novels include two historical documentaries: Pontius Pilate and The Flames of Rome, as well as a theological thriller that became #1 national bestseller in Christian  fiction: A Skeleton in God’s Closet. A sequel, More Than a Skeleton, appeared in 2003.

I purchased both books from Christianbooks.com

Boneman’s Daughter by Ted Dekker


In typical Dekker fashion… we enter a book about a serial killer who murders his victims by breaking their bones, but not their skin.  A killer who stems from his own feelings of abandonment.  After not being heard from for over two years, suddenly he re-emerges and abducts 16-year-old Bethany Evans.  Bethany’s father, Ryan has recently returned from Iraq, after having been captured and tortured.  As Ryan tried to find Bethany he is still dealing with his own emotional scars he caries with his from the war and this not only hinders his efforts in finding his daughter, but causes the authorities to wonder if Ryan is not The Boneman.


I do enjoy Dekker’s books finding the suspense filled stories to cause my heart to beat a little faster as I try to get behind the author’s pen and guess where he is going this time around.   The Boneman’s Daughter was different than some of Dekker’s books that I had read, but similar in ways to his recent book,The Bride Collector.

The theme of this book is centered around abandonment, Bethany’s history with her parents have caused her to build her own protective wall around herself…  and in turn reflects on how many people reflect on their faith, at times feeling as though God has abandoned them.  Dekker again sends a clear message of God’s love in his own unique style.

Boneman’s Daughter was a good read, yet not my favorite of Dekker’s as I found parts to be increasingly “horror filled” and not as tame as some of his other books.  While not gory – I felt Dekker pulled away from the message he started out to portray but going too far into the fear factor.

Book Journeys map has been updated to include Boneman’s Daughter

416 pages

Cover Story:  It is a great cover and pulls me in.

I received this book as part of our Spring 2010 Library Sale

It will now be passed on to:Jackie from My Ever Expanding Library

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