Sunday, May 31, 2009

My "book reviews" ...

So I post regularly here on TriangleMommies' blog, and I've had reviews of books, posts about reading, etc. since December of last year.

So I figured I'd post some of the thoughts here, since a lot of my readers (you know there are SO many of you!) haven't read those blog entries yet! Sorry if they're boring, they're more a recap than anything else.


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From Dec. 18, '08


One of the things I am looking forward to most about being out of town for the holiday season is not what you might expect. I'm not thinking about your basic holiday excitement, spending time with family and friends, spreading cheer, lots of yummy food and drink. Nope, although I am excited about all of those things, I am really looking forward to some mommy downtime so I can get some reading done!


I know you moms know how it is. Sometimes the only way to get anything read is to lock yourself in the bathroom for twenty minutes! Or is that just me? ;) Either way, I am so excited to have my daughter spend lots of quality time with her grandparents so I can sit down in a quiet room and read a book without waiting to hear her wake up from sleep, with no baby monitor humming in the background, and nobody tugging at my book saying "Mine!" If you're an avid reader like I am, who hopes to have some time to get some reading done this holiday season, consider picking up some of these great and pretty light reads:


*
The Guy Not Taken, by Jennifer Weiner
I just finished reading this (yes, in my bathroom!) and it's a batch of short stories by JW. She's the author of some incredible books such as: Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, Little Earthquakes and Goodnight Nobody. Yes, I have read them all. I like her that much! She may be considered a 'chick-lit' author, but she writes like it's real. The Guy Not Taken is totally different than her other books in that you just get a taste of each character, and that definitely leaves you wanting more!

*
The Sugar Queen, by Sarah Addison Allen
This was a book that I really enjoyed reading with my area group's book club. After we read her first novel, Garden Spells, back in January, we were excited for this new release and scooped it up as soon as it came out! Actually, I think we planned on reading it BEFORE it was released! SAA writes in a way that few authors do these days. I think her style really allows you to suspend disbelief and put yourself in her characters' shoes. Her stories have a bit of a mystical style to them, and they unravel in such a way that you want to finish the book in one sitting.

*
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd
I re-read this book recently, and loved it just as much the second time around. It's a strong story, well written, and was recently released as a major motion picture. Although I haven't seen the film yet, (it is still playing, if you're interested!) the cast appears to be a group of really strong women. This book is about women, for women and by a great woman author. The characters of this novel are incredibly powerful, and you absorb the emotions of their daily lives while turning each page. The main character is a young girl who has already had such a difficult life. The way that the story develops leaves you raw with emotion.

You can find out more about these books on many of the major websites, like: Amazon, Barnes&Noble and Borders.


As for me, my reading for the upcoming holiday is a bit "different." I'll be reading
Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies: The Groundbreaking Program for the 4-A Disorders, by Kenneth Bock and Cameron Stauth. It's something I'm interested in, as a mom and as a social worker. I'm sure I'll post a bit about it once I'm done! Don't worry, I do have several lighter options that I'll be packing, as well, I just haven't decided which one (or more!?!) I'll be alternating with the heavier stuff!

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Dec. 21, '08


Happy Chanukah to any of my fellow celebrating mommies out there!


We started our celebration tonight in NY with my family. And what a major coup for me! I wound up getting not one, but TWO gift cards for Barnes and Noble. What more could anyone want? Well, what more could *I* want, anyway!?! As Literary Editor, I must live up to my blogging title and begin making a list of what I want to buy when we go to the book store on January 1st. Hubby has always hit the book stores to welcome in the New Year, and that totally works for me! If you have any suggestions of some great reads, please let me know by commenting. I'm always up for new books!


I also received two books from my brother and sister-in-law.
19 Minutes, by Jodi Picoult and Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron.

Jodi Piccoult is one of my favorite authors. If you haven't read her work yet, honestly, pick up anything and you'll definitely enjoy it! And as an animal lover they couldn't have picked a more perfect read for me this holiday season. The story of Dewey tells about how this kitten became a *star* in his hometown after being stuffed (OMG!) into a library slot at only a few weeks old! Can you even imagine? I certainly cannot. I don't know much more about the story, but I will update with more info as I get into the book.


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Jan. 1st, '09


Here's to a Wonderful 2009!
Happy New Year!

Here is to a year filled with amazing and motivating reads, and to all of you incredible moms out there finding the TIME to read all of those great books!!!

A list of SOME of the books I want to read this year:

* The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan
* Say You're One Of Them, by Uwen Akpan
* Second Chance, by Jane Green
* The Next Thing on My List, by Jill Smolinski
* The Senator's Wife, by Sue Miller
* Run, by Ann Patchett
* Certain Girls, by Jennifer Weiner
* Anybody Out There, by Marian Keyes
* A Child's Work, by Vivian Paley
* The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb
* I See You Everywhere, by Julia Glass
* The Beach House, by Jane Green
* A Summer Affair, by Elin Hilderbrand

I'll stop now, or I would end up taking up the whole page!
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Jan 11, '09


So I finally finished reading one of the books I received as a holiday gift!

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched The World, by Vicki Myron. It was a very sweet book about a cat who showed up in the library's book slot on a cold winter's morning. The cat was barely alive, so tiny and shivering, that those who found him were unsure if he'd survive.

Well, he most certainly did, and apparently became one of the most well known cats in history! ;) Vicki Myron does a great job at telling the story of how Dewey touched the lives of so many in the small town of Spencer, Iowa. From library staff to regular patrons, along with the many out of town visitors who traveled for miles to meet this famous cat. Amazingly enough Dewey's celebrity status traveled as far as Japan!

Dewey was a sweetheart of a cat, who lived his entire life in the Spencer Library. He used to greet Vicki in the mornings at the door with a wave (can you believe that? I do!) and was so much a part of her life that she brought him home with her for the holidays, as part of the family.

Vicki also includes her own life story in this book, which seems to have been quite a tough life. Having lost several of her family members to illness, along with having suffered from various health issues herself, she speaks freely of her struggles and ability to survive, especially with the strength of Dewey by her side.

If you are a cat lover, I most definitely recommend this book! If you're not, but think you would enjoy a sweet story about a small town librarian and the trials and tribulations of her life in Iowa, then go for it anyway!

For more information on Dewey and his life, check out his special website: http://spencerlibrary.com/deweybio.htm

I'm not sure what is next on my reading list, but I did just get a copy of Run, by Ann Patchett, so maybe I'll start that soon ... Happy Reading!
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Jan 22, '09

Let's Talk Books!
I am already enjoying my start of the new year. I've started reading "Run" by Ann Patchett, and I received a delivery from Barnes and Noble today with my copy of "The Middle Place" by Kelly Corrigan. What more could I ask for?

Oh, yes ... suggestions from YOU! What's on your reading list for 2009?

I am always on the look out for what I call 'Mommy Lit' or 'Mommy Memoirs!' In my next entry I'll review a few of my favorites. Some of the authors I enjoy are: Stephanie Wilder-Taylor, Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile, Allison Pearson, and even Jenny McCarthy! Let me know if you've read any of them, or if you have other faves you can recommend!
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Feb. 4, '09

Run to Read "Run," by Ann Patchett
Hi, fellow reading mommies!

Just writing to let you know I finished "Run," by Ann Patchett this past week and it was such a great read. It was a novel that showed me the various sides of family, the many ways a non-traditional family can come to exist, and the incredible bonds that form between family members, whether or not there is blood between them.

The story begins with a set of parents and their sons, one biological, the younger two adopted. The parents and the eldest boy are white, the younger boys are black, but color is not something this family finds issue with. While reading you don't even picture them of different races, but imagine them to be united as one, despite their varying differences. Ultimately we watch their relationships develop in adulthood, as they come to learn more than they could have imagined about their history.

An accident on a snowy night starts the story, and although the entire truth unravels over a few short days, the history shared and relationships strengthened and formed made the book seem like it was lasting a lifetime! I certainly didn't want it to end!

I definitely give this one two thumbs up! Or as my almost two-year-old says, while holding her thumbs in the air, "Yayyyyyyy!"

Next on my list is "Marley and Me," the story about the most well known dog around. Has anyone read it? Seen the movie? Let me know what you thought!

Happy reading!
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Feb. 17, '09

Do you have a Toddler? If so, you're not alone!

Hi, everyone! Right now I am reading the absolute best book possible. My daughter turned two last week, and although I've been skimming through this book for a while, I find that it seems to be hitting home a bit more these days. BIG TIME!

I am reading Toddler: Real-life Stories of Those Fickle, Irrational, Urgent, Tiny People We Love, Edited by Jennifer Margulis. And I LOVE IT! It's a compilation of short stories written by mothers and fathers of toddlers. They share their trials and tribulations, stories of protecting their young ones, playing with them, viewing things from the eye-level of the toddler, and much more!

The stories are short and sweet, totally to the point, and easy to sneak a read in while hiding in the bathroom. Come on now, I know I'm not the only one who does that. One dad even used it as the topic of his story, reminding me that we're all in this together.

I am truly happy to have found this book, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who would love the company as they go through the Terrible Twos and beyond. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll be so happy that you picked up a copy. I promise!
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Feb. 25, '09

Getting Into The Game
What do you do when you belong to a book club and you're having trouble reading the book for your next meeting? I seriously spent a week at page 10, and then another week at page 19 of the book I just finished for this Friday's meeting.

We read The Game, by Katherine Neville, and it seriously was a rocky start. I couldn't find anything interesting in the first ten pages. Then my fellow mommies convinced me to try again. I made it nine more pages and was ready to drop it. Normally I would have, but then someone mentioned that it had a bit of a DaVinci Code feel to it. Now that was a book I absolutely loved and devoured, so I was intrigued and started up again. It took me less than a week and I finished all 600 pages. I was so proud of myself.

It really did have a similar tone to Dan Brown's novels (the aforementioned DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, etc.) When a friend said not to get too wrapped up in the details, I realized that there were pages I could skim that would not affect my understanding of the story. And thank goodness for that! I'd still be on Page 19 if I didn't take the advice to move along at my own pace, not over-think it and enjoy the story.

Anyway, I just thought I'd remind all of you, whether reading for educational purposes, business or pleasure, it's worth it to give it a shot. No matter what happens you might actually find out something about yourself, or at the very least your reading style!

Happy reading!
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Feb. 28, '09

The Plain Truth of it is ...
You know what it's like when you're reading and reading and reading and you just can't put the book down? That was me these past few days. I started reading Plain Truth, by Jodi Picoult. It's our book for Northwest Wake's April book club meeting.

I started it a few days ago, after I finished The Eight, and I was on a tear. Reading at nap time, reading after putting my daughter to bed. I got home from book club last night and read until one o'clock in the morning! I just finished now ... literally a few minutes ago and I had to come post!

I loved this book. And, in typical Jodi Picoult fashion, she twists and turns in such a way that you get to the end and you're shocked. She knows just how to write it out and keep you guessing throughout the entire 400 pages!

Although we won't be discussing this at our book club for a few months, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in one of those 'can't-put-it-down' kind of reads!

Happy Reading!
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Mar. 3, '09

Bright Lights, Big ...
Jen Lancaster needs to be my new BFF. Seriously, I love this woman.

I just finished another book of hers, the second book I have read. And yes, turns out I'm reading them in reverse chronological order, but you know what? I don't care!

Some time ago I read her latest release, Such a Pretty Fat. I loved it! I laughed, I cried, I seriously wanted to meet the woman. I looked into her website http://www.jennsylvania.com/jennsylvania. While I'm so bad at keeping up I haven't followed her site the way that I would love to, but I will say that when I do remember to check in on how she's doing I'm always smiling.

I just finished reading Bright Lights, Big Ass, and it, too, is hilarious. Like laugh out loud hilarious (I'm happy to say that I'm "anti-LOL," just like Jen is!)

Oh, and after checking out her site, I'm even happier, as I learn that her latest book goes back in time to her childhood. So I'm actually going to be reading them in perfect order after I get my hands on a copy of Bitter is the New Black!

Thank you, Jen, for showing me I'm not alone in this world and for sharing your incredible sense of humor with us all.

So, if you're in the mood for a real woman's story, and honest to goodness, down-to-earth stuff, pick up a copy of one of her books. You won't regret it!

Happy reading!
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Mar. 7, '09

Confessions of an addict ...
I have to confess. I'm addicted to magazines. As a mom I have less time to read them than I used to, but the window to so many new magazines opened up for me! For a while I was subscribing to FitPregnancy, Cookie, American Baby, Baby Center, Parents, Parenting, and BabyTalk, along with my original non-parent related subscriptions of Health, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Southern Living, and SELF. I even get a free magazine from Kraftfoods -- yes, the company that makes macaroni and cheese, for goodness sake!

So, who was I kidding? Myself. I have stacks upon stacks of unread magazines. I can't bear to get rid of them until I at least go through them once or twice. I definitely recycle, but I needed to take stock and remember that I no longer have a subway or bus commute to read through, no longer have my friends at the office to pass along my finished copies, and no longer have time to soak in the bath worried about dropping my magazine into the sudsy water (a bath ... what's that, again?)

Even my husband had to recognize that without his subway commute he doesn't have as much time to read anymore, either. For me, it's the standard lock-myself-in-the-bathroom-time to get through an article or two before having to earmark a page by folding it back or saving it with one of those ordering inserts.

Now that I've learned more about my lack of magazine time, I've drastically reduced my subscriptions. I've recognized that no matter how good REAL SIMPLE looks on the racks at the grocery store checkout, I'm likely not going to get through it as quickly as I'd hoped. I confess to having some unread issues that I'm holding onto for years. (Yes, GASP! all you want, it won't make me throw them away just yet!)

So, I avoid those free month subscriptions of US Weekly, pick up a copy of People when it has someone I'm interested in on the cover, stopped getting Cookie when I realized I couldn't afford anything in it, and stick with my current batch: Marie Claire, (I have to hold onto SOMEthing!) Parents, Parenting and Family Fun. Not to say that I'll get all the crafts in Family Fun done with my daughter, but at least it's giving me some ideas. And the articles, they're short and sweet, just the kind a busy mom needs!

So, consider saving a few trees, cancel the subscriptions you don't read, check out their websites, or hey, shoot me a message and I'll let you know what was written about so-and-so and who they're with these days. E! has a great website to find all that stuff out! ;)

Happy reading and recycling!
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Mar. 12, '09

Anybody Out There?
I'm an avid reader. Really, I am. As if you hadn't noticed by now! And I love chick-lit. I'm a huge fan of so many chick-lit type authors, I couldn't possibly list them all.

Which is why I made sure I was able to get a copy of Marian Keyes' latest, Anybody Out There? I received my copy a week or so ago, and was excited to have some mindless reading to do. I say mindless and honestly do mean it as a good thing!

But what I didn't realize until I started the book and was a few pages in, is that it's a part of her batch of books about the Walsh sisters. Yeah, them. The ones we read about in Angels, Watermelon, and Rachel's Holiday, if you've read them all. I skipped RH, but here I am again, in the midst of their family. And you know what? I don't really remember them all. I guess I don't have to, as her books tend to stand on their own, but I'm kind of annoyed with myself that I wasted a credit (more info on that later!) on this book. Happy that I didn't purchase a copy and waste a coupon, but still frustrated.

While I'm sure it's a good book, I just can't find myself interested in it now that I know it's the same family, again. I hope to pick it up again one of these days, but for now I've started something new. Check out Dishing with the Kitchen Virgin, by Susan Reinhardt and you can read along with me. I'll be sure to come back and review it once I'm done, but I'm only on page 14, so hang in there!

Happy reading!
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Mar. 30, '09

Dishing With The Kitchen Virgin
Well, I'm not exactly a kitchen virgin, but this Southern mama really had me cracking up while I read her stories. Dishing With the Kitchen Virgin, by Susan Reinhardt is a fun read that includes several really Southern recipes.

Her recaps of her various cooking attempts start at a young age. The first she shared was an incident where she decided to make a cake for her parents and she and her sister were convinced that the egg whites were easier to add to a recipe after hard-boiling the eggs and THEN adding them to the mixture (nearly made me sick to think of it!)

She proceeds to detail fixing a family holiday meal while being about ready to deliver her baby, all family members skipping the hints she dropped to get herself out of the preparation. Explains how she wound up fixing subsequent family meals after she happened to prep a pot roast in the Crock Pot without messing it up (how difficult could that be, after all?) and how her mother's recipes often fell into place on a plate filled with single colored items, carrots, sweet potatoes and orange-glazed chicken, anyone?

It's definitely a light-hearted read that will take your mind off of anything serious going on in your life, and you might even find a recipe or two you're interested in trying out. Although I must forewarn you, many recipes include Duke brand mayo, and a whole lot of it!

You can find a free sample chapter of the book here:

Once You've Done a Meal You Have To Be Dead to Get Out of Another.

Enjoy ... and happy reading!
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Apr. 15, '09

1,000 Places
Yep, you're reading it right. I said 1,000.

Can you even imagine? ONE THOUSAND places to see before you die? Exactly who makes a list like that?

Well, as much as I'd love to have the motivation to make such a list, I'll stick with trying to make it to every state and overseas a few more times. In the meantime, I got myself a copy of the book of the same title: 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. There are so many places in there I've never even heard of! And so many I'd love to see.

From New York City (check!) to Buckingham Palace (check, again!) to the Grand Canyon (not yet,) and the Forbidden City (uhm, nope ... and it's in China, for those not in the know!) there are so many wonderful places listed in this book. And true, it might take me forever to read it, and would likely take a lifetime and then some to reach each of them. But I'll enjoy educating myself in the interim, and thinking about how it would certainly be nice to try. A woman can dream, right?

So, where are some places YOU absolutely want to get to? Go ahead, plan a trip now! What's holding you back? Check out the 1,000 places website for more information on possible destinations. Who knows ... one might be in your own backyard!

Happy reading! And happy traveling, if you so choose!
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Apr. 23, '09

Mommy Tracked
I read a mom-lit type book about a month ago and I really loved it. The book was called Mommy Tracked, by Whitney Gaskell.

It was a great read, fun, fluid and easy. And I could actually RELATE to it! It was kind of like chick-lit for moms, which I love and believe in whole-heartedly. It's tiring to pick up a book from one of your favorite authors and feel more out of sorts while trying to read it than you should be. Who wants to stress while reading to decompress? And I'm far from the days of dreaming about Mr. Right (found him!) figuring out what to wear for a night on the town (anything clean works for me,) or what my beverage of choice will be for the evening (usually water, preferably not in a sippy cup, otherwise a nice white wine works fine!)

So if you're looking for a good read, and really want one you can relate to, pick up a copy so you can enjoy the story of a group of moms who share their lives. From the ups and downs of motherhood, new and old, to what it's like to find friendships as an adult and how to deal with the demands of motherhood and family members, and much more!

Enjoy! And Happy Reading!
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Apr. 27, '09

The Toddler's Busy Book
What a GREAT creation this book is. Seriously, I only have it in my possession for a few days and it's already a hit!

Our first activity was SO simple!

Homemade Play-dough:
2 c oatmeal
1 c flour
1 c water
combine in a mixing bowl and TA DAH!

Who knew it could be THAT easy? And obviously it's 100% non-toxic, which is good, since the first thing my daughter did after mixing it was put some in her mouth.

If you haven't found yourself a copy of this book yet, please consider doing so. The Toddler's Busy Book, by Trish Kuffner. There are so many creations, activities and ideas in there you'll find ways to entertain the little ones without stressing yourself out one bit!

Enjoy!
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May 1, '09

Have I mentioned ...?
Just how much I love The Toddler's Busy Book?

Well, I'm mentioning it again!

Today I made cookies, and yes, my little one and I could have made them together, but I really wanted chocolate, and didn't want a mess, so I made them myself.

SO simple, a toddler could do them on their own (with supervision, of course!)

1 box cake mix of your choice
1 egg
1/2 c butter or margarine

SO bad for you. SO NOT nutritious. And yet, SO good.

The Toddler's Busy Book, by Trish Kuffner. For the play-dough recipe, click HERE!

Seriously, find this book, buy it, and read it every single day. You won't be sorry that you did!

Happy reading, crafting, baking and busy-ing with your little ones!
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May 20, '09

The Thirteenth Tale
So I just finished reading The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield, and actually wound up loving it towards the end. For a while there it was rough going, though, and I struggled through some chapters, trying to figure out what in the heck was going on, and why we were subjected, as readers, to so much story.

I get it now, and I definitely say if you're reading it and having some trouble (we're reading it for NWW's book club this month, but I know many other mommas are trying to get into it, too!) keep pushing at it and you'll make it through!

And it's worth it in the end. Honest.

It's the kind of book that is really hard to discuss with someone who hasn't read it, as you don't want to give too much of it away. Interesting that I should say that, despite the extra pages within the stories that seemed rather pointless. Just the same, I'll try ...

Basically our main characters consist of a famous author named Vida Winter, and a much less famous writer named Margaret Lea, who works in a book shop owned by her father. Ms. Winter contacts Ms. Lea to have her come and stay with her, and asks for her to help write her life story. Apparently Ms. Winter has given many interviews about her life, and each one has created a completely different background than the next. Will Margaret really learn the truth? What will she learn about herself along the way? Pick up a copy to find out!

My next book will be MUCH lighter. And more appropriate for my life right now. I plan on reading, I'd Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper. Sounds good, doesn't it? ;)

Enjoy! And happy Reading!
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May 29, '09

I'd Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper
Would you?

I just finished reading this great book. Yes, it's a light read, and it's pretty hilarious, but it's honest to goodness truth about marriage after children, and real moms and dads account for the way their lives and their relationships have changed.

I'd Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper, by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile is their third installment of true life accounts of motherhood and marriage and what life is like for so many moms across the country these days.

It's a great way to remind yourself that you're not alone in whatever struggles you may be experiencing postpartum, whether it be a month, a year, or 12 years down the line! We're all human (despite not feeling that way sometimes!) and I know that we have varying experiences, but who here hasn't been swept up in our children and their needs before? I know I can't say that I haven't ... and often everything and everyONE else gets lost in the shuffle. These women remind me that it's okay to have it happen, but it's important to remember that there is, in fact, a shuffle around us, and that we need to put our families first by remembering our husbands, our marriages, and most importantly, OURSELVES!

So pick up a copy for a quick and easy read, and one that shows you how many moms out there get through their days, weeks, months and years!

If you're interested, go ahead and read page 1 on Oprah's website: Page 1

Enjoy! And Happy reading!
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