Posted on Jun 10th, 2014 by audra
In these categories book review, Review

Book Title: The Murder Complex
Author: Lindsey Cummings
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow / HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss

An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

Life in the Shallows is beyond tough. There is a myriad of dangers to watch out for and Meadow has been trained well by her father to handle herself. Zephyr on the other hand has to do extremely hard work as an orphan of sorts. In typical YA fashion their worlds collide and neither are the same afterwards.

I had a pretty difficult time getting into the book at first, but once I got into a reading groove I was set. Honestly, the book cover really, really turned me off. It’s creepy but it just easily turned me off. I quickly got past that however and immersed myself in another crooked and corrupt book world.

Overall The Murder Complex was extremely fast paced and honestly rather terrifying. I wouldn’t recommend this book for those that may be squeemish around, well, murder. There were moments that I was really unable to read quick enough. I wanted to absorb every letter of every word as quick as possible so I could figure out what the heck was happening. On the other hand, there were moments I wanted to toss the book out the window. One of my biggest pet peeves for books set in the future are when weird curse words are made up. I just simply can’t stand it.

I will definitely be checking out the next book in the series from the library. The Murder Complex was a fun read that really kept my attention. I really enjoyed Meadow and Zephyr and will be looking forward to where the story goes next.

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Posted on May 30th, 2014 by audra
In these categories book review, Review, Society's Bookshelf

Book Title: Life by Committee
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher Arc

Some secrets are too good to keep.

Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat.

Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.

Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe.

Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.

But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?

 

In Life by Committee Tabitha’s been living a bit of a double life. There’s school Tabitha who has virtually no friends and her ex-friends continue to make her life miserable. Then there is the Tabitha that spends all night chatting with Joe. She is positively head over heels for her, but the only problem is his girlfriend. He is hesitant to move on from her and be with Tabitha, and she isn’t sure how much longer she can contain their secret relationship. Then she manages to find the Life by Committee, a secret online group that works in a currency of secrets. You tell a secret and you are given an assignment to complete. If you don’t complete the assignment, your secret is no longer safe.

I was really intrigued behind the idea of this book and really wanted to love it. I definitely liked it enough that it held my attention and had me dying to figure out what was going on. There was a lot of elements of Life By Committee that I really loved. Tabitha was a fantastic character and I loved her constant battle with herself, her unique family as well as her current friend and ex friends. As great as everything was, the whole idea of the committee became a bit lackluster after a while. I also had a hard time dealing with the whole issue of her ex-friends. It was resolved in the end for me, but for a long time just made me feel really confused by what was going on with them.

Overall I really did enjoy the odd mix of characters and felt especially drawn to Tabitha and her parents. Their relationship was oddly comforting to me and really kept me hanging onto this book. I felt really bad for Joe’s girlfriend and all the hoops she was jumping through. Their relationship was a little off to me, and I would have liked to have seen a little bit more mental illness awareness going on to offset some of her issues.

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Posted on May 30th, 2014 by audra
In these categories book review, Review, Society's Bookshelf

Book Title: Exile
Author: Kevin Emerson
Release Date: April 24, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher Arc

Catherine Summer Carlson knows how to manage bands like a professional—she’s a student at the PopArts Academy at Mount Hope High, where rock legends Allegiance to North got their start. Summer knows that falling for the lead singer of her latest band is the least professional thing a manager can do. But Caleb Daniels isn’t an ordinary band boy—he’s a hot, dreamy, sweet-singing, exiled-from-his-old-band, possibly-with-a-deep-dark-side band boy. And he can do that thing. That thing when someone sings a song and it inhabits you, possesses you, and moves you like a marionette to its will.

Summer also finds herself at the center of a mystery she never saw coming. When Caleb reveals a secret about his long-lost father, one band’s past becomes another’s present, and Summer finds it harder and harder to be both band manager and girlfriend. She knows what the well-mannered Catherine side of her would do, but she also knows what her heart is telling her. Maybe it’s time to accept who she really is, even if it means becoming an exile herself. . . .

On sale in April 2014, Kevin Emerson’s EXILE is a witty and passionate ode to love, rock and roll, and the freedom that comes in the moment when somebody believes in you, even if you’re not quite ready to believe in yourself.

 

For a split second I had a hard time getting into this book, and after a nod to Portlandia I was hooked. Kevin managed to blend music into Exile to create an extraordinary start to a trilogy. Summer is a student at the prestigious PopArts Academy, where music and music production is huge deal to everyone involved. Summer runs a band management company and is on the prowl for her next project after her last band and boyfriend were taken away once they signed a record deal.

She sees talent in Caleb, hiding away a bit after his departure from his previous band. Of course he’s a bit dark and mysterious and reveals a secret he hasn’t told anyone to Summer. He’s the son of a legendary dead rocker. There are three rumored tracks that he recorded and never showed anyone before his death so everyone embarks on a scavenger hunt thanks to the clues left by his dad to find these tapes, starting with the first track Exile.

Exile is an ingenious read and Kevin nails every single one of these characters. It was so easy to get lost in this book and really care about each and every book. I really love that he actually recorded some tracks for the book soundtrack, which is just themes so well with this book and is SO good. The characters felt a bit like close friends by the end of the book, and I can’t wait to continue their quest for the rest of the tracks in the next two books.

For more information on the Exile soundtrack, check out Kevin’s website.

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Posted on May 27th, 2014 by audra
In these categories book review, Society's Bookshelf

Book Title: Guy in Real Life

Author: Steve Brezenoff

Release Date: May 27, 2014

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Source: Edelweiss

From the acclaimed author of Brooklyn, Burning comes Guy in Real Life, an achingly real and profoundly moving love story in the vein of Rainbow Rowell and John Green, about two Minnesota teens whose lives become intertwined through school, role-playing games, and a chance two-a.m. bike accident.

It is Labor Day weekend in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning: Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Björk and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG. They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never talk to each other again.

But they don’t.

This is a story of two people who do not belong in each other’s lives, who find each other at a time when they desperately need someone who doesn’t belong in their lives. A story of those moments when we act like people we aren’t in order to figure out who we are. A story of the roles we all play-at school, at home, with our friends, and without our friends-and the one person who might show us what lies underneath it all.

As a self-described fanatic of most things nerdy, I thought I would devour Guy in Real Life. In St. Paul, Minnesota Lesh has a chance encounter with Svetlana and their relationship unravels throughout the book. It was a cool setup, but then the story unfurled itself and I began to get lost a bit among the words. I began to question if I was into nerd culture enough to really appreciate this book.

Brezenoff to me nailed the teen emotion, angst, frustration and voice wholeheartedly. Getting to experience life’s troubles to teens through the eyes of these teens took me back a bit to what my growing up experiences were. Having that connection to the kids in the books was probably the only thing that brought me to the glaring part I could not connect with- the chapters with Svvetlana. Yes, Svvetlana with two v’s- this is the character that Lesh has chosen to play in his online RPG. Having chapters devoted to online game play was an interesting concept but I thought it was cumbersome and made this book very disjointed to me.

While I had issues with the RPG chapters, the rest of the book unfolded beautifully. Both Lesh and Svetlana are both tragic and beautiful characters in their own ways. Like I said previously, watching the characters go through some tough issues was really touching to read. Brezenoff didn’t shy away from topics such as teen drinking, online safety, bullying and more. I absolutely love when authors don’t shy away from topics like these, as it makes it feel more real. Not to say I have anything against books that don’t include these, but in comparison to my teen years, it just feels more realistic.

If you’re into nerd culture (especially if you like RPG games) Girl in Real Life is for you. If not, you may or may not have some issues with the chapters from the viewpoint of the RPG character. Regardless, this is still a fantastic read that really brought me back to the mindspace I was in growing up.

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Posted on Apr 29th, 2014 by audra
In these categories book review, Society's Bookshelf

Book Title: The Treatment
Author: Suzanne Young
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Edelweiss

Can Sloane and James survive the lies and secrets surrounding them, or will The Program claim them in the end? Find out in this sequel to The Program, which Publishers Weekly called “chilling and suspenseful.”

How do you stop an epidemic?

Sloane and James are on the run after barely surviving the suicide epidemic and The Program. But they’re not out of danger. Huge pieces of their memories are still missing, and although Sloane and James have found their way back to each other, The Program isn’t ready to let them go.

Escaping with a group of troubled rebels, Sloane and James will have to figure out who they can trust, and how to take down The Program. But for as far as they’ve come, there’s still a lot Sloane and James can’t remember. The key to unlocking their past lies with the Treatment—a pill that can bring back forgotten memories, but at a high cost. And there’s only one dose.

Ultimately when the stakes are at their highest, can Sloane and James survive the many lies and secrets surrounding them, or will The Program claim them in the end?

The Program was one of the most unique books I had read in a long time so of course I was excited for the sequel. The Treatment picks up with Sloan and James escaping The Program, still trying to piece together their past and who they should trust when they meet up with some new characters also on the run.

It seems kind of rare these days for a series to have only two books instead of being turned into a trilogy, which was kind of refreshing. I enjoyed that the book was tied up nice and tight, but it was almost tied up a bit too quickly. I feel as though I am having a difficult time explaining why, but don’t want to spoil the entire ending.

Leading up to the slightly disappointing ending though, The Treatment was filled with suspense, twists, and raw emotions that really left an impact on me. Young does such a fantastic job building a unique world that really immersed me into the world where the Program exists. In addition to a bit of an abrupt ending. I really had an issue with the cover! I don’t know why I have such cover issues from time to time, but this one is just so blah to me that I had a bit of a time getting over it. Of course I don’t hold my cover issues against the authors, so it doesn’t change my impression of the book at all. I wish it was a bit more unique like the first cover was.

By the time I got to the end of the book I wished things hadn’t gone by so fast and almost wished there was another book so I could immerse myself in this world for just a little bit longer. Suzanne Young has me hooked with her writing, and I hope her next book is just as great.

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Posted on Feb 17th, 2014 by audra
In these categories book review, Society's Bookshelf

Book Title: Wanderville
Author: Wendy McClure
Release Date: January 23, 2014
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Publisher

Jack, Frances, and Frances’s younger brother Harold have been ripped from the world they knew in New York and sent to Kansas on an orphan train at the turn of the century. As the train chugs closer and closer to its destination, the children begin to hear terrible rumors about the lives that await them. And so they decide to change their fate the only way they know how. . . .

They jump off the train.

There, in the middle of the woods, they meet a boy who will transform their lives forever. His name is Alexander, and he tells them they’ve come to a place nobody knows about—especially not adults—and “where all children in need of freedom are accepted.” It’s a place called Wanderville, Alexander says, and now Jack, Frances, and Harold are its very first citizens.

In the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s orphaned and misplaced children traveled on “orphan trains” which took them from cities like New York City to new homes in the Midwest to help populate the new towns. This forms the basis of Wendy McClure’s new book Wanderville. After Jack’s brother died in a fire at an industrial building his parents sent him away for a better life. On the train journey he meets Frances and Harold, two siblings who were sent on this journey from their orphanage. They quickly realize that this isn’t as glamorous as they perhaps first thought it would be.

After putting two and two together Jack devises a quick plan to escape the train. While being on the run, they come upon Alexander who shows them his grand and wonderful town of Wanderville that he founded after being an orphan sent to live and work on a farm. Alexander is able to confirm the rumors that the kids aren’t sent to happy, perfect homes but instead are used as cheap labor for family farms, which convinces the kids to join his new town.

Wanderville was a great journey middle grade book. I think it may have a difficult time capturing the imaginations of kids as it isn’t action packed and too adventurous but it is still a great read that would be perfect for middle grade readers that enjoy historical genre books. The book also uses situations to teach good lessons to readers, but it comes across a bit too obvious to me. I’m not sure if that is because of my reading level or not.

Overall, while I probably won’t continue on with this series I am willing to bet younger readers will really enjoy getting to follow these kids throughout their Wanderville journeys.

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Posted on Feb 10th, 2014 by audra
In these categories book review, Book Tour

Title: GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE

Author: Andrew Smith
Genre: Fiction | YA | LBGT
Release Date: 2/11/14
Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.
To make matters worse, Austin’s hormones are totally oblivious; they don’t care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He is stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann.
Ultimately, it is up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition. 
This is the truth. This is history.
It’s the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.
You know what I mean.
Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle is hands down the weirdest, coolest most original book I have read in a very, very long time. Having said that,  I do not think this book is for everyone. Smith’s quirky writing shines in the narrative, mainly shown through Austin as he navigates this end of the world scenario with his best friend Robby and his girlfriend Shann. The three of them live in the small town of Ealing, Iowa and thanks to some genetically modified food they have to figure out how to survive a worst case, end of the world scenario.
At first I wasn’t sure what to make of Grasshopper Jungle. The unique characters and writing style is unlike anything I’ve read thus far in the young adult genre. Austin is such a hilarious character that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the horrible antics he and his friends got into. What I really loved is how realistic Austin’s interactions with the world was. Smith doesn’t shy away from hard hitting topics, but does so without feeling like its being forced down my throat as a reader. We’ve got his gay best friend, horny kids, drug use, broken families all tied together with a sci-fi praying mantis and an underground bunker filled with odd science experiments and semen. In fact semen seems to be the glue that holds the story together.
Austin’s burgeoning sexuality and all the related confusion and obsession made this story feel genuine even with all the giant hybrid killer insects. I love the realness that the characters give me, nothing felt cleansed and fake. The teens are smoking, Austin constantly thinks about sex, and Robby is gay. Can we talk about that for a minute? I LOVE that there is a gay character, with gay interactions and yet this book doesn’t come off as an LGBT book. As a lesbian myself, I have usually really disliked LGBT themed books because they just come off as so fake and unrealistic. Smith NAILED this and I couldn’t be more appreciative of it.
Again, this book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. There’s a lot of profanity and sex that would make some readers cringe. If you enjoy that or can look past it, plus enjoy end of the world sci-fi books, drop what you are doing and go read this book!

Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger (Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year”) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist).

He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle, coming February 11, 2014, is his seventh novel. He lives in Southern California.
Super thanks to Penguin we have an incredible giveaway for you! Enter below for your chance to win a copy of Grasshopper Jungle plus a Grasshopper Jungle Tshirt!

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Posted on Jan 6th, 2014 by audra
In these categories book review, Society's Bookshelf

Book Title: Shades of Earth
Author: Beth Revis
Release Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Purchased

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed‘s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing.

FUELED BY LIES.
RULED BY CHAOS.
ALMOST HOME.

I positively devoured Across the Universe and A Million Suns back to back when I found out about them, but my growing stack of books to be read delayed me in getting around to this one, which of course I regretted as soon as I started devouring Shades of Earth as well. Unlike the first two books in the trilogy, Shades of Earth kicks off with a bumping landing on Centauri-Earth. We don’t get much of a break as everyone starts to awaken, injuries are cared to and giant dinosaur like creatures start attacking.

On one hand, this book was a bit of a depart, no pun intended, from the previous two books. Sometimes it can be weird when the third book in a trilogy is so vastly different from the others, but it works in Shades of Earth. Their departure from Godspeed was the most perfect setting for the third and final book. We get to finally see everyone awake and interacting- the good, the bad and the ugly.

Things go from weird to weirder when people start popping up dead, each from various different ways but with one common denominator. I kept going back and forth on which characters I liked, wondering who might be secretly bad and who was really good. Beth Revis is so good at creating realistic characters in a sci-fi setting. I never thought I would be into a sci-fi genre book and she proved me wrong with this trilogy.

Revis paints an intriguing landscape full of mystery and suspense, and Shades of Earth was entertaining from beginning to end.

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Posted on Oct 15th, 2013 by audra
In these categories book review, Society's Bookshelf

 the vow

Book Title: The Vow
Author: Jessica Martinez
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse

No one has ever believed that Mo and Annie are just friends. How can a guy and a girl really be best friends?

Then the summer before senior year, Mo’s father loses his job, and by extension his work visa. Instantly, life for Annie and Mo crumbles. Although Mo has lived in America for most of his life, he’ll be forced to move to Jordan. The prospect of leaving his home is devastating, and returning to a world where he no longer belongs terrifies him. Desperate to save him, Annie proposes they tell a colossal lie—that they are in love. Mo agrees because marrying Annie is the only way he can stay. Annie just wants to keep her best friend, but what happens when it becomes a choice between saving Mo and her own chance at real love?

The Vow by Jessica Martinez takes on a real political issue in a young adult platform and for the most part really succeeded in making it an eye-opening and entertaining read. Mo and Annie have been friends since Annie came upon an unfortunately embarrassing incident for Mo. Most people (especially Annie’s father) thought they would end up together, or have at one time been together. So when Mo’s father loses his job, forcing his family to have to move back to Jordan Annie panics and proposes marriage.

This book went places I wasn’t entirely expecting but looking back I should have known better. There was a love triangle that seemed edgy only because of the green card marriage plot. Martinez took a touchy subject and made it relate able. For the most part, she really nailed the character’s voices which can be hard to follow with alternating points of view.

As a complete package I really loved The Vow. The cover is simple and adorable. The story is an interesting concept for a YA book. It took me a little bit to get into the story though, as I wasn’t completely in love with Annie and Mo. They are teens who have a lot of growing up to do, which lends well to the story but was a bit of a turn off to read. Their story is great, but it wasn’t entirely believable especially considering they are from a small town. Maybe it’s because I actually know someone who married a foreigner (completely legally unlike the marriage in this book) and so I know a lot about what a couple has to go through in order to get married. But the small town aspect of The Vow might have been a convenient way to circumvent those issues.

You can’t help but feel for practically every character we come across in the book. Mo has had the hard time of being an outsider in a small town. Annie is stuck making a difficult decision at a critical growth point of her life. Both of their parents are in the middle of life changing moments. It was interesting to watch how everyone dealt with Annie and Mo’s life choices and how those choices played out.

Overall, The Vow is a wonderful glimpse into an interesting political situation with a YA twist.

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Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 by audra
In these categories book review, Review, Society's Bookshelf

dis

Book Title: The Disenchantments
Author: Nina LaCour
Release Date: February 16, 2012
Publisher: Speak

Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev’s band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she’s abandoning their plans – and Colby – to start college in the fall.

But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev’s already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what’s next?

Morris Award–finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.

I’m almost apologetic with how much I disliked The Disenchatments. This was a book that had been on my to-read list for quite a long time, and finally purchased it on a whim when I saw it was out in paperback. I liked the idea of the storyline, but in execution I really had a hard time with it. I wouldn’t say it was a bad book, but it wasn’t something I was absolutely in love with.

I enjoyed that this book has a strong set of female characters, and it’s also narrated by a guy. In a world of what seems like female dominated YA narration, it was refreshing to have Colby as our narrator and main character. However, I almost feel a bit duped by this book. I was expected a light, fun, road trip read. While the book wasn’t insanely dark by any means, it wasn’t a single bit what I thought it would be like. While that can also be refreshing, it just didn’t work for me with this book.

The adventure the artsy rebel kids go on inside Melinda was intensely fun. It reminded me of the only road trip I’ve been on with friends before. We decided it would be really fun to drive from Virginia to New York City. What I thought would be full of action and adventure ended up being just really touristy and exhausting. I felt Colby’s issues came across as pretty cliche, which stuck with me through a lot of the situations he ends up in.

I’m glad I had the chance to finally read The Disenchantments. It wasn’t what I expected, and I probably wouldn’t read it again, but overall the story pulled me in and for the most part I couldn’t put it down.

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