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Crooksonbooks "Dawn" (Leicestershire)

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Play Dead: A gripping serial killer thriller (Detective Kim Stone crime thriller series Book 4)
Play Dead: A gripping serial killer thriller (Detective Kim Stone crime thriller series Book 4)
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible, heart stopping compelling read - utterly brilliant, 23 May 2016
Play Dead is the fourth book in the D.I. Kim Stone, detective, thriller series and is equally as gripping and terrifyingly, breathe holding as the first. As ever, Kim is on the hunt for a serial killer, this time the case is discovered whilst visiting a body farm. Kim identifies a newer body than those she's there to look at and so begins the hunt for the person who has brutally murdered a young girl, dumping her at a supposedly secret to the public location. Westerley research facility is studying the decomposition of the human body by natural elements and insects - my stomach is still turning at the thoughts and images evoked whilst reading this book. Yet, Angela has the knack of delivering just the right amount of detail to be realistic, stopping just short of the need to have me committed to a secure unit as a gibbering wreck.

Play Dead is very similar to the rest of the series in that the main character is a constant. Kim Stone is still the brash, matter of fact, hard nosed inspector hell bent on solving a crime - breaking the rules, yet knowing just how far she can push her boss and her team before pulling back. She has the knack of shutting out the here and now and getting under the skins of the victims and everyone around her. Despite the gruelling pace she expects her team to work under it's clear they have her back - working a mind numbing number of hours when necessity calls.

Angela Marsons, in Kim Stone drives the narrative at an alarming rate, I literally couldn't put this book down. Just how many bodies were going to be discovered in the same shocking manner before the case was solved? This had me reading faster and faster. If I read quicker and got to the end, perhaps I'll save a few people - shocking, unbelievable but it's how I felt. She really does get under your skin, with characters that are flawed but likeable.

As ever when reading a crime book I like to second guess which character is the guilty one. In Play Dead I guessed, second guessed, third guessed and sat with just pages to go with my mouth open - totally shocked. At one point I partially guessed but then dismissed the whole idea as ridiculous. I didn't see that ending coming at all. The characters are complex and all seem to have a side we as the reader are not privy to, hence questioning everyone's motives.

I can't tell you how massively brilliant this book and whole series is. Each could be read as stand alone books but by reading the whole series you'll get a greater insight into what makes D. I. Kim Stone tick. She really is a multi-faceted, diamond of a character. Sharp, shiny and at the top of her game - four books into this series and there are a few smoothed edges, almost as if she's becoming comfortable with her readers so revealing more of herself.

I can only say if ever I had the need of a detective that would leave no stone unturned and rip the clues apart in pursuit of a serial killer - Kim Stone would be the first, in fat only person I'd call. Thank you Angela for another book of escapism that is just that little bit too close to reality to ever be a comfortable read - I like the edge of seat, heart hammering experience you provide - until the next time.

While My Eyes Were Closed
While My Eyes Were Closed
by Linda Green
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars A totally engaging, compelling read., 13 May 2016
Lisa Dale and Ella her three four year old daughter are enjoying an afternoon in the park. Ella wanting firstly, to show how she can climb to the top of the big slide on her own and secondly, to prolong the trip by playing her favourite game of hide and seek.

Lisa, like many mums is juggling a working life with that of being a mum. Linda Green with very little text gives an inkling as to why Lisa is so driven to do well for herself and provide for her family. Growing up on the wrong side of town, always feeling she needs to prove herself appears to be the driver behind her need to excel. She gives two hundred percent to her job, sadly at the expense of spending lots of time with her daughter. The guilt has her agreeing to just one more game, a decision she lives to regret. Whilst taking a work call her daughter disappears.

So begins the worst nightmare of every mothers life.

Linda Green has written a book that will make you think. Can there ever be a reason to kidnap a child? In this case, apparently so. Her abductor took her to save her, thinking Ella would be better cared for than with her own family. After all - what sort of mother chats on the phone whilst someone calming walks out of the park with their child - an unfit one that's what!!

I never thought I would feel pity and empathy for someone who abducted a child. But, I do now! Linda Green showed that there is always two sides to every story. Normally we only get to see or hear about the anguish of the family who have lost a child but this time we get to hear from the abductor too. There's always a reason, it doesn't make it right, but there is always a reason behind everything we think and do in life.

In While My Eyes Were Closed, Linda Green has proven there is no love like the love a parent feels for their child, it really is quite unique. Most of us have said or thought we'd do anything to protect our children and throughout this book that premise over and over again by several characters, not just Ella's mum Lisa. When a mother loses a child in any circumstances, grief and emotions run high. They can cause people to act and behave in ways which are totally irrational and unthinkable in normal circumstances.

As the story switched back and forth between the kidnapper and Ella's family with the police in the middle, Linda Green gives a really perceptive insight into the tensions and emotions from both sides. My inner voice firstly berated, then felt pity and sadness for both sides, alternatively throughout the whole novel.

I feel it's wrong to say I loved this book because as a mother the storyline is just unthinkable - only in my worst nightmare. But, I did, I loved this book. Because of Linda Green and her writing style. She presented the facts without over dramatising or filling the pages with too much unnecessary detail in a balanced way that was more thought provoking than any book I've read for quite a while.

I fully engaged with all the characters and by the end of the book I wanted the best outcome for everyone. Even the suspects. Some crimes are never spent and the lives of those people trying to forge new beginnings can be almost impossible. Sadly, we all form opinions and judge and we're not always right to do this.

I highly recommend this book and have personally recommended it to so many of my friends already. I personally can't wait for my next read by Linda Green.

The Second Chance Shoe Shop: A heart-warming novel of love, loss and new shoes
The Second Chance Shoe Shop: A heart-warming novel of love, loss and new shoes
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous feel good book, depicting friendships and #ShoeLove, 27 April 2016
#ShoeLove oh wow! Firstly, that cover it is simply to die for, secondly the subject matter - shoes, I love shoes and lastly but not least the author. I have read and enjoyed books from both Marcie Steele and her other persona, crime writing as Mel Sherratt and have never failed to be impressed. Each book just gets better and better.

The Second Chance Shoe Shop is, not unsurprisingly, set around a shoe shop but doesn't solely - no pun intended, revolve around shoes. Along with the shoe shop, Chandlers it's staff, manager Riley and assistants Sadie and Dan are at a stage in their lives when they also need a little bit of a shake-up and some TLC. They are not just colleagues, but friends feeling each others hurt and pain as keenly as their own.

This is a book that sucked me in from the start. A story full of highs and lows as the friends pull together to re-invent the shop in order to raise sales before it has to close its doors for the last time. Pitted against each other they devise a plan to help each other, pulling together instead of apart. At the same time they each venture out of their comfort zones with new friendships and relationships.

I was totally absorbed in the book from the very first chapter and I cannot tell you how exciting it was to suddenly come across a friends name in print, OMG Kim Nash got her own cameo role in this book. A part that made me smile and hit the text button before once again losing myself between the pages. This is a truly beautiful story that has many highs and lows and my own spirits dipped and rose in tune with them. I keenly felt the pain and at times torment of Riley as she battled with Suzanne, the hard nosed owner of The Second Chance Shoe Shop who appeared devoid of a heart or in fact any emotion. Although, as in any good book of this genre; Marcie gets beneath her skin and later displays a softer side which wiped out all of my negative feelings in a heartbeat.

All in all this was an uplifting book that demonstrates the power of love and good friendships. I'm sure we've all had a time in our lives when everything has appeared hopeless but our friends have rallied and lifted us out of our funk, I know I have. Riley has an incredible friendship circle that has her back 100%, I found the story to be totally engaging, even joining in with the #twittercampaign that wove its way from the pages into real life - such an original idea I #LovedIt

Thank you so much Kim, Marcie and Bookouture for the opportunity to read this wonderful book - I'm still watching YouTube clips of Flash-mobs now, over a month after reading this beauty! If you want to know why just head to Amazon and get a copy for yourself only 99p.

The Missing
The Missing
by C.L. Taylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, such a twisty, compelling read - utterly brilliant, 9 April 2016
This review is from: The Missing (Paperback)
You know sometimes that feeling of anticipation that you want something to happen but at the same time you don't want it to be over? That's how I felt about The Missing, I was counting down the days to publication day when my pre-order from Amazon would land on my mat, I was beyond excited.

The Missing centres around the lives of Billy Wilkinson's family - a fifteen year old boy that has gone missing, focusing on their ability to cope with day to day life in the aftermath of his disappearance.

This was such a compelling read, Cally Taylor has an incredible ability to get inside the minds of people both characters and readers. Her sharp observations are so accurate you feel you are reading a true story.

How many times do you hear about families torn apart by events which should bind them together - when Claire, Billy's mum is manically flaying around lurching from one possibility to another, chasing after clues my heart literally bled - she appeared to be slowly going mad with desperation. Having black out moments that evoke polaroid like images that don't fit in her life, always believing that Billy is out there somewhere, never giving up hope. Whilst on the other hand Mark her husband is trying to be realistic, six months is a long time he must be dead, mustn't he? And, let's not forget Jake his older brother who turns to drink to help him get through each day that his little brother is missing.

This was such a compelling read, I so wanted to know the answers yet didn't want the book to end. Relationships and family dynamics are complex at the best of times but intensified, with everybody's flaws and faults highlighted in the face of such a trauma. I felt for each and everyone of them - a family unable to help each other, each wanting the same outcome, to wake up from this terrible tragedy and find it was all a dream yet each coping or not coping in reality - the pain, hurt and desperation for life to resume normality evident with every page turned.

I highly recommend this book - it's a book that will touch your heart, will make you gasp and cry out, the sheer emotion leaps from the pages with an ending that I didn't see coming a mile off - it's shocking yet true to life, a story that sadly you could see happening for real. C. L. Taylor is an author to put on your favourites list she has a writing style that is dark and twisted yet demonstrates an insight into the complex psyche of people that we live alongside every day.

Paradise House
Paradise House
by Erica James
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A truly captivating story that compelled me to read at every opportunity., 18 Mar. 2016
This review is from: Paradise House (Paperback)
The cover and the title both evoke images of relaxed, long, summer holidays spent with family near to the sea.

Paradise House is a seaside, B & B on the Pembrokeshire coast, it's here we meet three sisters - Genevieve, Nattie and Polly and a whole host of supporting characters from old friends, family, neighbours and even a couple of donkeys whose lives are interwoven with their own. Geneva is the constant in their lives, helping their father run the B & B whilst their mother 'finds' herself in New Zealand. A very hands on sister and aunt, never being able to say no she takes on the bulk of responsibility in all their lives - something she does willingly, it's much easier concentrating on other peoples lives than it is your own!

Erica James explores family and friendship dynamics as she slips between the present and the summers of their childhood - this really worked for me, her descriptive skills are just amazing I really felt like a fly on the wall, living in their lives with them. The insight into their childhood gives a clear understanding of the adults they had become. Erica has created characters that feel real, the three sisters are bound by blood but are each different, each has very different characteristics. One almost too thoughtful, putting everyone and everything before herself and her own life, another the complete opposite, living her life with little or no regard for anyone else and the third somewhere in-between.

A truly captivating story that compelled me to read at every opportunity. A story of family, friendship, love, trust and hope - a story that I found captivating. It was at times sad, at others uplifting - in case you hadn't guessed I loved it from the very first chapter. I cared what happened to each of the three girls and willed events on quietly from the sidelines. It's a book that made me think and if I take one thing from it, it's that anything is possible given a bit of courage and support of family and friends.

Song of the Skylark
Song of the Skylark
by Erica James
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book, an unlikely friendship, love, friendship and family, 18 Mar. 2016
This review is from: Song of the Skylark (Hardcover)
Erica James has done it again, she's written a beautiful book that will stay in my mind for a long time to come, it really was beautiful. One of two main characters Lizzie finds herself living back at home with her parents. She had embarked upon a disastrous affair with a married man, culminating in her ending a relationship and losing her job in the process. Some would say she was unlucky! Others would say she got all she deserved. On the surface it would appear she had led a charmed life, cosseted by her parents and her twin brother but an unlikely friendship with Clarissa, an elderly lady from the residential home that Lizzie finds herself volunteering at, makes her take a good, hard look at herself.

I like Lizzie found myself drawn to Clarissa's and her story. An unlikely friendship between them is formed with a bond that grew stronger with each story shared. Erica plunges back in time to around the start of the second world war, to a time when Clarissa was a young girl embarking on an adventure. A journey to England from America in search of her past, determined to forge a new future, so sure of a better life in England. The Song of a Skylark is a perfect example of Erica James's ability to depict people and places with such graphic detail I was transported effortously back and forth between now and war torn Britain. The descriptions of both people and places were so accurate and true to life that I didn't falter or question. I was totally submerged in the plot willing the story on to the climax yet not wanting it to end. This is a story that demonstrates how some things don't change. Throughout history we rely on friends and family for love and support - a lifetime apart yet Clarissa and Lizzie's lives are mirrored in so many ways, both looking for love and happiness - seeking that something that is missing from their lives.

I truly was captivated and enchanted by this beautiful read and urge you to pick up a copy and lose yourself in a story that has more than a touch of reality about it. A story that won't fail to touch your heart.

Kitty's Countryside Dream: A feel good romantic comedy about life, love and family.
Kitty's Countryside Dream: A feel good romantic comedy about life, love and family.
Price: £1.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful read that will touch your heart, 25 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I cannot imagine for one minute that anybody will be able to resist picking up this book, the cover is amazing, I love it - especially as it's so dark, dingy and miserable outside at the moment. It just shouts, hope, spring, happiness and makes me smile every time I look at it.

Kitty's Countryside Dream is Christie's third novel and as much as I loved the previous two, this one is just leaps and bounds better, it's got a tighter plot and the storyline digs deeper than in the 'Playground Mother' books. It has a definite story to it, that It will have you laughing and smiling one minute and then you'll feel it pulling at your heart strings.

We start the book as Kitty receives an unexpected inheritance. A inheritance from a grandmother she had never known, a person whom she thought had been dead for many years. She finds herself the owner of a ground floor flat and Bluebell Lodge, a farm that turns out to be a working chicken farm. Her inheritance coming at a time in her life when she needs a different direction, a new focus and a fresh beginning.

Christie has given us characters that I immediately took to heart just as Kitty did too. Kitty finding immediate friendships in Jeannie who is working on the farm, Lucinda who owns the local bakery, Tom who is currently managing the farm and Robin Jeannie's brother. Sometimes in life we meet people and instant bonds are made. From the very beginning of Kitty's Countryside Dream the friendship and support of what turns out to be a tight circle of friends is evident.

At first this book delivered exactly what I expected a light hearted, humorous read that would have me smiling and laughing out loud, something I could pick up and put down as time dictated. Then it all changed with the discovery of a diary written in 1960 by somebody called Violet. There was already a few strange occurrences that had Kitty questioning what she had previously taken at face value and reading the diary has shocking consequences.

This really turned out to be a beautiful book, that focused on relationships between family and friends. It answered questions that Kitty didn't realise needed answering. Life as she knew it was turned on its head and the love, friendship and support of her new friends is what gives her the strength to face what went before and what lay ahead. The love of our parents is something we take for granted but we don't always know the price they've paid in fulfilling that role. Turning the pages and unravelling the story was very thought provoking.

I highly recommend this book. I was just as absorbed by the diary entries from 1960 as I was with the present day happenings at Bluebell Lodge. 1960 doesn't seem that long ago in time but the expectations and values of a different generation really are quite different to today. One thing doesn't change though, loyalty, trust, friends and support are the most important thing in all our lives. You can pick your friends, not your family and friendship is two way. It's equally important to be a good friend as it is to acceptance the hand of friendship.

I highly recommend this book and urge you all to head to Amazon and pre-order it now - you won't be disappointed, except that is when the book ends! I can't wait for the next offering by the truly gorgeous Christie Barlow.

The Rest of My Life: Steamy, heart-pounding romance perfect for your holiday
The Rest of My Life: Steamy, heart-pounding romance perfect for your holiday
Price: £2.69

5.0 out of 5 stars A book that'll have you hooked from the first page, 6 Feb. 2016
I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give. With grateful thanks to Sheryl and Netgalley for the opportunity.

The Rest of My Life was for me an addictive read, once I started I literally couldn't put it down. Sheryl Browne certainly knows what buttons to press when putting pen to paper - I just love her writing style. I literally fell headlong into this book just as I have with her others. She had me hook, line and sinker absorbed and fully engaged with the characters from almost the first page.

Sienna and Adam, the two main characters in this book at first seem polar opposites. First impressions of Sienna is of a quiet, wear your heart on your sleeve, simply lovely girl, who later reveals a feisty side. Whereas Adam gives off mixed signals from the off. That of a hunky, heart palpitating, heart throb to that of a grumpy, miserable excuse of a man with a bad temper to go with it. Although, it wouldn't be giving the game away to say my opinions on characters changed many times as the story unfolded. Sometimes, as in real life we display a persona, wearing it like a suit of armour to protect us and get us through certain times in our lives. Altering it as we think fitting to the scenario and people around us.

Sienna is renting a house overlooking the moorings where Adams boat is berthed. She and her gorgeous dog Tobias encounter Adam where he tries to rescue him from the water and when he eventually makes it back on dry land sparks really start to fly. He has formed an opinion of her and she of him. Neither of them very good!

This is a beautiful story that can't fail to touch your heart. With each chapter read a little bit of both Adam and Sienna's characters is chipped away, revealing a vulnerability in both that is well hidden from the outside world.

Despite the many fiery encounters there is something there that keeps drawing them back to each other time and time again, each swearing that it won't happen again. Advice from friends and family falls completely on deaf ears and situations arise that challenge both of them. Making them look deep within their characters, challenging them - can they step up to the bar and lay their hearts on the line for each other?

Ultimately this is a love story but, it isn't just a glossy, hearts and flowers read. It has a heart breaking story at it's centre that will make you think and will definitely pull at your heart strings. That being said I think I went through every emotion reading this. I smiled and laughed. I cussed and cursed, oohed and ached and was even close to tears - left with a feeling of utter desolation - the pain and anguish lifted off the page as I devoured the pages. Sheryl's characters and stories are so vivid they could be real - who knows? Perhaps they are!

I highly recommend this book to all Sheryl Browne fans but in particular to those that haven't discovered this amazing author yet. A woman with multi faceted literary talent who can switch between genre's with such ease I'm convinced she has a twin.

The Misadventures of a Playground Mother: A funny feel-good comedy of life at the school gates (A School Gates Comedy Book 2)
The Misadventures of a Playground Mother: A funny feel-good comedy of life at the school gates (A School Gates Comedy Book 2)
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A fab, fun read with more than a touch of reality, 31 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having read Christie's first novel A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother I was keen to read the follow on - The Misadventures of Playground Mother. I pre-ordered on Amazon for publication day and then life got in the way, one thing after another stopped me picking it up to read until now.
This is a follow on book but could equally be read as a stand - alone. I had high expectations and I wasn't let down in fact I loved this book more. I didn't think it was possible for an author to keep me laughing out loud as much as she did in her previous novel, that was just hilarious - in fact I told her I nearly died laughing, it was pure comedy gold. This time Christie raised the bar, it wasn't just a humorous look at playground antics and life in a small community. This time there was hilarity alongside real life, a cast of people displaying a full spectrum of emotions that couldn't fail to touch the heart.

This novel sees Rachel finding an ally in new neighbour Melanie, someone to counter balance the high maintenance of Penelope, Rupert and their brood of children. As ever Rachel and her good nature / doormat nature finds herself caught up in the pantomime that is Penelope and Rupert's marriage. I think I would be in prison now for killing her, from here on in I shall refer to Rachel as Saint Rachel - that woman hasn't a bad bone in her body.

Christie Barlow's ability to create characters that seem real, like people you'd come across in real life like is amazing. She had me laughing, then silently raging only to find myself close to tears as the story unfolded and back to howling out loud again. I truly never thought I'd ever get past the OMG moments with this friendship circle but was pleasantly surprised to find a touch of harsh reality within the pages that shook my first impressions of all the characters and made me see beneath the facades.

A fab book that left me thankful that despite the fact that I have many friends who are quite bonkers they all seem quite normal in comparison - although I do feel quite sad to be leaving these characters behind. I'd love to be a fly on the wall, sitting in the village pub listening and watching the antics for real. A highly recommended fun read.

Conditional Love
Conditional Love
by Cathy Bramley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive and intriguing with lots of humour and laughter to keep you smiling throughout., 19 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Conditional Love (Paperback)
I have to say I'm a serious Cathy Bramley fan, everything I've read by her I've just loved. An afternoon spent wrapped in a comfy blanket with coffee, chocolate and one of Cathy's books is a perfect afternoon spent. She writes about characters that touch your heart, that could very well be your friends or neighbours. Each and every storyline, could be true. She manages to balance the serious and less likeable characters with fun, kind light-hearted ones that will have you smiling and laughing out loud, yet at the same time they aren't just frivolous, some very serious topics are tackled along the way.

Conditional Love is no exception, this was originally self published by Cathy before signing a contract with Transworld and updating it to the version we have now with the incredibly beautiful cover. The beginning of this book really sets the tone for our leading lady Sophie, Valentines day should be all hearts and flowers but not for her - her boyfriend decides that this would be the day that instead of proposing he would dump her. Nothing seems to run smoothly in Sophie's life - not at work, romantically or personally. Her mother lives in Spain and she doesn't know her father.

Then totally out of the blue Sophie gets news that she is the beneficiary of a surprise inheritance, not an insignificant inheritance either but one tied up with conditions. She has inherited a house and a lump sum of money. But, before it can become her home she must also satisfy another condition - one that is difficult and heart rending, a request made by her great aunt - a woman she never knew but a woman who feels she should stir up the hornets nest from beyond the grave.

As a character you can't help but like Sophie, she may well be in her thirties but she isn't at all confident or mature for her years, she seems to be stuck in her early twenties, ditzy and a bit madcap. Nothing is ever simple or straight forward where she is concerned and she seems to allow others to influence her, none more so than her mother who firmly pulls her strings from her home in Spain.

There is one thing you can firmly rely on with a novel by Cathy Bramley though and that is as the story unfolds the characters will grow with it. It's fair to say I muttered and goaded Sophie in the beginning to toughen up and fight back, she just seemed so weak and then slowly but surely I sat back and watched quietly as her resolve strengthened and she grew more confident. Taking baby steps to getting her life in order.

This story demonstrates quite strongly that you have to take control of your own destiny but you don't have to do it alone. Your friends and family will support you along the way and sometimes they have to be cruel to be kind, a true friend like Sophie's flatmates Jess and Emma will tell you the truth. It just might not always be what you want to hear but it is sometimes necessary.

Romance plays a big part in this novel as you would expect from the jacket. Love really is blind as Sophie eventually realises when she has two potential suitors and she doesn't always pick the right one. Nick, the architect she employs is quiet, unassuming but adorable and then we have loud, over confident sometimes ex, sometimes not boyfriend Marc - ooh I disliked him from the off, he really was an arrogant, upstart. I know who I was rooting for. Why is it some people pick the bad ones and keep going back for more? Such a realistic storyline, we've all got a friend or acquaintance that has done that. No amount of advice will help, they have to make their own mistakes just as Sophie does.

So if you are looking for a book with both strong main and sub characters, that will engage you so much you'll find yourself talking and muttering out loud to them then this is for you. I really loved reading Conditional Love, losing myself in the plot. Hurt, sadness and intrigue butted up to friendship, happiness and love. Along with some sad, sensitive bits there's also lots of humour and laughter to keep you smiling throughout. Yes, some people may say it's prescriptive to have a happy ever after but, it is what we all hope for and expect when we pick up a book with such a beautiful jacket written by one of the best contemporary authors on the market at the moment - so thank you Cathy for delivering another slice of heaven in the form of Conditional Love - just perfect.

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