Sunday, 25 August 2019

Book Review - The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

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Amazon UK
Title: The Plus One
Author: Sophie Money-Coutts
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: HQ Showcase
Publisher: HQ 
Publication Date: 18th April 2019
Rating: 4 Stars

The Plus One [n] informal a person who accompanies an invited person to a wedding or a reminder of being single, alone and absolutely plus none

Polly’s not looking for ‘the one’, just the plus one…
Polly Spencer is fine. She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred), but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s still stuck at Posh! magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend’s summer wedding are looking worryingly slim.

But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that. Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together. Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’. She’s heard the stories, there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…

A laugh-out-loud, toe-curlingly honest debut for fans of Helen Fielding, Bryony Gordon and Jilly Cooper.

What a wonderful debut novel,  full of laughs, charm and an exceedingly relateable main character, Polly.

Some of Polly's inner ramblings had me both laughing but also nodding along in recognition.  She can in some situations be rather awkward and I lived her all the more for it. 

Her job at Posh amused me,  as did her colleagues especially Lala and Legs. My favourite of her assignments was to a private party,  the sort you may not want to admit in public to have gone to!

I enjoyed her fledgling relationship with Jasper, although I was never completely convinced he would be her long term plus one.  I had an inkling about another possible male instead. 

There is even a more serious story line involving Polly's mum that was dealt with sensitively.

A book full of charm and charisma, it is a lovely debut from an author who I look forward to seeing more from in the future.

Thank you to HQ for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Book Review - A Spirited Girl on Cornish Shores by Laura Briggs

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Amazon UK
Title: A Spirited Girl on Cornish Shores
Author: Laura Briggs
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied copy
Publisher: Self published
Publication Date: 23rd July 2019 
Rating: 4 Stars

It looks like a perfect Cornish autumn, with aspiring novelist Maisie Clark still finding inspiration as a maid at the historic Penmarrow Hotel. Between the staff of quirky co-workers, glamorous and unusual guests, and her growing friendship with the charming but mysterious Sidney Daniels, Maisie is living out adventures instead of just penning them in the pages of her would-be novel's growing number of chapters.

And then there's the slight problem of keeping the balance between friendship and 'something more' with Sidney, who's helping introduce her to the village's version of a Cornish Halloween, and has recently taken an interest in Maisie's secret that may change things between them. But even Maisie’s imagination can't conjure the unusual event this Halloween brings to the Penmarrow. An eccentric earl has chosen this site to host his lavish birthday celebration that includes a pretty (and perceptive) young psychic whose predictions seem to have everyone on edge — and, to Maisie's delight, the elusive novelist Alistair Davies is rumored to be part of the guest list! But with the earl's bickering relatives and illustrious friends on hand— and more than one ghost of the past waiting to be revealed — it’s anyone’s guess what the festivities will bring before the party is over.

Will the psychic foretell doom for the earl's gathering—and is her ‘gift’ as genuine as it seems? Will Maisie finally meet her favorite author face to face? And, more importantly, what about the romantic sparks that fly between Maisie and Sidney?

Although this is the second book in a new series, it can just as easily be read as a standalone, although I did feel it was nice to be back at the Penmarrow Hotel. 

Set at Halloween in Cornwall we get to see what sort of Cornish traditions there are surrounding the holidays and to coincide further, a family has hired the hotel for a private party for the week, to celebrate the Earl's centenary. 

The key happening of this private party is a series of seances and psychic readings - which really are creepy and even almost had a skeptic like me believing. 

I really enjoyed seeing Maisie's blossoming friendship with Sidney develop, as well as seeing what trouble Riley was getting into . And I rolled my eyes at what Gomez was hiding.   Yet it is the hints of secrets that have yet to be revealed, that make me keen to continue reading this series. 

This is short but quite sweet novella, which I did enjoy reading.  I feel like this is  a series that is just taking its first tentative steps at hitting its stride and that when it gets there will be very impressive. 

Many thanks to the author for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Friday, 23 August 2019

Book Review - Love, Unscripted by Owen Nicholls - Blog Tour

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Amazon UK
Title: Love, Unscripted
Author: Owen Nicholls
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Headline Review
Publication Date: 1st June 2019
Rating: 4 Stars

Owen Nicholls' Love, Unscripted follows film projectionist Nick as he tries to understand the difference between love on the silver screen and love in real life. Perfect for fans of romcoms, David Nicholls and Nick Hornby.

For film projectionist Nick, love should mirror what he sees on the big screen. And when he falls for Ellie on the eve of the 2008 presidential election, it finally does.

For four blissful years, Nick loved Ellie as much as he loved his job splicing film reels together in the local cinema. Life seemed... picture-perfect.

But now it's 2012, Ellie has moved out and Nick's trying to figure out where it all went wrong.

With Ellie gone and his life far from the happy ending he imagined, Nick wonders if their romance could ever again be as perfect as the night they met.

Can love really be as it is in the movies?

What would you do if you had one perfect night, that was movie-esque in its specialness? Would you hope that you could live happily ever after with that new person in your life, or would you attempt to walk away knowing that nothing may ever compare to that first meeting?  

Nick meets Ellie on the night of the 2008 US Elections at a party, and is torn whether to risk his heart on more than just one night. 

He is a geeky film nerd, who is working as a projectionist in a small cinema, and that makes awkward jokes and seems to reference most things in terms of films.   Had I watched or even heard of a large number of the films mentioned, I would have potentially connected with the book on a whole other level, but a fair amount of the references went over my head. 

This is the story of Nick and Ellie's relationship told through flashbacks to that first night, and other key moments, told  as a part of a possible screenplay or so it seems, plus what is happening to Nick in the present day, as he comes to grips with why they appear to have broken up. 

It is a story of self realisation, self discovery, some incredibly funny bits, a large number of films,  and is written in an unique style that I would love to read more of.   In fact I'd quite like a sequel. 

I'm a huge fan of romantic comedies, and there just aren't enough about written by men from the male perspective, which added to the rather endearing qualities to Nick, turns this into quite a delightful read. 

I'm just incredibly sorry to say that my real life got into the way far too much while I was reading this, and thus made my reading experience a bit more disjointed than it should have been. It is not the books fault,  and whenever I could sit and read for more than 20 mins at a time, I was completely absorbed in the pages. 

A lovely debut novel, full of promise, and an author I would happily read more from.

Thank you to Netgalley and Headline for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Please take a look at the rest of the stops on this blog tour 

Book Review - The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew by Milly Johnson

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Amazon UK
Title: The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew
Author: Milly Johnson
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: EDPR
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 11th July 2019
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Sophie Mayhew looks like she has the perfect life. Wife of rising political star John F Mayhew, a man who is one step away from the top job in the government, her glamour matches his looks, power, breeding and money. But John has made some stupid mistakes along the way, some of which are threatening to emerge. Still, all this can still be swept under the carpet as long as Sophie 'the trophy' plays her part in front of the cameras.

But the words that come out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors put in there.  Bursting out of the restrictive mould she has been in since birth, Sophie flees to a place that was special to her as a child, a small village on the coast where she intends to be alone.

But once there, she finds she becomes part of a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time. Sophie knows she won't be left in peace for long. Now she must decide: where does her real future lie?

Well this was a book that took a while to grow on me, for the entirety of the first part I really struggled as all the characters just seemed unlikable, bordering on vile and there were just loads of them.  Well there were all the members of both John and Sophie's families, as well as the whole of John's political team, and spin doctor etc... 

You could tell that between the flash backs to Sophie's schooling (which I did quite enjoy, despite again being at school full of horrific people), and the most recent events building up to doorstepgate that something big was brewing, and I made sure to stick with the book as was sure that once we got the vital background, that the book would become far more interesting. 

And I was correct, the second we are away from the inner workings of someone wanting to be the conservative leader and everything that he and his family must do to keep up public appearances even in the face of blatant scandal,  Sophie really grew on me and the book took on a much more enjoyable tone. 

Unfortunately I'm not hugely keen on politics, and the fact that Sophie ended up in a small village, in the Almshouse but having deep conversations with the local vicar (who is utterly gorgeous), meant I was seeing a bit more religion, or at least faith in god type discussions than I particularly want to see in a book and did have to double check the front cover to make sure it really was a Milly Johnson story I was reading as it seemed rather unlike her. 

From the moment that we move into part two though I was invested in the story, I enjoyed seeing how Sophie;s character developed and some of her through processes.  She goes from being a doormat of a trophy wife, to a woman who is able to show her real personality traits and that was rather wonderful to see. 

All the people she meets by contrast up in her hideaway are down to earth, characters that are relatable to, and some of which I really loved hearing about.  

This is the sort of book that makes you wonder, would you be able to stand by your man, if proved to be cheating, in public. just to toe the party line and not ruffle any feathers. 

Of the two families there is besides Sophie, only one character who really grew on m which which was Johnathan's brother Edward who seemed like the only one with any human feelings at all, and there was a fabulous showdown scene involving him that had me really cheering. 

There is plenty to enjoy in this book, but at the end of the day I've enjoyed all of Milly Johnson's other wonderful books a great deal more than this one, and I'm looking forward to see what she writes next. 

Thank you to EDPR for my copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Book Review - The Secret Cove in Croatia by Julie Caplin

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Amazon UK
Title: The Secret Cove in Croatia
Author: Julie Caplin
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 19th July 2019
Rating: 5 Stars

Sail away to beautiful Croatia for summer sun, sparkling turquoise seas and a will-they-won’t-they romance you won’t be able to put down!

When no-nonsense, down-to-earth Maddie Wilcox is offered the chance to work on a luxury yacht for the summer, she can’t say no. Yes she’ll be waiting on the posh guests… But island-hopping around the Adriatic sea will more than make up for it – especially when Nick, her best friend Nina’s brother, is one of them.

Sparks fly when they meet on board and Maddie can’t believe self-entitled jerk Nick is really related to Nina. But in a secret, picture-perfect cove, away from the real world, Maddie and Nick discover they might have more in common than they realise…

I've only ever spent a small amount of time in Croatia, when stopping there on cruises but I've seen enough to know how spot on Julie Caplin is with her descriptions of the country. It really is as stunning in real life as it is in this book,  and if you don't fall in love with the place from this wonderful story the I'll be shocked. 

This may be the fifth book in the romantic escape series but it easily standalone. Maddie and Nick did feature a bit in The Little Paris Patisserie but if you haven't read it,  you can still easily follow this story, as they were never main characters, nor have they met each other before boarding this luxury yacht. 

You really do get to see how the other half live, with just who is on board this Croatian Gulet, you have a group of rich people, plus Nick who somehow has lucked into being supermodel Tara's boyfriend. 

To say that Nick, a sheep farmer, and a supermodel is an unlikely match would be an understatement, and their interactions amuse and frustrate me equally. 

There were a good few characters I would have loved to smack, they were rich,  self obsessed and treated Maddie appallingly, given she is working as crew on this trip. Nick and Maddie are both incredibly down to earth and do great banter.  Of the others on the boat trip, I really liked Siri and Douglas seemed genuine too, if a bit henpecked.

The encounter with the people on board a yacht had me gasping at one point and laughing a few mins later, it was fabulous, if a bit hair raising in the build up! 

I really did love soaking up every moment of this sun filled read. There is a clear connection between our leads  but for various reasons it was never going to be as simple as it may sound. Everything to do with Croatian food and scenery was so vivid it was like you were there. 

Julie Caplin has yet again written a wonderful romance set to a stunning backdrop that draws you into the story and just wont let you go. I just wish I'd been on their holiday too! 

Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Impulse for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Book Review - A Summer To Remember by Victoria Cooke

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Amazon UK
Title: A Summer To Remember
Author: Victoria Cooke
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 5th July
Rating: 5 Stars

Sam lives by the mantra that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.  

After the tragic loss of her husband, Sam built a new life around friends, her cat Coco and a career she loves. Fending off frequent set-ups and well-meaning advice to ‘move on’, Sam is resolutely happy being single.

But when Sam gets seconded to her firm’s Boston office for the summer, it is more than her career that is in for a shake-up. A spur of the moment decision to visit the idyllic beaches of Cape Cod could end up changing her life forever.

One thing is for sure, Sam won’t finish the summer the same woman who started it…

8 years on from the tragic accident that took her husband, Sam still hasn't really moved on.  Well in some respects she has but in others such as even considering dating she refuses to do anything that may sully the memory of Kev.

As a slight workaholic she is desperate to get the 3 month placement in Boston, but when she's finally gets there things don't exactly work out as planned. 

It is the new friendships with Barney as and Harry that make things start to improve out in the States. But as a reader it was the rather rude stranger which she then keeps having encounters with that kept me glued to the book. 

I loved discovering the laid back life in Boston, and also the ideas for the campaign she's is working on in her job. 

The whole book had a wonderful vibe to it, and just kept me wanting more. 

I loved the location,  the writing, the backstories, the humour and they way that Sam and Ethan developed over the summer. 

It truly was an enjoyable summer to remember, and I would love to one day return to this setting and see how all the characters stories have developed - yet again from a Victoria Cooke book I would quite like a sequel!! 

Thank you to Netgalley and HQ Digital for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Book Review - The Dead Wife by Sue Fortin

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Amazon UK
Title: The Dead Wife
Author: Sue Fortin
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied copy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 12th July 2019
Rating: 5 Stars


Police have ruled out suspicious circumstances in the investigation into the death of Elizabeth Sinclair, wife of charismatic entrepreneur Harry Sinclair, found drowned in the lake of the family’s holiday park.

It’s been two years since the Sinclair case closed but when reporter Steph Durham receives a tipoff that could give her the scoop of the year, she’s drawn deeper and deeper into the secretive Sinclair family.

Elizabeth’s death wasn’t a tragic accident. And the truth will come at a deadly price…

Well that has completely fried my mind. was not expecting any of that finale, and the whole book was brilliant. 

I had a wonderful sense of unease the whole time of reading this, it was obvious that something wasn't quite right with the Sinclair family, but whether or not the truth would ever be discovered is another matter. 

2 years ago, Harry Sinclair's wife died, with the police ruling it as an accident. It has never sat well with Elizabeth's mother, Sonia, and she is determined to seek justice for her daughter. 

So when Steph, a travel reviewer is asked up to Conmera where it all happened to cover the relaunch, Sonia gets in touch and asks Steph to see if she can discover anything while she is there. 

There are two main viewpoints in this book, the present day story involving Steph and also Elizabeth's movements 2 years ago which may have led to her untimely death. 

There is a rather claustrophobic feel to this book, despite the fact that Conmera is a holiday resort specialising in outdoor pursuits and a fair amount of the book is set outside.  Although the fact that Elizabeth was drowned may have something to do with that feeling. 

This is some very clever writing, it keeps you hooked on the story and guessing the whole way through.  Although I had half an inkling as to the outcome I changed my mind a million times, and frankly it could have easily had something to do with at least 4 different people, possibly more!  

I was completely engrossed in the story and couldn't wait to keep picking i back up to read more. It is a very cleverly plotted book and I greatly enjoyed reading it. 

Thank you to the author for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Friday, 9 August 2019

Book Review - Accidental Lies by Dana Mason - Blog Tour

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Amazon UK
Title: Accidental Lies
Author: Dana Mason
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 7th August 2019
Rating: 5 Stars

It was only meant to be a vacation fling…

Three blissful weeks on the beautiful island of Maui are exactly what I need… Hula dancers, Mai Tais with cocktail umbrellas, and golden beaches – what more could I want?

Then I see her, and I realize she’s exactly what I want.

She was locked outside of her hotel room, all buttoned-up in a suit definitely not appropriate for a vacation, and wearing a fierce take-no-shit stance. But I couldn’t help noticing the pain behind her eyes…

Four Mai Tais later, the chemistry between us is hotter than the Hawaiian sun, and we decide to spend the rest of our vacation unwinding, undressing, and getting to know each other a little better…

We have just two rules:
1) No talking about our lives outside Maui.
2) This is just a vacation fling.

That means I can’t tell her about the heartbreak that haunts me, and the secret I have back home. It means I can’t ask her about the sorrow in her eyes, and why she has such a wall up – a wall I’m determined to bring crashing down.

When the sun sets on our trip, can I say goodbye to this gorgeous blue-eyed beauty? Or am I going to be tempted to break the rules?

And if I do decide to be a rule-breaker, will she even want me when she finds out who I really am?

This is a full-length, standalone romance with some hot-under-the-collar action, no cheating and a guaranteed HEA. For fans of R.S Grey, Whitney G. and Vi Keeland, Accidental Lies features a hot AF alpha and a sizzling will-they-wont-they love story that will have you totally addicted!

The perfect accompaniment to the hottest day of the year was reading this sizzling romance. 

The chemistry between Emily and drew was so clear and believable,  and just so hot. 

Written from both Drew and Emily's perspective in alternating chapters, you were really able to get to know both of them incredibly well.  

We learnt very early on that they were both widowed, and other personal circumstances, but after they meet in Maui, and agree on a no real life rule, they are many lies of omission. 

As much as I loved the hot and heavy sections in Hawaii, as we see how they meet, and off the chart the attraction clearly is,  I also loved their deeper emotions, and it was after their week in paradise that the book really kicks up a gear. 

I hadn't read the author's previous book, so wasn't sure what to expect, so was pleasantly surprised to see a good deal of story in the book, I could connect to both main characters, and found myself willing them to a positive conclusion despite all the misunderstandings. 

Getting to know Emily and Drew's friends and families was also incredibly fun, and there were a few OMG - AHA moments as a reader you realise how things will connect and unravel a good chapter or so before the characters! 

A thoroughly enjoyable, hot and steamy way to spend an afternoon, a pure pleasure to read. 

Thank you to Bookouture and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily, 

Please take a look at the rest of the bloggers who are featuring this fabulous book! 

Sunday, 4 August 2019

I'm going to Madeira... and a look at my review TBR!

Four months after booking, I'm finally heading off to Funchal in Madeira for a two week holiday.  Having been working ridiculous hours for the last week or two especially I'm in desperate need of this break.

Doesn't this hotel just look gorgeous?   If you are also on holiday in Funchal over the next two weeks, please let me know, would be lovely to meet you! 

For those of you who love seeing my holiday photos on Facebook and Twitter (when I remember), I'm sure I will be posting some, but realistically my only aims for this holiday are to sleep (in the shade), read, and generally relax and do not much, while being outside all day!  

My Review TBR is toppling higher than its ever been, but based on my last few holidays I should be able to make a dent in it... well except for all the books I may spot on Netgalley and request while I'm away. 

Believe it or not for the first holiday ever I'm not taking any paperbacks... but in case of a technology fail, I will have my old kindle with me too - well I'm not taking any chances when it comes to books! 

Given there are so many books on it, and no matter how long you look at it, there will always be books you know you want to read that you just can't see..  I'm about to share with you all the non Christmas books currently on my review stack. 

Obviously I won't be reading them all while I'm away but if there are any that I really should try to read then I would love your feedback.   So often two weeks of free choice renders me incapable of deciding anything, so having your thoughts may give me good ideas!! 

I have one review coming up on Friday 9th August on the Accidental Lies by Dana Mason blog tour - but other than that my regular reviews will be back on 20th August.  See you then!! 

And here hopefully in a form that makes it easier to read than other times I've shared my TBR... and in a more fun way for me to create (hopefully I'll remind myself what I have too)... here is what is on my Netgalley shelf and what I will be picking from while I'm away. 
These are all authors that are new to me -
are there any that I 100% need to jump up the queue?

Here are all the crime / thriller / darker reads. 
I tend to read these as palate cleansers, any recommendations?

And last but by no means least all the authors that I absolutely love reading and feel incredibly guilty that I haven't read these books yet. 
What are your picks of these?

Whatever you are reading over the summer, I hope you enjoy it! 

Book Review - Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby - Blog Tour

Amazon UK
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Title: Three Days In Florence
Author: Chrissie Manby
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 11th July 2019
Rating: 5 Stars

When a mini-break becomes make or break...

Kathy Courage has never visited the famous Italian city of Florence before, so she's thrilled when she and her boyfriend Neil are invited there for a wedding. Unfortunately, with Neil's constant complaining and his teenage children in tow, it's not exactly the romantic break Kathy was hoping for.

But when a mix-up with her flights leaves Kathy stranded in the city, she decides to embrace the unexpected and stay on alone.

What follows is a life-changing few days in the Tuscan sun, as Kathy begins to question the choices that have led her here. With the help of the colourful Innocenti family, who offer Kathy a place to stay, she gradually begins to realise that there's a much bigger world out there, if only she can be brave enough to explore it.

Could Italy hold the answers to her future happiness? Or is Kathy destined to return to her old life?

I simply adored every moment of this book, Kelly Courage is one fabulous main character, but more on her in a moment, 

I firstly want to say how much I utterly despised and hated Neil, her boyfriend and his family. What a self-centred, confidence stripping, uncaring group of people.  I had great glee in my hatred of him, and I'm really not sure he had any redeeming qualities at all.   The question of course for most of the book was whether Kathy would every notice his true colours, that really were rather obvious! 

Kathy though is fabulous, especially once thrown slightly outside of her comfort zone and having to spending extra time in Florence alone.  You could feel her excitement, and then her fear,  and relief, basically every emotion under the sun so closely, as she adjusted to what needed to be done. 

I loved the whole of the Innocenti family, from the mischievous Manu, smelly Faustino,  gorgeous Henry, kind hearted Carla and the others as they really helped Kathy out.  Although she also proved very helpful too, toward the family. 

We don't see much of the typical touristy bits of Florence, as although the setting is key, this was far more about Kathy's dreams of the city,  and integrating with a local family, so we see things from a different perspective which was refreshing. 

Chrissie Manby's observations  were spot on as always, especially during the first bit of the book with how Neil's family behaved in the run up to a wedding,  and how one teen at at least was completely oblivious to everything as he was attached to his phone.   

There are plenty of laughs and drama in this marvellous book that I adored every single second of and read with a big grin on my face.   Another triumph for one of my all time favourite, and must read authors. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Please do follow along with all the other blogs on this fabulous tour.

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