Friday 30 June 2023

Book Review - Role Playing by Cathy Yardley

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Amazon UK

Title: Role Playing
Author: Cathy Yardley
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Montlake
Publication Date: 1st July 2023
Rating: 5 Stars

From Cathy Yardley, author of Love, Comment, Subscribe, comes an emotional rom-com about two middle-aged gamers who grow their online connection into an IRL love story.

Maggie is an unapologetically grumpy forty-eight-year-old hermit. But when her college-aged son makes her a deal—he’ll be more social if she does the same—she can’t refuse. She joins a new online gaming guild led by a friendly healer named Otter. So that nobody gets the wrong idea, she calls herself Bogwitch.

Otter is Aiden, a fifty-year-old optimist using the guild as an emotional outlet from his family drama caring for his aging mother while his brother plays house with Aiden’s ex-fiancĂ©e.

Bogwitch and Otter become fast virtual friends, but there’s a catch. Bogwitch thinks Otter is a college student. Otter assumes Bogwitch is an octogenarian.

When they finally meet face to face—after a rocky, shocking start—the unlikely pair of sunshine and stormy personalities grow tentatively closer. But Maggie’s previous relationships have left her bitter, and Aiden’s got a complicated past of his own.

Everything’s easier online. Can they make it work in real life?

This book spoke to me on so many levels, but it especially appealed to my inner game geek. I only hope I am still as into games as I currently am, when I get to Maggie's age, although I suspect I will be, as they are a part of me. 

And all the ingame chat, and talk of raiding guilds, boss runs, loot, and roles such as tanks and healers is all such familiar language to me and reminded me of my own time raiding while playing a massive MMORPG for a few years that I was addicted to. 

Thus I could completely understand and empathise with Maggie wanting to not necessarily be an obvious female gamer, and I loved how she dealt with the youngsters in the guild. 

And Aiden is just lovely, he grew on me big time, he is struggling with his family and it turns out a whole lot more too.  Both are adamant they have no interest at all in dating generally and given they grew to be friends initially online, without having any idea who the other really is, the eventual meeting was gold! 

Neither Aiden or Maggie are overly social beings, much to the confusion to just about everyone in their small town, and many humorous attempts to "make them more normal" were things that the two leads could have done without. 

I loved seeing how they connected both online and in real life and was hooked on finding out just what would happen.  I couldn't get enough of this book, and I'm surprised I've never encountered this authors wonderful writing before.  Something I will clearly need to change in the future, if these are the sorts of books she writes. 

Utterly fabulous, loved every second of it. 

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

Thursday 29 June 2023

Book Review - A Vintage Vacation by Maddie Please

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Amazon UK

Title: A Vintage Vacation
Author: Maddie Please
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: 30th May 2023
Rating: 5 Stars

Clover Harrington might be sixty-one, but she’s still bossing it in the corporate world and can still run rings around her younger colleagues. And then she is made redundant….

Devastated and now suddenly the wrong side of sixty Clover doesn’t know what to do with her life or her corporate wardrobe! What does she wear if not red lippy and a power suit?! Rather than offer her any support, her partner, Jack announces he's off on a golfing weekend, leaving Clover completely adrift.

Desperate to get away from it all, Clover decides to visit her cousin Zoe at her small taverna in the gorgeous Italian Lakes. There she can rest and recuperate and plan the next stage of her life.

Until Clover’s eighty-year-old mother, Eleanor decides to turn up for the holiday too! Instead of gentle ambles around the lake, Eleanor seems more interested in late night poker and swigging Prosecco and Clover can’t quite believe her mum is having more fun than she is. But as the saying goes - if you can’t beat em, join em!

But is Clover brave enough to live La Dolce Vita?

I felt totally transported to the Italian Lakes in this gorgeous story, about how life is to be lived, and that age really doesn't matter. 

When Clover is made redundant and her partner is rather unsupportive, Clover decides she need a change of location and jets of to Italy to visit her cousin who she hasn't seen that much of.  She is though rather used to the corporate world. so doubts herself almost immediately as she realises she is now in rural Italy. 

This is a story of great character development for both Clover, and her mother too. As I have come to expect from Maddie Please, the main characters are in the advanced years of their lives, which always makes a nice change of pace from some of the other books I read. 

And the adventures these ladies get up to while in Italy, especially for affairs of the heart, are rather special. Just goes to show you can teach an old dog new tricks not that any of the silver foxes in this story are dogs!  

I especially love Clovers mother's antics on arriving in Italy, as well as her thoughts of the other people in her assisted living facility.  

There is a new lease of  life for both ladies that is incredibly pleasing to see, with a spattering of Italian words, and plenty of great Italian food. This was a joy to read. 

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

Wednesday 28 June 2023

Book Review - Adrift by M. A Hunter

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Amazon UK

Title: Adrift
Author: M. A. Hunter
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: 4th May 2023
Rating: 5 Stars

A stag do, six old friends … and a secret they’d all kill to protect.
When Pete and his friends set sail on a private yacht in the Balearics to celebrate Fergus’ upcoming wedding, they’re all looking forward to sun, sea and copious quantities of alcohol.

But there’s a reason they are still entwined in each other’s lives a decade after leaving university. A terrible event they’ve all been trying their hardest to forget.

They say you can’t outrun the past … And these six friends are about to find that out the hard way.

What a rather impressive story. I literally didn't see that ending coming, nor did I predict any of the twists. 

It's a fairly claustrophobic thriller with the action mainly set on a yacht, but we also have flashbacks to how the friends met and just what binds them all together.  Some of the past action was tricky to read due to its content. 

I was completely hooked on the action in this story,  I had slight reservations during the first couple of chapters, but then it all clicked and it was a rather addictive read from then on. To the extent I was reading for far longer than I should have done in bed, as I had to know what was going on. 

At times I think I suspected everyone, there are motives all over the place and I even invented a possible motive for one person that I'm still half surprised wasn't there at all.  

What I do know is this is one luxury yacht trip that I'm incredibly glad I wasn't on.  

I loved the writing and storytelling and am so pleased I gave this book a go. I'm excited to see what the author will write next. 

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

Tuesday 27 June 2023

Book Review - Coming To Find You by Jane Corry

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Amazon UK

Title: Coming To Find You
Author: Jane Corry
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 15th June 2023
Rating: 4 Stars

You can run away from your life.
But you can't run away from murder.

When her family tragedy is splashed across the newspapers, Nancy decides to disappear. Her grandmother's beautiful Regency house in a quiet seaside village seems like the safest place to hide. But the old house has its own secrets and a chilling wartime legacy . . .

Now someone knows the truth about the night Nancy's mother and stepfather were murdered. Someone knows where to find her. And they have nothing to lose . . .

So what really happened that night? And how far will she go to keep it hidden?

This is a tricky one for me to review, in part because I really don't want to give away any spoilers, so need to be very careful what I mention, and also because this was a dual timeline novel, with one of the timelines being during WW2.  Now I'm not a fan of history / historical fiction, nor do I like it appearing as half a book, when there is absolutely no way I could have realised from the blurb and my knowledge of the author's previous books. 

In all honesty had I realised it was dual timeline, I wouldn't have opted to read this in the first place, but I tend to read everything this author writes.   

With that out of the way, let me also state that I thought it was a really good book, both timelines really interesting, although it really took me a while to work out why we had to have the past bits! And it does make sense. 

The writing is certainly up to Jane Corry's normal excellent standard and it was really engaging. There are sections of high drama, at times I was scared for Nancy, and others I was reminded of the atrocities our ancestors lived through. 

I found I couldn't put the last quarter or so of the book down and actually feared that I would miss my stop on the tube as I was so absorbed in the story.  

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

Monday 26 June 2023

Book Review - The Trial by Rob Rinder

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Amazon UK

Title: The Trial
Author: Rob Rinder
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 22nd June 2023
Rating: 5 Stars

An unputdownable murder mystery by Britain's best-loved criminal barrister Rob Rinder.


When hero policeman Grant Cliveden dies from a poisoning in the Old Bailey, it threatens to shake the country to its core.

The evidence points to one man. Jimmy Knight has been convicted of multiple offences before and defending him will be no easy task. Not least because this is trainee barrister Adam Green's first case.

But it will quickly become clear that Jimmy Knight is not the only person in Cliveden's past with an axe to grind.

The only thing that's certain is that this is a trial which will push Adam - and the justice system itself - to the limit .

Well they say write you know, so it makes complete sense that Rob Rinder's debut novel is set in the world of law and features a huge courtroom trial that had me gripped. 

I was enthralled by the big trial at the centre of this story, and certainly didn't anticipate how things would work out.  

It was a fascinating story, from the point of view of Adam, who is trying to pass his pupillage at his chambers and become a fully fledged barrister. There is a long hard look at just what justice is, and I loved Adam's determination and his journey. 

I wasn't so keen on his pupil master Jonathan, who was a bit of a nightmare, and certainly not who I would want representing me in court (should I ever need a barrister). 

Digging into the case and learning all about all the key players, in preparation for the trial and then seeing how the trial played out, was thrilling. I also enjoyed hearing about some of Adam's other cases, one of two of which made me laugh, and some of which was also quite interesting. 

What also made me laugh and what gave some light relief on the whole from the main story were the intermittent phone calls between Adam and his mother. His mother is a typical Jewish mother, wanting her son to date various local Jews, and constantly wondering if he was eating enough. The familiarity of the character really made me smile.  

I wasn't sure what to expect from this story, other than the blurb had caught my eye, and I'm over the moon that it did, for I felt this was a fabulous book, and I'm so glad I had the chance to read it.  I'm rather hoping this may not be the last we have seen of Adam, as I loved his passion. 

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

Thursday 8 June 2023

Book Review - From Cornwall With Love by Cressida McLaughlin - Blog Tour

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Amazon UK

Title: From Cornwall With Love
Author: Cressida McLaughlin
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Publisher supplied copy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 8th June 2023
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunshine awaits in the beautiful Cornish coastal town of Port Karadow where romance and a Cornish cream tea are always on the menu …
There’s no place like home. There’s no place like Cornwall…
Maisie Winters has everything she could ever want. She lives in the idyllic Cornish town of Port Karadow, has a jammy job in her dad's shop, adores her rescue mutt, and has time to take the landscape photos she loves.

While her best friend and sister left the town to chase big dreams in London and New York, Maisie stayed – she wouldn't leave her favourite place for anything … or anyone.

When her long-time crush, Colm Caffrey, returns from a decade abroad, old feelings start to resurface. Maisie begins to ask herself if there might be one big thing missing after all?

It was wonderful to be back in Port Karadow and Porthgolow, in another Cornish story from Cressida McLaughlin  It was fabulous to get to know Maisie, who really has Port Karadow running through her blood. 

She is incredibly community minded and happy to help out with most things regardless of how busy it might make her.  And within the space of one summer she is involved in three big events for the community and charity. 

Out of the blue Colm, who Maisie thinks of as the one that got away, comes back after a decade in Australia, and its clear the friendship between them although it needs work, is still there.  The more i got to know Colm the more I loved him. 

Of course all the familiar characters and locations we have loved and met from previous books in the series, are all present and it was really good to catch up with them, and see any new developments from their lives. 

I loved Cressida's writing and she conjures up scenes of Cornwall so vividly you feel as though you are there. I really felt at home amongst all the characters and settings, while also feeling exhausted as we try to keep up with just about everything Maisie is juggling. 

And I loved her dog Sprout too, not to mention the little kitten that may have adopted Colm.  Maisie is such a lovely main character,  I just couldn't believe some people seemed to be doubting her abilities and her happiness.  I really wanted to throttle the Maisie detractors. 

I spent a wonderful afternoon in my garden, in the sunshine devouring this book. I loved it.  More please! 

Thank you Harper Collins for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Wednesday 7 June 2023

Book Review - The Summer Skies by Jenny Colgan

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Amazon UK

Title: The Summer Skies
Author: Jenny Colgan
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Sphere
Publication Date: 8th June 2023
Rating: 5 Stars

Born into a family of successful pilots, Morag is used to flying high. But when a tragic accident above the clouds grounds her, could the future she'd always imagined be suddenly out of reach?

When she receives a call telling her that her beloved grandfather has been taken ill, Morag leaves her fast-paced life in London to return home to the tranquil Scottish Highlands. With her grandfather out of action, Morag has no choice but to take over flying the local route in his rickety old plane, ferrying locals across the beautiful islands of the archipelago.

But as the weather takes a dramatic turn, Morag is forced to crash-land on a remote island and suddenly finds herself far from civilisation and all alone. Then she discovers Gregor, the gruff and reclusive ornithologist taking care of the island for the season. Though the pair don't see eye to eye, Morag is forced to seek shelter at his cabin and it seems the pair are stuck together until help arrives. However long that may be . . .

As she awaits rescue, might Morag discover that a remote Scottish island, cut off from real-life, is exactly the place she needs to be?

Wowser! That is one fantastic book, about a flying, and regaining your confidence and finding your place in the world. 

Once again Jenny Colgan has transported me to the small islands of Scotland, and conjured up a setting that is wild, remote, fairly dangerous in some weather conditions, and made me want to visit them myself, despite really being a person who definitely prefers non remote places. 

I was gripped throughout and found this to be an addictive and easy story to read, while being totally absorbed to the extent I was petrified I would miss my stop on the tube, as I was so involved.  Especially during the more dramatic scenes. 

I was also in some respects quite glad I wasn't reading this while I was flying, as that may have unnerved me slightly. But wow the descriptions of flying, and the feelings it evokes in Morag is spellbinding. 

And  when stranded on a remote island which only has one hermit like inhabitant, well the book really ramps up from there, but in a very calm and serene manner, as we get glimpses of what a very different life would really be like. 

Jenny Colgan has an innately brilliant talent at writing books that I can't get enough of, and that perhaps bring different aspects of life into my thoughts.

This is almost certainly amongst her best books, and I believe I've read them all! There aren't many authors I can say that about.

Can't wait to see what she writes next. 

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

Tuesday 6 June 2023

Book Review - The Last Word by Katy Birchall

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Amazon UK

Title: The Last Word
Author: Katy Birchall
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 25th May 2023
Rating: 5 Stars

A new laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from Katy Birchall, author of The Secret Bridesmaid and The Wedding Season

Harper Jenkins has a way with words. As Celebrity Editor at a glossy magazine, she knows exactly how to get tight-lipped Hollywood stars talking, landing her exclusive stories and a great reputation.

There's only one person who leaves her speechless - her arrogant colleague Ryan, who has been hired as the new Features Editor. Harper remembers Ryan from a decade ago, when they both interned together. Back then she had believed he was someone she could trust - but he betrayed her completely and they've never spoken since.

Thrown together again in a busy newsroom, Harper and Ryan clash on everything - he can't bear how chaotic and messy she is while she declares him uptight and infuriating. But as the tension between them builds, who will get to have the last word?

Light hearted and funny, I absolutely adored the banter between Harper and Ryan, and each of theirs's determination to have the last word in just about every situation. 

They are fiercely competitive, and as you learn more about their hidden, shared history, I could understand why Harper seemed to really dislike Ryan at times. 

Add in the fact that Harper's family and boss all don't take her seriously as the talented celebrity editor and journalist that she is, and you have one rather feisty main character who I greatly admired. 

Such an incredibly enjoyable story to read, I love anything set within the world of magazines, and celebrity, and Harper is a journalist with a special skill set and scruples! She's not a seedy tabloid hack, but rather cares about who she is interviewing and puts them at such ease,  to the extent they really trust her. 

I loved reading about the various celebrities she was interviewing,  as well as all of the dynamics with people in her life.  She's fabulous. 

Katy Birchall is fast becoming one of my favourite authors, I have thoroughly enjoyed every book of hers so far, and this was another firm favourite. 

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

Monday 5 June 2023

Book Review - The Book-Lovers' Retreat by Heidi Swain

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Amazon UK

Title: The Book-Lovers' Retreat
Author: Heidi Swain
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 13th April 2023
Rating: 5 Stars

One long summer. One perfect setting. Can fiction inspire real life…?
Sometimes a book grabs you by the heart and grows to mean everything to you. That’s what Hope Falls is to friends Emily, Rachel and Tori. So, when they get the chance to spend a whole summer at the cottage in Lakeside where the film adaptation was located, they know it is going to be the holiday of a lifetime.
Spending six weeks away will give them a chance to re-evaluate their life choices. For Emily to decide which way her career will go – the safe route, or the more risky creative option? And for Rachel to decide whether to move in with her partner Jeremy. Then Tori has to drop out at the last moment, and her space is offered to another Hope Falls afficionado, Alex. 
But when Alex turns out not to be who they expected, the holiday takes an unforeseen turn. And as the summer develops, so does their friendship. Could this be where they uncover their future selves, find love in all its forms and where their lives will change course forever…?

What a wonderful pair of stories Heidi Swain has created.  For not only has she written this book, because it is set around the love of a book called Hope Falls that was also a movie, she has had to have at least a pretty good knowledge of this whole other fictional book. 

As I started reading I thought I was missing out on never having heard of Hope Falls and thus not really getting some of the references, but then I slowly came to the realisation (after checking google etc..) that it was clearly fictional, and that the author is a genius! 

By the end of this I felt I had a pretty good idea about the plot of Hope Falls and how it mirrors what our actual main characters are going through 

And it really is a summer retreat for the book lovers, well of this book, and set in a picturesque Lake District setting, it was simply gorgeous. 

I loved getting to know Em, Rachel, Alex, and Tori over the course of this book, as well as all the lovely locations.   Everyone has things to figure out in their lives, and are using the summer to make big decisions - be it in their personal or professional lives. 

I was enchanted by this story and didn't want it to end, it was so incredibly enjoyable.  And I would have loved to have spent time with the friends in their cottage for the summer - although some of their activities I would have perhaps been far more keen to pass on.  

Utterly lovely how an obsession over a film or book can lead to having a perfectly themed summer holiday. Just fabulous. 

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

Friday 2 June 2023

Book Review - The Motherload by Katy Cox

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Amazon UK

Title: The Motherload
Author: Katy Cox
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Corvus
Publication Date: 1st June 2023
Rating: 5 Stars

Mishaps at work. Misery at the school gate. Mayhem at home.
It'll get easier when he starts school... That's what Lucy was told, and she believed it. But now that her autistic son Stanley has joined Reception, his obsession with Africa and daily screaming fits at the school gates haven't exactly won him or Lucy any popularity contests.
So for Stanley's fifth birthday Lucy plans an extravagant party to help him connect with his classmates. But her autistic husband Ed knows how his son's mind works better than anyone, so instead of a big bash, they travel to Wales to eat a Libya-shaped birthday cake with Lucy's family.
And suddenly Lucy is faced with the truth about what her loved ones really need, and how they can finally find their tribe...

Please tell me this isn't the last we will see of Lucy, Stanley, Jack and Ed. I absolutely adore this family, I loved them in the author's first book, and they have grown on me even more with The Motherload. 

Stanley is just adorable and so so intelligent, and I just want to give him a hug, but fear it probably wouldn't be appreciated.

I love seeing how Lucy is doing her best to support both her autistic son and husband. The way she explains to the reader, just how their minds work and thus why she is doing things, or allowing certain behaviours,  is eye opening and I'd like to think might help anyone who has newly diagnosed autistics in their lives, to see how they could support their person. 

I also really wanted to cause Ed's mother large amounts of harm, as she think she is "helping" Lucy at times, but in reality she is in denial as to the fact autism even exists let lone how to support loved ones with it. 

I felt for Stanley as he is starting school, and clearly not a fan of it. The school seem to be trying to help him, and I did like his teacher. 

There is humour, family, fun and it's a novel that completely absorbed me, I was immersed in Lucy's life and was curious to see just what would happen next, as I was enjoying my time spent with them all so much. 

I just hope that this will have at least one more book in the series, as with the way it has ended, I feel like there is a good set up for another story, but even if there isn't, it is certainly a complete and satisfying ending. 

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

Thursday 1 June 2023

Book Review - A Taste of Italian Sunshine by Leonie Mack

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Amazon UK

Title: A Taste of Italian Sunshine
Author: Leonie Mack
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: 12th May 2023
Rating: 4 Stars

Jenn has always prided herself on being a city girl – she insists on easy access to good coffee, great food from around the globe, not to mention an easy commute. So, when her job takes her to one of the most famous Italian wine regions in search of the perfect Prosecco, travelling to meetings on a tractor is a bit of a culture shock.

Tiziano hates the city.  He was made for the mountains and vineyards of Veneto, and generations of his family have earned their living from the land. But times are changing even in the Italian countryside, and the arrival of Jenn at his grandmother’s B&B opens up a window on a different world.

Jenn has two months to persuade the Prosecco producers to trust her with their business, and Tiziano has one summer to persuade Jenn that there’s more to life than the rat race. But can a city girl and a country boy ever find enough in common to see a future beyond one long summer of sun…

Let Leonie Mack magic you away to the vineyards of Veneto for one hot summer in Italy. Perfect for fans of Mandy Baggot, Jo Thomas and Sarah Morgan.

Jenn was a remarkable special trait, that in any other book should would have been a perfumier, but instead her amazing sense of smell, and fabulous nose are being used in her job as a wine buyer, in order to be able to produce the most amazing of tasting notes. 

She has one weakness with this, and it's one her boss clearly wasn't aware of before sending her to Veneto, to discover the best proseccos to be stocked in the hotel she works for. Bubbles mess up her sense of smell, and she really can't do anything fizzy, which makes things a lot trickier. 

She's also a city slicker, so being sent to the Italian countryside, makes her feel like a duck out of water, completely adrift, and it takes her a long while to fall into the Italian wine makers way of life.

And then there is Tiziano, local farmer, who has far more under the surface than his happy go lucky personality implies. And it really is opposites attract, as they get to know each other, and Jenn is introduced to life in Italy. 

I loved the descriptions of the countryside, the occasional Italian words added for local flavour, and to really feel you are in Prosecco country.  I could feel the sun on me as I was reading, although that may have just been wishful thinking! 

It's another really enjoyable book from Leonie Mack full of fantastic character development over the course of the story. 

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