Best Of 2014

Bestof2014

Another year is gone. That fact would be really sad if the best of list wasn’t my favorite of the year. This year we read some amazing books. My year appears to be made up of books featuring unique female characters. Even if they were not the main characters they were still amazing. Looking back on this year I also find that I love airships. There are more airships to come next year. I know this for a fact because I just bought a slue of them. Jessica’s year was made up of love triangles and sleeping beauties. Fun stuff.

I like knowing where I’ve been so that I know where I’m going. My resolution for next year is to read more steampunk and possibly more graphic novels. So let’s end 2014 with a love fest of the best books we read this year and then we’ll tell you about our awards for New Year’s day. Be sure not to miss our Friday post about the books we bought this month and will be reading next year.

Our requirements for this list were:

1) We had to have read the book in 2014

2) It had to be a full length novel

Without further ado here is our list of the best books that we read in 2014. These are in no special order.

 

Jessica

 

 

 

 

 

The Girl In Between by Laeken Zea Kemp

 Fate by Sydney Lane

 The Harvesting by Melanie Karsak

 Spirited Away by Angela Campbell

 Queen Of Hearts: The Crown by Colleen Oakes

 Kiss Of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

 Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

 Hope by Sydney Lane

 Dark Bites by Sherilyn Kenyon

 Kiss A Girl In The Rain by Nancy Warren

 

 

 

Lynn

 

 

Romulus Buckle and the Engines Of War by Richard Ellis Preston Jr.

Locked by Eva Morgan

Fallen On Good Times by  Rewan Tremethick

Take Me Tomorrow by Shannon A. Thompson

The Kings Blood by Sabrina Zbasnik

Awakening Foster Kelly by Cara R. Olsen

Sea Of Secrets by Amanda  Dewees

Lovely Vicious by Sara Wolf

Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z. Martin

Skin Game by Jim Butcher

 

There you have it. These were the best books that we read in 2014. Come back tomorrow and we will tell you what books we awarded special consideration to like best demon and best use of zombies. We had an amazing 2014 and we hope you did too. Happy New Year!

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Beautifully Wounded by Susan Griscom

Beautifully WoundedBeautifully Wounded 

by Susan Griscom

Book Summary: 

What would you do if you had no place to go and no one you could trust?

Jackson Beaumont prides himself on being a nature-loving, guitar-strumming, carefree sort of guy. When the mysterious Lena Benton walks into his bar looking scared and defeated, it’s not something he can ignore. He’s immediately consumed by concern for her and driven by his desire to help. She’s just so beautiful. So wounded.

After being shuffled from one foster home to another growing up, Lena Benton dreamt of finding her prince charming. When the captivating Troy Harington sweeps her off her feet shortly after high school graduation, she’s certain she’s found her happiness. Unfortunately, Troy’s true colors surface shortly after their marriage and things turn ugly. Lena only has one choice. She has to leave him. She has to run…

Lena’s escape has brought her to Jackson, and he clearly wants to be there for her, but can she trust anyone again after what she’s gone through? And will Jackson be able to help her heal without losing his heart?

My Review:

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this story when I first picked it up.  Beautifully Wounded deals with a hard topic to discuss, and the beginning of the book sets up Lena’s story of abuse graphically. When Lena escapes she knows she has to keep moving, but she is badly hurt and there are people willing to help her.

While I don’t necessary agree that what comes from the help she receives would actually happen.  I think that a woman who had suffered verbal, physical and sexual abuse from her husband would be very cautious and scared to get in a relationship with anyone! However, that being said.  The story is a beautiful one and the story line with Lena and Jackson is touching.

Jackson is the man how has to take care of everything he has rescued animals in need since he was a child, so when he sees Lena and the shape she is in, he can’t help himself.  The two slowly come to an understanding and Lena learns to trust Jackson, but at the same time she knows it’s only a matter of time before Troy or the police find her.  She makes a plan to get out of town when she is better, but it comes to late.

This is a well written book with strong characters and a great storyline.  Just keep in mind that some of the content is graphic.Jessica signature

 

 

 

 

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A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Narrated by Tim Curry

ACCBook Description: Charles Dickens’ masterfully crafted Christmas fable tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a man with wealth to match the coldness of his heart. On a mystical Christmas Eve, a visitation with spirits forces Scrooge to make a choice: change, or perish.

 

My Review: It’s A Christmas Carol that reminds me that Charles Dickens was a genius. I often forget that fact. Most of his books are so long that I get lost in them and finish with the feeling that I narrowly escaped the main characters fate . Confession: I have never finished Little Dorrit.

It’s a shame that I only think of A Christmas Carol at Christmas. It’s such a fantastic story. I wonder what the world did before there was an Ebenezer Scrooge to remind us to keep Christmas in our hearts all year long. Actually, I guess it’s more like what did the world do before Ebenezer Scrooge was scared strait by some scary ghosts. That’s what happens in this story. Cold hard facts are presented to Scrooge. Oh those Victorians. They sure wore their misery on their sleeves. I guess that means that Scrooged was closer to the original material than Mickey’s Christmas Carol.

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Mickey’s Christmas Carol

 

A Christmas Carol was published in December of 1843 and was an immediate success with both critics and the general public. Believe it or not Dickens barely made any money from the book. He decided to publish it himself which was very expensive but the books were beautiful. I’ve read several articles that say A Christmas Carol renewed the public’s interest in singing Christmas carols. I had no idea but now you can wow your friends and family with a bit of Christmas Carol trivia.

How about some more trivia? Wikipedia says that Charles Dickens, then forty-five, left his wife for an eighteen year old actress. Actually he sent his wife away and kept the house for himself and the remaining children. Catherine took Charles Jr. with her and her sister Georgina stayed with Charles to care for the children. Why was Dickens upset with his wife enough to have an affair? He claimed she was a bad mother (their daughter Dora died; Catherine was distraught and had a nervous breakdown), a bad housekeeper and had too many children which caused his financial problems. How was that her fault exactly? Want to know how she found out about Charles’s affair? She received a bracelet meant for Ellen Turnan, the mistress. Just like another Christmas movie I love; Love Actually. In case you were curious Catherine loved Charles very much even after his death and it pained her that the world didn’t see that he loved once too.

I don’t want to bash Charles Dickens though so I’ll leave you with something positive. He raised a great deal of money for charity. His public readings were wildly popular and he toured America twice. Can you imagine listening to Charles Dickens read A Christmas Carol? In the end, Dickens left Catherine an annual income when he died. I like that in the end of his own story he proved to be just as much of a good person as the character he created.

Tim Curry’s performance of A Christmas Carol is amazing. I will return to his version every Christmas. He doesn’t simply read this story. He makes you feel it. You feel Scrooge start to see the error of his ways. You feel when Scrooge starts to fear the future. You feel his giddy joy when he realizes it isn’t too late to change the future.

This is the version of A Christmas Carol to invest in. This is the one you will want to listen to every year on Christmas Eve.

Happy holidays!

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Happy Holidays

ACCIt’s the holidays. It’s time for family, friends, fun, and catching up on all of the books that are stacked in the corner. We are taking a few days off and will be back on Monday so that we can celebrate the best books of 2014.  We will have one more post this week. Wednesday we review A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and performed by Tim Curry.  It’s the perfect compliment to your Christmas Eve. Tim Curry is amazing anyway but his performance of A Christmas Carol can’t be missed.

TFcoverIf you’re looking for lighter fair try The Fruitcake by Caren Rich (short story) it’s family friendly and a lovely little adventure about a man and his grandson getting some fruitcake revenge in before the holidays. If 13007259you’re looking for a little romantic Christmas magic try Silver Bells by Sadie Hart (short story). It’s about a man’s selfless act at Christmas for the woman his loves. If death and mystery are more your thing consider Festive In Death by J.D. Robb. Eve Dallas solves a perplexing murder where all of the suspects are FIDcoverlying while she oversees party arrangements for her annual soiree.

We hope you have a happy and safe holiday. We’ll see you next week and we want to hear about all the books you got for the holidays.

 

 

 

 

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Festive In Death by J.D. Robb

Audiobook_Review

Festive in Death by J.D. Robb

Narrated by Susan Ericksen

13hrs 9min 44sec

 

FIDcoverBook Description: Eve Dallas deals with a homicide—and the holiday season—in the latest from the #1 New York Times bestselling author.

Personal trainer Trey Ziegler was in peak physical condition. If you didn’t count the kitchen knife in his well-toned chest.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas soon discovers a lineup of women who’d been loved and left by the narcissistic gym rat. While Dallas sorts through the list of Ziegler’s enemies, she’s also dealing with her Christmas shopping list—plus the guest list for her and her billionaire husband’s upcoming holiday bash.

Feeling less than festive, Dallas tries to put aside her distaste for the victim and solve the mystery of his death. There are just a few investigating days left before Christmas, and as New Year’s 2061 approaches, this homicide cop is resolved to stop a cold-blooded killer.

 

My Review: I love this series. I realize that this is number thirty-nine but I loved this one just as much as I’ve loved the others. I think that what draws me to this series is the bubble that the series exists in. A few books back Eve’s best friend had a baby and I was really worried that J.D. Robb was getting ideas about shifting the series around. I was actually worried that at some point she was going to make Eve and Roarke parents. I don’t think I could live with that. These books are about Eve’s cases and I like them that way. I would be equally devastated if Peabody (Eve’s partner) couldn’t investigate with Eve anymore. Not that I would want Peabody as the main character. I like her but not enough to read about the cases she investigates.

My favorite thing about these books has always been Eve. I like that she’s logical and doesn’t carry her heart on her sleeve. She is what I think strong heroines should be. She’s tough and fair. She is a wife, partner and best friend without compromising the traits that make her a good cop. I think a lot of what makes Eve interesting comes from Nora Roberts experience writing her romance books. Anyone who has hundreds of characters under her belt knows how to make characters live on the page. I don’t think there is anyone else who could have created Eve Dallas and written her as balanced and believable as J.D. Robb. I don’t think that I’ve read any of her romance books but Nora Roberts has my undying gratitude for creating a character as complex and as real as Eve Dallas.

This book takes place around the holidays and those are my very favorites. As I mentioned before this is number thirty nine; there have been Christmas books before. Eve and Roarke’s parties are always fun. It’s nice to see Eve interact with the people she works with outside of the high pressure situation of their jobs. It’s always very entertaining. It was also entertaining to listen as Eve complained about Christmas. Buying presents is the thing that Eve fears most in life and she always puts it off till the last moment. It isn’t actually the gift buying but the gift giving that Eve fears most. Eve isn’t a hugger and she tries hard to avoid messy emotions. She’s gotten better over the thirty nine books. That’s character development for you.

I enjoy the partnership between Eve and Peabody. They investigate well together and that fact is more important in this story than ever because all of the suspects are lying. Everyone is covering up for themselves or someone else. I can honestly say that I didn’t see the end of this one coming. I had made up my mind who I thought was guilty at the beginning so ignored the evidence.

Susan Ericksen is one of my favorite narrators. She’s amazing. She’s also read so many of these that she could probably do the voices in her sleep. She is fantastic.

The only downside to this book is that it is number thirty nine. I’ve read them all so I don’t know how it would be for someone to start this series with this book. I think it’s possible and you should do it. I think you could miss some of the emotion by not understanding why a character is doing something. As an example Feeney, Eve’s mentor and surrogate father, gives her a gift. The emotion comes from the case that inspired the gift. You wouldn’t know that unless you read the book that contains the case. Eve and Roarke exchange gifts inspired by another case and it’s nice to look back and remember the other cases we’ve read about. I suppose that is the benefit of thirty nine books. So if you haven’t read this series before try it out but don’t blame me when you race back to the beginning and start with book one.

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There is a sex scene but it is tasteful and not graphic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Fruitcake by Caren Rich

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The Fruitcake by Caren Rich

TFcoverBook description: A humorous short story about the dreaded holiday classic. Retirement’s not what Robert expected. His wife feeds him twigs and is afraid of mailbox bombs. If that’s not enough a fruitcake shows up on his doorstep. Fruitcakes may be a Southern tradition, but it’s one Robert can do without. Find out how he deals with the holiday classic.

 

My Review: I’m not sure that I have the words. This story was really short and really funny. The main character Robert is facing his retirement head on by living the same day over and over again.  That is until fruitcakes start appearing. Robert’s grandson Seth gives him some much needed perspective in the form of little boy logic. What happens next will make you laugh hard and out loud so I suggest reading alone. Unless of course you want to startle your co-workers in the break room. Then you could pass this fun story around and talk about it.

For me, this story was about Robert and Seth having some fruitcake fun and learning a little about life in the process. Robert and Seth made a great team and I would love to read about more adventures. It was fun to see a grandfather and grandson play off of each other. There are not enough books that do that. (If there are some out there then let me know.)

I read this story in ten minutes and rushed to tell Jessica that she needed to read this one. It’s fun and for everyone. I’m glad I found it. You’ll be happy you read it too.

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Suitable for all ages and so much fun.

 

 

Try these other stories:

MTLGTM_cover13007259bah humbug

 

 

 

 

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The Girl In Between by Laeken Zea Kemp

TheGirlInBetween1600x2400The Girl In Between

by Laeken Zea Kemp

Get it free here:

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Book Summary:

Bryn Reyes is a real life sleeping beauty. Afflicted with Klein-Levin Syndrome, she suffers episodes of prolonged sleep that steal weeks, and sometimes even months, from her life. But unlike most KLS patients, she doesn’t spend each episode in a catatonic state or wake up with no recollection of the time she’s missed. Instead, Bryn spends half her life in an alternate reality made up of her memories. For Bryn, the past is a place, until one day a boy she’s never met before washes up on the illusory beach of her dreams with no memory of who he is.

But the appearance of this strange boy isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Bryn’s symptoms are worsening, her body weakening as she’s plagued by hallucinations even while awake. Her only hope of finding a cure is to undergo experimental treatment created by a German specialist. But when Dr. Banz reveals that he knows more about her strange symptoms than he originally let on, Bryn learns that the boy in her head might actually be the key to understanding what’s happening to her, and worse, that if she doesn’t find out his identity before it’s too late, they both may not survive.

*This book was given to me by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.*

My Review:

Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed this book for all the things that it wasn’t.  What do I mean by that, well let me break it down for you.  It is not an insta-love YA Romance, it’s a book that deals with someones disease not only for them, but for there family and loved ones, and it’s about a girl who knows her past boyfriend isn’t good for her and instead of making excuses she faces facts and doesn’t let him get a way with it.

Out side of her dream world when she is going thru an episode, Bryn is like any typical high schooler.  She just wants to finish up and go away to college. She wants to be normal.  She wants to stop having the episodes (which if you read up on Klein-Levin Syndrome in most cases stops by the time the patient is around 30).

In her dream world Bryn experiences memories from her past.  Places she visited, homes she has lived in, anything good that might have happened to her at some point in her life.  That is until a mysterious boy washes up on shore.  Who is he and how has he entered her dream world.  As he and Bryn start to investigate who he is and why he is there the dream world starts to change.  Mysteries things happen to Bryn when she is awake as well.  And her and her mystery man start to form a strong bond.

The end is something worth waiting for and all together this is a powerful, emotionally charged and captivating story.  Laeken Zea Kemp has done a wonderful job keeping the reader interested and portraying characters that everyone will love and some love to hate. Drew you are a down right…..if we were not a clean blog there is a good word for you, but I won’t say it. Jessica signature

 

 

 

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About the Author:

bio2I’m a writer and explorer extraordinaire and author of the multi-cultural New Adult novels The Things They Didn’t Bury, Orphans of ParadiseBreathing Ghosts, and the upcoming The Girl In Between, the first in my new Young Adult paranormal series!

Follow my adventures on Twitter, Tumblr, and Goodreads.
Or shoot me an email here: lzkbooks@gmail.com

 

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Silver Bells by Sadie Hart

13007259Silver Bells 

by Sadie Hart

Book Summary:

Every year, the Christmas Carousel in South Howle takes a beating, and every year, Dash Bartholomew tenderly brings it back to life. It’s a job he started fifteen years ago, when Dash became Dasher, one of Santa’s reindeer, and accepted the worn leather harness now hanging on the hooks at the back of the carousel barn. The one with its beautiful, silver bells that once made the most wondrous sound in the world, and now lay quiet.

That is, until Merry, a young, homeless woman wanders in looking for a place out of the cold. Unlike Dash, she can hear the sweet chimes of the bells, proving to him that it’s not the harness that’s broken. As Christmas draws near, Dash finds himself drawn to Merry and her quiet, stubborn pride. However, unable to hear the sleigh bells Dash isn’t sure what Christmas this year will bring, only that the magic in that harness is far less important than the woman he’s come to love.

My Review:

This is a wonderful Christmas story.  First off the idea of Santa taking teenagers who have had a rough go in life and giving them one of the most important responsibilities in the world is a very creative idea. I was drawn into this magical story and couldn’t put it down.

Dash is a good man, though he might have not started out that way before he became Dasher.  He cares for the carousel, his home and the people he loves.  He is kind to Merry and knows to give her the space she needs.

Merry has a story all her own.  Why does she hear the bells when no one else can?  She is quiet and reserve but willing to work for what she gets and doesn’t want a hand out.

The story comes full circle on Christmas Eve.  With just the right amount  of romance and magic this is the perfect short story for Christmas.Jessica signature

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Just a fun loving holiday story.

 

 

 

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Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Book Description:

SSAD_coverSixteen-year-old Eleanor Fitt’s brother is missing. And when she discovers that the Dead are rising in Philadelphia and wreaking havoc throughout the city, she knows that her brother is involved.

So Eleanor enlists the help of the Spirit-Hunters. This motley crew, hired to protect the city from supernatural forces, is after the necromancer who has been reanimating corpses. Their skills can save her brother. But as Eleanor spends time with the Spirit-Hunters, and their handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. Now not only is her reputation at risk, but her very life may hang in the balance.

In Something Strange and Deadly, the first book in a trilogy, Susan Dennard weaves together vividly imagined scenes of action, adventure, and gorgeous Victorian fashion to create an entertaining steampunk tapestry of humor, horror, and romance. Readers who love Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series will be intrigued from the start.

My Review: I really enjoyed this book.  If you’re not a fan of steampunk please don’t be put off by the use of the word steampunk in the book description. This isn’t steampunk like how the Romulus Buckle books are steampunk. This has steampunk elements. And I think I just won something for using steampunk in every sentence in this paragraph.

My favorite thing about this story was Eleanor. She isn’t exactly unique but she is strong willed with a mind of her own. That made me like her. It made her interesting. Since the story is told in first person that was important. Eleanor defies convention on numerous occasions to obtain information about her brother who is missing. He not actually missing but you’ll have to read the book to find out about that. She and her brother share a bond. He treated her like a real person and in 1800’s anywhere that was a big deal. So she’s motivated.

I really liked Daniel. He had me at the moment he took a fainted Eleanor home and bought her a replacement parasol. I really liked him and then I didn’t. The relationship between Eleanor and Daniel was tense. And it just goes to show that you never really know someone and love does not conquer all.

The last third of this book was action packed and crazy things happen. There are terrible consequences for Eleanor. Her faith in her brother and Daniel prove to be her undoing. And I just have to vent for a second and say that little fealty stunt that Eleanor laughed at wasn’t funny to me and I have never so badly wanted to reach in a book and slap a character. Deep breath. I’m better now.

I’ll definitely read A Darkness Strange and Lovely. I need to know how Eleanor rebuilds her life. Poor Eleanor and her bold yet bad choices. This book is about choices and the consequences of those choices. I just wish that there had been something that did go Eleanor’s way. From the moment we meet Eleanor her life starts falling apart. It doesn’t get any better through the book. This is one of those situations where for once I wanted a happy ending. Okay maybe not skipping through a field of daisies happy ending but I guess that meant that I rooted for Eleanor and she survived to pick up her battered and broken life. Maybe Eleanor was unique after all.

 

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Zombies!!! Okay they’re called “The Dead” but they’re zombies. Zombies and it’s almost Christmas! I chose wisely with this book.

 

Try these other books:

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Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders lg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My True Love Gave To Me

Short_story_bannerMy True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

Edited by Stephanie Perkins

MTLGTM_coverBook Description: If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers (Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White), edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone.  So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy.  You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

 

My Review: What they say in the book description is completely true. If you love holiday movies you will love this anthology. And if ever there was a story ready to be made into a Hallmark movie Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter is it.

Disclaimer: I love Ally Carter’s work. As in ALL of it. I was so sad when she wrote the last Gallagher Girls book that I still haven’t read it. I bought it when it came out and I put it on the bookcase next to my bed. (Yes I have bookcases instead of night stands. Don’t judge me.) If I don’t read it then the series will never be over right? If you are ever looking for a good heist book try her Heist Society series. They never disappoint and you will love Kat and Hale I promise.

Back to the review: Since I read Star of Bethlehem first I’m going to focus on that story. All of the stories are fantastic though and definitely worth reading. Don’t do what I did and get overly excited in the middle of Target and start looking only for Ally Carter and Holly Black’s stories. Holly Black, whose Doll Bones won a Newberry this year, has a great story too- Krampuslauf. (It was the second one I read). Holly Black is my kind of weird.

Star of Bethlehem focuses on a girl that wants to get away. Away from herself and her whole life. We don’t even get to know her name for most of the story. She trades airplane tickets with a total stranger who also wants to get away. That’s all I can tell you about the story without spoiling it. For me the story was about having faith. Faith in other people and faith in yourself.

If you’re not in the holiday spirit when you finish this story then nothing will ever put you in the holiday spirit (and, you should probably know, you probably don’t have a soul).  Even I was teary by the end of it. Me, who steadfastly believes that the holidays should consist of Santa and zombies. You’ll love it. I did.

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This book features complicated themes suitable for teens.

 

 

 

 

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