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text 2017-10-13 14:25
Halloween Bingo 2017 | Update #7 -- The Penni Frame is Filling In!
Halloween Bingo 2017

I've got 18 books read and 15 squares actually completed (called and read), and TWO BINGOS!  Of course, I could have had two Bingos a long time ago if I had just made myself read for the 'Genre: Horror' square--every square on my card in the second column from the left has been called, and I had read for all the squares but 'Genre: Horror'.

I just put it off for the longest time.

I had originally intended to listen to Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors, a short story collection, narrated by Gaiman, himself.  But then I decided that I wasn't really wanting to sit through 10 hours of horror short stories.  So then I thought about maybe just listening to a handful of the short stories and calling it good... but that didn't quite appeal to me either.

So then I thought of the Edgar Allan Poe collection I have, a large tome I picked up at a library sale months ago called The Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe.  For some reason, this appealed to me more, and so I went through the book and decided that I would choose one or two short stories to read for this square.  My final decision ended up being The Murders in the Rue Morgue... just because it sounds like my kind of book even though it's horror--it's also a murder mystery, and apparently claimed as the first detective story... ever?

As a short read, it didn't take long to fill that last square in the column... although, as I said in my review of the short story, it didn't really exhibit a whole lot of horror-like quality, but it is tagged as 'horror' on Goodreads.  I might read another short story by Poe to make up for it.

Anyway, I also made a choice on the last two squares I had yet to choose a book for: 'Classic Horror' and the 'Creepy Raven Free Space.'  I will be reading The Turn of the Screw by Henry James for the 'Classic Horror' square, and Deep As The Dead, Kylie Brant's newest Mindhunters series installation, for the Free Space.

Six more squares to finish reading for, and I will Blackout my card!  I hadn't really been planning for a Blackout this year with the book selections I made and my recent mood, but I guess I underestimated myself a bit.  A Blackout is going to happen!



Updated Marked Card:


Called Square:  Green Square Border
Read Square:  Red Eyes Penni
Called and Read Square:  Red Eyes Penni in a Green Box
Bingos:  Multiple Red Eyes Penni in a Green Box in an Orange Box

See also the table below for some spreadsheet goodness.

Reviews pending:  Just Past Midnight, Protecting His Witch, Hit and Run, Jaxson


Squares/Books/Called Dates/Other Links:

Progress:  18 squares called || 19 books read || 17 squares completed || 2 BINGOs
(on my card only)

Squares called that I do not have:
9/17 - Modern Masters of Horror
9/27 - Terror in a Small Town
10/5 - 80's Horror
10/9 - Chilling Children

Bingo Calls Thread
The Best and Worst of Halloween Bingo 2017
Report Your Bingos!

September Group Read | Discussion Thread -- The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
October Group Read | Discussion Thread -- Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Bingo Square
Called (date)
Read (Date)
How it Fits
Magical realism
Gaiman, Neil
tagged 'magical realism' on GR
Classic noir
Hammett, Dashiel
hard-boiled, classic noir mystery & group read
Roberts, Nora
ghostly Harper Bride
Arnett, Mindee
supernatural school for magic creatures
Diverse voices
Lin, Jeannie
author is Chinese
Cozy mystery
Peters, Elizabeth
tagged 'cozy mystery' on GR
Protecting His Witch
Forward, Zoe
female MC is a witch
The Dead Travel Fast
Raybourn, Deanna
Transylvania and vampires
Country house mystery
The Decagon House Murders
Ayatsuji, Yukito
closed circle of suspects
Haunted houses
Roberts, Nora
ghostly Harper Bride haunts mansion
Castle, Jayne
dust bunnies!!
Genre: horror
Poe, Edgar Allan
tagged 'horror' on GR:
classic horror by EAP
Free Space
Deep As The Dead
Brant, Kylie
murder; serial killer; small town; written by a woman
Her Fierce Warrior
Tyler, Paige
female MC is an animal shifter
In the dark, dark woods
Holt, Victoria
woods are significant
Amateur sleuth
Just Past Midnight
Stevens, Amanda
female MC is a psychologist
Woods, Alisa
book about wolf shifters
Nine Coaches Waiting
Stewart, Mary
tagged 'gothic' on GR
Romantic suspense
Hit and Run
Brennan, Allison
romance + suspense + mystery present
Darkest London
Quick, Amanda
setting = Victorian London
Murder most foul
Cole, Emma
there is a murder and a mystery
Serial/spree killer
Novak, Brenda
summary mentions serial killer
Classic horror
The Turn of the Screw
James, Henry
classic horror
Terrifying women
Roberts, Nora
ghostly Harper Bride; haunting; written by a woman
Locked room mystery
Shimada, Soji
death/murder in a locked room



Currently Reading:




Tentative Bingo Hopefuls:

Magical Realism:  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Classic Noir:  The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
Ghost:  Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts
Supernatural:  The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett
Diverse Voices:  The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin

Cozy Mystery:  The Camelot Caper by Elizabeth Peters
Witches:  Protecting His Witch by Zoe Forward
Vampires:  The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn
Country House Mystery:  The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji
Haunted House:  Black Rose by Nora Roberts

Aliens:  Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle
Genre: Horror:  The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
Free Space:  Deep As The Dead by Kylie Brant
Monsters:  Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler
In the Dark, Dark Woods:  On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt

Amateur Sleuth:  Just Past Midnight by Amanda Stevens
Werewolves:  Jaxson by Alisa Woods
Gothic:  Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
Romantic Suspense:  Hit and Run by Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin
Darkest London:  Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick

Murder Most Foul:  Every Secret Thing by Emma Cole (a.k.a. Susanna Kearsley)
Serial/Spree Killer:  Dear Maggie by Brenda Novak
Classic Horror:  The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Terrifying Women:  Red Lily Nora Roberts
Locked Room Mystery:  The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/10/halloween-bingo-2017-update-7-penni.html
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review 2017-10-13 10:52
Brief Rambles: The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Murders in the Rue Morgue, The: The Dupin Tales - Edgar Allan Poe

The Murders in the Rue Morgue

by Edgar Allan Poe
C. Auguste Dupin, #1 (short story)



**I read this short story as part of a collection, The Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, that I picked up at a library sale months ago.  I'm kind of glad that I remembered I had it, because I couldn't quite figure out what to read for the 'Genre: Horror' square--although, I'm not entirely sure The Murders in the Rue Morgue seems very horror-like, even though it is tagged as such on Goodreads.


I might read another couple Poe short stories from this volume to make up for it if this particular one doesn't really ring as horror.



As for the story...

I'm going to be honest, I totally didn't see that one coming.

I have to admit, this is my first actual reading of a story by Poe, though I have read some of his poems.  Being that poems aren't really my thing, I'm ashamed to say that I never truly comprehended his work and kind of wrote him off as over-hyped, classical, high school required reading.

Truthfully, I found The Murders of the Rue Morgue extremely engaging.  The beginning was a bit slow to build up, but once Dupin began his deductions and analysis of the murders, I couldn't stop reading.  It was easy to follow where his deductions were heading, and when it "dinged" in my head, at the same time as it did for the unnamed narrator, I was, at first a bit taken aback... and then I didn't know what to think.

To be honest, the conclusion that Dupin comes to, as well as the final reveal, kind of requires quite a bit of suspension of disbelief.  It was a little over the top.

This short detective story was quite the experience and a nice read for Halloween Bingo.  I'd admit though, even though this book is tagged as horror, I don't know if it really feels like horror--though the murders were pretty gruesome.  There was quite a bit of detail and I might of made a face at the description of Madame L'Espanaye's... mutilated body.

On a side note, Dupin kind of reminds me of Sherlock Holmes (what little I've read of the famous detective), both in demeanor and arrogance.



Halloween Bingo 2017

This book would also count for:

  • Locked Room Mystery
  • Murder Most Foul
  • Amateur Sleuth
  • Classic Horror



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/10/brief-ramble-murders-in-rue-morgue.html
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review 2017-10-13 02:42
Series Review: In the Garden
Blue Dahlia (In The Garden #1) - Nora Roberts
Black Rose - Nora Roberts
Red Lily - Nora Roberts

In the Garden
by Nora Roberts
Book #1: Blue Dahlia | Rating:  4.0 Stars
Book #2: Black Rose | Rating:  4.0 Stars
Book #3: Red Lily | Rating:  3.5 Stars

Average Series Rating:  3.83 Stars

If I had to choose a favorite Nora Roberts book, based on all the books I've read of hers so far, I think I would choose the second book in this trilogy.  Truly, Rosalind Harper stands out as an amazing heroine, both wise, strong, and flawed in her own ways.

In comparison to the very first Nora Roberts book I read for Halloween Bingo of last year (2016), this is definitely a step up; though I know these were written before The Dark Witch trilogy.  They've both got the same kind of set up for the romance, and a lovely, supernatural premise, but I feel this In the Garden trilogy is superior to the latter series, with an interesting mystery to boot.  The writing is wonderful, and the characters are real, even in spite of the sometimes awkward dialogue, and the "made to be perfect" personalities they seem to present.

I especially love the friendships and the bonds that form throughout this series, especially between the women--you don't get to see those too often in any kind of media, literature or not, so I'm extra appreciative of it.



And yeah... this review took me way too long to get posted.  It's actually been written for a week now, but my motivation had been zero in the blogging front...  Hopefully that changes in the coming weeks.




A Harper has always lived at Harper House, the centuries-old mansion just outside of Memphis.  And for as long as anyone alive remembers, the ghostly Harper Bride has walked the halls, singing lullabies at night…

Trying to escape the ghosts of the past, young widow Stella Rothchild, along with her two energetic little boys, has moved back to her roots in southern Tennessee—and into her new life at Harper House and the In the Garden nursery.  She isn’t intimidated by the house—nor by its mistress, local legend Roz Harper.  Despite a reputation for being difficult, Roz has been nothing but kind to Stella, offering her a comfortable new place to live and a challenging new job as manager of the flourishing nursery.

As Stella settles comfortably into her new life, she finds a nurturing friendship with Roz and with expectant mother Hayley.  And she discovers a fierce attraction to ruggedly handsome landscaper Logan Kitridge.  He’s difficult but honest, brash but considerate—and undeniably sexy.  And for a sensible woman like Stella, he may be just what she needs…

I'm sure if I'd read Blue Dahlia during a specific time of day, like maybe late at night in a quite house, I might have felt a chill from the ghostly happenings.  But I didn't really feel a chill, and the main focus of this book isn't even really on the mentioned "Harper Bride" who haunts Harper House.

Still, this book was extremely enjoyable, if only because I loved all the character interactions.  Nora Roberts undoubtedly has a way with her writing, with her characters, and with the atmosphere of her books, that makes it feel so down-to-earth, even when her characters are too pitch perfect to be true, and we're settled in a supernatural ghost story.

There's no argument from me that the characters are all readily likable and good, and whom all have their unique personalities, even when they don't stray far from the standard romance novel characterizations.  But I won't deny that I DID enjoy all the interaction between each and every character present.  I loved the sisterly affection between Roz, Stella, and Hayley.  I loved the mother-son bonding between Stella and her two boys, Gavin and Luke.  I loved the strange hero worship between the boys and Roz's housekeeper/cook David, as well as between the boys and our main hero, Logan.

The romance felt a little awkward, to be honest, and Logan was the usual pushy alpha hero who makes a point to prove that he knows exactly what his heroine wants with her life.  I'm not fond of the pushiness, and could have done without, but since Stella was rolling with it, I suppose there was little I could complain about--after all, she tried to put up her fights and her resistance, but apparently Logan is too irresistible for that... *cue melodramatic eye roll and sigh*

At least we can give him props for bonding with the kids.

I love the southern setting, and all the descriptions of the garden nursery, the landscaping projects, the plants that are being grown and sold through In the Garden nursery.

Really, there wasn't a whole lot to complain about with this book.  I might have wanted more about the ghostly hauntings and happenings.  I might have liked a little less pushy alpha male.

But otherwise, I liked the book overall; and I especially loved the scenes where our main characters are all crowded in the mansion's library doing historical research on the house's resident Harper Bride ghost, whilst nibbling on cheeses, crackers, various other snack foods, and enjoying glasses of bubbly wine!  It makes me want to curl up with the next book and join them in that setting, with my own cheeses and crackers and various snack foods and bubbly wine.



A Harper has always lived at Harper House, the centuries--old mansion just outside of Memphis.  And for as long as anyone alive remembers, the ghostly Harper Bride has walked the halls, singing lullabies at night...

At forty-seven, Rosalind Harper is a woman whose experiences have made her strong enough to bend without breaking--and weather any storm.  A widow with three grown sons, she survived a disastrous second marriage and built her In The Garden nursery from the ground up.  Through the years, In The Garden has become more than just a thriving business--it is a symbol of hope and independence to Roz, and to the two women she shares it with.  Newlywed Stella and new mother Hayley are the sisters of her heart, and together the three of them are the future of In The Garden.

But now the future is under attack, and Roz knows they can't fight this battle alone.  Hired to investigate Roz's Harper ancestors, Dr. Mitchell Carnegie finds himself just as intrigued with Roz herself.  And as they begin to unravel the puzzle of the Harper Bride's identity, Roz is shocked to find herself falling for the fascinating genealogist.  Now it is a desperate race to discover the truth before the unpredictable apparition lashes out at the one woman who can help her rest in peace...

I think that I liked this second In the Garden book more than the first... except I couldn't quite pinpoint why.  It could be that Rosalind Harper is such an intriguing, kick-butt main heroine.  It could be that Dr. Mitchell Carnegie is such a perfect, yet perfectly flawed beta hero.  It could just be that I had already fallen for the setting and the characters of this series and am simply basking in the continuation of light, docile ghostly mystery.

It could be the setting, it could be the writing...  It could be a whole number of things, really!  It could just be that Nora Roberts just has a way with her characters, her writing, and her story.

I don't really know.

But the story line in this second book is not entirely different from the first, with similar elements pertaining to the Harper Bride's hauntings, as well as her tantrums, and our characters' need to investigate her identity as well as what might have happened to her.  Obviously, the readers already know who the Harper Bride is, since each book gives a prologue that takes place in a time three generations previous to the series' time frame.  But we still never really find out what happened to cause the Harper Bride to become so furious, so sad, so vengeful, and make her linger for over a century in Harper House.

Black Rose is simply a continuation of this ghostly mystery--very light-hearted, with a few phantasmic happenings that don't really amount to much of scary or eerie.  I admit, while this book is about a ghostly haunting, it doesn't in the least give me goosebumps.

What makes these books so enjoyable, I believe, really has to do with the characters and how readily likable they are, despite being a set of perfect, good people.  Still, I enjoy the interactions, and the little nuances in each and every individual character that DOES make them differ from one another.  I enjoy the descriptions of the gardens, of Rosalind's business, of the Harper House mansion...

What else is there to say about Black Rose, except that it's a very enjoyable read, probably one of my more favorite Nora Roberts reads so far, even despite not really being able to give much else in terms of thoughts on this book.

While I have a few quibbles about the first book, Blue Dahlia, and while I'm sure I had a few regarding Black Rose while I was reading it... the truth is, I can't seem to readily conjure up anything I disliked, or would have liked to change.  I can't really think of a whole lot at all to complain about.

This was an excellent reading experience!



A Harper has always lived at Harper House, the centuries-old mansion just outside of Memphis.  And for as long as anyone alive remembers, the ghostly Harper Bride has walked the halls, singing lullabies at night...

Hayley Phillips came to Memphis hoping for a new start, for herself and her unborn child.  She wasn't looking for a handout from her distant cousin Roz, just a job at her thriving In the Garden nursery.  What she found was a home surrounded by beauty and the best friends she's ever had--including Roz's son Harper.  To Hayley's delight, her new daughter Lily has really taken to him.  To Hayley's chagrin, she has begun to dream about Harper--as much more than a friend...

If Hayley gives in to her desire, she's afraid the foundation she's built with Harper will come tumbling down.  Especially since she's begun to suspect that her feelings are no longer completely her own.  Flashes of the past and erratic behavior make Hayley believe that the Harper Bride has found a way inside of her mind and body.  It's time to put the Bride to rest once and for all, so Hayley can know her own heart again--and whether she's willing to risk it...

No doubt, this is probably the weaker of the three In the Garden books, if only because, as main characters, Harper and Hayley both fade in comparison to Roz and Mitch, or even Stella and Logan.  Upfront, I'm going to be honest and say that it will be hard for me NOT to compare and contrast each couple, as well as each book, within this trilogy.  After all, the three books are connected, and I'm going to make references.

Mainly, Harper and Hayley were great characters in the previous two books.  I liked Harper's science-geek behavior when it came to his grafting house, and the business with In the Garden.  He's also a great son to Roz, protective; although, he DID start getting on my nerves in the second book when he went behind his mother's back to interrogate and make assumptions about her new love life--that was uncalled for.

Hayley was always the fun, free-spirited, random trivia geek; I loved her drive and determination to prove herself, and her weird way of spouting little known facts at all the strangest times.  I loved how she was the driving force behind both Stella's and Roz's rekindled love lives, supporting them and pushing them to take that leap.

What I DIDN'T like was the personality I got when Hayley ended up front and center, if only because I never expected her to be the cynical, naive romance heroine I love to hate.  She knows she pretty, but she keeps doubting her own allure towards Harper.  She's always encouraged Roz and Stella to have fun, have sex, be free... but she turns around and slut-shames herself, which got super annoying.  She spends a lot of this book trying to convince everyone, mainly herself, that just because she had sex and got pregnant doesn't mean that she's "that kind of girl"--the kind who would just jump into bed with anyone.

The thing is:  NO ONE had made any of that kind of comment or critique about her.  It was all Hayley, being self-conscious about being the "wrong sort of girl" or whatever she called herself.  In turn, twice over, both Stella and Roz had to berate her for even thinking that of herself, and I appreciate that the two of them were so straight and blunt with Hayley.

Harper... he was never really present in the first book, and he came off annoyingly caveman-ish in the second book.  I hate to admit that he doesn't change all that much in this third book, and his "You'll do as I say because you're my woman" behavior started rankling... a lot.  I'm not even sure Logan's broody, irrational, rude, alpha male attitude was this bad in the first book.

But outside of all of this, to be honest, Hayley and Harper have a pretty sweet romance.  I certainly DO love the relationship interactions between Hayley and Lily, Harper and Lily, and the three of them together, in general.

In fact, all the kids were great, and I'm actually quite surprised that Stella's boys took to Lily so well, especially at their age, when playing with girls was usually not cool.  But hey, Lily held onto her toy truck and toddled her way out to play with the boys and hold her own, so that's kind of cool.

The concluding story in the Harper Bride haunting, I will admit, was the creepier of the three books.  The scene in which our ghost shows up on Hayley's terrace doorway holding a rope and a scythe in her hands, with an insane smile and crazy eyes, while outside is all lightning and wind and rain... is quite vivid in my mind.  It wasn't scary, per se, but I had a hard time sleeping without seeing that image in my mind after reading the scene.

The ending was sad, that's for sure; but the truth is, you kind of saw it coming.  I DID like this new twist where the Harper Bride begins to possess Hayley in her attempts to tell her side of the story.  And again, while it's an ugly, disturbing story, with a depressing end for the Amelia Conner, pre-haunting... well, we all kind of had an idea what had happened to her that turned her into the lingering, vengeful Harper Bride, right?

All-in-all, Red Lily made for a well-rounded wrap up for In the Garden.  I wish the main characters weren't as frustrating, but I'm also wondering if that hadn't been deliberate on the author's part.  I wouldn't put it past her, since, despite my annoyance with Hayley and Harper, I can't help but see how real the characters are portrayed, and how some of Hayley's thoughts and doubts about herself might have had something to do with the ghostly possession.

Of course, that doesn't excuse Harper's neanderthal-like behavior.



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/10/series-review-in-garden.html
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text 2017-10-11 14:35
Looks like it's time for winter!


... Or well, at least the cold season...



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text 2017-10-09 14:50
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? | 10/9/2017
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organise yourself.  It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile!  So welcome in everyone.  This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey.  Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.  And here we are!


I had a feeling this meme would come out again at some point.

I've been in a mood lately--a mood where I just don't really want to do anything.  An unmotivated mood?  Something like that.  There's been a lot on my mind lately, and the only things that are even remotely relaxing to me are either playing a mindless farming game, or reading.  Well, I've also been doing some blog housekeeping--updating review links, challenge pages, and such.

I've finished reading at least two or three books and haven't reviewed them.  That's not a whole lot of reviews that I'm behind by, but it still feels like I'm behind.  Because I'm about to finish one more book, and will probably end up putting off the review for a while.

I've got one series review for Nora Roberts' In the Garden trilogy that I just need to finalize and post.

And while I had planned to update my Halloween Bingo progress once a week... I kind of didn't feel like it this past Friday.  So I'm just going to wait to do a more updated update this coming Friday.  But it's not like a whole lot changed since my most recent update announcing my first Bingo.  So not much has been missed.

I've been spending random moments scrolling the Booklikes dashboard just to see how everyone else is doing, liking a few posts here and there, but that's about it.

I don't think I'd call this a slump, per se... just a mood.  I'll get over it soon.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping to at least get the review for In the Garden trilogy posted.  And hopefully a review for Just Past Midnight by Amanda Stevens, and for Protecting His Witch by Zoe Forward, written and posted.



What I Read Last Week




What I'm Currently Reading




What I'm Planning to Read Next




Other Plans and On the Blog


My reading plans for this week (and maybe even the next week), are fairly tentative.  For sure I'd like to finish Hit and Run and The Decagon House Murders so that I can move onto Jaxson, get it read for the 'Werewolves' square--and to also knock off another book from my pre-owned TBR.  I've decided that I will read The Turn of the Screw for the 'Classic Horror' square... and at the same time, I'm contemplating swapping out Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors for a different book for my 'Genre: Horror' square.

I have a Poe collection that I found at a library sale, and am contemplating finding a short story from that collection.  I'm just not feeling anything lengthy for Horror.  Then again, Smoke and Mirrors is a collection of short stories... maybe I'll just listen to one of them and count it--then maybe come back to the rest of the short stories at another time.

It looks like the October Group read is leaning more towards Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, a short classic vampire novella.  As I'm not keen on vampires, I don't know if I will join.  Though some reviews are mentioning that it's akin to Dracula, and that if you liked Dracula you would like Carmilla as well.  Still... I'm not exactly a big vampire fan...

The only reasons I'm reading The Dead Travel Fast is because I like Deanna Raybourn... and I'm listening to it as an audio book, narrated by Charlotte Parry.

As I've been in a mood (see intro), I'm not sure what I'm planning on doing for the blog these coming weeks.  I'm going to try to keep up with my reviews and Halloween Bingo updates.  I'm also needing to continue with my general blog housekeeping--some pages need updating, especially the challenge pages and my review list index.

Meanwhile, however, I think I'm just going to take it easy until I can climb myself out of this mood.

Happy reading everyone!



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/10/its-monday-what-are-you-reading-1092017.html
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