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Friday, December 30, 2011

"The Cross Gardener"

by Jason F. Wright, AF, 2010, 293p, rating=3.5

Married and the father of a young daughter, John Bevan had finally found the traditional family he lacked as an orphaned child. But all that disappears when a fatal car accident steals away his wife-and the unborn child she carried.
Filled with sorrow, John withdraws from life and love. He erects a small cross at the scene of his wife's accident and visits daily, grieving. Then one morning he encounters a young man kneeling before the cross, touching it up with white paint. John's conversations and travels with this mysterious man-known to him only as the Cross Gardener-will forever change his world. (Goodreads)

This was a comfort read for me ..sentimental sappy, my kind of book.  This one dealt with grief and finding a unusual comforter.  I enjoyed the strong men relationships ... particularly the Bevan men, Wayne, John, and Scott.  The father-son and brother-brother bonding were feel-good moments.  I especially took a liking to Wayne, John's father.  Wayne had desirable qualities.  He was hardworking, kind, wise, and had integrity.  My kind of father figure so I couldn't help but fall in love with the man and root for his legacy.  Consequently, he raised fine boys and thus I liked the journey these boys were taking to get to manhood ..and parenthood in John's case. 

Simply put, this was a sweet family love story.  A light read that someone who has lost a loved one might find a moment of calmness.  A good Father's Day book as well.

Now You See Her; Lost December; Finding Noel

I'm getting ready for the end of the year wrap-up so here's a few brief reviews.  I guess it was hard to completely go on a month's hiatus (I finished another book last night so one more is coming).  The break was nice though.  I sometimes stress about putting out a review and honestly, it's time consuming.  I've got some thinking to do about where and how I want next year's book blogging to go ...better prioritizing kind of stuff.  Anyway, thank you for sticking by me.  :)
 
Now You See Her by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge, AF, 2011, Playaway digital audio, 7.5hrs, rating=2.5

An okay thriller ...woman fakes her death to hide from a lunatic cop husband then finds herself years later amidst his presence again (she put herself there, not very bright!). What to do, what to do because an innocent man was to be put to death and secrets to guard?

Violent with somewhat predictable twists. And of course the heroine had nine lives! --Not a big fan of nine lives ..great in real life but not in fictional stories .. go figure me!! ;)

Lost December by Richard Paul Evans, AF, 2011, 379p (large print), rating=4

Richard Paul Evans is one of my go to authors when I want to get out of a reading slump (which I am in at the moment). He has a way of telling stories that touch the heart (my kind of book), using melancholy to drive at a moral message. I often find myself emotionally involved with the characters. This book is no exception. A riches-to-rags story through a take on the well known Bible parable The Prodigal Son. Prodigal being the key word in defining the essence of the tale ..SPOILER STARTS (paraphrased from the book) misunderstanding the word thinking it means "lost" or "wayward" when it really means "wastefully extravagant", but it also means "to give abundantly". SPOILER ENDS You're likely to need a tissue. I did.

Emotionally charging and character building. A lesson in giving and being grateful. Appropriate feel good book during this Christmas season.

On a side note: I learned interesting things about being homeless.

Finding Noel by Ricard Paul Evans, AF, 2006, 304p, rating=3

Fresh from finishing Mr. Evans' current book Lost December, I found that book to be better than this one. But unlike Lost December, the signature intro letter and dedication in Finding Noel left me shedding a tear before reaching chapter one! Mr. Evans dedicated this book to his late mother. Use mother in a sentiment and I'm bawling! As in turns out though, I found this read to be a bit disjointed. Still, a wonderful story of "how people come into our lives for a reason".

What I got out of this book was that we are angels to each other if we choose to be kind. My favorite character was Joette. I loved her!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mid-Winters Eve Blog Hop Winner

Using the services of Random.org, the winner of my Mid-Winters Eve Blog Hop is Angela (email starting at birthday...)!!

Congratulations Angela.  Your prize, the book "The Christmas List" by Richard Paul Evans, is yours if you reply within 72hrs to the email I sent you or a new winner will be chosen.

Thank you to all those who entered and for the follows. :)

Hope everyone enjoyed Christmas.  Here's wishing you all a fabulous New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mid-Winter's Eve Blog Hop

I'm technically on hiatus but I had committed to this a while back so here I am.  So welcome to my stop in this Mid-Winters Eve Blog Hop.  Thanks to I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Oasis for YA for hosting this hop ..where participating bloggers offer a book related giveaway on their blog (see list below).  It's an awesome way to be introduced to book bloggers and get chances to win a prize(s) to boot!  There are over 200 contributors so that means many opportunities to win!  Pretty cool.  Anyway, this time around I'll be giving away a new hardcover copy of "The Christmas List" by Richard Paul Evans to one of my followers.  Sorry, but only someone with a U.S.A. address may be the recipient.

(Go HERE for my review)

To enter:
  • Must be a follower of this blog (GFC, subscriber)
  • Must be at least 13 years old
  • Fill out the form below
  • U.S.A. address only (if you live outside of the U.S. but would like to win this for someone with a U.S. address, then feel free to enter)



Thank you for stopping by and be sure to check out the participating bloggers below for some awesome prizes!  Have a Merry Christmas and good luck!! :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gift Card Giveaway Winner!

Using the services of Random.org, the winner of my Gift Card Giveaway Hop is Sherry Strode!! Your prize of $10 to Amazon or The Book Depository is yours if you reply within 72hrs to the email I sent you or a new winner will be chosen.

Wow, 543 people entered the giveaway and 277 of them received an extra entry for liking my FB Fan Page.  I wish I was super rich so you'd all be winners! 

Thank you to all those who entered and for the follows here and on FB.  You make me smile and one day I hope to make you smile too.  :)

Have a Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gift Card Giveaway Hop

Thanks to our hostesses, I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Attack of the Book for this fabulous event.  Just in time for the holidays!  Here's a hop designed to giveaway gift cards ...see below for list of participants.

Since Amazon.com seems to be popular on this site and as I understand that it can be used internationally, then that's what I'll be giving away to one of my followers!!

$10 electronic gift card (emailed to you) to Amazon.com.  And just in case you are unable to use this gift card, you may opt for an up to $10 worth of book(s) to The Book Depository (be sure they ship free to your country) ...shhh, this isn't a gift card but I want to include as much of my international followers and this seems to be a popular giveaway on this site too.

Here's how to enter:
  • Must be a follower of this blog (GFC, subscription)
  • Must be at least 13 years old
  • Fill out the form below
  • Extra entry for following my FB Page.

That's it!  Thank you for entering and more importantly for the follows.  Good luck!
~Have a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!!



Now start hopping from the list below and good luck!! :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I'm nervous ...

I had appointment last week for my annual womanly exam but had to reschedule since I was sick (since Thanksgiving!).  Well, today's the day.  I still have a bit of an itch to my throat and sniffles so I considered rescheduling again but I'm just being a chicken (oh, did I forget to tell you that I missed last year's exam?).  I really don't know why.  I've actually have had only good experiences on visits to my gynecologist.  I suppose I'm in my 40s now and they up the ante so that's kinda scary.  Anyway, to lighten my mood a bit I dug up a funny "story" that my friend emailed me years ago and here it is, "The Washcloth" ...I think you might get a kick out of it as well.  ~Wish me best wishes today!  Thanks. :)
"The Washcloth"
I was due for an appointment with the gynecologist later in the week. Early one morning, I received a call from the doctor's office to tell me that I had been rescheduled for that morning at 9:30 am.I had only just packed everyone off to work and school, and it was already around 8:45 am.The trip to his office took about 35 minutes, so I didn't have any time to spare.As most women do, I like to take a little extra effort over hygiene when making such visits, but this time I wasn't going to be able to make the full effort.So, I rushed upstairs, threw off my pajamas, wet the washcloth that was sitting next to the sink, and gave myself a quick wash in that area to make sure I was at least presentable.I threw the washcloth in the clothes basket, donned some clothes, hopped in the car and raced to my appointment.I was in the waiting room for only a few minutes when I was called in.Knowing the procedure, as I'm sure you do, I hopped up on the table, looked over at the other side of the room and pretended that I was in Paris or some other place a million miles away. I was a little surprised when the doctor said, "My, we have made an extra effort this morning, haven't we?"I didn't respond.After the appointment, I heaved a sigh of relief and went home. The rest of the day was normal Some shopping, cleaning, cooking.After school when my 6 year old daughter was playing, she called out from the bathroom, "Mommy, where's my washcloth?" I told her to get another one from the cupboard.She replied, "No, I need the one that was here by the sink, it had all my glitter and sparkles saved inside it." NEVER going back to that doctor ever!! (Unknown author)

On another note:
I can't seem to get my nose in a book because I just have tons on my mind lately so I'm going on a temporary holiday break from reading and blogging (hence, I missed this week's PTSS and MRM I usually do).  Don't worry, still will post the giveaway hops I committed to this month so stay tuned for those.

Friday, December 2, 2011

"Beach Lane"

by Sherryl Woods, AF, 2011, Playaway digital audio, 10.5hrs, rating=3

In the close-knit community of Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, Susie O'Brien and Mack Franklin's "not dating" claim befuddles everyone, especially since the two spend every spare minute together. Susie's thrilled when their friendship finally heats up. Then, just when happily-ever-after seems within reach, Mack loses the job he loves and Susie faces a devastating diagnosis.
But O'Briens always unite in a crisis. Even her cousin Jess, Susie's rival for most of their lives, becomes her staunchest supporter—especially when Mack's former lover comes to town. The stakes are higher than ever before, but Susie's definitely up to the challenge…as long as Mack's right there by her side. (Goodreads)

A nice romantic novel.  Two friends on the road to being more, but then future plans were stalled because of personal troubles so the relationship goes to limbo.  The secrets they kept from each other seemed such an unhealthy way to have a future together so it was hard for me to root for them.  But as the story continued, I couldn't help but wish for the couple's success.  I'm a sucker for love that way!

The supporting characters functioned well here. The O'Brien family was a hoot. It was also nice to read Jess's turn of character. It's always a treat to read family working things out. 

My only qualm was that Mack was too perfect (except in the beginning).  Once the secrets were out, Mack did a 360 and everything fell in line.  Nothing rocked the boat for him from then on.  He was supportive, loving, thoughtful, sexy, and just did and said everything right.  Every girls dream!  I guess I just couldn't believe it ... too good to be true kind of thing.  No wonder men are lost.  When they give us perfection, we still question (I'm not the only one, right?).  Anyway, maybe Ms Woods will rattle some bones in the family trip to Ireland in the next installment?

Limelight Reviews

Here's a wonderful new meme hosted by Louise @Between the Covers.  The idea is to "garner meaningful comments on the reviews we spend hours sweating over, getting just right. And then...*crickets*".  There will be one review spotlighted each week to be visited.  To participate, meaningful comments are encouraged to be left on the spotlighted review and two other reviews on the linky.  No following required on any of the blogs.  ~Now head on over HERE to participate and get all the details, including submitting a review to be spotlighted.

My cricket review this week is "For One More Day" by Mitch Albom.  He's one of my favorite authors because his stories always touch my heart.  This particular book moved me because it gave me an opportunity to reflect on my beautiful mother. ~I love you Mom!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Blood Red Road"

by Moira Young, YA, 2011, 459p, rating=4

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.
Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.  (Goodreads)

I should have reviewed this book immediately after reading it (2.5 weeks ago) but time got away from me.  Yet, it was memorable and that's saying a lot coming from queen of forgetfulness, me!  Anyway, this was a captivating read.  The Hillbillies-kind of drawl surprisingly wasn't a nuisance and actually gave the characters a feel of being down to earth people so I felt comfortable getting invested in their story.  And what a breeze it was to get through this 450+ page book because the action never let up.  There were rare occasions when you had time to think all was over because in the next sentence another obstacle was to be conquered.  That sounds aggravating but it was delivered in a way that made me feel part of the adventure ...got my blood pumping, as if I was the one running, jumping, swashbuckling, etc.  How fun and exciting that was! 

The seemingly corny romance between renegade Saba and suave Jack was adorable ...think Katnis meets Flynn Rider.  Odd combination but it really worked!  Yet there was another feel good design about this book.  Family and camaraderie.  The heart of the story.  I'm a sucker for getting things done with friends for family sake.  Hurray for awesome supporting characters!! --Psst, I love Emmi!

Smooth and exciting read with a lot of adventure and heart.  Thanks Joyzi for the recommendation!  Took me awhile but I finally got to it.  :)

Know Me Better #8

"Know Me Better" is a meme hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. She will answer 5 questions off her author interview list each week and invited other bloggers to do the same in an effort to get to know a little bit more about each other. Go HERE to join the fun.

Here's this week's questions and my answers:

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
Off the top of my head, "Sweetly Confused"

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?
I can't think of a novel (that I have to have, any signed by an author would be great!), but a signed copy of Gordon B. Hinckley's non-fiction book, "Standing for Something" would definitely be a treasure.  It's a book dear to my heart.

Horror or Romance?
Definitely romance because horror=I'm a big chicken!

If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?
I like where I am now but just for a moment perhaps the '50s in the U.S.  Seems to be fun and innocently hip when portrayed in TV/film.

Do you prefer a bunch of small gifts or one big expensive one?
Depends.  Example: 1) One time someone did a 12 days of Christmas.. I vacationed in Canada with relatives during the holidays so he wrapped up 12 little gifts for me to open, 1 gift each day 'til Christmas. 2) My husband bought me a car for Valentine's Day.  ~Both pretty awesome. :)

Now it's your turn.  I want to know some things about you.  Feel free to answer one or more on the comment or post your answers and link up!  ~Sure looking forward to getting to know you more too!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"One Summer"

by David Baldacci, AF, 2011, Playaway digital audio, 8hrs, rating=4

It's almost Christmas, but there is no joy in the house of terminally ill Jack and his family. With only a short time left to live, he spends his last days preparing to say goodbye to his devoted wife, Lizzie, and their three children. Then, unthinkably, tragedy strikes again: Lizzie is killed in a car accident. With no one able to care for them, the children are separated from each other and sent to live with family members around the country. Just when all seems lost, Jack begins to recover in a miraculous turn of events. He rises from what should have been his deathbed, determined to bring his fractured family back together. Struggling to rebuild their lives after Lizzie's death, he reunites everyone at Lizzie's childhood home on the oceanfront in South Carolina. And there, over one unforgettable summer, Jack will begins to learn to love again, and he and his children will learn how to become a family once more. (case cover)

I have a confession. When I browse my library, I often don't read the blurbs before reading a book. I scan for key words and mainly go by author, the look of the bookcover, or thickness of the book. Maybe pretty shallow, but that's what I do.  Usually more hits than misses ... here's an example of a hit. :)

Wow, what a heartwrenching story!  I'm glad I didn't read the blurb because listening to it without knowing the premise gave an element of surprise and excitement to the experience.  Anyway, from the start you are introduced to a devastating news.  Jack Armstrong has a terminal disease and trying to hold on until Christmas.  Christmas eve rolls around and Jack is ready to go ... love letters written, accepted his fate ... but BAM! his wife Lizzie ends up getting killed in a car accident on the way back from picking up Jack's medicine.  You can imagine the "Oh no!" gasp going through my head when the police officers came knocking on Jack's door.  Then as the story continues, Jack makes it to the funeral and soon prepares to die alone because his mother-in-law saw it fit for her grandchildren to find new homes in order to spare them of watching their father die.  Little did anyone know that Jack would make a complete recovery, "Miracle Man" as he later would be coined.  So the next step was for Jack to get his children back and fulfill a promise he made to his wife.  There in the "Palace" the Armstrong family learns to heal and bond.

You can guess that this entailed a love story between husband and wife.  But it extended beyond that.  This tale involved immediate family and extended family as understandably when a tragedy hits.  An array of emotions were bounced around and I found myself attached to basically all the characters.  So much so that many tears were shed from my end.  Because as you know, I'm a sucker for books that tug the heart. ;)

I like that this book was a lot about father-daughter relationship.  It was a beautiful account!  It's the ultimate, I'm a daddy's girl fuzzy feeling. 

Overall, Mr. Baldacci did a great job at creating a second chance story with the right amount of fluff.  I can imagine that this may give someone who has lost a loved one a bit of a good cry. 

Gratitude Hop Winner

Using the services of Random.org, the winner of my Gratitude Hop is mel u!!  Your prize of $10 to Amazon or The Book Depository is yours if you reply within 48hrs to the email I sent you or a new winner will be chosen.

I thank those who entered the giveaway and for answering the couple extra questions to help me out for future giveaways.  You are awesome! 

In all, I do appreciate all of you my dear friends.  I'm grateful for your loyalty.  Knowing I have your support makes book blogging a fun hobby.  Thank you ..mwuah!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"The Christmas Wedding"

by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo, AF, 2011, audio CDs, 4hrs 42min, rating=1

The tree is decorated, the cookies are baked, and the packages are wrapped, but the biggest celebration this Christmas is Gaby Summerhill's wedding. Since her husband died five years ago, Gaby's children have drifted apart, each one preoccupied by the turbulence in their own lives. They haven't celebrated Christmas together since their father's death, but when Gaby announces that she's getting married-and that the groom will remain a secret until the wedding day—she may finally be able to bring them home for the holidays.
But the wedding isn't Gaby's only surprise—she has one more gift for her children, and it could change all their lives forever. With deeply affecting characters and the emotional twists of a James Patterson thriller, The Christmas Wedding is a fresh look at family and the magic of the season. (Goodreads)

Beautiful cover, disappointing content.

I liked Alex Cross's Trial so I was looking forward to reading another from this duo.  This Christmas themed one sounded promising.  But off the bat the swearing put me off.  It hurt my ears and more likely the reason I didn't listen carefully.  Yet from what I did grasp, there was really not enough character development.  The story was too brisk.  The turbulent life stories of the adult children showed promise but lacked depth.  And don't get me started on Gabby!  I could not connect with that woman.  She didn't seem to respect marriage ...and the three potential grooms for that matter.  I know, this is fiction ..but still.

I know James Patterson can write and I will continue to read his books but this one just didn't work for me.  No fuzzy Christmas feeling felt from my end.  :(

SSMG Winner

Random.org has spoken. Congratulations Melanie McCullough!! Some mail giddiness can be yours if you claim your prize, My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, within the next 48hrs.  An email has been sent to you.

Thank you to all those who participated.

*SSMG will be taking a break and will return sometime next year.*

Monday, November 28, 2011

Must Read Monday: Made You Laugh Out Loud

Here's a new meme that's quite fun and clever .. Must Read Monday by Fans of Fiction. Go HERE to join the fun.

The goal of this meme is to find those books others are excited about to add to your To Be Read list.
Instead of answering a question, you are basically creating intrigue for other hoppers. What makes your book so swoon-worthy? What do you absolutely have to mention so they'll read it?
On your post, you'll make an acrostic puzzle (think of it as an overview/book blurb type of thing).
When you leave comments on other posts, be sure to mention whether you're adding that book to your TBR pile, and what part convinced you to do so.
It's all about powers of persuasion, people:) You might have to think a little, but channel that inner-creative goddess (or god).

This week's category is a book that made you laugh out loud.  I chose Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. It was the oddly imaginative adventures that made this a funny read.  So out there that you can't help but laugh out loud.  That's what happened to me when I got to page 240.  But please go HERE for the blurb and my review because I didn't do the book much justice on this acrostic.

Kafka Tamura
A teenage boy, who runs away
From home
Keeps us
All

On our toes.
Nakata

The aging simpleton
Has quite an
Exceptional pull toward Kafka

So together they
Have quirky adventures and
One incredibly funny moment that got me
Rolling out of my seat.
Entirely off, no kidding!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday: Peter and Cornelius

Today's scriptures study is found in the book of Acts chapter 10.  Here we learn about a centurion (officer of the Roman Army, in command of 100 men), named Cornelius.  He was described as a devout man that feared God, gave alms, and prayed always.  One day an angel came to him and told him to send men to fetch Peter in Joppa.  In the meantime Peter praying and very hungry and about to eat, fell into a trance.  He saw the heaven opened and laid before him were many animals.  He was told to kill and eat.  Remembering that he was never to eat anything common or unclean (see Leviticus 11), he refused.  He was then told that "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." (Act 10:15).  Still contemplating on the meaning of his vision, the three men that Cornelius sent came to Peter and told him of Cornelius's vision.  Peter agreed to go with them.  Meanwhile, Cornelius gathered up his family and friends in anticipation of Peter's visit and teachings.  Cornelius overcame by Peter's presence fell down at his feet and worshipped Peter.  Peter took him up and said that he was just a man.  Peter then seeing the multitude came to understand his vision.  See, up to this time the Apostles had been teaching the gospel to the Jews and most of the church members were under the impression that only the Jewish people can be taught the gospel.  Cornelius was not a Jew so Peter preaching to him and to those gathered (Gentiles) was unusual.  However, Peter realized that teaching the gospel is for all .."Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." (Act 10:34-35).  So Peter preached to these Gentiles and the Holy Ghost fell on them ... and so they were baptized. 

                                                              (courtesy of lds.org)

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matthew 28:19)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a safe, thankful, and fun Thanksgiving everyone!



Here's a video that my son and I had a kick watching several years ago. I looked for it on YouTube and here is it! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mail Giddy


I was truly giddy when I got this in the mail this weekend!  It came the same day that we were having a birthday party for my daughter so it felt like it was my birthday too ... this being my present.  Pretty cool.  Anyway, thank you Alison @ Alison Can Read for the wonderful treat!  Oh by the way, Alison had mentioned that I was the last one to enter the giveaway and random.org chose me!  How lucky was I?!! 

I read the book last year and liked it a lot.  When word came out that Robert Pattinson was to play the leading role, I couldn't picture it.  He just didn't seem to fit the Jacob in the book that I imagined.  When the trailers and promo pictures started to come out, the idea that he could pull it off warmed up to me (he was great in the movie Remember Me).  He was awfully cute and it had been a long time since I've read the book so maybe?

After the party I did a quick minor clean up then relaxed and watched the movie by myself (the fam had other interests).  Well, it was pretty good (3.75 stars/5).  The movie brought back the lovely read and I think Christoph Waltz did an amazing job playing August.  Of course, Rosie rocked!!  As far as Pattinson and Witherspoon .. good but not amazing.  The forbidden love affair gaze was there but lacked the passion ..I'm not talking about the raunchy kind, but something more searing.  I think they played the characters a bit too subdued or something? Oh, I don't how to describe it!  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the movie and this DVD will be in my prized collection.  

In this case, the book was much better.  However, I do appreciate the movie.  It was a good tribute.

BTW, I didn't realize that Reese was petite.  --Just an observation, I'm not saying I have anything against petite people ..I'm petite!

Sharing Some Mail Giddiness Giveaway: My Sister's Keeper

I get all giddy when I receive a book in the mail so I thought I'd give you an opportunity to experience some giddiness too!  Therefore, I'm offering you a chance to win a book from my once-read books. This will be a weekly giveaway so come back each week ..maybe one will catch your fancy!

Here's how to enter:

1.Must be a follower of this blog.
2.U.S.A. address only.
3.Leave a comment providing an email address to contact you.

That's it! Contest ends 11/28/11 11:59 PST. Winner announced next Tuesday.

Good luck!

This week's book is a paperback copy of Jodi Picoult's "My Sister's Keeper". Go HERE for blurb and my review.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SSMG Winner

Random.org has spoken. Congratulations Melanie!! Some mail giddiness can be yours if you claim your prize, Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson, within the next 48hrs.  An email has been sent to you.

Thank you to all those who participated.

See you tomorrow for another SSMG giveaway. *waves*

Monday, November 21, 2011

Must Read Monday: Fantasy

Here's a new meme that's quite fun and clever .. Must Read Monday by Fans of Fiction. Go HERE to join the fun.

The goal of this meme is to find those books others are excited about to add to your To Be Read list.
Instead of answering a question, you are basically creating intrigue for other hoppers. What makes your book so swoon-worthy? What do you absolutely have to mention so they'll read it?
On your post, you'll make an acrostic puzzle (think of it as an overview/book blurb type of thing).
When you leave comments on other posts, be sure to mention whether you're adding that book to your TBR pile, and what part convinced you to do so.
It's all about powers of persuasion, people:) You might have to think a little, but channel that inner-creative goddess (or god).

This week's category is Fantasy or a book with fantastical elements.  I chose Erin Morgenstern's debut novel, The Night Circus.  Find my review HERE

This was an enchanting book and I had a kick reminiscing while coming up with this acrostic puzzle.  Enjoy!

                                A fanciful Tale indeed.
                     Open only at nigHt and everything
                                    must bE in black

                                            aNd
                                          whIte.
                                  Quickly Gone as it
                                  comes tHis circus
                                          of The night.

                              You'll find Celia's Feat of Illustrations,
     The Drawing Room, and WIdget's Anthology of Memory.
                                  Don't foRget The Hall of Mirrors, The Ice
                     Garden, nor MarCo's ship made of books.
                          And how aboUt a nibble of chocolate mice?
          Sea of Ink, Pool of TearS, Cloud of Maze, and much much more!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday: Stephen, the Martyr


Sorry I missed last week ..had one of those days.  Anyway, I am going to really try to study the scriptures instead of just reading them.  That was truly the point of this meme but I got lazy and was afraid to offend or sound preachy so I ended up just posting scripture passages and left it at that.  Well, I'm going to make it a study again and be more descriptive. 

Today's study/pondering is about Stephen, the martyr.  His story is found in the book of Acts, chapters 6 and 7.

Here's a summary of Stephen's story:
After the death of Jesus Christ, the Jews thought that miracles and such would end.  However, the Apostles continued the work and followers increased to the point that the Apostles needed help.  Seven men were chosen, one of which was Stephen, "a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 6:5).  Stephen preached the gospel and did many wonders and miracles among the people.  But many Jews were angered by his preaching and accused him of blasphemy because they did not believe that Jesus was the Saviour so they brought Stephen before a court of Jewish leaders.  At the trial, Stephen didn't try to defend himself but spoke of the history of Israel and told the people that they weren't obeying Gods commandments.  Those words and stating his vision, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56) angered them enough to take Stephen outside and stoned him to death ... full of the Holy Ghost, Stephen said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.  And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.  And when he said this, he fell asleep."  (Acts 7:59-60). 

Stephen's story is an example of a person who believes so strongly in something that he or she gives his life as a witness.  Stephen had a strong testimony of the Godhead and was martyred because of it.

Also we learn about laying on of hands (Acts 6:6) ... All who receive the priesthood are ordained by the laying of hands thus the Apostles gave the the priesthood authority, which they received from Jesus Christ, to the seven men.

What can we learn from Stephen's vision about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost?    
LDS answer is found in D&C 130:22

Friday, November 18, 2011

"The Night Circus"


by Erin Morgenstern, AF, 2011, 387p, rating=4

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂȘves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. (Goodreads)

This book was full of crisp and vivid display of fantasy and imagery.  This special circus really did feel like "Le Cirque Des Reves", the circus of dreams.  The cast of supporting characters were quirky and intriguing (what comes to mind that sorta compares are the supporting actors in the movie Knotting Hill), fitting for a circus.  But it was their combined stories that made them special and together became the pawn in the game.  The magical game that Celia and Marco were bound to play to the death.  However, the two fell in love so neither wanted to play anymore.  Unfortunately, that was not an option.  So comes in Bailey, the young boy who fell in love with the circus.

At first, the read confused the heck out of me!  The setting see-sawed from one year to another and I kept going back to the beginning of the chapter to orient myself.  I also had to figure out who's who.  I supposed reading this choppily over a week and half didn't help.  But it eventually came together for me and that was nice.  From there I grew to like the sweet love story between Celia and Marco and the love story for the circus in general. 

A great debut novel.  Original, magical, and enchanting.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Know Me Better #7

"Know Me Better" is a meme hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. She will answer 5 questions off her author interview list each week and invited other bloggers to do the same in an effort to get to know a little bit more about each other. Go HERE to join the fun.

This week's questions were tough.  Here's what I finally came up with:

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
That I didn't know what missionary position meant.  I was 21-22yo when I heard the term used ... you can probably imagine the confusion/horror going through my mind considering "missionary(-ies)" to me back then meant those young Mormon men and women sharing the gospel.  It wasn't long after that that I took sexuality class in college. :D

Beach or Pool?
For swimming, neither because I can't swim well.  But for ambiance, definitely beach!  More filling to the senses ..sights, sounds, smell, etc.

If you had 24 hours alone how would you spend it?
I'd start with a shopping spree at a book store then pack my loot and fly to Hawaii.  There I'd read along the beach to my heart's content (on my side is an all I can eat/drink snacks/drinks).  After reading and snacking I'd go to a spa and have a total body treatment.  Then go back to my suite and lie down on a super soft luxurious bed and read until I fall asleep.

Coke or Pepsi?
This is a Coke home!  It's my husband's water ..I kid you not!  Of course it's often the coldest drink in the fridge so I can't help but sneak one here and there for myself. ;)

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why?
I honestly can't think of anybody!  This is not a cop out.  I tried hard to think of someone but nada! :(

Not up for joining the meme yet?  Well, I would like to get to know you better so feel free to answer one or more on the comment section.

"Ender's Game"

by Orson Scott Card, YA, 1985, 357p, rating=5

Ender Wiggin is a very bright young boy with a powerful skill. One of a group of children bred to be military geniuses and save Earth from an inevitable attack by aliens, known here as "buggers," Ender becomes unbeatable in war games and seems poised to lead Earth to triumph over the buggers. Meanwhile, his brother and sister plot to wrest power from Ender. Twists, surprises and interesting characters elevate this novel into status as a bona fide page turner. It captured the Nebula and Hugo Awards. (Goodreads)

Someone call Child Protective Services because there was a lot of violations going on in here!!  Wow, Ender was one heck of a kid!  I was rooting for him the entire time and he delivered.  He was unbelievably beyond his years.  He was pushed hard and as a reader and mother, I was pained.  What horrible psychological and physical torture he had to endure.  That said, it was the empathy that had me turning the pages and wanting to see if Ender turns out a complete mess at the end of this.

Awesome sci fi premise, original and thought out characters, action packed thriller, and an emotionally charging pace.   I think this is the first sci fi that really stirred me.  The making of a leader's psyche was scrutinized.  The inner turmoil going on in Ender's mind was a testimony to the complex capability of human decision making. Really, this book was a disturbingly good read!  I'm looking forward to continuing the saga.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gratitude Giveaways Hop

Here's a hop that I enjoy because it gives bloggers an opportunity to thank their followers.  I'm certainly grateful to all of you who have decided to be among "mi amigos".  Thank you for being loyal.  You are the best! ... Welcome new followers and thank you for the follow! :)

There's more giveaways next month so my giveaway this time is simply a $10 electronic gift card to Amazon.com or up to $10 worth of book(s) to The Book Depository ... winner's choice (be sure your country qualifies).  To enter you must be at least 13yo, be a follower of this blog, and fill out the form below.  That's it!  Good luck and again, thank you!!  :)


Thank you I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and All-Consuming Books for hosting this wonderful giveaway.  Now fill out the form and don't forget to head on over HERE for the list of >300 bloggers participating in giveaways.



**Winner will be notified via email and name announced on this blog within 3 days post contest.  The services of Random.org will be used to select a winner.**

Sharing Some Mail Giddiness: Sundays at Tiffany's


I get all giddy when I receive a book in the mail, so I thought I'd give you an opportunity to experience some giddiness too by offering a chance to win a book from my once-read books. This will be a weekly giveaway so come back each week ..maybe one will catch your fancy!

Here's how to enter:

1.Must be a follower of this blog.
2.U.S.A. address only.
3.Leave a comment providing an email address to contact you.

That's it! Contest ends 11/21/11 11:59 PST. Winner announced next Tuesday.

Good luck!

This book was just okay.  I just fell too hard for the movie version and this was a rare occasion when the book wasn't better.  This is a hardcover copy. :)


As a little girl, Jane has no one. Her mother Vivienne Margaux, the powerful head of a major New York theater company has no time for her. But she does have one friend--Michael--and no one can see him but her. But Michael can't stay with Jane forever, and on her eighth birthday, her imaginary friend must leave her.
When Jane is in her thirties, working for her mother's company, she is just as alone as she was as a child. Her boyfriend hardly knows she's there and is more interested in what Vivienne can do for his career. Her mother practically treats her as a slave in the office, despite the great success of Jane's first play, "Thank Heaven." Then she finds Michael--handsome, and just the same as she remembers him, only now he's not imaginary. For once in her life, Jane is happy--and has someone who loves her back. But not even Michael knows the reason behind why they've really been reunited. (Goodreads)
Go HERE for my review.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Bridge to Terabithia"

by Katherine Paterson, YR, 1972, 128p, rating=2.5
1978 Newbery Award Winner
**SPOILER ALERT**

The story starts out simply enough: Jess Aarons wants to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade--he wants it so bad he can taste it. He's been practicing all summer, running in the fields around his farmhouse until he collapses in a sweat. Then a tomboy named Leslie Burke moves into the farmhouse next door and changes his life forever. Not only does Leslie not look or act like any girls Jess knows, but she also turns out to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. After getting over the shock and humiliation of being beaten by a girl, Jess begins to think Leslie might be okay.
Despite their superficial differences, it's clear that Jess and Leslie are soul mates. The two create a secret kingdom in the woods named Terabithia, where the only way to get into the castle is by swinging out over a gully on an enchanted rope. Here they reign as king and queen, fighting off imaginary giants and the walking dead, sharing stories and dreams, and plotting against the schoolmates who tease them. Jess and Leslie find solace in the sanctuary of Terabithia until a tragedy strikes and the two are separated forever. In a style that is both plain and powerful, Katherine Paterson's characters will stir your heart and put a lump in your throat. (Goodreads)

I had not seen the movie version nor really knew anything about this book (I know, I need to get out more).  So I'm reading along and BAM! when Jesse gets back from his date (I'll get to that in a minute), he was told that Leslie died.  I'm thinking, what the...!  I must have read that wrong.  Like Jesse I could not accept her death.  I too was thinking she'd pop up and say, psyche! (ok, maybe a different term in her time).  But no, she really was dead.  I'm totally in shock!  I couldn't get over it.  Anyway, the story moved along and ended with a sweet bond between Jess and his younger sister May Belle at the secret imaginary kingdom, Terabithia, that Jesse and Leslie created. 

Okay, so back to that date.  Miss Edmunds, a music teacher, got bored one day so she invites Jesse to go to the Smithsonian Museum with her and they go.  Whoa!  Someone explain that to me.  Even to have a reason for Leslie to go to Terabithia alone, I don't see why that was thrown in.  A different event could have been used to lure Jesse out of that meeting with Leslie.  Anyway, I just thought that date was out on left field ...inappropriate!

There was a lot of issues going on in this little book ... parents with their children, social status, sibling antics, classmate rivalry, teacher bashing, dealing with death, imagination, etc.  This had the makings of a heart wrenching tale but I was too much in shock to enjoy the death lessons, playful Narnia-like adventures, and sweet ending.  That date and the sudden death turned my brain and things just went on standstill for me.  I know people die and even kids, but seriously this particular case put me at a stupor.  I really really wanted Leslie to jump out of the bushes and yell, psyche!

SSMG: No Winner

I had no takers for "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom so I have no winner to announce. :( 

No worries, we'll try a different book tomorrow.  How about a hardcover copy of "Sundays at Tiffanys" by James Patterson?  If you're interested, come back tomorrow to enter. :)

Have a great day!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Must Read Monday: A Powerful Book

Here's a new meme that's quite fun and clever .. Must Read Monday by Fans of Fiction. Go HERE to join the fun and because I'm one of the winners featured for last week's acrostics!!  Woohoo!!  Thank you Jenna and Ashley for the honor.  ~Congratulations to Sherre as well!

The goal of this meme is to find those books others are excited about to add to your To Be Read list.
Instead of answering a question, you are basically creating intrigue for other hoppers. What makes your book so swoon-worthy? What do you absolutely have to mention so they'll read it?
On your post, you'll make an acrostic puzzle (think of it as an overview/book blurb type of thing).
When you leave comments on other posts, be sure to mention whether you're adding that book to your TBR pile, and what part convinced you to do so.
It's all about powers of persuasion, people:) You might have to think a little, but channel that inner-creative goddess (or god).

 
This week's category is: "A book so powerful that it changed you in some way".  For me, this would be "Standing for Something" by Gordon B. Hinckley.  This book is dear to my heart.  Truly a powerful book that showed me how important it is to stand for something again, so I try to aline my life in that matter. Go HERE for my review.

Standing for Something
Takes a look
At 10 virtues that has been
Neglected.
Drawing on from his own life
Including from our
Nation today,
Gordon B. Hinckley

Faithfully
Outlines "
Rediscovering the values and virtues that have historically made us

Strong." (book flap)
Outlining also 2 guardians of virtue,
Marriage and the family stating that
Even in difficult
Times
Here is the path to a better world.  As
Individuals, community, and as a
Nation we can
Grow to stand for something again.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"A Long Drive Home"

by Will Allison, AF, 2011, 184p, rating=3.5

A riveting second novel by Will Allison, author of the acclaimed What You Have Left. A happily married suburban father makes a mistake that results in a teenager's death and sends his own life into a devastating tailspin. Written as a confessional letter, the book is a fascinating and moving cautionary tale that explores the moral ambiguities of personal responsibility as it chronicles a father’s desperate attempt to explain himself to his daughter—even though he knows that in doing so, he risks losing her forever. (Goodreads)

It sure was a long drive home for Glen Bauer!  Too bad he wasn't carrying a four leaf clover or a rabbit's foot, poor man!  What seemed to be any ol' day became a nightmare ... all because he gave into road rage. 

After being accosted and emasculated by a stranger in front of his six year old daughter, Glen was understandably left hot under the collar and it spilled over to the rest of his drive home.  Which eventually lead him to decide to teach another driver a lesson that consequently ended in fatality.  Yikes!  That sparked another human emotion, fear.  He didn't want to go to jail so he had to lie, he had to omit details ... he had to cover up.  And the twist was his wife's solution to the problem.  How crazy was that?! 

What's catchy about this book was that it gave the reader a shock/scare factor.  The reader is left questioning himself ...like, "Goodness, that could happen to me but surely I wouldn't have gone that far in the hole, right?" or "Once I make a mistake I own up to it, right?".  Scary indeed.  Our decisions make us. 

I've got mixed feeling about the brevity of the novel.  The story did give insights to human emotions in its characters but it left me wanting more.  I'm not sure I like the abrupt ending to let the reader mull over the moral lesson kind of ending.  Something was amiss for me but I can't explain exactly what.  Maybe I want to know what Sara ended up thinking.  Perhaps there is a sequel? ;)

Overall, a small book that packs a big punch!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day


Thank you veterans!!  You rock!!!

"My 11 Lists" Hop


Just for fun I thought I'd host a hop to commemorate this special date.  So, let's make some lists of 11's. 

To participate, post answers to the topics below, link yourself on the Linky Tool (direct link to your post, not your blog), include the above "My 11 Lists" image in your post, and then start hopping! 

Feel free to spread the word!  Thanks. :)

Here's my 11's ...

11 things I'm grateful for:
  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. Books
  4. Internet
  5. Chocolate
  6. Disposable diapers
  7. Body that still functions
  8. Education
  9. A warm home
  10. Temples
  11. Smiles
11 books I love:
  1. Standing for Something by Gordon B. Hinckley
  2. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  3. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  5. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  6. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  7. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
  8. For One More Day by Mitch Albom
  9. Dash & Lily's Books of Dares by David Levithan
  10. The Locket by Richard Paul Evans
  11. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows
11 things I've accomplished so far:
  1. Got married to the best man on earth
  2. Gave birth to 3 kids
  3. Dream job
  4. Hold a current temple recommend
  5. Visited Hawaii 3 times
  6. I have a tried and tested yummy recipe for New York cheesecake
  7. A decent book blog
  8. Finally a bookworm
  9. Participated in a 5K run
  10. Read the entire Holy Bible
  11. Own a house
11 things I still want to accomplish:
  1. Meet J.K. Rowling
  2. Read a book that has >1,000 pages (other than the Bible)
  3. Visit relatives in the Philippines
  4. Make a dent on my TBR list
  5. See my kids get married and have kids of their own
  6. Meet a book blogger friend in person
  7. Go to a book signing
  8. Clean out my garage
  9. Travel around the world
  10. Finish the Harry Potter series
  11. Meet Mark Harmon

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Know Me Better #6

"Know Me Better" is a meme hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. She will answer 5 questions off her author interview list each week and invited other bloggers to do the same. 

Let's get to know a little bit more about each other.  Go HERE to join the fun.

Here is this week's questions and my answers:

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
Dang, no people!!  Okay, things it is (assuming I can do a Robinson Crusoe on food, water, and shelter):  1. Scriptures 2. Soap 3. First Aid kit

What is one book everyone should read?
The Book of Mormon.  :)

If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
A happy touch .. any person I touch becomes happy. :)  And if I can have more:  I'd like to be able to fly! ..or have the ability to instantly go anywhere.

Harry Potter or Twilight?
Ooh, two great series in its own right.  I haven't finished Harry Potter (only read the first four) but I already know I'd love the rest and the entire series as a whole.  The Twilight series I completed and the first series I ever read ..so it was special.  Hmm, I go with Harry Potter.

Gum or Breath Mints?
I don't do either but if I have to choose, I'd choose gum since breath mints often sting.

If you participate in the fun, don't forget to leave me a comment so that I can visit you and get to know you better as well. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Glow"

by Amy Kathleen Ryan, Sky Chasers #1, YA, 2011, 307p, rating=2.5

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?
Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. On board their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...
Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.
But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside. (Goodreads)

This had the element of a fascinating sci fi plot.  The mysterious journey even got a bit gripping.  Though I didn't like the development of the main protagonists much, I thought the supporting characters were very captivating. Yet, overall this book wasn't for me.  I wasn't crazy about the love triangle in this one.  I wasn't crazy about the abduction sequence (drugging, violation) even when there was an explanation to its necessity.  Yes, I understand that there's usually darkness before the light but this one didn't work for me.  I think Ms Ryan dug too deep into the dark that the light didn't glow as brightly as I'd hope.  Plus, I especially didn't care for the religious undertone of the book.  It felt too preachy... haha, I should talk.  I probably do this often!  Anyway, these words are coming from someone that isn't into sci fi so I'm no expert. 

As an aside, I read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card after this book (also a sci fi) and found that to be incredible (review to come)!  So I'm not a sci fi loather. :)

Sharing Some Mail Giddiness: Tuesdays with Morrie


I get all giddy when I receive a book in the mail, so I thought I'd give you an opportunity to experience some giddiness too by offering a chance to win a book from my once-read books. This will be a weekly giveaway so come back each week ..maybe one will catch your fancy!

Here's how to enter:

1.Must be a follower of this blog.
2.U.S.A. address only.
3.Leave a comment providing an email address to contact you.

That's it! Contest ends 11/14/11 11:59 PST. Winner announced next Tuesday.
Good luck!

This week's book is written by one of my favorite authors, Mitch Albom.  This particular book renders sweet messages of wisdom that one gets from aging.  Go HERE for my post on this book.  This is a hardcover copy. :)


Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly 20 years ago. Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you? Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying of ALS - or motor neurone disease - Morrie visited Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final "class": lessons in how to live. This is a chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie's lasting gift with the world. (Goodreads)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

SSMG Winner

Random.org has spoken. Congratulations Julie @Red Handed!! Some mail giddiness can be yours if you claim your prize (The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd) within the next 48hrs (an email has been sent to you).

Thank you to all those who participated.

See you tomorrow for another SSMG giveaway. *waves*

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