Release Day Review: The Architech and the Castle of Glass By Jade Mere

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-architect-and-the-castle-of-glass-by-jade-mere-9478-b

Blurb

Chasing his dream will send him into a dark and twisted nightmare.
Tahki’s only goal is to become a world-famous architect, even if that means betraying his father’s wishes by abandoning his comfortable life for one of unpredictable danger.
After Tahki blindly accepts what he thinks will be a dream job, his skills as an architect are put to the test as he is given the bizarre—and slightly unethical—task of turning a remote castle into a new-age machine for Prince Dyraien. The castle provides a challenge unlike any he’s had before, and Tahki finds the only way he’ll be able to succeed is to swallow his pride and work alongside Rye, a guarded young man who is quick to see the flaws in both Tahki and his work.
Yet the looming deadline proves to be the least of Tahki’s troubles. When a horrifying creature begins to haunt him, Tahki turns to Rye for help. The more he learns about the history of the castle, the more terrifying the hauntings become. Even with Rye by his side, Tahki realizes achieving his dream might send him down a dark path from which he can’t return.

Review

 One of the things I love about being a reviewer is being able to explore new authors or themes or styles without fear! I was attracted to the mystery in the blurb – what’s the challenge? – what is the creature? – how horrifying is it?

From that I probably should have guessed that the romance would take a back seat and it definitely does.

This is a story about Tahki learning about his past and only as a side note does he fall in love.

I’m not a big fan of fantasy (in this sense) and I wasn’t that compelled by the story – but that is 100% personal taste.

If you like fantasy, don’t want a lot of sex, aren’t too worried about the romance, like a bit of a mystery and totally unique world building – this is for you!

No rating as it just isn’t my flavor 😉

 

 

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Recent Release: Imperfect Match by Jordan Castillo Price

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39290871-imperfect-match

Blurb

A man whose future is assigned – A heart that yearns to be free.

Lee Kennedy’s destiny is controlled by the Algorithm. It’s the reason he’s still in college, regardless of his good academic performance. He’s switched his major repeatedly and stalled on his Master’s thesis, but there’s only so much longer he can hold out. Because once he graduates, the Algorithm must be triggered.

Everyone in Lee’s family has allowed the Algorithm to match them with a spouse. As has everyone on his block. His neighborhood. In fact, everyone he’s ever known. Pairing with his own chosen match seems inevitable…until, at his sister’s wedding, he meets Roman.

The waiter lives in the Taxable District, a run-down neighborhood that’s only a brief train ride away, but feels like another world. The seedy District is governed by different standards—different expectations—so it’s not exactly a surprise that Roman isn’t married. But it’s definitely a shock to taste his lips.

One forbidden encounter has Lee reeling. He questions everything. His past. His future. And especially the Algorithm. He longs for the freedom to choose not only his own partner, but his own destiny.

When defying the Algorithm will cost everything—family, home, and even livelihood—is Lee strong enough to take another path?

If you enjoy journeys of self-discovery with a futuristic bent, you’ll love this standalone character-driven adventure.

Review

I want to start out by saying I’m a giant Jordan Castillo Price Fan and so when I see that she’s written something I immediately grab it up! I have to say that if this hadn’t been written by her I would have skipped it based on the blurb – because that sort of dystopian stuff just isn’t my cuppa tea in general. Add to it my intense fear and worry about where our country is going right now and I just can’t handle reading dark stuff – even if there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

I think fans of the author will (in general) love this. Fans of darker romances (meaning the world around them is dark, not their emotions etc.) Many people loved this and I encourage folks to read those reviews ☺

No rating.

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Coming Soon! Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall

Riptide Presents on April 9th 2018

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/magic-runs-deep

Blurb

For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.

Elrid, the invading king’s brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.

However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.

Review

This is more of a fantasy with a bit of romance. There is no steam, and the physical nature of their relationship is hinted at only.

The writing was wonderful and the world-building well-done, however, this isn’t my thing. While I could appreciate the skill in the author’s ability, I probably wouldn’t have chosen this if I’d known that the romance was a secondary issue rather than the main pursuit.

I think fans of high fantasy and people looking for LGTBQ MCs without romance as the central theme will really enjoy this. If you’re like me and you crave the romance, you might be disappointed.

No rating.

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Retro Review: A Matter of Duty (Hong Kong Nights #1) by J.C. Long

Ninestar Press

http://ninestarpress.com/product/a-matter-of-duty/

Blurb

Noah Potter has come to Hong Kong to find his missing sister, Lianne, who disappeared after leaving him a voice mail pleading for his help. Unfortunately the Hong Kong police are unwilling to help him, so Noah has to find her himself.

Noah’s search for his sister brings him across Wei Tseng, leader of the Dragons, a group of dedicated men and women willing to do whatever it takes to keep their district safe from the violence and triads that plague the rest of the city’s underworld. Wei is a man of violence but also one of incredible compassion, and his history is one that resonates with Noah, igniting a passion neither man expects.

Together they search for Lianne, a search that will lead right into a conflict with the Dragons’ greatest rivals in the city.

Review

This was originally released in March 2017.  It is now in audio format and I believe the publisher is pushing the series again for that reason.

I was intrigued by the setting and all the praise this series has gotten.  However, this is absolutely a case of “it’s me not you”. This is a well-written, intriguing and fast paced story.

It was too dark and I couldn’t handle the ending. (I don’t want to spoil it, and NO the MCs don’t die.)

Many others really resonated with this story, but – for my current mood – I couldn’t deal with the darkness here.

No rating.

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Release Day Review: Waking Oisin by Grace Kilian Delaney

release day review

Releases Tomorrow: February 26, 2018

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38235138-waking-oisin?from_search=true

Blurb

Oisin Harrison blames his fiancée’s distrust for ruining their relationship. He blames his father for pushing him into law school. But more than all that, he blames himself for letting other people’s expectations stop him from going after his dream. But dressing in drag with his best friend is the one thing Oisin refuses to compromise.

As Sin, he meets handsome Trenton Fisher, a man who appreciates Oisin’s cross-dressing. Trent upends his world by doing things to his body no one ever has, making him want more than just one night together. That is, until Oisin discovers his hot hookup works at his father’s law firm and is angling for a promotion.

To complicate things, Trent doesn’t seem to recognize Oisin out of drag. Or does he?

Will Oisin and Trent’s magnetic attraction grow to something deeper, or will it threaten to jeopardize their careers and futures?

Waking Oisin contains characters from Seven Minutes but can be read as a standalone.

Review

I am not a fan of BDSM or other forms of power/control and though it is not a huge factor in this story it absolutely influenced my enjoyment of this.

I was thinking this would be about coming out of the closet and getting out from an oppressive family – and it sort of was – but it was also a bit disjointed and kind of all over the place.  Oisin is sometimes matures, sometimes a brat, his dad is sometimes supportive, sometimes a jerk, and Trenton is sometimes supportive and sometimes a user.

Oisin isn’t what his dad wants him to be and he rebels and ends up meeting one of his father’s lawyers. When it comes time for them to work together, Trenton is just kind of “blah” about it all and Oisin isn’t as freaked out as I’d have thought he’d be. He’s a bit whiny and petulant and that made the whole power dynamic even more distasteful to me.

I ended up skimming the rest of this because it just wasn’t my thing and had the blurb been more specific I’d have probably skipped it. This is one of those cases of personal preference so I won’t rate it.

Though it can be a standalone, I think it’s better having read book 1, first.

No rating.

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All The World’s An Undead Stage (Offbeat Crimes #6) by Angel Martinez

GoodReads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36195265-all-the-world-s-an-undead-stage

Blurb

Old actors never die shouldn’t be literally true.

Carrington Loveless III, skim-blood vampire and senior officer of Philly’s paranormal police department, has long suspected that someone’s targeting his squad. The increasingly bizarre and dangerous entities invading their city can’t be a coincidence. So when a walking corpse spouting Oscar Wilde attacks one of his officers, Carrington’s determined to uncover the evil mind behind it all.

As a rare books librarian, Erasmus Graham thought he understood some of the stranger things in life. Sharing a life with Carrington’s shown him he didn’t know the half of it. They’ve survived attack books and deadly dust bunnies together and got through mostly unscathed.

Now his world and his vampire’s appear ready to collide again. Books are missing from the rare books’ collection—old tomes of magic containing dangerous summonings and necromancy. He’s certain whoever’s been stalking the Seventy-Seventh is composing their end game.

It’s going to take a consolidated effort from paranormal police, librarians, and some not-quite-authorized civilians to head off the impending catastrophe.

Review

Unfortunately I think this is a book best read as part of the series and I haven’t done that L

 

What I see sounds intriguing and definitely unique and funny, but I was kinda lost and never really got immersed in this story.

 

I was intrigued by the librarian and didn’t read far enough to realize that I probably should have been reading the other books first… so.

 

I’m not going to rate this as that’s not a fair representation, but I’d go ahead and recommend it to fans of the author/series – so long as they’ve been reading along in order. This seems like a funny, unique series and I’m going to be going back to book one to look at it closer!

 

*no rating

 

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Tied Together Audiobook by ZB Heller Narrated by Derrick McClain

audiobookreview

Audible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Tied-Together-Audiobook/B01N7T8Y3V/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1486180131&sr=1-1

Blurb

Ryan Keller has it all: a great supportive family, friends, and no limit to his self-confidence. Coming out of the closet was not as traumatic as he would have thought. Navigating through life isn’t easy for any man, let alone a gay one. Rest assured that Ryan has it handled.
Brandon Ford comes from the wrong side of the tracks. With a dark past, he doesn’t have much going for him, no money, no friends, definitely no charisma, and his family makes people on Jerry Springer look like total winners. Life can’t be worse – until it becomes unbearable.
When Ryan helps Brandon out of a bad situation, chemistry sparks between them. Only Brandon has one problem: he’s hiding in the closet with no way of finding his way out.
After years apart, Ryan runs into Brandon. This spells emotional turmoil for both Ryan and Brandon. Will years of resentment and bad feelings pull them apart or force them to work on their relationship so they can end up Tied Together?

Man, I wish I’d read the reviews for this before I started listening to this audiobook!!!!

I really like Derrick McClain and his narrations, so when this came up for review I was psyched! It looked sweet and funny and who doesn’t like a friends to lovers story?

I was LOVING this for the first 55% of the book. We start off with a smart-mouthed and super confident Ryan who ends up saving the very nerdy Brandon in high school and the two become BFFs. Sure, Ryan secretly wishes Brandon was gay, and sure, Brandon is secretly gay, but these guys are young.

Off they go to college and in the way of all new adults everywhere, Brandon finally sees the light and admits he’s gay and he and Ryan begin a relationship that is physical as well as emotional.

Like I said – the first half of the story is just this – high school and college. The two finding each other as friends then more.

But wait! At the 55 % mark (spoiler) Ryan gives Brandon a RIDICULOUSLY HURTFUL ultimatum where he demands that the newly admitting to being gay Brandon OUT himself or the two can’t be together. So, in a fit of insecurity, Brandon does, but not before Ryan decides he’s been stood up and CHEATS on Brandon. ONE NIGHT! OMG. Poor Brandon gets beat up and then… 12 years pass! (end spoiler) some seriously messed up stuff happens that makes me almost stop listening. I was SO PISSED!

However, I wanted to see what happened. Well. I wish I’d just stopped.

Our MCs do make it to a HEA but it’s lack luster at best and totally disappointing given how badly Ryan treated Brandon and the vast amount of time.

I cannot recommend this – sorry to say. It made me crazy.

I still love Derrick McClain and think he did a solid job with his narration – as always.

If I have to give this a rating I’d give it 4.5 of 5 for the narration and 1 of 5 for the story.

 

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Trust Trade by Ki Brightly

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/trust-trade-by-ki-brightly-8104-b

Blurb

Life hasn’t been good to Jeb Birchman. When he attempted to escape his abusive, zealot father, he found himself on the streets, making a living the only way he knew how, the victim of more violent men—one of whom orchestrates a series of vicious attacks that leave Jeb deaf. Now that he’s aged beyond his latest client’s interest, Jeb knows he needs to escape his risky lifestyle before it’s too late. Seeing one last chance for himself, he earns a GED and enrolls in college.

Freddy Williams enjoys a life that couldn’t be more different from what Jeb has survived. He loves sports, being a personal trainer, and hanging out with friends. The son of deaf parents, Freddy is an outspoken advocate of the Deaf community and works as an interpreter at his college. When he meets Jeb at the bookstore, he’s struck by how attractive he is, and as they get to know each other, he finds Jeb’s good heart just as appealing. By the time he learns of Jeb’s past, it’s only a few steps behind them, and Freddy must make a choice between school and his familiar routine and protecting the man he’s falling in love with.

Review

This is a book that was simply too hard for me to finish. I put it off and put it off and got an extension and put it off – and when I finally decided to try it again, I got to about the 30% point and it was just – so – painful.

I give huge kudos to the author for writing a story that is so compelling that I cannot make myself read it because of the pain it evokes.

I will say, however, that part of why I couldn’t read this was that the appeal of this book (to me) was the hurt/comfort aspect and what I saw from Freddy wasn’t enough comfort to make wading through the hurt worth it.

I’ll admit that I skimmed a bit here and there to see if it got to a point where the sun did shine through and I never found that brightness (at least not to my satisfaction).

So, I won’t rate this as I definitely didn’t read it in it’s entirety and I can say that people looking for a hard look at life on the streets, victims of abuse, the sex trade, incest, – this is the story for you- because it’s got all that and more. It was too dark for me (given world politics I just can’t absorb this into my psyche right now). I am hopeful that the right audience will find this book, because it does look to be really gripping.

DNF 30%

 

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The Straight Boyfriend (Loving You Book 3) by Renae Kaye

release day review 

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-straight-boyfriend-by-renae-kaye-7798-b

o-the-straight-boyfriendBlurb

Aaron Hall has never been able to remain faithful to a single woman, and for most of his life, he’s dated two women at once. Recently his girlfriend tracked him down and knocked on his door—and his live-in girlfriend answered. Now he has no girlfriend and a mortgage he can’t pay by himself.

Vinnie Rosello needs to change his life—get a better job, stop drinking all his money away, find himself a serious boyfriend… and move out of his parents’ house. Aaron needs help with his expenses, so they become housemates.

Even though Aaron harbors some misconceptions about gay men and Vinnie misses his large Italian family, both men find comfort in their friendship. It’s a good arrangement until everything between them changes

Vinnie falls in love with Aaron, and Aaron is shocked to realize he feels the same. There’s only one problem—he’s still straight. He’ll have to overcome his fear of labels in order to love the man who’s captured his heart. 

Review

(Spoilers included because I can’t talk about this without giving away some key points. Sorry 🙁   )

 

 

 

Before I start, I’d recommend reading several reviews before deciding one way or another about this because there are a lot of different ways this story can be taken.

Renae Kaye is a gifted writer and her MCs are really three-dimensional as are her secondary characters. This is the third book in the series that started with Loving Jay, where Liam essentially “turned gay” to be with Jay. Their friends Kee and Tate are in this as well, though not as much (from Don’t Twunk with my Heart). Aaron is best friends with Liam and he’s as straight as can be. He’s adapted to having more gay men in his life, but he’s never considered being gay (and all the way to the end of the story, denies that he’s remotely gay himself.)

Vinnie is a “gold star gay”, meaning he’s never even been with a woman at all, and he is also a bit femme, so he’s been “out” all his life because of his mannerisms.

I’m not sure if this book is really well-timed or very, very poorly timed. Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about “bi-erasure” and this book both adds to the argument for and against that issue.

As I see it, there are several things of importance to discuss about this book – hot topics – if you will.

First, I believe that the author was trying to show that labeling someone gay, straight, bisexual, etcetera, does not help in every situation. She uses Liam as an example of a person who falls in love with a man but who, in general, does not find men sexually attractive, but that he is labeled “gay” because he’s in a permanent relationship with a man – though that’s not very accurate in describing his sexuality. I can see that being “straight” but falling in love with a man and seemingly not feeling attraction toward other men might make this difficult, but if we are trying to pin down a label – then at least consider bi-sexual or demi-sexual or something other than straight has to apply because straight people don’t fall for members of the same sex. I think that in an effort to show how inaccurate labels can be, the fact that Aaron, far more than Liam, protested WAY too much that he wasn’t gay, especially when he kept saying “that it’s okay to be gay, but I’m not”. You kinda have to pick. If labels aren’t important, then why keep harping on it, and if they are important, then take some time and think about ALL the choices and pick one that fits.

Second, in the pursuit of Aaron, Vinnie did several things that made me really uncomfortable. I kept saying to myself, if Aaron was a woman, would Vinnie’s actions be seen as “cute and charming and romantic” or “skeezy and manipulative and kinda rapey”. Aaron kept protesting he wasn’t gay and wasn’t interested in pursuing a romantic/sexual relationship and Vinnie kept putting him in situations that pushed Aaron into sexual/romantic positions. I’m sure Aaron could have stopped things at any point in time, but Vinnie wasn’t giving Aaron’s words the respect they should hold. No means no, male or female.

Third, Aaron’s issue with monogamy/cheating. I think this got conflated with his concerns about being gay when it really should have been it’s own separate issue. Who he loves has no bearing on his ability to commit. Somehow it got wrapped up in the issue that he loved a man and so therefore things had to be different. No. If he’d decided to date a woman he’d have had to eventually figure this out. What made him stray? I still don’t know. Maybe he hadn’t found the right PERSON – man or woman – and therefore kept trying to find him/her. Having found someone to love in Vinnie and deciding to be faithful to him should NOT hinge on the fact that he is or isn’t gay, bi, demi, straight, etc. The MCs needed to really take this out of the “am I gay” equation and simply address it for what it was: cheating is cheating no matter who you date (if the parties involved agree to be monogamous). This bothered me the most because it seemed to suggest that he might be more willing to cheat simply because he was with a guy and he might “crave a woman” and wouldn’t that be horrible. Well, if he was with another woman he might “crave” a different woman – and in fact he had, many times, done this – so being with a guy is NO DIFFERENT. And, hell, who knows?, he might “crave” a guy at some point. Just because he hadn’t felt attraction to a man before doesn’t mean he might not in the future. Before Vinnie he hadn’t felt attraction to a man, but he definitely desires Vinnie so why is it so impossible to think that he might find ANOTHER man attractive in the future? I just didn’t understand this “hurdle”.

Fourth, Vinnie’s poly family. Boy. On one hand I wanted to applaud them for taking a stand and doing something “abnormal” because it felt good and up until the point where Vinnie’s mom gives him her “I’m so proud of you speech” – I felt like that’s what it was. But after listening to her describe what happened, I kinda felt like she ended up railroaded into it because her family disowned her when her sister – who got pregnant by her husband and he couldn’t decide between the two sisters – and her husband decided to make the three of them a family basically because it was the best thing for the husband and she didn’t want to lose him. I didn’t see what she got from it other than NOT losing the husband. It sounded like she’d rather he didn’t have the relationship with the sister so… that wasn’t a great relationship to model things from.

Fifth, Vinnie – up until the end – was way too willing to be Aaron’s secret. That bugged me. He was even considering having an open relationship when that is NOT what he wanted. Aaron continued to say things to him that made me really wonder just what was going on between them – he didn’t really find gay porn hot, he didn’t really want to do anal but since Vinnie did he’d do it for him, he wasn’t sure he wanted to admit he was with Vinnie in a romantic relationship – and still Vinnie was all okay with this.

I didn’t get that Vinnie’s self-esteem was so low that he’d just let Aaron keep saying things that demeaned him and continue to motivate him towards deepening the relationship. It just didn’t jive.

Finally, and this is just a personal pet peeve, but why the discussion about Vinnie’s dick size? What was that even about? It’s like Aaron thought, well – since Vinnie’s dick is smaller than mine it’s ok to have feelings for him? It was strange, at best, and borderline offensive.

I guess, for me, though there were a few moments where Aaron was sweet to Vinnie and by the end he’d somewhat worked out some of his issues, so much of the story left me cringing and wishing Vinnie had better taste in men, that I can’t really say I liked this story. It confused me and made me scratch my head and sometimes I laughed, but for the most part it just seemed to lack a clear direction. I don’t know exactly what point was trying to be made regarding sexual identity and as far as the romance goes, it didn’t feel super healthy nor was it terribly romantic. The smexy times kinda made me uncomfortable because Aaron’s involvement constantly felt a bit forced.

I’m not going to give this a rating because I’m just too conflicted about the story to pick a number – it definitely got me thinking and there were some cute parts but there was just so many other things that didn’t work for me.

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The Little Wolf Audiobook by R Cooper Narrated by Robert Nieman

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents 

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/little-wolf-by-r-cooper-7041-b

51n9wKjrt-L._SL300_Blurb

On the run from his old-blood werewolf family, Tim Dirus finds himself in Wolf’s Paw, one of the last surviving refuges from the days when werewolves were hunted by humans and one of the last places Tim wants to be. Kept away from other wolves by his uncle, Tim knows almost nothing about his own kind except that alpha werewolves only want to control and dominate a scrawny wolf like him.
Tim isn’t in Wolf’s Paw an hour before he draws the attention of Sheriff Nathaniel Neri, the alpha-est alpha in a town full of alphas. Powerful, intimidating, and the most beautiful wolf Tim has ever seen, Nathaniel makes Tim feel safe for reasons Tim doesn’t understand. For five years he’s lived on the run, in fear of his family and other wolves. Everything about Wolf’s Paw is contrary to what he thought he knew, and he is terrified. Fearing his mate will run, Sheriff Nathaniel must calm his little wolf and show him he’s more than a match for this big, bad alpha.

Review

I have to give this book a DNF. I chose the audiobook because I’d enjoyed this series so far and I really like Robert Nieman as a narrator. I owned the book, but was always a bit daunted by it’s length given what I saw was a pretty cut and dried premise.

Unfortunately, I could NOT get into this audiobook.

I guess I have a pretty big bias and that is the “call of the MATE”. To me – that’s what makes shifter stories great. That huge, compelling, drive to find and Mate who is the other half of your soul.

That’s not in here.

From reading other reviews and skimming the end of the books I realize that it’s not til the last 10% of the book that Tim and Nathanial acknowledge that they’re mates. I gave up was near the 50% point when Nathanial essentially pushes Tim into bed with Albert. NO, no, no, nonononono.

That isn’t something a mate should be able to do. So I stopped.

I have to say the word usage and phrasing is beautiful. But it went on and on and on and on.

What needed to boil down to “you’re scared of alphas” but “I’m a nice alpha and we’re mates so I could never hurt you” took place over 18 hours.

It was too much for me. Or at least the audio format was too daunting.

Since I wasn’t compelled enough to read the book in it’s entirety – based on my listening thus far – I called it quits.

DNF 50%

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