Sunday, September 15, 2019

Review + GIVEAWAY: Letters from Jesus by Chris Palmer



About the Book


Book: Letters from Jesus
Author: Chris Palmer
Genre: Religion / Biblical Studies/History & Culture
Release Date: September 10, 2019

“In Revelation 2:2, Jesus tells the church in Ephesus something intimate—Google Street View intimate. He says, ‘I know your works’ (Oida ta erga sou). Four words don’t seem like much, but in the Greek, it packs a punch.… Jesus chooses the Greek word oida, which expresses total, comprehensive knowledge. It is intimate knowledge that comes from being up close and personal. This knowledge isn’t hazy on the details. It doesn’t struggle to remember. It preserves the particulars. In the mind’s eye, everything is sharp and clear, like a well-taken photograph.” —Chris Palmer

Letters from Jesus: Studies from the Seven Churches of Revelation explores Christ’s warnings to the seven most prominent churches in Asia Minor in the book of Revelation. These letters date back to 95 A.D., but they help us make a fascinating discovery about civilization: life hasn’t changed that much over the last two millennia. Author Chris Palmer illustrates the truths contained in the Letters from Jesus using modern, everyday day examples. The host of the popular podcast Greek for the Week, he unpacks Greek words and phrases in these verses from Revelation with humor, joy, and biblical scholarship.


Why study Greek, even just a little bit? As Chris explains, looking at the New Testament in the original language in which it was written can offer us some beautiful insights into God’s Word. “It’s like reading the Bible in high definition,” he says. Also, “studying God’s Word in the original language forces us to approach it with reverence and awe, humbling ourselves to obey what it says, whether it’s something we want to hear or not.”

Click here for your copy.


My thoughts

Letters from Jesus: Studies from the Seven Churches of Revelation by Chris Palmer is a jewel. The word “Greek” on the cover might be a little off putting to some, but nothing could be more personable and down to earth than this study. Palmer is a skilled and knowledgeable communicator, and the topic – Jesus’ letters to seven churches in Asia Minor – couldn’t be more relevant for us today.

I took a semester of Greek while in Bible college many years ago – not long enough to fully grasp a wealth of learning that would last a lifetime, but long enough to comprehend how vital a knowledge of the original Greek language is to our clear understanding of God’s Word. Greek is a formidable language; Palmer makes the meaning of key words and phrases not only easy to understand, but interesting. There’s often a sharper meaning than that conveyed by our English words.

The book’s topic is one that I’ve always found fascinating, but never actually studied in depth. (One of my college classes was called James to Revelation, but we never made it to Revelation.) Even if you’ve never studied Jesus’ letters, I’m pretty sure you’ll recognize some of these passages from them …

      “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:4)
      “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)
      “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:4-5)
      “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16)
      “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline…” (Revelation 3:19)
      “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

The book is laid out in seven main sections, each one addressing a particular church. Chapters are four pages in length, ending with a short prayer, reflective activity, and Scripture references for additional insight. Each chapter begins with a phrase from the letter, with certain words highlighted, and the study delves into the Greek meaning behind those words.

Palmer points out in the introduction that we might find a lot of ourselves in one of the churches, or a little of ourselves in all the churches – and he’s exactly right. I learned a lot from this book and a lot about myself. Letters from Jesus would work well for personal study or in a small group setting. I had to read at a steady pace for review purposes but look forward to digging deeper very soon.

Highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

 

About the Author




      The Rev. Chris Palmer is the founder and pastor of Light of Today Church in Novi, Michigan, and founder of Chris Palmer Ministries. He is host of the popular podcast, Greek for the Week, seen on several Internet platforms. 
      Chris began in full-time ministry in 2006 and began to preach internationally in 2009, helping many congregations grow, flourish, and expand. His desire for missions is to train and educate pastors, encourage congregations, support the vision of local church, and show the love of God to the culture. He has done this successfully for a decade in over forty nations of the world in Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, and the Caribbean, working with both traditional churches and the underground/persecuted church. 
      Chris earned a B.A. in Pastoral Studies from North Central University and an M.A. in Exegetical Theology, magna cum laude, from Moody Theological Seminary. He is a sought-after Greek scholar for his ability to make God’s Word come alive in a unique way from the Greek. Chris is often invited to present Greek and hermeneutics workshops at Bible and ministry schools. 
      He recently began working on his Ph.D. at University Wales, Bangor, in the area of Johannine Literature, particularly the book of Revelation. His previous self-published books include Living as a Spirit: Hearing the Voice of God on Purpose, The 85 Questions You Ask When You Begin a Relationship with GodThe Believer’s Journey, and Escaping the Haunting Past: A Handbook for Deliverance.

 

More from Chris


Experience the Bible in high definition and learn some Greek with fun, easy lessons from pastor/scholar Chris Palmer.






Giveaway




To celebrate his tour, Chris is giving away a grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks gift card, copy of LETTERS FROM JESUS, copy of HEBREW WORD STUDY!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the image above or the link below to enter.



Blog Stops


The Power of Words, September 15
Godly Book Reviews, September 17
My Devotional Thoughts, September 20
Mary Hake, September 21
Retrospective Spines, September 23
Texas Book-aholic, September 24
A Reader’s Brain, September 25
A Diva’s Heart, September 25
janicesbookreviews, September 26
Inklings and notions , September 27

Spotlight + GIVEAWAY: As the Light Fades by Catherine West



Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for As the Light Fades by Catherine West, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK


High Res-As the Light Fades 
Title: As the Light Fades 
Author: Catherine West  
Release Date: September 10, 2019  
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Sometimes we’re placed in the strangest of circumstances for the most important reasons.

After her carefully constructed life crumbles, Liz Carlisle finds herself back on Nantucket, picking up the pieces. With the family estate under renovations, the solitude she craves seems out of reach.

Matthew Stone intends to steer clear of his new tenant. She’s carrying a load of baggage, but as long as she pays the rent, he’ll let her be. He’s got enough to deal with caring for his wayward niece, Mia.

Liz doesn’t have time for teenagers and her track record with men is abysmal, but an unlikely friendship forms between the three.

When her former boyfriend is charged with assault, Liz is called to testify against him. But he knows the darkest secrets of her life—secrets she’d hoped to keep buried forever, and he’s ready to reveal them. Telling the truth is the right thing to do, but it may cost her everything she’s worked so hard for, and all she’s come to love.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon


EXCERPT:

      She’s here again. The pretty one. Can’t remember her name, although I think I said it earlier, when she arrived. They told me this morning it was Sunday, and she always comes on Sunday. We sit in the day room, where they have the television turned so loud nobody can hear themselves think.
      Ha.
      Considering the nut-jobs around here, that’s probably a jolly good thing.
      “Did you have a good week, Dad? How was your lunch today?” Always full of questions, this one. She’s agitated, winding her blond hair around her fingers the way her mother used to do. Her blue eyes search my face, pierce through me, and I have to smile. She’s so much like her.
      “Diana.” I say it loud, this little victory. This snatch of memory that will be gone in another instant. “Your mother. You look just like her.”
      She stares at me like I’ve stood up, hand over heart, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Which I never bothered to remember even when I had a mind that worked. My British pride wouldn’t allow it.

Excerpt From: Catherine West. “As the Light Fades.” iBooks.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR


12.03.17-West.178


Catherine West is an award-winning author of contemporary women’s fiction. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or reading books by her favorite authors. She and her husband reside in Bermuda, and have two adult children and two beautiful granddaughters. Catherine is the winner of the 2015 Grace Award (Bridge of Faith) and a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award (The Things We Knew, 2017 and Where Hope Begins, 2019, and a Carol Award Finalist for Where Hope Begins. Her latest novel, As the Light Fades, releases September 2019.

Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com  

CONNECT WITH CATHERINE: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



GIVEAWAY


(1) winner will receive a $75 Amazon gift card from the author!

Giveaway_AsTheLightFades_BlogJR

Be sure to check out each stop on these tours for more chances to win. Full tour schedule on this tour shown below. Giveaway begins at midnight September 11, 2019 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on September 18, 2019. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US/CAN only. For our giveaway rules and policy, click HERE.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE
 


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

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*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Review + GIVEAWAY: A Night's Tail by Sofie Kelly




A Night’s Tail
By Sofie Kelly
Magical Cats Mystery #11
Berkley, 2019


Summary

Librarian Kathleen Paulson’s brother, Ethan, and his band, The Flaming Gerbils, are spending some time in Mayville Heights. Ethan and his band-mate, Derek, are giving a song-writing workshop at the St. James Hotel when they stumble upon the body of Lewis Wallace. The former football player was considering the town for the site of his newest business venture.

However, not everyone was a fan of the brash ex-athlete, who had a failed business, some disgruntled customers, and several lawsuits in his past. Did he make a new enemy, or did Lewis Wallace’s past finally catch up with him? It’s up to Kathleen—with some furry assistance from her talented cats, Owen and Hercules—to figure out who was trying to settle the score.

Amazon  –  Barnes and Noble  –  Indiebound


My thoughts

There’s so much to adore in A Night’s Tail, Sofie Kelly’s charming new release in the Magical Cats series! I quickly became immersed in this story and enjoyed every minute spent with Kathleen and her “special” cats, Hercules and Owen. Characters are well drawn, the writing flows smoothly, and the cats have me wrapped around their little paws. I hope there will be many more stories to enjoy in this series.

Kathleen is an intelligent, caring leading lady, easy to connect with. I love her strong network of family and friends. Her brother, Ethan, plays a large part in this story, as does his band. There’s lots of characters – and suspects – but I was able to keep them straight, even without having read every one of the previous novels in the series.

I loved two things that are different from most other cozy mysteries that I read. One, Kathleen’s boyfriend, Detective Marcus, never gets upset at her involvement in the investigative process. Kathleen is smart, thinks before acting, and there’s a mutual respect between them in addition to some sweet chemistry. Secondly, Kathleen doesn’t act foolishly and put herself in dangerous situations. All this makes for such pleasant reading!

The action begins when several characters are gathered for an evening out at The Brick and witness a drunk attacking a Veteran’s service dog. The drunk, later a murder victim, turns out to be a man who is planning on opening a business in their lovely town of Mayville Heights, Minnesota. Shady business practices might be involved, as well as a past history. Kathleen’s involvement stems from her concern that Ethan might have some connection to the events. The mystery theme is logical, well-paced, and I enjoyed watching everything unfold.

While I don’t usually care for fantasy, it works well in this story. Kathleen talks to her cats; I talk to my cats! And a cat’s movements are so quick and unexplained that Owen’s disappearing in front of your eyes and the ability of Hercules to walk through walls don’t seem all that far-fetched. I also loved that Marcus has adopted a kitten that just might have some “special” ability as well.

A Night’s Tail is thoroughly enjoyable and I look forward to many more adventures with these characters – and Hercules and Owen, of course.

Recommended.

I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

_________________________




Sofie Kelly writes the New York Times bestselling Magical Cats mysteries that feature librarian Kathleen Paulson and her two very special cats, Owen and Hercules, who have a magical knack for solving crime. As Sofie Ryan she is the author of the New York Times bestselling Second Chance Cat mystery series. She lives on the east coast with her husband and daughter.

Website



GIVEAWAY



Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Review + GIVEAWAY: Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook




Buried in the Stacks
By Allison Brook
A Haunted Library Mystery #3
Crooked Lane Books, 2019


Summary

Librarian Carrie Singleton is building a haven, but one of her neighbors is misbehavin’. Can resident spirit Evelyn help Carrie catch the culprit who made her a ghost?

In winter, the Haunted Library is a refuge for homeless townspeople. When a group purchases a vacant house to establish a daytime haven for the homeless, Carrie offers the library as a meeting place for the Haven House committee, but quickly learns that it may be used for illegal activities.

As the new Sunshine Delegate, Carrie heads to the hospital to visit her cantankerous colleague, Dorothy, who had fallen outside the local supermarket. She tells Carrie that her husband tried to kill her–and that he murdered her Aunt Evelyn, the library’s resident ghost, six years earlier.

And then Dorothy is murdered–run off the road as soon as she returns to work. Evelyn implores Carrie to find her niece’s killer, but that’s no easy task: Dorothy had made a hobby of blackmailing her neighbors and colleagues. Carrie, Evelyn, and Smoky Joe the cat are on the case, but are the library cards stacked against them?

Amazon – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound


My thoughts

Buried in the Stacks is an entertaining cozy mystery and I am glad to have discovered the writing of Allison Brook. Setting plays an important part in the story – the small New England town of Clover Ridge, Connecticut for one, but especially that of the town library. Many of the recurring series characters work there – and then there’s the library cat, Smoky Joe, and the library’s resident ghost, Evelyn. Although I’ve not read the previous two books, enough background is given so that this story can stand alone.

I loved how a relevant and compelling social issue is featured, that of the homeless. Winter in Clover Ridge causes some homeless individuals and families to seek daytime shelter in the library, which can lead to tension with library patrons. The author does a good job at helping us see this group as individuals with some background stories and I appreciated that the community was willing to work toward a solution.

Carrie is a strong, caring and appealing leading lady. Her cat, Smoky Joe, adds a lot to the story, and even contributes to the murderer’s capture toward the end. The murder victim in this story, Dorothy, was not well liked due to her abrasive personality – and then there was her habit of snooping around, gathering people’s secrets, and proceeding to blackmail them. Obviously, there were several potential suspects! And then there was Haven House – a local facility meant to provide daytime shelter for the homeless, but was not all that it seemed as criminal elements were discovered.

I’m not sure how I feel about Carrie’s romantic relationship with Dylan, which has been slowly progressing through the series. I didn’t sense much chemistry between them and Carrie seems to feel insecure in the relationship, especially as Dylan makes a major career decision without involving Carrie. I’d kind of like for Dylan to fade out of the picture because Carrie deserves so much better.

Buried in the Stacks comes to a satisfying conclusion, with the ending nicely setting up the next book, which involves Carrie’s mother. Their relationship seems strained to say the least, so we should have some good storytelling to look forward to.

The only negatives for me … I would have liked a little more character depth on the whole, and the occasional use of mild profanity was a disappointment. Still a good read overall, one that cozy mystery fans should enjoy.

I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

_________________________



Allison Brook is the pseudonym for Marilyn Levinson, who writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for kids. She lives on Long Island and enjoys traveling, reading, watching foreign films, doing Sudoku and dining out. She especially loves to visit with her grandchildren on FaceTime.




GIVEAWAY



Monday, September 9, 2019

Review + GIVEAWAY: The Amish Christmas Matchmaker by Vannetta Chapman


                        


Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for The Amish Christmas Matchmaker by Vannetta Chapman, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK


The Amish Christmas Matchmaker by Vannetta Chapman 
Title: The Amish Christmas Matchmaker  
Series: Indiana Amish Brides #4  
Author: Vannetta Chapman  
Publisher: Love Inspired 
Release Date: September 1, 2019  
Genre: Inspirational Amish Fiction

She’ll find him a wife for Christmas…

Which of these Indiana Amish Brides is next?

With her wedding business thriving, Annie Kauffmann could never leave her beloved Amish community.

So when handsome Amish cowboy Levi Lapp tries to convince her father to move the family to Texas, she must put a stop to it.

If Annie finds Levi a wife, he might forget his dream of moving…but can she keep from falling for him herself?

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Christianbook



MY THOUGHTS


“Sometimes change was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Sometimes change was what you needed when
you didn’t even realize you needed anything.”
- Annie

From the cover, it may seem like The Amish Christmas Matchmaker is simply another Love Inspired series romance, but there’s nothing “simple” about the writing of Vannetta Chapman and this story is one of my favorites. The characters may be Amish, but the message knows no spiritual boundaries. The writing is smooth, flows at a steady pace, and there’s never a dull moment.

The Amish Christmas Matchmaker takes place in Goshen, Indiana, with Texas literally becoming the elephant in the room that no one talks about – except that it was talked about in this story, and often. Through Chapman’s intimate knowledge and love for her state, Texas landscapes are so vividly conveyed that I could see them in my mind. It was also fun to learn an interesting nugget or two, such that the name Texas comes from the Native American word for friend or ally.

The lead characters of Annie and Levi are well drawn and my connection with them was instant. Annie, who runs a thriving wedding-catering business with her English partner and friend, is seemingly content with making other people’s happily-ever-after unfold. Levi, with his Stetson and cowboy boots, is not your typical Amish guy as he comes into the Goshen community hoping to convince families to move to Texas. Levi yearns for Texas because it symbolizes a time in his young years when life was good and people could be trusted … “It wasn’t that he wanted more. It was only that he wanted something different than what he had.”

That Annie and Levi would clash is inevitable and I loved some of the early scenes with their lively banter. Anyone who has had a passionate dream in their heart can identify with Levi, but the problem was that his dream was so strong that he viewed every situation and every person through the lens of what he hoped would happen. Annie didn’t like change, and neither do I! But there comes a point where you have to humbly seek God’s will and trust, laying your dreams at His feet – and that what’s this story so gently conveys. I’ve never given much thought to the Amish practice of silent prayer, but loved how Annie discovered that this forced her to speak to God honestly rather than listening to her father’s voice.

“Sometimes first impressions aren’t the best.
Sometimes we have to see past that impression to the scars
and hopes and dreams underneath,
and then we understand who they really are.”
- Martha

Levi might come across as full of himself in the beginning, but their attraction and growing friendship is beautiful to behold. I understood why Levi was so passionate about moving to Texas and why Annie was so determined to stay. While I felt sure things would work out well between them, getting there was so much fun! One of the things I love most about Chapman’s writing is how she effortlessly draws me into the emotions of the characters, making me sense what they feel. This description of Annie is a perfect example: “She clutched her hands in front of her, not because she was afraid, but because she had the sudden urge to reach out and touch him before he disappeared like a mirage that she couldn’t prove had ever been there.”

I loved how Chapman brought things together with an ending that was very satisfying. Levi is one of my favorite leading men and the scene where their love is acknowledged – sigh worthy.

Highly recommended.

I received a copy of this book through JustRead Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Vannetta Chapman  

Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. She is the author of over twenty novels, including the Pebble Creek Amish series, Shipshewana Amish Mystery Series, and Plain and Simple Miracle series. Vannetta is a Carol award winner, a Christy finalist, and she also received more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She currently writes Christian suspense, Amish romance, and Amish mystery. She was a teacher for 15 years and resides in the Texas hill country.

CONNECT WITH VANNETTA: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



GIVEAWAY


(1) winner will receive a copy of The Amish Christmas Matchmaker (print or digital), a quilted Amish mug mat, a woven Amish mug mat, and $10 Amazon gift card!


Be sure to check out each stop on these tours for more chances to win. Full tour schedule on this tour shown below. Giveaway begins at midnight September 9, 2019 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on September 16, 2019. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Due to shipping cost, only US mailing addresses valid. 

For our giveaway rules and policy, click HERE.

 


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
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*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Review + GIVEAWAY: A Curio Killing by Mary Ellen Hughes




A Curio Killing
By Mary Ellen Hughes
Keepsake Cove Mystery #3
Midnight Ink, 2019


Summary

Callie finds trouble in Keepsake Cove when her ex-boyfriend is framed for murder . . .

Callie Reed is looking forward to her first Keepsake Cove spring festival. But her excitement dims considerably when she learns that her ex-boyfriend, Hank, will be performing with one of the hired country-western bands. Callie vows to keep her distance, but that changes when the band’s manager, Bobby Linville, is found dead, killed with the music box Hank bought at Callie’s shop.

Hank is soon singing a sad tune in a detention center with Callie his only lifeline. Though thoroughly aware of his many faults, she knows violence and murder aren’t in his blood. But that means one of her fellow Keepsake Cove residents must be hiding a dark secret—something Callie desperately needs to uncover.



My thoughts

It’s fun to pick up a book that draws you back into a setting and characters that you already know and feel comfortable with, as is the case with A Curio Killing, book #3 in the Keepsake Cove series. Mary Ellen Hughes delivers a well-crafted traditional cozy mystery that is sure to delight readers who enjoy this genre. If you’re new to this series, it works well as a standalone.

The fictional Maryland village of Keepsake Cove, with its quaint stores and kind people, is a collector’s dream. The shops are so enticing! Shops like Callie’s House of Melody (music boxes), Delia’s Shake It Up! (collectible salt & pepper shakers), Karl Egger’s Carlectibles (classic model cars), Bill & Laurie Hart’s Kids at Heart (vintage toy shop), and Pearl Poepelman’s Pearl’s Bangles and Beads.

With its quaint shops and seasonal festivals, Keepsake Cove is easy to visualize. Callie is a likeable lead character, easy to connect with. A Curio Killing is a seamless blend of setting, characters, and mystery. As the spring festival is about to begin, Hank, Callie’s ex, unexpectedly bursts on the scene and soon finds himself arrested for murder. In spite of all the grief Hank brought into Callie’s life in the past, the Hank she knew would never be guilty of murder and she feels obliged to prove his innocence.

Strong secondary characters add richness to the story – such as Callie’s suspense author friend, Lyssa, store clerk Tabitha, and romantic interest, Brian – with Delia’s reaching out to help her photographer friend, Jill, being one of my favorite parts. And, of course, there’s Grandpa Reed’s music box that starts playing at crucial times in Callie’s life.

I greatly enjoyed the previous two books in this series, A Fatal Collection and A Vintage Death (please click on titles to see my reviews). But while A Curio Killing is well written and I loved spending time with these characters, I didn’t enjoy this story quite as much. This is purely personal, but I think it was because I didn’t care for Hank and felt that Callie defending him put her relationship with Brian at risk. Also, Tabitha’s quirky dress ensembles, where everyone tried to guess what famous or historical character she emulated each day, didn’t play as prominent a role in this story and I missed that funny, whimsical touch. A Curio Killing is still a good read overall. This is a strong series and I look forward to future Keepsake Cove stories.

I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

_________________________



Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries, the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. The Keepsake Cove series begins with A Fatal Collection and continues with A Vintage Death and A Curio Killing.




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