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November 7, 2008 Newsletter

November 7, 2008

This Week on
Wins, Losses and Ramping it Up for Holiday Cheer

Remembering Michael Crichton

Announcing Our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest on! Our First Title: THE SPY WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS by David Morrell

Author Talk: John Grogan, Author of THE LONGEST TRIP HOME
Now in Stores: A SPOONFUL OF POISON by M. C. Beaton

Now in Stores: BURN OUT by Marcia Muller

Now in Stores: BONES by Jonathan Kellerman

Now in Stores: BUFFALO GAL by Laura Pedersen

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: John Lutz, Author of NIGHT KILLS

Featured Women's Fiction Author: Marie Bostwick, Author of A SINGLE THREAD
Books into Movies/Books into Movies on DVD for November
What's New This Month on
This Week's Reviews

Poll and Question of the Week: Multitasking While Reading

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- TWO Prizes

Quick Links to Features On The Book Report Network
Past Reviews
Can't See the Graphics? Read This Newsletter Online
Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight Promotion
Debut Suspense/Thriller One to Watch Promotion
Mystery Mayhem Promotion

Historical Fiction Promotion

One to Watch Promotion
Books Into Movies
Bestseller Lists
Coming Soon
New in Paperback
Wins, Losses and Ramping it Up for Holiday Cheer
I am glad we got that extra hour this week since we sure needed it. The good news: the election is over. Now everyone can get back to whatever they were doing two years ago before all this started. I hope we can remember what that was. I got a very humorous note from Jean, a reader in Iowa, last weekend where she said, “If you think you are tired of politics you should live in Iowa where it has been going on for two years.” Memo to self: Do not move to Iowa.

Also to note this week was how everyone flocked to get a print version of the newspaper commemorating this election. The New York Times, which usually prints 300,000 copies of the paper, printed 400,000 in anticipation of a rush for this edition, but still needed to go back on press for 75,000 more. This says something about the limitations of all things digital. I guess it’s just not the same churning out the Times commemorative edition on your home printer. By the way, my older son just informed me that the November 5th issue is going for $100 on eBay. Maybe THAT is the reason he came home this weekend, besides laundry. I must remember to squire this away from his entrepreneurial hands.

We lost two wonderful authors this week: Michael Crichton and Studs Terkel. I had the pleasure of meeting Crichton in November 2002 at a party for the release of PREY. Two adjectives to describe him --- besides talented, thought provoking and gifted --- were tall and shy. Very shy. I also remember a story that Stan Pottinger, the author, had told me about Crichton being squeamish around needles and blood, which always made me chuckle on Thursday nights when I saw his name come up as one of the creators of "ER." 

I am not one who races to have authors sign books for her; not sure why. But when I saw the news about Crichton’s passing the other night, I was very happy that I have one of his signed and sitting on my shelf. And for the record, the only reason I remember the date when I saw him was because the book was both signed and dated. Joe Hartlaub brings you a tribute to Crichton, and I also want to refer you to a piece by Jesse Kornbluth on his website,, which you can read here, where he shares with you a Crichton book that you might have missed. And Sean Doorly, our first Producer at, linked us to this interview that we did with Michael that is not on the site anymore.

One of my favorite books is Studs Terkel’s WORKING. I still can remember when I read this for the first time. I walked away thinking I had seen snapshots of so many people in that work, and I know it made me much more curious about people and how they live their lives. His oral histories will be missed. His most recent memoir, P.S.: Further Thoughts From a Lifetime of Listening, was just published.

Segueing from sad subjects to uplifting ones, we are pleased to share the nominees for the 2008 Books for a Better Life Awards, which honor the best self-improvement titles of the past year. You may view them here. I have been on the nominating committee for this event for a few years now, and I always enjoy this opportunity to look at books that inspire.

This week we kick off our annual Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest. In the newsletter you can see a photo of me shopping for some of the items that we are going to be giving away. There were four cartloads of baskets making their way to the car. Okay, they were tiny carts, but still. I am now thinking all things holiday. Halloween was banished from the house today, and I seriously have a Santa sitting in the kitchen that has numbers that counts down the days until Christmas. Okay, the only reason it’s there is because I was too lazy to put it in the attic, but since I am filled with Holiday Cheer, it works. For those of you new to the site, here’s how our Holiday Cheer contest works. When you enter, you win TWO books: one to give and one to get! And we even give you wrapping paper for the gift. Besides that, we have a number of festive treats inside the basket to fortify you during the holidays. Our first contest title is THE SPY WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS by David Morrell. We at are HUGE fans of David’s, so it’s very special to be kicking off with this title. I confess that I love when favorite authors write holiday titles. Scroll down for details on how to enter. We will have new weekly contests from now through December 12th!

We received great responses from our advance readers of THE VICTORIA VANISHES, Christopher Fowler’s newest Peculiar Crimes Unit mystery. You may read their comments here.
We are also pleased to announce the 100 advance copy winners for DARK PURSUIT, Brandilyn Collins’s new thriller in which a young woman must seek the aide of her estranged grandfather after making a grisly discovery. You may see our winners here. I am reading BUFFALO GAL by Laura Pedersen, a hysterically funny memoir about growing up in Buffalo. Second memo to self: Do not ever move to Buffalo. Pedersen defrosted enough to become the youngest person to have a seat on the American Stock Exchange and become a  millionaire by age 22. Through the years she never lost her sense of humor and is one of the most generous people I know.

We look forward to bringing you our 2008 What to Give/What to Get Holiday Gift Guide, which launches next week. There are over 100 titles listed in popular categories such as cookbooks, mysteries and humor. We will introduce some new categories that will include graphic novels as well as inspirational fiction and nonfiction titles. Let the shopping begin! And we also have two other holiday-themed surprises in store, but you will have to wait to hear more about those!

What’s up for the weekend? My husband FINALLY finished the bookcases that he was building for the living room for the last two years. If bookshelves were built in between holes of golf instead of rounds of golf, this might have happened sooner. The plan is that nonfiction moves its way into the living room shelved by author last name. Thus fiction can move from its triple-shelved state in the family room. Wonder what will be uncovered? You can take bets on when we will need even MORE bookshelves.

I am flying to Miami on Wednesday for the 25th Anniversary of the Miami Book Fair, which is one of my favorite annual events. My schedule kicks off with a Tribute to Will Eisner that is being held that evening. I have heard from some readers who will be there. I am working on my schedule this weekend and will get back to you once I know what panels I will be attending. One quick note for those of you who live in the area with tweens and teens. The Fair has added a lot of programming for these age groups this year, so be sure to tell them they want to be there with their friends. Have a great on....

Carol Fitzgerald (


Remembering Michael Crichton

On November 4, 2008, Michael Crichton --- a medical doctor turned novelist who is best known as the author of JURASSIC PARK and the creator of NBC's “ER” --- passed away unexpectedly after a long and private battle with cancer.'s Joe Hartlaub pays tribute to this modern-day Renaissance man, who left behind an impressive legacy in the literary, film, television and computer gaming worlds.
Click here to read Joe Hartlaub's tribute to Michael Crichton.


Announcing Our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest on! Our First Title: THE SPY WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS by David Morrell

The holiday season is upon us! At it's time for us to share the spirit of the season with our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest. As you begin your holiday shopping, we want to remind you that books make affordable, personal and wonderful gifts for EVERYONE on your list --- and are a nice way to treat yourself as well!

From November 7th through January 5th we will spotlight a different title or collection of titles, and readers will have the chance to win one of five holiday baskets filled with winter-themed items as well as two copies of the featured book. Why two? One is to keep, of course, and one is for someone on your holiday gift list. We will also include festive wrapping paper to make the gift-giving hassle-free.

We’re kicking off our Holiday Basket of Cheer feature with THE SPY WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS by David Morrell, a unique combination of a spy thriller and an inspirational Christmas story from one of the masters of commercial storytelling. Our Holiday Basket of Cheer is a woven basket stocked with holiday-themed items. Along with two copies of THE SPY WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS and green-and-tan checkered wrapping paper, winners will receive a cinnamon holly-scented Illuminations candle, Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate mix, gourmet hand-cut vanilla marshmallows, plush red socks from Crabtree & Evelyn, a box of Celestial Seasonings Nutcracker Sweet Holiday Tea, a box of Candy Cane Taffy and a festive cookie dish.

To enter, fill out this form and answer the following question by Thursday, November 13th at 11:59PM. You can find the answer by reading the excerpt here. 

What is the meaning behind the name "Melchior"?

THE SPY WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS by David Morrell (Thriller)
On Christmas Eve, a desperate man feverishly seeks refuge for himself and the squirming bundle he’s holding. Agent Paul Kagan’s bundle is a baby who has the power to change the course of global events. His pursuers are his former colleagues --- members of the Russian mafia who will stop at nothing to accomplish their mission. Now Kagan is a spy on the run who must ensure this baby’s survival, even if it will cost him his own life. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of THE SPY WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS.
-Read more about David Morrell and

Click here to read all the details of our Holiday Basket of Cheer feature.

Author Talk: John Grogan, Author of THE LONGEST TRIP HOME

Journalist John Grogan is best known for his debut work of nonfiction, MARLEY & ME, an international bestseller that will soon make its way to the big screen in a film adaptation starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. His latest book, THE LONGEST TRIP HOME, is a coming-of-age memoir about growing up in the 1960s and his struggle to find himself despite his family's conflicting values. In this Author Talk, Grogan explains why he chose to explore this particular aspect of his upbringing and discusses the difficulties of portraying people and events honestly while still respecting the privacy of those who have played roles in his life. He also describes how his parents' "pack rat" tendencies helped him recapture memories that spanned a 40-year period, elaborates on the universal appeal of his writing and muses on how life has changed since the unexpected success of MARLEY & ME.

THE LONGEST TRIP HOME: A Memoir by John Grogan (Memoir)
Long before Marley entered John Grogan's life, the Catholic Church was the center of his parents' lives. They expected the same from him. But when John realizes he's a skeptic, this knowledge tears a rift in the family. That chasm adds thought-provoking layers to this poignant love letter to his mom and dad, detailing the author's often hilarious upbringing, the sorrow he feels as his parents decline, and his love for them. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

-Click here to read a review of THE LONGEST TRIP HOME.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE LONGEST TRIP HOME.

Click here to read a Q&A with John Grogan.

Now in Stores: A SPOONFUL OF POISON by M. C. Beaton
A SPOONFUL OF POISON by M. C. Beaton (Mystery)
Amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin is back, doing some PR work for a church fundraiser. But when two people die after tasting some of the local ladies’ jams, she has a murder investigation on her hands. Of course, while she is trying to track down the killer for the townsfolk, she is also attempting to find a man for herself. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

-Click here to read an excerpt from A SPOONFUL OF POISON.


Click here to read a review of A SPOONFUL OF POISON.


Now in Stores: BURN OUT by Marcia Muller

BURN OUT by Marcia Muller (Mystery)
Traumatized by a recent life-or-death investigation, Sharon McCone flees to her ranch in California's high desert country to contemplate her future. A chance encounter with a troubled, highly secretive Native American woman begins to haunt McCone’s dreams. Even though she is determined not to investigate anything during her stay --- and perhaps not ever again --- McCone is drawn into the plight of the young woman and her dysfunctional family. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

-Visit Marcia Muller’s official website,

Click here to read a review of BURN OUT.

Now in Stores: BONES by Jonathan Kellerman
BONES: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman (Psychological Thriller)
The anonymous caller has an ominous tone and an unnerving message about something “real dead…buried in your marsh.” The eco-volunteer on the other end of the phone thinks it’s a prank, but then a young woman’s body turns up in L.A.’s Bird Marsh preserve. And when the bones of more victims surface, homicide detective Milo Sturgis realizes the city is under siege to an insidious killer. Milo’s first move: calling in psychologist Alex Delaware. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from BONES.

Click here to read a review of BONES.


Now in Stores: BUFFALO GAL by Laura Pedersen

BUFFALO GAL: A Memoir by Laura Pedersen (Memoir)
A fabulous one-two literary punch, BUFFALO GAL combines the clever humor of David Sedaris with the entertaining historical perspective of Sarah Vowell. With its Catholic majority and proximity to Canada, Buffalo was a flash point for race riots, anti-war protests, abortion rallies, bingo, bowling, and Friday night fish frys. Join the Pedersens as they survive separation, stagflation, the energy crisis and President Jimmy Carter's boozy chain smoking brother marketing his own line of "Billy" beer.

-Visit the publisher's official website,
-Click here to see the Holiday Basket of Cheer feature for BUFFALO GAL.

Visit Laura Pedersen's official website,


Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: John Lutz, Author of NIGHT KILLS

A multiple Edgar and Shamus Award winner, John Lutz is the author of over 40 books, including SWF SEEKS SAME, which became the film Single White Female, and THE EX, a critically acclaimed feature for HBO. In NIGHT KILLS, his terrifying new thriller now available in stores, former NYPD detective Frank Quinn and his team of brilliant law enforcement misfits return to hunt down a cold-blooded killer.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from NIGHT KILLS.
-Click here to read John Lutz’s bio.
-Click here to see John Lutz's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for NIGHT KILLS.
-Visit John Lutz's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about NIGHT KILLS:
New York Times bestselling author John Lutz returns with a gruesome, page-turning psychological thriller. A former NYPD detective is hunting for a madman: someone is shooting young women in the heart, defiling their bodies, and only leaving their torsos to be found. No one knows the true motives behind a rampage of cold-blooded murders…or how much more terrifying it’s going to get.

Click here to read more about John Lutz and NIGHT KILLS.

Featured Women's Fiction Author: Marie Bostwick, Author of A SINGLE THREAD
New York Times bestselling author Marie Bostwick has captivated readers everywhere with her historical fiction titles, including FIELDS OF GOLD and ON WINGS OF THE MORNING. In A SINGLE THREAD, her first full-length novel to take place in a contemporary setting, Bostwick weaves the unforgettable story of four very different women whose paths cross, changing their lives forever. A SINGLE THREAD is now available in stores.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from A SINGLE THREAD.
-Click here to read Marie Bostwick’s bio.
-Click here to see Marie Bostwick's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for A SINGLE THREAD.
-Visit Marie Bostwick's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

It’s a long way from Fort Worth, Texas, to New Bern, Connecticut, yet it only takes a day in the charming Yankee town to make Evelyn Dixon realize she’s found her new home. The abrupt end of her marriage was Evelyn’s wake-up call to get busy chasing her dream of opening a quilt shop. Finding a storefront is easy enough; starting a new life isn’t. Little does Evelyn imagine it will bring a trio like Abigail Burgess, her niece Liza and Margot Matthews through her door...

Click here to read more about Marie Bostwick and A SINGLE THREAD.

Books into Movies/Books into Movies on DVD for November

This November brings one of the most exciting Books into Movies lineups of the year, with three highly anticipated films that promise to live up to every bit of the intense hype surrounding them.

November 7th marks the release of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, an incredibly moving (and, well, insanely depressing) adaptation of John Boyne's award-winning bestseller about the Holocaust, told from the innocent eyes of a Nazi officer's young son. Keep the tissues handy --- the surprise ending will leave you sobbing long after you leave the theater.

Already causing quite a stir on the film festival circuit before its November 12th drop date is Slumdog Millionaire, by director Danny Boyle of Trainspotting, The Beach and 28 Days Later fame. Part Dickensian drama, part romance and part life-affirming fantasy, this indie release follows an 18-year-old orphan as he recalls the experiences that took him from the slums of Mumbai to being just one question away from winning India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" --- all for the love of a girl.

After months of teaser trailers, magazine articles, movie-poster sightings and Internet buzz, fans of the wildly popular series by Stephenie Meyer only need to wait until November 21st before Edward and Bella come to life on the big screen in Twilight. This paranormal teen romance about a 16-year-old girl who falls in love with a vampire will surely draw in record-breaking crowds of all ages in Harry Potter-like proportions.

And let's not forget about two DVD releases on November 18th, which will have teens smiling from ear to ear: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, adapted from Ann Brashares's FOREVER IN BLUE: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood, and The Clique, a direct-to-DVD film based on Lisi Harrison's bestselling series about five girls who belong to The Pretty Committee, the most popular clique at Octavian Country Day School.


Click here for more details about November's films.

What's New This Month on
With more than 2,450 discussion guides now available, continues to be the leading place for book clubs to find all the resources they need on the web.

Our Blog continues to be a big hit among our readers. Throughout the month we are sharing postings from regular contributors --- including authors, librarians, book club facilitators, booksellers and experts in the publishing industry --- as well as special guests. The latest blog can be found here, and here are quick links to some recent posts:

-Musings on Book Group Expobr />-American Widow: Book Club Members Share Their Thoughts
-Alissa Torres: The Creation of a Memoir
-Laura Pedersen: Buffalo Gal
-An Economic Recovery Plan from An Independent Business --- and How Book Clubs Play a Part
-New Yorkers Celebrate National Reading Group Month
-Boston Celebrates National Reading Group Month
-Garth Stein on Racing in the Rain and Other Topics
-Margaret Cezair-Thompson: Discussing The Pirate's Daughter
-Can Scary Reading Lead to Great Discussing?
-Same Topic, Different Books

The following guides are now available on


BITTER SWEETS by Roopa Farooki
THE BRASS VERDICT by Michael Connelly
DEWEY: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
GOOD LUCK by Whitney Gaskell
HOME TO HOLLY SPRINGS: Father Tim, Book 1 by Jan Karon
LISTENING IS AN ACT OF LOVE: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project edited and with an introduction by Dave Isay
REPORTING THE WAR: Freedom of the Press from the American Revolution to the War on Terrorism by John Byrne Cooke
SARAH'S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay
SHELTER ME by Juliette Fay
WHILE MY SISTER SLEEPS by Barbara Delinsky

Please note that these titles, for which we already had the guides when they appeared in hardcover, are now available in paperback:

BLEEDING KANSAS by Sara Paretsky
REMEMBER ME? by Sophie Kinsella
THE SECRET BETWEEN US by Barbara Delinsky

We have the following new guides for Christian book groups:

IT'S NOT ABOUT ME: Second Glances Series, Book 1 by Michelle Sutton
ONE HOLY NIGHT by J. M. Hochstetler
Click here to visit

This Week's Reviews
ONCE WERE COPS by Ken Bruen (Thriller)
Michael O'Shea is a member of Ireland's police force, known as The Guards, and a sociopath. When an exchange program is initiated and 20 Guards come to America and 20 cops from the States go to Ireland, Shay, as he's known, has his lifelong dream come true --- he becomes a member of the NYPD. But Shay's dream is about to become New York's nightmare. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

AN OUTRAGEOUS AFFAIR by Penny Vincenzi (Fiction)
Penny Vincenzi's latest blockbuster saga to be released in the United States is an absorbing tale of Hollywood scandal, English aristocracy and, yes, some outrageous affairs. First published in the United Kingdom in 1993, this is another terrific example of Vincenzi's ability to bring together a couple dozen characters (and just as many subplots) in intriguing, titillating and outrageous ways. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE by Bill Pronzini (Thriller)
A man travels to Death Valley to put his life back together and finds a deserted car with a suicide note in it. Soon he discovers a young woman near death. He rescues her and gets involved in kidnapping, murder and deception in this suspense/thriller by veteran mystery author Bill Pronzini. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

THE VARIOUS FLAVORS OF COFFEE by Anthony Capella (Fiction)
When Robert Wallis, an impoverished poet, accepts a job to compose a “vocabulary of coffee” based on its many subtle and elusive flavors, an extraordinary adventure begins in which Wallis will experience the dizzying heights of desire and the excruciating pain of loss. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

THE KILLING CIRCLE by Andrew Pyper (Thriller)
Following his wife’s passing, single father and struggling journalist Patrick Rush hopes to amp up his creativity and take his mind off the emptiness he feels. After reading a classified ad inviting him to “Tell the Story of Your Life,” he joins a creative writing circle where he gets caught up in a web of intrigue and death. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

SKIN DEEP by Gary Braver (Psychological Thriller)
Someone is killing the most alluring women of Boston. This individual is insinuating himself into his victims’ lives and leaving them with nothing but an elegant black stocking knotted around their necks. Homicide detective Lt. Steve Markarian must stop the killer before another vulnerable woman is sacrificed --- possibly even his own estranged wife. Reviewed by Roberta O’Hara.

RITUAL by Mo Hayder (Thriller)
RITUAL is a fascinating novel whose themes are exquisitely woven into a cross between a police procedural and a chilling cross-cultural thriller. From Bristol, England, to Africa’s Kalahari Desert, the intertwining storylines make for a highly satisfying read. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.

MAIMONIDES: The Life and World of One of Civilization’s Greatest Minds by Joel L. Kraemer (Biography)
MAIMONIDES is at once a portrait of a great historical figure and an excursion into the Mediterranean world of the 12th century. Joel Kraemer draws on a wealth of original sources to recreate a remarkable period in history when Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions clashed and mingled in a setting alive with intense intellectual exchange and religious conflict. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

Read this week's reviews here.


Poll and Question of the Week: Multitasking While Reading


When you read, do you multitask? Check as many as apply.

No, for me, it's all about the book.
I only multitask when I am reading a cookbook or a how-to book.
I also watch television.
I also listen to music.
I also knit or crochet.
I also exercise.
I also do household chores.
I also eat or drink.
I also drive (if it's an audiobook).
Since I read so much, there are way too many multitasking things going on to list them all here.
Other (Please specify)
I am not sure what I do.

-Click here to answer our poll.


If you have a favorite book that you re-read, what is it?

-Click here to answer our question.



Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- TWO Prizes

Tell us what books YOU are reading and loving --- or even those you don't.

This week we have two great prizes: FIVE readers each will win a copy of DIVINE JUSTICE by David Baldacci and SALVATION IN DEATH by J.D. Robb. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on November 14th to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.

Please note that our next Word of Mouth update will be on November 14th.
Need more details about Word of Mouth? Click here.


As always, here are a few housekeeping notes. If you are seeing this newsletter in a text version, and would prefer to see the graphics, you can either read it online or change your preferences below.

Those of you who wish to send mail to, please see the form on the
Write to Us page.  If you would like to reach me, please write Writing any of the respond buttons below will not get to us.

Those who are subscribed to the newsletter by November 30, 2008 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month one winner will be selected to win the following five books: DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark, THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED by Wally Lamb, JUST AFTER SUNSET: Stories by Stephen King, SALVATION IN DEATH by J.D. Robb and YOUR HEART BELONGS TO ME by Dean Koontz. Diana from Pasadena, TX
was last month's newsletter winner. She won THE BRASS VERDICT by Michael Connelly, BURN OUT by Marcia Muller, THE GATE HOUSE by Nelson DeMille, A MOST WANTED MAN by John le Carre and TESTIMONY by Anita Shreve.

Happy reading! Don't forget to forward this newsletter to a friend or to visit our other websites from,,,,, and

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