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1/7: New at the library this week

Posted by Laura Haskins - Library Director on January 7, 2011

Audiobooks

The silver swan / Benjamin Black
Quirke returns in another spellbinding crime novel, in which a young woman’s dubious suicide sets off a new string of hazards and deceptions. (Quirke Series #2; CD, unabridged; read a sample chapter)

The race / Richard North Patterson
Corey Grace — a handsome and charismatic Republican senator from Ohio — is plunged by an act of terrorism into a fierce presidential primary battle with the favorite of the party establishment and a magnetic leader of the Christian right. A decorated Gulf War Air Force pilot known for speaking his mind, Grace’s reputation for voting his own conscience rather than the party line — together with his growing romance with Lexie Hart, an African-American movie star — has earned him a reputation as a maverick and an iconoclast. But Grace is still haunted by a tragic mistake buried deep in his past, and now his integrity will be put to the test in this most brutal of political contests, in which nothing in his past or present life is off-limits. (read an excerpt; CD, unabridged)

The street of a thousand blossoms / Gail Tsukiyama
Set in Japan, 1939, an epic novel of tradition and change, of loss and renewal, and above all of the enduring strength of family ties (read a sample chapter; CD, unabridged)

Movies

The lightkeepers
Everybody loves babies
Little Miss Sunshine

Books

Mount dragon / Douglas J. Preston; Lincoln Child
Guy Carson and Susana Cabeza de Vaca have come to Mount Dragon to work shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest scientific minds on the planet. Led by visionary genius Brent Scopes, their secret goal is a medical breakthrough that promises to bring incalculable benefits to the human race. But while Scopes believes he is leading the way to a new world order, he may in fact be opening the door to mass human extinction. And when Guy and Susana attempt to stop him they find themselves locked in a frightening battle with Scopes, his henchmen, and the apocalyptic nightmare that science has unleashed . (read a sample chapter)

Snow flower and the secret fan / Lisa See
Lily is haunted by memories of who she once was, and of a person, long gone, who defined her existence. She has nothing but time now, as she recounts the tale of Snow Flower, and asks the gods for forgiveness.
In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu (“women s writing”). Some girls were paired with laotongs, “old sames,” in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.
With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their friendship is sealed and they become “old sames” at the tender age of seven. (read an excerpt)

Atheist manifesto: the case against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam / Michel Onfray
This tightly argued, hugely controversial work convincingly demonstrates how the world’s three major monotheistic religions-Christianity, Judaism, and Islam-have attempted to suppress knowledge, science, pleasure, and desire, often condemning nonbelievers to death. If Nietzsche proclaimed the “Death of God,” Onfray starts from the premise that not only is God still very much alive, but increasingly controlled by fundamentalists who pose a danger to the human race. Documenting the ravages from religious intolerance over the centuries, the author makes a strong case against the three religions for demanding faith, belief, obedience and submission, and for extolling the “next life” at the expense of the here and now. Not since Nietzsche has a work so groundbreaking and explosive appeared to question the role of the world’s dominant religions.

Carnage and culture: landmark battles in the rise of Western power / Victor Davis Hanson
Examining key battles pitting Western against non-Western armies—from the stunning Greek victory at Salamis in 480 B.C. to Cortés’ conquest of Mexico City in 1521 to the American-led assault on Iraq in 1990—Hanson reveals the cultural underpinnings that determined the course and consequences of each engagement. As he brings the graphic details of war to life with compelling immediacy, Hanson zeros in on the cultural values that have enabled Western armies, often vastly outnumbered and far from home, to slaughter their opponents and impose their social, economic, political, and cultural structures on other civilizations.
The author delineates the characteristics of successful armies—including individual initiative, superior organization and discipline, access to matchless weapons, and tactical adaptation and flexibility. Then he shows how these characteristics develop and flourish as a result of such traditional Western institutions and ideals as consensual government, free inquiry and innovative enterprise, rationalism, and the value placed on freedom and individualism. (read an excerpt)

God is not great: how religion poisons everything / Christopher Hitchens
In the tradition of Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian and Sam Harris’s recent bestseller, The End of Faith, Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case
against religion. With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos. With eloquent clarity, Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope’s awesome view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry
of the double helix. (read an excerpt)

The greatest show on earth: the evidence for evolution / Richard Dawkins
“Intelligent Design” is being taught in our schools; educators are being asked to “teach the controversy” behind evolutionary theory. There is no controversy. Dawkins sifts through rich layers of scientific evidence—from living examples of natural selection to clues in the fossil record; from natural clocks that mark the vast epochs wherein evolution ran its course to the intricacies of developing embryos; from plate tectonics to molecular genetics—to make the airtight case that “we find ourselves perched on one tiny twig in the midst of a blossoming and flourishing tree of life and it is no accident, but the direct consequence of evolution by non-random selection.” His unjaded passion for the natural world turns what might have been a negative argument, exposing the absurdities of the creationist position, into a positive offering to the reader: nothing less than a master’s vision of life, in all its splendor.

Beyond belief: Islamic excursions among the converted peoples / V. S. Naipaul
V.S. Naipaul has felt that his acceptance of his religion is a rejection of the culture he lives in. And, similarly, his distance from the Arab world — for he believes Islam is fundamentally an Arabic religion — is also a distance from his faith. In the early 1980s, Naipaul published Among the Beleivers, a collection of reflections on his travels in Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran, and Malaysia. At that time, the fundamentalist revolution in Iran was at its peak, Pakistan was a struggling and repressive South Asian nation, and Indonesia and Malaysia were trying to adapt to the demands of Western capitalism. Now, 15 years later, with Iran ever-so-slowly liberalizing, Pakistan making moves to be a world power, and Indonesia and Malaysia at the heart of both the Asian miracle and the Asian crisis, Naipaul returns to these countries in Beyond Belief. With one or more of these countries making the front pages of newspapers around the world almost every day, understanding the philosophical and practical expressions of religion is crucial to both understanding the nations and interpreting the news. (read a sample chapter)

The forsaken / L. A. Banks
The Chairman of the Vampire Council is dead. Lilith, the consort of the Unnamed One, and the Unnamed One himself are out for revenge against Vampire Huntress Damali Richards and her lover, Carlos Rivera. A ruthless and carefully planned strategy has been developed—one that is powerful enough to destroy them both while the fate of the world hangs in the balance… (Vampire Huntress Legend Series #7; read an excerpt)

Her daughter’s dream / Francine Rivers
Growing up isn’t easy for little Carolyn Arundel. With her mother, Hildemara, quarantined to her room with tuberculosis, Carolyn forms a special bond with her oma Marta, who moves in to care for the household. But as tensions between Hildie and Marta escalate, Carolyn believes she is to blame. When Hildie returns to work and Marta leaves, Carolyn and her brother grow up as latchkey kids in a world gripped by the fear of the Cold War.
College offers Carolyn the chance to find herself, but a family tragedy shatters her newfound independence. Rather than return home, she cuts all ties and disappears into the heady counterculture of San Francisco. When she reemerges two years later, more lost than ever, she reluctantly turns to her family to help rebuild a life for her and her own daughter, May Flower Dawn.
Just like Carolyn, May Flower Dawn develops a closer bond with her grandmother, Hildie, than with her mother, causing yet another rift between generations. But as Dawn struggles to avoid the mistakes of those who went before her, she vows that somehow she will be a bridge between the women in her family rather than the wall that separates them forever. (read a sample chapter)

Loose lips / Rita Mae Brown
In the picturesque town of Runnymede, everyone knows everyone else’s business, and the madcap antics of the battling Hunsenmeir sisters, Julia (Juts) and Louise, have kept the whole town agog ever since they were children. Now, in the fateful year of 1941, with America headed for war, the sisters are inching toward forty…and Juts is unwise enough to mention that unspeakable reality to her sister.
The result is a huge brawl that litters Cadwalder’s soda fountain with four hundred dollars’ worth of broken glass. To pay the debt, the sisters choose a surprisingly new direction. Suddenly they are joint owners of The Curl ‘n’ Twirl beauty salon, where discriminating ladies meet to be primped, permed, and pampered while dishing the town’s latest dirt.
As Juts and Louise become Runnymede’s most unlikely new career women, each faces her share of obstacles. Restless Juts can’t shake her longing for a baby, while holier-than-thou Louise is fit to be tied over her teenage daughter’s headlong rush toward scandal. As usual, the sisters rarely see eye to eye, and there are plenty of opinions to go around. Even the common bond of patriotic duty brings wildly unexpected results when the twosome joins the Civil Air Patrol, watching the night sky for German Stukas. But loose lips can sink even the closest relationships, and Juts and Louise are about to discover that some things are best left unsaid. (read an excerpt)

Back on Blossom Street / Debbie Macomber
There’s a new shop on Seattle’s Blossom Street – a flower store called Susannah’s Garden, right next door to A Good Yarn. Susannah Nelson, the owner, has just hired a young widow named Colette Blake. A couple of months earlier, Colette had abruptly quit her previous job – after a brief affair with her boss. To her dismay, he’s suddenly begun placing weekly orders for flower arrangements!
Susannah and Colette both join Lydia Goetz’s new knitting class. Lydia’s previous classes have forged lasting friendships, and this one is no exception. But Lydia and her sister, Margaret, have worries of their own. Margaret’s daughter, Julia, has been the victim of a random carjacking, and the entire family is thrown into emotional chaos.
Then there’s Alix Townsend. Her wedding to Jordan Turner is only months away – but she’s not sure she can go through with it. Her love for Jordan isn’t in question; what she can’t handle is the whole wedding extravaganza engineered by her mentor, Jacqueline, with the enthusiastic cooperation of her future mother-in-law. A reception at the country club and hundreds of guests she’s never even met it’s just not Alix.
Like everyone else in Lydia’s knitting class, Alix knows there’s a solution to every problem…and that another woman can usually help you find it! (Blossom Street Series #3; read a sample chapter)

Day of the Dead / Judith A. Jance
Thirty years ago, the butchered body of a local Papago girl was found stuffed into a large cooler on the side of Highway 86. No one was ever charged for the crime. Few even cared.
And no one suspected it was just the beginning.
Retired Pima County Sheriff Brandon Walker’s work with The Last Chance—an exclusive, nationwide fraternity of former lawmen investigating unsolved homicides—has brought new purpose to his life. But a gruesome, three-decades-old cold case is leading him into a strange world at the unlikely border between forensic science and tribal mysticism—a place where evil hides behind a perfect faÇade. A long-forgotten murder in the Arizona desert now threatens to bring home a new horror for Walker and his family, who have already survived the dark hunger of two human monsters. And suddenly the relentless ex-cop is the only person who can still unravel a blood knot of terror and obsession before the innocent die again. (Brandon Walker Series; read a sample chapter)

Fire sale / Sara Paretsky
A conscience can weigh a PI down more than the heaviest firearm—and get her into more trouble too. It’s that nagging conscience that makes V. I. Warshawski agree to fill in as coach for the girls’ basketball team at her South Chicago alma mater—which in turn leads her to the headquarters of By-Smart, the global retail empire where V. I. hopes to get some desperately needed funds for the struggling squad. But conscience seems to be in short supply at By-Smart… with the exception of Billy Bysen, the earnest teenage grandson of the chain’s gruff, tightfisted founder. And when Billy disappears—along with a mysterious document much desired by By-Smart’s management team—V. I. is hurled onto a twisted, body-strewn path that runs through Chicago’s dirtiest places and reveals some of its dirtiest secrets.…

The Alpine uproar / Mary Daheim
Picturesque Alpine is no longer the brawling logging town of yesteryear. So when a drunken fight at the Icicle Creek Tavern leaves a loner named Alvin De Muth dead, the residents feel as if they’ve gone back to the Bad Old Days. The inquiry into the incident should be a no-brainer, but since the witnesses were half-tanked at the time, Sheriff Milo Dodge is left with conflicting stories. But soon Emma Lord, editor and publisher of The Alpine Advocate, has an even bigger story to report: a heartbreaking highway accident that leaves two people dead and one on life support. Rumors are flying: Are the two tragedies linked in some inexplicable way? Assisted by that human bulldozer Vida Runkel, the Advocate’s House & Home editor, Emma goes for the gold. (Emma Lord Series #21; read a sample chapter)

Searching for Fannie Quigley: a wilderness life in the shadow of Mount McKinley / Jane G. Haigh
At the age of 27, Fannie Sedlacek left her Bohemian homestead in Nebraska to join the gold rush to the Klondike. From the Klondike to the Tanana, Fannie continued north, finally settling in Katishna near Mount McKinley. This woman, later known as Fannie Quigley, became a prospector who staked her own claims and a cook who ran a roadhouse. She hunted and trapped and thrived for nearly forty years in an environment that others found unbearable. Her wilderness lifestyle inspired many of those who met her to record their impressions of this self-sufficient woman, who died in 1944. To many of the 700,000 annual visitors to Denali National Park she is a symbol of the enduring spirit of the original pioneers.

Designer needlepoint: 25 exclusive designs from the Royal School of Needlework to Kaffe Fassett and Susan Duckworth / Hugh Ehrman

Small comforts: more comments and comic pieces / Tom Bodett
Alaska’s main comic export is that rarest of commodities–an original new voice in American humor. In this, his second collection of casual essays, he muses on the everyday joys and embarrassments of being a husband, father, citizen, and breadwinner.

Santa clawed / Rita Mae Brown
As Harry well knows, there’s hardly a place on earth cozier than Crozet, Virginia, at Christmastime. Snowflakes, carolers, it’s all picture-perfect until Harry and her husband, Fair, find the tree they’ve chosen grimly decorated with a corpse. The tree farm is run by the Brothers of Love, a semimonastic organization whose members live atop the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Now, as the season grows merrier, a murderer is growing bolder. One by one, prominent men of Crozet are being crossed off Christmas shopping lists and added to the morgue. And if Harry and her four-legged helpers aren’t very good–and very careful–this Christmas will be her last. (Mrs. Murphy Series #17; read an excerpt)

Puss ‘n cahoots / Rita Mae Brown
Instead of a proper second honeymoon, the newly remarried Harry and Fair Haristeen leave cozy Crozet, Virginia, for Shelbyville, Kentucky, site of the famous saddlebred horse show. There they’ll visit dear friends Joan Hamilton and Larry Hodge and enjoy a week among some of the finest horses, trainers, and riders in the country.
But soon after they arrive, events veer mysteriously–and murderously–off course. First, Joan’s ruby and sapphire horsehead heirloom pin is stolen from her private box at the fairgrounds. Next, a young film star’s prize three-gaited mare disappears into thin air. There is no lack of suspects, from hotheaded trainers and jealous rivals to vicious ex-spouses. Then a body is found flagrantly murdered and it’s obvious to Harry that someone at Shelbyville is sending a strong message: winning is only secondary–first prize is survival.
As Harry searches for clues, rediscovers life as a married woman, and deals with her upcoming fortieth birthday, her four-legged detective friends are already on the case. But is animal instinct any match for human depravity? Especially with two humans to protect and a killer on the prowl? (Mrs. Murphy Series #15; read a sample chapter)

Pawing through the past / Rita Mae Brown
Each member of the class of 1980 has received the letter. Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen, who is on the organizing committee for Crozet High’s twentieth reunion, decides to take it as a compliment. Others think it’s a joke.
But Mrs. Murphy senses trouble. And the sly tiger cat is soon proven right … when the class womanizer turns up dead with a bullet between his eyes. Then another note followed by another murder makes it clear that someone has waited twenty years to take revenge.
While Harry tries to piece together the puzzle, it’s up to Mrs. Murphy and her animal pals to sniff out the truth. And there isn’t much time. Mrs. Murphy is the first to realize that Harry has been chosen Most Likely to Die, and if she doesn’t hurry, Crozet High’s twentieth reunion could be Harry’s last. (Mrs. Murphy Series #8; read an excerpt)

Claws and effect / Rita Mae Brown
Winter puts tiny Crozet, Virginia, in a deep freeze and everyone seems to be suffering from the winter blahs, including postmistress Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen. So all are ripe for the juicy gossip coming out of Crozet Hospital–until the main source of that gossip turns up dead. It’s not like Harry to resist a mystery, and she soon finds the hospital a hotbed of ego, jealousy, and illicit love.
But it’s tiger cat Mrs. Murphy, roaming the netherworld of Crozet Hospital, who sniffs out a secret that dates back to the Underground Railroad. Then Harry is attacked and a doctor is executed in cold blood.
Soon only a quick-witted cat and her animal pals feline Pewter and corgi Tee Tucker stand between Harry and a coldly calculating killer with a prescription for murder. (Mrs. Murphy Series #9; read a sample chapter)

Cat’s eyewitness / Rita Mae Brown
With the holidays approaching, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen and her best friend, Susan Tucker, take a much-needed time-out at the mountain monastery of Mount Carmel. There, under the benevolent gaze of the statue of the Virgin Mary, their worldly worries are soon overshadowed. For in front of their very eyes the statue begins to cry tears of blood.
Legend has it that Mary’s crimson tears are harbingers of crises. And though skeptical, the ever-practical Harry can already see one on the horizon. If leaked, news of the so-called miracle could turn the monastery and the town of Crozet into a circus. What Harry doesn’t foresee is murder.…
When Susan’s great-uncle Thomas, a resident monk, is found frozen to death at the base of the statue, foul play is ruled out–at first. But at Harry’s urging, the body is exhumed for an autopsy. There’s just one problem: the coffin is empty. That’s when Mrs. Murphy, Pewter, and Tucker get involved. Then there’s the shocking revelation of a mystery that has perplexed the citizens of Crozet for ages.
With Christmas around the corner and the monastery overrunby the faithful, all Harry’s meddling menagerie can do is stay on her trail as she jumps knee-deep into an unofficial investigation–one that becomes more dangerous when another Crozet citizen meets an untimely demise. (Mrs. Murphy Series #13; read a sample chapter)

Cat on the scent / Rita Mae Brown
Crozet, Virginia, is a pretty sleepy place, but during a Civil War reenactment, murder occurs, and postmistress and amateur sleuth Harry Harristeen and her three pets are soon on the prowl looking for the killer. (Mrs. Murphy Series #7; read an excerpt)

Nights of ice / Spike Walker
Spike Walker has spent more than a decade fishing in the subzero hell of Alaska’s coastal waters. This collection—coming on the heels of his classic memoir Working on the Edge—is a testament to the courage of those who brave nature’s wrath each fishing season, and to the uncontrolled power of nature herself.. The crewmen in Nights of Ice face a constant onslaught of roaring waves, stories-high swells, and life-stealing ice. Tested by the elements, these seamen battle for their vessels and their lives, on every page evincing a level of courage and a will to live seldom found elsewhere in modern society.

A darkness more than night / Michael Connelly
Harry Bosch is up to his neck in a case that has transfixed all of celebrity-mad Los Angeles: a movie director is charged with murdering an actress during sex, and then staging her death to make it look like a suicide. Bosch is both the arresting officer and the star witness in a trial that has brought the Hollywood media pack out in full-throated frenzy.
Meanwhile, Terry McCaleb is enjoying an idyllic retirement on Catalina Island when a visit from an old colleague brings his former world rushing back. It’s a murder, the unreadable kind of murder he specialized in solving back in his FBI days. The investigation has stalled, and the sheriff’s office is asking McCaleb to take a quick look at the murder book to see if he turns up something they’ve missed.
McCaleb’s first reading of the crime scene leads him to look for a methodical killer with a taste for rituals and revenge. As his quick look accelerates into a full-sprint investigation, the two crimes — his murdered loner and Bosch’s movie director — begin to overlap strangely. With one unsettling revelation after another, they merge, becoming one impossible, terrifying case, involving almost inconceivable calculation. McCaleb believes he has unmasked the most frightening killer ever to cross his sights. But his investigation tangles with Bosch’s lines, and the two men find themselves at odds in the most dangerous investigation of their lives.(Harry Bosch Series #7 & Terry McCaleb Series #2; read a sample chapter)

Arctic drift / Clive Cussler; Dirk Cussler
A potential breakthrough discovery to reverse global warming . . . a series of unexplained sudden deaths in British Columbia . . . a rash of international incidents between the United States and one of its closest allies that threatens to erupt into an actual shooting war . . . NUMA director Dirk Pitt and his children, Dirk. Jr. and Summer, have reason to believe there’s a connection here somewhere, but they also know they have very little time to find it before events escalate out of control. Their only real clue might just be a mysterious silvery mineral traced to a long-ago expedition in search of the fabled Northwest Passage. But no one survived from that doomed mission, captain and crew perished to a man—and if Pitt and his colleague Al Giordino aren’t careful, the very same fate may await them. (Dirk Pitt Series #20)

Black wind / Clive Cussler; Dirk Cussler
In the waning days of World War II, the Japanese tried a last desperate measure-a different kind of kamikaze mission, this one carried out by two submarines bound for the West Coast of the United States, their cargo a revolutionary new strain of biological virus. Neither sub made it to the designated target.
But that does not mean they were lost.
Someone knows about the subs and what they bore, knows too where they might be, and has an extraordinary plan in store for the prize inside-a scheme that could reshape the world as we know it. All that stands in the way are three people: a marine biologist named Summer, a marine engineer named Dirk, and their father, Dirk Pitt, the new head of NUMA. Pitt has faced devastating enemies before, and has even teamed up with his children to track them down. But never has he looked upon the face of pure evil . . . until now. (Dirk Pitt Series #18)

The navigator / Clive Cussler; Paul Kemprecos
Austin and his team are hunting icebergs when they chance upon a pirate raid aimed at stealing a priceless Phoenician antiquity launched by a stereotypical megalomaniacal villain, Viktor Baltazar, who believes he’s a descendant of King Solomon. Baltazar and Austin joust continually (once, literally!) over the antique, which may be connected to the lost ark of the covenant, Thomas Jefferson and the suspicious death of Meriwether Lewis. (NUMA Files Series , #7)

Polar shift / Clive Cussler; Paul Kemprecos
Polar shift: It is the name for a phenomenon that may have occurred many times in the past. At the very least, it disorients birds and animals and damages electrical equipment. At its worst, it causes massive eruptions, earthquakes, and climatic changes. At its very worst, it would mean the obliteration of all living matter, and if that happens – exit Earth.
Sixty years ago, an eccentric Hungarian genius discovered how to artificially trigger such a shift, but then his work was lost, or so it was thought. Now, the charismatic leader of an anti-globalization group plans to use the work to give the world’s industrialized nations a small jolt, then reverse the shift back again. The only problem is, it cannot be reversed. Once the shift starts, there is nothing anyone can do about it. (NUMA Files Series , #6)

Trojan odyssey / Clive Cussler
In the final pages of Valhalla Rising, Dirk Pitt discovered, to his shock, that he had two grown children he had never known-twenty-three-year-old fraternal twins born to a woman he thought had died in an underwater earthquake. Both have inherited his love of the sea: the girl, Summer, is a marine biologist; the boy, himself named Dirk, is a marine engineer. And now they are about to help their father in the adventure of a lifetime.
There is a brown tide infesting the ocean off the shore of Nicaragua. The twins are working in a NUMA(r) underwater enclosure, trying to determine its origin, when two startling things happen: Summer discovers an artifact, something strange and beautiful and ancient; and the worst storm in years boils up. (Dirk Pitt Series #17; read an excerpt)

Tales from Watership Down / Richard Adams
In one of the most enduring classics of contemporary literature, author Richard Adams enthralled millions of readers by creating a glorious world of danger and discovery at once uniquely strange and strikingly similar to our own. Come back now to this remarkable society hidden beneath the tall grasses and open fields; to old friends and new heroes whose courage and tenacity are tested at every turn by predatory nature and the short-sighted cruelties of man. Come back to the excitement and enchantment, to the heartsoaring wonder of a place called Watership Down. (read an excerpt)

[Note: All synopses are provided by the publisher unless otherwise noted and do not constitute reviews by the Seldovia Public Library.]

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