Knit Wit Living

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At Long Last – Recommended Reading

Books I’ve Liked

I’ve decided to only share my recommended reading since it’s been almost two complete (weather-related) seasons since the last reading report.  EGADS!!!

I have been reading up a storm.  I’ve checked out many books that were not memorable, or that I did not get through the first chapter or so.  I’m sorry to all the authors who take awhile to get to the action.  I do not have the stamina nor the interest to suffer through interminable pages before my interest is captured.  I’ve left all those experiences off this post!

The books listed below were all enjoyable in one sense or another. Some were lighthearted romances, while others just blew me away.

Recommended Reading

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk is a historical novel intertwined with a modern story that conveys the story of the removal of the Chinese from California in the late 1800’s.  Given today’s political turmoil about allowing or removing refugees from our country, it was timely to be reading about a situation that might be repeating itself shortly.  This is a well written story, with great detail, emotion, and character development.  I read it in a few days or so.  Too busy reading to write any posts!

Recommended Reading

Jodi Picoult writes good stories.  However, I still object to her tendency to bring in a new detail to end the story.  With Small Great Things, this was also the case.  Yes, it’s worth reading. It’s thought provoking, good for discussions, believable, and well written.  However, the little detail she throws in at the end would have been so much more interesting if she had incorporated it into the actual story.

Recommended Reading

LaRose tells a story of a man who accidentally kills his neighbor’s son, and his own son’s best friend, while deer hunting.  To make up for this terrible mistake, he and his wife give their son to the other family.  This is an amazing story about each member of both families and how they cope.  It’s an entirely new story line that’s fascinating, well written, and believable.

Recommended Reading

Yes, a cookbook has made it to the Recommended Reading report.  Anthony Bourdain wrote Appetite: A Cookbook for his daughter, and it’s a conversational account of how to make the recipes they enjoy together. It’s well written, and easy to grasp and follow. I will admit that I did not finish reading all the recipes, but I fell in love with the book nonetheless.

Recommended Reading

This Jewelry Making book is very helpful in breaking down different techniques, at a high level, but still with enough detail.  The topics I knew a little bit about were explained well.  That led to my comfort level in understanding techniques that I have not tried yet. I checked this out from the library, but may actually buy a copy later.

Recommended Reading

The Story of Beautiful Girl had been recommended for our now defunct book club over and over again, and we kept rejecting it. The story description was just not appealing: two runaways from a mental institution leave a baby in the hands of an older woman before they are taken away.

Yes, that’s the basis of the story, but it is so much more.  I will admit that there are some details where I felt I had to suspend reality, but then again, life is often stranger than fiction, so I need to give those parts of the story room to be possible.  I know I am not giving you more incentive to read it, but I think you just need to go with blind faith, like I finally did, to give this book your attention.

There are more comments in the complete list below.

All these books were good.  No bad reviews this time!

Recommended Books Since September 2016

Love and TreasureAyelet WaldmanGood story, well written, B+
Elizabeth is MissingEmma HealeyEnjoyed it
The Ladies RoomCarolyn BrownVery light-hearted story, but still enjoyed it
The DressmakerKate AlcottGood
Everyone is BeautifulKatherine CenterGood writer
The City Baker's Guide to Country LivingLouise MillerEnjoyed it
Appetites: A CookbookAnthony BourdainExcellent - written the way you would share recipes. Good recipes. Good instructions. What else do you need?
Small Great ThingsJodi PicoultVery good - but the usual twist at the end (not a fan of that tendency)
The Invention of WingsSue Monk KiddVery good. Well written. Good story.
LaRoseLouise EdrichVery good. Good story, good characters. All believable. New subject matter and story line for me. Would recommend it.
The House on Main StreetShirlee McCoyLight romance but enough of a story to keep me interested & read the 2nd in the series!
The Forgotten GardenKate MortonB+ worthy. Good story, believable. I think I read this one pretty quickly.
The Girl Who Wrote in SilkKelli EstesCaptivating.
I think I devoured this in a couple of days.
Recommend it!
The Complete Photo Guide to Jewelry MakingTammy PowleyGreat reference & explanations for different types of jewelry making. I got this from the library, but may actually buy it too.
The Cottage on the CornerShirlee McCoyThe 2nd book of the Apply Valley trilogy. Still good. Nothing serious or thought provoking, but enjoyable.
The Story of Beautiful GirlRachel SimonVery good book. Different kind of story, new story line. Kept me reading and reading. Finished quickly.


Book Report – February & March 2016

The procrastination period is over.  Here is my book report for the last two months!

Books Bought February & March 2016

Maggie Meister's Classical Elegance: 20 Beaded Jewelry DesignsMaggie Meister
What Knot?Geoffrey Budworth, Richard Hopkins
One Big Beautiful BeadSarah McConnell
Jill Wiseman's Beautiful Beaded Ropes: 300 Quick & Easy DesignsJill Wiseman
Nothing to Tell: Extraordinary Stories of Montana Ranch WomenDonna Gray
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessCharles Duhigg
Home to ItalyPeter Pezzelli
The Girl in the GlassJeffrey Ford
Every Day is a HolidayGeorge Mahood
The Sound of LanguageAmulya Malladi

The book worth noting here is the Nothing to Tell: Extraordinary Stories of Montana Ranch Women.  These are collected oral histories of women who moved to Montana in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.  It’s better than any historical novel.

I’m also enjoying the beading books, but will report more specifically on those in another post.

Books Read February & March 2016

Maggie Meister's Classical Elegance: 20 Beaded Jewelry DesignsMaggie MeisterHaven't read yet
What Knot?Geoffrey Budworth, Richard HopkinsInteresting
One Big Beautiful BeadSarah McConnellInteresting
Jill Wiseman's Beautiful Beaded RopesJill WisemanThumbs up
Nothing to Tell: Extraordinary Stories of Montana Ranch WomenDonna GrayEnjoying
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessCharles DuhiggGood
Home to ItalyPeter PezzelliThumbs down
The Girl in the GlassJeffrey FordInteresting
Every Day is a HolidayGeorge MahoodThumbs down
The Sound of LanguageAmulya MalladiInteresting
Shopaholic to the RescueSophie KinsellaAwful
The Flood GirlsRichard FifieldThumbs down
The Good LiarNicholas SearleInteresting
The Empty HouseRosamunde PilcherGood
The GilderKathryn KayEnjoyed what I read
ManhuntingJennifer CruisieThumbs down

This looks like a long list, but everything book rated with a Thumbs Down or Awful lasted one chapter or less.  I find it very difficult to plow through a book if it doesn’t grab my interest right away.

The caveat to my selections this month is that I was lucky enough to go on sunny vacations in February and March. I was looking for lighthearted, not too deep books.  The Girl in the Glass, The Good Liar and The Sound of Language all fell into that category.  Nothing too absorbing, but managed to keep my attention throughout – and to the end – of the story.  I was enjoying The Gilder, but didn’t finish before my library checkout expired.

The Girl in the Glass is about a con man and his crew who put on fake seances for wealthy clients in Long Island during the Depression.  It reminded me a little bit of a Donald Westlake story – the characters were real characters, but believable at the same time.

The Good Liar, surprising to me as I write this, is also about a con man who uses dating sites to sponge off of women.  The backstory included in the blurb mentions that the woman in the story may also be up to something other than dating. It’s this piece of information that kept me reading to the end…and I actually was not disappointed.  (Yes, that might be construed as words of praise.)


The Sound of Language is about an Afghan refugee who settles in Denmark, and how she and her family adjust to their new home.  This particular woman gets an internship with a beekeeper who is adjusting to being a widower.  I have been very interested in today’s refugee situation, and this was an interesting perspective that can be applied to Europe.  It may be written as a  Young Adult book. I found the writing to be simplistic, but the overall concept was compelling to keep me interested through to the end.

December 2015 Reading Report – Books Read

December is a good month for reading.  For those of us not preoccupied with holiday activities, there is plenty of time to read (bead, knit, etc.) and bookstore sales to help feed the hunger.

The second half of December is very quiet in my office.  A lot of people take this time off, which provides those of us still at work the opportunity to catch up on the little tasks that just never get done.  However, enough is enough, and I only worked two days this week.  I would love that to be my new norm. 2 work days each week, but full time pay.  That would be nice!!

I think a lot of people were reading this month because I received 5 books from my library holds list.  The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman didn’t even make it to this month’s Reading list. I just knew I wouldn’t get through the other books, so I re-entered its Hold line.

Slade House by David Mitchell had been on my To Read list, and LD gave it to me as a holiday gift.  Its reviews referred to it as a haunted house story, so I did not want to read it before bed!  I spent two hours one afternoon to read it.  Among the many reviews –

“An eerie haunted house tale that takes as much from quantum mechanics as from traditional supernatural lore.”

Dean Koontz, #1 New York Times bestselling author

I read it in one sitting because I knew if I put it down, it would be unlikely that I would pick it up again.  The characters were not really developed, except perhaps the Slade House inhabitants; I would not recommend it, but I’m glad I read it so I can take it off my list!

Books Read December 2015

Stringing, Winter 2016
Betsy BeadsBetsy HershbergThumbs Up
How to be BothAli SmithSo far so good
Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes--But Some DoMatthew SyedOnly a little way in
Slade HouseDavid Mitchell2 stars
1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover's Life ListMimi SheratonDownloaded a Sample - on the fence about next step
Season of Salt and HoneyHannah TunnicliffeNot for me (see below)
Four Funerals and a WeddingJill SmoloweWhat was I thinking?
The Rosie ProjectGraeme SimsionUgh
100 Days of HappinessFausto BrizziNot for me (see below)
The Improbability of LoveHannah Rothschild3 stars

The Improbability of Love was my primary read this month. I give it 3 stars because I skipped a lot of pages that just seemed to be extraneous story telling, but there were 2 primary concepts that kept me engaged. The main character, Annie,  is recovering from divorce and restarting her life. She buys a painting in a thrift shop on a lark, and part of the story that was interesting is about discovering its origins and artist. The other portion of the story that really fascinated me was about her work as a cook for large dinner parties that were based on certain paintings. She would research the food, decor, etiquette and customs of the time of the painting, as well as the painter’s and the painting subject’s lives, and then create a meal and decorations around it. The author should have done more writing in this vein, rather than some of the other avenues she chose.

December 2015 Reading

I’ve really just started How to Be Both, but it seems to be somewhat similar in taking an older painting and seeing how it re-introduces itself in modern life: “How to be both is a novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There’s a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance.”

December 2015 Reading

I believe I was undergoing some unconscious need for grief counseling or moving on or something this month, when I selected Season of Salt and Honey, Four Funerals and a Wedding, and 100 Days of Happiness. Okay, yes for this theory with Four Funerals and a Wedding which is blatantly described as “With humor and quiet wisdom, and with a lens firmly trained on what helped her tolerate and rebound from so much sorrow, she offers answers to questions we all confront in the face of loss, and reminds us that grief is not only about endings it’s about new beginnings.” I only got this as a sample, because I hate trite sentimentality like “not only about endings it’s about new beginnings.” I think I knew I wouldn’t like it, but somehow couldn’t resist. Then, Season of Salt and Honey was from my library’s Holds list. By the time the book’s in my queue, I’ve forgotten what it’s about or why I wanted to read it. Given my recent trip to Italy, I can see why I might have been attracted to this novel: “A NOVEL OF LOVE, GRIEF AND ANTIPASTI.” However, it starts out at the Italian equivalent of a shiva for the main character’s fiance. That was enough for me. Done. Book over. Finally, I don’t know what I was thinking when I put 100 Days of Happiness on my account as a Hold. “What would you do if you knew you only had 100 days left to live? For Lucio Battistini, it’s a chance to spend the rest of his life the way he always should have—by making every moment count” drew me in for some reason. When DDSO was undergoing chemotherapy, he sent emails to his friends about his experiences. This book reminded me of that. I definitively closed the book and said if I wanted to read this, I would look for those emails. Enough said. No thanks.

December 2015 Reading

I downloaded a sample of Mimi Sheraton’s 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover’s Life List. (I like using the word “sample” with this book because it always makes me smile thinking about getting a sample of each food!) I perused the first chapter, which is centered on English and Scottish food. As one of my friends said, English food is not even supposed to be good – why is that included?! Maybe the author was starting off with the simpler foods in life – like cheddar cheese and clotted cream. Anyway, I think it might be fun to have this book and check off foods as I have them. I haven’t quite decided if this is what I want to do. Maybe a library book version next?


Save 30% at Interweave with Offer Code NEWYEAR2016

Reading December 2015 – Books bought

WOW, what a month!  The desire to read has resurfaced in abundant measure!  Plus, it is gift giving time, books as gifts – for others and for me!

I feel like I was so impressionable and hungry for good reading this month.  My standard MO is to read a (primarily the Sunday NY Times) book review, look for the book’s review on Goodreads, and then notate it as Want To Read, or my own shelf – Get from library.  This month it was more: read the book review, look it up on Goodreads, see if it’s in the library Overdrive listing. What? No?  Buy it.

I have also started to lean back toward buying the physical book.  An e-reader just cannot replace holding the book, physically seeing the pages turn and having the pages move from “more to read” to “already read” to “so little to go” (which is sometimes a relief and other times sad because I don’t want to say goodbye to the characters.)  I’ve also learned that is very important to me to be able to re-read the back cover to recall what compelled me to read this book in the first place.

I’ve decided to break up this month’s Reading Report into two separate posts.  First, I have purchased more books than usual and have more to report in both the Purchased and Read categories.  Second, it’s December 30th.  I’m hoping that publishing this post today will end this month’s spending.  (I have two magazine subscriptions in the Interweave Store cart, and in the list below – a solid recognition that this coveting will soon end with a purchase.)

Books Bought December 2015

Stringing, Winter 2016
Betsy BeadsBetsy Hershberg
Chevron AfghansCaron Yarn Company
50 Hats & Caps to KnitKnit Simple Magazine
Superforecasting: The Art and Science of PredictionDr. Philip Tetlock, Dan Gardner
The Best American Science and Nature WritingRebecca Skloot (Editor), Tim Folger (Editor)
Tricky Twenty-TwoJanet Evanovich
The Girl in the Spider’s WebDavid Lagercrantz
The SportswriterRichard Ford
The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.
Nichole Bernier
When I Married My Mother: A Daughter's Search for What Really Matters...Jo Maeder
Stringing, SubscriptionMagazine
Beadwork, SubscriptionMagazine
Say You're One of ThemUwem Akpan
Thrilling CitiesIan Fleming
How to be BothAli Smith
Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes--But Some DoMatthew Syed
Why Not Me?Mindy Kaling

First the gifts.

For Lovely Daughter – a Finance and Marketing major: Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, which is a chattily-written book that I thought she would enjoy because she is very smart in school but also street smart, common sense smart.  I thought this would meld with her brain perfectly. She had a different opinion, and allowed her brother to take it!  She received Why Not Me? as a replacement, at her request.

For Elusive Son, who made an appearance home for the Christmas week!: his sister’s gift – Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction because he thought it would be interesting; The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz, the new fourth installment of the Dragon Tattoo series.  It was a complete surprise to him that there was a fourth book, especially given that the author had died.  I also gave him The Best American Science and Nature Writing, which I thought would be right up his alley, specifically the Science part.  This is a young man who was upset that he couldn’t minor in Physics in college (due to course scheduling challenges). (Very different from his math-phobic, creatively-asymmetrically-centered mother.)

My spending strategy can be categorized as:

  1. Beading/Knitting/CreativityStringing, Winter 2016, Betsy Beads, Chevron Afghans, 50 Hats & Caps to Knit, Stringing Magazine Subscription, Beadwork Magazine Subscription.  The most delightful surprise of this collection is the Betsy Beads book – a woman who combines knitting with beading.  I am happy to have found this book, not really as inspiration for her ideas but as inspiration for doing my own thing.  The most disappointing surprise was receiving the Chevron Afghans book and realizing that it’s all crochet patterns.
  2. Book club related – our January book is Tricky Twenty-Two, selected as a light read for the busy holiday season; I had recommended The Sportswriter, and it was not selected.  So I bought it to read on my own instead.  Jennie from book club recommended Say You’re One of Them, but I have not read it yet. December 2015 Reading
  3. Kindle bargainsThe Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. and When I Married My Mother: A Daughter’s Search for What Really Matters…. I have not started either one yet.
  4. Escape to a different reality genreThrilling Cities and Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes–But Some Do.  This is an odd category but both books really fit it.  Thrilling Cities is by Ian Fleming (yes, of James Bond fame) and was written in the sixties.  It’s his take on different cities. I thought it would be well-written and interesting – (1) to see his perspective and (2) to see how much the cities have changed since it was written.  I’m only a few pages in so can’t report on it yet.  Matthew Syed’s book fit this category in a different way – to see what mistakes I’ve made and how not to repeat them – give myself a different reality.  I’ve only read the introduction so far, and some of that may be that I’m not quite ready for it.
  5. NY Times Book Review Gotta Have It – Ali Smith’s How to be Both.  I’ve been drawn in to other reviews of this author, and have many of her books on my Goodreads Want to Read list.  I just jumped in and bought this one.  (I just looked for the article on the NY Times site, and I think it must’ve been mentioned in an interview – where someone is asked what he/she is currently reading.  Although there is an article from June 2014 with the title, “An Onion of a Novel, Demanding to be Peeled.”)  Oh, now I’m reminded that The Sportswriter is also in this category.  Someone did mention this book in an interview in the Book Review section.

All this purchasing creates a “burden” to read. Luckily, there’s time off for the holidays…The Reading Report will soon follow!


November 2015 Reading

I just finished reading The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2015 review.  Even with what I thought was prolific reading this year, I’ve only read two!  (The Incarnations and Dragonfish) And both are in this month’s Reading post.  Plus, there is a book listed that I have bought – as a pre-order for August 2016.  (A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories) How did that make it on to the 2015 list if it’s not even available yet?

On with the report.

November was distracted. Reading had very little place in it.  There had been rumors for month that my company was going to have layoffs mid-November.  This led to worry, anxiety, and thinking about next-step options and to reading selections like Big Travel, Small Budget: How to Travel More, Spend Less, and See the World and Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship – both representing the pursuit of one’s dreams. This round of layoffs are over, and I am still employed. I am laughing as I realize I have not finished either book. The Pirate Hunters book has been returned to the library and the Big Travel book is on my Kindle.  I’ll probably start reading it again with the next round of impending layoffs…

November 2015 Reading

DragonfishVu TranThumbs down.
Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession and the Search for a Legendary Pirate ShipRobert KursonGood
The LiarNora RobertsUGH
Silent HouseOrhan PamukNo, not for me.
Big Travel, Small Budget: How to Travel More, Spend Less, and See the WorldRyan ShauersLiking it.
The IncarnationsSusan BarkerGood

November 2015 Reading

The Incarnations is our December book club selection. We wanted something different from what we’ve already read together. We achieved that. I can’t think of any book that I’ve read like this one. This is the story of a taxi driver in Beijing who is being left letters from his soul mate, telling him of their history together.  It travels through centuries of Chinese history telling of their various relationships, weaving in Wang’s current life, and his reaction to receiving these letters. It was very interesting. I would recommend it, much in the way of the  I Am Pilgrim recommendation. I would want you to read it so we can discuss it together.

I had been on the library wait list for Dragonfish for awhile, so when it was finally my turn to check it out I couldn’t remember what it was about!  Don’t you hate when that happens?!   This does sound worthwhile:

Vu Tran has written a thrilling and cinematic work of sophisticated suspense and haunting lyricism, set in motion by characters who can neither trust each other nor trust themselves. This remarkable debut novel is a noir page-turner resonant with the lasting reverberations of lives lost and lives remade a generation ago.

But it just wasn’t for me.

Orhan Pamuk has a new book (A Strangeness in My Mind) that looked interesting but it wasn’t available in the library so I checked out Silent House instead. I did not like the writing style, though the story seemed like it had potential. I stopped after a couple of chapters.

Yes, I am admitting to have started a Nora Roberts book, The Liar. Her books are usually light and breezy and allow for distraction from reality for a bit. This one was so poorly written that I had to stop.

The books I bought in November were primarily based on Kindle deals. A book club friend told me about the Estelle Ryan books; she also “bought” them at no charge through Amazon.  This month’s purchases – the Leon Berger & Estelle Ryan books were at no charge. The Dana Cowin book was $1.99, but looks good. I’ve enjoyed her perspective when she guest judges on Top Chef, and who can resist the subtitle of this book: Learning to Cook with 65 Great Chefs and  Over 100 Delicious Recipes. (I love the “over 100” notation. I haven’t counted them – maybe there’s 101?)

Books Bought November 2015

Big Travel, Small Budget: How to Travel More, Spend Less, and See the WorldRyan Shauers
The IncarnationsSusan Barker
The Gauguin ConnectionEstelle Ryan
The Dante ConnectionEstelle Ryan
Lunch with CharlotteLeon Berger
Mastering My Mistakes in the KitchenGail Cowin, Julia Turshen

Our book club discussion is on Tuesday – I’m looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts about The Incarnations and seeing what we decide on for our next selection!

June 2015 Reading

June was not a month of prolific reading, or purchasing for that matter.

Books Bought June 2015

So Brave, Young and HandsomeLeif Enger
A Woman's Guide to Successful NegotiatingLee E. Miller and Jessica Miller
Gourmet RhapsodyMuriel Barbery
Miss HargreavesFrank Baker
The Whistling SeasonIvan Doig

Ivan Doig’s books have often been on my library wish list, and with his death this year, have been more on my mind to read lately.  I was perusing my local bookstore and came across The Whistling Season, which I opened to this exchange:

“Miss Trent loped!”

“Did she.” Father’s eyebrows lifted commensurately.  “That must have been a memorable change from her usual gait.”

“Father, Toby means ‘eloped,'” I said.

Well, who could resist this book!  I knew I had to read it.  So I bought it.

But haven’t read it yet.  Hopefully it will be on my Books Read list soon.

Gourmet Rhapsody is “the other” (hoping for more) Muriel Barbery book, which actually takes place before The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I am only a couple of chapters in, but already have a passage marked as well written/amusing.

Books Read June 2015

Gourmet RhapsodyMuriel BarberyJust a few chapters in...
The Funny Thing is...Ellen DeGeneresAmusing
Laughter TherapyNPR Wait, Wait, Don't Tell MeOkay
Home Sweet AnywhereLynne MartinVery good
The NightingaleKristin HannahVery good
Funny GirlNick HornbyOkay
The Paris ArchitectCharles BelfoureGood

When I was reading Funny Girl, I had to check that this was “my” Nick Hornby, whose book Ten Years in the Tub I love. Yes, the same one! But I did not love Funny Girl. I did read it to the end, but that was probably because I knew I like the author.

I really enjoyed Home Sweet Anywhere about an older couple, who instead of retiring in one place, sell their home and decide to live around the world, in different places months at a time. As someone who still has to work for a living, it was reading about a fantasy for me, but was not for the author and her husband. It opened my eyes to what could become a reality, if one chooses. It is well-written and informative about realistic planning, costs, as well as their relationship, which is important because they are completely dependent on each other without other family and friends around.

For some reason, I have been reading a lot of Holocaust-related books lately. Throw in The Paris Architect for yet another one. This one, like The Nightingale, was from the perspective of non-Jews. I gave it a not so great review online because I feel that the ending is very weak. However, I was intrigued to read it through to the very end, so I probably need to correct the review that it held my attention to the end.

As to a favorite book this month…if forced to choose it would be Home Sweet Anywhere. I did enjoy reading it, though skipped through some chapters.

On to July…better books to tell you about then!!!

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