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Crystal

I read and review Young Adult lit!

Member Since 2011

31
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 60 reviews
  • 62 ratings
  • 115 titles in library
  • 19 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
8
FOLLOWERS
5

  • Here: On the Otherside, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Denise Grover Swank
    • Narrated By Bryce Hitchcock
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (22)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (20)

    Sixteen-year-old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend, Monica, in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing, and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.

    Crystal says: "Painful, Pointless."
    "Painful, Pointless."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is my new low water mark in YA literature. I’m normally pretty fair in my reviews and take into account that other people may appreciate elements of a story (eg the romance) more than I do.

    Here, however, is a fundamentally broken story.

    I do spoiler-free reviews, meaning I don’t give away anything that isn’t in the audible synopsis. Unfortunately that means I can’t really discuss where this book goes because the mid-point reveal is supposed to be a surprise.

    All I’ll say is that the reveal is/requires a complete break in continuity. The setting, characters and story itself have to fundamentally change after the break. This means that most of the build-up in the first half of the book is for naught.

    Julia’s story about overcoming guilt, depression and maybe figuring out the mystery around the fatal accident has no real bearing on the story after the break. Likewise, the character relationships we spent so long trying to establish also come to nothing. And I say *trying* to establish because there’s no real ‘development’ – two hot guys come out of nowhere to worship and insult Julia in equal measure and this is supposed to equate to true love in YA literature.

    The reveal itself is enormous but there was no opportunity to really play with or explore it because it came so late in the story. This leaves us with a second half full of info dumps, love triangles (there are TWO, I kid you not) and a pointless heroine hell-bent of self-sacrifice that does nothing but collapse to her knees on three separate occasions during the climax.

    It kills me to be so dismissive of a book; I truly do try to be fair because I’m an amateur writer who’d hate to read a scathing review.

    Honestly, though Here go nowhere, does nothing and is utterly heartless. The whole thing has a paint by numbers, YA cliché checklist feel (High concept – check, love triangle – check,check, heroine with a martyr complex – check) but the wasteful setup, focused story, lack of payoff and poor story structure make it fall even flatter than other generic YA out there.

    Don’t waste your credits.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Sweet Reckoning: Sweet Trilogy, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Wendy Higgins
    • Narrated By Erin Mallon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (77)
    Performance
    (74)
    Story
    (73)

    Evil is running rampant, and sweet Anna Whitt is its target. Nobody knows when or how the Dukes will strike, but Anna and her Nephilim allies will do anything necessary to rid the Earth of the demons and their oppressive ways. The stakes are higher than ever, and Anna is determined that the love she feels will be her strength, not a liability. But trying to protect the ones she loves while running for her life and battling demonic forces proves to be perilous - especially as faces are changing and trust is fleeting.

    Crystal says: "Unforgivably Pointless Waste of Time"
    "Unforgivably Pointless Waste of Time"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The only reason I didn’t return Sweet Reckoning was so I could at least have the satisfaction of giving it a one-star review.

    After supporting the trilogy from the beginning I am so utterly appalled by this anti-climactic final instalment I urge everyone to not waste their time or money.

    Turns out ridding the world of demons is so simple that Anna didn’t even break a sweat!

    I estimate the yawn-worthy climax took only 40min of the 10hr+ run time

    So what’s Sweet Reckoning actually about?

    Sex.

    The author is clearly a Stephanie Meyer type – so religiously repressed about sex she had to write three books establishing her protagonists’ undying love and even marry her off just so she could write sex scenes without feeling guilty.

    Higgins actually has an angel come down for a post-coital high-five to make it clear this union was totally cool with god.

    Yes, the main action of Sweet Reckoning is, literally, Anna finally getting some action.

    How many times?

    How many ways?

    How many places?

    Don’t worry - you’ll get all the details you can stomach!

    Sure Anna is supposed to be ridding the world of pure demons but there’s sex to be had so she skims the bible on the way to the final show-down and hopes for the best!

    There is no planning, plotting or preparation.

    No training, scheming or strategizing.

    We’ve spent three books leading up to a complete and total non-event!!

    Anyone who has read the first two entries would be better off reading some free fanfiction then paying for this mess.

    Unforgivable.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Winter White: A Belles Novel, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Jen Calonita
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (18)

    Isabelle Scott and Mirabelle Monroe are still reeling from the revelation that they share more than just the roof over their heads. The media has pounced on their story and the girls are caught up in a flurry of talk-show appearances and newspaper interviews. They’ve put on a happy public face, but someone is leaking their true feelings to the press. While it seems like the world is watching their every move, at least they have each other. But with cotillion season right around the corner, Izzie and Mira have barely had time to process their newfound sisterhood.

    Crystal says: "More of the same, if you like that sort of thing!"
    "More of the same, if you like that sort of thing!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Winter White wasn’t bad…it was just more of the same.

    It felt a little pointless to me. The Belles are still at odds, and still won’t work together. The family is still in turmoil and still can’t manage to get ahead of the agents working against them. There are still more social events that have to be shopped for and both Belles are still having problems finding that perfect dress.

    Same old, same old.

    I’m sure most readers who loved the first and love the rich girl drama genre will continue happily through Winter White and onto the third book.

    But I need change, I need progress, I need some character arcs and some plot development.

    I won’t be continuing on with the series but, as I said above, there is clearly an audience for this book and I wish them all the best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Let the Storm Break

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Shannon Messenger
    • Narrated By Nick Podehl, Kristen Leigh
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Vane Weston is haunted. By the searing pull of his bond to Audra. By the lies he’s told to cover for her disappearance. By the treacherous winds that slip into his mind, trying to trap him in his worst nightmares. And as his enemies grow stronger, Vane doesn’t know how much longer he can last on his own.

    Crystal says: "Scattered and Contrived Second Book"
    "Scattered and Contrived Second Book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was an incredibly disappointing follow-up to such a promising first book.

    While I found the establishment of the ‘wind-walkers’ lore incredibly fun in the first book, the expanded world seemed to fall apart here. We were introduced to a huge number of ‘wind-bending’ techniques that defy even in-world logic to the point of ridiculousness.

    I couldn’t invest at all when I couldn’t tell whether I’m even supposed to take any of it seriously.

    And if I’m not, why should I keep reading?

    It certainly won’t be for the characters who became dithering and indecisive here after a refreshingly genuine courtship in book one.

    LtSB hyped up the generic drama and took the characters utterly nowhere. Scene after scene of the couple pondering whether the other one loves them as much as they love the other? Talk about cliché.

    To be fair, though, they weren’t given much to work with story wise.

    Mind spoiler for the first book here but it ends with Audra leaving Vane…for some reason.
    Honestly, I didn’t understand her rationale at the time and it became clear here it was simply so they could begin this book separated. The setup, designed just so Audra would have cause to COINCIDENTLY meet a character with critical information, rang insultingly false.

    Worse, it happened time and time again through the story – the plot relied on convenient contrivances to keep the story moving right through to a double cross even the characters saw coming.

    Predictably, there was no resolution as is the norm for middle books in a trilogy. The problem is, I can’t think of a single reason to continue to the third book.

    Usually, I just give a resigned shrug after a so-so second book in a trilogy. I almost always continue onto the final entry out of some masochistic urge to see a series out and I figure anyone who liked the first will read the second regardless of what I say.

    I will just tell anyone only lukewarm on the first book, not to bothering continuing and caution anyone hoping for a great new series not to get your hopes up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sketchy: The Bea Catcher Chronicles, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Olivia Samms
    • Narrated By Kate Reinders
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    A popular cheerleader - raped, beaten, and left for dead. An edgy outsider with a gift. An unlikely team that could take down a killer. Bea Washington’s life has been a mess ever since that night - the night her best friend and boyfriend betrayed her, the night that got Bea kicked out of Athena Day School for Girls, the night that sent Bea straight into rehab. Now clean, Bea is starting over at sprawling Packard High School, in a city shaken from two assaults on young women.

    Crystal says: "Unlikeable heroine makes for an unenjoyable book."
    "Unlikeable heroine makes for an unenjoyable book."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sketchy is a study in dichotomy so I guess it’s only fitting I’m of two minds about it as I write this review.

    Bea is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict…who has a physic ability to sketch people’s thoughts when she draws them.

    There are two very different stories at play here and I’m not exactly sold on how well they fit together.

    On the one hand, Beas substance abuse problem seems like it could fill out a story all of its own. The fact that is shared page time with a high-concept premise really undercut the severity and sincerity of the heady subject matter.

    Meanwhile, the ability to ‘sketch the truth’ side of the narrative didn’t really live up to its promise and wasn’t particularly fulfilling in a mystery sense.

    Don’t get me wrong, this genre-clash had some serious potential given how her using is at odds with her ability but nothing came of it.

    I could just call Sketchy a zero-sum and leave potential readers to make up their own minds but Sketchy had one, I think, unforgivable flaw.

    Bea is painted as a victim because of the lack of trust parents, teachers and police have in her given her substance abuse history.

    And the author clearly tells us it is the authority figures in the wrong here.

    Yes Bea is cleaning up her act but after literally JUST getting out of rehab the author takes the position that it is unfair that her parents don’t trust her… while she lies about where she is going, puts herself in the path of temptation and has trouble managing to resist using again.

    Even when her parents find drugs on her, we are supposed to be outraged they don’t “believe” she’s still clean. Likewise, we're supposed to agree it's unfair that her parents want to her get a part-time job to support her vintage clothing obsession.

    I'm really not sure what the author was going for with this approach to the main character. If she was trying to make her more realistic with her self-centred teen approach to life it backfired to make her simply unlikeable.

    I have no interest in reading about Bea further, whether or not the stories improve and I can’t think of a particular group or age I’d want to recommend Sketchy too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The List

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Siobhan Vivian
    • Narrated By Allison McLemore
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (26)

    It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

    Irene says: "Fine performance, but the story?"
    "Engaging and Entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved The List – a story of eight teenage girls, four named the prettiest in their school and four named the ugliest who have to come to terms with both how they see themselves and how others see them.

    The List manages to follow not one but EIGHT different characters all with more depth, poignancy and intricacy then most YA books with a single bland heroine manage.

    Every girl has her own unique story and every one somehow manages to get their due in what is a pretty succinct book.

    The outcast who wears the UGLY label as a badge of honour for all the wrong reasons.

    The popular girl whose attempts to overcome an eating disorder are put into jeopardy when the PRETTY label validates her negative behaviour.

    The beautiful cheerleader labelled UGLY, not for what is on her outside but on her inside.

    The quiet home-schooled girl suddenly in the spotlight now that she is PRETTY.

    I’m amazed she managed to fit so many well-done stories into a single narrative!

    I would have liked a little more wrap-up and I’ve have happily read even more from the girls but it was a rare satisfying stand-alone read!

    I think this is would be a stellar teenage read but I’ve seen some parents complain about the sex, alcohol and language in other reviews. I personally think it was all handled incredibly well – not preachy, nor exploitive just eerily relatable. Maybe a little too accurate for some?

    Still I think the messages of empowerment and acceptance makes The List more than worth a read for teen girls. Older reads though, can definitely enjoy the incredibly well drawn characters too so I highly recommend the list to everyone!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • All Our Yesterdays

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Cristin Terrill
    • Narrated By Jessica Almasy
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain. Only Em can complete the final instruction. She's tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present - imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

    Crystal says: "Great story, great conflict, highly recommended!"
    "Great story, great conflict, highly recommended!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love Time Travel.

    In fact, I have a theory that any story with time travel in it is better than almost any story that doesn't. The time travel might not always be well done. In fact, more often than not, the time travel doesn't even make sense in most tales. But all I need is a cleverly presented paradox, or cute quantum quirk and I can be completely sold on otherwise average story.

    All Our Yesterdays is not hard-core sci-fi and it's time travel rules will NOT stand up to serious scrutiny but it does prove my theory whole-heartedly.

    The time travel core instantly elevates the YA dypostian love-triangle story which is a genre as overdone as sexy vampires at this point! The time travel is critical for establishing great conflict and genuine stakes as past, present and future collide for our three main characters.

    All I can say is that I wanted more, more, more!

    The book opens with a notes from 14 past Em's detailing the 14 different ways they've tried to prevent time travel from being invented.

    I would have happily read ALL 14 STORIES! And I'd have happy read them again with even more POVs, especially from the antagonists who I really wanted to know more about.

    This is one case where the novel moving swiftly through the story was almost a let down - I just wanted more!

    I'm thrilled that a sequel is currently being penned and I'm already giddy with possibilities despite the fact that All Our Yesterdays could be 100% self contained - no annoying cliff-hangers here!

    Authors, this is how to start a series - write a great first book and make us actually WANT more!

    I whole-heartedly recommend this to ANYONE who loves a good YA tale with a sci-fi lean.

    Most importantly I recommend it to any YA romance readers to see a great example of a well handled and not-annoying love triangle!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Exposure: Virals, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Kathy Reichs
    • Narrated By Christin Milioti, Brandon Reichs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Tory Brennan - great niece of Dr Temperance Brennan - and the Virals return for their most terrifying adventure yet. Morris Island has barely had a chance to return to normality after the high profile trial of the Gamemaster, when two local students seem to vanish into thin air. Tory Brennan and the Virals pack move quickly in their attempts to discover what has happened to their twin classmates.

    Crystal says: "Disappointing entry in a great series!"
    "Disappointing entry in a great series!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Exposure is the most lacking entry in the so far stellar Virals series.

    I guess every series is bound to have, or maybe even be entitled to have, a slightly weaker entry but it was still a little disappointing.

    Exposure clearly sets up a really interesting conflict for Book 5 but it came at the expense of a polished book 4.

    The mystery in Exposure just wasn’t juicy enough. It felt like a scavenger hunt – clues were collected, assembled and the mystery was all wrapped up in a neat little package promptly.
    I’ve come to expect far more from the Virals team but I hope this doesn’t mean that characters have reached the point where they’re too smart for the writers to keep up with.

    But if anyone can work a long-running forensic mystery series, it is Kathy Reichs.
    You’d think a high-concept series about genius, well-connected, SUPER-POWERED teens would stretch credibility beyond breaking point at the best of time but I’ve always found the series to be grounded by the day-to-day drama that complicates their clandestine sleuthing (and vice-versa).

    In Exposure though, all the drama subplots were unceremoniously dumped and after they were bought to such a tantalising simmer in the previous book. This disappointing and added to the uneven and unsatisfying book.

    Finally, I have to express a bit of concern about the new series co-writer, Kathy’s son Brendan. I praised book 3, the first shared novel, for staying true to voice but there was some clunkiness here. The pop-culture references came thick and fast, standing out like big neon thumbs by the end. Is this a sign the younger Reich’s is taking more of the helm? I don’t know but it needs to be dialled back before it becomes a problem.

    It’s always weird to review books deep into an ongoing series – no one is going to pick up this one out of order to read no matter how glowing my review and no one who has read and loved the previous books are going to not continue no matter what I say.

    To those who haven’t started Virals yet – I say do it immediately. The series as a whole is excellent even is Exposure is wobble.

    Likewise, to those who are perhaps on the fence about the last three, Exposure won’t win you over but it should be read. It is essential to continue on in the series that I still have much love and high hopes for.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Belles

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Jen Calonita
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (65)

    Isabelle Scott’s life may not be easy, but she loves it. She is a star swimmer and lifeguard, has great friends, and has been spending the summer with Brayden, a cute surfer—though they’re just friends. But her grandmother, with whom she’s lived since her mother died five years earlier, is declining quickly, and Izzie’s whole world is upended. She’s whisked away from the poor, rough neighborhood where she grew up to live with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in the exclusive Emerald Cove.

    Mikki says: "Nice, mindless fiction"
    "Great Characters!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I cannot believe how taken I am with Belles!

    This is not a genre I enjoy at all - there is nothing more painful or vapid to me then pretty rich girls going to pretty rich girl parties and wallowing in pretty rich girl drama.

    So why did I buy this book? I honestly have no idea! I think it was an expiring-credits impulse-purchase and it sat in my library for well over a year before I gave it a chance.

    Then why the hell did I love it so much?!?! I think that all comes down to the characters.

    Calontia has crafted related characters despite the over-the-top uber-wealthy prep-school world they inhabit.

    They are all character you've seen before like the rags-to-riches girl out of her depth on a red carpet, the popular girl who feels out of place in the mean girl clique and begins to fancy the artsy scholarship student over her QB BF or the rich boy who doesn't want his parents lavish lifestyle and hides his love of surfing.

    But Calonita has written them with all with real heart so I actually CARED about their otherwise 'champagne problems'.

    She made them sympathetic and believable so I was completely invested in the story despite knowing exactly where it was going (including the 'twist' ending) from chapter one.

    I loved it so much I have immediately purchased the next two books in the series and can't wait to spend more time in the characters lives!

    I highly recommend this to YA readers who like luxe worlds and character dramas as it easily the best and most relatable I've ever read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Breathe

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Sarah Crossan
    • Narrated By Anna Parker-Naples
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Ever since the Switch, when the oxygen levels plummeted and most of humanity died, the survivors have been protected in glass domes full of manufactured air. Protected…or trapped? Or controlled? Alina's a revolutionary who believes we can save the environment. Quinn's a Premium who's never had to worry about having enough air. His best friend, Bea, is an Auxiliary who's never worried about anything but having enough air. When the three cross paths, they will change everything.

    Crystal says: "Disappointing"
    "Disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Breathe avoided many of the pitfalls I dislike in YA dystopian fiction but also never managed to hit any of the powerful high-notes I expect either.

    The effect therefore was fairly middling novel.

    Breathe establishes the clichéd uber-government that allows the rich to crush the poor version of the future. But the idea that it is the very air we breathe being controlled and unfairly distributed was fascinating.

    The characters were interesting, each having a unique point of view on either side of the rich/poor divide and the rebel/government conflict. But I didn't get a satisfying sense of development or growth from their stories, possibly due to what felt like a rather brief amount of time with each of them.

    The book doesn't draw out the conflict to establish a trilogy which was very refreshing. But the climax felt rushed and was ultimately unaffecting because it their wasn't enough set-up to pay-off.

    See what I mean about middling?

    It all just kind of averaged out to be a good, basically well-down book but not a particularly satisfying read.

    There is a sequel available now but I am still undecided on whether I'll bother continuing - not because Breathe was 'bad' but because I'm not sufficiently driven or invested enough.

    As far as the played-out genre of YA dystopian lit goes, I think even fans might be a little disappointed by the romance that doesn't spark, the action that is flat and the story that isn't particularly engaging.

    Still something must be said for the premise of a oxygen starved future which was undoubtedly unique and possibly worth checking out in spite of everything.

    Finally, since I am reviewing an audiobook I have to address the horrendous British narration. The Cockney accents were almost unbearable particularly when 'street urchin-esque' characters were introduced.

    Besides being grating on the ears, the performance was so over-the top it was unbelievable. Anytime a particularly offensive character was 'speaking', I was completely taken out of the book. And I mean that literally because I actually stopped to hand over my ear buds to a friend a few times so we could laugh about it!

    Breathe is one instance where the poor audio unfortunately overshadows the narrative and even if I do choose to read the follow-up I'll probably grab a hard-copy!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Crazy Dangerous

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Andrew Klavan
    • Narrated By Nick Podehl
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (11)

    Sam Hopkins is a good kid who has fallen in with the wrong crowd. Hanging around with car thieves and thugs, Sam knows it’s only a matter of time before he makes one bad decision too many and gets into real trouble. But one day, Sam sees these thugs harassing an eccentric schoolmate named Jennifer. Finding the courage to face the bullies down, Sam loses a bad set of friends and acquires a very strange new one.

    Because Jennifer is not just eccentric. To Sam, she seems downright crazy. She has terrifying hallucinations involving demons, the devil, and death.

    Crystal says: "Utterly Compelling Read!"
    "Utterly Compelling Read!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Crazy Dangerous was easily the most surprisingly enjoyable read I've had it a long time.

    It was a fresh, clever and exciting adventure that dealt with the risky topics of religion and mental illness in a compassionate and relatable way.

    The story is so brisk it felt far shorter then it full-length run time. It never wallowed in melodrama, subplots or backstory and I went though the whole book in one go.

    I was hooked immediately and stayed engaged right through the action-packed climax that I couldn't have put down if I wanted to.

    What I loved most about Crazy Dangerous was it's approach to the Christian faith.

    I am a non-Christian and I almost always hate books with a religious leanings. They are usually either too preachy to be enjoyed or too flippant to be taken seriously.

    Kalvan's down-to-Earth approach to religious belief was refreshing and framed the story perfectly. Sam is a good kid driven to do the right thing. His honest and decent nature was clearly informed by the moral teachings of his preacher father but the bible doesn't rigidly dictate his actions.

    Sam seems to have many chances to take the 'easy' way out of the tangled web he finds himself in. The more we understand Sam though, the more we realise that when it comes to him doing the right thing, whatever the consequences, there is no choice about it at all.

    Being so completely invested in Sam as a character and just cheering for him to overcome the violent malevolent forces seeking to hurt others made Crazy Dangerous utterly compelling reading.

    I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone wants a powerful YA read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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