March 2013 Archives

Feed by Mira Grant

feedcover.jpgIf you're anything like me, you've started to suffer from a bit of zombie fatigue. The tropes that come with stories about shambling hordes of the undead have started to bore you, and it's as if the genre itself has become as lifeless as its brain-slurping antagonists. Thankfully there is a solution to zombie fatigue, and it is Feed by Mira Grant.

Avoiding the tired clich├ęs of outbreak tales, Grant creates a tale in a post-zombie outbreak world that focuses not on the undead, but on the lives and world of the living. The story focuses on Georgia and Shaun Mason, two adopted siblings who are also up-and-coming bloggers. Tapped to follow the presidential campaign of a Wisconsin senator, Georgia and Shaun quickly find themselves caught in the crossfire of a deadly conspiracy. Unflinching in their pursuit of the truth, Georgia and Shaun face dangers both living and undead in a story filled with chills and thrills, and more than a few chuckles as well. When the book comes to its shocking conclusion, you'll be chomping at the bit for the rest of Grant's Newsflesh Trilogy, Deadline and Blackout.

Tim @ Central

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

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Wool: Omnibus by Hugh Howey was first published as five novella length e-books written while he was working at a bookstore in North Carolina. The story begins with a sadness that ripples through every word. Set far into the future, humans live underground in a huge silo. There is a rigid structure to the hierarchy of society within, supposedly for their own good, to prolong survival. But it leads to dissent as some are curious about what they glimpse through pixelated screens showing what's outside, and they will risk anything to explore.

Full of action and suspense, the characters are well developed and the story grips you from start to finish.

Jacki @ Central

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

The-Gods-of-Gotham-cover.jpgThe Gods of Gotham takes us to New York City in 1845; a place rife with political tension, an influx of immigrants, and the newly formed New York City police force. After the second fateful fire of his life, Timothy Wilde reluctantly becomes a police officer or "copper-star," and is assigned to the Sixth Ward, a neighborhood comprised of the city's ill-treated Irish population.

On his first patrol Wilde collides with a young girl drenched in blood. What follows is a grizzly discovery that threatens to throw the city into turmoil. Who is the madman responsible for the most heinous crimes the city has seen? The truth Wilde unravels will change the face of the city.

Kristina @ Central

ML King Reads

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Sherman Park: A Legacy of Diversity in Milwaukee by Paul H. Geenen

Racial tensions and violence in the south drove nearly thirty thousand African Americans north to Milwaukee in the 1960s. Mixed-race families found support in Sherman Park, and activists of all races fought against discrimination in housing, schools, and public transit through the Sherman Park Community Association. The author (who raised four children in Sherman Park) traces the neighborhood's progress and diversity, detailing how residents blazed integration trails far ahead of greater Milwaukee and the country.

Jane @ ML King

Get Cooking! Or, at Least Looking...

Two heavies in the food world announced their finalists for the best cookbook published in 2012: IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) and James Beard Foundation (JBF). If you love to cook, love to read cookbooks or just want to see what all the fuss is about in our food world, you can check out most of the cookbook finalists from both organizations. You won't have to spend a dime to look at (and cook from) these gorgeous books. It's all part of what we do to keep you informed, aware and connected to the world around you.

You can view the full lists of finalists from JBF and IACP. IACP winners will be announced on April 9th and JBF on May 3rd.

"No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers." --Laurie Colwin

Here are a few from each category. I hope you enjoy the wisdom and talent of these culinary professionals (click on the covers to check catalog availability):

American Cooking
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Baking & Desserts
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International
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General Cooking
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Healthy
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Single Subject
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Vegetable Focused & Vegetarian
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Rebecca D @ Central

Dylan Dog: Case Files by Tiziano Sclavi

dylandogcover.jpegIt's not hard to see why the Dylan Dog series is so popular in its native land of Italy. A comic series that has lasted since 1986 (and has been one of the bestselling comic series in Italy ever since), it features stories about a handsome London-based private investigator whose cases often involve beautiful women, gruesome monsters, and ghastly crimes. Though mostly unavailable in America, Dark Horse Publishing has thankfully put out Dylan Dog: Case Files, an English language compilation of seven stories by Dylan Dog's original creator Tiziano Sclavi. Each of these stories is gorgeously illustrated in black and white, packing great emotion and life into its contrasting lines and shadows. The seven stories are each very unique and interesting, with their own individual themes and plot hooks.

The stories translate well to American audiences, and the compilation offers a variety of chills, thrills, and more. While slightly altered from the original (Dylan's sidekick is a Groucho Marx impersonator in the original, and finds himself stripped of name and mustache for the American release), these stories retain their charm and character with the translation. If you're desperate for more adventures of Dylan Dog after finishing the book, you'll find yourself having to learn Italian. There's only the one volume here in America, while the series has continued for years over in Italy.

Tim @ Central

ML King Reads

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Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky

In a lively and entertaining book, a veteran of the hotel world gives a behind-the-scenes look at the hospitality business. After starting as a valet at a luxury hotel, Tomsky chronicles his unintentional career working in hotels, sharing stories of difficult guests to celebrity encounters to the unique culture of hotel staff. Read it before spring break, and you definitely won't forget to tip the bellhop.

Megan @ ML King

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

boywhocouldnt.jpgDarren, the main character of DC Pierson's The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To, is your typical isolated teen with a creative drive. He draws in the margins of all his homework, imagining an entire series of movies and tie-in novels with fantastical characters. When fellow loner and classmate Eric unexpectedly befriends him, Darren finds far more than he ever bargained for. For you see, Eric can't sleep and he's never had to.

From there unfolds a story that is equal parts fantastical and mundane, as Pierson relies on more than a few stereotypical aspects of high school coming-of-age tales to drive the plot of his debut novel. Teenage love and best friend betrayal both play their roles before the exciting and fantastical final act. While the ultimate conclusion feels a little bit weak, there's fun to be had in this quick and easy read.

Tim @ Central

ML King Reads

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Open Heart by Elie Wiesel

Facing the possibility of death, the award-winning author and Holocaust survivor shares his reflections on life at the age of 82. During his recovery from open heart surgery, readers get a glimpse into Wiesel's heart as he examines life's challenges and the moments that changed his life. His celebration of family (past and present), his thoughts on God, and his recap of a life filled with accomplishments gives hope to humanity. This is a heart-felt story that reminds us to be thankful for each day and appreciate life just a little bit more.

Hermoine @ ML King

Two Books, One Title

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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can--will she?

On Friday, April 19 at 6:30 p.m. Kate Atkinson will appear at the Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N. Water St., in connection with a Fill-the-Shelves Gallery Night event supporting the Milwaukee Public Library, sponsored by the Katie Gingrass Gallery.

Life After Life by Jill McCorkle
The staff and residents at Fulton, North Carolina's retirement facility share the realities of their respective lives, from a retired teacher who believes everyone is a third grader at heart, to a prominent lawyer who feigns dementia to escape life with his son, to a woman who keeps a scrapbook of every local crime.

The title works well for each book, even though they are quite different; it's not unusual for two books to share the same title, though typically they aren't published so close to one another.

Jacki @ Central

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I remember a 1955 Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs meets a nice little man in the park who feeds him carrots. Bugs comes home with nice Dr. Jekyll only to be confronted with a horrible Mr. Hyde. Man, I loved that cartoon as a kid.

That beloved cartoon was based on a short novella titled The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde penned by the great British author Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886.



The basic premise of the story is that Dr. Jekyll creates a special potion that turns him into a ghastly beast named Hyde when consumed. Mr. Hyde is a hideous, mean-spirited abomination of a man who commits murder and harms children. Hyde has an openly sexual side that is directly opposed to the entirely proper Victorian Dr. Jekyll. At times, it seems like Jekyll craves the transformation into Hyde the way a drug addict craves their poison. Dr. Jekyll clearly shows the reader that there is good and bad in every human regardless of situation.

Like the Frankenstein Monster before him, Mr. Hyde is created through science and shows the duality of all men, regardless of birthright and social status. When you finish enjoying this splendid novella, why not read another great story by Stevenson like Treasure Island or Kidnapped?

Dan @ Central

mightbeazombie.jpgMuch like a ravenous zombie getting a chance to taste the flesh of the living, I read through Cracked.com's You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News at a voracious pace. Filled with lists on a bevy of topics from the most horrific insects (that are terrifyingly real) to the most 'bad-ass' of American Presidents (spoiler alert: It's Teddy Roosevelt, in part because of the famous incident that occurred right here in Milwaukee), the book keeps itself fresh and entertaining on every page.

The truly sneaky thing about this book is that while you're laughing at the ridiculous commentary, you'll find yourself actually learning bits of real information. You Might Be a Zombie is edutainment at its most hilarious; if you enjoy irreverence, oddball trivia, and crazy (but true) history, you'll find it a great read.

Tim @ Central

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fridays

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Firebrand by Gillian Philip

Firebrand, the fascinating first book in the Rebel Angels series will please many fantasy readers. A young, half-feral faery named Seth MacGregor struggles with the dangers of 16th-century Scotland. His mother has shunned him so he lives with his father's clan; even there, he's treated with indifference which allows his anger and resentment to grow. Eventually his half-brother, Conal, takes him under his wing and the clan starts to look at Seth differently.

A magical barrier called the Veil separates the world of full mortals from the Sithe (as the faeries are known). It is a grave punishment to be exiled to the other side of the Veil and Seth and Conal's fate is just that. They try to live among the mortals peacefully, but the two supernatural beings don't blend in well and have a rough time with 16th-century witch hunters.

Jacki @ Central

Pulp by Charles Bukowski

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Reading the novel Pulp by Charles Bukowski is akin to watching a bad stereotypical gumshoe film from the late 1940's filled with plot dead ends and continuity mistakes. But you love the film anyways because it's FUN. Who cares if it makes sense? Pulp doesn't make sense either, but it sure is fun.

Published in 1994, this was Bukowski's last novel and it shows in the writing. The book ending is reminiscent of how a bad guy character in a cheap film might reach his demise. But isn't life all about the ride?

The novel doesn't feature Bukowski alter-ego Henry Chinaski, instead we have LA private dick Nicky Belane (Mickey Spillane--get it?) drinking gin, visiting sordid dive bars, spying on adulterous wives and making out with space aliens. Sound nuts? It is. And thank goodness for it.

This isn't Bukowski's greatest work, but it sure is a laugh out loud riot of pulp fiction spoofing as only a misogynist drunken writer can. If you're easily offended or like your detective stories a tad more squeaky and clean, skip this novel and read the less offensive Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett; but if you like it sordid and sleazy with a dose of sick humor, by all means give this a try. Turn off prime time television and read Bukowski instead!--after all, humor is in the mind of the beholder.

Dan @ Central

ML King Reads

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Mary Wells: The Tumultuous Life of Motown's First Superstar by Peter Benjaminson

One of the most captivating personalities on the Motown roster during its glory days, singer Mary Wells was a force of nature: complex, independent, and resourceful. She defined the emerging sound of Motown in the early 1960s with a string of hit singles composed by Smokey Robinson. This turbulent biography is based in part on four hours of deathbed interviews with Wells, as well as interviews from family, friends, husbands, and lovers.

Jane @ ML King

The Ninth Step by Grant Jerkins

ninthstep.jpgEdgar Woolrich is a ninth-grade geometry teacher, obsessed with Japanese puzzle boxes. When he wishes to bid online for a particular box, rare and very special, he plans the timing of his bid as if he were "plotting irrational numbers on an infinite grid." He sees endless variables and lines of intersection. Helen Patrice is a veterinarian, "very much aware that she was what was commonly referred to as a functional alcoholic." For her, the critical distinction of that term is that she is functional, although lately she has been finding that her hangovers border on a sort of mental illness that is like simultaneously having schizophrenia and mononucleosis, or as she puts it, schizonucleosis. Edgar and Helen's paths are about to cross in a most unexpected way, and once they do, the twists and turns are fast, furious and unnerving. This novel of suspense is a true page-turner. Check the catalog for availability.

Anna W @ Central

Urban Fiction

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Internationally Known is a sequel to New York's Finest. The story continues with Naomi and Damian fleeing from the Mexican cartel. On the lam in Memphis, they find out that Reggie, Naomi's brother, is being held hostage on account of the high potency cocaine scam Naomi was running. They end up heading back to New York to team up with Foxx, Naomi's father, because he's seen it all when it comes to drug wars and they know he'll help. He comes up with a pretty involved plan which adds a spy movie-like twist. The story shifts between Naomi and Damian's points of view and we find out just how afraid and anxious they are about the Mexican mob and finding the five million they need to get Reggie back. They look to each other for distraction and Naomi is pleased when Damian promises he'll do anything, even die, to protect her. But when she feels her family is threatened she becomes one heck of a fierce mama bear.

Jacki @ Central

The Dinner by Herman Koch

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The Dinner, by Dutch author Herman Koch, begins as Paul Lohman and his wife, Claire, get ready to meet his brother, Serge, and his wife Babette for dinner at an upscale restaurant in Amsterdam. Paul is not looking forward to the fancy dinner or seeing his brother, but he dotes on his wife and teenage son, Michel, and is concerned about his son.

The foursome has convened for this dinner to talk about their fifteen year old sons, who have committed a horrible act of violence, for which they have yet to be identified. But, there are videos circulating on television and YouTube, so it's likely they won't remain anonymous. As conversation turns from small talk to how they might be able to keep the scandal under wraps, the reader starts to suspect that Paul may not be the most reliable of narrators.

What lengths will they go to in order to maintain their comfortable way of life and their sons' innocence?

Jacki @ Central

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fridays

workingtheoryoflove.jpgThere's a subtle brilliance in the pages of Scott Hutchins' debut novel A Working Theory of Love. With such a title you'd worry that the book is overambitious, seeking to explain the grandest of all human emotions in its three-hundred some pages. Thankfully, Hutchins avoids any simple answers or universal truths but instead explores the emotional journey of one man, thirty-something Neill Bassett Junior. The arc of the book is plotted through Neill's relationships, romantic and familial.

Neill is in many ways an emotional failure, already a divorcee and unable to truly connect with anyone. He struggles to understand why his dead father was so distant, which becomes central to the book as he works every day with a computer programmed with years of his father's journals, effectively recreating his father's memories in an attempt to create artificial intelligence. This distance is something that Neill himself reflects in his relationships with women, but thankfully he starts to grow and change in a very real and organic way through the course of the book. A sort of 'coming-of-maturity' tale as opposed to simply coming-of-age, A Working Theory of Love mixes the melancholy with a smart sense of humor, creating a very human story intermingled with just a tinge of sci-fi.

Tim @ Central

March 12, 2013--Meet Blue Balliett

Tuesday, March 12, 6:30-8 p.m.
Centennial Hall, Loos Room
733 N. Eighth St.

Hear Blue Balliett talk about her books. Check out one of her great titles from the library before the program. A book signing follows the event with books available to purchase from co-host Boswell Book Company.
Doors open at 6 p.m.; seating is first-come, first-served.

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Meet the author of the Hyde Park series (Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, The Calder Game), The Danger Box and her new title Hold Fast.

Eleven year old Early Pearl, her four year old brother Jubie and their parents, Dash and Sum, shared a small apartment in Chicago and had big dreams of owning their own home. Though life was not always perfect, the small space was home. When Early's father, Dash, goes mysteriously missing, life for the remaining three Pearls quickly unravels. Early, Jubie, and Sum are forced from their home and into the shelter system. While they struggle with poverty and homelessness, Early tries to uncover the mystery of her missing father and a connection to the book he left behind, The First Book of Rhythms by Langston Hughes. The clues combine math and rhythm and it seems that Early, who shares her father's love of language, is the only one who can uncover the truth of his disappearance. Blue Balliett blends her unique style of mystery, serious social issues, and wonderfully rich language in this beautifully poignant middle grade novel. Check catalog for availability.

Karli @ Central

ML King Reads

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The Things That Matter by Nate Berkus

Does your home tell the story of who you are? Berkus invites readers on a photo-tour of his own home and the homes of twelve others, including a sleek steel-and-glass high-rise that soars above Chicago, a rustic cottage in the Hudson Valley, an ultra-chic atelier that maximizes every inch of space, a Greenwich Village townhouse that holds multiple art collections, and a study in meaningful minimalism in Marfa, Texas. These tours show the personal side of interior design; with stories and beautiful photos, Berkus shares events from his life, including the tragic loss of his partner in the 2004 tsunami, that have shaped his approach to design. He show us that things do matter. Our homes tell our stories, they reflect the places we've been and the people we've loved along the way, and there can be no more beautiful design for living than that.

Megan @ ML King

One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper

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Ever wonder whatever happened to your favorite 90s one hit wonder? One Last Thing Before I Go is the newest book by Jonathan Tropper and tells the story of Drew Silver, drummer for a one hit wonder band, about a decade after his success. He is now a divorced, lonely man who, in the decade after his success, has slowly estranged himself from his family and loved ones. He also has no connection with his old band mates, minus the guitar player he sees on weekends when playing at wedding and bar mitzvahs to make ends meet.

Silver is left to think about how all this happened when he finds out he has a heart defect that will kill him at any minute. Oh, and Silver's ex-wife is about to be remarried and his 18 year daughter just told him she is pregnant.

The novel follows Silver's decision to not have the surgery and live out his last days trying to be a better man by reentering his family's life and messing it up beyond all control. The book is absolutely hilarious and though it has a seriousness to it (at what point can you no longer atone for your sins?), it is never preachy.

Meredith @ Central

Treasures of the Rare Books Room: Increase Lapham Milwaukee Maps

Treasures of the Rare Books Room: Increase Lapham Milwaukee Maps

Ten years before the city of Milwaukee was incorporated a man named Increase Lapham created a map of Milwaukee. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, this 1836 map presents the city as far more developed than it was. Compare it with the 1856 map created by Lapham and you will see a great deal of growth in the city over two decades.

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Increase Lapham (1811-1875) was a self-educated engineer and naturalist and is credited as Wisconsin's first scientist. He authored the first book published in the state, made the first accurate maps of Wisconsin, documented the Indian effigy mounds, observed and recorded the weather and was a great supporter of education.

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Many of his Milwaukee maps are stored in the Rare Books Room. Of particular interest is his prototype for a Milwaukee atlas. It was never published, but serves as an early example of being able to provide more details by switching from a single sheet format to a multi-page format.

If you are interested in viewing these maps or the atlas, call the Art, Music and Recreation Department at 414-286-3071 to arrange a visit.

Patricia DeFrain, Rare Books Librarian

The Bughouse Affair by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller

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Watch out, San Francisco, private investigators Sabina Carpenter and John Quincannon are on the case. With 1890 San Francisco as a backdrop, the two investigators in The Bughouse Affair pursue separate cases. Carpenter is hot on the trail of a pickpocket or "dip" while Quincannon is after a home invader.

The two investigators travel from one side of the city to the other in pursuit of the law breakers and eventually the two seemingly unrelated cases become intertwined. The authors use many of the famous landmarks of San Francisco as part of the story. The Barbary Coast, Fisherman's Wharf, and the still infamous Tenderloin all play significant parts in the solving of the crimes.

A mysterious English gentleman claiming to be Sherlock Holmes manages to insert himself into the investigations creating some amount of mayhem and comic relief. It is clear that John Quincannon would like more than a business relationship with his widowed partner, while Sabina Carpenter appears to only want a business relationship. Will she have dinner with John?

Roxanne @ Central

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fridays

deathless.jpgDeathless by Catherynne Valente

Marya Morevna has seen her sisters married off one by one, to men who are secretly birds. When her own bird finally comes, he is not a bird at all, but the Tsar of Life Koschei the Deathless. Carried off into a world of house spirits forming committees, rifle imps, and magical firebirds, we see Marya grow first through adventure, but then through the harshness of bitter war and the aches of bittersweet love.

Catherynne Valente's Deathless is ambitious, taking a classic Russian folk tale and intertwining it with the history of its native land through political upheaval and war. Thankfully this ambition works, crafting a story with lush language and magical magnificence that contrasts starkly and poignantly with the harsh realities of Leningrad during WWII. Valente utilizes the fantastical elements and the grim backdrop to say some very meaningful things about love, life, and death. While interested readers will want to brush up on their Russian folklore before reading, these same readers will find their extra effort very rewarding.

And if you finish the book by March 11th, you can stop by Boswell Books and discuss it with the store's fine Sci-Fi Book Club at 7 pm that night!

Tim @ Central

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A beautiful and multi-layered retelling of the Russian folktale of Koschei the Deathless, set during the Communist Revolution and WWII; with mythological figures reflecting the politics and struggles of that period. Clever and precocious Marya Morevna captures the heart of Koschei, the Tsar of Life, and is seduced away into his world of magic, as well as his war against his brother, the Tsar of Death. As she explores what it means to be Koschei's bride, Marya encounters such varied creatures as collectivised house gnomes, Party Chairman Baba Yaga, living buildings, shape shifting birds, imps made of rifles, firebirds and a dragon who hoards the paperwork of death orders. But the real world and the magical one begin to collide as Marya's heart becomes torn between the wondrous Koschei and Ivan, an innocent soldier, during the siege of Leningrad. Check catalog for availability.

Clark @ Washington Park, May 17 2011

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