Saturday 31 July 2010

In My Mailbox (50)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

For Review:

The Eternal Ones by Kristen Miller (Puffin: August 2010)
Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Bantam Press: September 2010)
The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley (Bloomsbury: October 2010)


... yes well, I think ooops is in order. But they all look so amazingly good and I can't wait to read them.

Love Sucks by Melissa Francis
Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Jealousy by Lili St. Crow
Rhymes With Witches by Lauren Myracle
Take Me There by Carolee Dean
The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart
Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass
Pieces of Georgia by Jen Bryant
One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones

Hope you all had a great week:)

Friday 30 July 2010

Cover to Covet (2)

I LOVE book covers. Love, love love them. So I decided to make it a regular post - each post featuring a cover I love.

Meanicures by Catherine Clark

I can't put my finger on why I find this cover appealing I just do. Perhaps it's the colours and the flame? Or the way you really get a sense of what the book is about? Very Mean-girls-esq!
From Gooodreads: Madison is an average pre-teen living in Maine. For the most part, Madison has a happy life: a loving mother and good friends. But there's just one catch: the mean girls, who Madison and her friends used to be close with, often pick on the girls. After a particularly bad hair day, Madison takes matters into her own hands and before she knows it, finds herself turning mean. Will Madison make amends before she's left friendless?

Wednesday 28 July 2010

What Would Emma Do? by Eileen Cook

From Goodreads: While juggling friendship issues (her best friend isn't speaking to her), a love triangle-turned-square (okay, maybe she shouldn't have kissed her best friend's boyfriend...but it was totally an accident!...sort of), and escalating mayhem in her small religious town (uh-oh...what would Jesus do?), Emma realizes she has to stop trying to please everyone around her and figure out what she wants for herself. It's time to start asking, "What would Emma do?"

I loved this! Emma is such a great character and she completely pulled me into her story. She has the kind of 'attitude' I love - lots of sass and she certainly says what she thinks.

This is definitely a character driven novel. It's mostly about Emma and her desire to leave the small town in which she lives. When she witnesses the truth behind an event she has to decide whether to tell what she knows when doing so will cost her what she thinks she wants the most. We get to see the town unravel around Emma as she questions what she should do. I found it all very interesting. It was scary to see a town so wrapped up in what they thought was 'right' and the lengths they were willing to go to protect that.

Seeing all of this through Emma's eyes also made it great fun. There is a locker scene that had me laughing out loud! I just adored her character and her voice. She comes across as witty, intelligent and willful but still vulnerable enough to keep her relateable. I also liked the other characters - Joann, Colin and Todd. Especially Todd. Colin did start to annoy me slightly but I still liked him.

I didn't have a clue what was going to happen in this - many things happened that took me by surprise - and the things I thought would happen didn't. My only quibble is that the ending left me wanting more - it was as if we just had access to the characters for a little while - I wanted to know what happened next! I do hope a sequel is being considered.

I can't wait to read more of Eileen Cook's work and I highly recommend this one.

Monday 26 July 2010

I want to read that...

Girl Stolen by April Henry

From Goodreads: Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen--with her inside! Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price.

This sounds like it could be really good! It's published September 28th 2010 (US). You can check out the author's website here (and read the first chapter).

Saturday 24 July 2010

In My Mailbox (49)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

For Review:
Radiance by Alyson Noel (US ARC)
Glee: The Beginning by Sophia Lowell
The Alchemist by Michael Scott
The Magician by Michael Scott
The Sorceress by Micheal Scott
Werewolves by Paul Jessop (PDF)

Forget You by Jennifer Echols
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

How did you all do?

Thursday 22 July 2010

The Pack by LM Preston. Review and Interview

For Review: Phenomenal One Press
From Goodreads: Shamira is considered an outcast by most, but little do they know that Shamira is on a mission. Kids on Mars are disappearing, but Shamira decides to use the criminals most unlikely weapons against them, the very kids of which they have captured. In order to succeed, she is forced to trust another, something she is afraid to do. However, Valens her connection to the underworld of her enemy, proves to be a useful ally. Time is slipping, and so is her control on the power that resides within her. Yet, in order to save her brother's life she is willing to risk it all

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this one. I don’t usually read science fiction so it was with some trepidation that I agreed to review this – I wasn’t sure if I would like the genre. I shouldn’t have worried – it was good fun!

Preston has an undemanding style of writing that is easy to get into. Although written in third person we still get the story from Shamira’s point of view and that works well. I found her to be a complicated character and one which I didn’t warm to straight away. She is so strong she sometimes comes across as rather cold and it’s not until about two thirds of the way through the story that we get to see a softer side to her character. Once she began to trust the others and relaxed a bit I found myself really liking her. She is certainly a force to be reckoned with! She really reminded me of Max from the TV series Dark Angel.

The other character to stand out was Valens. His friendship with Shamira was one of the best parts of the story - it was fun watching her slowly trust in him and her feelings and there are some really sweet scenes between the two. The other part of the story I loved were the actions scenes. Preston excels when writing these scenes – there are many in the course of the story and they all had me completely gripped. I could really see them all unfold in my mind’s eye.

The story is rather dark in places, both in terms of the corruption on Mars and in some of Shamira’s actions. Due to this I think the book is more suited to older readers even if the writing style makes it accessible to a younger audience.

If you haven’t read any Science fiction but fancy trying out the genre I think this could be a good place to start. I enjoyed it and am really looking forward to trying more.

L M Preston also took the time to answer a few of my questions...

What inspired you to write 'The Pack'
There were several things that influenced the idea of The Pack. I had originally planned for this character to be a male. I told my beta team (my kids and husband) about this idea I had about a blind vigilante that organizes a group of misfit kids to fight against a major crime organization on Mars.

My daughter told me that she wanted me to write about a female main character. That it would be cool to have a girl in the role. I smiled and Shamira’s face appeared in my mind’s eye.

I decided that her mission would be to save missing kids, because I wanted to write about missing kids escaping from captivity. Every day at my job, I passed a board of missing children. My heart went out to them, and I always hurt for their loss. Once a former colleague who’d been a police officer told me of a horrible case where he had located missing kids that were captured and being used in despicable ways by their captors who had enslaved them for years before disposing of them. These sad facts were the makings of The Pack.

It is a two-book series that I truly enjoyed writing. It’s aimed at kids 14yrs and up. It has adventure, twist and romance all in one. The true adventure is the building of trust and true friendship that empowers Shamira to become the champion she was meant to be. The Explorer X series was aimed at kids 12yrs old and up.

Do you have a favourite scene in the book?
My favorite scene is when Shamira accepts the friendship she's offered and walks to the front of a room filled with kids who chant her name as they prepare for an attack against the crime organization that had kidnapped and misused them. I still tear up when I read that part.

You have also written another novel called Explorer X - Alpha. Can you tell us more about it?
Explorer X - Alpha is a story of Aadi, a boy who takes being a leader for granted, only to find out that the life he had was not what it had appeared to be. He went to space camp only because his parents made him go. However, he finds that the camp is a front for the company to manipulate the kids to become conquerors of new worlds. His journey begins at camp, but ends with him discovering that no one can make him become anything. He has the final choice to use his powers to conquer or to save. With this revelation, he convinces his teammate and love interest, Eirena, to do the same.

Both books are science fiction. Is this something that really interests you?
Well, to be honest I have at least ten more series that I’m dying to write. All of them are science fiction, urban fantasy and one paranormal. I've been an engineer for almost twenty years and science fiction gives me a place to create all the things I'd never be able to create in a lifetime. It also feeds my action addiction. As far as YA Science Fiction – I’m definitely home.

What authors/books did you love when you were growing up?
I’ve always loved reading horror, adventure, science fiction, true crime and romance. There’s not much I haven’t read. However, I love the style of James Patterson. He never, ever bores me. I also loved Dean Koontz’s earlier novels. I realized that in order for me to finish a book, I personally have to be excited about writing it.

Did any of these inspire you to become a writer?
Becoming a writer was something that just happened. I've always written when I was younger. Up until college, I carried a notebook of short stories and poems everywhere. Then life happened. I started writing when my husband challenged me to write a scifi novel. Since then, I've been addicted and stories won't stop pouring out of me.

What’s next for you?
Well, to be honest I have at least ten more series that I’m dying to write. This year though, I’ll be finishing up The Pack (Retribution) and Bandits. Next year I’ll be able to delve into my growing list of book ideas. Also, I plan to go on a hot air balloon ride, check out Universal Studious, Harry Potter World and help my son to finish his first book.

Thanks! Hope you enjoy that hot air balloon ride - it sounds awesome!

You can read the first few chapters of The Pack at the author's website here

Wednesday 21 July 2010

The Avenger by P C Cast

For Review: M&B Nocturne. Published 12 July

The Avenger is the launch title for Mills & Boon’s Nocturne series

From Goodreads:

For Alexandra Patton, the Time Raiders project sends the reluctant psychic back to 60 AD Briton—a world where she can barely understand the accents, let alone its culture of brutality and superstition. Armed only with her "freakish" ability to talk to the dead, Alex must use all her gifts to entice Caradoc, a savagely sexy Druid warrior, into helping her succeed in her mission.

What they discover along the way is pure passion.

Now, torn between duty and the man of her dreams, should Alex return home if given the chance? Or dare she risk everything to begin anew in this strange and mystical land?

This was good fun. I thought the book didn’t take itself too seriously and was better for it. I loved the time travel aspect of the story and enjoyed the 60 AD setting. I was fascinated by the history of that period and would definitely be interested in reading more about Boudica. It was much more spiritual than I expected it to be but in a pleasantly surprising way. I enjoyed all the magical aspects and the drawing of power from the land – but some may find too much detail is included as it slowed down the story in some parts. I did find myself really interested in it though.

I also found myself rather taken with Caradoc – the Druid Alex meets in the past. Their story is really sweet and is my favourite aspect of the book. I had a good idea how the story would end but I enjoyed the journey there. In fact I thought it got really exciting towards the end and I raced through the last part of the book.

This is an adult book though so there are a few scenes that would not be appropriate for younger readers. Cast's House of Night series is aimed at older teens and although this is a different kind of story I think those fans will most likely find something to enjoy here too.


As part of the 'Catch five minutes with P C Cast' blog tour I have been given the opportunity to post a letter P C Cast wrote for her readers on the inspiration behind The Avenger. Some of you may have already seen it but for those of you who haven't it is a great story! It will also be included in front of the book.

One of the many reasons I enjoyed writing THE AVENGER so much was that the main setting, ancient Briton, 60 AD, was a serendipitous research coincidence. Sounds weird, huh? Well, here’s what happened: At around the same time I was contacted about being involved in the RomVets Time Raiders project I was working on the first of my HOUSE OF NIGHT young adult books. In the HoN novels there is a school organization called the Dark Daughters, and this group figures predominately in the plot of the series. It’s supposed to be a club led by the best and the brightest of House of Night vampyre fledglings, young women who were being groomed to become High Priestesses of the vampyre goddess, Nyx.

So I needed to have a super cool foundation for the group. I’m of Celtic descent, and have always been fascinated by the history of my ancestors. Because of that I decided to give the Dark Daughters Celtic roots, which meant I needed to research exceptional women in the history of the Celts. That research led me to the Iceni Queen, Boudicca. From the very beginning I was intrigued by her story – that her husband passed the torque of royalty to her at his death, and that she was a well respected leader. Then a Roman tax collector decided to flex his muscle and show Boudicca who was really in charge of the Iceni. He had her publically whipped and ordered her two young daughters raped.

The story intrigued as well as horrified me.

I remember not being able to read fast enough to find out what happened to Boudicca, and cheering as she united the Celts and actually kicked some Roman ass for a while.

History reports what happened to the Queen of the Iceni, and I’ll leave that story to my fictionalized, but basically historical accurate rendering in THE AVENGER. What history isn’t as clear about is what happened to the queen’s two daughters. I decided they disappeared from human history because they were Marked to begin the Change that led them to be powerful vampyre High Priestess, so revered that they began an organization that was to live long after they had passed to their Goddess’s verdant meadows, the Dark Daughters.

And just as I decided that, Lindsay McKenna and Merline Lovelace contacted me with an interesting paranormal romance series idea…where military heroines have to go back in time to retrieve lost pieces of a medallion…to save the world…and out of the historical time period choices I had to send my heroine back to was ancient Briton, 60 AD, and Queen Boudicca.

How could I say anything but yes! Yes! Yes!

Hope you enjoy the ride as much as I did.

House of Night fans will find out more about the origin of the Dark Daughters and Boudicca’s two girls in THE FLEDGING HANDBOOK, an illustrated companion to the House of Night, which will be released early fall of 2010.


Thanks for inviting me to be part of the blog tour:)

Tuesday 20 July 2010

iBoy Winner

The winner of the iBoy is:


Hollie - I have past on your details so it should be with you soon.

A big thanks to everyone who took part:)

Monday 19 July 2010

I want to read that...

Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

From Goodreads: The small town of Cryer's Cross is rocked by tragedy when an unassuming freshman disappears without a trace. Kendall Fletcher wasn’t that friendly with the missing girl, but the angst wreaks havoc on her OCD-addled brain.

When a second student goes missing - someone close to Kendall's heart - the community is in an uproar. Caught in a downward spiral of fear and anxiety, Kendall¹s not sure she can hold it together. When she starts hearing the voices of the missing, calling out to her and pleading for help, she fears she’s losing her grip on reality. But when she finds messages scratched in a desk at school - messages that could only be from the missing student who used to sit there - Kendall decides that crazy or not, she’d never forgive herself if she didn’t act on her suspicions.

Something's not right in Cryer’s Cross - and Kendall’s about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

Yep! I'm sold. Can't wait for this one - it's published Feb 2011 (US)

Sunday 18 July 2010

In My Mailbox (48)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

For Review:

Loving Spirit by Linda Chapman
Time Riders by Alex Scarrow
The Midnight Charter by David Whitley
The Children of the Lost by David Whitely
My Life in the Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald
Day of Assassins by Johnny O'Brien
Day of Deliveranceby Johnny O'Brien
The Poisoned House by Michael Ford


The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Pop Princess by Rachel Cohn
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Remember Me by Christopher Pike
Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
Solving Zoeby Barbara Dee
Just Another Day in My Insanely Real Life by Barbara Dee
Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy by Ally Carter
The Karma Club by Jessica Brody
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Random House Bloggers Brunch:

On Saturday I went to a Blogger's Brunch at Random House. It was such a great day and I hope everyone there had a great time. Check out Liz's fab event report for info on the day.

I'd also like to say a MASSIVE thank you to the team at Random House for organising such a great day and for being so amazingly generous! I still feel embarrassed by how many I took home (and my shoulders were killing by the time I got there!) but they all looked so good and (apparently) I have absolutely no willpower...

Bloodlust/Invitation by Alex Duval
Torment by Lauren Kate
Fallen by Lauren Kate (audio)
The Runaway Troll by Matt Haig
Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud
The King of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud (Proof)
Tall Story by Candy Courlay
The Hunt by Amy Meredith
Solace of the Roadby Siodhan Dowd
Dead Gorgeous by Malorie Blackman
The Knife That Killed Meby Anthony Mcgowan
Hear the Dead Cry by Charlie Price
The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
Fly On The Wall by E Lockhart
Runemarks by Joanne Harris
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
The Necromancer by Michael Scott

and Gifted:

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares (Proof). Thanks Becky!

Hope you all had a great week:)

Saturday 17 July 2010

P C Cast Interview Footage & Blog Tour News

Here is a video of P C Cast talking about her new book The Avenger

From Goodreads: For Alexandra Patton, the Time Raiders project sends the reluctant psychic back to 60 AD Briton—a world where she can barely understand the accents, let alone its culture of brutality and superstition. Armed only with her "freakish" ability to talk to the dead, Alex must use all her gifts to entice Caradoc, a savagely sexy Druid warrior, into helping her succeed in her mission.

What they discover along the way is pure passion.

Now, torn between duty and the man of her dreams, should Alex return home if given the chance? Or dare she risk everything to begin anew in this strange and mystical land?

You'll also be able to 'catch five minutes with P C Cast' over the next several days. Participating blogs are listed below. I don't have all the links but will update as soon as I do:)

Writing from the Tub
The Beaucoup Review
So Many Books, So Little Time.
Book Babblers
Marjolein Book Blog
The Book Mogul
The Bookette
Wondrous Reads
Magic Bean Review
Rhianna Reads
Den Reader
Book Binge
Teen Library
YA Reader
Novell Blog

Friday 16 July 2010

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

For review: Random House. Published 27 May 2010
From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Maya and seventeen-year-old Lochan have never had the chance to be 'normal' teenagers. Having pulled together for years to take care of their younger siblings while their wayward, drunken mother leaves them to fend alone, they have become much more than brother and sister. And now, they have fallen in love. But this is a love that can never be allowed, a love that will have devastating consequences ...

How can something so wrong feel so right?

How do I even begin to sum up how I feel about this book? I really don’t know how to put it into words. It completely floored me by its ability to have me so invested in the characters and their story I found myself thinking about it all the time. Even now I have finished it I can’t stop thinking about it and wondering about them all. They feel so real to me – so alive – I have to remind myself they are just fictional characters.

I think from reading the synopsis you will know if this is a book you will want to read or not. It is certainly a controversial subject but I applaud Tabitha Suzuma’s decision to write it. Before reading it you may have a strong opinion of what you think is right and wrong but reading this story certainly humanises those behind a label of incest. When I think of incest straight away I associate it with abuse. By giving us a dual narrative and telling the story from both Lochan and Maya’s perspective I was assured that the relationship was consensual – which is imperative to make the story work. Although I still questioned the relationship and their motivations I did believe it was their decision and neither one was forced in any way.

I adored the characters. Lochan and Maya both had so much responsibility on their shoulders because of their mother’s neglect and were essentially raising three children on their own. They constantly lived in fear of social services discovering their mother's regular absense from the home and putting them into care as a result. Add to that Lochan’s fear of any kind of social interaction outside of his family and his constant battle just to get through the day at school without having to talk to anyone - and I was not surprised him and Maya shared a strong bond. Both were also really kind and selflessly cared for their siblings. Willa and Tiffin were really cute, especially Willa. She was so unassuming and sweet. Kit was a typical teen in a rotten situation but he wasn’t a bad kid – just a neglected one. There is only so much attention his siblings could give him when it was his mother’s attention he needed. I really felt for them all and sometimes questioned their determination to keep their mother’s neglect hidden. I did wonder whether they would be better off if the authorities knew.

Reading this story has raised so many questions in my mind – and to be honest they are questions I just can’t answer. All I can tell you is that regardless of whether what they felt was right or wrong I just cared about them both and wanted them to all be happy.

This is such a powerful read and I would highly recommend it. I would hesitate to recommend it to younger readers though, not just because it contains some graphic scenes but also because it packs such a strong emotional punch. I feel as if the author ripped out my heart and stamped on it for good measure. It felt so raw and emotionally honest that by the end I just felt devastated. It’s been a while since I have read something that has had such a strong affect on me and it is a story that will stay with me for a very long time.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Reading 101: High Fantasy by The Bookette

There are so many books I have read and loved since I began I Want To Read That that I never would have even picked up before I began blogging. Instead of asking people for individual recommendations for similar themed books I decided to invite a guest to do a post for me on a partictular genre or type of book. Hence Reading 101 was born.

So, without further ado, I will pass you over to Becky from The Bookette for the first Reading 101.

Before I became a blogger, I thought of Fantasy as a genre. A genre that I loved and could quite happily have married and lived happily ever after with. But I’ve been blogging a while now and I keep hearing different terms when it comes to Fantasy. There is High Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Sci-Fi Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery to name but a few of the different sub genres. It can become mightily confusing for the reader looking for something that is just Fantasy.

Sammee asked me if I would write a guest post about High Fantasy and because I love her and her blog I said why yes, of course. I would love to. But who would know there is such a contradictory definition of High Fantasy out there.

Wiki characterises High Fantasy as a story which is set in an invented or parallel, entirely fictional world. Our world as we know it is the primary world. High Fantasy novels are set in a secondary world which is fictional. Sounds really straight-forward, but oh no! Wiki then goes on to say that any of these three scenarios fit into the High Fantasy sub genre:
1) The primary world does not exist. Lord of the Rings is a great example of this because so many people have heard of it. The world which Frodo knows and loves is Middle Earth. In no part of the story is our real world referred to.
2) The primary world exists and provides a portal to the secondary world. Ah ha, so some characters may know only too well that the Primary World exists but they venture into the Secondary World. Great classic examples are The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The portals being the wardrobe and the rabbit hole respectively.
3) A distinct secondary world existing within our Primary world. Let’s all here it for the one and only Harry Potter. Harry knows muggles, has had the distinct misfortune to be raised by them and is punished for performing magic in front of them. Although some might argue that HP could be viewed as an Scenario 2 fantasy in the first novel as the Hogwarts Express is the portal to the magic school.
Source: Wikipedia
So you see many types of fantasy can be categorised as High Fantasy.

I prefer to think of High Fantasy as Scenario 1. That is fantasy books which exist entirely in their own worlds. The characters never knowing anything about our real world. So what books do I love that would fit in this very narrow definition?

Let’s begin with Garth Nix who I happen to adore. I love his Abhorsen Trilogy. The First book is SABRIEL. This is the blurb from the trilogy website.

For many years Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the random power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won't stay dead. But now her father, the Charter-Mage Abhorsen, is missing, and to find him Sabriel must cross back into that world.

Though her journey begins alone, she soon finds companions: Mogget, whose seemingly harmless feline form hides a powerful -- and perhaps malevolent -- spirit, and Touchstone, a Charter-Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories.

With threats on all sides and only each other to trust, the three of them must travel deep into the Old Kingdom, toward a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death -- and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own hidden destiny.

A tale of dark secrets, deep love, and dangerous magic!

You can download a sample chapter of SABRIEL here.

One of the things I love most about this series is that each book is better than the last and there are not many series books that you can say that about.

For those of you who still love tween fiction I have to recommend the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage.

The series begins with MAGYK and it really is. I love the world building in these books. It is so enchanting and the characters are adorable too. Blurb from the series website:

The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby's father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus?

The Septimus Heap website is the coolest. It has a brilliant map and you can do lots of fun things. Go check it out.

An oldie but a goodie is The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Le Guin. This was recommended to me by a friend at uni. What good taste in books he had (and political parties now I think of it)! It was first published in 1968. Blurb from Goodreads:

A superb four-part fantasy, comparable with the work of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, the "Earthsea" books follow the fortunes of the wizard Ged from his childhood to an age where magic is giving way to evil. As a young dragonlord, Ged, whose use-name is Sparrowhawk, is sent to the island of Roke to learn the true way of magic. A natural magician, Ged becomes an Archmage and helps the High Priestess Tenar escape from the labyrinth of darkness. But as the years pass, true magic and ancient ways are forced to submit to the powers of evil and death.

An author who is prolific in the genre of High Fantasy is Diana Wynne Jones. I haven’t read many of her novels but I loved The Merlin Conspiracy. Blurb from Goodreads:

The islands of Blest keep the balance of magic in half the multiverse. If something goes wrong with the magic on Blest, it will have a ripple effect on many other worlds. Something is about to go wrong ?

It all begins when the Merlin of Blest dies of a heart attack. Or was he murdered by sorcery?

Two friends, Roddy and Grundo, suspect a conspiracy, but no adult will believe them. When a boy from another world, Nick, blunders into the trouble on Blest, Roddy tries to enlist his help. But what can three children who are just discovering their magical talents do against the new Merlin, the Earthmistress, and the dark powers they’re calling up? The dangers are great, and if Roddy, Grundo, and Nick fail to stop the conspirators before they disrupt the balance of magic, the results will be far more far-reaching and destructive than they can imagine.

And finally, my most recently discovered author of High Fantasy is Maria V. Synder. I read STORM GLASS book and loved it. The blurb from Goodreads

As a glassmaker and a magician-in-training, Opal Cowen understands trial by fire. Now it's time to test her mettle. Someone has sabotaged the Stormdancer clan's glass orbs, killing their most powerful magicians. The Stormdancers—particularly the mysterious and mercurial Kade—require Opal's unique talents to prevent it happening again. But when the mission goes awry, Opal must tap in to a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. And the further she delves into the intrigue behind the glass and magic, the more distorted things appear. With lives hanging in the balance—including her own—Opal must control powers she hadn't known she possessed…powers that might lead to disaster beyond anything she's ever known.

Maria has also written the STUDY series which I have bought but haven’t got around to reading yet. I hear nothing but wonderful things about it.

I am a dreamer which is I think why I love High Fantasy. I’d be really interested to see if anyone has read any great High Fantasies recently and get some recommendations of new authors to try.


Thanks Becky! I am digging out my copy of Sabriel right now!

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Cover to Covet

I LOVE book covers. Love, love love them. So I decided to make it a regular post - each post featuring a cover I love. So first up...

Radiance by Alyson Noel

I really love this cover. It's simple but really beautiful - very eye catching I think. Really makes me want to read the book! It's the first in Noel's spin off series and is published in the US 31 August 2010 by Square Fish.

Monday 12 July 2010

Would You by Marthe Jocelyn

From Goodreads:
WOULD YOU RATHER know what’s going to happen or not know? A summer night. A Saturday. For Natalie’s amazing older sister, Claire, this summer is fantastic, because she’s zooming off to college in the fall. For Natalie, it’s a fun summer with her friends; nothing special. When Claire is hit by a car, the world changes in a heartbeat. Over the next four days, moment by moment, Natalie, her parents, and their friends wait to learn if Claire will ever recover.

I was really surprised by how small this book was when it arrived. I knew it was only around 170 pages but it also looks tiny and I’ve got to admit I was a little put off. However, once I started to read it I was completely and utterly hooked.

Jocelyn has a really amazing writing style which includes so many small details and observations. It was also surprisingly funny in places too which helped prevent the story from feeling too melancholy. It is sad though, but I also found it refreshingly honest.

The main character of Natalie grew on me over the course of the story. In the beginning I found her and her friends to be somewhat superficial and I didn't feel any real connection – but after her sister's accident I found myself really starting to like her and her friends. I was especially taken with Angela and Zach who did some very sweet and considerate things for Natalie when she needed them the most.

A very thoughtful and insightful story. I think fans of Before I Die or Life on a Refrigerator Door would really enjoy it.

Saturday 10 July 2010

In My Mailbox (47)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

For Review:

Glee: Unofficial Biography by Various Authors. Random House: August 5th 2010

The Avenger by P C Cast. M&B Nocturne: July 12th 2010

Troubadour by Mary Hoffman. Bloomsbury: August 2nd 2010


The Radleys by Matt Haig

Numbers 2: The Chaos by Rachel Ward

The Fallen 1 by Thomas E. Sniegoski

Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee

Watch Me by Lauren Barnholdt

Under The Dome by Stephen King

Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky


Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler *SQQUUEEEEE*

How did you do?

Winner: Seriously Sassy Series

The winner of the Seriously Sassy Series is:

Caroline F

Caroline - I have past on your details so the books should be with you soon.

A big thanks to everyone who took part:)

Friday 9 July 2010

Cover Wars: She So Dead to Us

Hmm I can't decide! There is something really simple about the US one that I like but the UK one also really appeals - I like the size and font of the title. It does look a bit 'younger' though...

Which do you prefer?

Thursday 8 July 2010

Review and Giveaway: iBoy by Kevin Brooks

For review: Puffin. Published 1 July 2010
From Goodreads: Before the attack, sixteen-year-old Tom Harvey was just an ordinary boy. But now fragments of a shattered iPhone are embedded in his brain and it's having an extraordinary effect...Because now Tom has powers - the ability to know and see more than he could ever imagine. And with incredible power comes knowledge - and a choice. Seek revenge on the violent gangs that rule his estate and assaulted his friend Lucy, or keep quiet? Tom has control when everything else is out of control. But it's a dangerous price to pay. And the consequences are terrifying.

This was my first book by Kevin Brooks and I am so glad I read it.

I was initially attracted to this book because of its premise. I was really intrigued about iBoy and what his ‘powers’ would be and how he would use them. What I wasn’t expecting was the dark and gritty back drop for this premise. For me, it was the high point of the book.

I found myself completely engrossed in the world depicted – life on a London tower block estate ruled by gangs and fear. The idea that someone can be attacked in their own home and can’t do anything about it – and know that nothing will ever be done about it – is scary. But the realisation that for some it is a reality –it is really terrifying. I think you need to be prepared for how dark this story is. It feels wrong to say I am surprised it’s a teenage title – but it does touch on some very adult themes.

I loved all the main characters. Tom was a typical, kind of nerdy boy finding himself in a very unique situation. Lucy was really sweet and I really felt for her. I loved Tom’s Nan – the way she got rid of the policemen in the hospital had me laughing out loud just because of how much attitude she had.

As for iBoy – I thought it was such a great idea. I could have done without all the technical information but I think others will love it – and I loved the struggle inside of Tom. How it made him unsure of who he was and whether he thought ‘iBoy’ was doing the right thing. I spent most of the book thinking of the line from Spiderman (or possibly Superman?) - ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ – and I thought this book really touches on that. It raises the question of what to do with power if we have it. Should we fight violence with violence? Should we become vigilantes if we feel the authorities are not there to protect us? Interesting material that I wasn’t expecting but I really enjoyed.

I also liked how the book ended – there is scope there for another book - but it is a self contained story. It was also very exciting and I really wasn’t sure what was going to happen.

On the basis of reading this I bought 2 more books by Kevin Brooks. I love his writing style – it feels original and very ‘real’ – I just love it and can’t wait to read more.

Sound good? The lovely team at Puffin have offered a book to one lucky winner. All you need to do is fill in the form below. Good Luck:)

Contest Rules:
UK only
Deadline - Thursday 15th July
You don't need to be a follower of my blog to enter.

This contest is now closed.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Author Interview: Sarwat Chadda

Sarwat Chadda is the author of Devil's Kiss and Dark Goddess. He kindly took the time to answer a few questions...

What inspired you to write Devil’s Kiss and Dark Goddess?
I love history, supernatural horror, religious mythology and fairy tales. This was the best way I could think of combining them all.

Devil’s Kiss was taken from the Old Testament story about the Biblical plagues. The tenth plague has the angel of death slaying all the firstborn of Egypt. I decided it would be interesting if the same angel decided to do it now on modern Britain.

Dark Goddess is based on pagan mythology and the first divine figure prehistoric man worshipped, the Great Goddess. In my version I give her a name, Baba Yaga. She’s a fairy tale witch out of Russian myth but is based on the winter version of the Great Goddess, the Old Crone. Then I discovered that the original Amazons were said to have come from Southern Russia. Since I wanted Dark Goddess to be centred on female mythology, the Amazons were perfect as Baba Yaga’s followers. All I need to do was turn them into werewolves too!

How did you come up with the character Billi SanGreal?
Since I have daughters it was a given I’d write a heroine. Since I like action, she was going to be a fighter and the stories were going to be big action adventures.
There were various clichés I wanted to overturn. The first was the idea of a son following in his father’s footsteps. It’s the 21st Century, why not a daughter? I love the idea Billi is being trained by the Master of the Templars to, one day, be his replacement.

The other cliché was Billi’s rejection of the world she’s in. She wants to have a quiet, peaceful life.

I love Arthur SanGreal too! What was the inspiration behind his character?
Again, being the father of two girls I was interested in exploring this in extreme situations. The big challenge was explaining why a parent would put their child in such deadly situations. Well, Arthur’s not a very good parent and, let’s face it, a ruthless fanatic. It’s only towards the end of Devil’s Kiss do we discover the cost of his decisions, and the sacrifice he was willing to make. That duality is key to what makes Arthur such an interesting character to write, he’s a frightening figure, he has to be since he fights monsters and can only succeed if he is more terrifying than they are. But he’s also a father and loves his daughter very dearly. Duty versus Love was the big theme in Devil’s Kiss. Arthur struggles with it and so does Billi. And both have to pay a terrible price in the end.

I love the mythology you’ve created with the series. What made you decide to base it around the Ancient Templar legend?
I love the Crusades period and the Templars were central to that. Then they have so many great legends attached to them. Did they possess the Holy Grail (yes they did and you find out what they did with it in Dark Goddess), were they black magicians, did they summon demons, did they make deals with the Assassin cult and how did nine men become the most powerful military organisation in Christendom?

So much rich material, just lying there to be used and manipulated! It made my life easier because there was so much there to choose from.

As a member of The Order it is Billi’s task to fight the Unholy. I love your take on the supernatural and the way you base it around actual myths and legends. Is the occult a subject that really interests you?
I remember reading Greek Myths at a very early age. Then Norse, Celtic, Hindu, Russian and Middle-Eastern. I was brought up a Muslim but my wife’s the daughter of a vicar. I don’t know why but I find it fascinating. Myths and religion have created the human race. Our identities are based on the myths we have about ourselves. In many ways they’re more real that history, or the truth.

What made you decide to move the story from London to Russia for Dark Goddess?
Two things. First I’ve been wanting to write a story about Baba Yaga for almost fifteen years. Russian mythology is so full of cool characters and has a savagery to it that’s been removed from western fairy tales. The other reason was that I wanted to take Billi out of her comfort zone. She knows London. She has the Templars to back her up. How could I raise the stakes in Dark Goddess if she was stomping over the same old territory? Russia has vast wilderness, Moscow is a gigantic city, the most populous in Europe and steeped with religious architecture and Imperial grandeur. I could have written an entire trilogy, just set in Moscow.

Do you have a favourite scene in the book?
When Billi finally meets Baba Yaga in the cave. Baba Yaga is twenty thousand years old. She’s the first witch and the mid-wife on mankind. She taught him tools, magic, how to build and survive. But if she’d known what he’d become, maybe she would have strangled him in the crib.

I wanted the meeting to be almost overpowering with prehistoric ambience. As luck would have it I visited the caves of Lascaux with their prehistoric paintings of horses, long-horned cattle and mammoths. There were caverns with gigantic limestone formations, one called the Medusa, and the walls were covered with crosshatched grooves, where the bears had sharpened their claws.

It was then when Baba Yaga came into true focus. Before she’s been vague and shadowy. Now I’d walked in her home I knew so much more about her.

If Devil’s Kiss and Dark Goddess were made into a TV series or film who would you like cast in the roles?
Easy. Either of my daughters for Billi (though they’re too young right now, Billi is based on a bit from each). Arthur would be James Purefoy. Gwaine is Ray Winstone. Percy would be Idris Elba. Kay I always saw as a young David Bowie (from the Aladdin Sane period). Mike would be Allan Hyde (Godric from True Blood) and Ivan’s based on a younger Christian Bale, it’s all in those razor sharp cheekbones!

Are there more books planned (please say yes!) and if so, can you give us any hints for what’s next for Billi SanGreal?
I certainly have plans for Billi. The next story will be set in the Middle East. I’ve dropped enough hints regarding Jerusalem so that’s where I’d like to take her. It’s the Templars’ spiritual home. I’d also like to explore some loose ends regarding Billi’s mother, Jamila. But alas, none of this is definite! Book 3 depends on how well the first two do. And that’s totally down to you guys.

Who are some of your favourite authors? Are there any books you would recommend?
1. Phillip Pullman. Read the Northern Lights series. Like, d’uh.
2. Philip Reeve. His Mortal Engines series is beyond awesome. I want to be Philip Reeve when I grow up.
3. Clive Cussler and Bernard Cornwell have been major influences. Cussler because he weaves history, myth and worldwide action seamlessly. You could do a lot worse than pick up his Dirk Pitt books for pure adventure. Cornwell because he knows how to write heroes and battle scenes, plus makes real history work for him in his fiction. I’ve made a very small homage to Cornwell’s hero, Richard Sharpe, in Devil’s Kiss as a gesture of my thanks.

Did any of these inspire you to become a writer yourself?
Phillip Pullman. When Harry Potter first became big, I thought it was all rather sad that grown-ups were reading kids books. But a friend lent me Northern Lights and I left it on the shelf for months. Finally I picked it up and was hooked. If this was what was being written for children nowadays, I wanted to be part of it. I was desperate to be part of it.


Thanks Sarwat!
You can check out the authors website here and my reviews for Devil's Kiss and Dark Goddess.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda

For review: Puffin. Published 1 July 2010
From Goodreads: THE DARK GODDESS will take Billi to Russia to rescue Vasalisa, a young girl Billi’s promised to protect. To save her, Billi must defeat the werewolves that serve the witch Baba Yaga – and the Dark Goddess herself.

Baba Yaga is sickened by the destruction and corruption humanity has spread across the natural world. She recognises mankind has become a plague upon the Earth, and her duty is clear: to cleanse the planet and rid it of the pestilence of Man. Billi is sent to stop her, but does she have the right?

Betrayed and alone, Billi faces a final mighty battle in the abandoned ruins of Chernobyl.

To say I wasn’t sure what Sarwat Chadda was going to do after the ending of Devil’s kiss would be an understatement. I loved the first instalment so I began reading Dark Goddess with both excitement and trepidation. I needn’t have worried! Dark Goddess is awesome – I absolutely loved it!

This time the action moves from London to Russia – and I Ioved the Russian setting and the legend of Baba Yaga – it worked really well. It was interesting to see Billi out of her comfort zone. Ivan is a great addition to the series - I adored him. I also really liked Vasalisa and enjoyed her interactions with Billi. There was some great character development too – especially with Billi. She certainly doesn’t feel like a 15 year old girl anymore! There were also some great father / daughter moments and I am pleased that he is more of a ‘father’ in this one. He still treats Billi more like a soldier than a daughter but I guess that makes sense given the world they live in. I do really love his character and if I had to criticize the book it would be that I wanted him to be in more of it.

Again the story is very action packed – things happen all the time that you don’t see coming – or at least I didn’t - and I found it all very exciting. As with Devil’s Kiss you are not sure if all the characters will make it to the end – which gives the whole thing a sense of urgency. I do think there was much more humour in this instalment which added to characters and story as a whole. I still laugh when I think about the Holy Grail!

I just love the way Chadda has managed to make this series grow. Dark Goddess is not a rehash of the first book - instead it is something completely different - letting the characters grow and evolve naturally. Will everyone love this book as much as I do? I don’t know. All I can tell you is it ticks all the boxes for me and if I could bottle it's magic and sprinkle it over every other YA book I read I would! I really, really hope there are many more instalments to come!

Monday 5 July 2010

Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

From Goodreads: As the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar, Bilquis SanGreal grew up knowing she wasn't normal. Instead of hanging out at the mall or going on dates, she spends her time training as a soldier in her order's ancient battle against the Unholy.

Billi's cloistered life is blasted apart when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from Jerusalem, gorgeous and with a dangerous chip on his shoulder. He's ready to reclaim his place in Billi's life, but she's met someone new: amber-eyed Michael, who seems to understand her like no one else, effortlessly claiming a stake in her heart.

But the Templars are called to duty before Billi can enjoy the pleasant new twist to her life. One of the order's ancient enemies has resurfaced, searching for a treasure that the Templars have protected for hundreds of years -- a cursed mirror powerful enough to kill all of London's firstborn. To save her city from catastrophe, Billi will have to put her heart aside and make sacrifices greater than any of the Templars could have imagined.

I was completely and utterly gripped with this book from page one. I really liked how it’s based around the ancient Templar legend. I enjoyed all the mythology and religious references – and completely fell in love with the author’s take on the supernatural. In this book the ‘unholy’ are feared – which makes it scary and action packed. I also liked the way the story is based around actual myths and legends and feels very plausible as a result.

I absolutely loved Billi – she is such a great character. At first she feels very distant and very guarded – which is understandable given her (lack) of relationship with her father. He is emotionally distant– sometimes brutally so! There is one scene in particular that makes for some rather uneasy reading but despite this there is definitely something about the character of Arthur SanGreal! In fact, all the characters are fleshed out really well. I particularly liked Kay and Elaine. It was interesting watching Billi interact with all the different characters - especially Kay. I thought the romance element to the story was really sweet and has a large part in determining Billi’s character towards the end.

Before I read this I heard of comparisons to Buffy. I would argue it has much more in common with the TV show Supernatural. It is dark, sometimes bleak, but also feels fresh and edgy and I really enjoyed the fact it was set in London. There is definitely a strong sense of foreboding that permeates the whole novel – no character feels safe and sacrifices are made – making the story all the better for it.

The ending is stellar and I did not see it coming. Or maybe I just hoped I would be wrong! You get answers, but this is not a story wrapped up with a nice bow and I applaud Chadda for his decision to take the story in the direction he does. It definitely sets up the next instalment as a must read!

Sunday 4 July 2010

In my Mailbox (46)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

For review:

iBoy by Kevin Brooks. (This is gooood!)
Cathy's Ring by Jordan Weisman, Sean Stewart, Cathy Brigg - This came with the poster pictured. (I have the feeling I am not going to be able to read this one without tracking down the others - anyone know?)


Shadowland by Alyson Noel (Despite not completely loving Blue Moon it ended on such a high I really want to know what happens next)
The Forbidden Game by LJ Smith (so excited for this one!)
Being by Kevin Brooks (I am really enjoying iBoy so when I saw this in a bargain bookshop I had to get it.)

How did you all do?

Saturday 3 July 2010

Book Trailer of the Month (July)

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Awesome trailer, and a bit freaky too! I am really looking forward to reading this on the basis of this trailer. It's published in August (UK)

Friday 2 July 2010

The Clearing by Heather Davis

For review: Netgalley. Published April 12th 2010.
From Goodreads: Amy, a sixteen-year-old recovering from an abusive relationship, moves to the country to start a new life with her aunt–all she wants is for everything to be different. In the clearing at the back of Aunt Mae’s property, she makes an amazing discovery—Henry, a boy stuck in the endless summer of 1944. Henry and his world become Amy’s refuge and she begins to learn that some moments are worth savoring. But when the past and present come crashing together, both of them must find the courage to face what is meant to be, even if it means losing each other forever.

This was somewhat different than I expected it to be but in a good way - I really enjoyed it.

Amy was an interesting character. When we first met her we don’t really get a sense of who she is but I think this is because she doesn’t know who she is anymore. Having just come out of an abusive relationship she is not only trying to work out who she should trust she is also trying to work out if she can trust herself. Over the course of the story we get to see her open up – to Mae and Henry - and I found myself really liking her.

I adored Henry. Initially I felt the story would have been better if it had just been from Amy’s point of view to add some mystery to who Henry was but I soon found myself really looking forward to his chapters and his story. He was very kind – a ‘true’ gentleman and just what Amy needed. I definitely felt invested in their romance and looked forward to their scenes together.

Jackson was also a really sweet character and I think he was a great friend to Amy. I really liked him. I wasn’t so sure about Lori but even she had moments. I really loved Mae and thought her relationship with Amy was a high point of the book.

I thought the story ended well – there was just one thing that was left unexplained that I really wanted to know – but other than that I liked how it ended. Having said that I do think it might be the type of ending you are going to either love or hate!

This is definately a book I will be adding to my collection. I really like Davis' writing style and look forward to reading more of her work.

Thursday 1 July 2010

Author Interview: Alyxandra Harvey

Alyxandra Harvey is the author of My Love Lies Bleeding and Blood Feud - books 1 and 2 of The Drake Chronicles. Alyxandra kindly took the time to answer a few of my questions...

How did you come up with the idea for the Drake Chronicles?
I wanted Snow White with bite!
Solange's story is loosely based on the Snow White legend. In My Love Lies Bleeding there's the seven brothers (instead of dwarves), the huntsman, the heart, the vain queen with her mirror, the kiss... I love fairy tale retellings so I had a blast weaving those details in. The rest of the Drake Chronicles deal with the other Drake brothers and the continuation of Solange's story (and Lucy!). I hadn't planned a series necessarily, but all those yummy brothers became unwieldy! I consider that a very good problem to have.

I love the dual narrative in the books. Did you consciously decide to do this for the series?
Thanks! And yes, because it gave me a certain kind of freedom to explore both sides of Solange's bloodchange: vampire and human. I was able to be in two places at once which you can't do with straight First person POV and it reflects the quick momentum of the plot.

Do you have a favourite Drake (I have a soft spot for Nicholas myself....)?
I don't have a favourite...except for whomever I'm writing about at the moment. It's like ice's all good!

And a favourite scene?
Today, one of my favourite scenes is the epilogue of book 4, but that won't be out until next year. And I enjoyed exploring aspects of life in Paris during the French Revolution in Blood Feud but I was pretty mean to poor Isabeau so I couldn't say those are favourites exactly. I also like writing from Lucy's point of view, she just takes right over.

How many books are there planned for the series?
The Drake Chronicles currently has four written and contracted books.
My Love Lies Bleeding Jan 2010
Blood Feud (#2) July 2010
Out for Blood (#3) Nov 2010 UK/Australia, Dec 22 North America
Drake book #4 (untilted) undated/2011
and I'm currently writing book 5. Because I just can't seem to help myself. And I have several spin-off ideas percolating in my head!

What authors/books did you love when you were growing up? Did any of these inspire you to become a writer yourself?
I'm inspired by so many things! Long walks, the forest, rivers, poetry, sari material. I admire Jane Austen, Mary Oliver, Charles De Lint, Tanya Huff, Susanna Kearsley, Patricia McKillip, Holly Black and Joss Whedon. That man can tell a story!

Did you always intend on becoming a writer?
I've consciously wanted to be a writer since I was around nine years old. We were on a family trip and I was bored and bugging everyone and a friend of the family suggested I write a story. I was instantly addicted!

What was the publication process like for you?
Long! I started sending out short stories when I was 15 just to get used to the process. I had some good feedback from Marion Zimmer Bradley for a few short stories, but in the end there wasn't space in that particular Sword and Sorceress anthology. After that, I was published as a poet first, and I still love to write poetry. I would really love to put out a book of poems some day. And I feel very lucky to be working with Bloomsbury to bring the Drake series into the world and three other paranormal YA books (non-vampire).

I’m really looking forward to the next in the series. Can you tell us more about it?
Out for Blood is the story of Hunter Wild, a Helios-Ra hunter who makes a brief appearance in Blood Feud. She and Quinn Drake, the wildest of the Drake brothers, work together to fight an unknown evil at the Helios-Ra academy high school even as Quinn tries to save Solange from herself...


Thanks Alyxandra! I can't wait for Hunter and Quinn's story! You can check out the author's website here.

Also, if you haven't read the first installment in the series - My Love Lies Bleeding - you can download it FOR FREE for 24 hours starting at midday on Monday 5th July at the Bloomsbury website. Interested? Just click here.


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