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Wishlist Wednesday # 15

Wishlist Wednesday is hosted by Pen to Paper. It is the place to showcase one book that has been on our wishlist. Click on the image if you feel like joining in on the fun.

On My Wishlist is: Half Way Home by Hugh Howey

Blurb from Amazon:
Five hundred of us were sent to colonize this planet. Only fifty or so survived.
We woke up fifteen years too early, we had only half our training, and they expected us to not only survive … they expected us to conquer this place.
The problem is: it isn’t safe here.
We aren’t even safe from each other.

I have mix feelings about the cover. The first time I saw it, I was like “Girl probably escaped from a serial killer in the woods.” The legs are dirty and looked like they have running for miles in the forest. Then, I read the blurb and was like “Yeah, I can see a survival element going on but it still screams serial killer to me.” The blurb does make the novel sound intriguing especially because it is a survival story and the entry makes me wonder what else is out there.

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Review: By The Sword by Sara Flower

Title: By The Sword
Author: Sara Flower
Series: Standalone
Genre: Christian Fantasy
Format: E-book
Source: FMB Tours
Pub. Year: 2011
Purchase:Amz/B&N
I received this novel free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb from Amazon:
Seventeen-year-old Talya’s main goal is to bring down the Malinorian Empire. And Jalarn, the empire’s prodigy general, is at the top of her list of enemies to kill. Not only has Jalarn murdered Talya’s king, he’s almost killed her. Twice. But things don’t go as Talya planned when a visiting prophet sends her on a mission to the highly feared Hunter Forest. It is there that she must gain the allegiance of the forest’s inhabitants before Jalarn and his men do. Then, memories of a haunting vision resurface when Talya comes face to face with Jalarn. She makes a rash decision that sends her down a path she never imagined she would follow.

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Let me start by saying that this is a Christian fiction novel…and I didn’t know that when I chose to review this novel. I broke my own cardinal rules. That being said, the novel is not bad, it’ s just not my cup of tea. If religious novels are your thing, you might like it more than I did.

Since it is a Christian novel, there is a major emphasis on God, praying, and saving grace verses magic, witchcraft, demons, and the Devil. It is the Sanctus with God on their side versus the Malinorian with the Dark Lord or The Prince on their side. They are meant to be contrasted against each other with the Malinorian not just religiously but socially as well. The Malinoran in keeping women down, viewing them secondary to sons and a woman’s only worth is through marriage. The Sanctus, on the other hand, allowed women to be in the army and have a Queen so they seem a better society because they are not backwards in social structures.

Talya, the female soldier of Sanctus, is describe as having a “bloodlust” which is true so God gives her a mission to accomplish in order to quell it. The mission is essentially her salvation and a way to redeem herself from the actions she has committed. Like all good people who find grace through God, it is her ability to forgive and love that God wants her to find. Talya does change on this journey which is an interesting process. It is not about Talya having faith in herself but rather trusting in God that her actions are correct. Trust acts like a brick that must be reinforced throughout the novel (a little annoying but that is why it is a brick. No one likes to be bash in the head with a brick). It’s a different type of self-discovery that what I’m used to but still well written.

It is a story about redemption and finding your way back to God and following the will of God. My one issue with this novel is the fact that Talya (spoiler alert) no longer feels like she can take another person’s life when it comes to war. I take issue with that because in war, soldiers killing other soldiers is different than out right murder. Both men on the side of God or The Prince believe that they are fighting for the right side and each believe that the other side is wrong. They are fighting for their kingdom and there is nothing wrong with defending your kingdom. If people have to be killed, then they have to killed. I know it sounds cold but soldiers are not murderers unless they killed without orders. Perhaps I am wrong but it is just how I see it.

Overall, since it was the first Christian novel that I actually finished, I can say it was enjoyable to read. The battles were bloody and the self-discovery journey was necessary.

4 BB-Ready for capture

This tour was put together by Full Moon Bites Blog Tour’s. I received no monetary compensation for my review.

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23rd in the 150+ Reading Challenge:
Also qualifies for: E-book, Self-published, Witches & Witchcraft

Review: Zero by Tom Leveen

Author: Tom Leveen
Title: Zero
Series: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Netgalley
Format: Galley
Pub. Year: April 24, 2012
Purchase: Amazon/ B&N

For aspiring artist Amanda Walsh, who only half-jokingly goes by the nickname Zero, the summer before college was supposed to be fun—plain and simple. Hanging out with her best friend Jenn, going to clubs, painting, and counting down the days until her escape. But when must-have scholarship money doesn’t materialize, and she has a falling out with Jenn that can only be described as majorly awkward, and Zero’s parents relationship goes from tense to relentless fighting, her prospects start looking as bleak and surreal as a painting by her idol Salvador Dali. Will life truly imitate art? Will her new, unexpected relationship with a punk skater boy who seems too good to be real and support from the unlikeliest of sources show Zero that she’s so much more than a name

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Cover Love: I really like the cover because it gives the illusion of punk elements inside the book. How awesome is that Mohawk. I find it a little deceiving since it made me expect a darker type of story and Zero is not a dark story.

It took me awhile to get into the book so I had to read it in three sessions. The first session (one-third of the book) just blasts us with the problems Zero (otherwise known as Amanda Walsh) has. Leveen drop us in the middle on a bad situation and expect us to feel bad for her. She literally has no one to turned to in times of trouble because she no longer has a best friend and what teenager truly talks to their parents (not many of them) yet I couldn’t bring myself to care about her. Maybe it was the whole “woe-is-me” attitude but more importantly, it was where her family alliance was. Zero was hard on her mother for being protective of her and inquiring about her whereabouts  meanwhile,  she was soft on her father who is an alcoholic and constantly instigating verbal fights with his wife. It was hard to relate to her (she is an art major, I prefer music) so I quit reading but before I did that, I did like Mike the drummer and the music elements in the story. A band named Gothic Rainbow is awesome.

Second half of the book was more interesting. We finally learn why Zero is not talking to her best friend, Jenn. I’m not going to spoil it but I will say that I would not have stopped talking to my best friend if that happen. I would have laughed it off as a joke and sure, it would have been awkward for a little while but nothing that I couldn’t live with. Jenn was an interesting character, she was the rich girl who was emotionally abandoned by her parents yet she finally has realized she is worth more than what she is, so we see her grow up (from her perspective).  We also meet Sybil the Art teacher at the community college, she is an eccentric character that I like and boy, was I wrong about her. I thought she was going to be a light beacon for Zero but she turns out to be that type of person that puts a kitty on top of a tree and then forgets about it so she is a bit thoughtless about the effects of her actions. She still rocks though.

The final part of this book really save the book for me. Everything just falls into place and it is so fast paced. Zero finally stops calling herself Zero and starts to realize she can control the reins of her life instead of just going with the flow. Amanda/Zero stands up to her father about the problems he is bringing to the family. Her relationship with Mike really helped her grow from an indecisive 17 year old to a more secure version of herself.

What I really like about this book are the quotes by Salvador Dali at the start of every chapter. My favorite one was at the start of Chapter 3.

I do not paint a portrait to look like the subject. Rather the person grow to look like his portrait.

It sums up the overall story of Zero. It is a coming of age story. It is a good book but just not memorable enough for me.

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3.5 BB-Pretty to look at, maybe capture

22nd in the 150+ Reading Challenge

Wishlist Wednesday # 7

Wishlist Wednesday is hosted by Pen to Paper. It is the place to showcase one book that has been on our wishlist. Click on the image if you feel like joining in on the fun.

On My Wishlist is: When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen

After seventeen-year-old Felicita’s dearest friend Ilven kills herself to escape an arranged marriage, Felicita chooses freedom over privilege. She fakes her own death and leaves her sheltered life as one of Pelimburg’s magical elite behind. Living in the slums, scrubbing dishes for a living, she falls for charismatic Dash while also becoming fascinated with vampire Jannik. Then something shocking washes up on the beach: Ilven’s death has called out of the sea a dangerous wild magic. Felicita must decide whether her loyalties lie with the family she abandoned . . . or with those who would twist this dark power to destroy Pelimburg’s caste system, and the whole city along with it.

OMG, what is not to like about this cover? There is mystery, intrigue and a lovely (possibly) dead girl in frosty water. I’m curious as to how she got there and why. That’s a cocktail party dress so she has an interesting story.

Now to the blurb. It has a vampire in it which is quite shocking to me. I wasn’t expecting that. I’m curious as to what type of powers Felicita has and what was awoken in the sea.

Wishlist Wednesday # 6

Wishlist Wednesday is hosted by Pen to Paper. It is the place to showcase one book that has been on our wishlist. Click on the image if you feel like joining in on the fun.

On My Wishlist is: A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss.

Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten sub-basement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now her parents and her first love are long dead, and Rose — hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire — is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat.

Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes — or be left without any future at all.

This sounds amazing. The blurb is amazing. The cover is nice but its not the cover I usually fall for. It’s simplistic and nice. A quiet quality that really speaks to me. I wouldn’t have thought it would be a dystopia. I’m dying to read this book now.

Review: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

Title: Glass Houses
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: Morganville Vampires # 1
Genre:  YA Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Source: Personal Purchase
Format: Paperback
Pub. Year: 2006
Purchase: Amazon/ B&N/ TBD

Blurb from Amazon
College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation, where the popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks in the school’s social scene: somewhere less than zero.

When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don’t show many signs of life. But they’ll have Claire’s back when the town’s deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.

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Thoughts to ponder on: Do I live in a vampire dominated university? Because every other month, there is a bloodmobile asking for blood and giving us free t-shirts.

Glass Houses wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I’m not sure what to think about it but let’s start with what I did like.  The characters are strong and a little extreme. Vampire politics are interesting as well.

Character-wise, I did generally like the characters. Claire is 16, almost 17, years old and going to college so she graduated early.  She is being bully by Monica who is really extreme with her bullying. Monica should be in jail for attempted murder, kidnapping, arson, murder and I can’t wait to see what other crimes she has on her sleeve. Claire, in order to stop the bulling, moves out of the college dorms and into the Glass House where she meets Eve, Shane, and Michael. All three grew up in town and know all about the vampires.  Eve who is gothic and bubbly. Shane who left town and came back, (he is a slacker). Michael who owns the house and has a secret that I find very interesting. In terms of vampires, we have Oliver and Amelie who both have great power in the town. Amelie is the founder and I like her in general. She is very cold but intriguing.

One of the things I did like was the whole concept of a vampire dominated town where the outside forces don’t acknowledge it but the residents do. It’s like a private island dedicated to vampires. At the same time, I just can’t believe that Eve would reveal all that information to Claire right off the bat. It’s not a secret if people are just babbling to everyone they meet. Not only did Eve place Claire in great peril for telling her so but she place herself in danger for revealing the secret.

Since Claire is really smart, her brain places her in danger in this new town. It’s not really her brain though, it’s much more of her making Monica look like an idiot and Monica having a vendetta against her. None of the events would have happened if Claire wasn’t trying to save herself from Monica. Vampire politics did not move the story forward in the beginning.

I do like Claire but at the same time, I find her to be an idiot. She stayed in town after being pushed down the stairs and possibly having a minor concussion. She got kidnapped and she still stayed in town. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that someone truly wants her death and the best decision is to leave town. I know I would and I don’t need an acceptance from MIT to tell me that. If someone was trying to kill me, school would be the last thing on my brain and I happen to love school. That being said, I do like the fact that Claire is science major but I wish Caine wouldn’t give Claire flack for that. There is nothing wrong with liking the sciences and (I personally feel that) it showcases a strong female character who is brain smart instead of being focused on looks.

I wasn’t completely wowed away by the plot. I found to be quite to be quite boring in certain parts. What I did like was the slow development of the romance between Shane and Claire. It wasn’t instant love, more like she had a crush on him. He developed a crush on her slowly as well. It was sweet and romantic.

I’m giving it 3.5 butterflies because Claire’s idiocy at staying knocks it down half a butterfly; add a not-so stellar plotline it suffers a lost of a half butterfly. And the last half butterfly for the vampires not being as present as the should have been in a vampire-dominated town. The vampires are present but I wanted more vampire politics. The little taste that was given wasn’t enough. At the same time, it was a good book so the rating will be a mix of both. I’ll give it 3.5 or 4 butterflies. I can’t decide.

3.5-Pretty to look at, maybe capture

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11th book in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: 1st in a Series, Morganville Series, Where are you reading?- Texas

Review: Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk

Title: Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator
Author: Josh Berk
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: Galley
Source: Netgalley
Pub Year: 2/13/2012
Purchase: Amazon/B&N

I received this book free of charge from Netgalley in exchange for an honest opinion.

Blurb from Goodreads:
Guy Langman can’t be bothered with much. But when his friend Anoop wants Guy to join the forensics club with him in the (possibly misguided) hopes of impressing some girls, Guy thinks why not.

They certainly aren’t expecting to find a real dead body on the simulated crime scene they’re assigned to collect evidence from. But after some girlish, undignified screaming, the two realize it is indeed a body. Which means they have stumbled across a real, dead murder victim.

Meanwhile, Guy has been looking into the past of his father—a larger-than-life character who recently passed away. He was much older than Guy’s mom, and had a whole past Guy never even knew about. Could his father’s past and the dead body be linked? Does Guy want to know? He’s going to need all his newfound forensics skills to find out . . .

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I really wanted to read this book. I love CSI and forensic science so the title alone capture me. That being said, it was just a little disappointing to read. Honestly, when I read “dead body” and his father’s past, I thought they were going to be tightly connected. Instead, everything in the book is loosely connected.

Guy Langman is the main character and I’m not liking Guy at all. He has no ambition and is very superficial. He likes Rachel, the pretty girl, only because she is beautiful in his eyes yet I really can’t picture her. He judges Maurice based on her clothing. She is dressing up in black and immediately says she is trying too hard and no one buys into her new gothic look because she is too chipper at times. To me, that is WTF. Just because a person is gothic, doesn’t mean a person can’t be happy; goths are not depressing people, they may enjoyed the morbid aspects of life though. Abby from NCIS is a very happy goth and no one questions whether she is goth or not. She is. Guy grew on me after 150 pages of reading. He became funny and more relatable but still, not the guy for me.

The minor characters are the ones I’m more interested such as Maurice and TK who is constantly doing research. On what? No one really knows but he is doing research. He is just an eccentric guy. Anoop is the best friend of Guy, not a real interesting character. Hairston Danforth III, I felt so bad for him being treated so badly by people. I would have like to know about him but what little I know is enough to captivate me. Jacques Langman, the half-brother of Guy, is someone I wonder if Guy will keep contact with. There was a huge fuss made about him and yet when the truth is revealed, it’s a letdown and kind of sad. I wish he had a bigger role in the book.

WHERE IS MY DEAD BODY? The blurb of this book promised me a dead body during an excursion and it’s not here. Wait, I finally have my dead body on page 139 (Divide 139 by 228 pages, makes it 61 %). At  61% of  the book, it’s really late for a dead body to drop. (And this alone drops the book 1 whole butterfly, normally, it’s always half a butterfly that I drop but not this time)

The book is divided into two parts- 1) The Forensic Squad and Guy dealing with his father’s death and 2) Murder and missing treasure coins. To me, there are not jiving together but I guess they do go together by very thin lines. What I did like was the burning of the book Guy was writing. The book seemed more in touch with what Guy was feeling and more connective to him. It was a nice touch to end up burning it for his father.

Not much I can tell you about it. There is a lot of Mom jokes ( that’s not what your mom said last night or that’s what your mom said), boobs, boners, and really horrible jokes that have be explained so they are no longer funny. Guy is sarcastic and he does grow on you (if you don’t like him at first).

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3 BB-Pretty to look at

5th book in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-Book, Cupcake War, Where are you reading?-New Jersey

Review: Daughter of the Centaurs

Author: Kate Klimo
Title: Centaruid # 1: Daughter of Centaurs
Series: Centaruid # 1
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Netgalley
Format: Galley
Pub. Year: 2012, Jan 24
Purchase: Amazon/B&N

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called Leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them.

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Blurb from Goodreads:

I was worried about reading this book because I don’t know much about centaurs and have never read a book with centaurs as lead characters. It was intriguing and entertaining to read. A bit slow to start and some questions were left unresolved. This is the first book in the series so I hope in the future certain questions are answered. That being said, I liked the book in totality.

Malora is a great main character. She cares a lot for her horses and remains true to her nature for most of the book. Malora is driven into the wild when Leatherwings (bat-like creatures) annihilate her village and she finds refuge with wild horses. She is later rescued from a flash flood by the centaurs, specifically Orion (who I thought might be a love interest for Malora as weird as it might seem). She is the first of the people that centaurs have ever seen since the great massacre where the centaurs nearly cause the extinction of humans. The centaurs are fascinated but scared of her until she saves a Twani who happens to be a cat person. Aw, the Twanis in my head look like Puss in Boots and the Twani are refer like that. So cute. They also remind me of house elves from Harry Potter but seem way cuter than house elves.

She is taken to their city and properly educated meaning she learns to read. And this is where I have problems with the setting and time. I have no idea what time period this is. I do know that they have Shakespeare’s work as well as Stephanie Meyer so I see a problem. Not with Meyer but her stuff is pretty recent and humans have stopped writing for quite awhile. The book is set in the distant future but humans are pretty primitive and there is no advanced technology. The medicine consists of herbs and salves, carriages not cars, and handmade items. All that comes into mind is The Planet of the Apes movie. I would feel so much more comfortable if there was date on the book. Not that a date would help the book but it would make the book feel more grounded.

Going along with the Planet of the Apes dystopia feeling, the book would be better if it contain an explanation as to how the centaurs, the twani and a half-goat man came into being. This book is set in the distant future so some evolution or medical achievement gone wrong helped give birth to the new creatures that proceeded to eradicate humans. I like to know what it was since it would bring realism into a fantasy setting.

Most of the characters were likable, there wasn’t much ambivalent about their personality. Orion has a good heart but there might be some hidden darkness within him that he is afraid to reveal. Nathan, another centaur, still keeps in touch with Orion even though they claimed to no longer be friends. There is an interesting back story between them that has yet to be told.

The politics of the book is very interesting. There are Highlander Centaurs and Flatlanders Centaurs. The Highlander are essentially the rich people and people with skills versus the Flatlanders who are simple people and workers. There is a growing dissatisfaction with the Flatlanders with the system that treats them as second class citizens. Nothing serious happens in this book but there is always the next book. Another distinction is the Edicts that Highlanders maintain, basically the Ten Commandments except the Edicts are taken more seriously by the Highlanders than the Flatlanders. The women have to cover their hair in order to not entice the males and all Highlanders are forbidden from eating meat and drinking alcohol. Overall, the Highlanders act like nobles, very conservative, and are squeamish about most things while the Flatlanders are portrayed as more common people. Neither of the centaurs are like the Harry Potter centaurs.

In the end, the book is an interesting read. At times, the book feels jumpy. One moment, the horses are training for the Golden Horse race and the next moment, they are in the stadium. There was no gentle transition or warning. Some characters were introduced and then just completely forgotten. I hope this was for a chance at in-depth character look in the second book. This book is a set up for future books since it gave multiple plot bunnies for the next book. There could be rouge centaurs attacking the city, people attacking the city, the intro of Lume (Malora’s dream boyfriend), an uprising by the Flatlanders and so on. It could go in any direction. There is promise for the second book.

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4 BB-Ready for capture

Review:Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Author: Sara Shepard
Title: Pretty Little Liars
Series: Pretty Little Liars # 1
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Source: Personal Purchase
Format: Paperback
Pub. Year: 2006
Purchase: Amazon/ B&N

Blurb from Goodreads:
Three years ago, Alison disappeared after a slumber party, not to be seen since. Her friends at the elite Pennsylvania school mourned her, but they also breathed secret sighs of relief. Each of them guarded a secret that only Alison had known. Now they have other dirty little secrets, secrets that could sink them in their gossip-hungry world. When each of them begins receiving anonymous emails and text messages, panic sets in. Are they being betrayed by some one in their circle? Worse yet: Is Alison back? A strong launch for a suspenseful series.

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What I will remember: I like the show as much as the book

Pretty Little Liars, the only reason I picked this series up is the television series on ABC Family. I didn’t know about this series until I saw the show, which I like very much. I really love watching TV, I’m always surprised by the TV series and movies that are based on books. The first book in the series doesn’t tell you anything that the first season of Pretty Little Liars hasn’t shown.

The four girls are Emily, Aria, Spencer and Hanna who all have secrets that only Ali knew and someone is threatening to expose them. The threats are coming from someone called “A” and “A” hasn’t done anything series but it is freaking out the girls. I like that Shepard took the time to show us the secrets that are eating up the girls. Spoiler Alerts coming up. It took me awhile to see that Hanna had an eating disorder in the show but in the book, it’s more obvious. Aria has to deal with affairs. Emily with her sexuality. Spencer with being the in the shadow of her sister. What matters is that the secrets are different from each other and that each oh the girls are different and unique. There is no way to confuse them with each other which is fantastic. Nothing is more annoying than characters that cannot be differentiate from each other.

Ali was the girl who bonded the girls together and kept their secrets but she also was the one who taunted them with their secrets in front of company. She was a good friend to stand by instead of being against. She was quite manipulative, using her friends trust to corral them into unsavory acts. She definitely enjoyed the power she had over them. It would have been hard for the girls to leave the clique Ali started so I can see why they stayed in the clique.

This books is just the set up so nothing interesting happens (like in most first book in any series). Towards the end, it does get interesting because Jenna and her brother, Toby, arrive at the memorial for Ali whose body was found after three years. Throughout the book, the girls are afraid to talk about the Jenna Thing so I’m curious as to what that is. I’m curious as to who “A” is as well but considering this series has over 10 books, it’s going to be awhile before “A” is discovers. “A” certainly has way more knowledge that she lets on and is obviously a stalker since she/he acquires new information at a rapid pace.

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5 BB- Total Keeper