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Posts Tagged ‘historical fiction’

The cover, plot, and setting drew me in. I received this story from Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review.

Blind since birth, Abbey Morrison is confident and proficient in her world, the only world she’s ever known. Despite the family and friendships she has in the small fishing village, and her father’s unfailing love, she is still lonely.

Disfigured and scarred from war injuries, Irish immigrant Jeremy McKetcheon, finds work and solitude in self-isolation as a lighthouse keeper on a lonely island. His only companion is a loyal dog and the periodic visits of the kindly mail carrier, Morrison, from the mainland, bringing him supplies and news.

A tragedy brings Abbey to Jeremy’s isolated island. Soon, romance blooms between the two lonely hearts.

Because this is a historical novel, the author did spend a fair bit of time describing food, activities, and period details, thus creating a developed and believable setting, even if the factual timeline was off a little bit. It’s fictions and she is entitled to stretch dates a small amount for the story.

I enjoyed the language of the Irishman, Jeremy. It felt true to his heritage and made him more dimensional. Likewise with his hobby of carving wood figures. I wish Abbey had more depth to her. She seemed a little too perfect, with her only flaw in that sometimes she made a poor choice.

The pacing, however, was awkward in many places. Sometimes it felt jerky or rushed. Characters spanned large periods of time within the same paragraph, leaving a feeling of leaping forward and missing things. A smooth transition between time could have eliminated this.

The reprobates  were believable and thoroughly unlikable, which was the intention. While Abbey didn’t always behave in the wisest of ways, the evil behaviors of the bad guys certainly came across as genuine.

Abbey’s Tale is a good story. It could have been better with more development of Abbey Morrison and better pacing overall and more development between scenes.

 

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A love that can never be….

Angela Christina Archer’s “The Woman on The Painted Horse” has been on my TBR pile for a while and this week I treated myself to a long-overdue read.

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Alexandra Monroe is the feisty and gusty heroine, telling the story from her POV, and on the cusp of womanhood, and still pressed on the opposing thumb of her parents. Born into a wealthy Montgomery Alabama family, living during the Civil War, she has prestige, honor and everything a young lady could want or need. Sort of. There are certain fundamental things lacking at home.

And Alexandra is a also a slave smuggler, covertly doing what she can for the area slaves, and risking her life with each run she makes. If her domineering parents only knew of her dangerous exploits. They want her to marry Thomas Ludlow. His family rolls in wealth, rank high in society and marriage between Alexandra and Thomas will both secure their rank in society and provide Alexandra with resources and funds for even more slave smuggling.

Except Thomas is a narcissistic, cruel, bullying, miserable SOB that you would gladly kick into next month. And keep kicking. That kind of guy you just naturally and easily hate to pieces.

Except Alexander has met William Greysden, from the local Indian tribe. Their love will never be accepted by Alexandra’s family, by society or William’s tribe.

What can a young lady of society, and covert slave smuggler, possibly do?

Warning, this is not a fluffy romance, packed with mindless kisses and passionate sex. This is a gritty novel, set during one of our nation’s more turbulent times, written in sometimes a disturbingly comparable turbulence. Alexandra, and those dear to her, endure treatment no human should ever witness or endure. This book can be achingly ugly and cruel in its honesty. Sometimes it just hurts to read it.

And it also is a beautiful love story, of a love that could be and should not, and a love that should be but cannot. Which one will finally win? It is an honest story, one I will not spoil, as the reader will turn pages till the end, wondering.

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Linda Pennell is a talented author and big history buff. She’s also a southern gal who writes about southern locales. And today I am happy to welcome her to the blog, to talk about a couple of her books, “Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel” and “Confederado Norte”.  And she has some big news too! Welcome, Linda!

                          

Linda: Thank you. I am glad to be here and excited to share some great news.

            Two Soul Mate historicals are going on sale for 99¢!!  

 
Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel is on sale for 99¢  May 20-May 27!

Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel tells a story of lives unfolding in different centuries, but linked and irrevocably altered by a series of murders in 1930.  

Lake City, Florida, June, 1930: Al Capone checks in for an unusually long stay at the Blanche Hotel, a nice enough joint for an insignificant little whistle stop. The following night, young Jack Blevins witnesses a body being dumped heralding the summer of violence to come. One-by-one, people controlling county vice activities swing from KKK ropes. No moonshine distributor, gaming operator, or brothel madam, black or white, is safe from the Klan’s self-righteous vigilantism. Jack’s older sister Meg, a waitress at the Blanche, and her fiancé, a sheriff’s deputy, discover reasons to believe the lynchings are cover for a much larger ambition than simply ridding the county of vice. Someone, possibly backed by Capone, has secret plans for filling the voids created by the killings. But as the body count grows and crosses burn, they come to realize this knowledge may get all of them killed.  

Gainesville, Florida, August, 2011: Liz Reams, an up and coming young academic specializing in the history of American crime, impulsively moves across the continent to follow a man who convinces her of his devotion yet refuses to say the three simple words I love you. Despite entreaties of friends and family, she is attracted to edginess and a certain type of glamour in her men, both living and historical. Her personal life is an emotional roller coaster, but her career options suddenly blossom beyond all expectation, creating a very different type of stress. To deal with it all, Liz loses herself in her professional passion, original research into the life and times of her favorite bad boy, Al Capone. What she discovers about 1930’s summer of violence, and herself in the process, leaves her reeling at first and then changed forever.

From Soul Mate Publishing:  Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel 

http://amzn.to/16qq3k5

Take a look at the real Blanche Hotel and other actual locations featured in Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel!  https://www.pinterest.com/lindabennettpen/al-capone-at-the-blanche-hotel/

Confederado do Norte, 2015 Honorable Mention in the RONE Awards, is on sale for 99¢ May 27- June 3!!
Set during the aftermath of the American Civil War, Confederado do Norte tells the story of Mary Catherine MacDonald Dias Oliveira Atwell, a child torn from her war devastated home in Georgia and thrust into the primitive Brazilian interior where the young woman she becomes must learn to recreate herself in order to survive.   

October, 1866.

Mary Catherine is devastated when her family emigrates from Georgia to Brazil because her father and maternal uncle refuse to accept the terms of Reconstruction following the Confederacy’s defeat. Shortly after arrival in their new country, she is orphaned, leaving her in Uncle Nathan’s care. He hates Mary Catherine, blaming her for his sister’s death. She despises him because she believes Nathan murdered her father. When Mary Catherine discovers Nathan’s plan to be rid of her as well, she flees into the mountain wilderness filled with jaguars and equally dangerous men. Finding refuge among kind peasants, she grows into a beauty, ultimately marrying the scion of a wealthy Portuguese family. Happiness and security seem assured until civil unrest brings armed marauders who have an inexplicable connection to Mary Catherine. Recreating herself has protected Mary Catherine in the past, but this new crisis will demand all of the courage, intelligence, and creativity she possesses simply to survive.    

Confederado do Norte available from Amazon:  http://amzn.com/B00LMN5OMI

See scenes from Brazil and other locations featured in Confederado do Norte!  https://www.pinterest.com/lindabennettpen/confederado-do-norte/

Linda, that is just awesome, those are great stories. And condratulations on “Confederao do Norte” taking an Honorable Mention with RONE Now, we like to ask nosy questions, to get to know the author beyond their work. Can we ask you a few?

Linda: Sure, fire away.

Ryan:How long did it take?

Linda: Unlike some of my fellow Soul Mate authors, I’m afraid I am rather slow with my writing. My goal is to produce one novel per year. Because I write historical fiction, I spend a lot of time on research, at least that is the excuse I give myself!

Ryan: Are you working on anything else right now? 

Linda: Well actually, I am writing a sequel to Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel! It will feature my history of American crime professor, Liz Reams. This time, though, she is chasing associates of the infamous Meyer Lansky, a.k.a., the Mob’s Accountant and a founding member of Murder Incorporated, across Florida to Miami and on to Havana at the height of the Cuban Revolution!

Ryan: How do you beat procrastination? How do you beat writer’s block?

Linda: Although on the surface these may seem like separate issues, I believe that they are actually closely related. We put off writing because they are hard right now or because we have lost interest or because we have something more fun to do or because we think we have writer’s block. I’m not so sure that writer’s block really exists so much as it is a self-imposed state of mind brought about by lack of confidence and/or indecision. My grandmother, who by all accounts was a very talented seamstress, had the following to say about creative pursuits.

When you get frustrated with your project, put it down and go do something else for a while. Don’t think about your frustration with your project or what may be causing the problem – just forget about it. Give yourself time away and then return to the source of your frustration. Nine times out of ten, you will find that the solution to your problem has formed unconsciously while you were doing something else. I can’t promise miracles, but I can attest that this method certainly works for me!

Ryan: What is your favorite town/ city in the world? Why?

Linda: Oh, wow, this is hard!! If I can only choose one, I think it would have to be London. My BA is in US and English history, so time spent in London a deeply rich, historical experience for me. I’m basically a castles and cathedrals type of traveller and the UK has sooooo much to offer in that respect!

Ryan: Yes, I love castle and cathedrals too. How did you meet your spouse/ significant other?

Linda: My husband and I attended the same high school in a small Florida town, but because I moved there when he was a mighty senior and quarterback for the football team, we didn’t really run in the same circles. Later during our college years, attending different schools, a mutual hometown friend suggested that we might like one another. And the rest is, of course, history. We’ve been married for 46 years.

Ryan: Congratulations, that’s great. If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do? Would you keep your day job (if you have one?)

Linda: I’m afraid I would be rather boring and practical. First, I would set up trusts for the children and grandchildren, then I would make charitable contributions to local arts organizations, educational foundations, and churches which have long term family connections. I am retired, but I do keep being called back to work on long term contracts. If I won the lottery that would change because after all of the practical matters were addressed I would travel more before time and energy give out!

Ryan: Nothing wrong with being practical. What is your favorite past time?

Linda: Aside from writing, I would say choral music. I sing in two choirs: our church chancel choir and the Texas Master Chorale.

Ryan: Would you rather have the ability to be invisible or have x-ray vision?

Linda: My goodness, invisible, of course. Just think of all that you could peek in on if no one knew you were there. I’ve always wanted to be that proverbial fly on the wall!

Ryan: Yes, count me in as well. The things I’d probably hear. How do you like to spend a rainy day?

Linda:  This is easy. It is raining as I write this. Reading and writing are the best rainy day activities!

Ryan: Do you know any foreign languages?

Linda: If I were a smart Alec, I would say, “Define know.” I took French in high school and college. Notice I didn’t say learned! I have a great grasp of the International Phonetic Alphabet and its application, but very little comprehension of what I am reading. I can “call words” in German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Latin. It comes from being a singer!

Ryan: Impressive. Which person do you admire most in life? Why?

Linda: I think I would have to say Winston Churchill. Not only do we share a birthday, but I truly believe he is a the major reason that the world is not living under the boot heal of National Socialism and Hitler’s successors. When the rest of the world was either defeated or not participating, he led the British people in standing firm against the greatest evil of the 20th century.

Ryan: That’s interesting. Okay, we’re at our speed round. Ready?

Linda: Sure am.

Ryan: Favorite food to cook?

Linda: Chicken piccata – it’s easy and looks and tastes far more complicated than it is!

Ryan: Favorite animal?

Linda: Cat

Ryan: Favorite color?

Linda: Aqua, the best of both blue and green!

Ryan: Lovely color. Favorite book? 

Linda: To Kill a Mockingbird – not very original, I know, but there it is nonetheless.

Ryan:  Hey, un-original or not, I like it too. Your favorite sport or physical activity?

Linda: Does walking in foreign or exotic locations count?

Ryan: Sure, why not? Favorite kind of music?

Linda: Classical, jazz, and anything from the 40’, 50’s, or 60’s.

Ryan: What makes you laugh? 

Linda: I enjoy a dry, cleaver wit, not that I have one myself, mind you!

Ryan: Favorite season?

Linda: I adore fall – the colors, the nip in the air, the first frost, all of it! Unfortunately, I live in Houston where we have only two seasons: summer and not-summer.

Ryan: I love fall the most too. As we close out your visit, can you share a bit more about you, anything we haven’t already talked about?

Linda: I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, Let’s pretend.”

Linda resides in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

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Linda’s website:  http://www.lindapennell.com/
Linda’s blog (full of fun historical facts)  http://historyimagined.wordpress.com  

Other ways to connect with Linda: Faceboook & Twitter

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLindaBennettPennell

Twitter: @LindaPennell

Linda, thank you for a wonderful visit and best wishes for a long success.

 

 

 

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I was drawn to this story because it’s a western historical. It’s the story of happenstance and surprise.

by clear water

Leslyn Reed is the sole survivor of a raid on her family as they travel west to settle on the family property in California. Stranded in New Mexico and armed with only a milk cow, she embarks on her future. She encounters a trail drive and trades the cow for a chance to work with the drive–disguised as a young boy.

Matt Yeats is leading one final trail drive before assuming his duties as heir of the prestigious Hacienda Hermosa. Tragedy strikes and Matt’s life hangs in the balance. From the back end of the trail drive comes a child, a youth, with a natural skill at healing. Quiet and determine, Les saves Matt’s life, only to have them soon part ways.

Arriving with the herd in the New Mexico town of Concepcion, Les draws her pay, ready to resume her trek to her California property when fate  once more intervenes.

When Matt learns the shy young boy who saved his life is really a lovely lady, that Les  is really Leslyn, his world is toppled. With the help from members of the Yeats family, Leslyn slowly evolves from a shy country girl to a refined woman of class.

It would be nice to say they lived a fairy-tale life from there, but threats rise, stealing Leslyn away from Hacienda Hermosa—and Matt. Challenges test Leslyn’s survivor skills and Matt’s abilities. And his desire to forever claim Leslyn as his own.

 

This story was a definite page turner with a nice, steady flow and great visuals, from the characters to the settings. As a pleasant bonus, though  it was not categorized as an inspirational, there are enough inspirational references to subtly allude that the characters considered themselves Christians.

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Today I am excited to have Patricia Charles  stop in for a visit. She brought her new book, “Unconditional Surrender”.  And oh yeah, she has a really cool surprise for us at the end of her visit. First, don’t you just love this cover?

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Riding horses, sleeping under the stars, and drinking beer by the campfire with friends were just a few of the reasons Creed Graham loved Civil War re-enactment events. He couldn’t get enough of them, and things got even better when Kirsten McConnell walked into his life.

Why on earth would any woman want to wear a tight corset all day, sleep on straw at night, and cook over an open fire? No TV, air-conditioning or cell phones? She couldn’t believe she let her friend drag her here. Kirsten knew she would loath every moment of this Civil War re-enactment. But then she met Creed.

Sparks ignite in a blazing star filled night of passion. Sleeping on straw isn’t so bad with Creed beside her. When tragedy strikes, Kristen’s happily ever-after seems as far away as the Civil War. Her perfect world collapses, and she’s left with problems too monumental for even Creed’s love to scale. Amongst the explosions of mock cannon fire, they stand on opposite sides in the war on love. Can there be an Unconditional Surrender or will the North and South forever be at odds?

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Just in case that didn’t make you interested, here is a breath-taking sample of what is behind that awesome cover—-

     In the time since Kirsten last saw him, he changed very little. He still exemplified everything a cavalry officer would have been in the 1860’s. The black horse he rode was larger than the others and the officer, tall himself, towered over the men of his unit.               

    A shock of black hair tumbled from his slouch hat and curled over his navy blue frock coat. His beard, like he just woke from the night and hadn’t shaved yet, was as black as the horse he rode. His eyes were the color of the sky against his sun-tanned face. Broad shoulders under his wool coat tapered to his waist and then to long, sinewy legs clad in knee high black boots.

    Still as handsome as the first time she saw him. Even then he rode his horse behind the men in his company. Even then she shopped at the sutlers, and he noticed her.

    As he rode nearer, she recalled his tousled hair when he woke at her side and how his first declaration of love caused her to sob so hard she couldn’t answer. Most of all, she remembered the look in his eyes when they glowed with desire.

    Yet today was different, not just because they already had loved each other or because he proposed, and she accepted. Her heart still trembled as it had every time she looked at him, but today was different mainly because a young boy, perhaps two years old, sat before him on the saddle. The child was a close duplicate of Creed from his black hair covered with a Yankee kepi to the boots on his tiny feet. He looked up at Creed with a smile and adoration.

    Her heart tore apart. She strained to breathe. Was that his son? It had to be. They looked so much alike. Is this what our son would have looked like? Is he happy like she’d never be? When had he married? So many questions, each a wound in her heart. Not long after their scheduled wedding if she could judge by the child’s age. No, he didn’t mourn very long for the death of their love. But she knew from experience Creed wasn’t one to mourn.

    Every irrational dream she dreamt about Creed exploded within her. The pain was swift like a kick in the stomach. Nausea overcame her. She forced the tears away and plastered a smile on her face. He would never know her pain. She’d never let him see her with tears again. He didn’t deserve that confidence.

    Creed’s eyes met hers. He leaned toward the man riding beside him, spoke a couple of words to him, broke away from the column and halted his horse before her.

    Several moments passed before either of them said anything. It seemed an eternity to her. An eternity burning in hell for her sins.

    He nodded his head in acknowledgment. “Hello, Kirsten,” he said. His look of exasperation and disapproval filtered into his voice.

    “Hello, Creed.” His name flowed easily off her tongue. In her dreams and memories, she said his name often, but she thought she’d never again have to say it to him.

    The child in his arms tilted his head back to watch Creed speak. When Creed said nothing more, the child fidgeted in the saddle. He patted Rienzi’s neck with his tiny hand. He tugged on his kepi, tilting it to the side in affectation of the arrogant manner the cavalry sometimes wore their hats.

    She couldn’t tear her gaze from the duplication of Creed. He bounced in the saddle, unconcerned with the stranger viewing him. He didn’t stay still one moment, but continued to twist, turn and fidget.

    In contrast, Creed didn’t move. If he even blinked, she didn’t see it. He stared at her as she stared at the child–the child that might have been theirs.

    She was so taken with the presence of the small boy she didn’t notice the horse Creed rode step closer to her until his nose almost pressed against her shoulder.

    She jumped back when the horse pawed the ground. He snorted and tossed his head, warning her away. Rienzi hated her, she recalled, and backed further from him. The horse took an intimidating step toward her, stopped and shook his head. He too disapproved of her appearance at a reenactment.

    “Common. Go,” the boy demanded, kicking at the saddle with his tiny boots to spur Rienzi.

    Creed straightened the kepi on the boy. The child slipped it once again to that arrogant angle of the mounted.

    Creed turned Rienzi from her. For a moment Kirsten thought he wanted to say something more to her, and she held her breath in fearful anticipation.

    He glanced over the back of the horse, and then he tipped his hat.

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RJS: Okay, personally, I can’t wait to get my own copy of Unconditional Surrender. Patricia, tell us a little about why you wrote a romance set at a Civil War Reenactment?

PC: Years ago I decided to write a romance. I joined RWA and the chapter in New Orleans SOLA. They emphasized write what you know. What did I know? I love historicals. I’m from the South. And I read Gone with the Wind twice. Perfect. I would write a historical set in Mississippi during the Civil War.

RJS: Yes, that makes perfect sense.

PC: While doing my research, my mother who lives on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi informed me that Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, was having a “Fall Mustard.” I didn’t even know what a “mustard” was, so I had to attend.

Actually, Mom misunderstood. It was a “Muster.” I had a fabulous time. Everyone was so helpful, showing me rifles, saddles, tents, everything I knew to ask at this point in my writing. Then… I saw a captain of the Confederacy, dressed in his grays and his sword. An old flame that I had had a crush for years in high school. He invited me back to the ball that night, which was closed to the public. All I had to do was wear a hoopskirt.

Of course, every girl from Mississippi has a hoopskirt in her closet, right? Wrong. But my aunt did.

The date with the captain wasn’t what I had dreamed about for years, but I discovered a new love, reenacting. Dancing to the sound of fiddles and banjos under a chandelier of candles, hung from ancient oak trees was actually better than writing about it. It was living it.

I was “mustered” into the 3rd Mississippi Infantry. Sometime we were Confederates and sometime Federals. We honored both sides for their sacrifices.

RJS: Very nice. I like that.

PC: Of course, I didn’t protest against which side we represented. I protested about camping. I would have to sleep at a hotel with cable TV, air-conditioning, hot showers and a blow dryer. I wouldn’t be caught dead sleeping on the ground or using the port-a-let.

Yea, right. It only took one reenactment with me in a hotel to realize I was missing most of the fun, sitting around the campfire, singing Civil War songs and curling up on a wool blanket to the sounds of men snoring. Sound awful? It was the best time of my life.

My historical set in Natchez became a contemporary set at a reenactment. Yes, the Natchez book is still incubating in my mind. But my first book had to be a romance where I fell in love with reenacting.

I hope you will pick up Unconditional Surrender and love it as much as I loved living it. PS Some of the more humorous scenes actually happened.

RJS:  Wow, since I have an interest in the Civil War and hold fond memories of camping, I am sure this book will strike a few chords with me. Patricia, what else can you tell us about yourself?

PC: I remember going to the public library when I was a small child. The Pascagoula library was only a block away. I wasn’t allowed to cross the street, so my older brother was delegated to take me. Of course, I wouldn’t let him carry my books. I was a big girl! I remember I had so many books I had to balance them with my chin. I also recall crying when I had to return them. Books have been in my life as long as I can remember.

     My love of books eventually led me to the theatre. I have a Master’s of Arts in Drama and Communications and a Master’s of Library and Information Sciences. Naturally I am a librarian, a medical librarian.

      Additionally, I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, Southern Louisiana Chapter of RWA and Celtic Hearts. In 2013 I won Best Historical and Highest Overall Score in the Dixie Kane Contest.

     I live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, having moved here from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Frodo, my large 14 pound Pomeranian, likes to lick my feet while I write.

RJS:  Too cool. Where can we read more or follow you and get a copy of Unconditional Surrender?

 PC: My website is http://patriciacharlesauthor.com/   There  readers can find out what I am up to and links to my other social media sites. And here’s the exciting surprise… I am giving away a lovely gold locket in a random drawing. It holds the faces from the cover of the book. Anyone interested in entering, please go to my website http://patriciacharlesauthor.com and make a comment. Include an email address and request to be added to the drawing. Giveaway is scheduled after the release date for Unconditional Surrender after December 31, 2014.

Patricia Warren LOCKET Unconditional Surrender

 

 

RJS: Oh, that is lovely and anyone would be lucky to have won that. Patricia, it has been a great pleasure to have you here today. Your book sounds very interesting and I wish the best success with it. Thank you for stopping by today.

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