Come inside my world where all I do is read and read lots and lots of romance..............................

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Late Night Randomness, yet again

Eeeek, I can't sleep. I'm really starting to worry about this.
Could it be insomnia?
And I tried to read but I couldn't. And I tried to watch a movie and I couldn't. And my roomates are all asleep and would beat me if I tried to wake them. Ugh.

So I decided to post a couple of random youtube videos that make me smile.

First up,the puppies

How bloody cute is that?

And here's a pic of my own little puppy, Dusty

And the other lady of the house Ms.Bessie, though she looks like a puppy, she's actually ten years old.

And just to let y'all know that the lovely Colleen Gleason will be joining me in a week or two so watch this space.
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Monday, 26 February 2007

Tawny Taylor's Sweet Bites Contest

February Sweet Bites Contest

In celebration of Valentine's Day, and all things decadent, Tawny will be holding a contest on her website. The prize: This dreamy bag of books sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

To enter, read the rules below.

The rules: On FEBRUARY 1, Tawny will post the picture of the
candy hearts above on a page of her web site
( Simply locate the picture and email
Tawny with the page's full url ( Hint: it's not

Note: entries MUST include contact information to be valid--this includes first and last names and MAILING address.

Additional entries for the drawing will be granted to anyone who posts Tawny's contest on their blog. Please email Tawny with a link to each blog post for an additional entry.

The winner will be randomly selected from all valid entries on February 28, and the winner will be announced on Tawny's site and blog ( on March 1. Tawny's website is here

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Sunday, 25 February 2007

'Where Rainbows End' by Cecelia Ahern

Cecelia Ahern, daughter of our prime minister, shot to fame here in Ireland after signing a huge book deal at the age of only twenty-one. Wanting to see what all the fuss was about I borrowed her debut novel ‘PS, I Love You’ from a friend and I loved it. So as soon as ‘Where Rainbows End’ hit the shelves I rushed out to buy it.

This book focuses on the intertwining lives of Alex and Rosie, from their childhood in Dublin to their adult lives. Best friends, they stick with each other through thick and thin, knowing somewhere in their hearts that they are each other’s soul mate. Misunderstandings, bad luck and troublesome circumstances keep them apart until finally they are presented with the ultimate opportunity to be together again.

Cecelia Ahern proved in ‘PS, I Love You’ that she has an understanding of life beyond her years. She proves this ability yet again in ‘Where Rainbows End’. This book deals with all sorts of life’s trials and tribulations including young motherhood, marriage, adultery and grief. Rosie becomes pregnant at a young age and her struggle as a young mother are well-documented in this book. She has to make so many sacrifices for her daughter Katie, career-wise and in her personal life too. While Rosie has to stay in Dublin to raise Katie, Alex marries Sally in Boston. And then Rosie marries Greg. Neither marriage is beneficial to say the least and both end eventually . The various themes in this ’Where Rainbows End’ makes it well worth a read.

I loved the character of Rosie in this novel. She is an ordinary girl leading an ordinary contemporary life who is easy to click with. Her personality is lovely, she is witty, kind and responsible. She doesn’t deserve the bad luck which destiny throws at her. I was with her when baby Katie was born, felt her pain when Alex married, was so angry on her behalf when Greg cheated on her. I was emotionally involved in this book because of Rosie.

I didn’t click with Alex to the same extent. I think this is always the case in women’s fiction. We tend to empathise with the woman rather than the man. But that said, I really did like his character. He makes some stupid mistakes like marrying Sally. But his unwavering love of Rosie made me fall in love with him, his devotion to her and Katie made me want to cry at certain points in the novel, it was so touching.

And because this novel spans over the greater part of their lives we really get to see Alex and Rosie grow and mature into two wonderful, strong people. At the end of the book I wanted to stand up and applaud them for being the people they had become. This I think is a huge achievement on Ahern’s part and it really shows her skill as an author.

The author does a fabulous job in portraying the relationship through the years. Nearing the end of ‘Where Rainbows End’ I was growing desperate to see Rosie and Alex together. But although this book follows the love between Alex and Rosie, it is not a romance. This is chicklit, chicklit at its very best. This novel is about the characters’ growth, their journey of self-discovery. Alex and Rosie’s magical connection makes you feel the strong love between them, but there is no ‘romance’ in this novel.

There were a few down-points for me in ‘Where Rainbows End’. Nothing too serious, but enough to make me roll my eyes in frustration. This book is narrated completely through the use of emails, letters, instant messages etc. This is not my favourite way of reading a novel. But I was still able to enjoy it. Ahern manages this style just as well as Meg Cabot who uses it on a regular basis. But this book is a long book, and towards the end the constant emails and letters began to irritate me and even Ahern’s witty and clever style couldn’t keep me from gritting my teeth.

Because of the emails and letters I wasn’t able to get a feel for the setting. A sense of time and place is something I look for in novels. But I know a lot of other people wouldn’t care so I wouldn’t take that criticism too seriously.

Although I love the ‘almost but not quite’ incidents in books, there were too many in ‘Where Rainbows End’. Too many misunderstandings, too many instances of destiny interrupting Alex and Rosie’s lives. I was emotionally exhausted when I finished this book. It wasn’t what I would call a relaxing read.

Overall I enjoyed ‘Where Rainbows End’ and would recommend it to any of my friends. Not once did I want to close it. So if you’re looking for a good women’s contemporary fiction read, go pick this up here.

Rating: 31/50
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Saturday, 24 February 2007

The Visions of Heat Meme

1. Which psychic power would you most like to possess?
Telepathy, for obvious reasons.

2. If you could see the future, what would you like to see?
What the hell happens when we die?

3. Imagine you woke up one day and could shapeshift - what would you shift into?
A cat. I'd try out those 9 lives.

4. What kind of a paranormal creature would you invite over for dinner if there were no limits on who you could ask?
A leprechaun for luck.

5. Which future innovation do you wish would hurry up and get here already? i.e. flying cars, a transporter, computers with artificial intelligence, an auto chef?
A machine that sucks the body fat out of you with no pain.

This meme was begun by Nalini Singh to get the word out about her next book, Visions of Heat [] (releasing March 6). Want to play, too, and enter to win a $50 Amazon voucher plus an ARC? Click here for details.

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Friday, 23 February 2007

Richelle Mead's Succubus Blues

Succubus (n) - An alluring, shape-shifting demon who seduces and pleasures mortal men.

Pathetic (adj.) - A succubus with great shoes and no social life. See: Georgina Kincaid.

When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants. The wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?

But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid’s life is far less exotic. Her boss is a middle-management demon with a thing for John Cusack movies. Her immortal best friends haven’t stopped teasing her about the time she shape-shifted into the Demon Goddess get-up complete with whip and wings. And she can’t have a decent date without sucking away part of the guy’s life. At least there’s her day job at a local bookstore—free books, all the white chocolate mochas she can drink, and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can’t.

But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle’s demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won’t help because Georgina’s about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny…

Go to Dee and dee Dish to enter the contest to win SB and other goodies.

And don't forget to enter my first contests which both end on the last day of February.

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Thursday, 22 February 2007

Thursday Thirteen #4

Thirteen Things about Maria

Thirteen Books I've Read At Least Twice

1. The Harry Potter Series, need I say more?

2. Any book by Susan Lewis especially Darkest Longings and Summer Madness.

3. Wuthering Heights, yum yum yum.

4. The Mallory Towers Series by Enid Blyton. These books rocked by childhood world.

5. Jane Eyre, great for in front of a fire.

6. A Kept Woman by Louise Bagshawe

7. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice, incredibly touching.

8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, I love you Mr. Darcy

9. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodges

10. Entertaining Mr. Stone by Portia Da Costa, seriously hot stuff.

11. One of those old Sweet Dreams books (Harlequin/Mills & Boon for preteens) featuring Bruce and Darby, can’t remember what it was called but I loved it.

12. Every book in the Babysitters Club series up to number 90, I was a fanatic.

13. Past Secrets by Cathy Kelly, chick lit at its very best.

N.B. Last week I left out one of my favourite albums on my albums list. Dido’s No Angel. How could I forget?

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Ranting and Gushing

Well, it’s just after 4 am here in my cold little living room in Ireland and I can’t sleep. So I thought I’d share a few thoughts, you don’t have to care, just let me ramble.

Firstly, I would like to address the whole review idea. I’ve noticed a few posts lately about how some authors aren’t getting reviews and what a true review is. Well, when it comes to reviewing books, I try to choose books that haven’t been reviewed a hundred times, or won’t be reviewed a hundred times. For example I loved Dark Lover by J R Ward but that book has tonnes of reviews so I won’t add to that number. But a book like Lara Adrian’s upcoming book, I will review, because she is not as well-known as Ward. I do tend to break this rule when it comes to my favourite authors though. I mean ‘The Perfect Stranger’ by Alison Kent will have no shortage of reviews when it is released but I had to do the gushing thing because I loved it so much.

And then there is the question of what exactly is a review. I know tonnes of sites and blogs that give you a synopsis of the plot, and sometimes the reviewer will say if they liked it or not. This is of no use to me as a reader. I can read the synopsis from the back cover if I want to. And I need reasons why a person likes a book. Why did it work for them? Was it because the hero was a tight-ass, if so then this is not a book I will like. Is it because it is littered with sex but is lacking in chemistry, well I’m not really interested. You see what I mean? I need back up, proof. If there is no proof evident in a review as to why the reviewer enjoyed or disliked the book I will completely disregard the review and say what a waste of time. So if you are a reviewer like this, especially one who is constantly saying ’I didn’t enjoy this’ but have no proof to back it up, please stop. Because it is dreadfully unfair to the author.

Okay, after that I would like to talk about authors, particularly romance authors. Where do you all get your generosity? Does it come with the gift of writing? I know, I know, you get dozens of author copies but still. You have to pay postage and packaging, sometimes overseas. And there are often times when an author is giving away gift certificates to Amazon and B&N. I have been on the receiving end of this generosity quite a few times, as have a couple of my friends. And I think I speak for all romance readers when I say thank you.

And just one last thing. I discovered blogging by authors only a year ago. And from there I discovered romance readers’ blogs. It’s like a community. And I can’t tell you all how grateful I am to be a part of this. I have friends who love romance novels but don’t have the same passion for them as I do. They don’t share the same need to tell other readers what books to watch out for. So to find such a large community of authors and readers of romance, from the sweetest to the hottest is a big deal for me. I feel like I’m part of something very special and it really feels wonderful.

Okay, now I’m done with my gushing. Thank you all for listening. And please bear in mind that it is 4.30 on the morning so if I don’t make sense in this post it is to be expected.


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Monday, 19 February 2007

Pancake Tuesday

Hi everyone, I'm off for a spa break tomorrow with my sister so we had Pancake Tuesday today on Monday. And boy was it good.

Do you guys in America have Pancake Tuesday the day before Ash Wednesday? I'm pretty sure the UK does.

So enjoy those pancakes everyone, I'm so full:)
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Saturday, 17 February 2007

Me and My Randomness

Well, my exams are over. I'm so relieved. I have a couple of reviews coming your way soon, a paranormal from Lara Adrian, and one of Cecelia Ahern's bestsellers too. And at the beginning of the week I began to write a book. And I'm surprised and pleased to sy that I'm really enjoying it so watcg this space.

Have a great weekend everyone!

And for fun take this test, I got 6 out of 11 . Think about the questions before you answer
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Thursday, 15 February 2007

Thursday Thirteen #3

Thirteen Things about Maria

My Thirteen Favourite Albums

1. Grace by Jeff Buckley

2. Stop The Clocks by Oasis

3. My Prerogative by Britney Spears (don't laugh)

4. Back To Basics by Christina Aguilera

5. The Chicago soundtrack

6. Disney's Greatest Hits

7. The Best of 1980-1990 by U2

8. Dangerously in Love by Beyonce

9. Survivor by Destiny's Child

10. The Marshall Mathers by Eminem

11. The Best of The Eagles

12. Coast to Coast by Westlife

13. Crush by Bon Jovi

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, 14 February 2007

It's Valentine's Day

Lauren Barnholdt is holding a contest to win an ARC of her new tween book, THE SECRET IDENTITY OF DEVON DELANEY -- and all you have to do is mention the contest on your blog to enter, and then email her at lauren (at) to let her know. You can find the details on her blog at

Happy Valentine's Day!:)

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Monday, 12 February 2007

'In Pursuit Of Anna' by Natasha Rostova

I have a love-hate relationship with Black Lace (the line of erotic novels, not the material). Black Lace has produced some really great erotic fiction for me, coming from the likes of Portia Da Costa and Kristina Lloyd who can always be counted on for fabulously decadent sex. But I have read some serious duds, one in particular recently that put me off Black Lace for months. This book, though choc-full with sex scenes, was the most unsexy book I had read in a long time.

So when I picked up ‘In Pursuit of Anna’ it was with a great deal of reluctance. But it was a good choice.

The tagline for Black Lace is ‘erotic fiction for women by women’. The books range from pure erotica (which I adore when it is well-written) to erotic romance, the category into which this book falls.

There are an assortment sexual liaisons in this book, at least one for every taste. The three central characters, are Derek, a bounty hunter, Freddie, his colleague and best friend, and Anna who Derek is tracking down for theft. Derek finds himself drawn to this pixie-like fugitive while Freddie is busy with her own new lover. Conflict arises between the two comrades, both of whom are convinced that the other is being taken for a fool.

Though it is not the primary focus for erotic fiction, characters are always of the essence. Derek is delectably sexy, tall, dark, well-built, hard hotness. Freddie is the tomboy complete with baseball cap with a penchant for lacy and silky underwear which drives Derek to distraction. She’s a natural beauty, curly hair, freckles, athletic figure. She’s ballsy, out to prove herself capable of the tough job that is bounty hunting. But she finds herself being overpowered by Derek’s concerns for her safety. Anna is a rebellious little minx, bisexual (there’s always one in Black Lace) and innocent of the charges that have been brought against her. She’s on the run to find evidence against her evil stepmother Cassandra to prove that she’s having an S&M fuelled affair behind Anna’s father’s back. All undemanding but likeable characters. Just what I’m seeking in my erotic fiction.

Now on to the eroticness (is that a word?). I have to give props to Ms.Rostova, she did a damn good job with the sex scenes. This being an erotic novel, sexual encounters are in abundance involving various people. Rostova managed to make it all seem so natural, nothing gratuitous about it. And this amazed me as it is rare that I read a novel of this genre where I don’t stumble upon at least one tumble in the hay that is mind-numbing. No, it was all very steamy and erotic. From the lesbian love to the extreme rear-slapping which involved Cassandra and her dominator.

I really wasn’t anticipating romance in this novel, but it came flowing between Derek and Freddie. A love that has gone unnoticed for quite some time. ‘In Pursuit of Anna’ follows the two of them as they come to terms with their mounting feelings for each other. And it’s sweet (yes, sweetness in a Black Lace novel). It’s also fiercely sexy too especially when it all comes to a head in the closing stages of the book.

Besides sex and romance, we get a look-see into the world of bounty hunting which I found very exciting. And as I’m writing this review I’m imagining Derek doing his job, taking down big bad men………ooohhh, it makes me shiver.

So I’m so pleased to say that Black Lace is has redeemed itself again and Natasha Rostova can join Kristina Lloyd and Portia Da Costa as the princesses of erotic fiction. If you’re looking for a little romance and adventure with your sex ( a lot of sex) go buy ‘In Pursuit of Anna’ here.

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Sunday, 11 February 2007

'Pride & Prejudice', the Ultimate Romance Movie

‘Pride & Prejudice’ is a classic tale, based on the timeless novel of the same name by Ms Jane Austen. It follows Elizabeth Bennett (Keira Knightley) and her sisters’ search for love, guided by their nuisance of a matchmaking mother (Brenda Blethyn) and their sensible father (Donald Sutherland). Elizabeth, against her better judgement, finds herself falling for the distant and stuck-up Mr.Darcy (Matthew MacFayden).

In my opinion, the casting for this movie was exceptionally clever. I thought Keira Knightley was born to play Elizabeth. Many people say that she was far too pretty for the role and that this took away from the movie but I disagree strongly. Knightley was made-up as plain as possible with dull, frizzy hair and no make-up. And at the time where ‘Pride & Prejudice’ is set, it wasn’t attractive to be flat-chested and skinny, unlike nowadays where size zero is accepted to be the norm. But anyway, pushing past appearance, Knightley does an excellent job in portraying Elizabeth Bennett. She’s ballsy, she speaks her mind, she reads, she is witty, Knightley plays Elizabeth just as how I imagined Elizabeth to be when I first picked up that wonderful novel.

Knightley’s character clashes with MacFayden’s Mr.Darcy exquisitely, creating waves upon waves of sexual tension that had me hooked from their very first scene together. I loved MacFayden’s take on Mr.Darcy, Aloof, self-important and endearingly awkward when in the presence of Elizabeth. I found myself daydreaming about MacFayden after seeing this movie. He was so magnetic. This is something that I can’t say for the BBC version. I know, I know, Colin Firth is very handsome. But he looks like my Dad. So you can see why that didn’t work for me.

I thought Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennett was pure genius on the part of the casting director. His quiet wit was the perfect tit for his wife’s meddling tat. Brenda Blethyn was hilarious in this movie. Her desperate efforts to find her daughters suitable husbands are misguided and cause only trouble and embarrassment for the family. Her lack of tact and her drama-queen antics had me in hysterics at times during the movie. Judi Dench as the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourg was fabulous as one can only expect from this legend. And Mr.Collins played by Tom Hollander provided some of the most scene-stealing performances in the film.

It is common knowledge that ‘Pride & Prejudice’ is the ultimate romance novel alongside ‘Wuthering Heights’. And after the tremendous success of the BBC’s production, this movie had to live up to some pretty high standards. Especially in terms of romance. Well, it sure as hell did it for me. I thought the chemistry between Knightley and MacFayden was positively electrifying. I so badly yearned to be Knightley during the scenes featuring only the two of them. The highlight of this movie for me was when Darcy and Elizabeth danced together, you could cut the sexual tension with a knife. Believe me, the movie is worth seeing for this scene alone.

Besides the fabulous cast and the delectable romance, ‘Pride & Prejudice’ can also boast some of the most stunning scenery I have seen in a movie. The English moors are so luscious and the quaint villages and the great manor houses are to die for. This film is beautifully shot, using tiny details like a hand movement to generate a startling effect. The soundtrack creates a charming atmosphere of old England especially during the dancing scenes. The music also contributes to the romantic ambiance which is vital to the success of this movie. This is most definitely a romantic comedy, the comedy being much more subtle than movies like ‘American Pie’. My tummy was aching with laughter when I finally stepped out of the movie theatre.

I guess you can say that I loved this movie and that it is ideal for a night in on Valentine’s Day.. So hop to your nearest DVD rental store and pick up a copy. You can find more details about ‘Pride & Prejudice’ here.

By the by, a little bit of trivia for you. The ending for ‘Pride & Prejudice’ is different for the UK. The viewers in US cinemas got to see the final kiss in front of the moon, while we in the UK and Ireland don’t get the scene at all.

Rating: 43/50
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Friday, 9 February 2007

Contest Update

It has been brought to my attention that I wasn't to clear in the contest post and sure enough when I checked back, I was even confused. So here is what I want you to do.

Fot the first contest, I want you to order a Susan Lewis novel. I'd recommend that you get the latest one 'A French Affair'. And when you receive your confirmation email, send a copy to me. Scroll down to the contest post to find links to where you can get Susan Lewis novels.

The prize for this contest is a couple of romance novels, a good bit of chocolate and some Valentine treats.

For the other contest, you can post on my blog, books that you would like me to review and why. That's all you have to do for this contest. And the prize for this contest is a Susan Lewis novel that I would love you to review when you have it read.

So that's it, two contests.
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Jill Monroe and Gena Showalter

Two great friends - Two February books!

This is the first time Gena Showalter and Jill Monroe
have books out at the same time!

Nymph King Hitting The Mark

For your paranormal taste, we have Valerian. Females young and old, beautiful and plain crave Valerian's touch. None can resist his blatant sensuality and potent allure…until he steals Shaye Holling from a Florida beach and holds her prisoner in his underwater kingdom.

And when you're ready to read something contemporary, there is Hitting The Mark. Danni's a woman with a little revenge on her mind. Romantic Times says Hitting The Mark is, "impossible to put down."

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'Sparkles' by Louise Bagshawe

I’ve read Louise Bagshawe for a few years now. I could always bank on her to produce a trashy, steamy, entertaining romp. So when she rediscovered her Catholicism and felt that she would no longer be comfortable writing her saucy sex scenes I thought well, that’s it, it’s over. Now don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy books without sex, but it would have to be a truly hilarious book a la Marian Keyes or an riveting crime novel like Lisa Gardner. But I decided to give Bagshawe’s new writing a shot and picked up a copy of ‘Monday’s Child’. And I didn’t like it. It was unbearably dull. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think I could even finish it. Naturally, I didn’t bother trundling through the follow-up ‘Tuesday’s Child’ as it looked like it would be just as boring. So when I found myself eying up Bagshawe’s latest offering ‘Sparkles’ I was slightly surprised. But I allowed myself to be swindled by the pretty cover and the back cover sounded like it was right up my alley so I went ahead and bought it.

And you know what?

It wasn’t half bad.

‘Sparkles’ is a book set in the beautiful city of Paris. Seven years ago Pierre Massot, the enigmatic head of one of the last great jewellery firms in Paris, vanished. Now his widow Sophie needs to finally move on and decide what to do with the family business. But she has enemies, ones she doesn’t even know about, who wish for her to tumble and fall. There is a scandal waiting to be exposed. What really happened to Pierre and what is the family secret he has so desperately tried to bury?

This was an easy read. Nothing too complex, a bit of glitz, glamour, mystery and romance. The plot focuses on Sophie and her efforts to distance herself from the past and Pierre. She finds herself getting involved with the very attractive Hugh Montfort. The problem is he is working for the company who are striving to take over House Massot. Lurking behind the scenes is Judy, the conniving ex-mistress of Pierre Massot, who is working herself to the bone, attempting to seduce Pierre’s son Tom. And then there is the question mark that is Pierre. What on earth happened to him? In a delicious climax at the end of ‘Sparkles’ the truth is unveiled. And I would say it a very satisfactory finale.

I wouldn’t label these characters as well-developed. They’re not. One-dimensional and clichéd are the terms that come to mind. And this in my opinion was a failing for this book because chick lit needs good characters. And besides that, Bagshawe has the skill to create decent characters so I want to know, what the hell happened here? Sophie was way too naïve for my taste. Even with something right under her nose she couldn’t smell the rat. Judy, the villain of the piece was probably my favourite character. She was smart and she had her own troubles. But preferring the villain to the heroin is never a good sign. There aren‘t any memorable personas in ’Sparkles’. Though while reading, Hugh was suitably sexy.

I love books set in France. I don’t know why, maybe because it adds such a glamorous quality to a book. No, glamorous is the wrong word. Maybe ‘cultured’. No, not that either. France gives an ‘international’ air to the book and the scenery in France is so beautiful, the countryside and the city of Paris too. The author can use the scenery to really involve the reader in a book. I don’t think Bagshawe uses this to the fullest advantage in ’Sparkles’ but nonetheless, it’s there.

I enjoyed the romance between Hugh and Sophie. It was sweet. Sophie had been controlled by Pierre from a very young age, she had never experienced other men. So being in Hugh’s company was virgin territory for her. But I didn’t feel any heat between them, no chemistry so it was hard to accept them as a bona fide couple.

All in all I did enjoy this book. It was a fun, no-brainer. Perfect for the beach or a lazy Sunday afternoon. But there are a lot of books in this genre that do it so much better. I would get this through your library unless you’re really desperate.

So if you’re desperate (that sounds horrible doesn’t it?) get ‘Sparkles’ here.

Rating: 21/50
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Thursday, 8 February 2007

Thursday Thirteen #2

Thirteen Things about Maria

Thirteen Things That Can Make Me Cry

1. Some movies like ‘The Lion King’, ‘Steel Magnolias’, ‘The Family Stone’, ‘Shrek’ (this makes me cry with laughter), ‘The Notebook’, ‘Forrest Gump’, ‘Stepmom’.

2. An animal in pain, especially when it’s a dog.

3. The song ‘The Blower’s Daughter’ by Damien Rice playing on the radio.

4. If I can’t get into my skinny jeans (sob!)

5. A generous and sweet gesture done for me out of the blue.

6. Christmas, when the family is all together, well-fed, and feeling nostalgic.

7. A tragic accident that kills a person or people before their time.

8. Peeling onions.

9. A fabulous novel that I mourn when I finish.

10. The death of a child, that’s really awful.

11. Those real-life heroic stories that are always on Oprah.

12. Anything even slightly upsetting when it’s that time of the month.

13. The last episode of Buffy, that hurt real bad.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, 7 February 2007

My First Contest

I am currently engrossed in Dark Lover by JR Ward so I don’t have any reviews for you. But I thought I’d offer a contest to you.

The prize will be a Valentine’s box of Cadbury’s chocolate, a couple of romance novels and a few lovey-dovey treats. What you have to do is order a Susan Lewis novel at Amazon or some on-line bookstore. I’d recommend Darkest Longings or A French Affair and send me a copy of your confirmation email at That’s all you have to do. And I promise it will be worth it because those two books are to die for.

And I’m also offering a Susan Lewis novel to someone who tells me in the comments section of this post what book by which authors you would like me to review and why. And there is something else you have to do. You have to review the book and write it on your blog or on Amazon etc. So what do you think?

I’ll draw the names for both contests on the last day of February
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Tuesday, 6 February 2007

'Saffron Skies' by Lesley Lokko

‘Saffron Skies’ is the follow-up to Lesley Lokko’s blockbuster debut ‘Sundowners‘. It focuses on Amber and Paola, the two daughters of self-made millionaire Max Sall. Amber is the ambitious, driven high-achiever determined to follow in her father’s footsteps and Paola has been groomed by her gold-digging mother to find a wealthy man to marry her. Although they are the polar opposites of one another, Paola and Amber have one thing in common. A fancy for Max’s associate Tende, a South African who works for the government.

This is a very well-written novel, some might call it ‘intelligent chick lit’ (let’s be clear, ‘some’ not ‘me’). The novel spans five decades, giving us Max’s history and his daughters’ futures. ‘Saffron Skies’ deals with some very serious topics. One of the main issues raised is racism, and the struggle that has been going on for years in South Africa. Lokko herself is a native of Ghana and she has a great understanding of the issue. I myself learned quite a lot about apartheid from this novel. There is also rape, abortion, incest, you name it, it’s here. And it’s all dealt with very well.

There is a very strong political feel to this book. It is clear that Lokko is trying to get a message across. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m intelligent enough to figure out what that message is. Or maybe I wasn’t in the frame of mind to read such a serious novel. I picked up ‘Saffron Skies’ thinking this would be an easy beach read, but what I found required much more concentration than I was prepared to give.

My favourite character in this book is Amber, and I think the author has set out to make it this way. She has had a lot to deal with growing up, a cold father and an alcoholic mother. She strives for perfection, she wants to be the best. She works hard, she is a good friend and she has sense, unlike Paola. She finds herself drawn to Tende, whom she meets at one of her father’s grand parties. They fall in love, much to the disgust of both Paola and Max. But it is a lovely relationship, and I enjoyed watching it develop. There is a considerable lack of chemistry between the two though, and for those of you who like your erotica, you won’t find it here.

Paola, like I said before, is the polar opposite of Amber. Her mother Francesca fell pregnant to Max while working as a stewardess. Max went on to divide his time between Italy and England, being the father of two families, though Paola knows that she is the one who’s illegitimate. Even though she is vain, spoilt and very selfish, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Paola. She hadn’t a chance of becoming a well-rounded human being. All she knew was a cold as ice father and a frighteningly selfish mother. So it isn’t any wonder that Paola’s life becomes one made up of mistakes.

Besides Amber and Paola, there is Madeline and Becky, her two childhood friends. Though, they don’t have as much room as Amber, they are well developed, likeable and they have their own issues to deal with. And I became very caught up with them, particularly Madeline.

Tende, although I liked him, was not the most developed character in this book. He was lost in the politics of ‘Saffron Skies’. Whenever we meet him, he is involved with something to do with the struggle in South Africa. So we don’t see much of him as one person.

I found Max to be a fascinating character. And quite sexy. He had the whole ruthless thing going on that I find quite appealing (maybe that’s something I should worry about). What I found so fascinating was that we as readers get to see the real Max. We get to see how he becomes the cold, ruthless millionaire that his family know. And I actually found myself sympathising with him. Like Paola, he didn’t really have a hope. After fleeing from Germany in 1939, the Jewish Max was left to seek work on the streets of London, dirt-poor and foreign. He soon learned what to do and what not to do to become accepted. And the things that he had to do required a very cold heart. Throughout the novel we are given glimpses of the man Max could have been, and these glimpses are what probably caused me the most upset in this novel.

‘Saffron Skies’ was a good read. Lokko does a fine job at narrating the story, the glamorous locations give the book an international feel, and it was very interesting. I only have a couple of complaints.

Though I liked the characters, I didn’t find myself sucked into their world, I didn’t become as involved in the story as I would have liked to be. I think this was because too much emphasis was placed on the issues raised instead of the characters. I was able to leave the book for days without going back to it and this is never a good sign.

Also, while reading ’Saffron Skies’ I felt that I was reading ’Sundowners’ all over again. Very similar themes are present in both books and I think in a few weeks time I will have trouble distinguishing between the two of them.

All in all a good book. If you are looking for a novel that will give you glamour along with something to think about, I suggest you pick up this book here.

Rating: 30/50
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Wasting Time

I got these through Amie Stewart, pop on over to Brain Bomb to do it yourself
1. Cigarette: cancer
2. Sex:yum
3. Relationship: over
4. Ex: hot
5. Power: money
6. Create: dream
7. Job: why
8. Food: stew
9. Type: words
10. Home: cosy
11. Care: nurse
12. Value: life
13. Eve: adam
14. Jest: circus
15. Religion: Rocks!
16. Thunder: Mountain
17. Fear: Hatred
18. Marriage: break-up
19. Back: Street
20. Spark: fire
21. Tear: water
22: Trust: good
23: Boredom: yuck
24. Inside: blood
25: Fire: burn
26. Game: playing
27: Soft: centres
28: Ice: cold
29: Hard: man
30: Because: I want to
31. Community: spirit
32. Wood: harvest
33. Theme: Shakespeare
34. Love: myself
35. Hate: everybody
36. Friendship:matters
37. Money: rich
38. Heartache: hurts
39. Lust: betrayal
40. Time: sucks
41. Divorce: new

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Countess Maria the Prickly of Mellow under Trollness
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

A fun waste of time.
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Sunday, 4 February 2007

Susan Lewis

What do you look for in a book?

Great characters, followed by a spanking good plot is what is essential for me.

So why are there so many authors out there that are so distinguished, when their writing isn’t that great? And why are there authors out there that are not well-known at all but their writing is pure genius?

Now I know that luck has to be a major factor in whether a book is published or not, especially for a first time author. And I also know that different books appeal to different people. But sometimes I’m so stunned at which authors are popular and which are not.

I have three auto-buy authors for me and they are all very different. .Susan Lewis who writes romantic thrillers, Alison Kent who writes erotic romance and romantic suspense, and JK Rowling (need I say more?)

Now, I think for all of us who love the romance genre, we are acquainted with Alison Kent and her seriously sexy books. You’d have to be living on another planet not to have heard of JK Rowling, creator of boy wizard Harry Potter.

But what about Susan Lewis?

Susan Lewis is a British author of outrageously brilliant romantic thrillers. I discovered her writing a couple of years ago when I picked up ‘Chasing Dreams’ at a book sale. As soon as I had the first chapter read I knew that I had discovered treasure, and after reading ‘Chasing Dreams’ straight through, I made an order on Amazon for a further three of her books. And within a year I had caught up on all of her paperbacks to date, that’s fifteen full-length novels in the space of twelve months. And I loved every single one of them.

Why do I adore these books so much?

Oh, there are so, so many reasons.

Firstly, the plotlines. Never, ever have I been able to predict how any one of her books will end. Never. And the various twists in her stories keep the reader captivated until the thrilling climax that is the end. And with every ending I have reached, I have mourned the book, wishing that I could wipe my memory clean, and start the whole reading process all over again.

In many of her books Lewis touches on very delicate subjects, like grief over a lost child, the after-effects of rape, and many others. But she handles them expertly, showing such great writing talents and a deep understanding of human nature.

Then there are her characters. I have never become so involved with characters like this with any other author’s books. I become the heroines, I feel every emotion that goes through them throughout the course of the novel. And when the book is finished, I feel as if I’ve been ripped in half, no exaggeration, and I without fail, have the book reread within a week.

Something I have to refer to when I’m talking about Susan Lewis is her men. Oh Lord, the men. The male heroes of Susan Lewis novels are the sexiest men I have ever read. Francois, Luc, Max, Chris, Jake, the list is endless. They are different, flawed, divine, they will leave you pining for them in the night, and wishing that somehow they could be made real. There is not a trace of stereotypical males in these books And I have to wonder where Lewis gets her inspiration for these godlike creatures. Does she know men like these (if she does I want to meet them), or are they figments of her imagination (let me in there Susan, please!)? Wherever they come from, they are as authentic to me as the people I work with, just a heck of a lot more desirable.

And then there is the fabulous language that is present in all of Lewis’ novels. She uses her way with words to conjure up images of the breathtaking scenery of the French countryside, traditional English townhouses, rustic cottages that transport you to the setting of the novel.

The relationships forged in each book become valid to the reader, the chemistry between the hero and heroine is always electrifying, the love scenes incredibly erotic. The romance in every novel sweeps you off your feet until you are as dizzy with love as the heroine.

What I really hope to get across to romance readers out there in this post, especially those who love a little plot with their sex, is to order a Susan Lewis novel here. Start with her newest triumph ‘A French Affair’, and then go on to her older ones like ‘Summer Madness‘, ‘Wildfire’, ‘Darkest Longings' or ‘Wicked Beauty’.

I really don’t think that there is a possibility of you being left disappointed, these books will only leave you with highly erotic dreams featuring the heroes (and nobody would turn away that now would they?).
These books are heart wrenchingly good so be kind to yourself and surf your way to Amazon, or you can order a Susan Lewis book through her website here.

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Saturday, 3 February 2007

'Tristan And Isolde'

I’ve been given so many contradicting opinions of ‘Tristan & Isolde‘. This is a movie that appeals to some romance lovers and a movie that others would rather die than watch again. So a night in with my sister gave me the chance to see for myself.

Set in Medieval Times, ‘Tristan & Isolde’ is a take on the ongoing feud between Britannia, made up of Scotland, Wales and England, and the kingdom of Ireland. At this time, Ireland has the upper hand, as Britannia is divided between the three tribes. After a particularly ferocious battle, Tristan (James Franco), a warrior for the leader of England Marke (Rufus Sewell), and considered his son is wounded and presumed dead. The daughter of the Irish king, Isolde (Sophia Myles), finds him on a beach on the East Coast of Ireland. She nurses him back to health and the more time the two spend together, the deeper they fall in love. The danger for Tristan to stay in Ireland is too great so the pair are forced to say farewell. Soon after Tristan returns home Britannia decides finally to unite against Ireland.The Irish King Donncha offers Isolde as a peace offering to Marke. Tristan and Isolde then embark on an affair behind the English King’s back, betraying the man who loves them both more than anyone else in the world.

‘Tristan & Isolde’ is a movie that could have worked. The plot, though not very original, is quite strong. I don’t know how accurate this movie is in terms of Irish and British history as I’m no expert, but this movie does give an insight into the ancient traditions of Britannia and Ireland. In those times honour and duty to your king were more important than anything else, kings would promise their daughters to other kings, one man killing another was an everyday part of life. It’s almost shocking to think that people once lived that way.

This movie is shot beautifully. The director(Kevin Reynolds) captures the darkness of the Middle Ages. I don’t know whether it was shot in Ireland, England, Scotland or Wales but wherever, the scenery makes a very effective backdrop for ‘Tristan & Isolde’. I also loved the ceremonies that take place. The wedding between Isolde and her king is beautifully done, the funeral of Isolde’s mother is wonderfully traditional, the coronation of Isolde and king is awe-inducing. If nothing else, ‘Tristan and Isolde’ is visually stunning.

Considering how much violence there is in ‘Tristan & Isolde’, there is a noticeable lack of gore, so this movie won’t turn your stomach. And the battle scenes are very effective, not that I know much about battle scenes. There are a few cheap laughs thrown in too, most provided by Isolde’s maid Bragnae(Bronagh Gallagher)and her strong Irish accent (anything said in this accent sounds hilarious).

The big let down for me was the love story. I didn’t like it. I didn’t feel the passion between Tristan and Isolde, I was left cold by every kiss they shared. At the beginning I thought James Franco would be perfect in the role of Tristan, but it soon became clear that he didn’t have the skills to make an audience feel his love for Isolde. Or maybe there really was no chemistry between the two actors. Myles is fine in the role of Isolde, just fine, not great.

And the king was so nice, so good, that I was angry at Tristan and Isolde for betraying him. At the end of the movie, I was empathising with the king, not the young lovers. This, I think shows how much ‘Tristan & Isolde’ failed for me. This movie was supposed to be an epic love story. But half way through I wanted them to finish whatever it was they had, and for Isolde to fall in love with the king. Because, to be honest, I much preferred Sewell as the king than Franco as Tristan. And the ending of this movie should have made me bawl my eyes out, but instead I blew out a sigh of relief and went to find my copy of ‘Shrek’.

I’m not saying that this is a bad movie, it was watchable as far as I’m concerned, so rent yourself a copy and make up your own mind.

Rating: 20/50

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Friday, 2 February 2007

'The Perfect Stranger' by Alison Kent

I am a big Alison Kent fan. So you can imagine my sheer delight when I opened a package yesterday to find an ARC of ‘The Perfect Stranger’ inside (I was jumping up and down like an insane kangaroo and screeching like a banshee). Now I have only been acquainted with the Brava line over the internet for about a year now as it is not available in most bookstores here (we Irish are so deprived). So seeing as the first few books in Kent’s SG-5 series are currently en route from Amazon, I decide to wait until I had those read before I opened ‘The Perfect Stranger’. That didn’t work. At about midnight last night, I switched on my light and began to read, not stopping until I had the last page read.

The hero of ‘The Perfect Stranger’ is Jack Briggs, a pilot working for the Smithson Engineering crew on their project on the South American island of San Torisco. They are building a road through the mountains of this dictatorship, whose ruler, Carlos Sabastiano, is not as peaceful as he would like people to think. Jack is kidnapped by a World Relief Team leader, Jillian Endicott, who is on a recon mission which requires a pilot. Together they embark on a trek through the jungle of San Torisco, facing various dangerous obstacles along the way to the point where Jack can fly Jillian and her cargo to safety.

‘The Perfect Stranger’ was littered with good points for me but I’ll try to keep the gushing to a minimum.

First off, the plot. Fantastic! ‘The Perfect Stranger’ is a romantic suspense, and there are so many twists and turns that make it the best romantic suspense I’ve read in a while. I was kept on the edge of my seat (well, bed) throughout this book. And every surprise Kent through at me while I was reading contributed to what a great book this is. There was great flow in ‘The Perfect Stranger’. It never occurred to me to stop reading because the pace was fast, and the author kept me entranced. None of the twists seemed out of place or contrived or ridiculous. I was swept along for the ride.

Besides the suspense there was humour. Humour in the way Jillian would get ones over on Jack, humour in their banter, the witty replies. Humour in the situations Jack got himself into (especially with his clothes off). And it did provide some much-needed light relief in what is prominently a serious novel

It is clear that Kent did her research for this book. San Torisco is fictional, of course, but the issues raised in the book like political corruption and the ancient traditions like Voodoo ceremonies are the same as those of so many South American dictatorships. I was transported to San Torisco while reading. I could taste the heat, feel my arms brushing aside the foliage, I felt as if I myself was present at the captivating Voodoo ceremony. The author’s description of the San Torisco jungle was so vivid that now all I really want to do is take a trip out to South America and get lost in one of the magnificent jungles.

When you pick up any Alison Kent novel you are always guaranteed three things, one of which is real characters. Something which I found even in her Harlequin novels is real characters. They’re not perfect. They have pasts. They sweat, they urinate, they make mistakes. And I always think this all makes for a stronger book. This is certainly the case is ‘The Perfect Stranger’. Jack has a past. He lost his wife and son in a terrible accident. And when they were alive he wasn’t the perfect husband and father. He can be insensitive towards Jillian, and he can be stubborn too. And I found him irresistible for it.

I seem to be on a roll with great heroines at the moment because I loved Jillian too. She’s a strong, independent woman, which is the description given for heroines in many other authors’ books, but in this case Jillian proves it. She gets herself and Jack out of some pretty sticky situations in the book including escaping from a Voodoo cult. She deals with some of her demons head on, one in particular which many women would rather die than face. It gave me a great respect for Jillian. She has responsibilities as a mother and as a World Relief Team worker. She has to keep her child safe and she does this to the best of her abilities. Of course she makes bad decisions and she’s just as stubborn and insensitive as Jack. But I was still on her side, praying that everything would work out right for her.

Besides great characters, Alison Kent always provides great sexual chemistry and steaming hot sex. The chemistry between Jack and Jillian is there from the very beginning, even before Jack has laid eyes on Jillian’s form. The two have an immediate connection. The quick-witted banter they engage in is full of underlying sexual tension. And try as they might to avoid it, Jack and Jillian finally give in, and I felt the relief that they felt.

Even in Kent’s Harlequin romance novels, she has always pushed the boundaries when it comes to sex. The love scenes are always that bit spicier that those in her fellow authors’ books, the passion that bit more raw. I’m guessing that Brava gives a little more room for sexual exploration as the sex in ‘The Perfect Stranger’ is hotter than I can say, much more basic than other romance novels. You wouldn’t want to read this book in a public place, you could be arrested. What I really loved was that the author doesn’t try to pretty it up. The sex is what it is. She uses coarse language to describe the acts making it all seem more, yes I’m using that word again, real. None of the sex scenes seem to be gratuitous, which shows the skill of Alison Kent as making sex scenes in erotic romance not seem gratuitous is tough. The sex is fundamental in the developing relationship between Jack and Jillian. The scenes show how much Jillian trusts Jack, and how much Jack wants to give her.

And the sex is vital in showing that these two really are falling in love. Their desperation to be together, to be as close as possible is so evident. My heart broke for them as they knew how impractical it was for them to be together, what with their work and Jillian’s son. I became so involved in their relationship, and prayed that Kent would find some way for them to be.

In terms of bad points I would have to say none. None. None. None.

I loved this book. And I can’t wait until I read the rest of the series and then reread this again. ‘The Perfect Stranger’ had everything I look for in a book and I became so involved with the characters that I think they’ll be on my mind for some time to come.

Please do yourself a favour and pre-order this book here now here. Come April, you will be very happy.

Rating: 44/50 (highest so far!)

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Okay, I saw on Helen Kay's blog yesterday two different books with very similar covers. And some people were complaining that this can be very confusing. Well the two books above are two chicklit novels. I've read both of them. I read Jaye Carroll's first a couple of years ago. Then, last year, I picked up Bagshawe's book and thought 'Hey, I've seen you before'. But after reading the back cover blurb I knew I hadn't read it. So as I was going to pay for it I stopped in my tracks. On one of the top shelves I saw Carroll's book. The same cover except different colours. And I thought to myself, wow, I never knew that could happen.

So any thoughts?

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Thursday, 1 February 2007

Thursday Thirteen #1

Thirteen Things about YOUR NAME

1….My middle name is Angela but I'm far from angelic.

2. I cannot sleep unless my dog is lying on top of my legs(and so I wake up having no feeling from the waste down.)

3. I do not function unless I have at least 50g of Cadbury's chocolate in my stomach by 11am.

4. My favourite tv character is and always will be Angel/Angelus from Buffy.

5. The first romance novel I read was Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff will always be my hero.

6. There is nothing I like better than watching and rewatching Pride and Prejudice(BBC version) with my sister and a large bowl of popcorn on a Friday night.

7. I eat, sleep and breathe romance novels, in all genres.

8. I spend a very unhealthy amount of time on the internet.

9. I actually like cabbage.

10. I am obsessed with celebrity gossip, yes I know I'm a fool.

11. Oprah Winfrey rocks my world.

12. I hate anything that even closely resembles pressure.

13. I am going to make a career out of dog-walkingLinks to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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