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Category Archives: For Fun

Bang Goes a Troll – An Awfully Beastly Business (series)

An Awfully Beastly Business

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  An Awfully Beastly Business Book 3
     Bang Goes a Troll
The Beastly Boys –
David Sinden, Matthew Morgan,
Guy Macdonald
Youth/YA Fiction/Pg 208
Ages 8+ – Grades 3+
ISBN: 1416986510
ISBN: 978-1416986515

www.beastlybusiness.com

Aladdin/Simon & Schuster Children’s

 

Xtra’s: listen2book Listen to an audio clip

  
The Beastly Boys, a trio of 30 something writers otherwise known as Matthew Morgan, David Sinden and Guy Macdonald, put their heads together to create a fun, highly imaginative series that’s centered around very real issues. Bang Goes a Troll is the third book in The Awfully Beastly Business series. In the first two installments we were introduced to the main characters, each with reoccurring roles in subsequent books. The cast includes an orphaned werewolf, rescued by Dr. Fielding the RSPCB’s Vet, a fairy, a 15 foot gentle giant, a gargoyle, a twisted face villain and several others. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Beasts (RSPCB) is a worldwide organization dedicated to the welfare and protection of rare and endangered beasts and is the center of the series.

Dragons, ogres and fairies …Oh My!

Part fantasy, but playing on reality, Bang Goes A Troll pits our favorite werewolf, Ulf against an evil, beast hunter that’s trapping trolls to use for sport hunting. The RSPCB is much like our ASPCA and numerous wildlife protection groups, with their main goal being the protection and survival of these fantastical creatures. Ulf’s heart is in the right place, but will he be able to save the trolls?

Although part of a series, you can read this book without having read the previous installments. However, the stories are quite fun, so, if you enjoy this one, by all means pick up the other books…you’ll be glad you did! * Simple storyline, interesting creatures, plus some snot and other grossities…put it all together and the result is a book that younger readers can enjoy independently – especially boys, age 8-10.


Happy Reading!

Beastly Event – Activity Pack ..CLICK HERE

Book 4 - The Jungle Vampire 
An Awfully Beastly Business Book 4
      The Jungle Vampire
The Beastly Boys –
David Sinden, Matthew Morgan,
Guy Macdonald

ISBN-10: 1416986529
ISBN-13: 9781416986522
Ages: 8 – 12  | Grades: 3 – 7

www.beastlybusiness.com

Aladdin/Simon & Schuster Children’s

Click HereClick here to listen to a clip to listen to an audio clip

As with previous installments, Ulf and his friends at the RSPCB are forced to go toe to toe with the evil Baron Marackai. Even though the participants are the same, the situation which brings them together is different in each book. (I would liken it to many of our favorite cartoons and TV shows from yesterday – Sylvester is always after Tweety, the Coyote is forever more chasing the Roadrunner and both pursuers fall short every time and pay tremendous prices for their chase and yet, the very next episode, they are at it again!) It is this same type of simple, quick storyline, loaded with action, interesting characters and real world issues that are easy to relate too that make An Awfully Beastly Business a good solid read.

Most of the dialogue takes place in the jungle, where the whole gang is equally involved in the story. (Well, almost, there’s one character we see briefly at the beginning and then again at the end.) Ulf has been invited, as part of his official training, to accompany the other members of the RSPCB, as the journey deep into the jungle in search of the elusive, mythical vampire. Of course, the teams nemesis is never far away, and this time he’s much closer than anyone realizes. Why track and search when he can simply follow the RSPCB team right to the vampire’s den?

Will Baron Marackai kill the legendary creature? Or will the team discover his presence and save the vampire?

Happy Reading!

**Book 5 – Battle of the Zombies is scheduled for 2010 release – ***

Meet the Characters –

Ulf - orphaned werewolf raised at Farraway Hall.. (The full moon causes strange changes!)  Ulf is an orphaned werewolf, raised at Farraway Hall. Dr. Fielding,
the RSPCB veteran, rescued him over ten years ago when he was a
small werecub. On the night of the full moon, Ulf undergoes a complete
physical transformation from boy to wolf. He is brave and kind, and
his best friend is Tiana the fairy. He helps care for the beasts at the
RSPCB, and even assists Orson the giant and Dr. Fielding with mucking
out the enclosures and performing beastly operations.

Tiana (the fairy)- Ulf's best friend, afraid of ghosts & seein blood grosses her out!

Tiana is a woodland fairy, the size of a dandelion, with clothes made from
petals and stitched with spiders’ silk. She lives with other fairies in the
Dark Forest just beyond the paddock at Farraway Hall. She’s mischievous
and fun and sparkles as she flies. You’ll often find her in the flower
garden at Farraway Hall, collecting nectar. She’s Ulf’s best friend, and
even though she is a little scared of ghosts and doesn’t like the sight
of blood, she’ll do anything to help him.

 

Orson - gentle giant, RSPCB's resident beast handler.

Orson is a 15-foot tall mountain giant, who came to Farraway Hall when
he was made homeless in the wild (giant habitats are shrinking). He is
strong  but gentle, and works as the RSPCB’s beast handler. He’s too
tall to live in  the house, so he sleeps in the feed store on a mound of
grain. He wears baggy trousers made from a ship’s sails and drinks his
tea from a bucket. After a hard day’s work, there’s nothing Orson
likes more than a barrel of apples followed by a snooze

Dr Helen Fielding - Vet, expert pilot, mountain climber & scuba diver!

Dr. Helen Fielding is the RSPCB veteran. She has degrees in cryptozoology
and veterinary medicine. She is an exceptional pilot, mountain climber and
scuba diver. She performs all the medical operations at Farraway Hall, as
well as monitoring beast activity in the wild and promoting conservation
campaigns worldwide. She has written scientific papers on griffin flu,
the conductive properties of electrodactyls and the causes of cavern
fever,  as well as patenting an anesthetic mask for larger-beaked beasts.

 

Druce- a gargoyle that can turn from stone to flesh.

Druce is a gargoyle and can turn from stone to flesh. He has a long yellow
tongue and feeds largely on insects. He lives on the rooftop of Farraway Hall,
and gets into mischief, scuttling down drainpipes, peering in windows,
and blowing raspberries to passers-by. He took up residence on Farraway
Hall soon after it was built, and many years ago he knew Professor Farraway.
Druce likes to scare with his ugly faces and nasty rhymes, but he is very
good-hearted and fiercely loyal to the RSPCB.

The Late -Professor Farraway

Professor Farraway was the world’s first cryptozoologist and founder of
the RSPCB. He dedicated his life to the protection of rare and endangered
beasts, studying them in their natural habitats, pioneering veterinary
procedures, and campaigning for beasts to be protected by law. Farraway
Hall was once his family home, and although he has been dead for many
years, his portrait still hangs in the library. When Professor Farraway
died, he left everything he owned to the RSPCB, but there are dark
secrets that prevented him from resting in peace!

 

 

Baron Marackai - villainous beast hunter!
Baron Marackai is the most villainous beast hunter in the world.
He is evil, with a face as twisted as a rotten apple core, and he’s
out to get revenge! He has a vendetta against the RSPCB and a
deep dark secret that he holds in his cold heart. He hates beasts,
and would rather exploit them through acts of cruelty than
protect them from harm. Together with his henchmen Blud
and Bone, his plan is to send the RSPCB to their doom!

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Danny the Dragon by Tina Turbin (children’s)

MEET DANNY THE DRAGON …..
What a wonderful new children’s series, from author Tina Turbin!

Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy (Hardcover)

Danny the Dragon
Meets Jimmy
by Tina Turbin

ISBN: 0980072115
ISBN: 978-0980072112
Age 4-8 / Pg 32

Imagination Publishing Group

www.dannythedragon.com

**Best Book Award Finalist**


What a wonderful story! You will love Danny the Dragon!

This hardcover children’s book is the first in a new series from author Tina Turbin. The first thing you will notice when you pick up Danny The Dragon is that this is an oversized book, allowing for large, detailed images. I was pleasantly surprised by the thicker pages, because popular books in our house tend to be well worn, rather quickly – the publisher seems to have recognized and taken this fact into account when putting this book together. The artwork is amazing, for example, Jimmy has large expressive eyes and freckles, most kids can easily and quickly relate to this character. In the story Jimmy finds a very, very special shell at the beach – the shell TALKS! But like Alvin and Chimpmunks, when the shell is put on display infront of Jimmy’s family, it remains silent. Jimmy takes the shell home and it doesn’t take long for the star of the series to make himself known – Danny the Dragon lives inside the shell. Oh, along with his traveling sidekick – Skipper.

This is a children’s adventure tale that sparks imagination, and entertains through a combination of visual imagery and excellent story telling.  Focusing on politeness, manners and friendship, Danny the Dragon reminds me of the “good old fashioned story books” my Mom read to me years ago. These are important building blocks for children and unfortunately these kinds of stories are becoming a rare find. We are certainly looking forward to the next installments of Danny the Dragon and will be reading and sharing each one with you. This book will be on our bedside table for a while – If you are searching for a new book to share with your little one – I highly recommend Danny the Dragon.

Danny the Dragon "Dreams" Audio CDDanny the Dragon
“Dreams

audio CD – 50 mins

ISBN: 0980072131
ISBN: 978-0980072136
Age 4-8
Imagination Publishing Group

www.dannythedragon.com

**Best Books Award Finalist**
Story time – then it is off to Dreams – If you have a fussy sleeper, this CD may be the answer you are looking for!

Danny the Dragon “Dreams” – is a delightful Audio CD – The first chapter opens with the story, Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy read by Janice Welch. The narrator does a wonderful job of utilizing her voice to express the emotion of the story…the excitement, fun and curious nature of both Jimmy and Danny the Dragon are translated brilliantly. This story harkens back to a “safer” time – when politeness, manners and friendship were key ingredients in building character. Beautifully done and a must have for every parent that can’t be there to read a story every night. This audio CD packs a one two punch – a good story that is followed by 10 chapters of soothing piano led pieces that are an ideal bedtime treat. (With the last chapter being Danny the Dragon’s Theme Song.) There’s nothing stirring or jolting within the musical arrangements, making it the perfect CD to lull your little one of to Dream land.

DVD available April 13, 2010

Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy - DVDDanny the Dragon
Meets Jimmy

DVD  – 21mins

ISBN: B0033G9OBO
Age 4-8
Imagination Publishing Group

www.dannythedragon.com

Available everywhere on April 13, 2010 – Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy takes the 32page hardcover book and puts it on the screen with narration and sign language for the hearing impaired. This is a wonderful DVD for those with hearing impairments – unfortunately there’s a limited amount of children’s stories that offer sign language and I congratulate the author, Tina Turbin, for taking the initiative and adapting this delightful children’s story, so that it can truly be enjoyed by all kids.

In the story we are introduced to Jimmy and his family. They spend a day at the beach, where Jimmy finds a beautiful sea shell…and this isn’t just any ol’ shell… it Talks! Of course, when he shows it to his family the shell is absolutely quiet. After taking the shell home, Jimmy discovers that it really is special…a dragon lives inside. Danny the Dragon and his worldly-wise travel companion Skipper share some amazing tales of their travels with Jimmy. And with this being the first installment in a new series, there’s lots to look forward too.

Visit Danny the Dragon's Website

Pick up your copy of:
Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy – hardcover
Danny the Dragon “Dreams” – Audio CD
Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy – DVD


Reviewer Note:

Big thank yous to author, Tina Turbin and her assistant, Rosie for the opportunity to share Danny the Dragon with my family, and now with you our visitors! What a delightful series – we have read the book several times – it has already earned a spot in the backpack and on the bedside table. Keeping the attention of a curious, rambunctious four year old is no easy feat, however, the images (both on screen with the DVD and the large, beautiful pictures in the book) kept him still…and asking questions and pointing out various objects. For those who worry about hidden agendas in children’s stories – there’s no need for concern with Danny the Dragon – this is a straight forward imaginary tale of friendship, with a healthy dose of manners that’s presented so subtly your child doesn’t realize they are actually “learning.”

Be sure to visit Danny’s website and friend

Danny the Dragon at Facebook & MySpace

Visit Danny the Dragon's Website
Danny the Dragon BLOG

Danny the Dragon @ MySpace
Danny the Dragon @Facebook

http://TinaTurbin.com

cover art courtesy of Imagination Publishing Group and author, Tina Turbin

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Tales from Outer Suburbia (YA)

tales-by-shaun-tan-0545055873

Tales from Outer Suburbia
Shaun Tan
Young Adult, 96 pages
ISBN: 0545055873
ISBN 13: 978-0545055871
Arthur A. Levine Books
http://www.arthuralevinebooks.com

http://www.shauntan.net

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Shaun Tan would have won the lottery with his new book! Following the success of Tan’s 2007 hit, The Arrival, he is sure to awe fan with “Tales from Outer Suburbia.” And all without a single wizard, no spells or incantations and very few words. This collection of fifteen seemingly random illustrations, doodles and extravagant collages is something beautiful, emotionally riveting and morally uplifting…for those who take a moment, slow down and genuinely peruse the pages. With stories like “Grandpa’s Journey,“ “missiles in the backyard” and “the buffalo sitting in a vacant lot,“ the images express what at first appears erratic and silly, but looking deeper reveals that there is a great deal hidden in plain sight. The true genius is how the book conveys something different to each individual that reads it. What the person takes away from this reading experience may well depend on what they brought with them when they opened the book. Images, both alluring and hauntingly serious combine to create a stunning, incredibly unique book.

I would definitely reserve this particular selection for those 12+, as younger kids may be confused by the imagery. This is a wonderful book to share with your child – the added guidance and opportunity to explain various points, not to mention the quality time together, are priceless. And hearing your child’s interpretation of the scenes is often humorous, revealing and quite touching. As always parents should utilize their own judgment, when choosing material, because you know your child better than anyone.

Happy Reading!
-RJ
3Rs Reading Den

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Earthly Pleasures by Karen Neches

Readers should be prepared for an experience like no other…Earthly Pleasures is a little taste of paradise, right here on earth!   8)

Earthly Pleasures
Karen Neches
Fiction/320 pages
Simon & Schuster; 1 edition
8)
ISBN-10: 0743292480
ISBN-13: 978-0743292481
www.simonschuster.com

www.karenneches.com

Karen Neches’ new novel, Earthly Pleasures is a light, fun read that is filled equal amounts of humor and heart.  At the conclusion of this wonderful novel readers are left to hope that the eternal forever place will be as lovely, fun filled and exciting as Neches’ brilliantly designed and thoroughly developed fictional paradise.

As the story begins we are introduced to Skye Sebring, a greeter in Heaven’s Hospitality Division. Her assignment is to help Earths recently departed through the transition. Meaning, she meets and greets all the newcomers, takes them on a tour of their new ‘home’ and answers their questions. While the main objective of Skye’s fellow angels is to return to Earth, Skye is quite content to remain right here in Heaven.

That is until the day a motorcycle accident brings Ryan Blaine to Heaven. Son of a former president, attorney, star of Heaven’s reality show Earthly Pleasures, Blaine is popular, handsome and engaged. Skye is immediately taken in by Ryan, so when he is jolted back to his physical body on Earth she becomes almost obsessed with the show and with finding a way to be with Ryan. There was something between them…he appeared to know her…how could she remind him of someone? Skye was a ‘new soul,’ she had never been on Earth or had she?

The story takes off from the first chapter and soars right through to the conclusion. There are techno-gadgets that have their basis in reality, but Neches has souped them up. There’s a little of everything, but not so much of any one thing that it over-powers or detracts from the main theme. Well written, fleshed out and delivered with a passionate voice that commands the readers full attention. Earthly Pleasures will tickle your funny bone and touch your heart with a cast of clever characters carefully navigating multiple story lines that co-mingle perfectly to keep you guessing, wishing and hoping. Karen Neches has penned a truly original story that is absolutely brilliant in its’ creative simplicity. Delivering an interesting novel that maintains its’ entertainment level from beginning to end, allows readers to pass the time quietly turning pages…a pleasure, that to a book-lover, sure feels a lot like Heaven.I will be keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel.

Happy Reading!
   – RJ

 

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CYOA – Volume One

golden-path-book-1.jpg
Golden Path Volume 1
Into the Hollow Earth

by Anson Montgomery
Youth Adventure/Fiction
ISBN 10: 1933390816
ISBN 13: 978-1933390819
Chooseco *(CYOA)

Some may find it hard to imagine how, with a printed book, the reader can actively participate in the adventure…but it’s true. The popular Choose Your Own Adventure has been revamped, re-energized and relaunched, to the utter delight of parents and young adults everywhere. With this ingenious series, the reader has the opportunity to make multiple choices throughout the novel, which changes the plot twists, the characters that you will meet and at what stage you will interact with each. The right choices will lead you, as one of the main characters, into a secret world that exists beneath the Earth’s crust.

As one of the main characters, you (the reader) are, quite literally caught up in the action and your choices effect the other characters and the progression of the story. The Golden Path: Volume One opens with an interesting, scientific prologue, which sets the tone for the scenery, ideologies and difficulties that the people in author Anson Montgomery’s future face on a daily basis. The first chapter opens with a scene every student can relate too…three friends, in the library, studying for a big exam. And through the creative imagination of CYOA, you (the reader), are one of the three. The heart of the story revolves around your parents archaeological dig at Carlsbad, New Mexico and a very odd shard of pottery your friend Peter found outside the dig site. Convinced the artifact once belonged to a culture that predates the American Indians and utilizing the individual talents of each of your friends, the three of you receive special permission from your teacher to work together on the AP History project. It’s true that history effects the future, but you and your friends had no idea how that piece of pottery would devastate your present and put your future in jeopardy.

When you receive a frightening, cryptic email from your Mom, sent from a dead letter drop, you are given the first of many choices…do you follow the instructions from your Mom or go to New York City? Of course your selection will alter the story’s progression, as will each of the decisions you make throughout the adventure. What began as a quest to find your missing parents, quickly spins into a web of questions, that has government officials hot on your trail and could well be the difference between life and death for you all.

Choose Your Own Adventure is an entertaining adventure series that engages reader, however, flipping back and forth, skipping numerous chapters only to go back to them later may be confusing for younger readers. A mix of ancient history, futuristic adventure, scientific learning and creative imagination, woven around three best friends who must use their individual strengths to solve problems together. Utilizing age appropriate narrative, the book deals with family issues, friendships, loss, jealousy, grief and ultimately survival, understanding and healing. I would recommend this book (*& the series) to children who enjoy a book that doesn’t fit the normal definition of “book.” The characters are believable, with just enough futuristic karma to grab the attention of today’s high-tech kids. With four story lines developed to move from Volume One to Volume Two, your individual choices play-out before your eyes. I think parents should be made aware that it is necessary to purchase both volumes, because without the second volume some “choices” are not available, thus changing the outcome. With the website, more information should be available and it allows the kids to participate in activities related to the stories. Definitely worth reading, a solid 3.5 and destined to get better with each new installment.

Happy Reading!
-RJ

 

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Wife In the Fast Lane by Karen Quinn

wife-in-the-fast-lane-by-karen-quinn.jpg 

Wife In the Fast Lane
by Karen Quinn
Fiction/448 pages
Touchstone (a division of Simon & Schuster)
ISBN 10: 0743293967
ISBN 13: 978-0743293969
www.simonsays.com

www.wifeinthefastlane.com 

 Ever wondered what it would be like to have it all? Of course, we all have…Karen Quinn’s novel, “Wife In the Fast Lane” provides a front row, often harried view of the glamorous life, that to the average person seems far-fetched and outlandish, at best. Quinn invites us to sit back, relax and see the world from the platinum side of the coin for a few hours. Christy Hayes knows the meaning of hard work and dedication, however, winning two Olympic gold medals did not prepare her for the cut-throat world of commerce. As founder and acting CEO of Baby G, an athletic shoe company, Christy needed to reinvent herself to look the part. Following the advice of her best friend and Baby G’s second in command, Katherine, she moves to an apartment, with the “right address,” a new wardrobe and haircut complete the transformation from athlete to successful athletic company owner. Well, superficially anyway…Christy is a beautiful, strong woman, but her lack of education and inexperience force her to rely on Katherine more and more.

Christy joins countless high profile, money makers and trend setters in Davos, Switzerland. Famous for hosting the annual World Economic Forum and global political and business elites, she looks forward to rubbing elbows with and learning the secrets of successful CEO’s. Christy is a fish out of water and finds herself star-struck at every juncture, especially with the gorgeous, media mogul, Michael Drummond. An evening of talk and sipping champagne and it is obvious Christy is in love. This whirlwind marriage creates a corporate power couple that would make others green with envy. Even with help at home from Maria, Christy’s maid and dear friend, she is unable to keep up with the demands of being CEO. So, she unwittingly turns the reigns over to her best friend, which plays right into Katherine’s diabolical plan to oust Christy from Baby G.

When Maria dies unexpectedly, Christy honors her friends’ last wish and adopts her 11 year old granddaughter, Renata. She soon discovers that cut-throat, backstabbing isn’t confined to the executive board room, there’s trouble brewing everywhere… It seems a newspaper reporter wants to have more than her eyes on Michael and the PTA leader of the private school where Christy enrolled Renata is bordering on psychotic.

From the Upper East Side of Manhattan to the luxurious village of St. Tropez, to the resorts of Aspen and Davos, readers will journey to glamorous locales, meet outrageous characters and laugh out loud more than once. Although the central theme is balanced atop a heap of coincidences which may be difficult for some, this is a good read, with light, quick wit, a few shadowy characters to add just enough shadiness to have you cheering for Christy and talking aloud, as you try to warn her of things to come. So, if you’re reading this one on a plane, subway or train don’t be surprised if, from time to time you catch the other passengers looking at you quizzically…You would do the same if the person in the seat next to you was having a conversation with their book.   🙂

I recommend “Wife In the Fast Lane” to anyone who enjoys a book that’s simply a lot of fun to read! Quinn’s quiet style and evocative characters delivers a truly distinctive reading experience. With only two novels to her credit readers are in for a real treat as she hones her craft and continues to develop that extra special something that defines a novel as a Karen Quinn original. I am on board for the long ride and anxiously await her next novel!

Happy Reading!
 -RJ Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Play & Learn: 1001 fun activities for your baby & child

1001 Fun Activities For Your Baby and Child
Play & Learn
1001 fun activities for your baby and child
Dr. Roni Cohen Leiderman
Dr. Wendy Masi
ISBN 10: 1554700337
ISBN 13: 978-1554700332
Key Porter Books
www.keyporter.com

“Learn through play with Gymboree books”

Play & Learn concentrates on key areas of development through age appropriate activities which enhance motor skills, problem solving, coordination, language skills and encourage individual creativity and imagination. 1001 activities for children from birth to age five provides ideas for parents to connect with their children at every stage, helps build a strong sense of self and fosters a positive attitude towards learning.

The first thing I noticed was the sturdy cover, the colorful tab-style layout, with the age clearly marked on the center tab, which makes finding the exact section you’re looking for a breeze. The book is filled with gorgeous pictures of children at every stage, brilliant art work and lots and lots of color. At the beginning of each age change (0+, 3mo+, 6mo+, etc.) the authors have written an introduction page that includes a set of four milestones, displayed in color-coded boxes, giving parents a heads-up on what to expect as your little one reaches important and life-changing milestones.

Some of the activities include, recording your child’s favorite book on tape, making and decorating gingerbread cookies to enjoy while reading the story, playing footsie and the time tested trick to stop restaurant melt-downs, Mr. Fork and Ms. Spoon. The book is jam-packed with simple but ingenious ideas that help parents amuse and entertain even the fussiest child. With no preparation needed, using everyday household items, or sometimes just the sound of your own voice, these activities will enrich your relationship with your children and provide years of priceless memories.

This is an excellent tool for parents and caregivers, that I highly recommend. Loaded with fun activities that make life a little bit easier for tired parents and lots of fun for curious, energetic little ones.

Happy Reading!
-RJ
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