Book Review: Life of the Party: Poems by Olivia Gatwood

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I’m a good girl, bad girl, dream girl, sad girl

Release Date: August 20, 2019

Order on Amazon

Publisher: Dial Press

Price: $11.90 (paperback)

Plot Summary:

Lauded for the power of her writing and having attracted an online fan base of millions for her extraordinary spoken-word performances, Olivia Gatwood now weaves together her own coming-of-age with an investigation into our culture’s romanticization of violence against women. At times blistering and riotous, at times soulful and exuberant, Life of the Party explores the boundary between what is real and what is imagined in a life saturated with fear. Gatwood asks, How does a girl grow into a woman in a world racked by violence? Where is the line between perpetrator and victim? In precise, searing language, she illustrates how what happens to our bodies can make us who we are.

Grade: A

Review:

Gatewood’s poetry collection is part memoir and partly inspired by True Crime. In each poem, she explores the meaning of becoming a woman and how men react to this sudden change from girlhood to womanhood. She also has an obsession with mistrusting men and believing that a man is going to kill her. Although, to be honest, what woman hasn’t thought about being killed by a man before? With the way True Crime depicts young girls and women always being victims of rape and murder, it’s no wonder that we grow up with this incessant paranoia. Her fear is very relatable if you’re a woman living pretty much anywhere in the world. Men abusing and killing women is a worldwide crisis and one that has only worsened over the years.

“Maybe I am tired
of hearing people talk about the murder
of girls like it is both beautiful
and out of the ordinary.”
-My Grandmother Asks Why I Don’t Trust Men

Gatewood explores the dark realms of her fears and tries to give voice to them through her poignant poetry. These poems are honest, raw, and sometimes quite dark. I recommend this book for all you that prefer your poetry to have a certain edge to is, but if you’re easily triggered then this collection won’t be for you.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Dial Press for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Review: Mario Badescu Dermonectin Eye Cream

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So I’ve been dealing with some serious itchiness on my eyelids since May. I thought that maybe it was an allergic reaction to something new so I stopped using any of the newer products, and still so no relief. I invested in Aquaphor and it soothed my problem for a few days, till it came back up. I’ve been Googling possible skin conditions, and finally, at the end of May, it became so unbearable that I made an appointment with my eye doc to find out what it is that’s been causing this itchiness.

Fast forward to July when I finally have my eye appointment only to find out that my doc can’t prescribe any eye creams, only eye drops. He didn’t think I needed eye drops. By then the rest of the month was consumed by ongoing dentist appointments for a root canal that I couldn’t fit in a derm appointment. SO….yet again I tried to self-medicate and just wanted a very nourishing eye cream that could help curb the itchiness as well as be non-allergic. So that’s how I ended up purchasing said eye cream.

Packaging: Simple and sleek

What It Is: Super hydrating Eye Cream for extremely dry skin

Active Ingredients: Vitamins A & E, with a special blend of vegetable, peanut, and coconut oils

Verdict: Emollient, soothing, and rich are three words to describe this cream. It feels very refreshing and moisturizing the moment you apply it, and for my recent condition, it even soothes the itching and doesn’t burn (which seems to be the norm with most creams right now). Did it stop the itchiness? Not entirely, but that’s not what this cream is designed for. Did it provide incredible moisture and calm the dryness? Yes, it sure did! I really recommend this eye cream if you’re looking for something that’s rich and intensely hydrating (it will quench any dry skin’s thirst for moisture). I’ll probably be repurchasing this eye cream again, whilst I still try to figure out exactly what it up with my odd skin condition (at least it’s not unsightly, just a tad bit bothersome).

Price: $18

Where To Buy It: Amazon

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Lionel Richie: Hello Tour Review

When I was proposed to go see Lionel Richie, I knew that I had to seize this opportunity to see a living legend perform live. For the younger generation he may be known for being the father of Nicole & Sofia Richie and recently as judge of American Idol, but for the older generation, the four-time Grammy Ward Winner was the soundtrack of their dancing youth and makeout sessions.

I don’t watch American Idol, so I only know Richie for his music, but the performance at the Santa Barbara Bowl proved that he not only can sing but is a mighty funny showman too (he could’ve had a whole other career in stand-up comedy, the man is hilarious!). At 70, Richie still commands the stage and can work the crow like very few performers can.

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With iconic hits like Penny Lover, Say You, Say Me, and Easy, the crowd couldn’t help but relive happy memories linked to those songs. By the time he belted out Dancing on the Ceiling and Stuck On, the audience was heated up to dance like it was 1977. And if you ever wondered if women in their sixties and seventies can still bust out some crazy moves, then let me assure you that they can and then some!

By the time the evening came to a close, I knew that the king of glittery jackets would be back for an encore, when the only song he hadn’t sung from his Greatest Hits was All Night Long. And sure enough, the charming crooner returned to give the crow just what they had been waiting for. And for one night, we all felt that we could’ve danced all night if given the chance.

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Poetry: Kissing Asphalt

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Photo courtesy of arhiva.dalje.com

The clouds are coming down low.

I don’t know where I’m going to go.

The rock star ran off with my soul.

He wants it because it makes him feel less alone.

I’m kissing asphalt tonight.

But I should be kissing you.

Why do you keep on stalking me?

Writing songs about me?

Phantom lover who adores to creep

And peers from afar when I weep,

Has come prepared to take me out

With only a simple stroke of his mouth.

I’m kissing asphalt tonight.

But I should be kissing you.

My blood’s all over the frigid sheets

Highway 95 has tasted my flesh.

I’m going down on you and I’m not coming (up)

My naked skin timidly peels,

As the wounds turn into scars unhealed.

I’m kissing asphalt tonight.

But I should be kissing you.

He spoke of love, passion, and soulmates.

Of easy girls that never cry.

But he never spoke of Zura,

The girl who almost died.

I’m kissing asphalt tonight.

But I should be kissing you.

I’m kissing asphalt tonight.

And it’s as bittersweet as you.

*

Did you enjoy this poem? You can find this poem and many others in Bleed Like Me: Poems for the Broken

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Book Review: She’s the Worst by Lauren Spieller

worst

One Day. Two Sisters. All the Feelings.

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Pre-Order on Amazon

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Price: $18.99 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

Sisters April and Jenn haven’t been close in years. Jenn’s too busy with school, the family antique shop, and her boyfriend, and April would rather play soccer and hang out with the boy next door.

But when April notices her older sister is sad about staying home for college, she decides to do something about it. The girls set off to revive a pact they made as kids: spend an epic day exploring the greatest hits of their childhood and all that Los Angeles has to offer.

Then April learns that Jenn has been keeping a secret that could rip their family—and their feuding parents—apart. With only one day to set things right, the sisters must decide if their relationship is worth saving, or if the truth will tear them apart for good.

Grade: A

Review:

After weeks of reading very dark books, I decided that I needed something a little more light-hearted (meaning no deaths, destruction, gore, or overall chaos). Being an only child, I’ve always daydreamed about having siblings, and so I was very excited to read a book that focused on the relationship of these two very different sisters, overachiever Jenn, and sporty April.

Another reason why I was drawn to this book is that it takes place in Los Angeles, and it promised a road trip through the city so these sisters could reignite their bond. Living in the Los Angeles area myself, I liked to see what memorable places these girls would go to and if I had been to them myself. First off, I wasn’t aware that there were actual canals at Venice Beach, despite having been there many times (mostly at the boardwalk and beach area), so next time I’m there I’ll have to check that out.

What I enjoyed a lot about this book is that it did provide me the levity I needed, but that’s not to say that this book is fluff, cause it isn’t. This book very realistically portrays a family dynamics and the guilt you feel to try to keep your parents from killing each other when fighting (I probably related to Jenn’s referee role between her two parents a bit too much).

It was interesting to see how two sisters that used to be very close began to drift apart as they got older to the point that they no longer feel like they can even be friends. But the book explores ways how sometimes all you need is to find reasons why you loved that sibling in the first place and how it takes that first step to want to bridge the gap to have a good relationship again.

Everything and anything you can imagine does occur during this 24-hr. Span (the whole book takes place in just one day), and although it’s not a book that deals with mysteries, there are still several surprises that spring up that you didn’t imagine would. That’s to say that, this is a page-turner despite it not being a thriller. There are secrets that are kept hidden and revealed major life-changing decisions that take place.

I recommend this book if you’re into some light reading or love romantic comedies/sister bonding books. Because this novel has it all, especially a ton of feels.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Launching: Nox Girl Cosmetics!

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Shades Ophelia & Juliet pictured above.

My love of beauty products is no big secret if you follow my blog and look at the many beauty product reviews I have written, or if you know me personally and see the staggering amount of cosmetics I’ve accumulated over the years. And since I cannot beat my cosmetics addiction, I’ve decided that the next best thing would be to join them. How you may ask? By launching my very own line of cosmetics!

This idea came to me a few years ago but I had trouble executing it right away for various reasons (funding, finding the right lab, etc.). Recently, I found a lab in Canada that will make my products in the way that I envisioned them to be, high quality, cruelty-free, and vegan.

Why vegan?

Well, the main difference between vegan and traditional makeup is the use of animal by-products which are never used in vegan cosmetics. A common side effect and bonus to vegan products is that they are often gentler and safer all around, not only leaving out animal products but also toxic chemicals, parabens, gluten-containing products, and heavy metals.

I know there’s a ton of beauty brands out on the market and there’s a new one coming out of the woodworks every day, so you may wonder, what makes Nox Girl Cosmetics stand out? First of all, all my items will be LIMITED EDITION, meaning that every few months I will be selling a certain number of cosmetics that will encompass a theme. And since my other great love right next to cosmetics is books, each limited edition products will be inspired by literary characters.

For my launch, I decided to go with a classic, Shakespearean heroines. The ones I selected were some of my faves, and creating liquid lipsticks inspired by them was so much fun!

So without further ado, allow me to present you the amazing shades:

 

Tamora (taken from Titus Queen of the Goths) $20

Tamora is a berry-purple matte shade. The character is strong and bold and you can let your inner queen shine through with this imperious shade.

 

Ophelia (taken from Hamlet) $20

Critics believe that Ophelia is weak because she goes mad and drowns herself in a brook, but the truth is, she’s not afraid to stand up against the patriarchy, letting her brother know that he shouldn’t chide her to be chaste when he isn’t and how she hates the double standard that exists.

This shade is a pale peach with mandarin hues. Ophelia is sweet, but she’s no pushover, and if in the end, she cracks, it’s the patriarchal society and crazy boyfriend that are to blame, not her. That’s why this colour is both light but bold. Your lips will be sure to stand out in the crowd.

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Swatches of Ophelia & Juliet 

 

Juliet (taken from Romeo & Juliet) $20

Juliet is a rose pink shade. The character of Juliet is a hopeless romantic (who isn’t at the age of 14?) and I wanted this shade to reflect the excitement and intensity of first love.

 

Titania (taken from Midsummer Night’s Dream) $23

She’s Queen of the faeries, and what better way to celebrate this beautiful creature than to create a shade of nude-glittery lipgloss? It’s the perfect lightweight non-sticky lip gloss formula that will have you unleashing some serious faery vibes.

 

Lady Macbeth (taken from Macbeth) $20

It’s due to Lady Macbeth’s brutal ambition to become Queen, that leads Macbeth to murder the current king while he’s visiting his home. And although she’s viewed as a villain, no one can negate how badass and progressive she is for her time. What better way to celebrate her boldness than to imagine her wearing this blood-red shade? Choose this crimson lipstick if you want to channel a true leader (albeit a ruthless one).

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Swatches of Tamora & Titania

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Midsummer Night’s Dream Eyeshadow Palette $30

Creating a palette is difficult, especially when you’re trying to create a cohesive look. When creating these shades I tried to envision what someone like Titania would wear, and that made me decide to go with various shades of green. Because nothing shouts woodland faery like these ethereal shades.

You can shop these shades for a limited time at the Nox Girl Cosmetics Shop! These shades will be available till the end of September. In October I’ll be launching new shades (I’ll give you a hint, they’re going to be inspired by famous vampires).

*There’s international shipping for all your orders!

I’m also looking for some influencers (within the U.S & Canada for now) to receive some samples for reviews. If you’re interested please contact me with your platform info (blog or Instagram account).

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Shades Tamora & Titania pictured above 

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Book Review: Love, Heather by Laurie Petrou

love heather

What you see isn’t always what you get.

Release Date: October 8, 2019

Pre-Order on Amazon

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Price: 18.99 (paperback)

Plot Summary:

Stevie never meant for things to go this far. When she and Dee–defiant, bold, indestructible Dee–started all this, there was a purpose to their acts of vengeance: to put the bullies of Woepine High School back in their place. And three months ago, Stevie believed they deserved it. Once her best friend turned on her, the rest of the school followed. Stevie was alone and unprotected with a target on her back. Online, it was worse.

It was Dee’s idea to get them all back with a few clever pranks, signing each act Love, Heather–an homage to her favorite 80’s revenge flick. Despite herself, Stevie can’t help getting caught up in the payback, reveling in every minute of suffering. And for a while, it works: it seems the meek have inherited the school.

But when anonymous students begin joining in, punishing perceived slights with increasingly violent ferocity, the line between villain and vigilante begins to blur. As friends turn on each other and the administration scrambles to regain control, it becomes clear: whatever Dee and Stevie started has gained a mind–and teeth–of its own. And when it finally swallows them whole, one will reemerge changed, with a plan for one final, terrifying act of revenge.

Grade: C+

Review:

I really enjoyed the first 85% of this book so very much as it detailed the school life of Stevie who is on the verge of entering one of the popular cliques at school with her best friend Lottie when she makes a faux pas, and even her best friend of many years disowns her. That’s when the bullying begins. This is a very timely book as it discusses trans, transphobia, bullying, and school shootings. The book excelled in making teens sound like teens and having Stevie deal with bullying in a very realistic way for teens today (both in school and online).

But everything changes for Stevie when she befriends the loner, Dee who encourages her to rise up against the bullies and exact revenge. Soon, other kids are taking notice and the popular clique is getting what they deserve, although the author does explore the premise of the grey area where sometimes revenge becomes another form of bullying.

For anyone who has watched teen revenge movies ala Mean Girls, Heathers, and Carrie, you’ll love this book and cheer for our cinephile protagonist Stevie and Dee as they defy the high school hierarchy. My only issue with the book was that it got way too preachy towards the end of it. The message it was trying to convey was an important one, but it somehow sounded more like an after school special and so it took me out of the story.

I’m also confused by the fact that everyone keeps referring to this book as a thriller. First of all, we all know who started the Love, Heather revenge and nobody dies (I’m pretty sure there should be murder for a book to be considered a thriller, or at least a threat of murder, but that’s just me). Secondly, I’m getting really fed up with the plot twists for all books lately seem to be some form of mental illness. Mental illness shouldn’t be a plot twist, that’s just lazy writing! And lastly, Stevie never takes revenge on the one person that totally deserved it the whole time! Sure, they try to embarrass said person, but they never truly pay for their wrongdoings and that pisses me off when it’s a book about revenge.

I did enjoy the book a lot up to the plot twist and ending. The book is a page-turner because you do want to find out what is going to happen next, but all that climax for such a poor plot twist that was NEVER referenced in the conclusion since the protagonist conveniently decided not to mention it to anyone is what turned me off at the end. Which is sad, because I would’ve ranked this book higher had the last portion of the novel been better or more satisfying.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Throwback Thursday: Andreas Johnson – Glorious

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1998-1999 was a golden age for music. Or at least I thought it was, seeing that many of my favourite bands came out with albums those two years that I not only loved but defined me, such as Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals, Garbage’s 2.0, Hole’s Celebrity Skin, and Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Californication, just to name a few.

During that time I had also become a big fan Swedish singers, and Andreas Johnson came out with a song and music video that was absolutely thrilling, called Glorious.

The song was catchy from the very beginning and like most Swedes, Andreas Johnson was quite the eye candy (especially for all of us teenage girls). Now, the music video wasn’t crazily original (as it just showed him performing the song on some stage upon another stage and then in a bedroom in the company of a model-looking girl). Despite it not being a video that screamed with originality, there was something very sexual and sexy about the beautiful couple making out on a bed at that looked like to be dawn (maybe they had spent the whole night partying or they met at a club?) only to fall upon the bed in a shower of silver glitter. Back then, I was in full mode glam-mania (Manson had ditched his goth guise for feather boas and platforms as Omega in Mechanical Albums and the movie Velvet Goldmine was set in 1970’s London, heyday of glam rock had just been released). This was the time I used to wear glitter liner and star rhinestones at the corner of my right eye. I’m telling you, we were much cooler than the emo crowd.

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I can’t recall when it was the last time I had listened to this song but surely it was around 1999-2000 timeframe, because if you were living in Italy at the time (as I was), there was no way you didn’t her this song on the radio at least four times a day. The music video was in heavy rotation on MTV Italy too. So, watching the video and listening to the song almost twenty years later I discovered that the song is still hella catchy today, and you can’t help but be intrigued by the opening lyrics when Johnson croons, “Here she comes with a masterplan, and I’m starting to lose control.” Mind you, we never get to know what this masterplan is unless it’s referring to her seducing him (maybe?). And even two decades later, falling upon a bed of silver glitter still seems thrilling (forget rose petals! Rolling around in glitter that evoke stars is my fantasy!).

The song doesn’t sound dated to me (maybe cause it’s a love song), although I suppose the music video could be seen a bit dated. But honestly, it’s still way more exciting than videos most artists are releasing nowadays (the death of MTV as a music channel brought death to the music videos).

Glorious was an all-out fun, sexy song that sticks with you far longer than you think it should. Maybe because we’ve all fantasized about meeting a sexy stranger at a club to end with a dawn filled with passionate glitter sex. No? Just me?

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Review: Beauty Bakerie Lip Whips

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With the cutest packaging in the beauty industry (I mean really, all of their products look delicious and cute!) that someone like Marie Antoinette would adore (it’s no coincidence that one of their Lip Whips is named Versailles). I’ve been dying to try this brand for a while now.

So when they had their 4th of July sale, I decided to bite the bullet and order me some summer lippie shades.

The first shade I tried out was Take Me For Pomegranate. I did love how the colour looked on me, but upon my first application, I wasn’t crazy how drying it felt on my lips. As the day wore on, the liquid lipstick started to crack, which meant I had to reapply. By the time I went on a date with my fiance that same night, the lipstick was ultra grainy-like on my lips and migrating to the top of my gums (not cute, especially when your guy thinks your gums are bleeding).

So if I’m going to wear this shade again, it’d only be for a few hours and won’t attempt to wear it the whole day as I often do with my liquid lipsticks.

The second shade I ordered was Cherry Flambe. Again, the colour is gorgeous. Now, I don’t know if there’s a difference in formula (because sometimes there are liquid lipsticks that are matte or satin), but this one wasn’t so drying. And this shade didn’t crack not did it get grainy by the end of the day. Being that it was a red shade, I was afraid that it might bleed as the day wore on. Thankfully, it didn’t. The shade did kinda fade towards the middle of my lips by the afternoon, but that’s nothing a quick reapply couldn’t fix.

Overall, for the price (they normally retail for $20 a pop), these Lip Whips don’t deliver. It really saddens me to write this, because I truly wanted to love these products (again, cute packaging and wanted to support the amazing cancer survivor and CEO, Cashmere Nicole), but as far as the Lip Whips go, I was sadly not impressed at all. Sure, they won’t smudge if you eat or drink, but cracked colour isn’t a pretty sight.

I would be curious to try out some of their other products, but as far as their Lip Whips go, I won’t be ordering any others in the future.

Price: $20

Where To Buy It: https://www.beautybakerie.com

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Book Review: Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

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When I wake up, all my friends are dead.

Release date: March 12, 2019

Order On Amazon

Price: $13.28 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there.

The pills do more than take away pain; they make her feel good.

With a new circle of friends—fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill—Mickey finds peaceful acceptance, and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue.

But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.

Grade: A

Review:

I’ll admit it. I am a little biased when it comes to Mindy McGinnis. Ever since I read The Female of the Species, I’ve been hooked on her writing. I love that she’s willing to tackle difficult subjects like rape culture, mental illness, or in this case opioid addiction. McGinnis’ writing is raw, direct, and not for the faint of heart. Things get gritty in her novels, and Heroine is one of her grittiest yet.

What makes this novel stand out from her previous ones is that her protagonist Mickey could be any teenager in America right now. Mickey doesn’t fall into addiction because of befriending the wrong crowd, peer pressure, or any of the past reasons why teens often found themselves dabbling in drugs. No, Mickey becomes an addict due to a car accident that requires her to have a serious surgery and her doctor later prescribes OxyContin to her.

At first Mickey ups her dosage because she’s in too much pain but still wants to perform like she did because of her car accident in her Softball position. She feels like she not only owes to herself, but her teammates, coach, and parents to get well soon and return to being the unbeatable Mickey Catalan. Only thing is, she soon discovers that OxyContin not only does it make her not feel the pain but it also chases away all of her social anxiety. Soon, Mickey is relying on the drugs more for her emotional well being than a physical need.

As a reader, although from the very beginning we know that it’s going to end very tragically for Mickey and her friends, we’re lulled into a strange sense of security, almost like the writing itself works like a drug. We, like Mickey, believe that the drugs will only help her, but it’s a slippery slope from performing like she used to, to becoming a full-fledged addict who has violent withdrawals anytime she has to do without her dose. The withdrawals are as gritty as they could possibly get.

McGinnis is never preachy in her books, she merely lays out the story’s events in a way that chronicles what someone in that position would possibly go through. And that’s what makes it the most terrifying because anyone of us could be Mickey, and anyone of us could befall Mickey’s fate.

This is a raw book about a timely crisis (with overdoses being the nation’s leading cause of death in the United States right now), I think it’s a book that any teen or adult could benefit from reading. But let me warn you, this journey isn’t a pretty one at all. But a highly educational one.

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