My Life

Christmas Songs Book Tag

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Yeah, I’m very aware that I kind of just went ghost for the last few days but life exhausted me and so I just took a step back and tried to regroup and I also hit another wall when it came to writing yet another book review so I just decided to stop trying to write it and look at it later.

I’m still not looking at it today, I was going to and then I got tagged in this post and so here we are. With yet another tag post, that I am pretty sure I’ve never done, but honestly cannot remember and didn’t check. Even if I have I guarantee the answers are different now.

1. “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch”

Name a villainous character you couldn’t help but love.

Is Malfoy supposed to be a villain? Because I am kinda part of his defence squad (within reason).

2. “All I Want for Christmas is You”

Which book to you most hope to see under your Christmas tree?

For reasons, the main one being that I am running out of places to put books in my house, I have not so much as hinted at any books that I may want, so there most likely won’t be any. Also I can’t even think of a single book that I actually want at the moment.

3. “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”

Name a character that overcomes major obstacles and learns to believe in themselves.

Spent a while thinking baout this one but 100% Lou from Me Before You – She completely starts to believe in her ablities as a person by the end of the book.

4. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”

a) Which character do you think would be on the top of the naughty list?

Ummmmmm, I just watched the Ready Player One trailer and so it has put this guy back at the forefront of my mind, Sorrento.

b) Which character do you think would be at the top of the nice list?

Hermione Granger. For no reason other than the fact that I love her and she is my literary everything.

5. “Frosty the Snowman”

Which book just melts your heart.

Real talk, I am pretty much the Ice Queen, it takes a lot to make me feel things when it comes to literature. I honestly cannot think of a single book that melts my heart in anyway…is that bad? I’m racking my brain and coming up short.

6. “Feliz Navidad”

Choose a book that takes place in a country other than your own.

Almost every book I read…seriously there aren’t that many books that I read that are set in London (more specifically the UK, I guess, but I live in a London bubble).

7. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

Which holiday themed book do you use to spread the Christmas joy?

I think I have read one holiday themed book and it was My True Love Gave to Me. So that I guess, because it’s all I have.

8. “Sleigh Ride”

Which fictional character would you choose to spend the holidays with (doesn’t have to be a love interest!)

Ron Weasley. Although I say that tentatively actually, because I’ve just remembered that that family is fucking huge and I do not come from a large family. I don’t know if I could do that…

9. “Baby it’s Cold Outside”

Which book that you didn’t like would you sacrifice to a fire to warm yourself up in the cold?

Moby Dick. Have I even finished that book yet? No, I have not. I will do it one day, but the half that I have read I cannot stand. I mean seriously. It’s also quite long, it would burn for a while too.

10. “Do you hear what I hear”

Which book do you think everyone should read?

We all know where this going right…The Night CircusAmerican Gods or The Book Thief. There, I’ve given you options.

One day I will do a book tag post that doesn’t mention a lot of the usual suspects. I don’t know when that will be, but it will happen…

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Books, Reading Challenge

2018 Reading List – The Beginnings

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And so we have reached the final day of the month, which can only mean one thing:

I go into full on Christmas mode from tomorrow. Kind of.

I’m weirdly feeling more festive this year than I ever have before like the Ice Queen is melting or some shit. I don’t know what to do with it. It might be because life has gotten super stressful these past few weeks and I’m seeking solace in the festive cheer.

But anyway, to round out this bookish month I’m going to start talking about next year’s reading list. I’ve still got 5 books left to read this year and there are officially less than 5 weeks left of the year so I really need to get a move on there. However the other day I found myself slowly starting to piece together 2018’s reading list…because the TBR list is never done. In fact it just gets longer.

Every day it gets longer.

This list isn’t fully formed because for the most part I’m just currently looking at the books that I actually possess and if I think about it too much then I focus on it too much and then the fear sets in because like I said, this year’s hasn’t finished yet, and yet I’m thinking about all the possibilities for the future. It all gets a bit too much.

But the list has been slightly formed and this is where we are at:

1) The Red Queen, Victoria Aveyard – Look, this was on my list anyway, but I bought it when I did because I stumbled across a display of it and they were all gorgeous special editions that I felt compelled to buy. And so I did.

2) London Fields, Martin Amis – I’ve already said why I bought this, and therefore it has to be on the list because otherwise the purchase will have been pointless.

3) The Girl of Ink and Stars, Kiran Millwood Hargrave – Again, I bought this on a whim, so I gotta read it.

4) Fight Cub, Chuch Palahniuk – I am actually quite looking forward to reading this book.

5) A Darker Shade of Magic, VE Schwab – Again, I am quite looking forward to reading this, I love me a fantasy book.

6) Shockaholic, Carrie Fisher – I’m so reluctant to read this because I feel like getting involved with Fisher is gonna make me emo, but also I really wanna get in there.

7) Postcards From he Edge, Carrie Fisher –  I am just gonna go on a Fisher thing next year I can sense it. These are just the ones that I own, there are still 5 more out there.

8) Big Little Lies, Lianne Moriarty – I’ve obviously seen the TV adaptation and so it was inevitable that I was going to  read the book.

9) The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood –  This book has been on my list for years and it was finally handed to me by R after she finished reading it in August sometime, so the time will finally be upon us.

10) the princess saves herself in this one, amanda lovelace – I really do need to read more poetry. And this is currently the only one that I have.

11) The Uncommon Type, Tom Hanks – I 100% bought this because it was signed by Tom Hanks and also because I was intrigued by what his style of writing would be like.

12) The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafron – This book was gifted to me by someone at work and they said that they lost a whole day reading it and that they thought I would like it. It’s gonna be an early read I think because they are interested in what I think about it.

13) Throne of Glass, Sarah J Maas – I do not own this book, but I do have the 5th one and well I’ve gotta start somewhere with this to justify that ridiculous purchase (I’ve mentioned this before…it’s signed.)

14) All That She Can See, Carrie Hope Fletcher – I was a bit undecided on her first novel but I’ve read the first couple of chapters and I am intrigued by the concept, so I’m looking forward to cracking this open.

15) The Little Friend, Donna Tartt – I have loved her other two books and I am so excited by this one just because I love her style of writing.

16) Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert – I’m gonna give in to the hype and read this book. I got  pretty edition and everything.

17) Caraval, Stephanie Garber – This has literally only just physically entered my life. I forgot that I pre-ordered the paperback version of it because I did it months ago and well, the publication date has just swung on around.

18) Now I Rise, Kiersten White – I am so excited to read this sequel, I loved the first book so damn much and I cannot wait to get back to Lada and Radu.

19) Godsgrave, Jay Kristoff  – Same as above. I need Mia and her world back in my life.

20) Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen – I’m gonna give this another try. It’s time.

21) The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck – Again, it’s also time to give this another try.

And that’s it so far. And these are just the books that I currently own. I haven’t even really thought about the ones that I don’t currently, but want to. Like the rest of the Lunar Chronicles series, the Miss Peregrine series, any of the books that are on that TBR list and that Unread list that is what started this whole mess. These are just the ones physically available to me at the drop of a hat. And I have a few books on pre-order already for next year. And it’s all just too much.

There’s just a lot of books…

Help.

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Books, My Life

Changing Attitudes to Literature

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I wrote this title and then nothing else, leaving present me to try and figure out what the fuck the brainwave was that prompted this title. I think I’ve figured it out though.

Or maybe I haven’t and past me is hella pissed at present me for doing this to her post.

Basically I think what I was banging on about was how the way that I view literature has changed.

I used to be very limited in terms of what books I would be willing to read and I kind of didn’t move away from that. I hung about in the YA section for years, and still do, but I only really went with authors that I trusted and stuck with topics that I kind of felt safe with. I read many a variation of teenagers falling in love. I considered Hunger Games a real step out of the box.

I was comfortable in that.

And then I did A Level English and I kind of had to force myself to read a bit differently. Find books related to one topic (one year war, the other year love. One year was reeaalllll cheery…) and then read them so I had a better chance at doing well in the exam. I had to read a lot of classics that I never even would have considered. I read a lot more poetry then I ever have before. I started looking at literature with a more critical eye.

And then I had the crazy idea to do a degree in it and that came with it’s own reading lists as well. And meant that I had to widen my horizons even further. I had to read a lot of books that I never even thought of reading before, at one point I had a whole week that was all about Chick Lit which was just never on my radar. It opened me up to a whole new variety of books that I would have just passed whenever I went into a Waterstones.

Once it became apparent that I had opened the floodgates then a whole bunch of new genres were open to me and then everything got stressful. Because now I have soooo many books to choose from and I want to read everything. And the list just seems to get longer and longer each day.

But on the other hand, there are still books and genres that haven’t been able to win me over completely yet. Like historical fiction for the most part. There are some areas of fantasy and sci-fi that are a bit too sci-fi-y for me and something that I can’t quite mesh with yet. I also don’t do horror. Yet. I mean I wanna read IT so I feel like that might change.

Basically I have stopped writing off genres because I realised throughout the latter stages of my education that I was limiting so much potentially good literature. I was missing out on potentially finding my new favourite book. Like The Night Circus. That book very much fucks with fantasy and yet it could have been something that I never read because the extent of my dalliance with that was just Harry Potter. Same goes for The Bone Season. Or The Graces. In fact I’m going to stop listing all the potential books that I could have missed out on because I could go on for a while.

It also meant that I didn’t limit myself to sticking to genres so much anymore. I’m in my mid-20’s and yet I will always spend an equal amount of time in the YA section as I do the ‘adult’. I am drawn to covers in a big and I rarely read blurbs anymore. I like the surprise of going into a new book. For the most part these days I don’t even truly register what section of the bookshop I’m in. I just pick up a book, judge it by its cover and then sometimes fall hard and fast in love with it.

This very much only applies to novels at the moment. My relationship with poetry is relatively minimal and the only plays that I really get involved with are written by Shakespeare and then you can chuck in the odd Pinter play too. So, that’s something that I am consciously trying to introduce into my reading habits because I know that I am missing on some great stuff there.

Like I said, it’s kind of horrifying having so many options because I’m terrible with options, but it’s also great because I have so many options.

I’ve questioned quite a bit whether an English degree was the right move for me for countless reasons, but the one thing that I am thankful for is that it forced me out of my old reading habits and introduced me to new things and it instilled a greater want to dive further into some genres and to really try an unearth my new favourite book.

What about you? Has the books that you’ve been drawn changed a lot over the years?

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2017 Reading Challenge, Book 46 – Freedom

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I’ve finally reached reached the point where I went ‘right on track’ for my reading challenge for the first time all year because those two weeks out of my regularly scheduled programming took me slightly off course. However, I feel kind of confident that I’ve got a good enough plan in place right now that I can still get this done…

Anyway, the next book in question is:

2017 Reading Challenge, Book 46, Freedom
2017 Reading Challenge, Book 46, Freedom

I tried reading this book earlier this  year but it was just too much for me and so I think I switched to something kind of light and fluffier. But of all the books that I had left this was the one that spoke to me loudest and I went in with a slight worry that this would just send me straight into a reading slump which is what happened the first time.

Luckily it didn’t. In fact it had me hooked right away this time. And held onto me until it came to an end.

The story itself is split into 5 parts as it were. All in 3rd person, although two parts are a slightly skewed 3rd person and those are the parts that intrigued me the most. The autobiographies of Patty. One because they were told in the 3rd person and that threw me slightly because I kept forgetting that it was her version of events. In fact it took me until I was nearly finished the first section of her autobiography that I remembered that she was writing about herself. It was a really interesting take on the genre as a whole. And it was the point where I really got invested with this book.

The whole notion of this book is basically, funnily enough, about freedom and what it means to have it. The way that it affects all the characters is interesting. For most of them it ends kind of badly. And then there’s Joey. Who somehow manages to land flat on his feet despite getting involved in quite the shit storm.

I liked how realistic these relationships felt between all the characters. The familial stains and the way that they ebbed and flowed felt kinda true to life. The relationship between Patty and Walter felt kind of heartbreakingly real. The idea that Patty choose him and married him just because it was the convenient option and I guess the safest one. The insight that Patty’s autobiography gave regarding their relationship provided a level of interest that I don’t think you would get from something that was solely 3rd person narrative. But then when it did shift to 3rd person and you saw Walter’s side but at the point where the damage had kind of already done and he was falling in love with someone else.

Seeing Richard through his own eyes as it were painted all the things that were talked about by Patty in a new light. You at times sympathised with him and at times you kind of hated him because for some reason he did not seem to at any point to have grown and changed from who he was. But then also, he did change. It was in some ways kind of subtle but then when it happened it was clear. He had moved forward in ways that Patty hadn’t. And then Patty kind of caught up.

It moved in cycles like that and in some ways that felt like a reflection of life.

The sisters of Patty that had everything growing up and all the support but somehow never found their way. The daughter that was stuck between two parents. The son who thought he had it all figured out but still almost  lost everything and sort of fell into a marriage that eventually benefited him in some way. The father who finally thought he had a new lease on life and had reached contentment only to have it snatched away from him and end up in a war against cats. The mother who found and lost herself repeatedly but eventually seemed to get back on track and stay there.

The characters were so well thought out and so complex. There was never a moment when you really thought any of them were either good or bad people. Even when Walter was banging on about overpopulation and how it was ruining the planet and killing birds it was easy to see where he was coming from.

All the storylines wove together and gave you a sense in some ways of what it means to be free. There were no huge reveals of any huge plot twists or anything, don’t get me wrong, there was a twist. But it wasn’t a huge turning point or anything, it was more just like a footnote reminding you that the universe is cruel and just when you think things might be going your way it throws a curveball at you.

This book is unexpectedly deep, it really makes you think about things in a way that is almost quiet. It just happens in the background while you’re moving through and then suddenly it’s over and you kind of wonder what happened to the last 600 pages (yeah, it’s a long’un). This book was a Secret Santa gift last year and came into my life from someone who put Franzen up there as their favourite author, and I can see why.

The writing style is great and evocative and no word feels out of place. It takes you with it through this slight exploration of the human race on a relatitvely small scale and even when you think a character might be slightly pointless you’re proved wrong because they prove their place and how they fit in with the puzzle piece almost instantly.

The ending was good. I felt satisfied and maybe a little bit sad by the time I reached the final page and the sentence. It felt like a version of a full circle was achieved, but somehow also like it could lend itself to the same events that had just unfolded over the last 600 pages.

I would recommend.

4/5 stars.

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2017 Reading Challenge, Book 43 – Anansi Boys

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And with today I (finally) bring you my penultimate Neil Gaiman book of the year (although it has come after the final Gaiman book of the year because I could get this one written for whatever reason). I put off reading the last two books because I didn’t want to say goodbye to him too soon for the year. But then it became apparent that Neil Gaiman was all my heart wanted to read and so read them I did.

2017 Reading Challenge, Book 43, Anansi Boys
2017 Reading Challenge, Book 43, Anansi Boys

I got to dip my toe back into the American Gods world. Just a little. And it was glorious.

The vibe of this book just made me so happy. I was sucked into this world again instantly and it kept me hooked until the final pages.

I loved Fat Charlie and how he found himself stuck in the middle of this whole fiasco courtesy of his deceased father and newfound brother. The book was very much finding it’s footing before Spider came onto the scene and it was that that made the story feel grounded before it all kind of went to shit. And by that point I was very attached to Fat Charlie and then could not help but feel sorry for him from the moment when he ended up on that night out that all went to heck.

Spider was an interesting character from the moment he stepped onto the screen after being summoned by, surprise surprise, a spider. He then was super interesting because he had those Godlike tendencies and the way that he came into this world and how that affected everything. I loved that room that he had in Charlie’s apartment and how it became this ever changing thing. I kind of thought he was a bit of a dickhead but then discovered that by the time things started to go wrong for him I actually did care and that whole section where he was effectively being tortured was a real struggle to get through and I was rooting for him to get through the other side…alive. That part was a bit hit and miss though and it did leave me figuratively speaking of the edge of my seat.

The women in this book were something else.

They just exceeded all of my expectations, especially because the main protagonist is male, sometimes it’s very easy for the whole narrative to feel very male with the occasional token female thrown in for good measure. But the women in this in a lot of ways drove the story forward. There would have been very little of Fat Charlie’s storyline if he hadn’t gone back to Florida and ended up talking to Mrs Higgler again.

I quite liked Rosie. I liked how she interacted between both Charlie but mostly Spider. I found that relationship, although slightly suspect in the beginning, a fascinating aspect of the narrative. I especially liked how she came into her own at the end and kind of defied any expectation that I had for her to be honest. i liked that she surprised me. And so did her mother actually.

I loved Daisy. I loved her determination. And her strength. I loved how she followed her gut. And I went through phases with Maeve, but as with every character in Gaiman’s works there is no pointless character and everything falls into place eventually.

Ummmm the Bird Woman. She terrified me. She was hardly there but she was terrifying. And brutal.

One final mention to Graham Coats who I was convinced was just a bumbling idiot and then suddenly he somehow proved me to be correct, but also with a dark side. I didn’t really see it coming and then it happened and it all made perfect sense because just of course that would happen. And then I kind of remembered all the things that he done prior to that and how he was covering all of his tracks and pinning it all on Fat Charlie/Spider and it actually all made sense in the end. But it was a quiet kind burn of a story that came to a head violently and then set the course for the rest of novel.

I’m gonna talk about the ending just because I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t mention them in some way. I liked it and I also didn’t.  It just felt a little bit sticky. But it wasn’t so bad that I ended up hating the book completely because that has happened before.

Overall however, I loved it. I love that whole play between the worlds of the Gods and the worlds of the ‘world’. It was magical. I mean ridiculous what with the waterfalls and the possession and the flamingoes and it had less Gods but the impact remained the same. And some really great characters that stuck with me for a while after I had finished the book, I’m always gonna love that.

4/5 stars.

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Books, Reading Challenge, reviews

2017 Reading Challenge, Book 44 – The View From the Cheap Seats

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This my last Neil Gaiman book of the year and I was almost so sad about it when I realised that. I’ve had a lot of Gaiman in my life this year and I never really thought about it coming to an end.

But it did.

And it came to an end with this:

J8NN614RO915
J8NN614RO915

Now I knew that this was a non-fiction book. I just didn’t really know what the exact set up of it was. Turns out it was just a collection of his non-fiction writing, be they introductions that he has written for books, speeches he has given or interviews that he did for various things.

It was full of things that I really needed to read in the run up to Nano (let’s not talk about that one though. I mean I will, but not right now. The relationship remains complicated.). There was a lot of inspirational stuff, there was a lot of stuff in there that meant that I just added to my ever growing reading list, there was just a lot of stuff in it.

A lot of great stuff.

The kind of stuff that just reaffirms your belief in something. I don’t even know what exactly, but it just soothed some part of my soul.

I love the worlds that Gaiman creates, I love getting to fall into them and seeing what is going to happen with them. His non-fiction work is funnily enough similar in that respect. Only it’s grounded in a bit more reality.

It talks about genre and writing and other authors/musicians in such a gorgeous way that it’s hard not to be somewhat enthralled by it all.

For example, there is a heavy focus on sci-fi in this, which for the most part is not a genre I read all that often. I mean I do and I usually love it, but it’s just not high on my list of go to books when I go to pick up a new book. But making my way through this book I found myself more intrigued by it as a genre. There is a foundation for me to build on. Starting points for me to go through. I ended up with a well compiled list that were sold to me so well just by the way that Gaiman spoke about them that it just felt natural.

It gave me a different perspective on fantasy as well, which is a genre that I read, but I tend to be relatively safe with it. I stick with what I kind of know and for that reason a lot of the worlds that are created in the books I read have a lot of similarities and I don’t tend to venture into high fantasy partly out of fear. Again this book changed those views somewhat. In that it makes me want to dip my toe in slightly deeper fantastical waters. Again, this book provided some kind of foundation for that.

It gave me a perspective on some music that to be honest I’ve never really thought about before. It changed the way that I viewed music in terms of lyrics and things. It sort of fuelled a different appreciation for music just by the way that Gaiman talks about it.

That’s the thing that I love so much about this is just getting to swim in all of Gaiman’s thoughts on things and getting to feel his appreciation for them. Finding out what fuels other people and getting to see/hear/read them talk about something that they care about is one of my favourite things, which means that this book was just right up my street.

If you want to read some non-fiction, have a particular interest in science fiction or just want your faith in literature restored then I would recommend this book in a heartbeat. Especially if you love Neil Gaiman in the first place. But if you only read one part of this book then make it the Make Good Art piece. And if you love Terry Pratchett then read the last story, although be warned it may break your heart a little….

4/5 stars

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Bonus Book Review – Ready Player One

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Still at it with the book reviews. Still at with the deviation from the script, but this is the last of those (although I read this before Sharp Objects but didn’t get my shit together in time to actually write this up properly so it went up yesterday…I basically thought I had written it but hadn’t).

The final book of this little break in my regularly scheduled reading was this:

Bonus Book Review, Ready Player One
Bonus Book Review, Ready Player One

I had heard things about this book but never really paid it much mind, and then I saw the Comic Con trailer for it and my interest was piqued again. I think it was the Dolorean that did it. The very next day I found myself in a Waterstones looking for the book and buying it without so much as a second glance.

I kind of had no real idea what the hell the book was about. I knew it was sci-fi and that was about it. Then I read the blurb, just before I started reading the book, and got some idea. And then I just started reading. And fell a little bit in love with the world created.

It had me hooked instantly.

There was something so realistic about it even though, in fact at some point this week it randomly came up in conversation that aesthetics won’t even matter soon because we’ll all be hooked up to machines living in an alternate reality in the cloud. And that is basically what this book is.

A quest in an alternate world that is pretty much all that these people have as the real world around them falls apart. With a lot of 80s references thrown in for good measure. The energy of this story as a result is so good and it’s what drives it funnily enough. It really takes you with it and from the moment you read the opening sentence you are right there in the story.

Following the quest was so thrilling and seeing the way that was affecting his real life and how everything all wove in together and how they fed each other is what made everything so intense to read and kept you turning the page. There were new reveals and twists and turns on every page and on multiple occasions I actually found myself physically reacting to things, especially as it got closer to the end and all the main 4 who were all virtually kind of working together met each other in actual life.

I loved how real everything felt in the virtual reality. How as a reader you were almost as invested in that world as the characters were and when things started going in it in some ways you felt the pain with them. I loved how built up that world was and how I was almost excited for Wade to get back into it.

Speaking of Wade, I loved him as the protagonist. The way that he was written and fleshed out made it so easy for you as a reader to get on his side. You rooted for him from the moment that his life as he knew was blown up (which was shocking moment number 1 and the moment when you realised just what kind of ride you were getting yourself into). Parzival was also one of my faves even though she came and went.

There is a love story of sorts that is interwoven into the backdrop of the overall narrative. It kind of followed the way that Wade felt about it. When he was focused on it it was kind of the overwhelming throughout that section of the narrative. When he was focused on the quest that was all you were focused on too. And then as it came closer to the end the two were woven together perfectly leading to an ending that I found all together pretty satisfying.

This book is good. It’s a sci-fi dream. It’s littered with so many references to 80s pop culture. It’s a full on quest. The characters are great and Wade is a great protagonist who is maybe one of my faves that I’ve been introduced to this year. Cline’s style of writing is great and easy to fall into. The end is good, it doesn’t feel like you’ve wasted the past 300 or so pages. It’s an easy book to get hooked on. I recommend that you give it a shot.

4/5 stars.

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