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  • Jeff Somers 5:00 pm on 2019/06/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , top picks   

    July’s Best New Thrillers 

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    July’s most thrilling books include a new hero from the masterful David Baldacci, the next Gabriel Allon adventure from Daniel Silva, James Patterson’s first foray into epic fantasy, and more.

    One Good Deed, by David Baldacci
    Baldacci spins a tightly-plotted period piece to introduce a new hero: Aloysius Archer, a veteran of World War II in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. When released in 1949, he finds himself in Poca City with strict instructions to get a job and stay out of trouble. Archer visits a local bar seeking a little bit of both when he gets a job offer: businessman Hank Pittleman wants a debt collected. Archer takes on the job, and soon finds himself in a mess of small-town plotting, as Pittleman’s mistress tries to use Archer for her own ends and the debt proves harder to collect than Archer expected. When someone shows up dead, the local police seem to think Archer, recently-arrived ex-con, did the deed. Archer brains, brawn, and desperation are all that’s keeping him from returning to prison—or worse.

    The New Girl, by Daniel Silva
    The 19th Allon novel centers on a tony private school in Switzerland—the sort of exclusive place only the children of the rich and powerful attend. The students buzz about the new arrival, a beautiful young girl who appears every morning and leaves every afternoon in a motorcade, surrounded by bodyguards. Her classmates all have theories as to who she might be—but they’re all wrong. When the girl is kidnapped while across the border in France, Gabriel Allon, chief of Israeli intelligence, is called into action. As Allon goes up against a familiar old enemy, the fate of girl and the world lies with him.

    Sophia, Princess Among Beasts, by James Patterson with Emily Raymond
    The prolific James Patterson (with Emily Raymond) stretches to infuse a new genre his trademark tension and thriller grit. At the core of this epic fantasy is a mystery that only Sophia, princess of a kingdom under dire threat, can solve. Sophia is smart and capable, beautiful and beloved by the people, and an avid reader who spent long hours as a child reading about a terrible realm filled with monsters. When she discovers that the place—and the resident monsters—are very real, and that an army is marching on her kingdom, Sophia knows it is her duty to protect the people who have put their trust in her. Her only hope is to solve an ancient a mystery—if she has time.

    Red Metal, by Mark Greaney and H. Ripley Rawlings IV, USMC
    Greaney knows just how to spin a modern thriller, and his co-writer H. Ripley Rawlings is a lieutenant colonel in the marines. Together they’ve created a razor-sharp near-future story of brutal combat and global maneuvering centered on a rare-earth mine in Africa. The mine was in Russian hands until Kenya reclaimed it out from under Russian special forces Colonel Yuri Borbikov. Borbikov draws up an ambitious, dangerous plan to get it back—Operation Red Metal. With simultaneous attacks on the U.S. Central Africa Command in Germany and the mine itself, Russia sets in motion a series of battles that Greaney and Rawlings depict through the eyes of the dedicated warriors tasked with carrying out their orders—no matter what. The result is a gripping and finely detailed story of modern warfare no fan of the genre should miss.

    Smokescreen, by Iris Johansen
    Johansen’s 25th Eve Duncan novel introduces Jill Cassidy, a journalist who returns from the war-torn country of Maldara haunted by what she’s witnessed. She seeks out forensic sculptor Duncan and asks her to help reconstruct the skulls of 27 children massacred by rebel soldiers. Duncan is moved but troubled by the opportunity, but she accepts the job and jumps on a flight to the site of the killings, the village of Robaku. Jill also wants Eve to reconstruct the skull of a mercenary named Nils Varak, the man responsible for the uprising that led to the murders—because Jill doesn’t believe Nils is actually dead and hopes to prove a government cover-up is underway. In an unfamiliar country, Duncan finds herself isolated and uncertain who she can trust. She must rely on her gut to get to the bottom of the mystery without becoming the next victim.

    The Russian, by Ben Coes
    Coes launches a new series and a new protagonist, former Navy SEAL Rob Tacoma. As the book begins, the Russian mafia has asserted itself as the most powerful organized criminal force in the United States, meeting any effort to curtail its activities with brutal violence. When its actions cross the line into the outright assassination of politicians, the president authorizes the CIA to recruit an elite team tasked with identifying, locating, and killing the powerful criminals ordering the murders. Tacoma and another former SEAL, Billy Cosgrove, are brought in—but Cosgrove is almost immediately identified and murdered in his own home by the Russians. Cosgrove must take on the mob single-handedly, both to get revenge for his comrade-in-arms, and to keep himself alive the only way he can—by killing all of his well-funded, well-protected enemies.

    What books are thrilling you this July?

    The post July’s Best New Thrillers appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2019/06/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , top picks   

    This Summer’s Essential History Books 

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    July is when America celebrates its independence, which means it’s the perfect month to stock up on history books. This month’s best include new tomes from Pulitzer winners David McCullogh and Rick Atkinson, the untold story of superspy Virginia Hall, and a firsthand account of D-Day that belongs on everyone’s to-read list.

    The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West, by David McCullough
    David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, returns with an in-depth study of the settlement of the Northwest Territory, telling the stories of the hardy and fearless pioneers who traveled into the unknown determined to enlarge and enrich our country with their bare hands and at risk of their very lives. The movement west began sooner than most people realize, with the first settlers—veterans of the Revolutionary War—arriving in Ohio in 1788. McCullough tells the story of the town they carved out of the wilderness through the eyes of five historical figures, who becomes characters in a story about bravery, tragedy, diplomacy, and the conquest of a wilderness that wanted nothing more than to sweep them aside.

    Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations, by William H. McRaven
    There are those people who have earned the right to have their advice listened to without question, and Admiral McRaven is one of them. McRaven entered the collective consciousness with his viral commencement speech-turned-inspirational book, Make Your Bed, but he is more than a man in uniform dispensing wisdom—he’s a true-life hero, having spent his whole adult life serving his country in some of the most dangerous places in the world. McRaven’s autobiography reads like an improbable thriller as he recounts his childhood, his career as a Navy SEAL and as commander of America’s Special Operations Forces, not to mention his involvement in events like the rescue of Captain Phillips, the execution of Osama bin Laden, and the capture of Saddam Hussein.

    Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense: The Courtroom Battle to Save His Legacy, by Dan Abrams and David Fisher
    Abrams and Fisher deliver a close examination of an mostly overlooked moment in 20th century: a 1915 lawsuit against former president Theodore Roosevelt. The libel suit, brought against Roosevelt by political boss William Barnes due to Roosevelt’s public assertions that he was a corrupt official, was a sensation at the time, highlighted by Roosevelt’s turn as a witness on the stand, where the full power of his personality and intellect came into view for a whole week. After 38 hours being badgered by Barnes’ lawyers, Roosevelt emerged unscathed, having made an incredible impression on everyone involved. This detailed study of the incident brings Roosevelt to roaring life, and is a treat for anyone who wants to get a clearer of one of history’s larger-than-life players.

    The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777, by Rick Atkinson
    Pulitzer-winning Rick Atkinson delivers the first of three books covering the Revolutionary War in astonishing detail. This initial volume takes the reader through the first 21 months of the conflict, beginning with Lexington and Concord in 1775 and leaving off in the winter of 1777. Along the way, Atkinson dives deep into the personalities on both sides of the battlefield, including men who defined the fighting, like Henry Knox and George Washington, and men who defined the struggle for hearts and minds around the world, like Benjamin Franklin. The result is one of the most detailed and comprehensive studies of the early stages of a war that seemed doomed to be a short and futile one for the Americans, but instead birthed a nation.

    Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis, by Jared Diamond
    Jared Diamond, another Pulitzer-winner best known for Guns, Germs, and Steel, returns with a unique look at history as seen through the lens of psychology, applying trauma treatment protocols to entire nations in order to explain sudden policy shifts and course corrections, from Chile’s wild political swings in the 20th century, to Japan’s opening to the West in the 19th century, to the persistence of the institution of slavery in the U.S., to the Winter War between the U.S.S.R. and Finland. Diamond argues that nations either take an honest look at themselves after disaster… or they don’t, and that willingness or unwillingness to acknowledge hard truths is the determining factor in what happens next.

    Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari
    Harari is no stranger to ambitious works of sweeping historical context, and here he tackles the story of how Homo sapiens—that is, us—came to be not just the dominant species on the planet, but the sole variety of the human species left standing. Harari argues that three distinct moments of evolution revolution made us masters of the planet: a cognitive revolution that gave us a mental advantage over other species; an agricultural revolution that allowed us to form permanent settlements and complex societies; and most recently, a technological revolution that allowed us to truly master the world, its resources, and the other creatures that populate it. Harari thoughtfully weaves in the disturbing question of whether our ascendancy and mastery has actually made us happier—and offers plenty of thoughtful evidence that the answer is no.

    K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches, by Tyler Kepner
    Baseball fans know pitching has always been the true throughline of the game. By charting the progress of the sport through 10 distinct pitches, Kepner offers a unique perspective on one of the most analyzed and romanticized games ever devised. His investigative work traces the origins of the monumental pitches—from the curveball, first developed in 1867, to the maligned spitball, still secretly in use today—and explores the lives of legends pitching like Nolan Ryan and Pedro Martinez, who discuss the technical side of their profession in fascinating terms.

    The First Wave: The D-Day Warriors Who Led the Way to Victory in World War II, by Alex Kershaw
    The most complex and dangerous invasion in military history needed a front line, and the people who were part of the first wave of soldiers who stormed the beaches on D-Day faced the brunt of the danger while pursuing the most difficult missions. Without them, all who followed would’ve been lost. Kershaw illuminates the stories of the men who were first on the beach, from the paratroopers who were the first to enter Normandy, to the men who led troops through thick machine-gun fire on Juno Beach, to the French commandos who came home to use their intimate knowledge of the area to undermine the German invaders’ defenses. This is an important addition to any World War II reading list.

    A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II, by Sonia Purnell
    Anyone interested in stories of wartime bravery should know the name Virginia Hall. She joined the State Department when the Foreign Service was uninterested, lost her leg to a hunting accident, drove ambulances in France duringWorld War II, and eagerly signed up with the British Special Operations Executive when the opportunity came. Hall was a brilliant agent, creating a well-organized and effective network that did great work fighting the Germans—until her cover was blown in 1942. She fled to Spain, then demanded to be sent back to France to continue her work. When she was refused, she joined the U.S. Office of Strategic Services to assist with D-Day preparations. Hall is one of the most important—and least-known—heroes of the war, and it’s about time someone brought her remarkable story to light.

    Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day, the First Wave at Omaha Beach, and a World at War, by Ray Lambert and Jim DeFelice
    As the world marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, the number of eyewitnesses to the heroics and horrors of that incredible achievement dwindles—making the 98-year old Lambert’s contribution especially important. Lambert’s charm and humility shine as he describes his early life, his training, and the brutal fighting he engaged in all over the theater, from Africa to Normandy, where he suffered a broken back while rescuing his fellow soldiers. The sheer level of insider detail that Lambert can offer on what it was really like to be involved in Operation Overlord is incredible, ranging from the way soldiers interacted to the equipment and training they had to work with. This is a personal and powerful testament to the heroics of an entire generation, told through an individual’s lens.

    What’s you favorite history read of the year so far?

    The post This Summer’s Essential History Books appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Sarah Skilton 2:00 pm on 2019/06/27 Permalink
    Tags: chances are, deep river, dragonfly, , surside sisters, tell me everything, the golden hour, the nickel boys, top picks   

    July’s Best New Fiction 

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    As you head to fireworks, cookouts, and daytrips this summer, you’ll want to make room in your beach bag for these new releases. Whether you’re in the mood for mystery-dramas that span decades, World War II spy thrillers, a trip to 1900s Russia, or more lighthearted fare set in modern-day Nantucket, the characters you meet this month will stay with you long after summer ends.

    The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead  
    Fresh off the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for The Underground Railroad, Whitehead returns with a novel about two philosophically opposed black students at a notorious reform school, the Nickel Academy, in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s. Though the school claims to turn delinquents into “honorable and honest men,” via “physical, intellectual and moral training,” in truth it’s an appalling place, full of corruption and abuse of every type. Elwood Curtis tries to emulate his hero, Dr. King, during the hellish internment, as a means of keeping his own humanity close, but his friend Turner is more cynical about the world. The boys’ disparate survival techniques culminate in a plan that will impact the rest of their lives.

    Chances Are…, by Richard Russo
    It’s been ten years since Russo’s last stand-alone novel, and Chances combines the best of Russo’s signature style—family bonds, unrequited love, humor—with a mystery that’s haunted three best friends for forty years. When 60-somethings Teddy, Mickey, and Lincoln decide to meet up in Martha’s Vineyard, what’s notable about their reunion is the person who’s not there: Jacy, the woman they each adored, who disappeared without a trace during a Memorial Day party in 1971. Each man brings his own secrets to the present-day gathering, and readers will eagerly pore over the details of their shared past to uncover the truth.

    Dragonfly, by Leila Meacham
    Five young Americans from wildly different backgrounds—a female fencer, an orphaned fashion designer, a destitute fly fisherman, a businessman’s son, and an athlete with German roots—are recruited to become spies, tasked with infiltrating the Third Reich in this thrilling World War II historical set in Paris. Blending in, communicating on the sly, staying on target, and surviving the dangers thrown at them becomes second nature to the group, collectively codenamed Dragonfly. But then one of them gets caught…

    Surfside Sisters, by Nancy Thayer
    After a series of personal and professional setbacks, Keely Green, a successful writer living in New York City, returns to the Nantucket island of her childhood to care for her ailing mother. But for Keely, this isn’t an easy homecoming; it means acknowledging that her former best friend, Isabelle, and Keely’s ex-boyfriend (whom Isabelle stole) have made a family together. It also means spending time with Isabelle’s older brother, Keely’s unrequited crush. It’s not easy to forgive someone who’s wronged you, even if it means a chance at a different kind of happiness.

    The Golden Hour, by Beatriz Williams
    Fresh off last year’s hit, The Summer Wives, Williams returns with a historical novel set in the Bahamas in the early 1940s, where the infamous Duke and Duchess of Windsor have been exiled from England. Lulu Randolph is determined to find a place for herself in the couple’s social circle so she can report on their goings-on to a glossy American magazine. What she finds instead is a doomed romance with a British spy, Benedict Thorpe. How their relationship relates to a different love story set in 1900 is one of several tantalizing mysteries readers will happily pursue.

    Deep River, by Karl Marlantes
    A trio of siblings, Finnish immigrants, leave Russian-occupied Finland in the early 1900s to forge a new life in the Pacific Northwest, and their hardships and tenacity are rendered in vivid detail. Eldest son Ilmari Koski is the first to arrive in Washington state, followed by middle son Matti, who joins him in high-risk logging. Youngest daughter Aino is the last to make it out. She leaves behind her political tormenters but not her ideals; her determination to help the Industrial Workers of thyye World achieve their goals (spurred on by the dangers she witnesses in the logging industry) lands in her prison, far from her brothers. Inspired by the author’s family history, with lush descriptions of Finland and Pacific Northwest wilderness, this epic historical novel looks to be completely immersive.

    Tell Me Everything, by Cambria Brockman
    Attention unreliable narrator fans: this highly binge-able debut twists and turns right up to the very end. It’s freshman year at Hawthorne College, a small liberal arts school in Maine, and Malin Ahlberg ruthlessly sheds the skin of her loner past to embrace a clique as quickly as possible. Her tight-knit friend group sticks with her for the next few years, until graduation looms and the relationships fall apart. Malin’s attempt to repair the rift seems to culminate in murder, but if you think you know where the story is going, you’re wrong.

    The post July’s Best New Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2019/05/31 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , top picks   

    June’s Best Thrillers 

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    This month’s best thrillers include a new story featuring genius FBI agent Emily Dockery from James Patterson and David Ellis, the latest globe-trotting Scot Harvath twister from Brad Thor, and the newest brain-bending work from Blake Crouch.

    Unsolved, by James Patterson and David Ellis
    James Patterson and David Ellis delivery the sequel to Invisible, which introduced the obsessive, genius FBI researcher Emily Dockery. Emily notices things others miss, and it has made her reputation in the bureau. Now, she’s seeing a string of murders across the country—deaths that appear to be accidental, and which seem to have no connection to one another. Whoever’s orchestrating them seems to know what Emily is thinking, and keeps one step ahead of her as she works the case hard. Meanwhile, Emily’s ex-fiancee and reluctant partner, Special Agent Harrison “Books” Bookman, suspects treason within the Bureau—and hasn’t ruled out Emily herself as the culprit.

    Backlash, by Brad Thor
    The 18th Scot Harvath novel finds the legendary operative in the most desperate position of his life. Harvath is a dangerous man; a former Navy SEAL who graduated from a stint in the Secret Service to leading the top secret Apex Project. He’s charged with defending his country by any means necessary, and over the course of 17 books he’s proved he’s a patriot—and he’s a bad person to cross. The lone survivor of an attack that downs his plane behind enemy lines, with no support or equipment, Harvath must find a way to survive using just his brains and his experience as he claws his way to getting revenge on those who would dare attack everything he loves. This white-knuckle adventure will please longtime Harvath fans and introduce new readers to one of the best thriller characters around.

    Tom Clancy: Enemy Contact, by Mike Maden
    Jack Ryan Jr. continues to honor his father’s legacy in his latest tense political adventure. Someone’s selling out the CIA, auctioning its deepest secrets to the highest bidder and destabilizing the entire intelligence system of the Western world. After barely surviving a disastrous mission in Poland, Jack Jr. is called to the bedside of a friend dying of cancer and asked for one final favor: to scatter the man’s ashes on a specific hillside in Chile. Jack agrees, thinking it simply as a way to honor a friend—but he’s almost immediately contacted by a former army ranger and warned not to go through with it. Ever his father’s son, Jack does anyway, setting off a chain of events that leaves him isolated, in grave danger, and within spitting distance of discovering the identity of the mole in the CIA.

    Skin Game, by Stuart Woods and Parnell Hall
    Stuart Woods and co-writer Parnell Hall’s Teddy Faye returns. The ex-CIA agent is ordered by the agency’s chief to drop everything and head to Paris in order to ferret out a mole. Faye obeys, attracting the attention of Fahd Kassin, a Syrian tough with a penchant for assassination. Teddy reaches Paris, but before he can begin his investigation he finds himself going undercover to track Kassin, who has arrived in the city to attend a rare animal convention. As Teddy gets the better of his enemies in increasingly entertaining ways, he stumbles onto a plot that threatens more than just one ex-CIA operative.

    Recursion, by Blake Crouch
    At the start of Blake Crouch’s latest mind-bending high-concept sci-fi thriller, New York City detective Barry Sutton begins to encounter people suffering from False Memory Syndrome—a condition where they “remember” lives they never lived, and suffer emotionally due to tragedies they never actually experienced. A year earlier, a brilliant neuroscientist named Helena Smith accepts funding from a mega-wealthy sponsor in order to create a device that can preserve memories to be re-experienced whenever desired—but it also allows people to literally enter those memories, changing everything. As the disorder spreads throughout the city, reality itself is threatened; who can say what is real when you can’t trust your own memories? As Harry connects with Helena and they realize her research is destabilizing the world, the two join forces to find a way to save the human race from this threat from within.

    The Last House Guest, by Megan Miranda
    Littleport, Maine is the sort of town where life is split down the middle between the summer tourists and the year-round residents who serve their wealthier part-time neighbors. The divide is so strong that the friendship that springs up between visiting Sadie Loman and townie Avery Greer is remarkable, both for its authenticity and its longevity—every year Sadie visits with her family, and for the summer, she and Avery are a team. Until the summer Sadie turns up dead. Her death is officially ruled a suicide, but Avery can’t accept that—and the more she digs into her friend’s death, the more convinced she is that she shouldn’t, as forces in the community seem to be arrayed against her lonely quest for the truth.

    What books look thrilling to you in June?

    The post June’s Best Thrillers appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 5:00 pm on 2019/05/31 Permalink
    Tags: allison montclair, , jorge zepeda patterson, , , , the black jersey: a novel, the book supremacy, the right sort of man, the storm, top picks, whiskers in the dark   

    June’s Best New Mysteries 

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    Happy June, gumshoes! This month is brimming over with clever, page-turning mysteries that take us from the Tour de France to the National Beagle Club. Throw a few in your carry-on bag, your beach tote, or your work briefcase (we won’t tell) and get sleuthing.

    The Storm, by James Ellroy
    What do a corrupt cop, a master of the crime lab, a fascist member of the LAPD, and a war-profiteer have in common? They’re all caught up in the investigation of a dead body that’s turned up in L.A. after a series of rainstorms in January of 1942. The Storm is filled with complex, nuanced characters who encounter (or encourage) greed, corruption, and mayhem around every turn. Nobody writes L.A. noir like James Ellroy—don’t miss the searing, sequel to his 2014 tour-de-force, Perfidia, and the second volume of his Second L.A. Quartet.

    Whiskers in the Dark, by Rita Mae Brown
    Fans of Rita Mae Brown’s charming Mrs. Murphy mystery series, co-written of course with the feline detective virtuoso Sneaky Pie Brown, will enjoy the 28th installment, Whiskers in the Dark, which features (in no particular order): a beagle competition, the unearthing of an ancient skeleton clad in pearls, and the violent death on the hunting trails of the National Beagle Club of a retired foreign services officer who was merely cleaning up some trees. Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen is accompanied as always in her investigations by her feline sleuths Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, along with adorable corgi Tee Tucker.

    The Black Jersey: A Novel, by Jorge Zepeda Patterson
    This engaging mystery thrusts readers into the very pinnacle of the high-stakes, fast-paced world of competitive cycling: the Tour de France. Professional cyclist Marc Moreau’s team is top notch, and his best friend, who leads it, appears to have a shot at winning the Tour. But early on in the competition, worrisome accidents begin to pile up. First they’re smaller incidents: a broken ankle here, a serious bout of food poisoning there—but before long, they have far deadlier consequences, from a loose wheel, to a suspicious suicide. Marc is horrified to realize that these incidents are helping his own team—is the murderer in his inner circle?

    The Right Sort of Man, by Allison Montclair
    In post World War II London, jovial Iris Sparks and reserved widow Gwendolyn Bainbridge unite to form a matchmaking business, The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. But when their first client is murdered, and police believe it was at the hands of the man she was matched with, the pair must wade into the investigation in order to solve the mystery (and defend their brand new business’s reputation). This time, however, their meddling may cost them their lives.

    The Book Supremacy (Bibliophile Series #13), by Kate Carlisle
    Brooklyn and her new husband Derek are enjoying the waning days of their Paris honeymoon when she finds the perfect gift for him—a rare first edition Bond book; The Spy Who Loved Me. Brooklyn shows the book to Derek’s pal Ned (who knows him from his days as a spy), and upon their return to San Francisco, they visit a spy shop Ned recommended, and the owner asks if he can display the book as part of a first anniversary celebration. Derek acquiesces, but before too long the news reaches them that Ned has died. When an intruder breaks into the spy shop and is also killed, it appears to be connected both to the book, and to some demons from Derek’s past that have begun surfacing…bringing murder in their wake.

    What mysteries are you excited to read this month?

    The post June’s Best New Mysteries appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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