Tag: fantasy

Sunday Summary – 18th September 2022

Hello everyone and welcome to… you guessed it, another Sunday Summary post! Every Sunday I share my latest bookish updates – what I have been reading and books I have added to my reading list. I also cover the posts you can expect to see on my blog in the following week.

Before diving into that though, let’s quickly recap what I have shared with you this week. I wanted to finally commit my thoughts on Fire and Blood by George R.R. Martin. With the ongoing prequel series, House of the Dragon, currently airing, I thought this was perfect timing. A little fun fact for you – the events in House of the Dragon don’t begin until 340 pages into Fire and Blood. There is a lot of ground not covered in the show. It remains to be seen as to whether any of this is used either for a pre-prequel or a second season. If you want to find out my thoughts on the whole book, which spans a far greater time period the series, you can check out that post here.

Later in the week, I shared a First Lines Friday post. In that post, I shared a short and snappy introduction to a book currently sitting on my bookshelf and begging to be read. I have already read several books by this author, all part of another series he has written. However, I am yet to read anything of his set in the time period. I have read another similar book by a completely different author recently; I’m interested to see if there’s any commonality or whether it is just a certain famous character and setting that overlaps. If you want to check out what that book is, here is a link for that one as well.

 

Books Read

In last Sunday’s Sunday Summary update, I was reading Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. As I shared in that post, I wasn’t overly enamoured with the book. I made the decision that I was going to continue reading until at least 33% of the book before making a decision on whether to continue or not.

Unfortunately, my initial impression didn’t change in the additional 10% I read. I didn’t hate the book by any stretch of the imagination. However, I didn’t love it either. It just didn’t grip me or hold my interest particularly. With that in mind, I didn’t want to invest in a further 5 to 6 hours for a book that was just… meh. There are so many books out there, (God knows I have enough of them on my TBR already!). So, I really don’t need to waste my time if I know I’m not loving a book. I made it a third of the way through, I gave it a very good chance. However, this one just didn’t hit the mark. It is disappointing as I loved another series of Mark Lawrence as a teenager – The Broken Empire. Oh well, you can’t win them all!

Next, I moved on to my third read of my September TBR. I must admit I went into this not really knowing what to expect. It is not a typical read for me at all; romance isn’t really a genre I go for. However, I am really enjoying In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk! I think it’s fair to point out that this is a romantic comedy, and it’s the comedy element that really works for me. The writing style is really easy to read, and the narrative and characters are hilarious!

I think maybe this book came at a good time. Clearly, my ‘typical reads’ aren’t meeting expectations at the moment. Perhaps going for a complete change is something I needed. In Case You Missed It is providing that for me. As of today’s Sunday Summary post, I am 132 pages into the book. That equates to about a third of the way through. It’s not the most reading progress in the world, but I do plan to read more of this tonight and tomorrow.

 

Books Discovered

I have added one book to my TBR this week, and you will probably understand why. You would have to be living under a rock to not know that Queen Elizabeth II passed away by now. There has obviously been a lot of talk about her and the British monarchy. As a result, it has made me realise that I would like to learn more.

So, I have decided to pick up a biography about her, and one that was published as recently as April this year. I want to learn more about her, her life and family to truly appreciate what she has done for us over the last 70 years of her life.

 

Coming Up…

My first blog post will be a Top Ten Tuesday post next week. I had an idea in mind for a similar type of post anyway, and so I decided to take part in this week’s theme. If you want to find out what I plan to read in the next few months, check out my post on Tuesday. In that post, I will be talking about 10 books on my autumn to-read list. You may just find the one I just mentioned above on that list!

As usual, I’ll be sharing another Shelf Control post later next week. In the post, I feature a book that I may be reading this time next week, as it is on my September TBR for Bookoplathon.

That’s the latest from me. I hope you have enjoyed today’s Sunday Summary update post! Have you read anything good this week that you would like to share?

 

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Book Review: Fire and Blood – George R.R. Martin

I’m really looking forward to sharing today’s book review with you all for Fire and Blood. It is well documented that I am a huge fan of George R.R. Martin, and with the current airing of the prequel show, House of the Dragon, I wanted to share my thoughts on the book that inspired the series!

If you are unfamiliar with the book, Fire and Blood is the first of a two-part history of the Targaryen family line. The book begins with Aegon the Conqueror’s conquest of Westeros, and from there, history only gets, well… bloodier.

 

Fire and Blood – George R.R. Martin

Genre: Epic fantasy

Pages: 706

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication Date: 20 Nov 2018

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Fire and Blood

From the masterly imagination behind A Game of Thrones – one of the greatest fantasy epics of all time and an unmissable HBO hit series – comes a definitive history of Westeros’s past as told by Archmaester Gyldayn.

Unravelling events that led to A Song of Ice and Fire, Fire and Blood is the first volume of the definitive two-part history of the Targaryens in Westeros. Revealing long-buried secrets and untold lasting enmity, it sets the scene for the heart-stopping series conclusion, The Winds of Winter.

300 years before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire, long before the schism that set the houses of Westeros at each other’s throats, one house ruled supreme and indomitable. House Targaryen, the house of the last remaining dragonlords.

After surviving the Doom of Valyria the Targaryen’s established themselves on Dragonstone. This volume traces their legendary lineage from Aegon the Conqueror to the bloody Dance of Dragons; a civil war that pitted Aegon II and his half-sister Rhaenyra in a bitter conflict for the throne of their father, nearly wiping out the Targaryen dynasty forever.

What really happened during the Dance of the Dragons? Why did it become so deadly to visit Valyria after the Doom? What is the origin of Daenerys’s three dragon eggs? These are but a few of the questions answered in this essential chronicle, as related by a learned maester of the Citadel.

With all the scope and grandeur of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Fire and Blood is the ultimate guide to Westeros’s past. Featuring more than eighty all-new black-and-white illustrations by artist Doug Wheatley this is an essential volume for any Game of Thrones fan’s library. For the first time the full tapestry of Targaryen history is revealed.

 

My Thoughts…

If you are watching House of the Dragon and wonder how it compares to Fire and Blood, you may be interested to learn that the events of the TV show don’t start until approximately 340 pages into the book. Those events are the passing over of Rhaenys as heir in favour of Viserys I (because God forbid a woman sits on the Iron Throne!). It was touched upon very briefly in the first few minutes of the TV show, and from there the rest unfolds.

Naturally, that means there is a good deal of history that the prequel show doesn’t even touch upon. Granted, I can see why that is the case. A significant portion of the book prior to these events covers the reign of Jaehaerys I Targaryen. By all accounts, Jaehaerys was a well-suited ruler and lived to a ripe old age. If you are unfamiliar, that’s about as rare as hen’s teeth in the Targaryen bloodline! Whilst good Kings are good for the realm, they don’t make the most interesting of stories!

My copy of this book is the illustrated hardback edition, illustrated by Doug Wheatley. The pictures are interspersed throughout the narrative and really bring the characters to life. Some of my favourite illustrations in the book are of Aegon the Conqueror and his sisters Rhaenys and Visenya, the portrait of Maegor the Cruel, as well as a number of the action scenes and dragon fights within.

I would be lying to you if I said that this first instalment of the Targaryen histories wasn’t dense. There are a lot of characters in this book. As a result, I benefited from taking a break and splitting reading the book into two. It gave me the opportunity to digest what I had read so far. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I absolutely did! George R.R. Martin went to a great deal of trouble to incorporate the histories of both Westeros and Essos throughout the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I am glad that it made it into its own book(s), as the depth of detail deserves its moment in the limelight.

As I thoroughly enjoyed this first book so much, I cannot wait for the second half of this history. If it is anything like the first then there will be plenty of tension, drama, and conflict to look forward to. As we can only expect from George R.R. Martin, I am sure it will not be a short book either. There is nothing superficial about the world or characters he creates. For fans of epic fantasy like me, that leaves us a lot to dive into. These are the sorts of books to find some new detail in with every re-read.

If I had one wish about Fire and Blood, it is that it went further back in history. The book begins with the conquest of Aegon the Conqueror, which happens approximately 100 years after an event referred to in this book and the main series as the ‘Doom of Valyria’. Personally, I would like to finally understand what this mysterious event is. We don’t know what happened, other than Valyria is destroyed as a result. It is written into the lore of the world as to why we don’t know about what happened, but it’s an itch I would love to scratch one day. Surely he can come up with a loophole to finally leak the story somehow?!

Have you read Fire and Blood? Are you a fan of the A Song of Ice and Fire series? I would love it if you let me know and we could have a chat in the comments!

 

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Sunday Summary – 11th September 2022

Good evening everyone and welcome to another bookish update in today’s Sunday Summary post.

Earlier this week I shared a couple of blog posts with you. I started off the week with a Discussion Post on why reading diversity matters. I am always trying to branch out and read new things, but there are still plenty of books, authors, and topics that I am still yet to explore. In that post, I made a pledge that I am going to try and pick up more of these books in the future!

Later in the week, it was the turn of my regular Friday feature, Shelf Control. In that post, I talked about a book that has been on my reading list for a number of years. Having recently re-read the synopsis, it has reminded me just why I can’t wait to pick it up.

 

Books Read

As of last week’s Sunday Summary post, I was halfway through Silverthorn by Raymond E Feist. I enjoyed the book overall, but if I’m entirely honest, not as much as the first book. Whilst I could follow the events from the first book, Magician, it seemed to have a different feel about it. On the one hand, this was good because it was easy to pick up, but at the same time, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting either. In the end, I gave it a three-star rating.

Next, I started my current read, Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. I’ve had high hopes for Red Sister as I previously read and enjoyed The Broken Empire trilogy by the same author. 

If I’m honest, Red Sister hasn’t grabbed me as much as I hoped it would either. It’s a tough one. I don’t know if I’m going to carry on with it or not. It’s not that I hate it because I don’t. I don’t love it either though. I’m currently 20% of the way through Red Sister and I’m going to continue a little longer. If it still hasn’t grabbed me by about a third of the way through, then I will set it aside. There are still elements in the book to be explained that we haven’t come to yet. Maybe once I’ve got a bit more of the foundation down I will be able to get into it.

I’m going to pick up Red Sister after this post goes live with a view to getting to a third of the way through the book tonight. That way, I have decided whether I’ll carry on or not and that determines what my reading week looks like next week. I will let you know in next week’s Sunday Summary post how I get on.

I have officially decided to stop listening to The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn. I’ve just had enough of it and I’m not really inclined to finish it. So, I’m not going to force myself to. Instead, I might pick up another book on September‘s TBR in audio format instead.

 

Books Discovered

The CEO of the company I work for is as much an avid reader as I am. On Friday, he gave me a couple of reading recommendations.

The first of those recommendations is Treacle Walker by Alan Garner. This is quite a short book, and I like the sound of it based on what he told me of it. It is the first I had heard of this particular book, and given that I am trying to branch out with my reading, I have added this book to my reading list.

He also gave me a second recommendation, which is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. When I read about this recommendation, I got really excited. It is set in one of my favourite periods of history, and the synopsis in my opinion is really interesting.

I can’t wait to pick this up and have a discussion with him about it!

 

Coming Up…

Next week, I plan to start the week by sharing a book review with you.

I’ve decided to share quite a topical review, particularly if you are a fan of George R.R. Martin and the A Song of Ice and Fire series (a.k.a. a Game of Thrones). You may or may not be familiar with the fact that the prequel show (House of the Dragon) is currently airing. This in fact covers some of the narrative and history of the Targaryen’s in his book, Fire and Blood. I read this book last year, and given its hot topic at the moment, I’ve decided to share my review on that.

I will be back on Friday with another regular feature post. Next week’s post will be a First Lines Friday, and I really like the sound of the book I have chosen. The opening lines set the book in motion immediately. I also read a book earlier this year in a similar setting and time period. It has also been all that I have a read number of books by, and enjoyed. I for one can’t wait to pick up his book myself– but if you’re interested to find out what that book is, don’t forget to check out my blog on Friday.

As always, You can find out all the latest updates in my Sunday Summary post next week.

For now, that’s all folks! What have you been reading?

 

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Sunday Summary – 4th September 2022

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s Sunday Summary update post! I hope you have had a great week!

I have had a good one myself. It has been an exciting week, as I’ve had the opportunity to talk about my reading progress in August in my Monthly Wrap-Up post. Not only that, but I have also shared my humongous TBR for September. Having taken part in the ‘spring semester’ of Magical Readathon recently, I decided I really enjoyed taking part in it.

I saw that Becca is hosting her Bookoplathon readathon for September, and so I decided to take part. The board did not treat me kindly, and I have to read no less than eight books this month! If you haven’t checked out either my August wrap-up or my September TBR yet, you can find the links above to do so.

 

Books Read

In my last Sunday Summary update post, I was most of the way through Golden Son, I was part-way through The Silence of the Girls as a break from Golden Son, and in terms of audiobook progress, I had stalled a little with The Viscount Who Loved Me.

 

The Silence of the Girls

I decided my first priority of the week was to continue reading The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. I was really enjoying this particular book, and it was just the break I needed from Golden Son. Needless to say, I made very quick progress with this book and finished it very early on in the week! I really enjoyed the contrasting perspective it offers to books around war.

It is not often we think of the lives of those living in the war camp, especially those who are not there by choice. I really enjoyed this one, and if you like Greek mythology I would strongly recommend you pick this book up to!

 

Golden Son

Having had a sufficient break, I went back to finish Golden Son by Pierce Brown. I’m glad I stuck with it in the end, as the ending picked up. It’s not that the book was boring or that there was nothing going on; in fact, the problem was quite the opposite. There was a lot going on. Maybe too much! It barely felt like we had gotten over one event before the next occurred, and the pace was a bit much for me. While this didn’t really change towards the end, I think a break allowed me time to process what has happened before and I like how the book has been left in terms of a cliffhanger.

 

Silverthorn

From there I have moved on to my first read on my September TBR – Silverthorn by Raymond E Feist.

I read the first book of the series, Magician, initially as a teenager, but then again back in 2017. My intention then was to read the book to bring me back up-to-date with events so I could continue with the series. This didn’t quite pan out as I thought. However, the addition of the book I have on kindle has an excellent summary of what has gone before in the beginning. I don’t feel like I have suffered for having not picked up the second book in a while.

I am currently around halfway through Silverthorn, and I’m really enjoying the narrative so far. In all, it is quite different from what I remember of Magician. Events have moved on significantly since that first book, although we are seeing some malign forces returning to the narrative. I hope to be able to make further progress with this read quite quickly. It is easy to pick up and follow what is going on. Since I haven’t picked up this series for a long time, this is no mean feat!

 

The Viscount Who Loved Me

I have made some further progress with The Viscount Who Loved Me, albeit marginal. I have managed to get around the cringey bee sting scene by skipping what was left all together. I’ve obviously missed one of the most significant events in the book, but it wasn’t exactly surprising given that I watched the Netflix series. It’s been easy to work around and I have listened to this a little bit more, although not much.

 

Books Discovered

I have deliberately not been looking at books out there at the moment, because I can’t really afford to add anything to my TBR. I have added a number of books of late, and I’m trying to keep the number down. My efforts don’t seem to be working!

 

Coming Up…

Early next week I am sharing a discussion post with you, talking about why it is important to pick up books from diverse authors. It’s not lost on me that I’m going to be sharing this at a time when I am reading a book by a cis white male. I cannot help the bias shown in the publishing industry historically.

As much as it is important to read books by diverse authors, it is also not fair to exclude authors from your reading list based on their background. That is the point of my post, but that also includes not ruling out majority authors either.

On Friday, I will be sharing a Shelf Control post with you. The book I am featuring in that post is one I purchased a physical copy of a number of years ago. It is sat on my bookshelf waiting to be picked up, and having reminded myself of the synopsis, I can’t wait to get around to it!

As always, I’ll be back with you this time next week for my Sunday Summary update. I’m hoping to share a lot of reading progress with you, as I have a lot to read this month.

That concludes today’s Sunday Summary update. What have you been reading?

 

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Monthly TBR: September 2022 (Bookoplathon!)

You can laugh at my expense into today’s September Monthly TBR, so please enjoy the opportunity whilst you can! I’ve decided to take part in another monthly readathon – Bookoplathon! 

Taking a more flexible approach to reading has really worked for me, even when I took part in a readathon last month. I really enjoyed taking part in that readathon, and when I happened to see that there was another one that I really liked the sound of, I decided to do it this month along with other readers. All I can say is it’s a good job I’ve found my reading motivation because as you will see, luck was not on my side with this particular game.

As you have probably guessed by the title, Bookoplathon is based around the board game Monopoly. Each space has a different reading prompt.  To start the game, decide on a number of rolls and as you move around the board you have to pick a book relevant to the prompt you land on.

It would be too much to explain the whole game in detail. If you are interested, here is a link to Becca‘s announcement video which explains all the spaces and rules. The only rule I will explain here is that if you roll a double, you have to add an extra roll to your game. This means you end up adding another book to your TBR. This happened to me a lot! As and when any other rules become relevant, I’ll describe them below.

Here is a copy of my Bookoplathon board, which shows how my game played out.

I decided on five rolls before I started. That way, I rationalised, that if I got a double, I still have the capacity to read six books. Only, luck wasn’t on my side. I ended up rolling three doubles, meaning I have a total of eight books to pick up this month.

I don’t normally compensate with the length of the books I choose to read. When I loosely set a TBR, I’m more likely to read fewer books if the page count is high rather than deliberately choose shorter books. Unfortunately, I have to be conscious of the length of the books I’m going to be picking up this month to satisfy the prompts of bookoplathon. That’s not to say I’ve added eight 20-page books to my reading list this month, because I haven’t. However, I also don’t have multiple 800 page epics like I did for magical readathon. I learned my lesson there!

So, now the basic rules have been explained, let’s jump into the prompts I landed on and the books I have chosen to satisfy them: –

Silverthorn

Starting from the go square, I rolled a seven for my first roll. As with the normal board, the seven lead me to a ‘chance’ space. In bookoplathon, specific books are listed on the ‘chance’ cards, and ‘community shelf’ spaces have additional prompts. For this particular game, I set 6 books for ‘chance’ and 6 prompts on the ‘community shelf’. For ‘chance’, I decided to add books already on my TBR, and for ‘community shelf’ I added prompts that weren’t already included on the board. In order to decide which book I had to read in the case of landing on one of these spaces, it was decided by a single dice roll. For my roll on the ‘chance’ space, I rolled a two. This meant the book I have to pick up is Silverthorn by Raymond E Feist.

I added this book to the ‘chance’ card because I am long overdue progressing with this series. I read the first two books as a teenager, and then again not long after I started my blog. The aim was to refresh myself to continue with the series. That was about five years ago. I won’t be reading them again (again!), in part because I don’t own them anymore, but also because I don’t have the time. I will find a way to refresh myself on events so I can pick up Silverthorn.

 

Red Sister

Next, I rolled a 12. Obviously, this was my first double roll, so I knew pretty much straight away I was already adding at least a sixth book to my list. After rolling 12, I landed on the space for favourite trope. That for me is fantasy.

It’s a very broad prompt, but I have decided to pick up Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. This is one of the oldest books on my reading list, and it fits this prompt perfectly!

A lot of fantasy books can be quite long in length, however this one isn’t too bad at 467 pages. I have read and enjoyed other books by Mark Lawrence previously – his The Broken Empire trilogy. If I enjoy Red Sister as much as I enjoyed those books, then I will be very happy I have another series to dive into!

 

In Case You Missed It

For my third roll, I landed another seven. This took me on to the prompt for reading a book that features romance. Romance is the genre I by far read the least of. However, I have enough books on my TBR that I was able to find one. For this prompt, I have decided to go way off the beaten path and pick up a book that my mum gave to me to try.

My mum is a huge fan of Lindsey Kelk, and when she ended up with two copies of the same book by accident, she gave one to me. The book is called In Case You Missed It. I’m fairly sure I’ve seen this listed as a top read from its publisher recently. If it is the book I pick up to try Lindsey Kelk as an author, then it is probably the best pick!

 

The Long Earth

For my fourth roll I landed yet another seven. Moving around the board, this took me to a ‘community shelf’ space. As with the chance space earlier, I decided which of the six prompts to pick by the roll of a single dice. I rolled a three, and the prompt was to pick up a book that has more than one author. I already have a few books that meet these criteria on my TBR; I’ve decided to pick up a book co-authored by one of my favourite authors of all time.

The book is called The Long Earth, written by Terry Pratchett and Steven Baxter. I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett, and my dad is a fan of Stephen Baxter. I’m really enjoying science-fiction in general lately, so I’m looking forward to picking this book up. Hopefully, it goes better than another read I started which was co-authored by Terry Pratchett – Good Omens. That one did not end so well… not such a good omen in itself, but we’ll see! 

 

Ordinary Heroes

Moving onto my fifth roll, I rolled a six. This was my second double of the game, meaning I had to add another roll to the game later. The six lead me to the prompt for the highest rated book on my TBR. For this prompt, I had to go to my existing TBR and select the book with the highest community rating. I actually ended up picking the second book listed, only because the first was an ARC with only 11 votes and I didn’t think that was a fair representation.

The second-highest book had over 850 ratings. That book is called Ordinary Heroes, and is a memoir of the chief firefighter who attended the 9/11 incident. It is fitting that I will end up picking up this book in September.

Fortuitously, it also helps me towards my wider goal of reading at least one non-fiction book a month!

 

Dark Matter

My sixth roll was the first additional roll I had to do as a result of landing a double. I rolled at nine, moved around the board and landed on the ‘pattern and text’ prompt. I had quite a few examples of books with covers fitting the prompt on my bookshelf, but most I’ve read already. In the end, I found one that fit – Dark Matter.

Dark Matter is a relatively short science-fiction/thriller novel. It has been on my reading list since 2018. Reading this book for this prompt will allow me to tick another book off of my reading list once complete. This will be the first book I have ever read by Blake Crouch, and as I’m always excited for new to me authors, I’m excited to see if I want to continue with the series!

 

Carrie

My seventh roll was supposed to be my last roll, but luck was not on my side; I rolled a four which was yet another double! I was a bit frustrated with my luck at this point, I cannot lie. Rolling the four landed me on the ‘poll pick’ space. For this prompt, I had to choose four books and post a poll on Twitter to get the bookish community to choose my read. Here’s how the poll played out!

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Out of 131 votes, Carrie was by far the clear winner. I’m actually quite happy with this result! It has been a while since I’ve picked up a book by Stephen King, and I’ve heard really good things about Carrie. As we are getting into the time of year when the night start to draw in, a spooky read is just the right kind of vibe!

 

Everless

Last, but not least, I played my final roll. I scored another seven, and sighed of breath of relief that I didn’t get another double! My last trip around the board took me back to the favourite genre space I landed on in my second roll. Given that I already have a number of books on the reading list at this point, I was glad for the prompt being as broad as it was.

When choosing the last book for this list, I was very conscious of the page count. However, I was able to find a book on my TBR already that I felt was manageable – Everless by Sara Holland. At just over 360 pages, this is on the shorter end for fantasy too. I haven’t read any of Sara‘s books before either, so I’m interested to see how much I love this book as to whether I continue to read more of hers!

So there you have it friends, there is my very long Monthly TBR for September! Wish me luck – I’ll need it! I am already fairly sure that I won’t complete it, but I’m going to try my hardest!

Have you ever taken part in bookoplathon? Would you consider it even if you are as unlucky as me? Alternatively, what are you reading this month? Let me know in the comments or on social media.

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up – August 2022

I can’t believe I’m drafting my end of August wrap-up already. This year seems to be absolutely flying by, as they always seem to do!

This month I took part in a readathon for the very first time. It has been a great way of setting myself a challenge. For the last year or so I have been gradually stepping up my reading again, after stepping back from a ridiculous personal best. I have enjoyed having the challenge – although it has been a challenge! Not only did I have an ample reading list for the readathon, but I also wanted to pick up an additional book for a personal goal I have set myself – reading more non-fiction.

Let’s dive into what I have been reading this month!

 

The First Binding

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Pages: 832

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 16 Aug 2022

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – The First Binding

The first book I picked up this month was The First Binding by R.R.Virdi. This book came with its own challenge of itself, as I had to read the book and publish my review in just over two weeks. It meant I had a lot of reading to do as it’s a chunky book – at least 70 pages a day – to be able to complete this goal. I’m pleased to say I was able to keep relatively on track, and just pipped my goal at the end. It was a pleasure to read, although it might have been just a little bit nicer if I hadn’t had the time pressure. Still, I’m really glad to have taken part in the publication blog tour.

If you haven’t checked out that post already, here is a link for you to do so!

 

Invisible Women

Genre: Non-fiction

Pages: 411

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Abram’s Press

Publication Date: 12 Mar 2019

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Invisible Women

Next, I decided to read Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. This is the non-fiction read that I decided to pick up in addition to magical readathon.

It didn’t fit any of the prompts in any way, shape, or form. But, I was meant to read this last month and I ended up swapping it out last minute on a whim. I’m really glad I picked this book up anyway. It was a fantastic and enlightening read, even if some of the subjects really made my blood boil.

And that they did! What this book is really good at doing is highlighting the ways in which we think gender is treated equally, when in fact, that is far from the case! If that sounds like something you’re interested in then I would strongly recommend picking up this book.

 

Golden Son

Genre: Science fiction

Pages: 442

Audience: YA / Adult

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication Date: 08 Jan 2015

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

 

Goodreads – Golden Son

My next read was Golden Son by Pierce Brown.

This book fit the prompt of a book set in the future, although how far in the future isn’t really quantified. We know it is set in the future as it is set in a time when the human race has colonised space. The first book is set on Mars, and is a very interesting dystopian science fiction. Having read and enjoyed that book last year, I couldn’t wait to pick up sequel. That it fit this reading prompt was the perfect opportunity to pick it up.

I started off quite well with this book, although I will admit I hit a bit of a wall at around 70%. I did manage to finish this book on the very last day of the month, and it did improve at the end. My problem with it was there was an awful lot going on. By the time we got to 70%, the thrill of the action had worn off.

We’d been on the throttle for the majority of the book and I lost a bit of steam with it. To combat that, I ended up taking a short break from it to read another book, and going back to it was absolutely fine.

 

The Silence of the Girls

Genre: Historical fiction / Greek Mythology

Pages: 325

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: 02 May 2019

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads – The Silence of the Girls

To break up Golden Son, I decided to pick up The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. This was already on my TBR, however, I needed a change of setting and pace.

The book is also a quick read at 325 pages. I first picked this up on the last Saturday of the month, and I read it within about four days.

I really enjoyed the change of perspective. If you are not familiar with The Silence of the Girls, it is a Greek mythology book set during the Trojan war. What sets it apart from other narratives, however, is that it focuses on the lives of women in the war camp as opposed to the men. Instead of brave, fearless warriors, the men are talked about as husbands, brothers and sons. In a way, it de-glamorises war and hits home the devastation that it causes.

The lives of women in war are often overlooked, but The Silence of the Girls does its bit to change that. The lives the women have are harrowing. Briseis and the other women’s experiences are not made out to be tragic, exceptional circumstances – it’s commonplace. Rather, all women in the camp experience the same thing, if not worse.

Despite the subject matter and the treatment of the characters, I really enjoyed this book. It was a great palate cleanser and it was just what I needed. I’m glad I finally got to it!

 

The Viscount Who Loved Me

Genre: Historical Romance

Pages: 354

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Avon

Publication Date: 05 Dec 2000

Rating: TBC

 

Goodreads – The Viscount Who Loved Me

This month I decided to listen to The Viscount Who Loved Me. I read the first Bridgerton book, the Duke and I, back in May this year. It ended up being a fairly average read. However, I am really interested in the character stories for Eloise and Penelope.

As we are some time away in the Netflix series (at least Eloise), I wanted to try to continue with the books. A way of compromising between my enjoyment of the Netflix series, but my reservation about the books was to try it in audiobook format. This turns out to have worked pretty well overall.

If I’m honest, I’m not a huge fan of the ‘hate-to-love’ trope present in this book. I don’t understand it. For me, it is a very extreme thing to hate somebody. If you get so far as to hate somebody, then nothing they can do will redeem themselves. Maybe that says more about me. In my opinion, this isn’t a ‘hate-to-love’ relationship – it is at best ‘dislike-to-love’.

I also had to skip a very cringey scene because I just couldn’t listen to it. However, I have been able to continue with it and I am still listening to it now. I have just a few hours left.

Whilst I still have my gripes about the series in general (for example the inequality in behaviour between men and women, the romanticising of men behaving badly to name just a couple of examples), it is a lot more palatable in audio format. I was finding with reading the books that I sometimes struggled to get past sections of the narrative that I had serious gripes with. However, instead of re-reading and rolling my eyes into the back of my head, I had to let that frustration go and keep my attention on the narrative, otherwise I would get lost. As a result of fewer interruptions, I’ve been able to get on with this a lot better.

It still isn’t going to be my favourite series in the whole wide world. It never was. But, I think I can continue with the series to at least get out of it what I want.

 

Assassin’s Quest

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get to Assassin’s Quest in August.

I had an ambitious TBR, even though it was only five books; two of the books are over 800 pages (Assassin‘s Quest being one of them). I also suffered a little bit with hitting a brick wall with Golden Son. Even so, I wouldn’t have finished Assassin‘s Quest in any case.

Given that I have a manic TBR for September (check out tomorrow’s post to see why!), I’ve decided to postpone picking up Assassin‘s Quest. I won’t be doing myself any favours picking this up now, even though I want to.

Instead, I think I will leave it until October to try and read.

That’s it for my monthly wrap-up. Have you read any of the books in today’s monthly wrap-up post? What have you been reading? I’d love to know in the comments!

 

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Sunday Summary – 28th August 2022

Good evening everyone and welcome to this week’s Sunday Summary post! I have lots of updates for you; I can’t wait to share with you what I have been reading this week.

Before we jump into that, let’s recap the posts I’ve shared on my blog this week. On Tuesday, I shared a book review for a non-fiction book I read earlier this year. It was not the easiest of books to read because of the subject matter. But, I think it’s very important that everybody gives it a go at least once. That book is The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

On Friday I shared the opening lines of a newly released book I received a copy of very recently. I already cannot wait to pick this particular book up. The synopsis sounds really interesting, and the opening lines had me hooked! If you haven’t checked out that post already, you can find a link to my First Lines Friday post here!

 

Books Read

In last week’s Sunday Summary post, I was around a third of the way through Golden Son by Pierce Brown. I really enjoyed the first book of the series, Red Rising, last year. I’ve made a solid amount of progress with this book this week; I am now around 80% of my way through it.

However, I will admit that I have lost steam with this one. In my last Sunday Summary post, I mentioned that it was fast-paced, and that hasn’t changed. In fact, I think there’s too much action and too much going on if I’m completely honest. We’ve been on the throttle for most of the book, and now it is coming to the conclusion, I’m a bit bored. It’s lost the thrill of excitement.

This puts me in a bit of a dilemma because I’ve obviously invested a lot of time into getting to this stage of the book. A part of me wants to put this down, but another part of me doesn’t. For the sake of pushing through for an hour or so to get to the end, it may be worth it to persevere. It may even redeem itself. However, I’ve been lacking the drive to do so in the past couple of days. My plan is to try and push on to complete the read, but I’ll let you know what happens in next week’s Sunday Summary update.

Yesterday, in a bid to give myself a break from Golden Son, I picked up The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. This is a nice concise read, and in a very short space of time, I’ve nearly read 100 pages of the book. Coming in at just over 300 pages, that’s a good amount of progress! It is also a lot easier to read, so I think I will fly through this one.

I’m also really enjoying the perspective. Instead of featuring the usual tales of men and the glory of war in Greek mythology, it speaks about war and conquest from the perspective of the women it affects. It discusses the men who die in battle not as glorious warriors, but as brothers, husbands, and sons. Women are taken captive and enslaved in every way you can imagine. Despite the horror, this is done relatively stoically, as if it is expected by the women. It is a shocking perspective. 

Switching up my current read to this book has definitely been the right move, and I think I will finish this one before going back to Golden Son.

I have made a tad more progress with The Viscount Who Loved Me on audiobook this week, but not as much as in previous weeks. I’ve only listened to it a couple of days whilst commuting, so consequently, I’ve only made about 10% progress through the audiobook.

If I’m entirely honest, I’ve gotten to the bee sting scene and just… yeah. It made me cringe so hard I couldn’t listen to it! I’m sure most people would think it an interesting and ‘spicy’ scene, but that just doesn’t work for me! I think I’ll just skip the scene and continue around it because I cannot listen to it otherwise.

 

Books Discovered

I wasn’t planning on adding any books to my reading list this week. However, I discovered that an author I have started to read has released further books in a series that I’ve started – that being Christopher Ruocchio and his Sun Eater series. I have read the first book and started the second, however, there are a further two out already, and the fifth book is out in December this year.

I’ve added them to my reading list so they aren’t forgotten!

 

Coming Up…

Next week I have both my monthly wrap-up post, and my September Monthly TBR to share with you! It’s always an exciting week when it comes to re-capping what I’ve been reading in one month, and discussing what I’m reading in the next.

With the end of the month not falling until Wednesday, I’ll be sharing my first post of the week on Thursday the 1st September. That way, you have the very latest updates from me in my monthly wrap-up post. I already have a good chunk of this post drafted, so I’ll just be adding the last bits to it on Wednesday before it goes live on Thursday.

Next month’s TBR is extremely ambitious to the point that I don’t think I’ll complete it. However, I’m going to have a very, very good go. You’ll find out why it’s ended up that way in my post on Friday.

And, as always, I’ll be back with another Sunday Summary update this time next week. Hopefully, I will be able to continue and finish both The Silence of the Girls and Golden Son. I also want to have made decent progress with my next breed, assassins quest. I’m not going to finish this in August, but I’m hoping I can at least make a start at this point.

That’s all from me for today’s Sunday Summary update though. What have you been reading?

 

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Sunday Summary – 21st August 2022

Good evening everyone! It is the end of yet another week, and so it’s time to share all my updates in today’s Sunday Summary post. As always, I hope you’ve had a good week, whatever you have been up to!

It has been a fairly run-of-the-mill week here. My first blog post of the week was shared on Monday, and that was my blog tour review of The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. It was a pleasure to take part in the publication blog tour and I hope I have convinced somebody to pick up the book for themselves! If you haven’t heard about this epic fantasy yet, or you’re interested in my thoughts, you can check out my review with the link above.

Later in the week, it was the turn of my regular Shelf Control feature. This post went live on Friday (as usual), and this week’s feature is co-authored by father and son. Having read and enjoyed several books by Stephen King in the past, I can’t wait to see how his collaboration with his son compares. Maybe that’s enough for you to work out what book I have featured; if not and you’re curious, again, the link is above!

 

Books Read

In last week’s Sunday Summary post, I left off reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. I was just about halfway through this particular book.

As expected, it didn’t take me long to finish. I ended up finishing this on Tuesday and I’m really glad I read it. I would be lying if I said it didn’t inspire a lot of feminist rage. The whole point of the book is to highlight the ways in which women are inadvertently discriminated against/disadvantaged. It’s done more out of ignorance than malice, although I would say in some circumstances it is done knowingly; in some cases, the consequences of excluding women are unknown or not considered. Some of the points this book raised shocked me.

For example, car manufacturers don’t test female test dummies in the driver’s seat. Consequently, 47% of women are more likely to be seriously injured or die in a car accident. That’s just ridiculous, and something that could be very easily remedied.

This book covers a lot of topics, from medicine to the workplace, product design, and home life. It was really interesting to read, and I’m glad I picked it up!

Next, I decided to pick up Golden Son by Pierce Brown. I read his first book of the series, Red Rising, last year. I really enjoyed the blend of science-fiction and dystopian fiction, which carries through into the second book. The story has moved on quite significantly since its humble beginning. However, there are plenty of reminders throughout the narrative to refresh your memory.

It is also proving quite fast-paced. I only started this book on Thursday; in three days (excluding today as I haven’t read anything yet), I’m already over a third of the way in. There is lots of action to keep us engaged, and in this book, there is more emphasis on some political aspects in the book, which I’m enjoying. Also seeing a lot of the familiar characters slot into place, and I can’t wait to see how this narrative progresses.

I have also been good with keeping up with listening to The Viscount Who Loved Me this week. I can be a little bit hit and miss with audiobooks, but I’ve been making the habit of listening to them when commuting to and from work. In my last Sunday Summary update, I was around a quarter of the way through this audiobook. I have been consistent with pacing as I’m now about halfway through.

Personally, I slightly prefer listening to these books rather than reading them. They are not my favourite genre, but I wanted to read them to give myself the opportunity to branch out a little, and because I want to read Penelope’s and Eloise’s stories. These come later in the series, so I have to read the earlier books first.

If all continues as well as things are going so far, then I am of a mind to continue with the series. Maybe even beyond the character’s I’m interested in, but, we’ll see.

 

Books Discovered

This week, no news is good news. I’ve been adding more than enough books to my reading list of late. Thankfully, I haven’t found anything new that really catches my eye. Maybe this week I will be able to tick off more books from my reading list than I put on!

 

Coming Up…

Next week I have some very good posts lined up for you! On Tuesday, I’m going to be sharing yet another book review with you.

I have quite a lot of books that I have not yet reviewed, and with that in mind, I’ve put my thoughts together on The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I read this book earlier this year – in fact, I finished it the day Russia invaded Ukraine. The book is already about a difficult topic, but this made it all the more real. I can’t wait for that post to go live and tell you exactly what I thought about it!

Later in the week, my Friday feature is a First Lines Friday post. I am really happy with the book I will feature this week. It’s a book I have just received a copy of, and it’s a beautiful edition! Not only that, but I am excited about the topic and setting of this particular book. A BookTuber I follow really loved this book herself. I trust her opinion, so I am optimistic that I will love it just as much as she did!

That’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary update! What are you reading this week? Do you have any recommendations for me? As always, I will be grateful to hear them!

 

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Book Review: The First Binding – R.R. Virdi

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s review of the most epic of epic fantasy novels, The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. Advertised as The Name of the Wind meets City of Brass, this book appealed to me instantly and I added it to my TBR back at the beginning of the year. As a huge fan of Patrick Rothfuss and his The Name of the Wind series as a teenager, this book was full of promise… and a little touch of nostalgia.

And I got that from this book. The narrative style is just what I was looking for, and there’s even the odd little Easter egg that relates to the series if you can spot it.

I’m excited to share today’s review with you, which is just ahead of the publication of the book (18th August if you’d like to get yourself a copy). Before I get into sharing my thoughts on this book, I like to say a massive thank you to Gollancz for providing me with a copy of the book so I could read it and tell you all about it today. All the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own, and shared voluntarily. 

 

The First Binding

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Pages: 832

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 18 Aug 2022

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – The First Binding

All legends are born of truths. And just as much lies. These are mine. Judge me for what you will. But you will hear my story first.

I buried the village of Ampur under a mountain of ice and snow. Then I killed their god. I’ve stolen old magics and been cursed for it. I started a war with those that walked before mankind and lost the princess I loved, and wanted to save. I’ve called lightning and bound fire. I am legend. And I am a monster.

My name is Ari. And this is the story of how I let loose the first evil.

 

My Thoughts

Ari, known as The Storyteller, recounts his youth and introduction to the ten bindings all men must know. Written in the same vein as The Name of the Wind, fans of the series by Patrick Rothfuss will recognise and enjoy the narrative style. This is one of the primary reasons that I wanted to pick up this book for myself, and in every aspect, it didn’t disappoint!

Ari, aka ‘The Storyteller’ does not shy away from the dramatic. An expert narrator, he teases his audience and dabbles in anticipation to his audience. Slowly, his stories unravel in a way that steadily builds to a grand crescendo – it appeals to the audience. And with the very same craft and skill does R.R. Virdi tease Ari’s narrative across 800+ pages.

Capturing our attention from the opening lines, we go back to the very beginnings of Ari’s life as an abandoned child. From there we watch Ari advance in years and in his desire to learn about where he came from. Along the way, he encounters a vast array of characters. Not all of them are good. Not all of them are kind to him. Through sheer grit and determination, and with a few friendly faces to help him along, Ari struggles to find himself and his place in the world. He has no foundations from which to build, and so he is determined to make his own.

Epic in scope, and full of adventure, magic, and misdeeds, we reminisce on Ari’s early years. And the best thing is that this is just the beginning of the story. Of his story.

The First Binding is very well written. Full of in-depth and detailed world-building, with its own history and myths/legends, The First Binding is every bit as well developed as other popular and well-known fantasy series. In particular, I really enjoyed how the last chapter plays out, as we are almost taken back to the beginning. Almost. We have enjoyed this expansive journey with Ari, and yet the setting reminds us of where we humbly began. Consequently, it also inevitably leaves us wondering, what happens next?

Another point that really sold this book for me is how I enjoy magic systems in fantasy that have rules relating to the physical world. Authors such as Brandon Sanderson are favourites of mine because he also does the same thing.

This is also true to an extent in The First Binding. When magic takes place, things don’t just appear and disappear at will. The magic alters them in such a way that it changes their state, or where something is, for example. It is these same rules, rooted in science, that make the magic seem more plausible. They have limitations, meaning that any inconvenient plot point cannot just be made ‘right’ with magic. It must be a lot more difficult to employ a magic system that has such constraints, so I have a lot of respect for authors who are able to incorporate this, and well, and make the magic all the more believable!

Every good storyteller knows how to construct a cliffhanger, and R.R Virdi has done just that in The First Binding! I cannot wait for the sequel to see what happens next. Inevitably, there are still unresolved plot points that have not yet been explored in full detail (such as the ten bindings themselves – we only know eight of them). Some of these I expect to span over multiple books. As a huge fantasy fan, I really enjoy this depth and the promise of what is yet to come! 

Undeniably, The Fist Binding is one of my favourite reads of 2022, and I hope I have convinced you to pick this book up for yourself!

 

Author Bio

http://rrvirdi.com/about/

Sunday Summary – 14th August 2022

Happy Sunday evening everybody! If you are in the UK or British Isles, I hope you’ve been able to enjoy the lovely weather this weekend. It has been very warm even here, so I sympathise with everybody who’s had it hotter this weekend!

This week has been a good, productive one. I’ve been sticking to my goal of scheduling blog posts in advance, which I’m pleased about. I’ve finally managed to nail down a routine and a way of getting myself organised so I know exactly what I’m doing and when. And all it has taken is a week-to-week planner.

This week I have shared two posts with you. On Tuesday, I shared my 2022 New Releases I’m Excited About post. In the post, I talk about six books published in 2022 that I’m keen to pick up for myself. One of those books I’ve been reading this week. If you are interested or looking for something new to pick up for yourself, check out this post.

On Friday it was the turn of my regular First Lines Friday feature. In that post, I decided to feature this week‘s current read, and a book I feel passionately about. So much so the weekend isn’t even over yet and I’ve read half the book already!

 

Books Read

As of last week’s Sunday Summary update, I was just over halfway through The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. If you follow my blog or have been following my recent posts, you will know that I have an upcoming blog tour post to share. In this post, I’ll be sharing my review of this book. Naturally, finishing reading it has been my number one priority for the week!

I’m pleased to say that I finished this epic fantasy on Friday night. I immediately started making some notes for my post, as this is going live tomorrow. The First Binding is one of my favourite reads of this year so far. Very epic in scope, the book is strongly reminiscent of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind series.

I personally really enjoyed this as a teenager, and the narrative style of The First Binding is very like it. The thing that excites me the most, however, is that The First Binding is just the beginning of Ari‘s story. I already can’t wait to pick up the sequel and the first book isn’t even technically out yet!

This weekend, I have been reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. I originally wanted to read this book last month, however I swapped in favour of Pandora’s Jar instead. As glad as I am that did that, I’m also happy that I have now picked up this book. I’ve only been reading it for a couple of days, and I’m already 170 pages in. I also plan to be making more progress with the book tonight, so I expect to finish this shortly.

What this book is very good at doing is exposing ways in which women are unwittingly disadvantaged. You would naturally think decisions are made based on gender-neutral data. More often than not, that is not the case. Any women who have used voice recognition technology have probably encountered difficulties using it. Men, on the other hand, experience significantly fewer problems.

You would think that all the background data used to build the technology would be neutral. But, data suggests that samples the technology learns from are biased 70% in favour of male voices compared to women. This is just one example, (and one that affects me every time I write a blog post, as I dictate them). There are many more examples in this book, and far more serious as opposed to just inconvenient.

I’ve really enjoyed the first half of this book so far and I’m looking forward to reading the rest imminently.

Lastly, I started listening to The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn this week. I didn’t overly love reading the Duke and I, so I’ve decided to try this second book in audiobook format to see if it’s any easier.

I have already listened to just under 25% of the book this week. Whilst it still has its moments that induce serious eye-rolling on my part, I’m finding it easier to get through because I don’t have time to dwell on the parts that make me cringe. It is definitely working out more palatable so far, so I hope to make further progress with this book next week!

 

Books Discovered

I confess I have added one book to my reading list this week. I re-tweeted a post with a number of book recommendations that another reader has put together, as I really liked the idea.

One of those recommendations, based on the love of mythology, is The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec. Again, if you have been reading my blog of late, you will know that I have picked up Norse Mythology recently. I’ve had a bit of a rocky relationship with Neil Gaiman, but that’s a topic for another day. Despite this, I really enjoyed Norse Mythology and the snippets of stories included, with its vast array of characters.

One of the best known is the trickster Loki, and The Witch’s Heart is based significantly around the characters Angrboda and Loki, and their monstrous children.

I’m obviously really enjoying mythology at the moment, as I’ve also been picking up Greek mythology of late.

 

Coming Up…

Tomorrow I have my blog tour review of The First Binding by R.R. Virdi going live. I’ve been putting in a lot of effort into reading a book ahead of schedule, and I spent a good deal of time putting my thoughts together for that post. I really hope you can check it out and if you like the sound of the book, that it encourages you to get a copy for yourself. It was a really enjoyable read, and I can’t wait to pick up the sequel!

Later in the week, I am back with another Shelf Control feature on Friday. The next book on my TBR, featured in that post, is a book cowritten by a well-known author of his genre (horror), together with his son.

It also falls into a little bit of feminism, which is something I’ve been reading a bit around lately (I’m even reading about it now!). If you have heard of, or already read this book, you may have an idea of what I’m talking about. Otherwise, please check out that post on Friday so you can discover what it is!

And, as always, I’ll be back next Sunday with another Sunday Summary update post. I’ll discuss the books I’ve been reading, any I’ve added to my reading list, and lastly, let you know what’s coming up in the next week.

That’s all from me in Sunday Summary post. I’ve tried to get this drafted and live as soon as possible this evening. We have a slim chance of thunderstorms tonight. Whilst I would like to say I’m been noble in making sure you’re not missing out on my post, the truth is if we do get storms, I want to watch! My plan is to get more reading of Invisible Women done tonight, but if there are storms then productivity is going out of the window!

What have you read lately? Do you have any book recommendations to share?

 

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