Book Blitz & Excerpt: At the End of the World + Giveaway

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at the end

At the End of the World
by Kevin J. Fellows
Published: October 21, 2020 by Modern Folklore Press (https://modernfolklorepress.com/)
Genre: Literary Fantasy, Magical Realism
Age Group: Adult
Pages: 284 (Print Length)

Possible Ultimate Tour Experience Tickets: Represent, It’s All About the Journey, That Ship Has Sailed, Love Actually, I’m Not Crying You Are Crying, Bring On the Magic

A wayward city spinning through time and place connects and draws travelers; trapping them with no way to return home. Each traveler: Nico the peddler, Stina the university graduate, João, Lieutenant for the King of Portugal, and Croydon, a boy at the edge of adolescence, face a choice: stay in the strange medieval city where magic infects and wealth is not measured in coin, or leave to find a new home in the next time and place.

Many arrivals accept the city’s magic, others are rejected by it. A few desire it for themselves, and one seeks to destroy it. Disrupting the magic could trigger the unmaking of the city and the world containing it.

A rich and magical literary fantasy debut about finding ourselves in unfamiliar places and situations; the choices we face and the decisions we make. Do we find solace in what familiarity remains, risk everything hoping to regain what we lost, or embrace the strange and the unknown?

Goodreads / Universal purchase link / Bookshop / Modern Folklore Press

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Excerpt:

Nico Walks to the End of the World
Many will advise against this place.
A few will say seek it.
– Notes of a Traveller
(Written in small, elegant characters on the back of a crisp map.)

Nico tried to be alert to other travelers along the muddy road—a basic rule of the road—but he was tired. Ten years ago, at forty, he could have covered a few more leagues. This route had been his father’s—a meandering run through towns needing pots mended or new spoons. Maybe a different path would have found better results for the odd bits he peddled. He was no tinker, but the route was what he knew, and he walked it by long memory.
The three men walking ahead were close enough for him to hear their conversation, if they were having one. They were not. Nico’s soft, woven creel full of wrapped glass trinkets thudded against his back, and the straps cut against the skin under his arms. He was hungry. Budens was just a few more leagues. His muddied boots trundled against the road and he was glad that it had at least stopped raining. The Atlantic’s criminal winds and relentless waves battered this coast on two sides. Rain was a possibility on any day, though it rarely lasted more than an hour or two.
He was looking at his boots and noticed another pair of boots facing his. He stopped and looked up into the stubby face of one of the men who had been walking ahead.
“Purse, mendigo,” the man said. He was the smallest of the three and wore a long, mud-stained brown coat. He held a dagger in his right hand. The other two wore the same and also held daggers. There was no one on the road behind him; no one ahead. No houses for another league.
Nico lifted the leather pouch from his belt and handed it to the thief.
“Pretty light, mendigo. Where’s the rest?”
“My creel’s full, so my purse is empty.”
“What’s in it?”
“Glass figurines and a book.”
“Glass?”
Something hard struck his head, and everything fell black and muddy.

Light and sense returned slowly. It was nearly dark, and he was not alone. Nico leaned against a stone wall. Had he crawled there? His hair was wet against his head. He rubbed through it and his hand came away stained with rain-diluted blood. Where was his creel? A man dressed in odd black clothes—a short coat with thin stripes of gold thread and matching trousers—bent over something. The man’s shoes were once a shiny black, but were now stained with mud. He collected something, placing whatever he found into a basket—Nico’s creel.
“Hey, what—”
“Ah, finally awake, my friend.” the stranger said, turning to Nico. The stranger wore shiny, mirrored spectacles that hooked behind his ears. “Most of these are fine. Only a few busted. Now, what you need, is a new map.”
The man placed the last of the scattered figurines into the creel. “Thank you,” Nico said. He felt the lump on his head and feared this man might be working with the others.
“Not at all. I must have found you just after the damned thieves clocked you.”
“Clocked?”
“Here you go.” He handed the covered creel to Nico. A few broken pieces of glass remained embedded in the muddy road. “How far do you have left to go?”
Nico saw himself reflected in the small oval mirrors of the man’s spectacles. “Not far.”
“I’m a bit of a peddler too. At least, until I sell this last map.” He pulled a folded parchment from inside his coat and held it out to Nico.
“A map of what?”
“A wealthy port city less than half a day’s journey from here.”
“I’ve been there. I know my way without a map.”
The man shook the map at him. “I doubt you’ve been to the End of the World. And you have to get there soon, no later than tomorrow night, or the map will be worthless. Sooner would be even better.”
Nico took and unfolded the map. It lacked detail outside a circle, but inside lay a depiction of a small city and harbor. The familiar trading towns of Almedina, Burgau, Figueira, and Vila da Luz were sketched at the edges, but just beyond Rocha Negra, east of Vila da Luz, was the start of a road he’d never heard of—the Goresetch. The Goresetch led into the circle and city. The mapmaker had marked the city’s name in strange characters he couldn’t read. The End of the World, the stranger called it. Who named a city Fim do Mundo? Similar characters filled the back of the map—from the orient? Elegant-looking thin lines, but written at different times and with different quills. The writer had used every available space, as if it were their only paper. He handed the map back.
The man put his right hand in a pocket at the side of his pants. He continued offering the map with his left. “Two coins and you put me out of business. A city like that would flock to art such as your glass. They’d love it. There’s a kind of magic at the End of the World.”
Nico looked at his creel. He’d sold nothing in five days. Maybe a new route, a new city, was what he needed. “But I was just robbed.”
“Dude, you haven’t reached your age peddling without knowing how to preserve a few coins.”
There was no question he wanted the map, and the stranger had guessed right. Nico pulled off his left boot and shook out two dull and worn dinheiro. He replaced his boot. The man handed him the map for the coins.
“Pleasure doing business, and safe travels. Don’t let anyone else jump you.” The man turned toward Almedina. “Don’t forget, be at the End of the World before tomorrow ends,” he said, waving a finger over his head.
Nico tucked the map into his coat and headed home, wondering if he had been robbed twice.

Before dawn, Nico swallowed the last chunk of stale bread with a swill of flat, watery ale. Lura stood with her arms crossed in her worn gray house smock and stained gray wimple. The cottage smelled stale. Even the fresh bread tasted stale, but he hadn’t married Lura for her cooking. Her basketweaving was little better than her food, and while they sold, it was never enough. Their thirty years together had faded in his mind. What had drawn them together? Why had they stayed together? Had she been beautiful, wealthy? Certainly not wealthy, and he had never been handsome. However they found each other, they had become comfortable. She drew him home, always. The cure for his wanderlust, however temporary.
That’s what a lifelong love turned into—comfort. There was something more, too, something he couldn’t quite remember. It happened more often lately. Last week, he had forgotten for several panicked moments which fork in the road to take outside Burgau. He wasn’t old enough to lose so much memory. He felt no different at fifty than he had at thirty.
He rose from the table and lifted the creel over his back.
“Where will you find people longing for glass baubles today?” Lura asked, smiling.
“At the End of the World.”
“Well, if you find the end of the world be careful not to fall off and leave me widowed. Whatever would I do without your vast income?”
Let her joke. He had determined upon waking that he had not been robbed a second time but given an opportunity. The map sat in his pocket like a promise.
She leaned toward him, and he remembered. She had been and still was beautiful. Her lush brown hair was giving in to silver, and her sparkling eyes were set with fine smile wrinkles. She had chosen him—plucked him away from his father like a child adopting a puppy. He gave her a peck on the lips, and she smiled. “Return to me.”

He left their tiny home made of wood and thatch and surrounded by carob trees and wheat fields. The eastern sky was still dark, but ribbons of purple rippled above the horizon. Hearth smoke filled the air and his breath was visible. The muddy road out of Budens was rutted with cart tracks and footprints. He had to pass through Burgau and Almedina, then Vila da Luz, then down the league-long stretch of the Goresetch Finger, and finally to the End of the World.
“I should be there by evening,” he told the sky. “Well before the end of the day.”
The padded glass ornaments in his creel thudded against each other as he walked. The creel was heavy. He carried every glass bauble in his inventory, making more room by leaving behind his new book, Don Quixote. If he sold the lot for anything near the price he expected, he could live for a year without making another trip. A year spent with Lura, reading and watching her weave baskets if the wanderlust didn’t grab him.

Burgau came into view just as the sun emerged through the trees. A small fishing community with a large beach, Burgau was full of practical people but afflicted with sea salt. It hung in the air and stung the nose, a fine, pale crust that clung to anything that didn’t move. Just a few hours’ walk lay between Budens and Burgau, but less than a handful of people from either town ever visited the other. They were born, lived, and died without ever leaving their village. Budens was home and Lura, but he couldn’t stay for more than a week at a time. The pull of the road drew him away on adventures of commerce. When he was young, even if he sold his wares at cost, it felt like a success, especially if there was a book among the things he carried in return. The journey was its own payment.
Yet that form of payment no longer satisfied. There had to be some small profit. The glass baubles were a brilliant idea, but they had not sold quickly—nor at all. Farmers and fishers were not interested. Decoration was for those who appreciated art and beauty for its own sake. A more cosmopolitan place, like an actual port city, would appreciate art and have the money for it.
He stopped at a tavern for a drink and some bread with a little crottin of cheese, neither of which was stale. He left one of his two remaining dinheiros on the counter.
The tavern keep snatched the coin. “Still selling glass statuetta?”
Nico nodded. “Has someone asked for me?”
“No, just wondering if you gave them up.”
“I have to sell them. I can’t eat them.”
“True enough. Where to this time?”
“The End of the World.”
The tavern keep stopped wiping the counter. “Now, there’s a town strange as sunless mornings.”
“You’ve heard of it? Strange how?”
“Man dressed all in black with mirrored glass over his eyes stopped in here last night; said he was from the End of the World. I thought he was being secretive, but he started talking. Told me he just couldn’t take the life there. Said he came from the future, but fell into the End of the World. He gave up trying to leave and tried to fit in. Never had enough chips or something, so he gave up living there. Said this wasn’t the road home, but it was better than the End of the World.”
“Odd.”
“Imagine you’re correct.”
Nico finished his ale and left. If the man was so eager to leave, was it a place he wanted to visit?
Yes. It was a place he’d never been.

Energy and purpose drove Nico away from Burgau and over tree-lined hills and vineyards toward Vila da Luz, fueled by the feeling he was running out of time. He stopped in the empty road under a warming, early season sun to study the map. The writing on the back had been done at different times and with different inks, like notes. Why had he never heard of the End of the World, or even of the Goresetch road? He knew many distant towns and cities, had traveled to several, but heard nothing about a place called the End of the World. He would have remembered a name like that. Wouldn’t he? A kind of magic, the man had said. Also, if he didn’t reach the town today, the map would be useless. Why would that be? Must have been a sales trick, pressuring him into acting before it was too late by creating a false limitation. He was familiar with those tactics, though he didn’t use them himself. The map was probably a copy among hundreds. And probably already worthless. The city, despite its name, would be no different from any other.
He didn’t believe in magic, but he had experienced wonder. It’s what drove his wanderlust. He’d seen a man with six fingers and mountains so tall they blocked the sun half the day. He once visited the grand city of Lisboa, guarded by men in glimmering steel who were mounted on the finest horses; the city was dense, with people stuffed into every street like fish in a basket. And there was the stoic cathedral Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa, which had remained proudly upright and whole through earthquakes that had crumbled its neighbors. Miracle to some, but a wonder to him. He believed in wonders, and they beckoned him to the road. He collected wonders. So many he knew he’d forgotten some. Books, too, were collections. Collections of memories recalled by the reader, but they were someone else’s memories, or no one’s if fiction. The failures of his memory crawled at the back of his mind, stalking with the stealth of time lurking in the shadows. What happened when you lost the connection to your memories? Smells could reconnect them, sometimes a touch. But were the rest just gone forever, like a breath?
He folded the map and returned it to his pocket. He needed to hurry. It would be late when he arrived at the End of the World, and the limitation felt true.

The Goresetch was hardpacked and dusty. In the twilight, Nico couldn’t see the dust, but it tasted stale and clogged his nose. A current-driven breeze blew from the south across the Goresetch, warm and humid. Beneath the wind, there was a hint of smoke. That familiar scent of hearth and civilization mingled with the dust. He was close now, but he took another rest and pulled a glass figure from the top of his creel: a mule, like the one his father had used to carry tin pots and tools. He never cared to learn the tinker trade, but he loved that dutiful mule. He had fed and watered it as if it were his pet. He’d named him Viajante—wanderer. Loading creel baskets over Viajante’s back early in the morning, before sunrise, was a promise of a trip out of Budens. With few days at home for friends, Viajante, or Via as he grew to call him, was his closest friend. Viajante never complained about the distance or the weight on his back. It was through their travels he had met Lura. His father tinkered for her mother. That year was a warm, lavender memory. It returned, seeped into his mind like heat returning to frostbitten fingers. He put the glass mule in his pocket.
Nico walked another hour in full darkness, stopping several times to listen and search for lights. Nothing. Only the flapping of bat wings at twilight had made a sound. The seabirds were quiet in their roosts. His legs ached and his back was stiff, the weight of the glass in the creel bending him forward. The night was moonless, but that wasn’t right. It should have been a quarter moon. There must have been clouds he couldn’t quite see, though there were stars. He drifted to one side of the road, then the other, unable to see the way forward. Only the softer edge of grass on the edges outlined where the road passed. The sound of the road behind changed. It was quieter and felt more isolated. The air smelled different. Gone was the scent of sandy pines replaced by the smell of the open sea. Was it too late? Was the limitation real? Was the map?
A warm, yellow light poked a finger toward the road. Drawing closer, he saw more lights and the shadowed outlines of buildings. Voices drifted from behind dimly lit windows. There was laughter, some harsh words, and a few delighted squeals. He exhaled long, unaware he had been holding his breath.
A half dozen masted ships swayed as black silhouettes against the blacker sky. A harbor city in the truest sense. Hope lightened his step. A few people walked along the docks under the light of the ships’ lanterns, and at the far end of a quay a red light glowed at the top of a stone structure. A warning light.
A friendlier light, and some hearty laughter, spilled from a particular inn and tavern. The Scale and Tentacle called to him with its welcoming glow and cheerful sound, like a familiar haunt. There was a crowd inside, the room brightly lit. His arrival drew no attention. His stomach rumbled. There was a seat and a small table in the back, and he set his creel down and sat. A wooden menu, handwritten in charcoal, was extensive and looked delicious: roast lamb, pork tenderloin, buttered sole. Expensive items. Could one dinheiro buy a meal and shelter for the night?

Author Info

I’m a poet and author of fantasy and speculative fiction. At the End of the World is my debut novel. You can find my poetry in the Star*Line Summer 2020 issue, and in my short collection An Important Sky.

My fiction is about ordinary people and places that might have been or could be. The stories always contain magic, but never in a complicated system. What some people call ‘Low Fantasy’ but I dislike the term. There’s nothing low about it; it has plenty of deep magic. I write stories of people struggling through strange and impossible situations; of how they learn about each other and the magic of their world to find their ways.

I live in the desert southwest, but was born in the wilds of New Hampshire. I have also lived in upstate New York and Boston. I run, bike, and play guitar, all less often than I should.

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Prize: signed copy of At the End of the World by Kevin J. Fellows
Starts: April 7th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
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Spotlight & Excerpt: Raven Woman’s Tavern + Giveaway

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Raven Woman’s Tavern
by Laura Koerber
Genre: Dystopian, Magical Realism

 

A backwoods bar run by a shapeshifter.‬
A road that changes length, direction, and destination.‬
A young man, lost in the forest and dying, hears the cry of a raven.‬
 
Set in a dystopic near future, Raven Woman’s Tavern is the story of a collection of survivalists who are squatting in the remains of a dead timber town in the Northwest. The residents—most of them old, sick, and in need—help each other by means legal and extralegal under the watchful eye of Rachel, the tavern keeper. When the peace of the community is disturbed by the sudden visit of four members of the local militia, the survivalists are frightened; not all of them are law-abiding and some are not citizens. ‬
 
But, as Crazy Mary said to Charlie the Poet, “You don’t piss Rachel off. She’s got her ways.”‬
 
 
raven womans tavern teaser 2
ravenwomanstavern - excerpt
The next morning, they saw a coyote. They were hanging
out by the car, Randy whining for a cigarette while Pete and Mel
smoked. They were all sore and cranky, their faces bruised with
exhaustion. The gel in Mel’s hair was stiff with dirt and lint. Bay
supposed his hair looked pretty rough, too. He needed a shave,
and he needed desperately to brush his teeth. He was thinking
about his furry teeth and spiky hair when he saw the coyote, and
his first thought was how much better the coyote looked than
them.
It was a handsome animal, not flea bitten and skinny like
other coyotes. Bay remembered his biology teacher saying that
the huge outbreak of fleas was a global warming thing. Somehow,
that coyote had missed out. He stood silently in the woods and
observed them with eyes that seemed dispassionate, maybe
cynical. He doesn’t like us, Bay thought.
“Uh, look!” Randy hissed on a sharp intake of breath.
“Is that a wolf?” Mel whispered.
“No,” Bay told them. The coyote was almost big enough to
be one, but wolves had been shot out of the woods long ago. The
coyote lounged confidently, head up, ears forward. Bay felt a
trickle of ice water in his spine. The coyote was not at all afraid
of them.
“He’s waiting for us to die,” Randy shrilled suddenly, “so he
can eat us!”
“Oh, shut up.” Pete’s hand tugged Bay’s sleeve. “Got your
gun?” he whispered. He’d ordered them to have their weapons
handy at all times.
“Yeah, Bay,” Mel jeered, but quietly. “Get your goddamn gun
out.”
Bay didn’t move. His pistol was in his holster and he felt
the weight of it on his hip. The coyote was only forty or so feet
away, clearly visible, standing on a mossy log. Its eyes were
mesmerizing: yellow, back lit and iridescent, like opals. The
coyote seemed to be assessing them, evaluating them for some
quality that Baylor was not sure he had.

Laura started off life as an artist. Even in early elementary school she could draw with near-photo realism. She liked to tell herself stories while driving, or doing boring tasks such as housework, but never thought of herself as a writer.

That is, until she got involved in the rescue of an abused dog. Her first book, a collection of short stories entitled The Dog Thief, made the Kirkus Review list of one hundred best indy publications and set her on a course of writing.

With one exception, her subsequent novels are in the genre of fantasy, though four have themes relating to current events, and three are also dystopias. Wild Hare, the story of a half/man-half/nature spirit and his feud with the local civic powers also made the Kirkus Review “best of” list.

The exception, I Once Was Lost But Now Am Found, is the nonfiction account of the largest dog rescue in the US to succeed without help of local authorities.

Laura is a retired teacher and lives on an island in Puget Sound with her husband; her one-eyed cat; and her elderly, disabled and chronically grumpy shih tzu. She is volunteers at a rescue for unadoptable cats.

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
 
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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Years of Silence

years of silence

BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Years of Silence

Author: J.K. Jones 

Publisher: Self-published 

Release Date: December 30, 2020

Genre/s:  Dark M/M Romance, Magical realism

Tropes: Friends to lovers

Themes: Russian Mafia, floral horror, body horror romance, interracial romance, cultural diaspora 

Heat Rating:  4 flames 

Length:  91 872 words

It is a standalone book. 

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links 

Amazon US  |   Amazon UK 

 

Years of silence

Three friends. Two lies. One truth.

 

Blurb 

Three friends. Two lies. One truth.

Silence can be deafening. Billionaire Tycoon Zander Wright is no stranger to loneliness.

However, what happens when his friend-turned-enemy comes back?  

Knowing Vadim is like dancing the space between heaven and hell. The ocean is an inch between ecstasy and misery. Like all things long since forgotten, young love always remains the most crippling of pain.

Zander Wright is aware of this. He’s felt the fatal blow of being love-struck—bludgeoned violently over the head with the taste and feel of utopia in his arms and in his bed.

Vadim Oblonsky will always be the one thing he wants, but can never have.

Just like Petyr Yahontov will always be the one thing standing in his way. A dangerous man, with a sweet dimpled grin that has connections to the Russian mafia. Petyr wasn’t supposed to take it this far. Now, someone in his inner circle wants him dead. Zander didn’t start this. He didn’t want any part of it.

But he will be damned if he doesn’t finish it.

 

Warning from the author – Years of Silence is a dark MM Romance. This book will take you on a journey of self-discovery and disillusionment, a psychological thriller with so many twists and turns it will make your head spin. Enemies to lovers, floral horror, friends to lovers, hurt comfort, first time mm romance, gay betrayal romance, mental instability and so much more. Read an outstanding piece of literature of three friends and how one truth destroys all of them.

 

Excerpt 

From Chapter 1

Zander recalls these images not to relive them.

But to dance the space between heaven and hell. The ocean is an inch between ecstasy and misery. Like all things long since forgotten, young love always remains the most crippling of pain.

Zander Wright is aware of this.

He’s felt the fatal blow of being love-struck—bludgeoned violently over the head with the taste and feel of utopia in his arms and his bed.

The grotesque and sublime slam into him all at once, he tries to push through, he tries forcing it down, but still, it bubbles up. For once he doesn’t release it, he holds onto it, until it solidifies in his soul.

He knows he’ll never let go. Not now and not ever. Not even if it kills him.

And it surely will kill him, one of these days.

Zander raps his fingers on the table, impatiently going over the extensive legal jargon. The leather feels plush and comfortable as he leans back into his chair. The office is spacious and almost too large for one person alone, but Carlisle has insisted.

There’s a large bookshelf in the far corner, hefty enough to fill a library with nearly dozens upon, dozens of cases. Zander read them all.

Not by choice of course, but by necessity. He lives and breathes his work.

Case files lay stacked on his desk, untouched because of the sheer amount of work he still needs to get through.

“Is this all of it?”

The intern nearly jumps, his small lithe frame looking even smaller in his black slacks and white crisp dress shirt. He’s native American, with beautiful tan skin and dark piercing eyes, rimmed with glasses “Yes Mr. Wright.”

Zander looks back at the file, his eyes greedily taking in every single word. The whole case was fucked up. Even as he read more about the people involved, he felt his stomach coil in disgust. Sometimes he wonders why he became a defense attorney in the first place.

You know why.

“Sick fuck,” He mutters under his breath, before tossing the file on the table.

The case is straightforward: billionaire tycoon caught raping an underage girl and somehow thought throwing money at the problem would make it all go away. However, more women started coming out, accusing the defendant of being a rapist.

“A friend of my father’s you said?”

“Yes, Mr. Wright.”

Even after all the evidence proved that the man was guilty, he still had the fucking gull to plead “not guilty”. It was hard to argue against his DNA found in a rape test. Zander knew he had to take this case on, it was expected of him.

His face hardens.

“These are the police reports. I’ve sealed them to make sure nobody has access to them.” Zander says, placing them in a filing cabinet near his desk, and then Zander hands another file over to him. “Seth, take the case report back to Tanya and tell her that I want Mr. Dmitriev in my office Thursday morning at nine am sharp.”

“Yes, Mr. Wright,” Seth says, snatching the file away and nearly sprinting out of the room.

Zander takes a deep breath, loosening his silk fitted Armani jacket.

If this were a normal day, he would have yelled at Seth for not bringing these files in sooner. His father wanted this situation dealt with as quickly and discreetly as possible.

However, today was unlike any other day. His fingers twitch with anticipation as he wills himself to calm down.

Zander moves from his chair, eager to get the blood pumping and not to dwell on the reason why it feels like his heart wants to burst from his chest.

 

About the Author  

Heaven and hell, demons and angels. J.K Jones has always had an affinity for otherworldly things. From her debut novel, it’s easy to see she loves all things crawling in the shadows. As it so happens, J.K Jones is the author of a gritty, fun, action-packed, soul-rending novel. Her characters are so dark and twisted they defy the dimensions of this world. She does not believe in HEA, she does believe in writing a suitable ending for her characters. Never will you read any of her works where the characters ride off into the sunset together. Not going to happen. There is nothing J.K. Jones loves more than a tragic ending. She is an avid reader, poet, and LGBTQ activist. She is a University graduate with a BA in Sociology, also has a TESOL certificate for teaching English as a Second Language.

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