Monday, November 28, 2016

Where Is Your Bookmark? (& Books I Plan to Give As Gifts This Year)

Today I thought I would share the opening of my November TBR List Winner, The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, which I finished reading last week and will be reviewing soon.

Goodreads Summary:

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
The chapters are not numbered in The Sun Is Also a Star, but they are labeled by various characters' names. The first section, which I am not going to share here (because it's only two paragraphs long) is the prologue. I thought I would start with the first chapter after the prologue, jumping right into the story.


Every Tuesday Diane from Bibliophile By the Sea First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where participants share the first paragraph (or a few) of a book they are reading or thinking about reading soon. It is also where I share my first impressions about the book I am sharing.

Daniel
Local Teen Accepts Destiny. Agrees to Become Doctor, Stereotype
It's Charlie's fault that my summer (and now fall) has been one absurd headline after another. Charles Jae Won Bae, aka Charlie, my older brother, firstborn son of a firstborn son, surprised my parents (and all their friends, and the entire gossiping Korean community of Flushing, New York) by getting kicked out of Harvard University (Best School, my mother said, when his acceptance letter arrived.) Now he's been kicked out of Best School, and all summer my mom frowns and doesn't quite believe and doesn't quite understand.  
Every Tuesday, Jenn from Books And A Beat hosts Teaser Tuesdays at which time participants grab their current read, open to a random page, and share two (2) "teaser" sentences from that page while avoiding any spoilers.


Teaser from page 75 of The Sun is Also a Star under the heading "Natasha":
I don't tell Red Tie the complete truth about what I would do with a time machine if I had one. I would  travel back in time and make it so the greatest day of my father's life never happened at all. It is completely selfish, but it's what I would do so my future wouldn't have to be erased.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?  


What are you reading at the moment?  Is it anything you would recommend?



Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at Broke and Bookish.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a Holiday Gift Guide freebie. I knew reading books that support and represent cultural diversity is important, but recent events in my own country have motivated me to make sure I extend that into the books I give as gifts this year too. As Jeann from Happy Indulgence once said, "Literature is such a powerful way to send a message of understanding, awareness and acceptance." Here are just a few of the books on my gift giving list this year. I would love to hear from you as well. Maybe something you recommend will make it into the hands of one of my gift recipients!


1. In the time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
Goodreads Summary:  
It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas—“The Butterflies.”

In this extraordinary novel, the voices of all four sisters—Minerva, Patria, María Teresa, and the survivor, Dedé—speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from hair ribbons and secret crushes to gunrunning and prison torture, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo’s rule. Through the art and magic of Julia Alvarez’s imagination, the martyred Butterflies live again in this novel of courage and love, and the human cost of political oppression.



2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Goodreads Summary: 


Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, 
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.


3. Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Goodreads Summary:  
Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Nicole Dennis- Benn pens a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school. Taught as a girl to trade her sexuality for survival, Margot is ruthlessly determined to shield Thandi from the same fate. When plans for a new hotel threaten their village, Margot sees not only an opportunity for her own financial independence but also perhaps a chance to admit a shocking secret: her forbidden love for another woman. As they face the impending destruction of their community, each woman—fighting to balance the burdens she shoulders with the freedom she craves—must confront long-hidden scars. From a much-heralded new writer, Here Comes the Sun offers a dramatic glimpse into a vibrant, passionate world most outsiders see simply as paradise.


4. Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Goodreads Summary:  
 Anju is the daughter of an upper-caste Calcutta family; her cousin Sudha is the daughter of the black sheep of the family. Sudha is as beautiful, tenderhearted, and serious as Anju is plain, whip-smart, and defiant. yet since the day they were born, Sudha and Anju have been bonded in ways even their mothers cannot comprehend.

The cousins' bond is shattered, however, when Sudha learns a dark family secret. Urged into arranged marriages, their lives take sudden, opposite turns: Sudha becomes the dutiful daughter-in-law of a rigid small-town household, while Anju goes to America with her new husband and learns to live her own life of secrets. Then tragedy strikes them both, and the women discover that, despite the distance that has grown between them, they have only each other to turn to. Set in the two worlds of India and America, this is an exceptionally moving novel of love, friendship, and compelling courage.


5. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Goodreads Summary:  
The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.
Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.


6. When the Moon Is Low by Nadia Hashima
Goodreads Summary:  
Mahmoud's passion for his wife Fereiba, a schoolteacher, is greater than any love she's ever known. But their happy, middle-class world—a life of education, work, and comfort—implodes when their country is engulfed in war, and the Taliban rises to power.

Mahmoud, a civil engineer, becomes a target of the new fundamentalist regime and is murdered. Forced to flee Kabul with her three children, Fereiba has one hope to survive: she must find a way to cross Europe and reach her sister's family in England. With forged papers and help from kind strangers they meet along the way, Fereiba make a dangerous crossing into Iran under cover of darkness. Exhausted and brokenhearted but undefeated, Fereiba manages to smuggle them as far as Greece. But in a busy market square, their fate takes a frightening turn when her teenage son, Saleem, becomes separated from the rest of the family.

Faced with an impossible choice, Fereiba pushes on with her daughter and baby, while Saleem falls into the shadowy underground network of undocumented Afghans who haunt the streets of Europe's capitals. Across the continent Fereiba and Saleem struggle to reunite, and ultimately find a place where they can begin to reconstruct their lives.


7. The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin
Goodreads Summary:  
In this omnibus edition of N.K. Jemisin's brilliantly original award-winning fantasy series, a young woman becomes entangled in a power struggle of mythic proportions. 
A REALM OF GODS AND MORTALS. 
Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle. 
The Inheritance Trilogy omnibus includes the novels: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, and The Kingdom of Gods.


8. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Goodreads Summary:  
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970's small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.

A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.


9. China Dolls by Lisa See
Goodreads Summary:  
In 1938, Ruby, Helen and Grace, three girls from very different backgrounds, find themselves competing at the same audition for showgirl roles at San Francisco's exclusive "Oriental" nightclub, the Forbidden City. Grace, an American-born Chinese girl has fled the Midwest and an abusive father. Helen is from a Chinese family who have deep roots in San Francisco's Chinatown. And, as both her friends know, Ruby is Japanese passing as Chinese. At times their differences are pronounced, but the girls grow to depend on one another in order to fulfill their individual dreams. Then, everything changes in a heartbeat with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Suddenly the government is sending innocent Japanese to internment camps under suspicion, and Ruby is one of them. But which of her friends betrayed her? 


10. Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
Goodreads Summary:  
Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the United States to find work. Recently, it has dawned on her that he isn't the only man who has left town. In fact, there are almost no men in the village--they've all gone north. While watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides to go north herself and recruit seven men--her own "Siete Magníficos"--to repopulate her hometown and protect it from the bandidos who plan on taking it over.

Filled with unforgettable characters and prose as radiant as the Sinaloan sun, Into the Beautiful North is the story of an irresistible young woman's quest to find herself on both sides of the fence.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What books representing cultural diversity will you be giving as gifts this year, if any?


© 2016, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

56 comments:

  1. Oh wow I have only read one of these books. Thank you for the rec's I will definitely be expanding my diverse reading. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was a really good book and I still think about it.

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    1. Sue - I still think on Alexie's book too. I am glad to know you liked it as well. :-)

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  2. You have got some great books on your list! I'm intrigued by Into The Beautiful North!

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    1. Chrissi - Thank you! I heard Urrea speak at a book festival years ago and was really impressed. I have a couple of his books on my shelf.

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  3. I'm interested in The Sun Is Also a Star because I think I'd enjoy a glimpse into subcultures in the U.S. Sounds like the characters and plot would be fascinating.
    My Tuesday post features MIAMI MORNING.

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    1. Sandra - I thought Nicole Yoon did a great job depicting the two different subcultures. I loved the book, and it's one I think I'll be recommending to everyone who will listen. :-)

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  4. Oh my gosh, I need to read all of these! In the Time of the Butterflies and Part-Time Indian are two of my all time favorites, so I feel pretty sure that the others you list will be terrific as well.

    I wrote a post last week about the books I'm pushing on students to help build empathy in light of our recent political fiascos. Completely agree that we need to proactively share diverse books.

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    1. Wendy - I will have to go back and read your post. The entire political climate as of late has really shaped my current reading, and hopefully those I am giving these books too will get something out of them (and enjoy them).

      (Back from reading your post. I have only read one you mention, which is listed on my list above. And, sad to say, there was only one other one I had heard of and am dying to read--the one by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. I will definitely have to remedy that. Thanks for sharing!)

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  5. I love that first paragraph and want to read it. I also love your Top Ten list. I've read a couple of them, but I also copied the rest of the list. I want to share those books as well as read them myself. That's such a good list - Good for you.

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    1. Margot - Thank you! I highly recommend The Sun Is Also a Star if you get a chance to read it. I'm excited about seeing what my gift recipients think of the books. I'm generally pretty good about matching books to people in my family, but, a least in a couple instances this time, I am a bit nervous to see how the books are received. I hope they'll try them because I really think they will enjoy them if they give them a chance.

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  6. I'm tempted by that first paragraph - I like how the book distances itself from others in the genre from the start - some excellent books on your top ten list this week too.

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    1. Cleo - I was really moved by Yoon's novel, am so glad I read it. I hope you get a chance to!

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  7. I like that teaser, would definitely keep reading. Anything with time travel at least gets my attention, and if it's good I'll usually give it a shot!

    On your TTT list I think In The Time of Butterflies looks really interesting. China Dolls does too especially the subject of the internment camps, since it still shocks me that that happened and with political discourse the way it is I wonder if similar bad things could ever happen. And The Inheritance trilogy looks like a good fantasy!

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    1. Greg - Contemporary YA is hit and miss with me, but I really enjoyed Yoon's book.

      I hope we go back to interning or even registering people. It's scary that it's even coming up as a possibility.

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  8. All the books on your list sound amazing, but the ones that really caught my eye were: In the Time of Butterflies, Sister of my Heart, Everything I never Told You and China dolls.

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    1. Eustacia - I think they do too! I hope you get a chance to read one or two--or maybe all of them. :-)

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  9. I fell in love with the cover of The Sun is Also a Star - and that opening has really snagged my attention... Thank you for sharing and your TTT list is awesome. To my shame, I've only read the Jemisin trilogy. Thank you for the recommendation! This is my TT - https://sjhigbee.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/teaser-tuesday-29th-november-2016/

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    1. Sarah - I love the cover of that one too. It was such a good book too.

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  10. Those are some good looking books as gifts. I really need to read the rest of the Inheritance Trilogy.

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  11. I like the sound of this intro an awful lot - the narrator's voice appeals to me.

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    1. Diane - I loved this book, Diane. I hope you will give it a try!

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  12. These are really great picks, especially Everything I Never Told you...this book has been intriguing me for a while...will definitely check it out.

    Great list!
    Here’s my Top Ten Tuesday if you want to check it out:
    https://thehogsmeadereader.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/ten-magical-gifts-any-potterhead-will-love/

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    1. Danica - Thank you! I hope you are able to give it a try. :-)

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  13. I listened to The Sun is Also a Star and found the beginning a little confusing but ended up loving the book.

    I've read two of the books on your list and they were both terrific!

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    1. Kathy - I think The Sun Is Also a Star would be great on audio. I am glad you liked it!

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  14. I think she may be angry with her father. lol
    sherry @ My TT

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  15. I like that opening! I'll have be sure to give it a try.

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  16. I'm not sure about The Sun Is Also a Star....but I'm curious.

    Of the Top Ten, I read and enjoyed Everything I Never Told You.

    Thanks for sharing, and here's mine:
    “IN HER WAKE”

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    1. Laurel-Rain - I was surprised at how much I liked The Sun Is Also a Star. There was more to it than I expected.

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  17. Re: the gift books, I only read Everything You Never Told Me and enjoyed it. I like the blurb for The Butterflies title. I wish I could give books to everyone I know, but only my son appreciates them as gifts. My grandkids have drifted away from reading since they're in school unfortunately.
    I have some nonfiction listed on my blog yesterday that are important reads, but would probably be too depressing for holiday gifts, such as The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace. His environment and lack of support system dragged him back down :(
    Thanks for sharing this list😀

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    1. Rita - I am lucky to have a lot of readers in my family. Both my parents-in-law read and my mother is an avid reader. My husband and his brother read to a lesser degree. We don't always read the same types of books, but there is some crossover. And I've learned their tastes pretty well over the years.

      I am giving my father-in-law nonfiction books this year (not listed). He's more of a history and nonfiction reader.

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  18. Interesting list of books...I've not read any but many look like reads I'd enjoy!

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    1. Melissa - I hope you will give one or two a try!

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  19. I've had The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian reserved at the library for what seems like forever. Alas not a book I've found in the various charity shops I frequent, I may well have to give a hint to Father Christmas.

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    1. Tracy - I hope you get a chance to read it at some point, Tracy. It must be very popular if you have it reserved and haven't seen it yet--or the library lost it's copy. :-(

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  20. So many wonderful books. I only recognize a couple. Your teaser leaves me wondering what his father did to deserve what he would have done if he went back in time. New author for me too!

    My TT from Christmas Magic 1959

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    1. Laura - Thank you! She was very unhappy with him, that's for sure.

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  21. Good stuff here! I enjoyed China Dolls on audio. I've had a few of the others on my to read list for a while--Here Comes the Sun and Sister of My Heart.

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    1. Lisa - I am in the middle of Here Comes the Sun right now (the audio) and am enjoying it so far.

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  22. Lots of great books! I love your teaser! Here is my TT: http://shoshireads.weebly.com/home/teaser-tuesday1363034

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  23. That's a great list of books, Wendy. I've not read anything on your list except Everything I Never Told You. Loved the writing and the subjects covered.

    Happy reading!

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    1. Melody - Admittedly, I haven't read them all just yet, but the ones I read were wonderful and the others are on my must read list and come highly recommended.

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  24. Great list of books! I have read a couple and I think all others are on my TBR list! haha... I don't know if I'll end up giving a lot of books this year but for one friend I do plan to give her a Pablo Neruda poetry collection so that counts for some diversity :)

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    1. Iliana - Thank you! I am known in my family for giving books as gifts. :-) It's always fun to match books with the readers in my family. Most of the time, they end up loving the books. I'm always a little nervous about it though.

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  25. What a great mix of settings and cultures you have here! "Homegoing" is tied for my favorite book of the year -- it was just AMAZING. And it's on my list this week too. I also just read and enjoyed Jemisin's "The Fifth Season"; after I read book two I might just need to check out the other series you mention above!

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    1. Lindsay - I haven't yet read The Inheritance Trilogy, but I hear it is really good. My brother-in-law likes fantasy, and so I thought this might be up his alley--and yet something different than he's used to as well.

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  26. Fantastic teaser and a fab list of books. Some new ones for me to add to my wishlist lol.

    New Follower

    Feel free to pop over and check out my Teaser Tuesday

    Shubba @ Wee Shubba's World

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    1. Wee Shubba - Thank you! It was fun compiling the list, and I loved Yoon's book. :-) Thank you for the follow!

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  27. Looking forward to this book. Thinking it may be my first book of 2017. Loved True Diary and China Dolls. A couple of others are on my TBR list. So far I've only bought kids books for Christmas.

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    1. Nise' - I hope you do get a chance to read it. It was so good!

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