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August 22, 2008 Newsletter

August 22, 2008

This Week on

Beach Bound --- With Books! Talks to Jeff Smith, Author of the Bone Series

Our Summer Beach Bag Contest: Spotlight This Week on THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein

Now in Stores: FIRST DAUGHTER by Eric Van Lustbader
Now in Stores: FRACTURED by Karin Slaughter

Special Contest: Win the BELLE WEATHER Gift Basket

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Tess Gerritsen, Author of THE KEEPSAKE

Featured Historical Fiction Author: Louis Bayard, Author of THE BLACK TOWER

New in Paperback for August

Now in Stores: FAKING GRACE by Tamara Leigh
What's New This Month on
This Month's Grab Bag of Books Giveaway

This Week's Reviews

Poll and Question of the Week: Bookstore Visits During Vaca and THE Book of the Summer

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- TWO Prizes

Quick Links to Features On The Book Report Network
Past Reviews
Can't See the Graphics? Read This Newsletter Online
Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight Promotion
Debut Suspense/Thriller One to Watch Promotion
Mystery Mayhem Promotion

Historical Fiction Promotion

One to Watch Promotion
Books Into Movies
Bestseller Lists
Coming Soon
New in Paperback

Beach Bound --- With Books!

College dorm room shopping has reached a new fevered pitch. I spent most of last weekend trying to have my son comprehend that while he will be living in an on-campus apartment, which is pretty cool for a freshman, this is neither a five-star hotel (which I confess that my sons are quite fond of) nor is it furnished like an extended stay inn. It's a dorm. And yes, that does have four letters. In fact, the furniture fancies a minimum security prison (the bedroom) or doctor's waiting room (the living room). I keep telling Greg to look around the house at the things he uses every day like paper towels, toilet paper and kitchen utensils and realize that none of those come with the apartment. I would have used cleaning supplies as part of this exercise, but I am not sure Greg would recognize Clorox Cleanup or Scrub Free. Those were part of the Advanced Housekeeping class he skipped in lieu of taking Lighthouse Exploration and the History of Ocean Liners.
Our adventures to Target and Bed Bath & Beyond were reality show material last weekend. I am not sure that punching and scrunching the pillows to find the best one was as amusing as looking for the perfect unbreakable bathroom cup or excitement over some 30-piece set of kitchen gadgets that included a whisk. Somewhere in the middle of this, Greg informed me that he thought we should head to Williams-Sonoma for some Henkel knives or All-Clad pots. I did not leap at this suggestion. When he mentioned this to my husband, who still wondered WHY he needed to cook anything if a meal plan was available, Tom informed him that this was not a bridal shower; it was furnishing the dorm room. I am overthinking this (my usual mode) since I know that the alternative is that Greg will show up in my office, a few short blocks from Fordham, with lists of things he “needs.” 

When the Olympic flame is extinguished, many of us will go back to sleeping a lot more. I just read that Fireside, a division of publisher Simon & Schuster, will be publishing a book by Phelps called BUILT TO SUCCEED in December. I look forward to reading it. Phelps did something bigger than swimming these past few weeks. At a time when things are pretty uncertain here and abroad, we were reminded that commitment and focus still do matter. To me, it was not like the other seminal moments of the Olympics --- USA Hockey, Mark Spitz, Greg Louganis. Instead, swimming became a metaphor for something bigger in life.

Last Friday night I had a great time at the Clinton Book Shop at the event that they did for Garth Stein and THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN. There were lots of dogs at this event. A few even barked when Garth was speaking. I think they may have been fans of Enzo's or they too knew that when they came back as humans they wanted to be part of Garth's world. Maybe they were barking for a sequel. This segues nicely to our Beach Bag of Books contest book this week, which is THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN. Our bag includes a fun tube for floating, balls that are great for dog or human beach play and dogbone-shaped cookies that are for human consumption.

For those of you in book discussion groups, please be sure to visit the blog on Monday, where Garth Stein will share his thoughts on book clubs. Among our other contributing bloggers this month are Amy Bloom, author of AWAY, who shares some of her favorite recipes for book club discussions, and Lisa See, author of PEONY IN LOVE, who talks about how book clubs have changed over the years.

We received some great feedback from our advance readers of THE GARGOYLE by Andrew Davidson, which you can read here, and DUMBFOUNDED by Matt Rothschild, which you can read here.

This week I saw a terrific trailer that was made for Brad Meltzer’s THE BOOK OF LIES. You can view it here. The book will be in stores on Tuesday, September 2nd. Great reading.

Tuesday will be the 12th anniversary of Some days it feels like it’s been a lifetime since August 26, 1996 (think 14.4 modems and you too can feel like it was a lifetime) and other times it feels like it was yesterday. I do know that my world has been seriously enriched for all the people I met in the past dozen years. I still think I have the best job, but what I also realize is that this is not just a job to me. Writing about books and authors has come to define me, and this world, coupled with the immediacy of the online medium, makes me happy, which is pretty grand. So as we stop to celebrate this anniversary, I want to thank each and every reader of this newsletter and the website. Your reading --- and sharing --- has given this site and newsletter the spirit that is has.
We are taking our annual summer week off next week to give the staff some R&R time, so there will not be a update until September 5th. I am headed to the Outer Banks for pool floating and lots and lots of reading. (I know it’s shocking that I am not going to California! Watch Continental’s stock plummet on that announcement.) Yes, my medium-sized suitcase is filled with books, and I plan to have lunch with Jamie Layton from Duck's Cottage and to see my gal pals Jeanne and Brittany at Knitting Addiction in Southern Shores about the four --- yes, four --- knitting projects still in progress. More on what I have read when I get back. Note to anyone who thinks I need a Kindle. Three reasons: 1) Not waterproof. 2) I do not need one more thing to charge. 3) When they say “turn off all personal electronic devices” on airplanes, I think Kindles are included. And with the amount of time I spend sitting on runways, there’s at least a book of reading that happens on the tarmac!
You have a great TWO weeks...and for a laugh in lieu of next week’s newsletter, please all picture me spending the Sunday of Labor Day weekend hauling Greg’s paraphernalia into the elevator and up the stairs (3rd floor is a dream!!!) and teaching Greg the fine art of making a bed with the new sheets from The Company Store. I am sure this is the LAST time this bed will be made. This is the same child who has slept on a bare mattress in his sleeping bag and even once in trunk of his SUV when left on his own to make a bed.

Here's to great reading --- and lots of laughs. I do know that if I am laughing; I am not crying, which I fear will happen when I leave him at school. I am off to perfect my dolphin kick, which Michael Phelps made look soooo easy. Trust me, it’s not. I was in the pool this morning trying it and I sank. 

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected]) Talks to Jeff Smith, Author of the Bone Series

Artist and author Jeff Smith is the creator of the Bone series, which has been hailed as one of the 10 greatest graphic novels of all time. In this interview with's Contributing Editor John Hogan, Smith recalls some of the early roadblocks he encountered while attempting to get his work published and muses on the appeal of the series to a wide range of audiences. He also explains how --- with its overall story spanning 1,300 pages --- he was able to keep his plot lines straight, discusses the inspiration behind some of the characters' kooky names and shares what he's working on now that the Bone epic has been completed.

TREASURE HUNTERS: Bone, Volume 8 by Jeff Smith
The Bone cousins, Gran'ma Ben and Thorn reach the city of Atheia, where they reunite with old friends and prepare to battle The Lord of the Locusts. The Pawan army has joined forces with Briar and the rat creatures, and danger increases as Thorn's visions become more threatening. Meanwhile, Phoney Bone is convinced Atheia is rich in gold, and he is determined to find it! Reviewed by John Hogan.

-Click here to read a review of TREASURE HUNTERS.

Click here to read our interview with Jeff Smith.

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Our Summer Beach Bag Contest: Spotlight This Week on THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein

Whether your "beach" is on sand, your backyard deck or a grassy meadow in the country, the summer months mean it's time for "beach reading." is celebrating the lazy days of summer reading with our Fourth Annual " Beach Bag of Books."

Every week from May 16th through August 29th, a different title or collection of titles will be featured with a review and contest prize --- a beach bag stocked with the featured book(s), plus summertime essentials that tie in to the weekly theme. Five FABULOUS beach bags will be given away each week, as well as five copies of the featured book(s) to additional winners.

This week we’re spotlighting THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein, an unforgettable novel told from the perspective of a dog named Enzo. In a blue bag with a rope design, winners will find a blue towel with a car theme, a blow-up tube with a nautical theme, a set of balls perfect for water play, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN bone-shaped cookies for humans, a bottle of Coppertone Sport sunblock and H20+ Moisturizing Body Balm and Poolside Shower and Bath Gel, as well as a copy of THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN. We have five to give away, as well as five additional prizes of copies of THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN.

To enter, fill out this form and answer the following question by Thursday, August 28th at 11:59PM. You can find the answer by reading the excerpt

Where does Denny work?

THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein (Fiction)
Enzo relays the story of his family --- which includes race car driver Denny, wife Eve and daughter Zoë --- who face being torn apart when Eve becomes ill. While struggling to hold them together, Enzo refines his plans to be reincarnated as a human. After all, being a dog severely limits his ability to express his huge heart and soaring soul to those he loves most. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

-Read more about Garth Stein and THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN here.

Click here to read all the details of our Summer Beach Bag Contest.

Now in Stores: FIRST DAUGHTER by Eric Van Lustbader

FIRST DAUGHTER by Eric Van Lustbader (Thriller)
When the incoming president's daughter is kidnapped, the incumbent administration seizes the opportunity to discredit a group of secular isolationists. Jack McClure, a man who suffers from dyslexia, is the only one who can see the truth behind the abduction. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.
-Click here to read an excerpt from FIRST DAUGHTER.
-Visit the author's official website,


Click here to read a review of FIRST DAUGHTER.

Now in Stores: FRACTURED by Karin Slaughter
FRACTURED by Karin Slaughter (Suspense)
When Atlanta housewife Abigail Campano comes home unexpectedly one afternoon, she walks into a nightmare. A broken window, a bloody footprint on the stairs and, most devastating of all, the horrifying sight of her teenage daughter lying dead on the landing, a man standing over her with a bloody knife. The struggle that follows changes Abigail's life forever. Reviewed by Marge Fletcher.
-Click here to read an excerpt from FRACTURED.

Click here to read a review of FRACTURED.


Special Contest: Win the BELLE WEATHER Gift Basket

We’re celebrating the release of BELLE WEATHER: Mostly Sunny with a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits --- Celia Rivenbark’s hilarious new book --- with a special contest. Readers who answer a question correctly by listening to an excerpt read aloud by the author will be automatically entered to win. You may listen to the excerpt on this page. In a wicker basket, one lucky Grand Prize winner will receive a finished copy of BELLE WEATHER, a copy of the BELLE WEATHER audiobook read by Celia Rivenbark and white sunglasses, as well as the trade paperback editions of Celia Rivenbark’s entire backlist, which include STOP DRESSING YOUR SIX-YEAR-OLD LIKE A SKANK, WE’RE JUST LIKE YOU, ONLY PRETTIER and BLESS YOUR HEART, TRAMP. Twenty other lucky readers each will win a finished copy of BELLE WEATHER. Enter between now and Wednesday, September 17th by filling out the form found here.

Hang on to your hats! We’re in for some fiercely funny weather and crackling-sharp observations from Celia Rivenbark, of whom USA Today has said, “Think Dave Barry with a female point of view.” Whether she’s doing her taxes or extolling the virtues of Madonna’s mothering skills, Celia Rivenbark will keep you laughing until the very last page.

-Click here to read more about BELLE WEATHER.
-Click here to read an excerpt from

Click here for more details about the contest and how to enter.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Tess Gerritsen, Author of THE KEEPSAKE

Tess Gerritsen, the New York Times bestselling author of such novels as HARVEST and THE BONE GARDEN, knows how to expertly dissect a brilliantly suspenseful story, all the while keeping fascinated readers riveted to her side. In THE KEEPSAKE, her new thriller releasing on September 9th, a homicide detective and a medical examiner must hunt down a twisted killer who is familiar with post-mortem rituals.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE KEEPSAKE.
-Click here to read Tess Gerritsen’s bio.
-Click here to see Tess Gerritsen's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for Tess Gerritsen.
-Visit the author’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about THE KEEPSAKE:
For untold years, the perfectly preserved mummy had lain forgotten in the dusty basement of Boston’s Crispin Museum. Now its sudden rediscovery by museum staff is both a major coup and an attention-grabbing mystery. Dubbed “Madam X,” the mummy --- to all appearances, an ancient Egyptian artifact --- seems a ghoulish godsend for the financially struggling institution. But medical examiner Maura Isles soon discovers a macabre message hidden within the corpse --- horrifying proof that this “centuries-old” relic is instead a modern-day murder victim.


Click here to read more about Tess Gerritsen and THE KEEPSAKE.


Featured Historical Fiction Author: Louis Bayard, Author of THE BLACK TOWER

Louis Bayard is the author of THE PALE BLUE EYE, a national bestseller nominated for both the Edgar and Dagger awards, and MR. TIMOTHY, a New York Times Notable Book and one of People magazine's 10 best books of 2003. In THE BLACK TOWER, which releases on August 26th, Bayard weaves a suspenseful historical novel about a lost king and the real-life convict who transformed himself into the world’s first modern detective.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from THE BLACK TOWER.
-Click here to read Louis Bayard’s bio.
-Click here to see Louis Bayard's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for THE BLACK TOWER.
-Visit the author’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

1818. Hector Carpentier, a medical student, lives with his widowed mother in Paris’s Latin Quarter. When his name is found in the pocket of a murdered man, the case is turned over to Eugène François Vidocq, the most feared man in the Paris police. At first suspicious of Hector’s role in the murder, Vidocq gradually draws him into an exhilarating --- and dangerous --- search that leads them to the true story of what happened to the son of the murdered royal family.


Click here to read more about Louis Bayard and THE BLACK TOWER.


New in Paperback for August

August's roundup of New in Paperback titles includes THE CHOICE by Nicholas Sparks, a tale about love found and lost, and the choices we hope we'll never have to make; BRIDGE OF SIGHS, a moving novel about small-town America from Richard Russo, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of EMPIRE FALLS; Ishmael Beah's A LONG WAY GONE, the riveting true story of a former child soldier who, by the age of 13, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts; PROTECT AND DEFEND, another explosive political thriller from Vince Flynn featuring CIA operative Mitch Rapp; THE SECRET CARDINAL by Tom Grace, which takes ex-Navy Seal Nolan Kilkenny from the inner circle of the Vatican in Rome to a life-or-death mission to rescue a Jesuit priest from a heavily-fortified Chinese prison; MATRIMONY, in which Joshua Henkin tackles the complex relationships of marriage, friendship, and parents and children over the course of more than a decade; and CONFESSIONS OF A PREP SCHOOL MOMMY HANDLER by Wade Rouse, a touching, sometimes sad but also funny glimpse into the world of the wealthy by a down-to-earth narrator in way over his head.
Click here to see our New in Paperback feature for August.

Now in Stores: FAKING GRACE by Tamara Leigh
FAKING GRACE by Tamara Leigh (Fiction)
Maizy Grace Stewart dreams of a career as an investigative journalist. To land a job at a Christian company, Steeple Side Christian Resources, Maizy develops a plan to appear devout. If only Jack Prentiss, Steeple Side’s managing editor and two-day-stubbled, blue-jean-wearing British hottie wasn’t determined to prove her a fraud... Can she go from faking grace to amazing grace?

Click here to read more about FAKING GRACE.

What's New This Month on is our website for Christian readers with monthly updates of reviews and interviews, as well as discussion guides, book excerpts, a monthly newsletter and more. A special feature on the site is the Faithful Fifteen, in which authors answer a series of questions about writing and faith.

Here are some of the titles being featured this month on

BROKEN ANGEL by Sigmund Brouwer
DOGWOOD by Chris Fabry
LIFE IS A GIFT by Bob and Judy Fisher
THE OUTSIDER by Ann H. Gabhart
THE SHACK by William P. Young
TRADING PLACES by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott
UNBRIDLED DREAMS by Stephanie Grace Whitson
WILD GOOSE CHASE by Mark Batterson

Click here to visit

This Month's Grab Bag of Books Giveaway

Every month in our Grab Bag of Books contest, five readers are awarded a signature tote bag filled with some of the hottest books --- and may even include a sneak peak at titles that haven’t been released yet. This contest period’s winners will each receive a copy of CREEPERS by Joanne Dahme, THE FRUIT OF MY LIPSTICK by Shelley Adina, A NOT-SO-SIMPLE LIFE by Melody Carlson, THE SUMMONING by Kelley Armstrong and UNDONE by Brooke Taylor.

-Click here for previous winners.

Click here to read all the contest details.


This Week's Reviews

ALFRED & EMILY by Doris Lessing (Memoir)
The 2007 Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing explores the lives of her parents, each irrevocably damaged by World War I. In the fictional first half of ALFRED & EMILY, she imagines the happier lives her parents might have made for themselves had there been no war. This is followed by a piercing examination of their relationship as it actually was in the shadow of the Great War, of the family's move to Africa, and of the impact of her parents' marriage on a young woman growing up in a strange land. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.
(Fiction/Short Stories)
Uwem Akpan is a Nigerian Jesuit priest and writing teacher living in Zimbabwe, and his stories are garnering much acclaim. Just a few pages into his debut collection, it is easy to see why. Beautiful and devastating, the five tales found in SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM are at once compelling and painful to read. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.
-Click here to read an excerpt from SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM.
-Visit the book's official website,
THE ASSASSIN by Stephen Coonts (Thriller)
Abu Qasim, the ruthless and cunning al-Qaeda leader who nearly succeeded in blowing up a meeting of the G-8 in Paris, has escaped from the grasp of the Americans and is plotting his next move. When a prominent Russian dissident is poisoned in London, it's clear that there's a very dangerous leak within the ranks of the Westerners, and that Abu Qasim has turned the tables on his rivals. Admiral Jake Grafton dispatches special agent Tommy Carmellini to infiltrate the plot. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.
MAN IN THE DARK by Paul Auster (Fiction)
Paul Auster has consistently challenged, compelled and sometimes confused readers throughout his impressive literary career. Now, he offers audiences his most topical --- and perhaps most brilliant --- novel to date. MAN IN THE DARK is about the many realities we inhabit as wars flame all around us. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.
SILENT THUNDER by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen (Thriller)
Everybody wants what Hannah Bryson has found, and they're willing to kill for it. The marine researcher is on to something, but she doesn't know what. Surrounded by people with agendas and not knowing who she can trust, Hannah must decipher the secret she discovered on the Russian submarine Silent Thunder in time to save lives, including her own. Reviewed by Pat Morris.
THE GARDEN OF EVIL by David Hewson (Mystery)
In a deserted artist's studio in the heart of Rome, detectives stumble upon a scene of shocking brutality: two bodies, freshly killed. Looming over them is a painting that bears all the hallmarks of a Caravaggio: a brilliantly colored canvas depicting a violent tableau of beauty and depravity. This grisly discovery sends Detective Nic Costa on a desperate chase through the streets of his city. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.
BLACK & WHITE AND DEAD ALL OVER by John Darnton (Mystery)
Bad news is brewing in the inner sanctum of the New York Globe, as readership, advertising and circulation are plummeting. But trouble of a wholly different kind begins one rainy September morning when a powerful editor is found murdered in the newsroom, with the spike that he'd wielded to kill stories hammered into his chest. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.
ART IN AMERICA by Ron McLarty (Fiction)
After being thrown out of his Manhattan apartment, struggling writer Steven Kearney is offered a position as playwright-in-residence for three months at the Creedemore Historical Society in Colorado, who want him to write and direct a historical play about the town. He quickly finds himself smack-dab in the middle of a bitter town controversy. Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.
REAL WORLD by Natsuo Kirino (Thriller)
A bestseller in her native Japan, Natsuo Kirino is gradually gaining a fan base in English-speaking countries. REAL WORLD, her third novel to be translated into English, will likely attract even more readers with its grotesque, perceptive exploration of teenage fantasies and limitations. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.
A ROYAL PAIN: A Royal Spyness Mystery by Rhys Bowen (Historical Mystery)
Lively Lady Georgiana Rannoch is minor royalty. In this winning second entry of the series based in Great Britain between the World Wars, the queen asks her to entertain a Bavarian princess. But Georgie is so poor, she's working as a housekeeper. Her quest is further complicated by Princess Hanni's wayward behavior and by the discovery of several corpses. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.
A COMMON ORDINARY MURDER by Donald Pfarrer (Mystery)
Donald Pfarrer may not be well known yet. But if he continues to write more books like his acclaimed THE FEARLESS MAN and his current A COMMON ORDINARY MURDER, then fame and fortune are inevitable. His themes are complex, and his writing style accommodates the depths that he explores. Fairness, justice, love, responsibility, devotion and self-awareness are neatly woven into this exceptional story. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.
HOW FAR IS THE OCEAN FROM HERE by Amy Shearn (Fiction)
Susannah Prue is a young, unmarried surrogate mother who, in the days before her delivery date, panics. Jumping into her car, she flees her Chicago home and a few days later pulls up to a bleak motel in the Southwest --- the Thunder Lodge. There, she encounters misfits, much like herself, who also carry secrets. But when the parents of Susannah's baby discover her whereabouts, she can no longer ignore the profound power she holds over their lives. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

Read this week's reviews here.


Poll and Question of the Week: Bookstore Visits During Vaca and THE Book of the Summer


When you go on vacation, do you visit bookstores to either browse or buy?

Only at the airport

All the time; it's a part of my vacation travel itinerary
Some of the time
Almost never

-Click here to answer our poll.


For you, what was "THE" book of the summer?

-Click here to answer our question.



Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- TWO Prizes

Tell us what books YOU are reading and loving --- or even those you don't.

This week we have two great prizes: FIVE readers each will win a copy of AMERICAN WIFE by Curtis Sittenfeld and THE BOOK OF LIES by Brad Meltzer. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on September 5th to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.

Please note that our next Word of Mouth update will be on September 5th.
Need more details about Word of Mouth? Click here.


As always, here are a few housekeeping notes. If you are seeing this newsletter in a text version, and would prefer to see the graphics, you can either read it online or change your preferences below.

Those of you who wish to send mail to, please see the form on the
Write to Us page.  If you would like to reach me, please write [email protected]. Writing any of the respond buttons below will not get to us.

Those who are subscribed to the newsletter by August 31, 2008 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month one winner will be selected to win the following five books: ALFRED & EMILY by Doris Lessing, DEVIL BONES by Kathy Reichs, ROBERT LUDLUM'S THE BOURNE SANCTION by Eric Van Lustbader, SMOKE SCREEN by Sandra Brown and THE TURNAROUND by George Pelecanos. Ely from Los Angeles, CA
was last month's newsletter winner. She won AT FIRST SIGHT: A Novel of Obsession by Stephen J. Cannell, FISHERMAN'S BEND: A Jane Bunker Novel by Linda Greenlaw, KILLER VIEW by Ridley Pearson, MOSCOW RULES by Daniel Silva and SAY GOODBYE by Lisa Gardner.

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