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Woman Who Spoke to Spirits, Alys Clare

Woman Who Spoke to Spirits, Alys Clare

The Woman Who Spoke to Spirits (A World’s End Bureau Victorian Mystery Book 1) by [Clare, Alys]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers

I love this kind of historical read, one where I feel I’m part of the setting, can taste the atmosphere, really feel as if I’m there in past times with the characters. It proved t be a light and enjoyable read. This is first in a new series, I’ve read a couple by Alys and enjoyed those, so was confident I’d like this one.

First books in a series have a hard ask, delivering characters, new settings along with an interesting story, and this book did that really well.
I’m intrigued by Lily’s past, we get hints of some awful trauma but I guess that’s going to come out more in further books. Likewise her new hire, Felix, has his own somewhat mysterious past. We know some of it, but there seems much more to him that just a down at heel former rich kid. He has so much experience of different things, and I’m keen to know how and where and when he learned all this. He seemed so much older than his actual years.
He and Lily make a good pair, work well together and even though in those times its odd to have a female boss, he makes it work, being deferential without seeming obsequious, and yet standing up when its needed. I feel maybe in further books something might develop between them but there’s little here except respect and a possible growing attraction. I want to know more about the guy in the houseboat – forgotten his name, but though he and Lily have only met a handful of times they have something special maybe? Or perhaps I’m reading things that aren’t there 😉

The mystery this is based around is actually two stories, there’s the one about the actress, the stage and young Julian, and then the primary one of Albertina and the evil she senses is out for her. That had me completely puzzled, I simply couldn’t work it out, though of course after its over I could see the clues Alys had cleverly weaved through. An original tale, not one I’ve come across before.

Stars: Four, a fun read and a great intro to the series.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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Persistent Intruder, Kay Brooks

Persistent Intruder, Kay Brooks

Persistent Intruder by [Brooks, Kay]

Genre: Romance

I saw the romance tag, didn’t realise it was also suspense, but that’s fine, I like romantic suspense for an occasional read. I enjoyed this story, though I felt the actual romance side wasn’t particularly strong.

Brian, well, when we first meet him and learn of his plans for a child I thought he was pretty cold, didn’t really like him. I know he’s had a problematic past with women but even so, he seemed so clinical about the whole thing.
Its back to my personal feelings about how children show be welcomed to be loved, not to be an accessory or simply an heir for someones genes, and I got the impression that heir was what Brian really wanted, not a child to love.
Still, there’s a quick burst of passion between him and Natalie, and of course the pregnancy that results. There isn’t a relationship though, will Brian just want the child and not her, if she tells him she’s pregnant? He has the money to do what he wants. Can she take that risk?
Then of course there’s that passion that they both thought would be easy to leave behind after the weekend, but feelings aren’t that easy, don’t fall in with our plans do they?
Of course that’s all complicated by the deranged stalker Brian has, and that suspense angle was excellent in the main, even though I did feel actions from all of them stretched credulity at times.

It was a fun read, interesting but I felt the romance side wasn’t as well worked as the suspense. For me I prefer the romance to be the stronger part of the story and I wasn’t totally convinced in Brian and Natalie.

 

Stars: Four, an easy read, but I would have liked more emphasis on relationship building, the romance side, to balance the very cold Brian we first met. I wasn’t convinced he could change that easily.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Not Here, (Dina Ostica Novel 1), Genevieve Nocovo

Not Here, (Dina Ostica Novel 1), Genevieve Nocovo

Not Here: A Dina Ostica Novel (Dina Ostica Series Book 1) by [Nocovo, Genevieve]

Genre: suspense and thriller

This is one of those stories I thought I’d like, but which I found a struggle to connect with.
I didn’t really understand Dina, didn’t understand how she was hoping to make money from her podcasts, and in fact what she was using to support herself. Its far harder to make money online than posting the odd video….it takes a huge amount of work unless you get very lucky. Maybe I missed something? Dunno, but though I liked her, admired her ideals I just couldn’t really get along with the story.
At first I was fine and was eager to continue, but I quickly became lost with it all. That could be me of course, others seem to have had no problems, but I’m not really a thriller/suspense reader, choosing to dip into the genre only occasionally. This time I made a bad choice, its a good story just not the right one for me.

Stars: Two and a half.

Arc via author

Lake of the Dead, (A Winston Radhauser Mystery 5), Susan Clayton-Goldner

Lake of the Dead, (A Winston Radhauser Mystery 5), Susan Clayton-Goldner

Lake of the Dead: A Winston Radhauser Mystery: #5 by [Clayton-Goldner, Susan]

Genre:Mystery and Thrillers, General Fiction.

I love this series. I started with book two, offered the chance to review by the author and she’s been kind enough to let me review each succeeding novel.
You can read each story as a stand alone but you’ll get much more by reading in order, as there are people connecting each book, and its interesting and adds more if you know the back story. Parker’s girlfriend Rishima was in the last book, only as a very secondary character, but it brings the stories closer knowing just what she’s been through, and continues to face. I really felt so sad for her, a wonderful character.

As usual Radhauser is immersed in a complicated murder, with multiple possible suspects but no real motive. It makes me wonder how police even begin to search out who was responsible, and following this story, seeing Radhauser’s reasoning for doing things, the constraints that stop him doing other things, was really interesting and absorbing.
As always the characters here feel so real, so genuine. I think I could find ones like them easily within my own life, though hopefully not murderous ones! I love the way Susan makes what seems reasonable at first sight untangle to become something else, and then puts in reasons and bars to what seem like real motives and possible actions to the murder.
And once more she caught me out. I had an early dislike of a character but thought I was judging unfairly, and it wasn’t til very near the end that I began to see how and why things happened.

Its a sad story, one sadly that could be real, murders happen to so many folk, cut off before they’ve had a chance to grow, to become adults, have their own family. There were some really tragic backstories here too, ones that I had no trouble believing in.
I love Radhauser as a cop, he’s exactly they guy we all need, thorough, principles, meticulous and yet I’d hate to be married to him, to have him as a parent. He adores his family but work – when taking time off and going home could mean a killer escaping, possibly to kill again, how can he? We see here him spending so much time on work, that he barely has time with his family. Grace is incredibly understanding, though we have seen how his work causes friction at times. Its understandable, she’s got two young kids and is still recovering from her cancer treatment and surgery.
I guess she’s seen how he is when they first met, and it would be hard to say come home, knowing the possible consequences and also how it would affect him. You take the person as they are when you choose a partner, and Radhauser is very committed to his work. It doesn’t mean he loves his family any less.

Stars: Five. Its another great story from Susan, well plotted and gripping reading, which wraps up properly. I hate novels that make me thing “but what about….” when they end. This doesn’t, we get a brief six month on peek into what’s happened with some of the key characters and that’s just perfect for me.

ARC supplied by author

Love under fire collection. Review of Chasing Secrets, Alyssa Richards

I’m reviewing one book from this series, Alyssa Richard’s Chasing Secrets. Anthologies are a terrific way to try out new-to- you authors for a small price, 21 stories here for under four quid.

Chasing Secrets, Alyssa Richards

Love Under Fire by [Lucci, Judith, Tullis, Stephany, Quinn, Fiona, Burke, Anna Celeste, Daly, Margaret A, Watkins, Linda, Ferguson, Tamara, Jenkins, Suzanne, Goss, Inge-Lise, Mallery, S.R., Jinx Schwartz , Uvi Poznansky, Kathryn Knight, Stephanie Queen, Casi McLean, Valerie J. Clarizio, Chris Patchell, Aaron Paul Lazar, Alyssa Richards, K.M. Hodge, Pamela Fagan Hutchins ]

Genre: fantasy and paranormal, romance

I’ve loved Alyssa’s other stories but this one didn’t seem to work well for me. Its well written as usual, its one of those “just not the right fit” times, not that there’s anything wrong with the story. It could be personal circumstances, I’m a bit stressed, having sold my house and the one I’m buying has been delayed, so I’m staying with daughter, living in her conservatory, and its not best place for getting lost in a story.

Anyway, Barbara has an unusual gift – she’s able to “read” people from their name, doesn’t need to meet them, just needs their first name. She can tell one Steven from another, doesn’t need any extra info but is able to tap into the right person.
She’s married to David, who adores her, and they’re expecting their first child. David’s been a little stressed though, and suddenly he’s gone, murdered in front of her. In the resulting chaos she miscarries, and its taken her time to try to move forward.
She’s beginning to make a new life, albeit very staid, when the past rushes up to her with David’s killers attacking her, demanding she return stolen diamonds. She knows nothing about them, but they aren’t convinced and it becomes dangerous for her and her family.
Hiding out from them she meets Griffin, an archaeologist, and there’s a spark between them they can’t ignore. As always though romance comes with problems and Griffin is due to start an new search through history far away from Barbara.

Barbara’s gift was interesting and Griffin’s project and reasons for moving to Greece very real. Its the kind of thing that happens in real life, couples meet but one is about to move, and its a question of move and abandon possible relationship or try long distance one, or stay and possibly regret lost opportunities. Hard choice either way.
There were some excellent characters in the book, and a very real plot but….overall its wasn’t a story I was gripped by. I’d guessed early on one big “secret”, and the way the killers tracked her seemed like something I’d have expected police to check. There were clues that seemed so unfathomable, and yet Barbara and Griffin found the meanings behind them so easily. Then there’s the way they were able to just walk up to someone’s home, and chip a brick out of the front in their search! They were spotted and had to run, but who does that, damages a strangers home in broad daylight? I’d have expected them to come prepared at night, when unlikely to be seen.
I just felt the problems were tough, but the way they found solutions just too slick, too easy.

Stars: Three, a well written story but one that didn’t work for me right now.

Arc via author

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave. First Grave on the Right, Darynda Jones

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave. Darynda Jones

 

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave (Charley Davidson Book 13) by [Jones, Darynda]

Genre:Mystery and Thrillers.

I’ve joined the blog tour as part of the release of this final book and we were asked to review another book from the series too. I’ve chosen the first book, seems ages ago I read that – when I very first bought a kindle. Charley and the gang have come such a long way since then so I’m looking forward to rereading the beginning – and I’ll probably work my way through the series once more! Good books are well worth that, I find I see things I missed first time round.
Anyway, this book. Well, after the ending of the last, where Charley was banished for 100 years what would happen why she returned, what happened to the humans she knew, what happened to Beep? So many things going on but as usual Darynda manages to give all the answers in a way that’s believable.

The thing with Charley world is you have to forget everything learned about supernatural fiction from other reads, and go with what Darynda has created. Its unique, time isn’t linear, isn’t even anything I’ve read before, but exists in a way that makes ends easy to tie up. Its worlds within worlds, past, present and future all existing within the same frame. There’s God, and his side, Lucifer and his side, and of course Charley, Reyes, and all their gang amassed over the series. If I think about it too hard its head-aching, so its easier to just accept it as is, and go with the flow.

I love Charley’s “voice”, her snark, her outlook in life. At times she sounds a little childish, but its as if that’s her way of coping with all that goes on in her life. She’s had it tough, and there are still some huge shocks to come for her in this book. What I love is that as usual she’s got the big question of Beep and Lucifer, and yet she takes time to deal with everyday issues that crop up, deal with friend’s little issues, missing people, possible murders, letting a few folk pass through her as she’s out and about. I loved that we see almost everyone I remember from the past books in this one, it really feels like a tying up of ends. I hate books where I’m left wondering “what about xxx, how did xx deal with it” and thankfully there’s none of that here.

Reyes, ah Reyes. That guy is so incredible, adores Charley, you know he always has her best interests at heart (can I sever his spine now?) He is just so gorgeous, everyone has the hots for him, but Charley really is It for him, he never even looks elsewhere. Well, he did create her for him, so I guess that’s to be expected. The fact that there are so many supernatural folk in this book, and none really fit the standard supernatural trope. Reyes isn’t one of the good guys, and yet he’s good, others are supposed to be God’s folk yet they leave things t play out, and as when Charley saved amber in the last book a good deed still has consequences for them. They seem to be all about non interference even when it means unjust endings.

Stars:Five stars, a fabulous finale. Forget all other supernatural stories, Darynda’s book are unique. Read them and lose yourself in an amazing world, full of incredible characters and a story that will stay with you for ages. I’m hoping we get more of Beep and her story, I’m not ready to leave all these characters yet

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

First Grave on the Right, Darynda Jones

Genre: Romance , Mystery and Thrillers

As part of the Summoned blog tour reviewers were asked to choose an earlier book for review a swell as the final one, and I thought it would be interesting to go right back to the start. I often find on rereading novels I pick up on things I missed first time round, look at characters and events with different eyes now I know the full story, and it was very much a case of reading First Grave with fresh insights.

I certainly looked at some of the original gang with a different opinion. It made me wonder – did Darynda plan events all the way through, of did the story dictate what happened to characters?
We see the main gang right from the start, Cookie, Amber, Ubie, her dad, Gemma, the wicked stepmother ( ok, maybe she’s not thaaat bad, just feels it), Garret, Angel, My Wong, Aunt Flo, and of course Reyes Farrow……….mmmmm.

Cookie remains this stalwart, slightly scatty, slapdash character, who’s actually got an amazingly sharp mind under all the fluff and frivolity face she presents. Amber is still a kid, but sharp and sweet, adores her mum and Charley. Charley’s dad and Uncle Bob, great supports to Charley even if on a strange level, though when she was a kid they really let her down IMO. But then she wouldn’t be the Charley I love without that so a pass for that. Garret has just been told about Charley via a drunken binge with Ubie and he’s one of those, who expect Charley to perform miracles, a skeptic always testing, but still can’t believe her results. The supernatural gang, or at least the beginnings of it, and Reyes. Nuff said.
As with each book we get Charley’s day to day life as a PI with Cookie, a sometimes police “consultant” via her dad and now Ubie. There’s a complete story in each but the overall story arc advances too each time.

What I love about Charley is her heart, her irreverent humour, and her determination to get the bad guys, do whats right even at the cost of her own well being. She comes over as immature sometimes, scatty, inappropriate, and yet she’s got an incredibly sharp mind. Doh, she’d say, Grim here, knows every language ever spoken, ever invented, can speak with the dead, so what do you expect?
She always plays down what she does, treats everything as a bit of a joke, and maybe that’s because she’s learned to get in first rather than wait for ridicule, a kind of way of coping, way of protecting herself. As well as her heart, her snark, her sharp intelligence, her coffee addiction, I love the way she names everything. By the end of the series I’m very familiar with the girls Will Robinson and Danger 😉 Misery the jeep, George the shower ( though that’s later). Her first thought on getting something new is what to call it. And of course her convoluted mind comes up with some real crackers.

Anyway, in book one we get to meet all these great folk, the nucleus of the incredible support team she develops over the series, and not only does Darynda deliver all that, along with a realistic environment for her, but we get a gripping mystery, that starts simple – as they all do – and grows ever more complex and dangerous. Does that stop Charley? You’ve guessed, no…she’s in because its the right thing to do, but despite getting battered, bruised, shot at, attacked, she carries on. Good side of the Grim job, she heals quicker, not instant but certainly quicker than human.
It ends with one mystery wrapped up, but the wider one of Charley and Reyes, the supernatural world, the people who get caught up in it, developing further with a great lead in to book two, and the start of the overall story opening out.

I have to mention the chapter headings, by the end of the series they were something I eagerly looked forward to at the end of each chapter. I knew turning the page would bring a smile to my face, even if the story was full of death and despair, those headings reminded me it would lighten up, that good would prevail. Its that mix of drama and humour, done so perfectly throughout the series that made it so perfect for me. I’ll miss these characters, though whisper in the world of books is that Beep may be bringing them back in a new series 😉

Stars: Five, a great start to a fabulous series. A real treat to read, if you love a well written, suspenseful, supernatural romance.

ARC via Netgalley and Publishers

Dissolution, C. J. Sansom

Dissolution, C. J. Sansom

Dissolution: Tenth Anniversary Edition (The Shardlake Series Book 1) by [Sansom, C. J.]

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery and thrillers

I love this period in history, so much change going on in politics, state and religion. I’ve read many. many books, and the ones I love best are always like this, ones that make me feel I’m there, among the events, not just a reader but actually in the thick of what’s happening.
I’ve read most of the Shardlake series over the years, but in print form. They are among those I’d read over and over, but sadly all my print books had to go a few years back ( around 2k of them) as eye issues meant I couldn’t read them. Thank heavens for Kindle with its changing font size and background lighting.

So seeing this offered for review reminded me of how much I loved this series. Matthew Shardlake is a great lead character, he’s a very moral person, strongly in favour of reform but somehow naïve considering his profession.
He’s sent down to Scarnsea where the Commissioner investigating the monastery there has been murdered.
Its winter, the journey is hard, the welcome by the monks edges on suspicion. After all they knew the murdered man had come looking for excuses to shut them down but murder? Everyone is on edge, everyone seems to hold secrets, have possible motives and its Matthews job to tease them out and find the truth.
He’s accompanied by Mark Poer, a young man who’s been under his wing so to speak, working in Augmentations. Mark doesn’t like what he’s seen, and Matthew thinks he’s exaggerating, maybe its the hard work, the hours or something, or of course the fact his dalliance with a lady way above him was caught, he can’t believe Marks is right in what he sees happening. He’s promised Mark’s father to set him on the road to a good career, and he’s determined to do his best for Mark, not what he wants necessarily, but what he needs. That sounds harsh but its how life was then, a scrabble to survive and Matthew knows Mark could well end up one of the poor they see so often, in rags, no home, depending on charity for the few scraps of food that keep them alive.

The mystery surrounding the killer is difficult and tangled, no-one seems to have a motive, but several of the inhabitants of the monastery have the opportunity. Commissioner Singleton had been going to meet a monk, though no-one knows who, but the abbot and the monks are keen to believe it must have been an intruder that killed him. The more Matthew learns about the events surrounding the murder the wider the circle seems to get, and then things become even more dangerous.
I love that there are so many suspects, I’ve just decided on one as the culprit along with Matthew, when something happens to throw doubt on them, and this happens over and over.
There are so many secrets, so much going on here in this time of change for everyone. No-one feels safe, no-one actually is safe. Even stray words at the wrong time are enough to condemn someone so everyone is very guarded and that doesn’t help the investigation.

Poor Matthew gets his eyes really opened here by events surrounding Cromwell, a man he fervently believes in and admires. He learns his idol has feet of clay and is shocked, really shocked that he could be so casually callous about certain recent events. The force of what’s going on though has become uncontrollable, and Matthew isn’t in a position to do anything about it. I really feel for him, a good man in a position that puts him front and centre of the change he wanted but which isn’t having the results those like him intended. .

It was easy to feel as if I was back in the 1500’s with Matthew. Often its the little details, the snippets of real history, the day to day events, the food and clothes, the poverty, all those make a book feel very real. CJ Sansom has a real talent for those, for bringing the reader into the story by making the setting so vividly real. For throwing out little clues that send the reader on false tracks, often along with Matthew, for keeping the events wide open to very near the end, and keeping reader guessing who is behind things, and why of course. Rarely does murder happen without motive.

Stars: Five, a solidly written mystery/suspense that I enjoyed reading once more and I think its time for a reread of all of the novels.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Crisis,  Felix Francis

Crisis,  Felix Francis

Crisis by [Francis, Felix]

Genre:, General Fiction (Adult)

Like many young girls I was a horse obsessed kid, but where other dropped off in their teens I kept on, much to the surprise and probably dismay of my very non horsey family. Kids intervened for a while, and I got my horse fix by reading Dick Francis novels until I was able to finally get my own horse….
I still love to read, though my tastes have changed and broadened considerably. I’d read pretty much all the Dick Francis novels when he died, and a few by other former jockeys, but for me they didn’t have the DF magic. I had a read a couple of the collaboration novels but TBH I didn’t think of Felix as being the writer, I assumed he was more the researcher…then I saw this on Netgalley and thought “why not”.

Well, Felix, I did you a grave disservice, reading this was like the old Francis magic, a gripping tale wrapped up and tangled in numerous little side issues, with some wonderful characters. I am so sorry I didn’t recognise that earlier.
Of course in suspense novels, in PI investigations and the like there has to be a little artistic licence, and I suspect that Harry’s crack “researchers” wouldn’t have been able to pull out all that info…but it makes for a fun and interesting story.

I really enjoyed reading this, was engrossed in trying to work out who-dunn-it so to speak, and was way off course as usual. There’s a reason I can’t write, and especially not anything involving mystery, my brain just isn’t wired that way. Thankfully others are 😉
I loved the characters we meet here, poor Harry, barely knowing one end of a horse from another, up against a family dynasty in horse racing.
I enjoyed the snippets of racing info, enough to keep the reader interested in the story but not so much we switch off.
Harry’s specially is in sorting things out, minimising crises and sorting out wheat from chaff, and here the poor guy has a lot of chaff to sort through. It seems every turn, every hour almost at some points, bring in new people, new potential motives, and new events.

I did feel the falling in love bit felt a little out of character for Harry, he seemed the cautious type, rather than an all in from the off sort, but one of the things I missed in the DF novels was an element of romance. As a reader I tend to focus on romance plus …. those novels, those where the romance is backed by a good story, or the other way round, a good story with a romantic element. It just seems to make the story feel more real to me rather than just words on a page, so I was pleased Felix includes romance.

I’ll certainly look out for more from him, and as with the DF books, his will become ones I re-read, even knowing how the story ends because the content is well worth another read.

Stars: Five, a perfect escapist read, with both drama and romance, and a cracking mystery.

ARC supplied by netgalley and publishers

Hunting Danger, Redemption Harbor Series, Katie Reus

Hunting Danger, Redemption Harbor Series,  Katie Reus

Hunting Danger (Redemption Harbor Series Book 5) by [Reus, Katie]

Genre: Romance

I’d only read book three in this series, each are advertised as stand alone and that one I loved, didn’t feel I’d missed anything by not reading first two books.
I haven’t read book four but when I saw this I expected to feel the same as I did with book three, that it would be complete on its own. It is….and yet I think I’d have got far more from it if I understood more about the whole group of characters, their dynamics and interaction. As it was, apart from Brooks and Darcy they were just names and I didn’t feel the connection between the characters that I know would be there.

Its billed as romance, and it is but for me the romance fell second place to the suspense. Its a tightly written novel, well paced, well set out, but the romance side takes a while to warm up – its very much each likes the other but hides it, and seems as though that’s been going on a long time. Now they’re thrown together, in danger, and emotions run hot at a time like this. Its a question of what happens once that cools down, when they’re thinking with clear heads once more.

Its an interesting story but I felt a bit disconnected from it, as I said I think even though its a stand alone it would work better if I’d read all of the others.

I do occasionally get tired of the “quick computer hack” that takes care of everything, tells where folk are, what they’re doing, spies on them remotely – even when there hasn’t been time to set up cameras…and of course knocks out those cameras who see what we don’t want them to.

Its not just in this book, but a growing trend in many suspense reads. PCs can do lots, are a huge asset but they are machines, not miracle cures and I felt here that it was something a little over-used.

Stars: Three, a good read but would have been a great one if perhaps I’d read all the earlier books.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

I Invited Her In, Adele Parks

I Invited Her In, Adele Parks

Genre:Mystery & Thrillers

I enjoy books like this, they challenge me to think “what would I do?” At first I was interested but I did get tired of the way the story was told, via inner thoughts, when for me dialogue based works better, where we have a slip back in time to see events as they happen. Well, see from that persons POV anyway 😉 Later in the story we do get some of these but the start nearly made me give up. Works for some readers that way though, but like me, not all.
I could see where Mel wanted to give a good impression to Abi, everyone is proud of their homes and family and want others to see them at their best, but couldn’t see why she didn’t simply ask her how long, set a time limit in the visit especially as Ben isn’t happy about an open ended stay. Its not like they’ve been close for the past 17 years, even if they were Bfs at uni. It seemed a bit strange, and then of course I started to put things together, though I wasn’t certain.
Its a fun read, very real characters, events that I could see easily working like that in real life. I didn’t like Abi, not one bit, but even so hadn’t guessed exactly what her angle was. I was shocked by events, thought I liked the ending and then, those last couple of pages….Nope, I didn’t want that even though they are not real characters. They felt real to me and I cared about them as if they were real.

Stars:three, I guessed a chunk of the plot, enjoyed the story and was surprised by other parts but I did get tired of some daily trivia that didn’t add to the story, felt repetitive.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
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