Confessions of a Book Addict

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Short Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Age Group: Young Adult
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Rating: 4/5 Stars
The danger associated with going into popular books with high expectations is that we often set said expectations so high that it’s almost impossible for any book to meet them. 
I enjoyed this novel and will probably read the rest of the series, but it wasn’t my favourite book in the world. It was certainly a good high fantasy novel, but it didn’t have me completely hooked. There were some instances at the beginning that were fantastic—<spoiler>mainly that first attack when Alina went to cross The Unsea with the first army. THAT was terrifying and awesome.</spoiler>
There were moments where I was actually a little bit bored, waiting for things to happen, but at least now I know what people meant when they were talking about The Darkling! Alina herself wasn’t a bad protagonist, but I feel like she was just as much in awe of her abilities as the reader, so she was fumbling a bit for control in her new world. I feel like she will be a fantastic character in the last two books of this trilogy. In this installment, however, you can definitely see her transformation from naive girl to powerful fighter, and that makes for a love/hate relationship with her character.
I definitely recommend this series for fantasy lovers—but beware of reading reviews and getting too psyched over the hype: if you go in with no expectations, then you will enjoy the book more!
Happy reading!

Short Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Age Group: Young Adult

Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance

Rating: 4/5 Stars

The danger associated with going into popular books with high expectations is that we often set said expectations so high that it’s almost impossible for any book to meet them. 

I enjoyed this novel and will probably read the rest of the series, but it wasn’t my favourite book in the world. It was certainly a good high fantasy novel, but it didn’t have me completely hooked. There were some instances at the beginning that were fantastic—<spoiler>mainly that first attack when Alina went to cross The Unsea with the first army. THAT was terrifying and awesome.</spoiler>

There were moments where I was actually a little bit bored, waiting for things to happen, but at least now I know what people meant when they were talking about The Darkling! Alina herself wasn’t a bad protagonist, but I feel like she was just as much in awe of her abilities as the reader, so she was fumbling a bit for control in her new world. I feel like she will be a fantastic character in the last two books of this trilogy. In this installment, however, you can definitely see her transformation from naive girl to powerful fighter, and that makes for a love/hate relationship with her character.

I definitely recommend this series for fantasy lovers—but beware of reading reviews and getting too psyched over the hype: if you go in with no expectations, then you will enjoy the book more!

Happy reading!

Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Received From: Edelweiss
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Age Group: Young Adult
Genres: High Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Check it out on Goodreads here.
Snow Like Ashes is a heck of a debut from author Sara Raasch. As I&#8217;ve mentioned in my most recent reviews, I&#8217;m fairly new to the high fantasy genre and I have to say, this one rocked. It was full of adventure, revelations, and a wickedly cool world. The descriptions were great and every time magic made an appearance, I went a bit wild. Though not perfect, this was definitely a great introduction to high fantasy in the young adult age group. 
Meira, the protagonist, has one of those unforgettable names because the other characters cry her name out so many times that it inspired me to create a drinking game. Honestly, it&#8217;s like everyone was calling her at some point. But I get it, it was a bit of foreshadowing for why they are always looking for her. Right?
I liked Meira because she was a badass. She didn&#8217;t take any trouble from anyone AND when someone did give her trouble, she always found a way around it. In a way, I liked her mostly because she reminded me of how I would react in a situation like hers. I&#8217;m sick of seeing female protagonists being pushovers, or people with unbelievable levels of patience. The truth is: real people make mistakes and sometimes act rashly, so it was nice to see a character whose actions were so organic, rather than planned out. 
The world building was gorgeous! I don&#8217;t know how no one thought about creating a continent that is separated by seasons. Though it&#8217;s complex and intricate, Raasch&#8217;s fantastical universe is easy to get a hang of. Though my e-copy showed a very small map, I will definitely be glancing over it when it comes into my store!
While I loved Meira, I wasn&#8217;t too keen about all of the other characters. I liked Mather because he was this guy that we&#8217;re immediately introduced to as a potential love interest, so we instantly start rooting for the star-crossed lovers. But then, something happens and you&#8217;re introduced to SPOILER ALERT: A potential third point in a love triangle. Le sigh. I&#8217;m not a fan of love triangles and though this one is short lived, the idea of it being in this awesome book feels like a bit of a cop-out so some drama can come into the novel&#8212;when it is clearly not needed. But not all bad things come out of this third member in the triangle, because he ruins the potentially cliched situation that Mather and Meira almost get into it. 
Now, onto the father-figure character in Meira&#8217;s life. The fact that she calls him Sir shows how disconnected she is from him, but also how she respects him (and yearns for his approval). This character, while serving his role as a motivator and a key to something that happens later on in the novel, shows Meira&#8217;s vulnerability and how alone she feels when she is actually surrounded by people. Sir&#8217;s presence shows us how plagued Meira is by her stance in the fight to get Winter, her home, back from the enemy, and how much she yearns for someone to love her. I would say that he is the spark to her internal fuse, in a way, because he is always there as a reminder of the secrets that neither Meira nor the reader knows. 
Snow Like Ashes is surprisingly very dark. Though on the surface it seems like just another adventure to save a kingdom, there&#8217;s a lot of allusions to abuse&#8212;both in power and rape. This gave the novel a surprising depth, since it increased the secondhand terror that a reader might feel. Though this is fiction, it&#8217;s very disturbingly realistic. 
I have multiple reasons for why I&#8217;m not giving Raasch&#8217;s novel a five star rating. Most are minor issues, like the fact that some of the characters (Like Therin) weren&#8217;t that well drawn out, so it was harder to connect and empathize with them; the slightly predictable storyline; and whole SPOILER love triangle thing.
My main reasons for not giving this one a five star rating are: the novel begins kind of slow and is a little hard to get into; and that this is part of a series, but with a couple of word changes, this could easily be a standalone novel. I don&#8217;t even know if I&#8217;ll read the sequel because I was so content with this one installment. 
Would I recommend this novel? Heck yes! The conclusion gives you this huge sense of contentment after suffering through hell with Meira. You become so attached to her character that every time something huge happens or her life changes, you end up cheering. 
If you like high fantasy, adventure, and kick-ass female protagonists, then you might like this one. I&#8217;m a rookie to this genre, but I&#8217;m definitely becoming more intrigued, thanks to Raasch!
Happy reading! 

Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Received From: Edelweiss

Release Date: October 14, 2014

Age Group: Young Adult

Genres: High Fantasy, Adventure, Romance

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Check it out on Goodreads here.

Snow Like Ashes is a heck of a debut from author Sara Raasch. As I’ve mentioned in my most recent reviews, I’m fairly new to the high fantasy genre and I have to say, this one rocked. It was full of adventure, revelations, and a wickedly cool world. The descriptions were great and every time magic made an appearance, I went a bit wild. Though not perfect, this was definitely a great introduction to high fantasy in the young adult age group. 

Meira, the protagonist, has one of those unforgettable names because the other characters cry her name out so many times that it inspired me to create a drinking game. Honestly, it’s like everyone was calling her at some point. But I get it, it was a bit of foreshadowing for why they are always looking for her. Right?

I liked Meira because she was a badass. She didn’t take any trouble from anyone AND when someone did give her trouble, she always found a way around it. In a way, I liked her mostly because she reminded me of how I would react in a situation like hers. I’m sick of seeing female protagonists being pushovers, or people with unbelievable levels of patience. The truth is: real people make mistakes and sometimes act rashly, so it was nice to see a character whose actions were so organic, rather than planned out. 

The world building was gorgeous! I don’t know how no one thought about creating a continent that is separated by seasons. Though it’s complex and intricate, Raasch’s fantastical universe is easy to get a hang of. Though my e-copy showed a very small map, I will definitely be glancing over it when it comes into my store!

While I loved Meira, I wasn’t too keen about all of the other characters. I liked Mather because he was this guy that we’re immediately introduced to as a potential love interest, so we instantly start rooting for the star-crossed lovers. But then, something happens and you’re introduced to SPOILER ALERT: A potential third point in a love triangle. Le sigh. I’m not a fan of love triangles and though this one is short lived, the idea of it being in this awesome book feels like a bit of a cop-out so some drama can come into the novel—when it is clearly not needed. But not all bad things come out of this third member in the triangle, because he ruins the potentially cliched situation that Mather and Meira almost get into it. 

Now, onto the father-figure character in Meira’s life. The fact that she calls him Sir shows how disconnected she is from him, but also how she respects him (and yearns for his approval). This character, while serving his role as a motivator and a key to something that happens later on in the novel, shows Meira’s vulnerability and how alone she feels when she is actually surrounded by people. Sir’s presence shows us how plagued Meira is by her stance in the fight to get Winter, her home, back from the enemy, and how much she yearns for someone to love her. I would say that he is the spark to her internal fuse, in a way, because he is always there as a reminder of the secrets that neither Meira nor the reader knows. 

Snow Like Ashes is surprisingly very dark. Though on the surface it seems like just another adventure to save a kingdom, there’s a lot of allusions to abuse—both in power and rape. This gave the novel a surprising depth, since it increased the secondhand terror that a reader might feel. Though this is fiction, it’s very disturbingly realistic. 

I have multiple reasons for why I’m not giving Raasch’s novel a five star rating. Most are minor issues, like the fact that some of the characters (Like Therin) weren’t that well drawn out, so it was harder to connect and empathize with them; the slightly predictable storyline; and whole SPOILER love triangle thing.

My main reasons for not giving this one a five star rating are: the novel begins kind of slow and is a little hard to get into; and that this is part of a series, but with a couple of word changes, this could easily be a standalone novel. I don’t even know if I’ll read the sequel because I was so content with this one installment. 

Would I recommend this novel? Heck yes! The conclusion gives you this huge sense of contentment after suffering through hell with Meira. You become so attached to her character that every time something huge happens or her life changes, you end up cheering. 

If you like high fantasy, adventure, and kick-ass female protagonists, then you might like this one. I’m a rookie to this genre, but I’m definitely becoming more intrigued, thanks to Raasch!

Happy reading! 

Exploring Five of Toronto’s Best Bookshops!

Be Warned: This post is long, but contains lots of pictures about bookstores in Toronto! 

I had a very fun and memorable adventure yesterday. If you know anything about me, then you know that I am absolutely in love with the idea of adventure (especially when said adventure has me encountering many book stores!) 

Along with my good friend and co-worker, Yasmine (who runs yasminereads), I explored a handful of book stores that promised us a wonderful day. We decided to check out both used and indie shops with a goal in mind of buying at least one book from each shop. 

A lot of photos were taken and a pretty nicely sized haul was our prize!

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1. Mabel’s Fables

Where is it? 662 Mt. Pleasant Road

What is it? Independent Children’s Book Shop 

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Mabel’s Fables is a gorgeous little book store slightly hidden near a suburban and old-school neighbourhood in Toronto. Unlike downtown, this was a very quiet zone that allowed for readers to escape into a world of books. 

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This was a store with heart and though we hadn’t even entered yet, this cute little robot statue greeted us. We knew this would be something special. 

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Mabel’s Fables is a store that caters mainly to younger readers (New Borns-teens), and this is pretty evident when you step into the shop. There are colourful displays of toys, books, and intriguing posters on the walls. (In the picture: yasminereads)

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Each section (age group) was marked by lamps like the one in the picture with the age written in marker on the lampshade. 

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The atmosphere was so calm and quiet that it allowed for us to search through the shelves in peace. Above, you can see that just about anyone could come into the store and browse, despite the age groups featured. 

But the above pictures only showcase the first floor. This place was surprisingly large! The second floor catered to the older readers (middle grade-young adult). This was where Yasmine and I got really excited. 

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These were only a few of the posters on the walls as we climb the stairs to the second floor. 

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The view from above was just as impressive. This alcove showcased the only general fiction/nonfiction in the store, remaining true to its theme of being a mainly children’s bookstore. 

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The upper level of the store had enough books to make you curious and want to see everything, but not so much that you would feel overwhelmed. They carried books at the exact same price you would find at a corporate store, so the myth of overpriced indie stores didn’t work with this Independent bookstore. 

I ended up only getting one book because I knew I’d be visiting other stores during my visit to Toronto, but this was definitely the most memorable Indie store of the day!

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I got one book, a free bookmark/map, a Mabel’s Fables bookmark, two buttons, and a Mabel’s Fables tote!

BONUS PIC: Check out this house we spotted by Mabel’s Fables! 

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2. Eliot’s Bookshop

Where is it? Near Yonge & Wellesley

What is it? Secondhand Bookshop

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Eliot’s Bookshop was one of those bookstores that Yasmine and I had to look for closely, simply because it was hidden between two other buildings. But don’t let the facade trick you: this place is huge! 

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Though the building isn’t wide, it is very long, giving the aisles in this picture the appearance of being near-endless. The effect in person was amazing. 

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The stairs leading up to the second floor (of THREE LEVELS!) were decorated with books, recreating a popular visual expectation that readers often have when they enter a used bookstore. 

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The second floor was another large space with shelves full of books, and even one of those rolling ladders that Beauty had in her library. If this was our one and only destination in our day trip, then Yasmine and I could have easily stayed here for hours. 

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The store was beautiful because it was full of old books, it was quiet, and it had that particular smell that only older books could ever really have. Overall, this was a pretty good place to check out. By the way, this picture was taken on the third floor, which was mainly non-fiction books. 

Other than the fact that we had to leave our totes at the cash desk (so as to avoid thefts, the owner asks all customers to leave bags at the cash), this was a pretty awesome store.

I almost left with empty hands, but I found one book and three comics from 1988 just before calling it quits. 

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3. Glad Day Bookshop

Where is it? 598A Yonge Street

What is it? Independent LGBTQ Bookshop

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Glad Day Bookshop is the first LGBTQ bookstore I’ve ever been to and I have to say, it was a great experience! It is also a bit hidden, so we almost walked right past it—so, if you want to check it out, remember to keep an eye out!

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Glad Day is located on a second floor, giving it a slight air of mystery and privacy. 

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This was actually the smallest of the bookstores we visited. The effect was very cozy, especially since the employee on shift was pretty easy to find in case we had any questions.

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Despite its size, the selection was surprisingly large! We had a great time exploring something new and different. 

I bought a book that I’ve been wanting for a long time and got one bookmark from the employee on shift!

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4. BMV Books

Where is it? Yonge Street

What is it? Secondhand Book/Comic/DVD/Music/Magazine Shop

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BMV Books is a Toronto classic. I didn’t take pictures of the store inside because I feel like I’ve taken so many pictures before. To be honest, however, I was a bit too distracted by everything inside…sorry! 

There are a ton of graphic novels, used books, and so much more inside of this big store. 

Okay, fun story time! Yasmine and I recently saw a trailer for Horns, which stars Daniel Radcliffe and was written by Joe Hill, Stephen King’s son, a few years ago. You can find the trailer here and the teaser (my favourite of the two) here. Anyway, we wanted to get the book and had been looking all day for it. Then when we were in BMV Books, I found the book and nearly scared the crap out of an older man who was standing in front of the books because of how excited I was. I had found two copies. TWO, NOT ONE. It was like a sign that we were meant to own and read this book! So, yeah, we bought it…for $3.99! 

Anywho, I also ended up finding lots of other cool things! Here’s my haul: 

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5. Silver Snail 

Where is it? Yonge Street

What is it? A Specialty Independent Comic Shop image

Whereas Mabel’s Fables was awesome in its dedication to young reader books, the Silver Snail was an awesome ode to comics. The entrance itself hints at what you’re bound to find inside. 

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One of the first things visitors might see is the life-size Spiderman hanging from the ceiling over the stairs leading up to the shop. It’s hung in such a way that if you don’t look up, you just might miss it. 

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In fact, there are hidden figures everywhere. I apologize for the less than great picture, but if you look carefully on the left hand side (near the corner of the above picture) you can see a very shadowy Gollum, which Yasmine noticed before we left. Also, there’s a coffee shop with superhero lattes!

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The store was very busy, so I couldn’t get a lot of pictures, but if you’re a huge fan of comics and super heroes (among other fandoms), then I recommend that you stop by this gem while you’re in Toronto. There are so many selections and a lot of collector’s items.

I ended up walking away with a new graphic novel that I’ve been searching for, and two Archie comics. I would have purchased more, but by that time my funds were already seriously depleted.

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After a great late lunch at Korean BBQ, Yasmine and I bid adieu to Toronto and returned home. Overall, it was a great day and though it started with some rain, the day quickly turned sunny. 

I hope to do something like this again soon and hopefully in the future, I will one day explore bookshops from around the world!

Happy reading!

Review: A Lamb in Wolfe’s Clothing (now titled Waking Wolfe) by S.L. Shelton (5/5 Stars)

Release Date: November 19, 2013 

Author Info: S.L. Shelton

Series: Scott Wolfe

Age Group: Adult (Maybe even New Adult) 

Genres: Suspense, Thriller, Romance, Adventure, Travel

Format: Finished Copy

Publisher: CreateSpace

Source: Author

ISBN-13:   9781494388836

Goodreads: A Lamb in Wolfe’s Clothing

Buy: Amazon | Chapters | Barnes & Noble 

Rating: 

Scott Wolfe is a talented computer and electronics security specialist and an avid rock climber. He’s a pretty typical twenty-something; he likes to party, he’s bad at relationships, and he is a bit more adventurous than common sense would dictate.

He does have one trait that makes him atypical, though. That gift is the secret to his professional success—and it comes in quite handy when a rash decision turns his life upside down.

How much responsibility does a man have for the life of an ex-girlfriend? That’s the question Scott had to ask himself when Barb Whitney, her father (a State Department Attorney)and twenty eight other diplomats and their families, were supposedly killed in a terrorist attack in Amsterdam.

When Scott gets a text message from Barb’s phone after the explosion, he is propelled into an adrenaline charged operation, worthy of the intelligence agencies he is trying to avoid.

Dodging killers, organized crime, mercenaries and the CIA, he struggles against a clock that even he doesn’t know is ticking.”

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A Lamb in Wolfe’s Clothing (now titled Waking Wolfe) by S.L. Shelton was one of those books where you jump in hoping for, at the very least, a semi-entertaining read, but instead end up craving more after turning the last page. Shelton’s debut took me by surprise and I have to say, it was awesome. I’m one of those readers who are always interested in the action genre but never actually get around to reading it—yeah, well, this is a book that definitely fed that craving. Never lacking in the action department, impressive twists and turns, and an intelligent storyline made this one a thrilling read.

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Review: After the End by Amy Plum (4/5 Stars)

Release Date: May 6, 2014

Author Info: Amy Plum

Series: After the End

Age Group: Young Adult 

Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery, Thriller, Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: HarperTeen

Source: Edelweiss

ISBN-13:   9780062225627

Goodreads: After the End

Buy: Amazon | Chapters | Barnes & Noble 

Rating: 

She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They’ve survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.

At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she’s trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.”

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After the End is the first book I’ve read by Amy Plum and I have to admit that I’m not at all disappointed. Though I was skeptical going in, I was genuinely surprised to see how quickly I fell in love with this story. The blending of genres in this one acts as a great reminder of society’s near-obsession with the idea of a dystopian world. Unconventional and surprisingly addictive, After the End is a fantastic contemporary read.

Before I get too into this review, let’s set the record straight. This is NOT a dystopian or a post-apocalyptic novel. This is a contemporary novel with a hint of the paranormal, thanks to the protagonist’s unique abilities. Yes, the story is introduced as a possible dystopian or post-apocalyptic setting, but it is not. 

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Review: Renegade (MILA 2.0, #2) by Debra Driza (5/5 Stars)

Release Date: May 13, 2014

Author Info: Debra Driza

Series: MILA 2.0

Age Group: Young Adult 

Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller, Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Source: Edelweiss

ISBN-13:   9780062090393

Goodreads: MILA 2.0 Renegade

Buy: Amazon | Chapters | Barnes & Noble 

Rating: image

BE WARNED: This is a sequel—the review will be hidden from this point in order to avoid any unwanted spoilers.

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Review: Rebel (Reboot, #2) by Amy Tintera (5/5 Stars)

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Release Date: May 13, 2014

Author Info: Amy Tintera

Series: Reboot

Age Group: Young Adult 

Genres: Dystopian, Adventure, Romance

Format: eGalley

Publisher: HarperTeen

Source: Edelweiss

ISBN-13:   9780062217103

Goodreads: Reboot Rebel

Buy: Amazon | Chapters | Barnes & Noble 

Rating: image

BE WARNED: This is a sequel—the review will be hidden from this point in order to avoid any unwanted spoilers.

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