#ARCSTRAVAGANZA #6: Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles Trilogy #1) by Jodi Meadows

#ARCstravaganza is a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful Flavia over @Flavia the Bibliophile where book bloggers/bookstagrammers have a chance to show off their ARCs/eARCs/Galleys!

Hello Readers! This is my 6th week participating in #ARCstravaganza Monday & this week I’ve chosen Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows. I have only read one other book by this author & that was the collabo My Lady Jane which was one of my top faves for 2016. While I wait on the Lady Janies to give us another fab collaboration, I thought it would be nice to check out some of their individual works. Originally I planned to go through Jodi Meadows older books (I have a few on my TBR i’m really interested in like The Orphan Queen & Incarnatebut really who can pass up dragons?!?! not this little bookworm lol. This doesn’t mean I’ll be forgetting about her older titles, it just means the order of operations has changed haha! BESIDES the DRAGONS though there are two factors that pulled me in. Our main protagonist is a person of color which unfortunately in YA Fantasy is still not a common thing. This is NOT a #ownvoices written book but I’m a big supporter of diverse characters & hope we get good representation in Before She Ignites. Secondly, our MC struggles with crippling anxiety which is also uncommon in YA Fantasy yet also very relatable. I’m someone who experiences social anxiety & find that a character who is expected to be a heroine yet doesn’t see herself as one…is def a story I’d like to read & review on Lair Of Books.


Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

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The 411..

Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

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What are some ARCS/eGalleys you’re excited to have Bookworms? If you’ve participated in #ARCstravaganza this week, please feel free to drop your links & I’ll make my way around <3’s!


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Arc August Review: When I Am Through With You (Sins and Scandals #1) by Stephanie Kuehn

When I Am Through With You by Stephanie Kuehn

Published by: Penguin Random House/Dutton Books

Date of Publication: August 1st 2017

Genres: YA Thriller/Mystery/Suspense

Pages: 304

Format: eGalley

    

“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”

Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly how what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains ended the way it did. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. And he’ll tell you about Rose. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of.

 Let’s just start by getting this out of the way….I LOOOOOOOVED this book!!!! Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system I’ll tell you why 😉

 In what I found to be a unique form of story telling, our MC Ben is telling us this story as he sits in Jail which is disclosed in the very beginning & in the synopsis (no spoilers here lol). This had me asking all sorts of questions & all of the answers made this one story i’ll find hard to forget. From the opening pages, Ben Gibson starts off by recounting the day he met Rose. He’s automatically infatuated with everything about this gorgeous girl who seems too mature to be in High School. Even more unlikely is Rose approaching him and making him her boyfriend. Make no mistake, Rose doesn’t ask she tells him they are now in a relationship. This pretty much sets the tone for this story, both are complex characters for very different reasons. Ben is someone who comes from a toxic home environment & Rose is the polar opposite but she has her own dark passenger. Ben is part of the schools Orienteering class where you are taught all there is to know about camp, survival, map & compass reading. This is one thing that makes Ben feel good about himself and there isn’t much of that in his life. We’re introduced to the other students in the class who all fall into the cliques we’ve all seen form in High School. Ben however, is the teachers right hand man and he sort of leads the class whether they like it or not. They prepare to go on one class trail exploring trip with Ben spear heading while their teacher supervises. Ben, a character who likes to be in control of every variable has his doubts about whether he can successfully lead. He has no idea how justified his doubts really are. This book might have played out like one of those movies we’ve probably all seen where campers get lost in the woods & everything that can go wrong DOES go wrong. The thing is with so many players on the board having their own personal demons, it eliminates all predictability. I was HOOKED! this tale is DARK and twisted, it will make you question our MC who is also narrating since this is first person POV. It will have you looking at every character with a mean side eye lol & ultimately leave you shook!

Without getting into too many specifics, I can tell you this isn’t your ordinary cast of High School students. They each have secrets, some are manipulative, and others think they are better off than they really are. Ben Gibson isn’t like any MC I’ve ever come across in YA or even Adult Fiction for that matter. I wondered whether he was a unreliable character or just dead inside. It seemed like he couldn’t catch a break at times & others left me wondering if certain events cemented his fate. I found his story to be tragic and he surprised me when I read the last line in this book with a tear streaked face. I was left wondering what could’ve been if life had dealt him a different set of cards & not just him. All of the characters seemed lost inside & they kept me invested in this story. I NEEDED to know how and why. It’s been so long since I’ve come across characters that leave me thinking of them after I’ve read the last page.

GRIPPING! DARK! TWISTED! I’ve read other YA thrillers but NONE like this before. Yes I have already added this authors other books to my TBR, I’m definitely going to need more from where this came from lol. I inhaled this book similarly to how my read of Mary Kubica’s Every Last Lie went last month…to the very early hours of the morning. Although we are given the end game in the beginning with Ben sitting in jail, how he got there is one MESSED up story you can’t possibly see forming til you’ve been given the final piece. I think writing this story in first person POV worked so well in giving us a sense of what Ben does & does not feel. Being in his head isn’t the easiest but that only heightened my interest. You really shouldn’t expect to like any of these characters, they don’t even like themselves but know you’re in for one hell of a sick ride! I was surprised to see on Goodreads that this is a start to a series & would love to know if the next book will have us following a new set of characters or the same. My guess is that it’s going to be one of those series where each book stands on its own but it any of you know please let me know down in the comments.

*HUGE thanks to Penguin Random House/Dutton Books and Stephanie Kuehn for this eGalley in exchange for an honest review

Hello Readers! happy FRIYAYYYY! AYYY! hope you’re all enjoying this day & getting ready to start your weekends. Have any of you read When I Am Through With You? if so, how bout those feels? eh? haha!


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Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

29102896Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

Publisher: Macmillan

Publication Date: June 13th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 368 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

 

*Trigger Warning: Domestic Violence, Mental/physical/verbal abuse, attempted suicide, and rape

 

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Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it’s too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she’s unable to escape.

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS ON GOODREADS…

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Bad Romance is one of those books that will remain within me for years to come as a reminder of what could’ve been had I continued in my own toxic relationship. This book resonated with me for personal reasons but also stood out amongst all the Young Adult Contemporaries I’ve read so far in 2017. This isn’t a easy fluffy summer time read however, it is a much needed one. Bad Romance can be used as a conversation starter within the Young Adult community & help bridge gaps between Young Adults and their parents. Demetrios gives us Grace who is 17 going on 18 in High School with BIG dreams of one day living an artsy bohemian life in New York City. She lives with her mother, step-father, and baby brother from her mothers re-marriage. Life isn’t at all easy for Grace who doesn’t live a typical teenage life. She lives in a abusive home where toxic behaviors are what she’s come to view as normal. Told in second person POV, Grace is observing the changes in her relationship with her mother as her mother slowly becomes unhinged. See, Grace’s mother herself is the victim of verbal, mental, and physical abuse (implied) at the hands of her husband. Demtrios shows us a mother trying to keep her new family together while she teeters on the verge of a mental breakdown. Grace on the other hand has just caught the attention of the most popular guy in school who she knows comes with his own baggage. From the 1st compliment to the 1st date & what eventually leads to a volatile relationship, we the reader are taken on the slow progression that is Grace & Gavin’s own toxic relationship. Gavin knows just what to say at all times & just how to get his way. From afar he seems like the perfect boyfriend but when we start this story, it is with the knowledge Grace has already learned the hard way. She shows us how easy it was to fall for someone who was already broken when all you’ve known all your life is abuse…

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Center stage we have Grace & Gavin but this is a story where the supporting character roles are all equally as important. The Grace we meet on page 1 already knows how everything unfolds since it’s told in second person POV. We get to see her regrets and the view she gives us can best be described as removing the rose colored glasses. Grace is just trying to get to graduation so that she can start her new life as a college student far away from her toxic home life. This means she’s learned how to deal with her mothers OCD as best she could & has learned to be submissive to avoid confrontation. Her relationship with her mother plays out on the pages giving you perspective on the cycle of abuse Grace is caught in through no fault of her own. We meet the step dad & he’s no easy pill to swallow which makes your heart break even more so for Grace’s mom.

Somehow, In the past five years, that mom disappeared. Little by little, she floated away, a leaf on the breeze. Now, the air between us is heavy; it’s been too long since we’ve laughed together, talked. How do you relearn love?

Gavin almost seems like a savior when Grace first meets him. She is aware of his troubled past & his failed suicide attempt yet that doesn’t keep her away, it actually serves to lure her in. She admires his resolve and rocker lifestyle but most of all it’s the attention he provides her with that she holds on to. For a girl like Grace who already feels invisible at home except for when she’s needed to scrub the floors or babysit, this new attention became a drug. Gavin himself suffers with depression, anxiety, and paranoia. There isn’t a moment that goes by that he isn’t thinking, living, breathing Grace.

We also meet Nat & Lys who are best friends with Grace, these girls are the true definition of friendship. They know their girl is in a toxic abusive relationship and encourage her to leave that behind every chance they get. They don’t ever leave her side but they also don’t sugar coat anything & didn’t enable her to continue on with Gavin. This friendship was the sunshine in Graces’ very dark, turbulent, and abusive life. I kept hope alive for all of these characters & found myself relating to Grace but ultimately accepting that just like my own toxic relationship with my mother, some things are left unresolved. These characters are heavily flawed & rough around the edges, their pain often times jumping off the pages.

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I’ve never read a book like Bad Romance and I was absolutely caught off guard, this book  brought back memories of a past life. I can’t help but think that if this book had been written back then, that maybe I would have found solace in its pages. I was that young adult in a toxic relationship trying to escape my real issues at home with my own mother. This won’t be an easy read & that’s why I decided to include trigger warnings in this review. Emotionally draining, heartbreaking, and flinchingly honest, Demetrios gives you the ugly raw insides of abusive relationships. Inspired by the authors personal experience, Bad Romance is as real as it gets. Demtrios tackles topics that are more often than not kept hidden in shame & suffered alone. As tough as it was to read this book, I can’t deny that it was because I saw myself in these pages. I’ll be looking out for more from this author and others, especially writing that exposes the ugly in order to start the healing. This is not a story with a happy ending, this is a story with hope & a message for those who may or may not be ready to receive it…

In the Authors Note, Demtrios provided some helpful organizations & I’ve decided to also include them in my review:

Dayoneny.org

Breakthecycle.org

Nomore.org

*HUGE thanks to Macmillan/Henry Holt & Co., Netgalley & Heather Demetrios for the eGalley copy of Bad Romance, all opinions are my own.

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Photo Credit: http://www.healthycellsmagazine.com/articles/when-teenagers-dating-violence-and-abuse

Review: Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: May 30th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 400 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

*Trigger Warning: Suicide & attempted suicide

*HUGE thanks to HarperCollins, Edelweiss & Francesca Zappia for the ARC copy of Eliza And Her Monsters.

Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

 Oh this book! *fangirl moment* I can’t stop thinking about Eliza, Wallace, her monsters, and her online friends! When we first meet Eliza she is chatting online with friends she made through her creation Monstrous Sea, a web comic that has blown up world wide. Max aka Apocalypse_Cow & Emme aka emmersnacks are the only 2 people who know Eliza’s real identity. To the world she’s known as LadyConstellation, to Max & Emme she’s just Eliza aka MirkerLurker (private screen name lol). Her whole life revolves around her webcomic & avoiding outdoor activities with her mom, dad, and younger brothers. In school she’s pretty much a loner with not a single friend on site. That is up until she meets Wallace aka the new guy in school who appears in every sense to be a jock if we’re talking physical build alone. Wallace is tall with broad shoulders & prefers to sit alone with a notebook & pen. An odd encounter (no spoilers here jeje) forces Eliza to cross paths with Wallace. What they don’t know is that they actually share a lot in common & both harbor secret identities 😉

We get to see Eliza’s Monstrous Sea web-comic in bits & pieces sprinkled throughout the book. Eliza takes Monstrous Sea & her fan-base very seriously, making sure to post every Friday at the same hour. She’s an amazing illustrator & spends days working on each page she posts weekly, leaving little to no time for anything else. Monstrous Sea isn’t just some silly pass time for Eliza & she does make a profit from the MS Merch she sells online with the help of Max & Emme. When her parents start trying to get her to come out of the house more & be more active, she retreats further away. It is inevitable for her online life to clash with with her offline life (won’t say “real life” cuz Eliza doesn’t like this phrase lol). Once both collide, we begin to see what issues lie beneath…

Eliza is a introvert who finds it easier to make friends & connect with people over the web which isn’t as rare as one would think nowadays. She has social anxiety holding her back from making friends in school or attending social events. Online, she comes alive & I just loved her chat DM’s with Max & Emme. They may have never met but they exchange care packages & know about each others personal lives as well. I’ve made these types of friendships & can honestly say they have turned into amazing ones offline as well. I was able to connect with Eliza’s online comfort and social anxiety but I also gained some outsider perspective from her family. Although in spurts, we do get to know Emme & Max who I LOVED! they help Eliza keep Monstrous Sea operating from banning trolls to site maintenance & her online store. They also genuinely care about Eliza & I kept wishing they lived closer to her. Wallace! OMG *heart eyes* a big guy with a big heart who only managed to upset me once in this book haha! Loved that he didn’t fit the stereotypical mode set for Jocks, Zappia def gives you a vivid image of Wallace. He also has a past & getting to know his side added the depth we were given with Eliza. We get to meet the families for both Eliza & Wallace which gave us a better understanding of underlying issues. I also took away a few lessons from Eliza’s parents & the importance of keeping up with social media when you have kids. Overall these characters were well fleshed out down to Eliza’s fictional monsters 😉

 This is my 1st Zappia book & at first I did not make the connection that she is the author behind Made You Up, a book that has been recommended to me by many close bookworm buddies. A book that i’m ashamed to say has sat on my e-book shelf for far too long. I am more than eager to get to it now that I’ve read & loved Eliza and Her Monsters. The writing style used wasn’t your conventional straight text, instead we get chat DM’s & pieces of her web-comic sprinkled throughout. I felt like I was getting a 2 for 1 deal because I found myself thoroughly enjoying Eliza’s Monstrous Sea. I would LOVE to see more of it in a spin-off or anything really just MORE lol. On a more serious note from what I’ve read about Made You Up, this isn’t Zappia’s first YA book tackling mental illness. In this book we see social anxiety take a toll on Eliza & it all felt very real to me as I was reading her experiencing a panic attack. As someone who deals with anxiety & panic attacks myself, seeing mental health representation in books gives me a much deeper appreciation for authors like Zappia. I hope she continues to write about these topics as I’m sure they’re helping many others. I highly recommend this read to all of my bookworm bloggers/readers since i’m sure we all have a little Eliza in all of us 😉

 Monstrous Sea art by Francesca Zappia found on Monstrous Sea Tumblr

Have any of my bloggers/readers read Eliza And Her Monsters? or perhaps, plan to? also, any fun fandoms you follow? 🙂

Friday Reads & a Lil’ Chat…

Happy Friday Readers!!! It’s been a hot minute since I posted a #Fridayreads & I thought today would be a good day to bring that back here on the blog. I’m typically reading (devouring) books & reviewing but lately I have been feeling a bit slumpish. I’m still reading & keeping up with reviews cuz ya girl doesn’t cope well with letting people down lol, I’m just not doing as much as I was before my move. This got me thinking…what is hindering me from enjoying these amazing arcs? it’s not a shortage of books, ya’ll know your girl has a book buying problem…then what is it? Whelp before I get into that, this is a Friday Reads post so lets start with what i’m currently reading…

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is my 1st Adult Fantasy book in YEARS! I’m a newb to Mark Lawrence, this being my 1st book of his but LOOK ^^^ uhh, he re-tweeted me getting ready to sit on the top staircase at work & read his book…what I didn’t expect were the Seagulls that landed on the roof & proceeded to give me a full on orchestra of cries. I do not lie…ask Gretchen @Chicnerdreads who has a voice note of said evil Gulls making a liar out of my tweet cuz no reading got done once they got started😂anyways, Red Sister is EPIC bad assery @ its finest. It’s a pretty big book but I don’t mind cuz not one bit drags & I keep finding things to love. Think Arya Stark/X-23 aka Wolverine’s protégé on her 1st day at Hogwarts…less magic…more fight training yet similar concepts. If like me, you are looking for more books with female friendships then this will check that box off for ya 😉 I am reading a ton slower than usual but its not for lack of enjoyment. I’m actually wondering what I’m going to do with myself once I finish reading Red Sister…maybe buy all of Mark’s (yea 1st name basis after you re-tweet me lol) previous books? most likely smh *covers face* 

I recently sat down to update my arc spreadsheet, something I found has helped me immensely with staying on top of publication dates. Now as much as it has helped with my anxiety…it has also contributed to it if that makes any sense? 😂 I’d like to think i’m a pretty nice person…responsible @ least & so its been my thing to post reviews 1-2 weeks prior to pub date with all of my arcs. With the exception of two that I posted a few days after, I’ve been successful on this front…but what happens when life gets in the way? few know me well but those that do, know I’m not one to delve too deep into my personal life. I’m a listener & not much of a talker but I thought it time to share a little bit about myself with you, my faithful book blogging buddies/readers…

Most of you know I’m a “young” mom of 2 tiny humans & that I married my very 1st bookworm buddy over a shared love for Harry Potter smh LOL! (8 years strong). I also have a full time J-O-B in what can sometimes seem like a stuffy office (accounting for ya *sobs*). About a year ago I decided to start this blog as a way to connect with other readers (non-husbands) over one of my biggest passions…BOOKS! I also felt the need to create something of my own, my own little corner of the internet where I could retreat to after hours.  See, about 2 years ago I was diagnosed as Diabetic. Something I knew was a real possibility after 2 complicated pregnancies & a family history with diabetes. I was NOT however, prepared to accept that diagnosis. I was under the care of a nutritionist & had lost 18lbs. all on my own but in the end my genetics won that battle. I thought after losing my father to the disease, that I knew enough…I was wrong. I decided to educate myself, get under medical treatment, joined the gym, and changed my diet. When I say change diet I mean I followed docs orders & started eating more smaller meals to wake up a dead metabolism. Plenty think that all diabetics have an over eating problem…whelp here’s one diabetic that can’t seem to work up an appetite to eat more than 2 meals (if that) per day & is still not thin by any means. Diabetes is frustrating in that it contradicts itself at every turn. Eat too much = elevated sugar/eat too little = elevated sugar. Finding the perfect balance is something I still work hard for every hour of the day. Exhaustion comes at any hour of the day as an indicator that my sugar may be too low or too high. Often times, you will feel as if you are experiencing a bad hangover if not controlled. I work super hard to stay on top of my #’s but I am human & will sometimes falter. I power walk whenever possible & as much as possible, having a 3 train commute to & from work helps keep me active. Also, my new place has a gym in the lobby that is currently being set up with all of the amenities you’d find at a sportsclub! *eeeK* …However, there are days where it’s completely out of my control & I wake up with a high base just because overnight my hormones interfered with my glucose levels. It sometimes feels like a losing battle & that’s when depression kicks in, one of the well known symptoms of this disease. I have a ton to be happy for especially with finally getting a place I can call safe to live in. Yet there are days where the dark clouds take over & a book is the last thing on my mind…

I’m sharing this with you all because this has become my home away from home on some of my darkest days. I don’t like being moody with my loved ones when I’m feeling unwell & so take to distracting myself by reading all of your posts. I may not post as frequently but you will always see me hanging around your blogs, twitter, Instagram, & Goodreads. Some of the friendships I’ve made through blogging have really been a source of joy for me. Reading your comments & interacting with some of you on a more personal level has kept me company on days where I felt I made poor company for those physically around me. I have a loving husband & 2 tiny humans that I dote over even when I’m at work (yea I stalk the teacher lol), I love them to the moon & back…sometimes I do need ME time & that’s when I come to you, my second family. This blog has helped keep my anxiety low & my depression at bay on more days than I can count & for that I am thankful to be in this amazing community. Thank you to those that reach out with kind words, comments, GIFS, likes, loves, anything really lol, it means so much to me.

I’m really hoping to get out of this funk soon so that I can get back to reading ALL the books on my spreadsheet & hopefully from my own shelves lol. I mentioned to my twin Gretchen @Chicnerdreads that I was also experiencing a bit of a YA Fantasy burn-out due to my arc binge of the genre. I have no one to blame but myself for this LOL! I’m definitely done requesting for some months, I miss reading from my shelves a bit. The one great thing that has come from this reading slump is that discussion/chat I promised ya’ll in December as part of my New Years Goals! it’s coming 😉

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Bahaaaa! this is totally me with my 2 tiny humans everyday, one is def more livelier than the other LOL!

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