Home Forums Let’s Talk Romance Forum The AAR Seventeen in 17 Reading Challenge

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  • Library addict library addict
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    Post count: 44

    Simply Seventeen Challenge (The Whittler) – novellas
    Salvage by Meljean Brook:
    After discovering her estranged husband unconscious on the beach, the heroine planned to nurse him back to health and then kick him out. She was unaware of her father’s request that he make enough to support her before returning or that he’d misinterpreted a wish she’d made so felt that he’d simply abandoned her. Feeling he was a failure, the hero agreed to a legal separation. Outside forces derailed that plan, but thankfully their lack of communication didn’t last. I had sympathy for both characters. Both the reasons for their separation and the reasons their reunion would be different—and therefor work this time around—were believable. A very enjoyable marriage-in-trouble/reunion romance.

    Simply Seventeen Challenge (The Whittler) – Replay
    Silent Run by Barbara Freethy:
    I wanted to like this book much more than I did. The first several chapters set in the hospital kept throwing me out of the story as they were so unrealistic. The doctor visited the amnesiac heroine a few times as did a nurse, but otherwise they left her alone (even after she’d yanked out her IV), never checked her vitals, etc. The nurse even offered her a sleeping pill at one point despite her head injury which went untreated (no CT scan or tests were done, no specialists called). While I had sympathy for the heroine’s predicament, the fact she’d disappeared on the hero seven months prior to the start of the story with only a short note taking not only their infant daughter, but all photos, furniture, and belongings of the baby’s was cruel. It turned out most everything she’d told him in their years together was a lie. So I had much more sympathy for the hero. Too much page time was spent on set-up for the hero’s brother’s story. The book improved somewhat in the middle, but the villain was too easily dispatched and the ending felt rushed. Despite her actions, the hero still loved the heroine. She apologized but made it clear she wasn’t actually sorry so their reunion ultimately did not work for me. I only kept reading to see the hero reunited with their daughter. I liked the hero, but overall a disappointing read.

    Silent Fall by Barbara Freethy: After this h/h had each played such a large part in the previous book, I was surprised the first book’s h/h were barely mentioned in this one. The overwrought plot revolved around too many coincidences and weak villains. The suspense didn’t feel suspenseful. The heroine’s psychic visions were always exactly what they needed at the moment they needed it. I didn’t dislike the h/h, but didn’t care about them either. The resolution was a complete dues ex machina tied up with more entirely too convenient coincidences.

    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation: 16 down, 1 to go…
    • Simply Seventeen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 15 down, 2 to go…
    • Simply Seventeen Challenge (The Whittler) – Replay: 6 down, 11 to go…
    • The 20th Century Challenge: completed!
    • Simply Seventeen Challenge (The Whittler): completed!
    • The Breakfast Cereal Challenge: completed!
    • The Cocktail Challenge: completed!
    • Seventeen Magazine(s)! Challenge: completed!
    • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by Library addict  library addict. Reason: fix coding for italics
    Maggie Boyd Maggie Boyd
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    Post count: 49

    Azalea- abundance. Read a book where the h/h are wealthy.
    The Captivating Lady Charlotte Carolyn Miller

    Lady Charlotte Featherington is destined for great things on the marriage market. The beautiful daughter of a marquess with a very healthy dowry, it is assumed she will have her pick of the eligibles during the London season. Her own goal is simple: She wants a love match. Someone who will cherish her for her self, not just for her money, connections or pretty face.

    William Hartwell, Duke of Harrington, knows he is no lady’s dream man. Slight, with bland features and a less than scintillating personality he has only his earnest sincerity and genuine faith to recommend him. Well, only that if you discount his enormous wealth and prestigious title. He knows that there will be plenty of women wooed by his position but will there be any willing to look beyond that factor to value and love who he really is?

    He meets Charlotte at a church service and is touched by her kindness and beauty. He finds himself captivated by her but realizes that she is looking at men who are younger than he is (the book doesn’t tell us his age but I think 30 something to her 18) and who have flash and flattery to recommend them. She seems charmed by fortune hunters. His first wife was the same and brought him nothing but misery and he is determined not to have the same happen to him twice. But her parents seem determined to land him for a husband and he himself truly likes the girl. The question is, will she ever like him?

    There was so much I loved about this novel. Probably the thing I loved most was the way faith was handled. Most Inspirational Regency romances I’ve read have treated it like it was totally natural for the current American evangelical attitude to be prevalent among the upper classes of England over a hundred years ago. Snort. This novel takes the unique approach of presenting faith in a manner which it would have been most likely to have been seen back then involving more of an awareness of the concept of living beliefs and a reformist zeal that was a response to the excesses of the era. Speaking of your faith – which was considered a private thing – was looked upon as vulgar and rude. William shares very gently about his faith and Charlotte makes changes to her own belief system as she sees thing in his life and that of her beloved cousin Lavinia Ellison.

    I also loved how the relationship/courtship was handled. Charlotte had some immaturity she needed to work through and that was perfectly natural given her age. She and William were at different places in life and their road to love involved some stops and starts. He was jaded with society but he had had the opportunity to see it all before whereas everything was new for her. Her love of parties and flirting seemed natural. Her original attitude/dismissal of him as old made sense and I liked the fact that they weren’t natural with each other initially but had to really work their way into a comfortable relationship. Everything just felt much more realistic than so many novels which rush us through a love/lust at first sight. Speaking of which, this author acknowledged passion. William wanted Charlotte, pure and simple. So many Regencies try to pretend that sex doesn’t exist, which is ridiculous. So — definite A read for me and I was super excited to see I have another of her books in my TBR. SQUEE!

    The Floral Challenge – one down, sixteen to go.
    Cocktail Challenge – complete!
    Letter Q Challenge – complete!

    Maggie Boyd Maggie Boyd
    Participant
    Post count: 49

    Amaryllis- dramatic. Read a book with high drama, like an Epic romance or a Downton Abbey style romance.

    Black Roses Jane Thynne

    This is book one of a series on Clara Vine, actress and spy. She is in Berlin in 1933 being courted by Nazis for King and Country. Sometimes, a book can seem like it will be a perfect fit and just isn’t. That’s the case here: I love WWII, epic novels and the glamour of old Hollywood/film industry. I’ve been working on this one for months, forcing myself to read a chapter here and a chapter there hoping that it would eventually turn good. It did but it was the last 100 pages of a 400+ page book. I doubt I’ll pick up the others. I did like the romance between Clara and a fellow spy but it was too little too late.

    The Floral Challenge – two down, fifteen to go.
    Cocktail Challenge – complete!
    Letter Q Challenge – complete!

    Maggie Boyd Maggie Boyd
    Participant
    Post count: 49

    Coltsfoot – (Justice) book with a U.S. Attorney hero

    Love Irresistibly- Julie James

    Absolutely loved this charming little tale. Workaholic beauty Brooke Parker is used to broken relationships where men tell her they just don’t see someone like her in their future. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cade Morgan is used to relationships that end with women calling him emotionally inaccessible. But sometimes all it takes is finding the right person. When Cade approaches Brooke about using one of her restaurants as part of a sting operation, he finds himself admiring the beautiful, green eyed woman who is as smart as she is sassy. Cade makes Brooke laugh and challenges her wit. They’re an explosive combo in and out of bed. But will two people who regularly strike out at love finally be able to hit a home run?

    Great characters and a terrific romance make this one a wonderful read.

    The Floral Challenge – three down, fourteen to go.
    Cocktail Challenge – complete!
    Letter Q Challenge – complete!

    Sandlynn Sandlynn
    Participant
    Post count: 22

    Starting the Genre Challenge:

    Read a fantasy romance

    For this sub-genre, I picked up Nalini Singh’s Slave to Sensation, published in 2006. Not only had I never read Singh before, but I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book about changelings before either. What got me to decide to read it now is that our local independent book store, Politics and Prose, has started a romance book group this year and this was the book they chose for September! Yay!

    Slave to Sensation was given a very positive review by AAR and the plotline was ably described here: https://allaboutromance.com/book-review/slave-to-sensation/

    My own rating of the book would be slightly lower than the “A” the reviewer gave it. I too was fascinated by the world created by Singh, but I wanted to know more about the various beings that were trying to co-exist together. We learn the most about the evolution of the Psys – the beings who show no emotion and live mostly in their heads — and, to be honest, I was the most interested in them, although I’m not sure if that’s because they were more interesting or because we learned so much more about them. (I think it’s the former.) In fact, I wouldn’t mind a book that concentrated on how they developed. They reminded me a little of the Vulcans from Star Trek and our heroine put me in mind of Deanna Troi – the empath from The Next Generation Star Trek series. Our hero, Lucas, is a Changeling – the alpha of a group of leopards/panthers who shapeshift from human to cat form at will. Since they’re organized in family-type units or packs and appear to be closer to humans in terms of emotion and relationships, I think we’re supposed to relate to them more. But, I found the men, especially, to be too overbearing. They definitely put the “A” in Alpha! Humans also live in this world, but we learn almost nothing about how they relate to these two groups. For this reason, I felt this initial story was a bit incomplete. However, I understand there are a slew of additional books where things are fleshed out.

    It’s fortunate for the Changelings that our heroine, Sascha, is a Empath (or emotion) Psy because I have no idea how any other type of Psy could handle a group of beings so “primal” in their emotions and need to mark their fellow pack mates so much. I can’t say I’d be too comfortable with it. 😉 There’s a part of me that wonders whether Sascha and Lucas’ relationship could last without one or the other majorly compromising themselves – let alone what their offspring would be like. I guess that’s something to find out in later books. Because this book left me with curiosity about this world I was leaning towards giving it an “A-“. However, since I also think it could’ve been fleshed out more to include humans,*and* the subplot involving the bad guy was so obvious – I mean, to me there was no doubt at all who was committing the murders – I would perhaps drop it to a “B+”.

    *****


    The Cocktail Challenge – 10 down – complete

    Alphabet Challenge – 10 down (A, B, C, G, H, J, K, M, P, & Q) – complete
    Genre Challenge –1 down, 9 to go

    Library addict library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 44

    Simply Seventeen Challenge (The Whittler) – Replay
    Tempting Fate by Carla Neggers:
    The heroine’s mother had disappeared twenty-five years before the start of the story. The heroine was estranged from her maternal relatives. The hero was in town at someone else’s request and had his own reasons for being there. He and the heroine started off on the wrong foot. The multiple, meandering subplots all knit together in the end. The multi-pronged mystery was intriguing. One of the villains was obvious from the start, but other parts kept me guessing. The h/h were well-matched. I enjoyed their romance but it definitely took a backseat to the suspense plot. Overall, a nice blend of family drama and mystery.

    The Alphabet Challenge Variation
    D = Contracted Defense by Piper J Drake:
    The h/h indulged in a one-night stand not knowing they would be partnered the next day. The heroine wanted to keep things professional which the hero agreed to with an option to revisit their personal relationship once they’d firmly established their working one. The hero enjoyed teasing the heroine to make her angry which came across as very immature and annoying. This behavior died down once they started to concentrate more fully on their jobs, but then came back. The heroine questioned her own attitudes which at times seemed to be solely to make the hero look better, but for the most part worked as part of her character. The h/h pursuing their romance did not always mesh well with the suspense plot. Their assignment to provide protection for a rich man’s estate seemed off from the start and despite the numerous details provided—and a surprise twist—made for a bland subplot as did the subplot with the hero’s ex-Marine buddy. I liked parts, but overall an uneven read. I was disappointed that we’ll not get the heroine’s ex-partner’s story if the series continues.

    • Simply Seventeen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 15 down, 2 to go…
    • Simply Seventeen Challenge (The Whittler) – Replay: 7 down, 10 to go…
    • The 20th Century Challenge: completed!
    • Simply Seventeen Challenge (The Whittler): completed!
    • The Breakfast Cereal Challenge: completed!
    • The Cocktail Challenge: completed!
    • Seventeen Magazine(s)! Challenge: completed!
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation: completed!
    Library addict library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 44

    @sandlynn

    I hope you continue with the series. I read the first 11 books and novellas back-to-back before book 12’s release. I have reread the entire series multiple times since. I am biased as Sascha and Lucas are one of my favorite couples in the series, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how their relationship plays out.

    There’s a big overarching plot that was hinted at in the first book but really starts to take off in book 3. So even in the few books where I was iffy on the main romance, the political intrigue was more than enough to keep me going. (That said, having reread the series there’s not a couple I actively dislike, just some I found rather meh).

    Rereading the series one picks up on clues and foreshadowing that they didn’t catch the first time around.

    I would highly recommend reading the books/novellas in published order (the novellas tend to jump back in time to explore characters/situations that aren’t as intertwined with the main storyarc but provide insight into the world). There’s also a bunch of slice of life short stories on her website (with new ones in her newsletter). I reread everything in chronological order earlier this year which was fun, but things actually make more sense in published order.

    Plus reading in order there are huge storyline payoffs in later books.

    Enjoy!

    ETA: also, not sure how you feel about spoilers, but I would try to avoid as many as you can. I am glad I read many of the books blind as there are lots of nice surprises and “oh” moments that are fun to discover as you go and won’t have the same impact if you know ahead of time.

    Maggie Boyd Maggie Boyd
    Participant
    Post count: 49

    Rose- yellow friendship. Read a friends to lovers romance.
    Little Beach Street Bakery Jenny Colgan

    This is book one of a trilogy. For a few years there, Polly Waterford had it all. A handsome, successful boyfriend. A business they ran together. The right clothes, the right friends, the right flat, the right life. Then things turned. With advances in technology, people no longer outsourced their graphic art. Her boyfriend turned sullen and childish as their business began to flounder. Before long she was facing bankruptcy and her man had moved in with his mother, leaving her to fend for herself. Her friends offered her rooms or sofas to sleep on but determined to have her own space, she takes a leaky apartment on Mount Polbearne, a small town which can only be reached when the tide is out. Because the grocer doesn’t stock bread and the only bakery in town is unworthy of the name, she begins to bake her own bread. Pretty soon words get out to the locals, who buy her illicit loaves on the sly, afraid to anger the ill tempered shrew who runs the only carb establishment in town. Soon she is making friends, lands a job and starts to get back on her feet. But does she want to stay in this backwater, isolated spot? And is she willing to risk falling in love again after it has gone so tragically wrong for her so often?

    I love Colgan’s quirky characters, her second chance at life stories and the Pollyanna nature of her heroines. They are the ultimate feel good stories, fool of good cheer, good food and good friend.s I’m looking forward to the other books in the series.

    The Floral Challenge – four down,thirteen to go.
    Cocktail Challenge – complete!
    Letter Q Challenge – complete!

    • This reply was modified 6 days, 10 hours ago by Maggie Boyd  Maggie Boyd.
    Sandlynn Sandlynn
    Participant
    Post count: 22

    Starting the Genre Challenge:

    Read a Contemporary romance

    For this sub-genre, I cheated a little by picking up a novella by Rachel Gibson titled, Blue by You, published in 2013. The story is only 100 pages in length.

    For what it is, this story does a good job of drawing you in. The heroine and hero live on neighboring, former plantations in Louisiana. They each come from illustrious southern families who are no longer wealthy but still hold the vestiges of a long standing feud in their bones. Blue Butler is a 40 year old divorcee, with a 15 year old son who we do not meet in the story. She has sunk the money from her alimony into refurbishing her old family home and the accompanying slave quarters and has opened them up for tours. Her neighbor is Kasper Pennington, a 43 year old, twice married, former sniper, who was in the Marines. He too is refurbishing his old home, financing it through his construction business. Kasper and Blue have a brief but intense history. Twenty-two years ago, they had an assignation that ended abruptly. Now, they’re back at the “scene of the crime” and have met again. Will they pick up where they left off or will festering sore feelings keep them apart?

    As I mentioned, this story does pull you in very well for such a short tale. However, I definitely wanted more. Kasper’s grandmother and Blue’s son would have been welcome additions to the plot. The little we do get of the grandmother is the one of the best parts. The story develops over a few days. Even though an intensity of attraction was established, I would’ve liked a longer timeframe to enjoy this couple and give their re-acquaintance more room to breathe. I’d give this a B.

    *****



    The Cocktail Challenge – 10 down – complete


    Alphabet Challenge – 10 down (A, B, C, G, H, J, K, M, P, & Q) – complete

    Genre Challenge –2 down, 8 to go

    Maggie Boyd Maggie Boyd
    Participant
    Post count: 49

    Bladder Nut Tree – Read a humorous romance.
    I’ve Got Your Number Sophie Kinsella

    Humor is a funny thing – what has one person ROFL can leave another watching them as though they need professional help. So, if this worked for you, great. Did not for me.

    I picked this up after finishing Jenny Colgan’s Little Beach Street Bakery because I thought following one light, cheery Brit Chick Lit/Women’s fiction book would be a perfect way to extend my bliss after how much fun I had with that one. I was wrong. I think Poppy Wyatt expresses the problem best when she says of herself “I think I must be really, really thick.” Why, yes, Poppy, you are.

    Poppy Wyatt loses her engagement ring while at a hotel. It’s a family heirloom so this is a big deal. Then while she’s standing outside trying to resolve the issue her phone is snatched. No! That phone is her lifeline. Now what will she do? Good fortune is with her because she finds another phone in a bin. Problem? The phone belongs to someone else and that someone else – Sam Roxton – wants it back.

    Before I go any further here I just have to say, by this time in the book I thought Poppy was ridiculous. The simplest thing to do would have been to a) go to a mobile provider and get a new phone with her old number b) tell her fiance that the horrible, evil person who stole her phone had also either knocked the ring from her finger or taken it as well. Poppy does neither. To help the author further her story Poppy keeps Sam’s phone and proceeds to change his life by answering his emails, text messages etc. over the course of the next few weeks. At first he’s grumpy but then he sees the wisdom in the situation and voila, they’re in love.

    I like meet cute books (Rachel Gibson’s Simply Irresistible is a favorite) and I like meet crazy books (Susan Elizabeth’s Natural Born Charmer with its beaver suit meet is still the winner here) but meet contrived never works. Simply by doing what 99% of the population would have done Poppy would have avoided this entire book. Instead she throws herself from one adorably??? wonky situation to the next, so that the author can tell us an “amusing” tale from a crazy characters point of view. I saw every set up coming (the kimono was especially egregious) and at the end could only say that Sam would be over this girl in about a month. He’s not a caregiver and this woman practically needs a handler with a straight jacket. Ugh.

    The Floral Challenge – five down,twelve to go.
    Cocktail Challenge – complete!
    Letter Q Challenge – complete!

    Maggie Boyd Maggie Boyd
    Participant
    Post count: 49

    Sweet Pea – Read a romance that has a significant departure.

    Until We Reach Home Lynn Austin

    Scared Sofia wants only for things to stay the same. While life on their farm in Sweden is hard, it is also familiar. She may have lost her parents, but she can still visit Mama’s grave. And Uncle Sven has been very affectionate lately. . . .

    Kirsten wants only to be happy. After her parents died, her uncle and aunt came and drove their brother from his own farm. Now it seems that a local boy will marry her and give her the home her heart longs for — and then she learns the truth of his intentions.

    Elin wants only a place where she and her sisters are safe. She promised her Mama she would take care of them but Uncle Sven has made it impossible to take care of herself, much less others. When she sees him paying special attention to Sofia she knows its time for them to go. But their only other relative lives thousands of miles away.

    Uncle Lars sends tickets for the girls to join him in America but the journey is treacherous and full of many problems. Will the new country be a truly new beginning for them or just a continuation of the trouble they faced at home?

    I loved the way the author loaded this novel with shades of gray. It was refreshing to read a tale where, like real life, relatives don’t just reach out and solve your problems but sometimes add to them. I loved how each girl was scarred by her past experiences – Elin, un-trusting after those she should have been able to depend on betrayed her. Kirsten made bitter by betrayal. And scared Sofia frightened so much by the unknown until she meets the One Who Knows All Things.

    Perhaps my favorite thing about this was how each girl encountered God after years of church, especially Sofia. The scenes where she and Ludwig use scripture to bridge their language barrier could have been cloying but is instead sweet and touching. I loved that Sofia carries that encounter with God into her new life, letting Him turn her fear to faith.

    My only quibble is that I felt the girls should have gone to Wisconsin. Sofia could have left a message for Ludwig somehow and I think it would have been a better story if they had taken that route. Other than that, this is a good story with interesting characters and while the suffering might have been a bit excessive, the solution was lovely.

    The Floral Challenge – six down,eleven to go.
    Cocktail Challenge – complete!
    Letter Q Challenge – complete!

    Library addict library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 44

    Simply Seventeen Challenge (The Whittler) – Replay
    The Kraken King by Meljean Brook:
    The h/h were each keeping secrets. After a misunderstanding each was suspicious of the other’s motives. The book was originally published in serial format and each section read like an old Saturday matinee with a cliffhanger-lite type ending. In addition to the fun action/adventure plot, there was a wonderful romance. The compounded misunderstandings made sense from each character’s POV and they were each eventually addressed. We were introduced to some great secondary characters (I would’ve loved to read the heroine’s bodyguards’ story as well as a few others). This was easily my favorite full-length book of the series.

    The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy: Readers knew from the earlier novella that the heroine’s father was evil, so it was frustrating that it took her so long to figure that out and that her sisters still had not. While the plot relied on secrets being revealed at certain points it was discouraging that the h/h didn’t take time to talk. Part of that was due to the heroine-only first person narrative. Since we never had the hero’s POV it was difficult to discern his reasons for keeping silent and so it often came off as simply a plot device. The math didn’t add up (twenty years since the hero became king of his realm at fourteen, yet the heroine’s mother gave birth to three daughters five years apart so if only twenty years had passed the youngest daughter would be ten which she wasn’t. Plus it took years to end the wars and it’s mentioned that the last battle was twenty-five years ago. So obviously a lot of time passed before he became king but that was not clear). The author seemed to want it both ways in regards to the youngest sister’s husband as we’re supposed to still believe he was a great guy and somehow overlook his actions. Despite the issues, I enjoyed the book. The world-building was intriguing. In spite of their communication issues the romance worked overall and was a good mix of angst and fun.

    • Simply Seventeen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 15 down, 2 to go…
    • Simply Seventeen Challenge (The Whittler) – Replay: 9 down, 8 to go…
    • The 20th Century Challenge: completed!
    • Simply Seventeen Challenge (The Whittler): completed!
    • The Breakfast Cereal Challenge: completed!
    • The Cocktail Challenge: completed!
    • Seventeen Magazine(s)! Challenge: completed!
    • The Alphabet Challenge Variation: completed!
    Maggie Boyd Maggie Boyd
    Participant
    Post count: 49

    @ library addict – Mark of the Tala was published in 2014 and Heart’s Blood (the story about the parents) in 2016. I think it works better (you notice the errors less 🙂 if you read them in publication order. For some reason a lot of sci-fi fantasy series seem to work that way. 🙁

    Library addict library addict
    Participant
    Post count: 44

    @Maggie, the introductory novella I read was called Negotiation and was first published in the Thunder on the Battlefiled, Vol. II anthology in Aug 2013. So it was before The Mark of the Tala (it details the reasons Salena needs to heal then marry Uorsin and is told in third person from both their POVs). I do have Heart’s Blood in the TBR as well, but haven’t read that one yet.

    Looking back the novella does also say Salena will have about twenty years left to live, so The Mark of the Tala has to be set thirty or at least nearly thirty years later. So almost a decade went by from the time Salena left to when Rayfe was made king at fourteen. That seemed clear at the beginning of the book. But then several of the passages once Andi arrived in Annfwn could have used a good content editor to make the timeline clearer as both Rayfe and his mother at separate times imply it’s been only twenty years since Salena left which would then in turn make Amelia only ten. I thought at first that time somehow passed more slowly in the thirteenth kingdom, but that was never said. I just think it was unnecessarily confusing when an extra sentence or two would have kept things clear. It threw me out of the story because I was like, what? And so had to go back and reread the earlier part and then try to make sense of it.

    • This reply was modified 3 days, 10 hours ago by Library addict  library addict.
    Maggie Boyd Maggie Boyd
    Participant
    Post count: 49

    @ – library addict . Oh, okay, I wasn’t familiar with that one. My bad. The world building in this one in this one hasn’t always been the best, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the errors existed from the beginning.

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