Category Archives: Book Review

The White Light of Grace

The White Light of Grace by Lillie Leonardi

The White Light of Grace by Lillie Leonardi

“Purpose implies a spiritual intention, a goal that helps define why an individual chose to travel to this earthly plane.” Lillie Leonardi

Lillie Leonardi and I go back a few years. My sister Cally was instrumental in helping her with her first book, “In the Shadow of a Badge.” When Cally pitched a story to the Huffington Post about Lillie’s book (during a fourth of July weekend), Lillie’s book took off in popularity. She’s now a Hay House author and “The White Light of Grace” is her second book.

I have had the pleasure of being around Lillie through my sister. My feeling about her is that she is tough on the outside and soft and caring on the inside. We have some core things in common. She was a young mother and my daughter was a young mother. We talked about this once and her sharing was very helpful. Our fathers were key in our lives and we were very close to them. We both have had pasts that were affected by alcoholism the disease.

In reading “In the White Light of Grace” it struck me how much Lillie has pushed herself to grow. She became a police officer at a fairly young age and at a time when not many women were doing such a thing. My favorite story is when she responded to an emergency call for a domestic situation. She found a woman in the home, assaulted and alone. She interviewed her and as Lillie was walking out and onto the porch, the woman’s husband came walking around the corner. Here’s what she says:

“I knew instinctively that he must be the woman’s husband. No words were necessary. His manner and her reaction to his presence said it all. Within seconds, he began screaming obscenities. He was furious at her for calling the police. “Leave the premises or I will arrest you!” I shouted. Without any warning, the man lunged at me and yelled, “Yeah, you and what army?” Before I had time to gather my thoughts, I grabbed him and shoved him over the front porch rail. He landed facedown on the ground. I ran down and managed to cuff him with one swift sweep of the hand. As I lifted him from the ground, a patrol car pulled up along the curb and an officer I did not recognize asked me, “Are you okay? Where is your backup?”

Of course Lillie did not have a back up. She did it all by herself. There were some men sitting across the street, watching the whole thing. All at once they started clapping and singing, “I am woman, hear me roar.” GO LILLIE!

If you believe in angels, this is the book for you. Lillie details her early and repeated encounters with Archangel Michael in many chapters of the book. In her childhood she referred to him as the “Blue Man with wings.” She was reprimanded about her sightings and so stopped sharing them with others. But she did not stop believing and always felt herself channeled to the angels.

“It seemed as if I had an energy that flowed to me, through me, and permeated every aspect of my being. And although my youthful mind was not able to fully comprehend angelic channeling, I was astute enough to recognize that something amazing was transpiring.”

Lillie loved to retreat to her bedroom to write and dream of angels. In her chapter “The Origins of Grace”, she talks lovingly of her grandmother Situ (Arabic for grandmother) who encouraged her to believe and have faith. Situ encouraged her to pass this birthright on to the next generation. Lillie believes this has been a blessing on her family to have these gifts.

I preferred to read Lillie’s book slowly and savor it, rather than hurry through it. It reads like a spiritual reference guide, encouraging the reader to think of their own experiences and how to live a more openly spiritual life. The book is beautifully written and is a lovely example for me as I move forward on my writing journey.

Other chapters contain insight into Lillie’s recovery from PTSD, her health issues, male relationship struggles, mother daughter angst, and deep sharing about her love for her father.

“As I look back on my life, I am amazed at the twists and turns it has taken. In retrospect, I can see that it has been filled with time of pain and sorrow mixed with moments of sheer joy. Each chapter has moved my life towards surrender and grace.”

Lillie, thank you for sharing your book with me.

Click HERE to order Lillie’s book.

Disclosure: This book was given to me free of charge and I am not compensated for my endorsement of it. This review is my personal opinion.

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Lipstick and Grace

Daleen's Lilacs

I have a guest blogger today! She is my friend from the West Coast, Ms. Daleen of Sunday’s Child. When I read this post, I admit to crying just a bit. 🙂 Friendship can be that way. God has blessed me with amazing friends.

Here’s her sweet post. Please leave a heartfelt comment and I’ll enter your name in a drawing to win an autographed copy of my book!

Admit it, we have all said it.  “Geesh, I need some new friends.”

While in algebra class, it was easy to find a study friend.  During ballet practice, friends were there to help us learn. Moving with the Army, we met new friends every 4 years.

However, once you go over the 50 year mark, new friends are few and far between.

Most of us have settled down, take a class now and then, same job or work from home, same church friends, same neighbors, not many faces change.

Then when you aren’t looking, almost magically,  God hears your prayer and slips a new friend into your pocket.  One of those good kind of friends.  The ones with a fabulous laugh & beautiful heart.  The kind of friend who while talking on the phone,  just as she arrives at an event, you politely say good bye and good luck, then SCREAM, WAIT!  Do you have on cute earrings and good lipstick?  Seriously, she says, oh yes.  Then tells you the kind of earrings and shade of lip stick she chose.

To be honest, you feel a tiny bit guilty that she is making others wait while she finishes the phone call.  (To the world, it looks like an important phone call. Reality check, Lipstick color IS important!) Along with that tiny bit of guilt, you feel lucky.  Lucky that she is your friend and she is choosing to answer your important lip stick question before she races off to put the fine touches on an event.

I write a blog called, Sunday’s Child full of Grace. https://sundayschildfullofgrace.wordpress.com/

Little did I know those five words would help me find a friend.  I write about the grace that swirls around me.

As you well know, life throws us for a loop now and then.  A couple years ago, I was on the ground trying to get back up onto the trampoline of life when Joanne offered me a cup of coffee and a hug.

Two people living on opposite sides of the country, God saw fit to bring us together.  It is Grace pure, sweet and simple.

joanne

I can’t tell you how many times I have written a slip of paper for my grateful jar about Joanne. (I just re-read this, it sort of sounds like I am a weird stalker of some sort.  I prefer to think of it as the Joanne Fan Club!)

Joanne called!

Joanne sent me a good wish card with a picture of lilacs!

 Joanne has a new grand baby!  

Joanne shared some honey!

Joanne published her book!

 

coffee cupBelieve it or not, we have never had a cup of coffee in person.  Honest truth.  We text and say, I can chat in 15 minutes, pour your coffee and let’s talk.  Then we get to put our feet up & drink coffee until the cup is empty or our phone batteries die.  snort.  Yes, we have talked over those annoying beeps.  Oh you don’t know?  After you chat for 3 hours on your phone it starts beeping.  The beeping means, Enough girls……..go live more life so you have something to talk about next time.

We talk about our grands.  We talk about food, husbands, kids, weddings, more food, bees, honey, quilts, cross stitch, blogs, lipstick, earrings, books, writing books, travel, vacations and yes plans to meet one day.

Joanne writes a blog about grace & love. She writes what she lives.  With the amazing ability to make those around her feel covered in grace and goodness, she somehow makes you feel better just by stopping by.

Yes, her writing is a respite in the glorious commotion of the day.  She gracefully & simply refills your spirit.  Her words remind you that there is good out there and there is an abundance for all of us.

One day, she asked if I would help her with her book.  Good Golly, Miss Molly!  I was beyond flattered that she would consider me.  I was rubbing my hands together with glee.  So excited and thrilled that she asked me to be part of her book writing journey.

Oh no, then it hit.  How on earth was I going to look over her writing and make as I call them “gentle suggestions”?  While in school and even when I home schooled, I loathed corrections made with red ink & capital letters.  Urgh.  Seemed so mean and awful and not very encouraging.  I didn’t want to come off as a school marm with a waaaaaay too tight hair bun, slapping a ruler in my hand wearing less than cute shoes.  I didn’t want to judge.

The air quickly leaked out of my (imaginary, celebratory) fancy balloon bouquet.

While I was thrilled for her book accomplishment, I didn’t want, even gentle suggestions  to smudge our  lovely friendship.  We had to talk.

We talked and talked and wrote back and forth and talked some more.

In the end, I used green ink to make my gentle suggestions.  I asked questions.  Some suggestions she jumped on, others she gently let go. We found a way to balance on the see saw.

In the style of friendship, grace guided us through.

Oh yes, I am beyond happy for her and her accomplishment.   I am grateful we worked on part of her dream together.  It was such a huge moment her life, by her sharing, somehow our friendship sort of seems sealed in the grace of the work.

I got to chat with her on the day her book cover was decided.  The day her book was being published, again we talked.  We talked as she drove to her book launch.

joanne book cover

Click on the book to order!

As I tore open the end of that padded yellow envelope, I held my breath, the book, her book slipped gently out and onto my counter.  I was teary eyed.

I am so proud of my friend.  She is (with gorgeous lipstick, sassy earrings and a beautiful smile) standing in the middle of her goal.  Sort of dream like, only for real.

Heartfelt congratulations my friend!  I loved watching you cart wheel through the book writing process.  You inspire us, your readers.

Here is the beautiful part.  The book is good.  Really good.  Each chapter is a nugget of gold. You feel bathed in grace with each page you turn.  You almost don’t want to dog ear the corners.  Ha.  I already have.  I have drawn hearts and underlined inspiring phrases. You feel as though you are sneaking a peek into her world.  Secret gems that you might use in your own jumble of life.  I know the book was written with the idea of reading a chapter here or there with a lovely cup of coffee.  However, once you open the cover, you fall into the pages and are covered with goodness & love.  You can’t put it down. Yes, that good.

Grace, it’s Amazing.

From Joanne: Thank you Daleen for this beautiful post! Friends, please leave Daleen a comment and you will be entered to win an autographed copy of my book! Be sure to check out Daleen’s blog!

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Book Review: Evanthia’s Gift

Evanthia's Gift by Effie Kammemou

Evanthia’s Gift by Effie Kammemou

Sophia Mou, Thank you for saving me from myself. I know you will be magnificent tonight.

Love, Dino (from Evanthia’s Gift, by Effie Kammenou)

I haven’t written a book review in a long time so I am well overdue. I guarantee you this book is worth the wait.

I have been following the blog “Cheffie’s Kitchen” for about a year. I’m not sure how I found Effie Kammenou but I’m so glad I did. Her blog is filled with stories and old world Greek recipes, the kind I grew up on. As a matter of fact, my mother Katherine and I love to look over Effie’s blog and see what she’s cooking.

So when I saw that Effie wrote a multigenerational Greek love story entitled “Evanthia’s Gift”, I was intrigued. I wrote to her and she offered to send me a copy to read. It was a few weeks before all the holiday hoopla and Jim’s hip surgery was coming up. I began the book and loved it from the get go. It was reminiscent of my heritage, my family, and a love for all things Greek.

I finally finished the book this past weekend. I chose to savor it and not rush through it. When I finally began to dig in last week and dedicate myself to reading it, I could hardly put it down.

Here’s a few bits and pieces about the story, just to tease you. It starts out in the 50’s and Anastacia Fotopoulos is pregnant. Her husband does something unthinkable and Ana goes off and running to her family. Of course they fix the whole problem (they’re Greeks!) and Ana goes on to meet and fall madly in love with Alexandros Giannokos (what a name!). The child is born and they name her Sophia. The Giannokos and their other Greek neighbors, The Papadakis’, are very close and do everything together. The Papadakis’ have a son and daughter. The son is Dino. From the time they are little children, Dino watches over and protects his Sophia Mou.

As he grows up, Dino begins to object to his father’s strenuous adherences to Greek heritage and culture. Of course this causes a rift between him and his father. This affects Dino and Sophia’s relationship as well. You can probably guess what happens but I’ll tell you this. Their lives are like all others; the very good moments intertwined with the seriously challenging. Things do not go smooth for Sophia and Dino and I could not predict (as I usually can do) where this book was going to go. But their love and devotion to each other is the kind you wish and hope for in your life. They are madly, passionately in love.

During the holidays, the two families cook up a storm and Effie puts her magical Greek recipes in between chapters of the book. Tantalizing recipes for baklava, revani, tiropita, pastisio, and many more. You can practically feel yourself sitting at the table and eating along with the Giannokos and Papadakis families for Easter and Christmas.

Effie’s writing style is engaging. She weaves this story effortlessly, smoothly, and in such a warm fashion. I am in awe of how she sets us up at the end for the next book. Bravo Effie! I can’t wait to read it!

Click HERE for the Amazon Link. Kindle Unlimited readers- it is free.

Click HERE for the Barnes and Noble link.

Click HERE for Cheffie’s Kitchen.

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Hay House Book Review: Power Words!

Power Words

We learn that words have an independent life of their own, grown out of echoes and connotations and associations. James J. Kilpatrick

POWER WORDS is by Sharon Anne Klingler, an inspiring international speaker and author. This is an interesting book, filled with meaningful ideas about words I have honestly never even considered.

Point in case, my absolute favorite chapter is entitled “Expletives Deleted- Moving from Swearing to Blessings.” Ms. Klingler states “For most people the act of swearing is a simple and innocuous opportunity to vent their anger and frustrations. But it may not be as harmless as they think. Every word that is voiced has power to it, and negative words can carry a negative force that may surprise you.”

She proposes taking a favorite strong swear word such as the four letter word beginning with f (now bear with me here!) and changing it to flip whenever you feel the urge to say it. Citing the story of a friend she worked with (who overused this very word) she details how the simple act of changing a constant negative word in our lives to a more positive one can change our whole outlook. She helped this friend go from a life of feeling constantly drained to a more positive energetic one, simply by changing her words.

Ms. Klingler suggests also to bless difficult times (I know, so hard!) Here she states “Wishing blessings upon those who may have judged you or hurt you can be as big a blessing to you as to them. It not only helps you to break your train of negative thought, but it also helps you invoke a higher experience of peace to all involved, giving you a new perspective and a greater ease in letting go.”

She states that some people use the word God during times of surprise: Good God or Good Lord (my favorite!). Some also say good gracious or my heavens. She feels those may be good choices at times because of their affirmation of goodness.

If you work or play in stressful situations, this book could be a life changer. By flipping our choice of words, Ms. Klingler suggests we can affect our whole life. Change the negative words to positive and change your life. I think she is right.

And of course, here is my disclosure per Hay House: I get to choose the book I wish to review, it is given to me free of charge, and I am not compensated for my endorsement of this book. This review is my personal opinion.

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Gifts in Strange Wrapping Paper

“From the clear center of my heart, there are no edges to my loving you. I’ve heard it said there’s a window that opens from one mind to another, but if there were no wall, what need of installing a window?” – Rumi

The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter

So begins Chapter 1 of The Heart of the Matter: A Simple Guide to Discovering Gifts in Strange Wrapping Paper by Dr. Darren R. Weissman and Cate Montana, M.A. , a beautiful book in theory but a challenge to work through none the less.

I found it interesting that the authors believe that most aches, pains, diseases and emotional suffering are gifts in strange wrapping paper. They are messages to discovering the truth of who we are. There are some stories and examples given that illustrate how early traumatic incidences can have deep emotional roots in our subconscious.

The theory is to learn that these symptoms are not personal in any way, but rather spiritual in every way; they are wake- up calls to alert us to evolve to our fullest potential.

Do I agree with this? Tentatively, yes. I have to say that I think many illnesses are stress related and triggered by old emotions we have no conscious awareness of.

The book identifies a way to work through uncomfortable problems and just about every situation. It’s the See Feel Hear Challenge. I’m not going to give it all away but basically the authors teach us how to slowly allow ourselves a way in which to face and work through anything that is causing us pain or discomfort. No crazy stuff, just good old fashioned introspection- and a whole lot of courage.

My favorite section is on setting an intention. This is something I am trying to do more of lately and the book describes the process in very good detail and easy to understand directions.

Other chapters are on responsibility and the freedom to choose, social conditioning, addiction and compulsions and some other challenging subjects. If you are looking for a book to guide yourself into the next spiritual plane, this one may be exactly what you are looking for.

And here is my disclosure per Hay House Publishers. I get to choose the book I wish to review, it is given to me free of charge, and I am not compensated for my endorsement of this book. This review is my personal opinion.

There are some other reviews of this book on Amazon.com.

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The Miracles of Archangel Gabriel

Archangel Gabriel book cover

When my grandson Gavin was born, there was really no easy Greek translation of his name. So when he was christened, the baptismal name he was given was Gabriel.

Since then, it has been my wish that the Archangel Gabriel watch over and bless my grandson Gavin. And with that thought, I just couldn’t resist the latest book from Hay House Publishers “The Miracles of Archangel Gabriel.”

The author, Ms. Doreen Virtue, has also written a book on Archangel Michael. In her book on Gabriel, Ms. Virtue goes into a biblical history of the Archangel, beginning with the poetic first words he spoke to Mary, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy…..”

From there, the author takes us through chapters of how Gabriel has assisted women through conception and pregnancy, parenting and childhood, and interestingly enough, how the Archangel has affected writers and the way they communicate to others.

For those of us who love to write, Ms. Virtue urges us to press on. “I believe that the desire to write is a signal that it’s part of your life purpose. Those who continually think, I should write, are getting Divine guidance to express heavenly messages through a book, article, blog or other medium. In some cases, Gabriel will suggest journaling or keeping a diary as a way of opening the creative pipelines. Whatever form the writing takes, the process of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard is soul- stirring.”

I loved that motivation! This book is encouraging and thoughtful, with beautiful pictures and inspirational stories. If you are looking to further your knowledge of Archangels, this is a great book to add to your collection.

And of course, here is my disclosure per Hay House. I get to choose the book I wish to review, it is given to me free of charge, and I am not compensated for my endorsement of this book. This review is my personal opinion.

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The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone

Loving EveryoneAs soon as I saw the title of this book, I knew I had to read it. “The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone” is a treat, a feast not only for the heart but also for the soul of anyone who is willing to take a few moments a day to learn more about unconditional love.

Honestly it took me a few weeks to get through it because you really shouldn’t read this book fast. I loved savoring a chapter or two, then really thinking about the lessons that Mollie, the hero of the stories, had imparted not only on her owner but the rest of us.

Mollie had a terrible start in life at an awful puppy mill, but thankfully Michael J. Chase and his wife latch onto her and nurse her through the first few ill months. After that, Mollie eats her way through heart and home as Michael tells witty stories and heartfelt lessons about the things Mollie teaches him.

Because even though Mollie is a dickens of a big poodle dog, always getting into trouble, wanting her own way and stealing cookies, she is an amazing judge of character (as many dogs are) as she wags her tail and makes friends with anyone.

The author, Michael J. Chase, is an inspirational speaker on KINDNESS, even has his own KINDNESS CENTER so that tells you right there he has his priorities straight. Early on in the book, he chronicles his search for a new spiritual teacher and while pondering his options, Mollie suddenly licks his face. He decides then and there that Mollie is the teacher he has been looking for.

My favorite story is about a walk that Michael and Mollie embark on, one day through their neighborhood. It is a carefully mapped route with a minimum of distractions and opportunities for Mollie to get into trouble. But on this day, Mollie has her own ideas. She plops her butt down and decides she is not going any further. Michael begs, pulls on her leash, offers snacks and pleads for movement but Mollie won’t budge. It begins to rain and they are getting soaked. Finally, exasperated, Michael asks her where she wants to go. He lets her lead and Mollie takes them on a beautiful walk, through new neighborhoods with lovely picturesque houses. Michael decides older dogs really can teach new tricks and the lesson is to move out of our comfort zones and try new things.

I hope you decide to give this amazing book a read. It would make a great present as well, especially for someone you know who loves animals and does acts of loving kindness.

This is my 100th post and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate than to review such a wonderful book! Thanks to WordPress for this Daily Prompt!

And here is my disclosure per Hay House Publishers. I get to choose the book I wish to review, it is given to me free of charge, and I am not compensated for my endorsement of this book. This review is my personal opinion. Thank you for reading!

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Sober Mercies

“Once upon a time, I assumed my Christian faith would make me immune to the kind of gross moral lapse I considered alcoholism to be. The way I saw it, if you were a sincere believer, you would rarely, if ever, drink. And if you did drink, you would be careful not to drink too much. And if you never drank too much, you couldn’t become an alcoholic”. Heather Kopp

Sober-Mercies-198x300So begins Chapter Two of Heather’s book “Sober Mercies”, a book I couldn’t put down and read in a little over a weekend.

I was fascinated by Heather’s story mainly because I personally have the privilege of knowing many members of my local recovery community. I admire those individuals who recognize their drinking has gone awry and make the choice to live sober. Matter of fact, my recovery friends have taught me a great deal about spirituality, faith and living life one day at a time.

But a Christian drunk exposing all of her deepest fears, shortcomings and basically, dirty laundry? Yes. Heather gets right to the point and shares the secret life she led- hiding bottles, discarding used bottles and the constant maintenance of a consistent level of alcohol in her system. And the insanity that brought her to bended knees, finally causing her to admit she had no control over her insatiable desire for alcohol.  And finding out alcoholism is a disease, not a question of self will.

Because, as Heather explains, it is a disease. She hears this in treatment, thinks it’s an excuse, and the counselor blows her out of the water by explaining that “no one would propose lung cancer, directly caused by cigarettes, or diabetes brought on by obesity, are not legitimate disease, even when they arise from or are triggered by an avoidable indulgence.”

Heather analyzes her own Christian faith, realizing that she brought “a finely tuned and biblically supported belief system about God” to recovery. But then she realizes just how much her recovery meetings begin to feel like a close encounter with grace.

The difference? The people in the meetings come in desperation, asking God for help. And they are saved by their surrender and willingness to turn complete control over to the God of their understanding.

Why read this book? Maybe you are a member of a recovery community yourself, or maybe you know someone who drinks a little too much. Regardless, you will find an education within the pages of  “Sober Mercies.” An education not only on alcoholism, the twelve steps, faith and God, but also the enlightenment that comes with going deeper. Heather inspires us not to settle for the comfortable (or uncomfortable) spot in life, but to look beyond and inside ourselves for answers and the real meaning of why we do the things we do.

I hope you will take the time to read this beautiful book.

And, of course, here is my disclosure. The book was given to me free of charge and I am not compensated for my review. This is my own opinion of “Sober Mercies” by Heather Kopp.

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Activate your Goodness

Hello Friends!

If you remember a while back, I signed up to be a blogger/book reviewer for Hay House Publishers. This is my second book review.

Activate Your Goodness” by Shari Arison is a motivational, feel good book. On the front jacket is a quote by Bill Clinton I want to share with you. He says, “Shari, your work has impacted the world in a profoundly positive way, touching lives everywhere in your everlasting pursuit to make the world a better place.”

I expected to be razzle dazzled by this book, especially after reading all the endorsements. And in many ways, it is impressive. Ms. Arison survived a challenging childhood, three marriages and divorces and came out of it all, transformed and with a strong desire to do service for the greater good.

Her father was the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines and she makes it clear that he struggled financially for many years before he succeeded in business. Ms. Arison served on the Board of Directors for her father’s company and started The Arison Foundation. In 2007, she created “Good Deeds Day” in Israel and it has since gone worldwide.

I have to admit though that I was expecting something different from this book. Looking forward to some author introspection, I was surprised when Ms. Arison delivered only a small chapter on her childhood and nothing on her (three!) marriages or divorces. Her words at one point were this: “I felt that for years, in order for people to understand me, I had to bang my head against the wall. I managed to move a few walls and break a few glass ceilings, but I began to feel overwhelmed, tired, and sick. “ That’s about as deep as she goes with her own personal feelings.

The rest of the book tells us how to do good for ourselves, our family, our community and for humanity. The rewards of doing for others are endless and I agree with this. Ms. Arison has examples of powerful, motivating situations and chronicles them in a simple, friendly manner. If you belong to a group or organization looking for positive ways to integrate into a community in a more service oriented fashion, this book could be very helpful.

Though overall I was not impressed by her writing, I was impressed by what Ms. Arison has accomplished and what she continues to stand for in her life. Best wishes to her for continued success with “Good Deeds Day.”

And of course, here is my disclosure per Hay House. I get to choose the book I wish to review, it is given to me free of charge, and I am not compensated for my endorsement of this book. This review is my personal opinion.

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