Second Chances?

I recently received a book for review from an author whose debut I didn’t really like at all. It’s always interesting when I’m faced with this dilemma of whether or not to give an author a second chance if I didn’t like one or two books I’ve read from them.

There’s a lot to consider! How many books have I read from them that didn’t work? What didn’t I like about it (the writing? the style? the plot? The characters? bored?)?ย  Is it something that could change in a different book? Does this one sound like it might be a better fit?


I typically try to read at least 2 books of an author before I “write them off” as not for me or at least put them on the back-burner unless I hear amazing things about a new book that sounds like a better fit. I do that because books can vary so much and I know another book could be a win for me. There’s been authors that I’ve read one book from and then the next one is drastically different. So if it sounds like a book for me, I’ll go for it hoping that the issues I had in the first place aren’t in this book. Then there are others that after two books I can just TELL I don’t like their style or their type of stories. And that’s OKAY! And even then I *MIGHT* consider a book down the line if I caught reviews that made me think the issues I had wouldn’t be present in this one.



On the other hand, my sister REFUSES to read books from an author that she didn’t like initially which I totally GET as well. BUT I keep pleading with her to give one author another chance with a book I think she’d like better TO NO AVAIL.

I think maybe I just give second chances more because I know how DIFFERENT some authors can be from book to book…though obviously, on the same hand, some have very distinct styles/patterns that might just not be a good fit.

So let’s chat:

Do you frequently give author’s second chances if you don’t like the first book or two you read from them? What do you consider in making that decision if you DO give second chances? What kinds of things are dealbreakers that would make you probably not pick up an author’s other books? Let’s talk about this!


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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I actually rarely judge books according to author, unless they’re part of a series. Obviously, if I loved the first book, I’d remember the author’s name, maybe follow them on Twitter, so I’d know about their next book too. Sometimes, even if I adored the first book, I won’t pick up another — even if it’s in the same series! Recent example would be the Winner’s Trilogy — loved Winner’s Curse, but not so interested in Winner’s Crime. But if I didn’t like the first book and hear about another, my criteria for deciding whether I’ll pick it up reverts back to ‘first books status’. I suppose even really good authors’ writing styles and skill change over time, so I prefer to decide on a book-by-book basis.

    • Yes this is typically me as well! I consider the type of book or the new plot more than anything. Though the only time I might just decide that an author isn’t, as a whole for me, is if they typically have the same style or patterns to their books that just consistently never work! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I totally agree with you. The same author can be completely different book to book. Despite this, I feel as if I write them off too soon sometimes. I think it depends on if it’s the first book that I’ve read of them or if I’ve read and enjoyed others. For example, James Patterson. I’ve heard great things about him. He has like a million published novels and many awards. But I read “Witch and Wizard” and was not into it. And I haven’t read anything else of his since…

    Maybe I should try him again not that I’m thinking about it.

    • I think sometimes what ends up happening to me is that I won’t intentionally write them off but sometimes I just push them to the back burner bc I associate them with the book I didn’t like so it makes me grab for something else instead…even though I totally know that I’ve experienced not liking one book from an author but loving another! Haha

  3. This has actually happened to me a lot recently, as I read my first books by Gayle Forman and Holly Black (aside from reading there short stories in My True Love Gave to Me, and loved them both!) and was really disappointed. However, these are authors that are SUCH staples in the YA community, and both books were stand alones, so I’m really eager to give them another chance! I am especially likely to give an author a second chance when my issue was more due to lack of interest in the plot or themes, rather than the writing- bad/juvenile writing is often hard to look past for me, and IS one of the things that will be a deal breaker for me!

    • Hehe as a resident Gayle Forman Fangirl I feel I must say give her another try!! Her books are all so different! I’ve loved them all but I know people who have had strong and opposing feelings about her different books! Which one did you read??

      • I read I Was Here! It wasn’t bad, but I had some issues with it so it ranked as a solid 3-star read for me (and I admit I WAS expecting to be blown away since so many people rave about her!) I just started “Just One Day” today so hopefully I’ll enjoy that one more!

  4. I basically give second chances if the plot is different. It happened with John Green and didn’t work out. I tried one book, hated it, tried a second and same thing, because of the same reasons. In the end it was not because he was bad, but because it was just not my style. So now I don’t pick up nay more books unless he write something different. If the author write different kind of stories every time (Neil Gaiman) then chances are I love some books and I hate others, so he is worth the try. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I’m not really big on giving authors second chances. I mean, if I didn’t like one of their books and the writing style just felt off to me or they put something in the book that seriously offended me, I’m probably not going to give one of their other books a chance. BUT I do give second chances if I’ve loved one of their books before, because I know that there’s real potential to be amazing again. Am I making sense? I just think that there are too many books out there to waste my time with books that I’m probably not going to enjoy reading.

  6. I have a two strikes and they’re out policy! Definitely do second chances (unless they were completely offensive the first time round), but if I don’t like the author’s second offering, then they’ll end up in the ‘dismissed’ pile.

  7. I typically don’t give authors a second chance, only because there are SO MANY other books out there – why waste time on someone whose work I didn’t like in the past?

    HOWEVER. There are three authors who immediately came to mind: Holly Black, Sarah Jio, & Kate Alcott. Okay, so admittedly, out of those three the only author I’ve actually given a second chance to was Sarah Jio. I’ve heard great things about her books and she’s always someone who sells well for us (especially heading into summer) so when I heard about Goodnight June I was on board. It ended up being AWFUL. Tropes & cliches out the wazoo. Just plain terrible. So when I was contacted about reviewed The Look of Love, I was more than a little hesitant. Much to my surprise, this one was FAR better than GJ, though it still had many of the same issues. Idk, maybe she’s just not an author for me?

    I was beyond excited to read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and while it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t awesome. Still, I’ve heard great things about Holly Black from friends I trust, so who knows! Someday I’d like to revisit her stuff.

    aaand Kate Alcott. I’m more nervous about giving her a second chance than I am Holly Black. A Touch of Stardust SHOULD have been a Leah book: historical fiction that goes behind the scenes of Gone With the Wind! Clark Gable as a character! I should have been over the moon. …it was a DNF. What sucks is that I bought a copy of The Daring Ladies of Lowell (haaa, after my e-ARC expired – WHOOPS!) and now I feel obligated to read it. Another blogger told me Alcott’s third book, one about the Titanic, hasn’t had many good reviews. ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™

    • Kimberly C. says:

      It’s funny that you mentioned Sarah Jio, because she is who I thought of first while reading this post. I read The Violets of March after a friend recommended it, and I hated it. It was insipid, strangely plotted, and poorly written. But this friend LOVES Jio and kept advocating for her books, so I decided to give her a second try. After reading Morning Glory and encountering the same issues, I have firmly decided that her books just aren’t for me. Jio always receives such glowing reviews, so I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t all that impressed.

      Re: Holly Black. I love love love the Curse Workers series, but several friends (who also love that series) read Coldest Girl in Coldtown and were disappointed. I never read it, based on their reviews. I think it might just be one of her weaker novels. Still, I totally understand the once burned, twice shy attitude.

  8. Interesting topic! I think this totally depends on the author and I’ve had completely different experiences with this. Is the author formulaic (Liane Moriarty for me – I swore her off after not liking 3 books)? On the flip side, if I’d read Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places BEFORE Gone Girl, I probably wouldn’t have continued with her either. But, lucky me, I read GG first and loved it, then didn’t like Dark Places.

    Stephen King is another one – his books are so different from each other that he’s really a book by book author for me. I don’t read his horror, but love his thrillers and historical fiction (11/22/63).
    Great topic!

  9. I give second and third chances for the most part. There are a couple books I’ve attempted where the writing wasn’t for me and I’d hesitate a bit picking another. I fall so easily for a great title, cover and summary I can’t help but add a book with those three things to my wish list. Love this topic!

  10. Yeah I know what you mean! I’ve definitely felt that way before. There are some instances where I know it’s because it’s the author’s writing style that didn’t really connect with me and in those cases I tend to shy away from their previous or future works. However in other circumstances I adore the writing but just couldn’t get past either the storyline or characters, and so I tend to give the author a second chance.

    An example of where I’ve sort of been torn is Kasie West. I remember adding like all her books to my TBR because they just sounded like my kind of books but after reading The Distance Between Us I had second thoughts because I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would and I still don’t know if it’s because of the characters or the writing. Think I’ll have to give another of her books a read to see.

    Anyway enough of my rambling. Great post Jamie!

  11. I think for me it depends more on what I didn’t like about the first book. For example, I just finished a book whose writing was atrocious, which was unfortunate because the story was good (once you unraveled what the author was actually trying to say). Seriously, it was like the book had never seen an editor. Did I get an unedited review copy by accident or something?? Even if I did, I didn’t like the writer’s particular style even without considering all the obvious errors, so I probably won’t be seeking out more from him. Style and voice has a lot to do with whether or not I’ll enjoy and/or go back to an author, and that’s true for both ends of the spectrum: obviously, if someone writes terribly, I’m not going to read another book by them; BUT, it’s also annoying if an author is too…self-consciously literary (think Jonathan Safran Foerโ€”UGH, so pretentious!!). If your writing style screams “LOOK AT ME LOOK HOW SMART I AM,” I’m not going to read your stuff, sorry.

    If I simply didn’t like the plot of a particular book, I’m reasonably certain I would try another book from that same author, unless they’re a genre/formula writer (Nicholas Sparks, James Patterson, Ian McEwan). I didn’t love Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, but I’m still planning to read American Gods. Ya know?

    Anyway, to each their own. I totally get both your and your sister’s arguments. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. While I’d like to give second chances to authors, I find myself shying away from authors that I didn’t like the first time around. I don’t read as much as I’d like to and so I feel like I’d rather read something I know that I’d like than read something that I might not like. There are times, however, where I do end up trying an author again due to friends’ persistent recommendations. In those cases, it’s usually because I liked the authors’ writing styles but not plot/topic.

  13. I have found in the past that second chances can be worthwhile. I have this problem with Robin Hobbs where I love some of her books and loathe others. And of course sometimes authors have one book that fans will say is the black sheep of their canon, and if so it’s worth giving them another shot. But most of the time there are plenty of other books and writers out there to be getting on with, so unless a concept by an author whose work I didn’t like is outstanding I probably wouldn’t bother with them again.

  14. I think I’m more inclined to give an author’s books a second chance if they’re different enough–maybe by writing in a new genre or category or just a totally different plot. I’m less inclined to give an author a second chance if say, I didn’t like their first high fantasy book and then they start a new high fantasy series. I’m definitely a fan of giving author’s books a second chance, though, because I’ve discovered some favorites that way. For example, I read Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater about 3 years ago and really disliked it–quite a bit. BUT I gave The Scorpio Races & The Raven Boys a chance and I’m so glad I did because those are two of my favorite books now! It can definitely pay off.

    • I had the same reaction to Maggie Stiefvater. I didn’t like the Wolves of Mercy Falls series at all, so I wrote Stiefvater off for a long time, until I read the Raven Boys and I’m so glad I did because, like you, they’re some of my favorites!

  15. I think most of the time, I don’t really take the author into consideration when I’m adding a book to my TBR shelf. It mostly just depends on the plot for me. However, when I do look at the author, it depends on why I didn’t like the first one. Most of the time, I’ll be willing to give them another try (especially if I didn’t like their debut, because they could have improved!). The only time I’ll write off an author is when they do something that is not very polite on social networks or such.

  16. I’ll usually give a new or different book by an author a second chance. Even some books from favorite authors have been a miss for me so I try not to hold it against the author. That of course depends on why I disliked the book and how much. Like if I truly hated the book and/or DNF’d it then I may think twice but I’ll reluctantly give a different a try. I may be a little more cautious going into it but I will try it if it sounds like a book I will really enjoy.

    I don’t read many standalones so for me this is more about do I want to read the second book in a series? I typically have issues with first books so I will try to reserve judgement on a series until I have read the second book. So I guess I give authors a second chance in that respect.

  17. This is such an interesting discussion question!

    For me, whether I give an author a second chance has more to do with what, exactly, I didn’t like about their first book. If it was something plot- or character-related (predictable ending, instalove, etc.), I’m more likely to give that second chance, because those are all things that can easily change from book to book. But if it’s something more stylistic, like the “voice” of the author was just not appealing, that’s not as likely to change from one book to another.

  18. I don’t write off authors if I don’t like book one (unless maybe I hate the writing). BUT they tend to get pushed down my reading list because there are so many books I want to read.

    It’s kinda sad because I would have missed out on several favorites if I’d read my least favorite Liza Palmer book first. She’s one of my favorites but she’s had 1 miss for me. Since it was my third of hers no big deal, but if it had been first I don’t know I’d ever have read “Seeing Me Naked” – which I LOVE!

  19. I usually won’t read another book from an author of the first book I read from them got two stars or less. Though sometimes I’ll break that rule because of good reviews/an awesome synopsis.

  20. This is a really good question I hadn’t really though about before. I think I also try to give the author a second chance, unless I strongly disliked it the first time. I do this more so when there are lots of good reviews and other people seem to like it and I wonder why I didn’t! This is currently how I feel about Melina Marchetta – everybody loves her! I felt kinda “meh” about Finnikin, I enjoyed it but parts of it I didn’t like too. Everyone says try her contemporary, but I don’t read contemporary so I’m scared to try it!! If I do read one of her contemps, I think I will try Saving Francesca because everyone raves about that one!

  21. I’ll read 2 books and if I don’t like the second, I give up. I only progress to a second if I didn’t absolutely hate the first though.

  22. I just recently read (and couldnt finish) Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton and its the first book in a while that I read and just didn’t like and didn’t finish at all. It’s pretty safe to say that I wont be reading the rest of the series because the first one just wasn’t my cup of tea.

    If she creates a different series or a new book outside of this particular series then I might try again because I did like the overall idea of Seeker.

  23. If I 100% disliked a book by an author then I’m not sure I would give another book by that author a chance. IF I only kind of disliked the book and I thought it had more to do with the story than the author’s writing I would probably give the author a second chance if this new book sounded like I would really like it OR if a friend of mine said it was really good and knew I would like it. If I do give the author a second chance and the book still wasn’t for me, than I probably wouldn’t try again. I think sometimes it probably just has to do with my mood. haha

  24. Fantastic post, Jamie! I generally give authors another chance. Like Sarah Dessen, for an instance, I read two of her books and I really didn’t like them and I didn’t want to read any of her other books. Then I read This Lullaby and I fell in love with it and I’ve loved the other two I’ve read as well! So I definitely think people should give authors second chances.

  25. I don’t think I give very many second chances, although, it is very dependent on WHY I didn’t like the author in the first place. If I hated the writing, probably not going to give the author a second chance. If my issue was more with the particular story or if I see some sort of potential in the writing, I think I might give the author another shot.

  26. For me it definitely depends on WHY I didn’t think the book(s) were for me. There are some authors who I could tell I just didn’t like their writing style itself. If I don’t like that, I don’t want to bother with any others. That’s not something that’s likely to change. Some books I REALLY disliked SO much that even if the other books sound incredibly different, I don’t want to bother. BUT if it’s something more about the plot of the book or the pacing, I’d consider reading other books. Basically I have to determine if it’s something that could change in another book, or something strictly about the author’s style or language that bugs me. Usually it’s a two strikes and you’re out situation. I’m not likely going to give a third book a chance.

  27. I always like to give an author a second chance to impress me because I think different concepts can invoke different writing styles. For example, I really really didn’t like “Linger” by Maggie Stiefvater. It just wasn’t for me, so for a very long time I put off reading anything else by her on the principal that “Linger” was awful, so why would I like anything else by her?

    Then she writes “The Raven Boys” and the summary intrigued me, so I read it, and now I’m obsessed. I read “The Scorpio Races” because it fell victim to my “Ugh, Linger” mentality and I loved it, too. So if I hadn’t given Maggie Stiefvater a second chance, then I’d have missed out on some of my favorite books!

    Currently, I’m hoping “A Court of Thorns and Roses” will give Sarah J Maas the Stiefvater treatment. I feel like I’m in a small minority of people who couldn’t get into the Throne of Glass series, but the summary of ACoTaR sounds really cool and ticks all of my boxes for things I love (it sounds like a Tam Lin retelling or something along those lines).

    • Replace “Linger” with “Shiver” I promise I didn’t read the books out of order and that’s why I didn’t like them.

  28. I have an example. I’m a sucker for the summaries of Jennifer E Smith’s books. Whoever writes them really knows how to write a good hook! And she comes up with some GREAT premises. But I’ve read her last 3 books and for every one of them I felt like there was nothing beyond the meet-cute. It felt like she didn’t know where to take the stories past that, how to wrap things up. So I would be ok with not picking up her next contemporary romance book seeing as I’ve been unsatisfied by 3 in a row. But if she wrote a different genre and it sounded like something I’d be interested in I wouldn’t write that off because a new genre could be totally different. Although, she does have a new contemp romance coming out and dang it if the hook doesn’t sound amazing!

  29. I’m a huge believer in DNF. But I also like to give books second chances. My favoritest series are ones that I originally DNF book one: Georgina Kincaid by Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead and Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill.

  30. I think about this a lot too–especially because if I wrote authors off after one bad experience I would have never read Illusions of Fate!
    Generally I also give an author two chances (three if two of the books are part of the same series) before I admit that something just doesn’t click for me. I am also more willing to give second chances if I know the type of book (genre) is part of the problem versus my having a personal disconnect with the authorial voice or some such.

  31. I don’t mind writing off an author if there books are full price. If I can grab a second book by an author I’ve written off for 99 cents, I’ll buy it and try it out.

  32. As others have stated, it depends on what my issue was with the first book. If I didn’t like the writing style, I may not be quick to pick up another book. If I had an issue with the plot or characters, I might give them another try.

  33. I think giving an author 2 chances is fair. Some books can really differ from each other and some may work while others don’t, so I tend to stick to this rule. If 2 don’t work for me, I write the author off as not my style.

  34. I totally give authors second chances! For the most part, I don’t really care about who the author is. Of course, if I see a favorite author’s name on the book I’m more likely to grab it! But if I didn’t like their previous book(s) I’ve read, that won’t stop me from picking up more. In fact, I gave one author 1 star on her debut. I absolutely hated everything about it. But then last year, I read her sophomore title and it was a solid 4 stars! And the opposite has been true, that I’ve wound up hating books by favorite authors, but that won’t stop me from continuing to read what they write!

  35. So many times when other bloggers pose questions, I think to myself, before blogging or after? Before blogging, yes, I would give extra chances because I always got “new to me” or “not really loving” authors from the library. There was no reviewing involved so if I didn’t like a book, I just quit reading it. No guilt with feeling bad about not finishing an ARC, and no money loss because it was borrowed. My main thing now is the time factor. Now that I have stacks of unread books, do I want to waste the reading time I do have on authors I didn’t like before when I could be reading an author I love, or a new to me author I might end up loving? No. One thing that does confuse me is authors who write prequels after one or two books that supposedly, according to other bloggers, are a totally different style to the series. This may, or may not, be true because I have never had the time to check to see if the series books to a prequel I didn’t care for was actually better for me, but why on earth would they do that? They are taking the chance that a new reader like me will not read the rest of the series based on the prequel.

  36. This is a great question. The writer who comes to my mind right now is Shakespeare. While I liked Romeo and Juliet, when I read it in school at 14 I was like why would anyone ever read these convoluted works? Then later on as an adult I realized there was a lot to enjoy about the style, even if I totally need a Reader’s Guide to help me through it! lol

    One I will never come back to is Nathaniel Hawthorne. I hated The Scarlet Letter with such a ferocity that I can’t even think about him without getting worked up.

  37. Great post. I agree with you. If I have only read one book from a new author, I don’t mind giving them another chance especially if the synopsis of the new one sounds promising. But if I read two books from the same author and don’t like either one, then I officially give up.

  38. I’m like you. I try to give an author at least two books before I write them off as someone I don’t like to read. I did that with Lauren Oliver (don’t hate me!). I read Rooms and Panic and didn’t like either. So I’d tried her adult and young adult books and realized she just isn’t for me. However, sometimes I’ll read a book or two by an author and not like them but will try again a year or more down the line and enjoy them. Tastes change and I’m always open to trying again.

  39. If I absolutely hated a book based on the writing style, then no, I won’t read the next book the author writes, but if I see a book that intrigues me, then yes I will add it to my TBR list. So I will say, it depends.
    I do look at the author sometimes. If I LOVE the author, it is an automatic add, for sure… if I couldn’t finish, it might be a maybe…

  40. I typically try at least two books from an author before I kind of give up. But like you, if they write a third book that gets raving reviews then I might check it out depending on the book. I’m all about giving people chances because a). authors grow and change. Practice makes perfect so just because I wasn’t a fan of their debut doesn’t mean I won’t like their 2nd, 3rd or 4th book. I think that authors improve over time and that can change my opinion of them and their books. And b). They might write a book later down the road that’s a total me book. And I definitely don’t want to miss out on that.

    I do agree that some have very distinct styles that won’t jive with certain readers and that’s okay, but I do like to give them at least two tries.

  41. Yes, I would give the book a second chance. Sometimes I would think that one of the reasons I didn’t enjoy the book could be because of the mood or environment when I was reading the book. So when it happens, I would put down the book and would pick it up later to re-read, sort of giving it a second chance.

    If talking about author, I wouldn’t stop myself from reading his/her other titles if I didn’t enjoy one of them. But if I didn’t enjoy 2 or more books from the same author, then I wouldn’t waste my time to read any more work of the author.

  42. Kimberly C. says:

    This is such an interesting topic! Like a lot of others have mentioned, whether or not I give an author a second chance often depends on why I disliked a book. If I just didn’t click with a character, or the plot wasn’t up my alley, I would consider trying another book by the author because those things tend to change from book to book. I also take into consideration friends’ recommendations. If someone I respect loves an author (Sarah Jio), I’ll give them a second try. If I hated the writing style (John Green) or the book made me unbelievably mad (Gone Girl) I generally won’t read anything else by an author. There’s probably no point. And after two tries, if I’m still not hooked, I generally won’t look at the author again (Sarah Jio and Neil Gaiman).

    My other concern however, is that I’m not the world’s fastest reader. I average about 100 books a year, but I also go through long periods where all I want to do is watch TV, surf the internet, or be social. Case in point, I have barely read anything since the start of the year. Nothing holds my interest. Because of this, I’m often less likely to revisit an author I already had a bad experience with, when I could instead be reading an author I love, rereading an old favorite, or trying a new author.

    My question now is, what do you do when you start out loving an author but lose interest over time? One of my favorite authors (Deanna Raybourn) wrote one series I love intensely. But then she stopped writing in that series and everything she has written since then has been lackluster. Do I keep reading her novels out of loyalty, or do I just accept that I loved one series but probably won’t ever like anything else she writes? It’s a dilemma.

  43. Some interesting discussions here! I’m glad Sarah from Yes & Yes recommended you.

    If I’ve loved the first couple of books of an author’s, I’ll give them a second (and sometimes third and fourth) chance if their follow-ups are disappointing. There’s always the hope that the next one will be better.

    Interestingly, I hated the first Picoult book I read, but there was something about her writing that made me try again. And again. Sometimes I love her books, and other times I want to throw them across the room. It’s impossible to tell if I’m going to like one of her books or not until I’m in it.

  44. I’m willing to give them a second chance, but I’ll admit that I usually wait to see if 1) a bookish friend has read the book I’m considering and liked it, and 2) the library has it. I’m not willing to chance the $10 on another bad read, and I’m WAAAAY less likely to even do that if I wasted $10 on the first failed read. It’s one of the reasons I almost NEVER buy books by authors I haven’t read – I use the library first just in case I hate their style or their writing choices or whatever.

  45. I think, personally, I would like to give authors second chances. But that doesn’t always happen, sadly, and you know why? BECAUSE OF MY DAMN EVER-GROWING TBR. (Though I would never want that to stop, the growing, I mean). But seriously, even if I wanted to give an author a chance… Sometimes, I just have no time or space or access to the next one at the moment. Still, my overall stand is similar to yours – two books before I say the author just isn’t for me.


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