Books I’m Taking to University & An Announcement!

Hi all!

So, as you can tell from the title of this post, I’m off to university soon! As in, tomorrow. (AAAAHHH!) I thought I would share with you the books I’m taking with me as well as my reasons for  choosing these over the rest of my bookshelves. This was such a difficult decision; I wanted to only bring 10, but that turned into 12. Also, because I have not been organised at all, there aren’t any photos in this post as they’re all packed up!

*On a kind of important note – As I imagine university is going to be a hectic time, I’m honestly not sure how much I’ll be able to post on either here or my Instagram. I would still love to stay in this community and keep my blog going, and I do have a few posts waiting to be published. However, after that my posting may be sporadic (well, more so than usual!), so I hope you guys understand. *

The Diviners & Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray – If you didn’t know, this is one of my all-time favourite series (I even wrote a post about why I love it so much here), and the third book, Before the Devil Breaks You, comes out in early October so I had to bring these along! Part of me was hesitant because I doubt I’ll be rereading them and they’re heavy books, but I decided that they were worth it to keep BTDBY company.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee – This is another all-time favourite of mine! I read it this summer and I’ve never been more cheered up by a book before, so I think it will be a good one to read if I’m feeling a bit blue or homesick. My review for this will be up as soon as I can!

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare – I have already read this series, but I’ve been wanting to reread it for at least a year now. I figured that if I bring them to uni with me then I’ll have no excuse to not reread them! It was Autumn when I first read Clockwork Angel, so it’d be cool to reread it at the same time.

A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab – I read the first book in this series ages ago, and I loved it! The world was fascinating and I loved Kell and Rhy – and then for some unknown read, I never read A Gathering of Shadows. At university I hope to fix that! (Maybe…)

Dracula by Bram Stoker – This is hopefully going to be my Halloween read for this year! After reading a biography of Byron, Mary Shelley, and the night she came up with the idea of Frankenstein, I really want to read a Gothic story. However, as I don’t own Frankenstein, I figured Dracula was the next best thing! It’s also been a while since I’ve read a classic, so I’m excited to pick this up soon.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – I’ve read quite a few emotional Second World War novels this year – The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse becoming a new favourite – so I’m looking forward to reading this before the end of the year, especially as everyone says it’s incredibly moving.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare and Courtiers by Lucy Worsley – These are my academic-y books. I’m doing a history degree, but one of the modules focuses on the history behind famous plays, so I will once again be studying Hamlet. Hopefully I like it more than when I studied it for A Levels, as by the end of exams I felt I could quote Hamlet in my sleep! Courtiers is about 18th Century court life and doesn’t really have anything to do with my course, but Lucy Worsley is my favourite historian and I felt weird not bringing any non-fiction to uni with me.

That’s all the books that are coming with me! Have you read any on my list? Are you going to university this year? If anyone has any tips or tricks for university I’d definitely welcome them!

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

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Lord of Shadows – Review!

Hi all!

Today I’m reviewing Lord of Shadows, the second book in The Dark Artifices series by Cassandra Clare. There will be mild spoilers for Lord of Shadows, and as this is a sequel there will be spoilers for Lady Midnight, so please beware!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.

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My rating: 4.25 stars.

Ohh this book.

Cassandra Clare never fails to deliver brutal cliffhangers, and I think that the ending of Lord of Shadows is the most emotional. I will say now, I don’t think Lord of Shadows is as good as Lady Midnight. That’s not to say it’s a bad book! I adored Lady Midnight, and I loved returning to the Blackthorn family. For me, though, while Lady Midnight was very tightly plotted, Lord of Shadows was a bit more sprawling if that makes sense?

The Characters:

These are always the best parts of any Shadowhunter novel.  The characters in Lord of Shadows just feel so real; it doesn’t feel like you’re reading a book, it feels like you’re following these people as they navigate their lives. Emma is wonderfully refreshing and I love her sense of humour, but I don’t think we perhaps saw as much of her in LoS as we did in Lady Midnight. I love Cristina’s quiet strength, Livvy’s optimism, Ty’s intelligence, Julian’s very Slytherin-y heart. It was also interesting hearing from other perspectives like Kit, Diana, and Dru. I haven’t actually warmed to Dru that much yet, but Kit was so funny at calling out the archaic Shadowhunting world, and Diana’s story is so important. I love that Clare has such varied and realistic characters!

While it was nice to see recurring characters from The Mortal Instruments, it was a little jarring and it took a while to get used to. However, once it became clear that they weren’t meaningless cameos but actually contributed to the overall plot I was so impressed with Cassandra Clare’s storytelling!

‘We get used to living one way, even if it’s a bad way or a hard one. When that’s gone, there’s a hole to fill. It’s in our nature to try to fill it with anxieties and fears. It can take time to fill it with good things instead.’ 

The Relationships:

I do love Emma and Julian, and there were some moments in Lord of Shadows that was beautiful. I feel like we really got to see how well-suited they are and how good they could be together, especially when they were in Malcolm’s cottage. I was relieved that the whole Mark-and-Emma thing was resolved quickly, too. The Mark-Cristina-Kieran love triangle honestly stressed me out because I CAN’T DECIDE WHICH SIDE I PREFER. Normally I have some sort of idea (In The Infernal Devices I was firmly Team Will) but this time I am so undecided. However, my favourite relationship in LoS was one that hasn’t necessarily happened yet – Kit and Ty! I just love how in Kit’s chapters there are so many times when he’s protective over Ty, and how he listens and understands Ty. And he’s definitely going to be needed after that ending.

‘Break my heart,’ he said. ‘Break it in pieces, I give you permission.’

 

The Plot:

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This is why I like Lord of Shadows less than Lady Midnight. The plot is fantastically complex, and the amount of thought and detail put into every plot point is astonishing. However, there was a lot of moving about in this book and it’s perhaps a bit too complicated. I do think this was partly because of how I read it, as I had two very busy weeks and had to put the book down a lot. That being said, I loved how involved we were in the different Faery societies and it was so interesting finding out about how the Cold Peace has affected the Seelies as well as the Shadowhunters.

Another aspect of the plot that I loved was the arrival of the Cohort.  To read something that so clearly reflects parts of society today was chilling, and the way that Zara (I HATE ZARA!) and her followers truly believed in the hatred that they were trying to achieve was terrifying.

‘When a decision like that is made by a government, it emboldens those who are already prejudiced to speak their deepest thoughts of hate. They assume they are simply brave enough to say what everyone really thinks.’ 

The Ending:

This deserves its own section of the review because WHAT WAS THAT ENDING. Let me set the scene: I was trying to finish Lord of Shadows before the end of August. It was about half past midnight, and I only had about two chapters left, so I decided to carry on.

This was a mistake!

That ending was just utterly heart-breaking. The deaths were – obviously – devastating, especially Livvy (I had this big theory that Julian or Emma would die and the other would use necromancy in the last book – and I was completely wrong!). But what was more heart-wrenching, I think, was that this plan that our team had worked and worked on, that they had put all their hopes on, that would save Emma and Julian and the Downworlders – that this plan could have gone so catastrophically wrong. And there are even bigger problems on the horizon – Warlocks losing magic? A new Inquistor needed (Please say it won’t be Dearborn!)? The Unseelie King getting rid of Shadowhunter magic?? There are so many unanswered questions!!

‘There is truth in stories,’ said Arthur. ‘There is truth in one of your paintings, boy, or in a sunset or a couplet from Homer. Fiction is truth, even if it is not fact. If you believe only in facts and forget stories, your brain will live, but your heart will die.’ 

 

 

What did you think of Lord of Shadows? Are you excited for Queen of Air and Darkness? (I’m not looking forward to the year long wait!) Who’s your favourite character in TDA?

Thanks for reading 🙂

Beautiful People: July Edition

Hi all!

It’s been far too long since I’ve done a Beautiful People post! Hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In, this is a monthly writer’s meme – and for July the questions are all about the author process.

For more information on how my current work in progress is going check out the Writing section of my blog 🙂

How do you decide which project to work on?

Usually I only have one main idea at a time, but that project will just take over my thoughts until I write it! I will have one or two ideas that have been properly outlined, and they’re the ones that I work on.
How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

Hahahahaha what is finishing? But seriously, I always struggle to finish projects. I often lose motivation about three quarters of the way through writing the first draft, either because I think of another idea which I need to pursue ABSOLUTELY IMMEDIATELY, or because the story has become so convoluted I don’t know how to end it!

However, I have finished a few stories in my time; the most recent took about a year to write the first draft (which I blame on college), and now I’m starting to rewrite it before moving onto the sequel.
Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

I hand-write my stories before typing them up to edit them, so I pick out my favourite notebook or the one that just feels right, find a good pen and sit down to write! I also listen to music sometimes, and if I’m writing a certain scene I’ll listen to the same song over and over again. (Is There Somewhere by Halsey was my go-to song for romantic scenes in my current WIP).

What time of day do you write best?

I really like writing in the early evening. Whether that’s my best writing or not is a different matter. I also sometimes feel inspired quite late at night, which can be annoying when I want to go to sleep!

Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?

I’m always worried about being too similar to any author – I blame it on all the coursework I’ve had to do recently – so I’m not too sure! I’d hope that it has elements of stories that I love – characters as original as those in The Mortal Instruments for example – but I don’t think I could say who my style most resembles.

Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?

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This is such a good question! I think I started writing because I loved being imaginative, and I was making up stories all the time when I was younger; I used to make all these paper dolls and come up with elaborate backstories for them! As for why I keep writing, I think that writing nowadays is an escape and a way to relax, and I guess I still have stories that I want to tell. I’ve been writing for so long now that it feels like a part of me one I would hate to lose – I always panic when my inspiration runs out!

What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?

Well aside from all of the essays I wrote for my exams this year (hahaha I’m not panicking you are), I think my hardest piece of fiction I’ve written is my current project! It turned out to be a lot more serious than I had anticipated, and this is the first WIP where I’ve properly gone back and worked on it. I have to admit, I’m not thrilled about rewriting it, but I know that there are more stories to be told in this world and the characters’ journeys have only just begun, so I guess it’s got to be done!

Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

This is another great question! I think there are a few ideas germinating in the back of my head that I need to write in the future, and my current WIP is stretching me a little so I might start another one and leave it for now.

What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?

I didn’t actually make any writing goals for 2017, but I did want to finish typing up my current project and start editing it, which I have done! I’m about seven chapters in, so there’s a while to go, but it’s great being back with all of my characters.

Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!

This is me all day!

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That’s it for this post! Tell me, why do you write? And how is your current work in progress going? Do you have a favourite genre to write in?

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Bone Gap Review – Magic, Mystery, and Morals

Hi all!

Today I’m reviewing Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. I’ve been seeing lots of praise for this book, and for the most part I think it lived up to the hype. Ruby created an atmosphere as vivid and mystical as the cover – which honestly is so beautiful, this was a bit of a cover buy! – in the small town of Bone Gap, and some of the messages she conveyed were very powerful.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

My rating: 4 stars.

The Characters:

The characters are often what makes or breaks a novel for me, but I absolutely adored the main protagonist, Finn! He was kind, tried his best (even if it didn’t always work), and he STOPPED TRAFFIC FOR DUCKLINGS. Is that not the cutest thing you’ve ever heard? The only problem was, I didn’t warm to Sean much at all. I know we’re meant to feel sorry for him, and I did, but he was a little unlikable. 

Roza, on the other hand, was fantastic. There were so many important messages in each of her chapters which just made my heart sing. ‘ “She’s her own girl.” ‘ It was also really interesting to learn about her family and life in Poland (and all the food, which sounded delicious!), and I just loved her strength. It took me a while to warm to Petey, and I did think without the chapters from her perspective I wouldn’t have liked her. However, over time I did see how her character was important, and that appearances and reputations are never the same as reality.

The Plot:

The plot of Bone Gap  was really engaging! Throughout the novel there is the mystery of where and why Roza disappeared, but as the story progresses there’s also a romance developing (which was so cute!!), a family rift, the puzzling Charlie Valentine…Ruby manages to tie everything together wonderfully, and I was satisfied with the ending. My only problem is that it felt like there were a few things that could have been explained or wrapped up more solidly; however I think this was just because of the genre, as magical realism is more open-ended than a contemporary.

The Setting:

This was something that Ruby excelled at. Coming from a small town myself (seriously, I could walk the length of it in five minutes!), I loved the gossip of the people of Bone Gap, and it was a refreshing change for a Young Adult novel to be set in the countryside! Also I don’t know if this is a setting or character point, but there are loads of animals in this novel and I loved it so much, can someone please get me a Calamity Jane? (I mean, I technically can’t have a pet at university but I’ll work around it).

Final Thoughts:

If you’re looking for a town that teeters on the edge of the magic and normality in the world, strong women that don’t let other people bring them down, and a darling of a protagonist, then Bone Gap is for you! There were some downsides and I didn’t adore it as much as I thought I would, but this was still an enjoyable book unlike anything I’ve read before.

Have you read Bone Gap? What did you think of it? Do you have any other magical realism books I should read? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading 🙂

#AmCurrently – Welcome Back to Me!

Once upon a time there was a little blog called Bowlerhatgirl Books. Unfortunately, the owner of said blog got caught up in life and exams.

And the little blog disappeared. For four months.

So it is definitely been a long time since I’ve updated this blog – or any of my bookish social media to be honest. In the UK May and June are the big exam months of the year, so instead of reading, writing, and blogging, I had to revise, cry about revision, and revise which was infinitely less fun.

But now I’m back! And I figured an #AmCurrently tag would tell you guys what I’ve been up to these past few months, which I’m sure you’re all dying to know! (Or, you know, mildly interested).

#AmCurrently – Reading:

I just finished The Gentleman’s Processed with VSCO with f2 presetGuide to Vice and Virtue and it was THE BEST THING. I could babble about it all day (and I soon will, as a book review is coming your way!) but basically everyone should read it right now. I’m considering rereading it when it comes out in hardcover next month!

Aside from that, I’m a quarter of the way through rereading The Diviners by Libba Bray – if you’d like to know why this is my one of my favourite series ever you can check out my post here (also the third book is coming out in October!!!! I’m not excited you are). I’ve also started The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, and although it’s very light and innocent now, I know that it’s going to be devastatingly emotional once I properly get into it.

#AmCurrently – Listening to:

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My playlist for June has been amazing because two of my favourite artists released new music! I’ve been alternating between From the Outside by Hey Violet (Current favourites are Where Have You Been (All My Night) and Like Lovers Do) and hopeless fountain kingdom by Halsey (Alone and Walls Could Talk are so good!). It’s such a relief now that I can listen to these songs and actually enjoy them, whereas before I was listening to them whilst trying to absorb 3 textbooks, 5 novels and another language (A Levels are the actual best, guys. The. Best.) I’ve also been loving Papercut by Zedd and Troye Sivan, it’s long but gold.

#AmCurrently – Watching:

In between making my way through all of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I finally finished watching Girlboss! I actually loved it, there was something almost empowering to see Sophia being unapologetically aggressive and confident.

As well as that, I’ve just finished watching the third season of Skam and am img_0335procrastinating the fourth because I CANNOT ACCEPT IT IS OVER. NOPE NOPE NOPE. I’ve even started learning Norwegian on Duolingo because I’m desperate to visit Scandinavia after watching the show, that’s how much I love it!

Anyway, I hope that filled you guys in on what I’ve been up to in these past few months. I’m sorry for being gone for so long, but I have a lot more blog ideas now.

What have you been reading recently? Are there any books or albums I’ve missed in my hiatus? What’s your favourite song at the moment?

Thanks for reading 🙂

Writing Update! Finishing the First Draft

Hi everyone!dsc03339

So, as you can tell from the title – I HAVE FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF MY NOVEL.

😀 😀

That was my face when I wrote the last few words. I was ecstatic! I had actually finished
writing this story that had been in my head for months, which is something that rarely happens to me. The characters had grown and suffered and laughed, my world was all set up; this idea had turned into something tangible and real. I was thrilled, and I still am! I think as writers it’s hard to be pleased with what you’ve created because you always think that there’s a book that will be better than yours, but we should give ourselves more credit – we create worlds and people and plots just from our heads! (And the savior that is Pinterest. God bless.)

I gave it a bit more time and stepped away from my draft for a few days, and I started to think: What comes next? (And then I started singing Hamilton because I am obsessed).
But seriously, what happens after first drafts? What did I do now? No new scenes to write, no more cute character moments to think of? I had spent so much of my time in this draft, there had been so many moments when I would be having a crappy day and looking forward to writing more of my story would cheer me up, and now it’s over? After all these questions, my face turned into something like this:

D:

What happens next is editing, which is even scarier than a massive story-sized chasm in my life! This story is going to – hopefully – be the first in a five(ish) book series, so as dsc03343much as I want to dive right in and plot the second book, I need to edit this first draft before I even think about the second one. Funny thing about editing my first novel is that: a) I have never edited anything but coursework before because I am not dedicated at all, and b) I hand-wrote my first draft. It came to one and a half notebooks’ worth. Which means that I need to type up one and a half notebooks’ worth of novel before I can edit it. *cries*

Anyway, I’m about eight chapters in and there’s so much that needs rewriting, so many plot point that no longer make sense. Also literally every character sighs?? Like all the time?? Why do I do this?! But I’m enjoying it all the same; there are loads of scenes that I had completely forgotten about, so it’s nice rediscovering them!

So that’s where I am with writing at the moment! How is your work in progress doing? Do you have any editing tips? Or do you have any weird things that you wrote that doesn’t make sense (Like my perpetually sighing characters) ? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

2016 Favourites & The Dashing and Smashing Character Awards!

Hi all!

It’s that time of year again when we look back and decide what the best books of 2016 are. This year hasn’t been the best in terms of reading for me because other commitments have meant that I couldn’t read as much as I wanted to.

However, I may not have read much, but what I did read was super! According to my Goodreads, my average rating was 4.2 stars out of 5, so choosing a single favourite book is basically impossible (also I’m just very indecisive, but shh we’ll blame it on Goodreads!).

These won’t be in any order, but enjoy my favourites of 2016!dsc03290

  • Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – This is the first book in The Dark Artifices series,
    and Cassie didn’t disappoint with another Shadowhunters novel! I love this world so much, and the development of the characters and the world was so strong that I couldn’t help but adore this book. I’m so excited to read Lord of Shadows.dsc03295
  • Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – THESE BOOKS. I’m sure you’ve seen t
    hem all over bookstagram and booktube, but the praise is well-deserved. Having met Leigh Bardugo I love these books even more because the author is so sweet and funny.

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  • Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray – I know I said I wasn’t going to have a definite favourite, but if I did, it would be this one. I have SO MUCH LOVE fo
    r The Diviners, the first book in this series, and the sequel was even better! Libba Bray creates the most wonderful world of 1920s New York, and I can gush about this series so much that I wrote a blog post on it, which you can find here.
  • Cdsc03293arry On by Rainbow Rowell – I am so glad that I went to the Worlds Collide tour (my recap of the event is here if you’re interested) because it motivated me to read Rainbow Rowell’s books, and they definitely lived up to the hype! I love Fangirl, but I decided that Carry On was my favourite because I loved the setting of Watford and Simon and Baz.
  • Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton – I pdsc03292icked this book up in the middle of a reading slump, wanting something quick and easy to read. Instead I got evil ballerinas and a competitive dance academy, and it was brilliant. The atmosphere at the school is so tense, and you can feel the stress and the mistrust between all the dancers as you read the book. As soon as I had finished it I wanted the sequel, and I’m still thinking about it a week later.

As well as my favourite books of 2016, I thought I would do a few questions from the Dashing and Smashing Character Awards! This fun tag was created by the lovely Cait @ Paper Fury, and I thought it would be a great way to wrap up my 2016 reading experience.

  1. Fiercest fighter – I think this has to go to Manon from the Throne of Glass series (I refuse to put Aelin because I’m realising that I don’t like her very much!). Manon is fierce and ruthless in battle, but she’s also fiercely loyal and caring and I like that about her.
  2. Best sidekick – Iko from The Lunar Chronicles gets an honourable mention in this category, but I think I’ll have to say George from Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, who helped Simon settle in and lightened the mood of the short stories.
  3. One You’re Surprised You Loved – I picked up Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford on a whim at the airport, but I am glad I did! It was just the right mix of historical fact and fiction, revealing the busy world of the BBC in the 1920s that I didn’t know existed, and I warmed to the main character, Maisie, especially as we saw her journey from a shy woman to one in control of her life.
  4. The best ship of all – This is so hard to decide! Emma and Julian? Simon and Baz? Helen and Lord Carlston? I think they’re close seconds, but I have to give this title to BLUE AND GANSEY from The Raven Boys series. They are just…perfect. And I would really like someone to give me a Gansey please.

That wraps up my 2016 reading year! How was your year? What was your favourite book you read? Let me know in the comments!

I hope you have a wonderful 2017!

Thanks for reading (:

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