Book Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

now i rise  Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Published by Delacorte Press on June 27, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy

Pages: 471 – hardcover, 480 – paperback & ebook

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Previous Books in Series: And I Darken

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Blurb:

She has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself.

After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada Dracul is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won…and souls will be lost.


Review:

Holy crap. Can this series get any better? It’s been such a long time since I read a 5-star book! Honestly, I think the last time I felt this strongly about a series was after reading the first 2 books in the ToG series. If you’ve read And I Darken and found yourself thinking, “Can this get any better?” The answer is yes, my friend. It definitely has.

This series has been coined with the popular phrase: “a teenage Game of Thrones set in the Ottoman Empire” and I couldn’t agree more. It’s brutal & dark, while still managing to remain utterly captivating. This book demands your attention with every single paragraph, making it very difficult to tear your eyes away from the page. So clear your schedules folks!

Our protagonists are Radu and Lada, presented in alternating POVs. In this book, Radu is spying in Constantinople for Mehmed whereas Lada is trying to reclaim the Wallachian throne and become Prince.

I didn’t even think it was possible to love Lada even more than in the first book, but boy was I wrong. She is such a fiercely complex character, gaining her the title of ‘antihero’. However, this does not stop her from demanding the reader’s sympathy and attention. You can’t help but root for her, despite all her cruelty. Even though she struggles with being a woman in a patriarchal and heavily male-dominated society, she sure as hell does not let that stop her. Lada plays by her own rules, and you see many characters throughout this book appreciate that about her.

Meanwhile, Radu is in Constantinople struggling with his intense feelings for Mehmed. As expected, being a spy is no easy task. Radu sees the goodness of the people in Constantinople and grapples with all the atrocities he must commit for their enemy and his friend. He is caught in between, until the lines blur and he cannot distinguish friend from foe. A new character from the last book is brought into the mix, making it even harder for Radu. I really admire Radu’s character for how smart & collected he is, as opposed to Lada’s brashness. In my opinion, Lada seems to see the world in black-or-white, whereas Radu is in the gray zone. His POV highlights all the morally ambiguous choices he has to make, further endearing him to the reader.

This book isn’t all gloom and doom, though. Nazira’s vivacity and charm are a welcome reprieve from all the darkness. She’s probably the purest character in the whole series! The Jannisary characters also bring in a much needed dose of levity. Their funny banter was such a pleasure to read, and their dynamics were top-notch.

As always, the world is so richly fleshed out and the writing so richly expressive that putting this book down was a struggle. Writing a fictional book about history is definitely not easy, so kudos to Kiersten. The history surrounding the fall of Constantinople seems so fascinating; I’m definitely invested in reading more about it.

I can’t vouch for the historical accuracy of this book, but if you’re looking for a book with a hella dramatic plot and some hella self-destructive, badass characters, then you’ve come to the right place. I really don’t think this review does this book justice, so all I have to say is — just pick it up, you won’t regret it.

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Rating: 5 fish

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Book Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

and i darken And I Darken by Kiersten White

Published by Delacorte Press on June 28, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction

Pages: 496 – hardcover, 498 – paperback, 400 – ebook

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

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Blurb:

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.


Review:

Alright, so, I’ve been wanting to write this review ever since I finished the book at 5:30 a.m., but unfortunately, I had to go to sleep. Ugh, life necessities. I don’t know if I can properly articulate what I feel about this book, but I sure as hell will try my hardest!

Now this is a book that is unlike any that I have ever read. From the get-go, we are introduced to the book’s dark and gritty atmosphere. The synopsis compares it to Game of Thrones, but I’ve only watched 5 episodes of that so I can’t really judge. What I can tell you, however, is that this book is going to sink its claws into you from the beginning until the very end. There’s this suspense and darkness about it that keeps you flipping page after page after page. Trust me when I say, you will devour this book.

This story has elements of fantasy incorporated into an alternate historical universe set during the pinnacle of the Ottoman Empire’s success. Although not very historically accurate, the book does an excellent job of depicting various religions and politics in an objective way, which I loved. The story itself is also very unconventional, for sure — with its unconventional setting and unconventional heroine and unconventional atmosphere. This all makes it so unique and original.

However, the main driving force of the story is the complex, dimensional characters. Our protagonist is the fierce Lada, short for Ladislav, and she is basically the alternate female version of Vlad the Impaler. Lada is the epitome of fierce anti-princess. Her wickedness & sinisterness are very palpable things in the book. I might even dare call her psychotic. However, her POV makes us sympathize with and feel empathy for her, framing her in a slightly humane manner. Lada defies everything a woman should be in the 1400s. She despises being a woman and does everything in her power in order to not be seen as one. Later on, she learns that women themselves are weapons, binding their time and then striking. I really admire Lada’s character – she’s wild and shrewd and cruel and calculating. A force to be reckoned with!

In contrast, we have Lada’s brother Radu. He is pretty and delicate and sensitive, pretty much the polar opposite of Lada. He’s usually the one that needs protecting, in the physical sense. However, later on, we learn that Radu is better at defending himself in other ways: through charming smiles and insincere speech and praise-filled assurances. ‘Kill ’em with kindness’ is probably his motto. What Radu lacked in substance, he more than made up for in charm & kindness.

Lada and Radu’s sibling dynamic is an intriguing one for sure. They are practically the embodiment of yin and yang. Their relationship is tainted with frustration, misunderstanding, and jealousy, yet they both manage to put each other first. It’s quite unlike anything I’ve seen in YA. In this book, their relationship is merely a thread in the web of other complicated relationships in this book.

Contrary to what you might believe, there’s no love triangle in this book, although it may seem like one. Mehmed and Lada’s slow development of their relationship was nice, but I don’t think Mehmed is a good match for Lada. I feel like he holds her back from her true potential, as it is so often subtly hinted at in the book by others. *cough* Mara, Bogdan, Nicolae. *cough* In the first half of the book, Lada is as wild as ever, but in the middle of the second half, she kind of stops fighting. She’s content with what she has, which was all given to her by Mehmed. I remember thinking,“I thought you didn’t want to be tied to what a man gave you? I thought you were going to take what is yours and not have it given to you?!”

Moreover, let’s talk about the compelling, captivating plot, shall we? It literally made my head explode! (In a good way) The plot is so fast-paced from the very start, and there’s never a dull moment in this book. Hold your horses. I don’t mean fast-paced as in sword-fighting, arrow-shooting, knife-stabbing action, although there is plenty of that to go around. I meant the political intrigue that’s so abundant in this book. There are so many mind-blowing machinations and jaw-dropping twists & turns! The complexity of all that, in addition to the author’s eloquent writing style, makes for an unputdownable read.

To briefly sum it up, And I Darken has complex dynamics that are all tangled in a dark web of betrayal and frustration. That’s not all, though. The attention to detail, the intricately woven setting & plot, the meticulous characterization, and the portrayal of history & its religions… These all make for a truly phenomenal page-turner of a book. A perfect read if you’re looking for something dark, unconventional, and unputdownable!

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is in no way impacted my views & opinions above.

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Rating: 5 fish

4 fish

Book Review: Front Lines by Michael Grant

front Front Lines by Michael Grant

Published by Katherine Tegen on January 26, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

Pages: 576 – hardcover & ebook, 250 – paperback

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 5 stars

Source: HarperCollins International

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Blurb:

Perfect for fans of The Book Thief and Code Name Verity, New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant unleashes an epic, genre-bending, and transformative new series that reimagines World War II with girl soldiers fighting on the front lines.

World War II, 1942. A court decision makes women subject to the draft and eligible for service. The unproven American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled, the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

Three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves. Each has her own reasons for volunteering: Rio fights to honor her sister; Frangie needs money for her family; Rainy wants to kill Germans. For the first time they leave behind their homes and families—to go to war.

These three daring young women will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, they will discover the roles that define them on the front lines. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.


Review:

My body is damaged, my mind is too full, my soul too raw.

Oh my god, you guys. This book shook me up so much. I can’t even express how much it impressed me. Let’s just say I read this book while studying for exams & going through a tough time so I always looked forward to bedtime just to continue reading it. It’s a beautiful masterpiece — a beautiful, raw, moving masterpiece. The only other series I’ve read by Michael Grant was the Gone series when I was 13 years old. Of course, I loved it at that age but Front Lines is definitely a far cry from Gone. It’s a grisly, alternate-history retelling of World War II in which American women become eligible to fight on the front lines. There are so many things addressed in this book and the diverse cast of characters was pretty impressive. I can’t recommend this enough — I don’t even know what to say in this review, to be honest.

Firstly, as always, I’m going to start with the characters. They’re the type of characters that’ll stick with you – dimensional and diverse. The story was written in the multiple POVs of these characters. I liked all of them equally which usually doesn’t happen in books like this because I tend to prefer one over the other. They all had something unique about them but still somehow managed to remain real throughout the book.

“Aimless, naive Rio and sexy Jenou; Smart, determined Rainy and gentle, conflicted Frangie.”

I also loved how we were able to see how the characters’ developed in this dark world they were thrust into. What makes this book so moving is the fact that whatever these characters went through is real. In World War II, hundreds of thousands of young soldiers were recruited and slapped into a uniform and thrust into the war with guns too big for them and dreams too small. That and many other elements typically found in traditional war stories are what make this such sad read.

We understood nothing, you see. We thought we were soldiers, but we were still civilians dressed in khaki and OD. None of us had yet felt the fear so overpowering that you shake all the way down to your bones and your bladder empties into your pants and you can’t speak for the chattering of your teeth. None of us had yet seen the red pulsating insides of another human being.

The fact that this book deals with many societal issues, mainly social injustice, is also a reminder of how it was practically the core of the Second World War. The racism against blacks and injustice towards females… These are all also mirrored in today’s society, proving the gritty realism of this book. Being a black female, it really resonated with me and Frangie’s character was the closest one to hit home. However, she wasn’t the only one affected. Rio was a white female from a small town in California and Rainy was a Jewish female from New York City, yet they were still touched by the injustice in some way.

“PFC Schulterman, your scores are . . . acceptable. This does not alter my opinion that your proper role is at home working in a defense industry and raising children.”

All in all, I’m giving this book a 5 because the characterization was very detailed, really helping to immerse the reader into the gritty, dark world. Michael Grant definitely specializes in connecting readers to characters excellently. This was a very sad but unique read and I honestly just feel like I haven’t done the book enough justice in this review. All I could say is this: just.read.it.

Many thanks to HarperCollins for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views.

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Rating: 5 fish!fish rating

Book Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

EverythingEverythingCover

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press on September 1, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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Blurb:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.


Review:

*I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

When I first started the book, I had my doubts. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned all these years as a part of the book community, then it’s that half the time, the hype surrounding a book is usually overhyped and you’ll probably end up disappointed. Well, not this time.
‘Everything, Everything’ is a compelling read that’ll suck you in from page one. The writing style is tasteful, the characters are dimensional, and I totally loved everything, everything about this book.
I started this book at 2 am. I just wanted to get a glimpse of the first chapter and see what to expect, but I got sucked in right from the start and ended up finishing 60% of the book by 4 a.m. I had to get up early the next day. I remember thinking Yep, I’m screwed.
So, to begin with what I liked about the book, I loved the main character, Maddy. She’s African American/Japanese, so you gotta give the author credit for that. Shoutout to character diversity!
I also loved the writing. It was beautiful. Some lines were so deep and metaphorical, I had to reread them multiple times. Amazing. I love it when books do that to me.
I admit, there were some moments in the book when it felt like I was reading The Fault in Our Stars, but in my opinion, I liked this book better. Also, there was a kind of insta-love element here but I think that’s excused due to the MC’s circumstances and how little contact she has with the Outside.
I loved the illustrations in this book and how they were formatted throughout the book, it was very creative!
Overall, Everything, Everything is a book that glues you to your seat with it’s wonderful story and wonderful characters. So as a conclusion, I’d like to say that y’all better believe the hype about this book because it’s totally worth it!

RATING: 5 fish!

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Book Review: In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

IMG_1564In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

Series: The Darkest Minds #2
Published by Disney-Hyperion on October 28, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia
Pages: ebook – 394, hardcover – 544, paperback 485

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Blurb:

Ruby can’t look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government’s attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America’s children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the “rehabilitation camps” housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.


Review:

I read this book 2 months ago. The reason I didn’t immediately review it is because I was just too emotional after the trilogy ended. Although I had some issues with the first book, the second and third book did not disappoint—despite many people’s opinion that the third book wasn’t up to standards. Maybe it’s the fact that I marathoned the trilogy whereas most of the others had to wait a year for the final book. It happened to me before; reading the books in a series and loving them, waiting one or more years for the concluding book to be released, being carried away by my very high expectations, then feeling extremely let down with the last book. That doesn’t happen to every series or trilogy, but it’s just a theory and—oh gosh, I just realized I was rambling.

Back to the book review. You see, it was really hard letting go of the characters. In the Afterlight gave me a book hangover.

book hang•o•ver
/bo͝ok ˈhaNGˌōvər/

noun

1. When you’ve finished a book and you suddenly return to the real world, but the real world feels incomplete or surreal because you’re still living in the world of the book.
2. The inability to function at work/school because you were up all night binge-reading.
“I have a really bad book hangover, I could barely concentrate at school.”

I didn’t even notice I was getting attached to Ruby and Cole and Liam and Vida. So when the book ended, I was in a state of denial for a whole week.

Let’s discuss the main elements of the book:

1. Ruby. Oh god, Ruby’s level of kickass-ness is reaching new levels! And I know I’ve said this in my previous review, but I love the whole ‘don’t-bullshit-me-I’m-gonna-kick-your-ass’ vibe she’s got going on. Only rarely in my life has a book actually made me feel every emotion the main character is feeling. When Ruby broke down, I broke down. When Ruby was excited, I was excited. When Ruby was furious, I was furious. You get what I’m saying, right?

2. Characters. The characters in this book have gone through a massive character development arc. It was the best character development arc in the history of best character development arcs. I loved seeing all the relationships develop, although Ruby and Liam’s did get very frustrating at times. My favourite characters are Cole and Vida, solely because of the amount of times they made me laugh out loud. Also, Chubs & Vida’s banter is so adorable and hilarious. If you’ve read the book, you can understand why I can’t let go of the characters because, honestly, they’re the best characters I’ve read about in a book.

3. Plot. I felt like the book kinda dragged on in the beginning due to the fact that they mostly stayed in the same places for long periods of time. However, the ending totally made up for it. I was left on my bed just staring at the ceiling with tears running down my eyes. I’m satisfied because all my questions were answered and the author did a pretty good job of wrapping everything up. There were still a few loose ends that I want to talk about, but unfortunately I can’t because it’s a major spoiler. All in all, the plot of this book was very solid and actually had a purpose. It really left me emotionally drained.

As a conclusion, I’d like to say (or type) that this book was a very stressful and emotional roller coaster. Alexandra did a good job of wrapping everything up and answering most of my questions. This book made me cry, laugh, and punch things in anger. I’ve stayed up late on many school nights to finish the trilogy. It’s definitely one my favourites, so I say you go out right now and buy it! I’d recommend it to anyone who’s read (and loved) other Alexandra Bracken books or anyone who enjoys dystopian YA.

Rating: 5 fish!

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(Mini) Book Review: The Nightingale Circus by Ioana Visan

*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

2014 The Nightingale Circus


Synopsis:

Don’t be shy and come inside! The Nightingale is waiting to take flight!

Welcome to The Nightingale Circus! Listen to the singer with an enchanting voice. Watch the knife throwers who are also prosthetic builders. Here is a telecharger on the run and a ballerina with no lungs. There is a broken pole dancer and an Asian bot. You’ll be amazed by a regular girl who becomes exquisite and frightening at the same time.

They’re better known as the famous Nightingale, the Blade Masters, the Magician, the Swan, the Firebird, the Rocket Girl, and the Golden Lady.

They are all waiting to tell you their story about how they came to the circus and why they stayed.

This is a companion short story collection to Broken People.


Review:

Honestly, this was such an imaginative book! I’ve never really been a big fan of circus books, but The Nightingale Circus—prequel to Broken People—is definitely something else! Reading about each of the characters’ backstories and how they came to the Nightingale Circus was incredible! I haven’t read ‘Broken People’ yet, but after reading the prequel, I’m definitely going to pick it up. Broken People will be free on Amazon on January 29-31, so don’t miss out!

Okay, back to The Nightingale Circus. This book kind of has a futuristic, steampunk, science fiction feel to it. The stories in the book show us an insight into each character’s life before and after they came to the Circus. Through each story, we learn more pieces of information about the Circus and how everyone there works as a unit together.

Each character has a prosthetic that signifies a part of their story. The characters are intriguing and the plot is very well-paced. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of Ioana Visan’s books and delving into this unique story world.

As a conclusion, I’d like to state that this book has it all—unique plot, intriguing characters, and a remarkable story world & setting. I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone; so go on, add it to your TBR lists!

Rating: 5 fish!

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Book Review: The Spirit Gate by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

I received this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program and the ebook was sent to me via Book View Cafe. Thank you!

So I was unsure of this book at first because it’s genre is speculative fiction and I’ve never read that subcategory of fiction. Let’s just say I was not disappointed.

Summary from Amazon: “Blamed along with the other witches of the mountain for everything that goes wrong in the kingdom of Dalibor, the widow Kassia finds a chance for escape from Master Sorcerer Lukusha at his school of arcane learning.”

This story had me captive since the the very first page. I loved the whole story, mainly:

1. The characters.
I think Beyla is adorable. I shipped Zakarij with Kassia since we first meet him. They’re so cute!! During some points of the story I felt a little dislike for Master Lukasha. The way he got really passionate about Kassia’s shai magic made me uneasy and I guess that passion was what doomed him. As Shagtai said: “He is a man driven by his past.” I still felt sorry for him though. Throughout the book, Kassia is blamed for a myriad of calamities, has lost loved ones, and been betrayed. Despite that, she still maintains a clear head and doesn’t let her anger or fear overtake her. Kassia is definitely my favorite character.

2. The plot.
There’s just the right amount of action and suspense to keep you on your toes, but without overdoing it. A deep secret that can destroy Polia is dug out by Kassia and she has to fix her mistake. In my opinion, the main moral of this book is that everyone has a fatal flaw that can lead to their doom. Marija and Kassia’s curiosity. Master Lukasha’s passion. Damek’s blind faith in his master. Michal Zelimir’s trust. They all caused an amount of damage. Very well thought out plot!

3. The writing.
Maya’s writing is so beautiful! The way she describe colors is breathtaking. There are thought-invoking quotes and clear descriptions. The romance in this book is so indescribably well-written. I’d love to read more of that writing style.

OVERALL: Captivating story with a beautiful writing style and likable characters. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes eloquent and brilliant stories.

Rating: 5 fish!

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