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Author Archives: Tayla Holman

About Tayla Holman

I am a recent graduate of Hofstra University, earning my B.A. in print journalism and English. I am a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the Freelancers Union, as well as a freelance writer for Healthline.com.

Oh, Hey Guys…

All,

I do apologize for this latest extended absence. As some of you already know, I am getting married in July, and the past couple of months have been devoted to wedding planning, job and apartment hunting, and other grownup miscellany that has turned my site into an innocent casualty caught in the crossfire of my hectic, postgraduate life.

I know this is the third or fourth post I have written like this, and I really do hate neglecting my site for extended periods of time. Please know that it’s for a good reason! During the time that I have been away, I have been working on other projects, including one that combines two of my passions. So pretty soon, you’ll be seeing a little more of me. Please bear with me for a little while longer! It’ll be worth the wait, I promise.

In the meantime, if you’re eager for something semi-new, you can check out the sneak peek for my novel. I’d greatly appreciate any feedback (and who knows, maybe I’ll post another chapter or two).

Abraçãos,

Tayla

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Life

 

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Sneak Peek – ‘Someone Else’s Baby’

So I promised on Twitter that I would post the first couple of chapters of my novel, Someone Else’s Baby. While I’ll admit I’m not quite ready to take this step yet, I’m doing so at my fiancé’s urging, and because I legitimately want to know what people think. Below, you’ll find a synopsis and the first three chapters of the novel. Any and all feedback is welcomed and appreciated. I hope you all enjoy!


Synopsis: Angela and Laurence Tate have been married for eight years, and desperately want a baby. After four years of trying with no luck, the couple decides to ask Angela’s best friend, Yvette Hollis, to act as a surrogate. Yvette readily accepts, and the Tates couldn’t be happier. But toward the end of her pregnancy, Yvette changes her mind and decides to keep the baby, disappearing without a trace and leaving Angela and Laurence distraught. The couple then begin a frantic search for Yvette and the baby — their baby — that tests the strength of their relationship, and brings to light secrets they never could have imagined.


Chapter 1

“It’s negative. Again.”

Angela Tate sat on the edge of her American Standard bathtub and sighed.

“What have we done to deserve this?”

Her husband, Laurence, sat next to her and slipped his arm around her waist, pulling her close to him.

“It will happen, Angie, we just have to keep trying. These things take time.”

Angela let out another sigh of exasperation and buried her head into her husband’s chest.

“I know that, but it’s already been four years. I don’t have a lot of time left, Larry. If it doesn’t happen soon…” She didn’t bother to finish her thought.

“Angela. Look at me.” Laurence lifted his wife’s chin and pushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “We haven’t tried everything. There are other options.”

“But how would we pay for it? We’d have to sell the house, or take out another mortgage.”

“We could adopt,” Laurence suggested.

“I don’t think I could. I want it to be ours. Does that sound awful?”

Laurence shook his head. “I do too, honey, but you said it yourself. You don’t have a lot of time left.” Angela dropped her head and stared at the ceramic tiles on the bathroom floor. “Promise me we’ll keep that as an option,” Laurence said.

“I don’t know, Larry,” Angela looked up at her husband, her hazel eyes gleaming with unshed tears. “I don’t know if I can raise a stranger’s child.”

****

Laurence woke up the next morning to find Angela sitting at her desk with her laptop open. He rubbed his eyes and yawned. The clock read 5:12 a.m., well before either of them had to be up.

“Babe? What are you doing,” he asked wearily.

“Research,” Angela replied curtly.

“Research for what?”

“These other options you mentioned last night.” Angela swiveled her chair around and looked at her husband. Even half asleep, he was the most handsome man she had ever seen. Her expression softened as he let out another yawn.

“Go back to sleep, honey. I’ll be done in a little bit.”

“I have a late class today,” Laurence said. “I can stay up with you for a little while.” He pushed himself up into a seated position and looked at his wife sleepily. “Care to share what you’ve found?”

Angela nodded and took her laptop off its charger, carrying it over to the bed. “We could do in vitro, but I don’t know how much of it our insurance would cover.”

Laurence took the laptop from Angela and scrolled down the page. “From the looks of it, not enough. At these costs, any kids we end up having would be paying for it long after we’re gone.”

Angela chuckled at her husband’s attempt to lighten the situation. “Well I would hope they’d see it as a worthwhile debt, considering.”

“What about a surrogate,” Laurence asked. “Do you think we could do that?”

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking a stranger,” Angela said. “I’d much rather it be someone we know.”

“Did you have someone in mind?”

“Well…” Angela got up from the bed and walked toward a window. “I thought we could ask Yvette.”

“Um, honey,” Laurence said tentatively, “I don’t think Yvette is the right person to ask.”

“Why not?” Yvette Hollis had been Angela’s best friend since childhood. Since both girls had been only children, they had been the closest the other had to a sister.

“Come on, Angie, you know why. Yvette is great, but you’ve gotta admit she’s a bit… vain. I highly doubt she’d be willing to let a child destroy her body.” Angela glared at her husband, but she knew he was right. Yvette had always been obsessed with her figure. Her large breasts and slim waist had always been her pride and joy, and she’d told Angela and Laurence more than once that she was not opposed to plastic surgery to keep her body forever young.

“Laurence, she’s my best friend. If there’s anyone we could ask, it’s her.” Angela looked pleadingly at her husband. Laurence let out a long sigh.

“Alright, honey. If you want to ask Yvette, we can. But don’t surprised when she says no.”

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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Books/reading

 

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February Is Heart Disease Awareness Month, Are You Educated?

February is Heart Disease Awareness Month and, if you are unaware of the facts and statistics surrounding the disease, now is a good time to educate yourself.

Every year, heart disease kills more people than all forms of cancer combined. That means if lung cancer, colon cancer, and all those other big, scary “C” words joined together and formed Voltron, it still wouldn’t be nearly as deadly as heart disease. And while heart disease has typically been considered a men’s disease, more women than man have died from heart disease since 1984.

As an African-American and as a woman, I should be particularly afraid of heart disease. Not only is it the number one cause of death among black, white, and Hispanic women, but in 2008, heart disease was prevalent among 47.3 percent of black women. Let that number sink in. 47. 3 percent. Nearly half of black women are suffering from heart disease. That’s scary.

Fortunately, heart disease is pretty preventable, and lifestyle changes can lower your risk. While some factors, such as age and heredity, can’t be controlled, cutting down on alcohol, changing your diet, and getting more exercise can help cut your risk.

Anyway, since I wrote about heart disease for Healthline last year, everything I learned in my research stuck with me, hence why I feel more motivated to recognize the disease and do my part to spread awareness. So, I signed up to place a badge for Luvvie’s Red Pump Project on my website, and you can see that badge in my sidebar. (Side note: If you are unfamiliar with AwesomelyLuvvie.com, you need to visit it right now and see what you’re missing. She is amazing and hilarious.) I also signed up to donate a tweet per day to the Red Pump Project, which you can learn more about here.

However, I feel like I could (and should) be doing more, so I’m thinking of ways I can further help spread awareness. Suggestions are more than welcome, and you can leave them in the comments below.

If you want to read more about heart disease, you can (shameless plug) read my articles for Healthline here. You can also check out heart.org or hearttruth.gov.

Together we are powerful. Let's unite and get to the heart of good health.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2013 in Health & wellness

 

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Revisiting End of the Year Goals

Back in September, I wrote a post about what I wanted to accomplish by the end of year. I probably should have put end of year/beginning of next year, but we won’t argue semantics right now.

Almost three weeks into the new year, I’ve actually made some leeway in accomplishing those goals. Let’s revisit them here.

  • Put a deposit on a wedding venue. I made the rest of my deposit on December 1.
  • Finalize guest list. I had a semi-finalized guest list, but now more family members want to come. With the wedding a little more than 6 months away, I should have a final guest list hopefully by April or May.
  • Get a full-time job (online or offline) OR get more freelance gigs. This one is kind of accomplished. My job at The Inquisitr is technically a full-time position because of the number of articles I am required to write a month. I think when I wrote this I meant a full-time job in an office or something, but I’m actually quite happy with what I’m doing right now. Plus I have my part-time job at the paper, so I’m not doing too bad.
  • Start paying back student loans. I’ve made one payment so far, with auto-pay set up for the next couple of payments.
  • Finish my reading challenge. Sadly, I failed at my challenge. I finished at around 32 books or so. I’ve started a new challenge for this year, 52 books in 52 weeks. I’m a little behind at the moment, but I’ll be catching up.
  • Study Portuguese (again). Using a Groupon voucher, I signed up for a one-year subscription of Livemocha. I’ve done a couple of lessons in Brazilian Portuguese so far, and it’s amazing. Getting feedback from native speakers makes this one of the best ways to learn a new language, in my opinion.
  • Start looking for an apartment. It isn’t easy though. My fiancé and I wanted to stay in the area he’s in now, but it’s quite expensive. We wanted to stay in a central location, but may have to explore other options (such as where I live now or places outside of the city) to keep costs down.
  • Keep working on my novel. When I wrote my original post, I had written about three and a half chapters. I’ve just finished the sixth chapter, although I’ll probably edit it, but I’m going to keep going with it and hopefully get it completed by the end of the year.

So really, the only thing I need to do is continue studying Portuguese, complete my 2013 reading challenge and finalize my guest list. Not too shabby! I’ll consider the full-time job completed since I’m not actively looking for anything else at the moment. I have some goals for 2013, which I will probably detail in another post. For now, I’m just happy that I made it through the majority of my list from last year. Yay, me!

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2013 in Life

 

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2013 Reading Challenge: 52 Books In 52 Weeks

After, sadly, failing my 2012 reading challenge to read 50 books by the end of year (I started in April and finished somewhere around 32 books), I was inspired by my sister to take on a new challenge in 2013 — 52 books in 52 weeks. BUT, I am actually going to add a predetermined 53rd book to my challenge – The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George. Memoirs is about 900+ pages, and while I’ve started and stopped it a few times since my fiancé bought it for me last year, I am determined to read the whole thing this year.

I am combining this with a weekly savings challenge that I will detail in a separate post.

Much like I did with my 2012 reading challenge, I will update this post with each book. I may not write reviews for each book, but I’ll try to write a little something (favorite quotes, questions, something) just to keep things fresh.

** There will most likely be a lot of overlap, since I’m not always able to read as much as I would like to during the week. Bear with me. **

Week 1: December 31-January 6

Burned (Pretty Little Liars #12) by Sara Shepard

Started: January 4

Finished: January 5

Why?: I’m not ashamed to admit this — Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series is my guilty pleasure. Between the books and TV series, I just love the absurdity of the lives of Aria, Emily, Spencer and Hanna. The series isn’t profound by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s entertaining.

Week 2: January 7-January 13

A Dog’s Life by Peter Mayle

Started: January 10

Finished: January 20

Why?: This came up as a recommendation on GoodReads because I read The Art of Racing in the Rain last year.

Week 3: January 14-January 20

American Sexy by Adam Linn

Started: January 20

Finished:

Why?: I actually got this book through my job. The author’s mother brought it to my editor, who initially wanted to read it himself. He didn’t have time, though, so he gave it to me. I also got to interview the author, so that was cool.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Books/reading

 

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2012 In (Pictorial) Review – Graduations And Engagements And Vacations, Oh My!

Wow.

I can’t believe 2012 is about to be over. This has been, perhaps, one of the most eventful years of my life, although not every event was positive. Let’s start from the beginning.

(January and February were very uneventful.)

March:

I went to Washington, D.C. for the NABJ Conference on Health at the end of the month. I wrote up several of the panels I attended for my independent study for the last three credits of my journalism degree. I also did the tourist thing and saw the White House, Washington Monument, MLK Memorial, and other sites.

Lincoln Memorial MLK Memorial White House

April:

Spent spring break in Atlantic City with some friends. Had a wonderful, wonderful time and, surprisingly, didn’t lose too much money. We ate, drank, and were merry for about five days before returning to school to endure the last month of school before…

Trump Taj Mahal

May:

GRADUATION! On May 20, I graduated from Hofstra University with my B.A. in print journalism and English with a concentration in publishing studies and literature (although I only received one diploma and am still convinced Hofstra owes me another). It was a long four years, but crossing that stage after sitting through what seemed like a cruel and unusual length of time in the very hot sun made it all worth it. Sharing it with my soon-to-be husband (see below) and family made it even better.

Graduation day!

May 23, my boyfriend of six years proposed. After some deliberation, we set the wedding date for July 21, 2013. We’ll have been together for seven and a half years by that point, and will have known each other for nine years.

My engagement ring!

June:

Started freelancing for the Dorchester Reporter. Wrote my first article about peeping Toms looking into people’s windows on Favre Street in Mattapan.

First article for Dorchester Reporter

July:

As a birthday present to my now-fiancé, I attended UFC 148 in Las Vegas (my first trip to the West Coast!) at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.  I got to watch Anderson Silva beat Chael Sonnen, and saw Tito Ortiz in his last fight ever after 15 years in the UFC.

UFC 148

Also started writing for the Inquisitr. Started as an intern at 60 articles per month, moved up to 250 in November. At the time of this writing, I’ve written 627 articles for IQ.

First article for Inquisitr

August:

Toured the Seaport Elite and fell in love — Manny and I had found our wedding and reception venue! With almost all expenses included, this was the perfect location for us to get married, and was right in the budget we had agreed on.

Spent a weekend at a lake house in Vermont with friends and my fiancé. Failed at canoeing (kayaking?), swam in a lake when it was pitch black outside, and did some hardcore hot tubbing.

Fairfield, VT

Not a life event for me, but one of my oldest friends (about 17 years now) welcomed her daughter. I became an unofficial aunty.

September/October:

Went to Mexico with my sister for a week. First time leaving the country. Words cannot describe how beautiful Isla Mujeres is and how badly I want to return.

La triguena in Isla Mujeres

Sadly, I lost my grandmother the day before we were supposed to come back home. She was 91. I was her youngest grandchild, and we had the same birthday.

November:

Turned 24 years old. Fiancé surprised me with tickets to the P!nk concert in March. Celebrated Thanksgiving with my immediate and extended family and probably gained a ton of weight.

P!nk!

December:

Attended my (unofficial) niece’s dedication. Celebrated my mother’s birthday with her and my sister and spent Christmas with my family, fiancé and soon-to-be stepdaughter. Didn’t die because the world didn’t end on December 21 (silly “Doomsday preppers”), so I guess that’s a major plus!

Christmas at home

So, 2012, I bid you a fond adieu. Let’s hope 2013 is even better!

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Life

 

An Important Announcement

Once again, I’ve fallen behind with updating my blog. The last couple of weeks have been a bit hectic. I was on vacation for a week and then came home and had to deal with a death in the family so, unfortunately, blogging has been the last thing on my mind as of late.

I will not make any promises that I will update as frequently as I would like, but I do want to assure you all that I have not given up my reading challenge. I’m a bit more than halfway through it, and I know there are only two months left for me to reach my goal, so I am going to try to get through the next 20 or so books a little faster than I have in the past. For that reason, I will not be doing as many reviews, at least not for the time being. I will continue to update the main post with all the books I have read so far, but the reviews will be a little more infrequent until I catch up to where I should have been by this point in the year.

With that being said, I would like to alert you all to my (other) important announcement: I have taken a position as full-time writer for The Inquisitr. I have been writing for them since July and was recently promoted, so I will be doing a lot more writing (250 posts per month) for them from now on. If you want to keep up with me and learn all about daily news and whatnot, you can find all of my posts on my profile page.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2012 in Books/reading, Life

 

Reading Challenge Book #23, Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

“To Isis worshippers, Princess Selene and her twin brother Helios embody the divine celestial pair who will bring about a Golden Age. But when Selene’s parents are vanquished by Rome, her auspicious birth becomes a curse. Trapped in an empire that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, the young messianic princess struggles for survival in a Roman court of intrigue. She can’t hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her hands, nor can she stop the emperor from using her powers for his own ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined to resurrect her mother’s dreams. Can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win-or die?” — via GoodReads

My rating: 6/10

What intrigued me about this novel was that it was not only historical fiction, but that it was fantasy as well. While other novels about Cleopatra do mention magic, it is never an underlying theme, and the heroine is never a source of magic herself. You would think that, with this being the primary difference between Lily of the Nile and other novels about Cleopatra Selene, the use of magic would be more present, but its use is rather sporadic. Since this is the first of a trilogy, I would imagine Dray has Selene develop control over her powers in the succeeding novels, but I was a bit disappointed that she only used them a handful of times without even meaning to.

One of my major issues with Lily of the Nile was Dray’s portrayal of the relationship between Selene and Juba. In Cleopatra’s Daughter, Selene is oblivious to Juba’s affections until the end of the book, but in this novel, Selene is not only aware of them, but returns them as well. Dray’s intention for this novel is to empower young women, but what kind of message is she sending by turning such a powerful woman into a simpering, boy crazy teenager?

Dray, unlike Moran, chose to keep Selene’s younger brother Ptolemy (called Philadelphus in the novel) alive, even though most sources believe he died before the children made it to Rome. In the context of the novel, it makes sense, but it’s also such a minor part of the greater plot that his presence wouldn’t have been missed had she chosen to follow the general consensus.

Overall, it is probably best that Lily of the Nile is part of a trilogy, since Selene doesn’t start to come into her own until the end. However, of the two authors, Dray and Moran, I believe Moran wrote a far more superior novel. I do give Dray credit for taking a different approach than many other authors, and I do look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy (although the brief reviews I’ve read of Song of the Nile, the second novel, were less than flattering.)

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2012 in Books/reading

 

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Being Happy With What You Have

Something that I really struggled with this year, more than my previous 22 years, was being envious or jealous of those around me. Whenever a friend or family member had it good, as much as I wanted to be happy for them, I couldn’t help but I wonder why I didn’t have it good too. For example, I’ve wanted to travel for the longest time, and this year it seemed liked an extraordinary number of the people in my life were jetsetting to faraway, exotic places I would likely never visit in my lifetime. I’d scroll through Facebook albums and curse the lucky person who had made it to Italy, Costa Rica, London, or whatever other location they ended up in. “Why can’t I see these places,” I’d ask myself, knowing full well what the answer was. I didn’t have the money or the opportunity, but it wouldn’t do me any good to bitch and moan about my rotten luck.

But then something happened. I went to Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland in March. I went to Las Vegas with my fiancé in July, and Atlantic City and Vermont with my friends in April and last month respectively. I have a cruise with my sister coming up in a couple of weeks. Maybe these weren’t quite the exotic places I’ve dreamed of going, but I’ve done more traveling this year than I ever have before. Add to that the fact that I’m only 23 — and that I still have a honeymoon to look forward to next year — and there are plenty of opportunities for me to go new places.

“That’s nice and all, Tayla, but you still don’t have a job.”

I’ve been out of school for four months now, and I had a huge expectation that I’d have an honest-to-goodness grownup job by now. But the jobs I did apply to hired someone else, or I simply never heard back. But, I have something that many of my friends don’t have. I have the opportunity to work for myself. As a freelance writer, I don’t have a boss. I don’t have to sit in an office for eight hours, silently counting down until the weekend. Aside from corresponding with an editor, I take on assignments when I can or when I feel like it. I can make as much or as little as I want. Sure it won’t make me rich (yet), but I can get paid to write while watching Law & Order: SVU or in between playing a Left 4 Dead 2 campaign. So many people I know with full-time jobs hate them, have quit, or are thinking about quitting. I’m sure they’d trade places with me in a heartbeat.

“How do you expect to pay back thousands of dollars in student loans/pay for a wedding by yourself, with no job?”

Similar to my last point, I have my freelance work. With no other expenses at the moment, aside from a phone bill, I can put the majority of the money I make toward paying off my loans and toward paying for the wedding. And I’m not paying for the wedding myself, my fiancé is too. But still, it’s a daunting task, and I know I have friends whose parents are helping them with loans (and weddings, surprisingly, a lot of people my age seem to be to getting married or engaged.) Obviously I haven’t stopped looking for a job, but all I can do for now is work with what I have. If I’m really, really determined, I could easily make $300 a day writing, and that’s just from one site. Most days, though, I’m content with making $120 or $150, and if I kept it up five days a week, I’d make around the same amount I’d earn at a full-time entry level job. If I decide I want to push myself a little harder, I could double that amount, but it may or may not cost me my sanity.

The point I’m trying to make here is that the grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it. And I’m watering the hell out of my grass and throwing Miracle-Gro on it just as an added measure. I have a friend that always teases me and says things always seem to work out for me, and he’s absolutely right. If I put my mind to something, I’ll make it happen one way or the other. So while I may not be heading off to Paris or working a 9-5, I’m happy with what I have, and I know if/when I want to change things, I can and will.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Life

 

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Reading Challenge Book #21, Run by Ann Patchett

Date started: August 19, 2012

Date finished: August 29, 2012

“Since their mother’s death, Tip and Teddy Doyle have been raised by their loving, possessive, and ambitious father. As the former mayor of Boston, Bernard Doyle wants to see his sons in politics, a dream the boys have never shared. But when an argument in a blinding New England snowstorm inadvertently causes an accident that involves a stranger and her child, all Bernard cares about is his ability to keep his children—all his children—safe.” — via Amazon

My rating: 4/10

Since Run takes place in Boston, I loved the fact that I knew pretty much all of the places that Patchett wrote about. But there were some inconsistencies that irked me a little bit, but not so much that they were unforgivable. Beyond that, I felt like the novel was just too safe. Bernard and his wife Bernadette (really?) are white, and their adopted sons Tip and Teddy are black. I felt Patchett was trying to be a little too PC and didn’t fully explore what this meant for the family, especially in a city like Boston which has a very complicated history when it comes to race.

Run is like a parody of an M. Night Shymalan movie with its twist within a twist. It was unpredictable, but not in a good way. It felt like Patchett threw it in as an afterthought, trying to add more drama where it wasn’t particularly needed. The hospital scene in which this twist unfolds got a bit confusing, and I was really disappointed that what seemed like a major plot point was not brought up again. I think it would have changed the outcome of the novel tremendously, but I think Patchett wanted a neat, pretty ending.

Overall, of the three Patchett novels I’ve read so far, this one is my least favorite. I still think she’s a good writer, and Bel Canto will probably be one of my favorite novels for a long time, but Run didn’t live up to my expectations.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Books/reading

 

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