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Twisted Minds: Preview

COMING AUGUST 1, 2017!

PaperCover

Twisted Minds

Prologue

May 16

Monday 3 a.m.

The light of the half-moon couldn’t conquer the city lights and reach the darkened building. A light pole topped with a halogen lamp stood more than half a block away. The small puddle of dirty-white light barely scratched the surrounding area. At this hour in the morning, Seattle belonged to the homeless and the drunks and the gangs.

This area of Aurora Avenue, however, clung to a desperate civility and the gangs and the whores weren’t very interested in it.  Consequently, the night lay undisturbed, except for a homeless man sleeping in a doorway, cuddling his wine bottle. Two figures dressed in dark clothes and full-face ski masks climbed out of an old beater car that hung onto the dull shine of some dark color.

Gravel from the small parking lot crunched beneath their shoes as they made their way to the back door of A Woman’s Place. With a swift kick, the jamb gave way and the door swung inward. The two strode inside with only the blank faces of commercial buildings and sleeping apartment buildings encircling the women’s center to witness the invasion.

As the smaller figure headed through the double doors leading from the kitchen to the open area in front, the sound of breaking dishes filled the air.

After a while, the person walked from the kitchen into the open area and set down three gallon jugs of blood. Ski mask rolled up to the forehead, hands propped on hips, a scowl marred the ordinary face. “This is a piss poor job! What’s wrong with you? You love sand niggers?” Booted feet stomped a plastic truck and gloved hands tore the head from a baby doll then flung it down.

“No! You know I don’t, but the kids…” Panicked eyes flashed to the smashed toys.

The back of a hand lashed across the protester’s cheek. The skin on the cheekbone split and a trickle of blood ran from the wound. “They’re as much a sand nigger as their mommas and daddies. The only way to get rid of lice, my daddy said, was to kill the nits. Get this blood splashed around; and do a decent job this time.”

Once the jugs were empty, the two figures tossed them to the floor and headed toward the kitchen. The double doors from the kitchen swung open and an elderly woman walked in.

Dark eyes blazed from a walnut brown face. She studied the pale faces not yet hidden again behind the rolled up ski masks. “You’ve done evil this night. May Allah have….”

Before the old woman completed the sentence, a fist slammed into her face. Her cheekbone shattered from the impact as she fell toward the sharp corner of one of the children’s broken tables.

 

 

Chapter 1

May 16

Monday 6:30 a.m.

The sun crept up behind the buildings surrounding A Woman’s Place, rimming them with a slightly golden halo. With the temperature close to fifty-six degrees and a cloudless blue sky it promised to be a pleasant day. Ahead of Zahair Abidi, a crowded metro bus squealed to a halt at the bus stop a few feet away from the plate glass windows of the one-story, beige stucco building. More people squeezed onboard as Zahair eased around the bus.

She frowned as she drove past the front of A Woman’s Place. I’m certain I forgot to let down the blind on the far right when I closed up; worried about it until I finally went to bed last night, but now it’s down. Oh, well, all that worry for nothing. I must’ve gone back and closed it after talking to Randy when he delivered the milk.

With a flick of her turn signal, she entered the narrow alley between the center and an abandoned grocery store. The small gravel lot in back offered parking to the staff of A Woman’s Place. A four-foot tall cyclone fence enclosed the other two-thirds of the building’s extra-large lot space. It held a patch of grass, a swing set, a slide, and a sandbox for the children in the daycare that A Woman’s Place ran.

As she swung her compact car into its marked spot, Zahair’s eyes flashed to the dumpster next to the back door, but the old woman wasn’t sleeping next to the metal bin this morning. She probably found some place else to sleep last night. Hope she comes to breakfast a little bit later. I worry so about her.

Nonexistent spiders crawled across her neck and she peered around. Lately, at the oddest moments, she felt invisible eyes watching her. Pushing away the uncomfortable thought, she hopped out, grabbed her purse, and dug through it for the center’s keys as she walked to the kitchen door. Keys in hand, she lifted her eyes to the deadbolt and froze. The doorjamb around the lock had been split. The door hung open a fraction of an inch.

Her heart slammed against her ribs. From the front of the building, a bus pulled away from the curb. She stifled the sudden urge to race out to the sidewalk and flag it down. With one finger, she shoved against the door. It opened on well-oiled hinges. Straining, she listened for the slightest sound. Silence. She shook off the unnamed dread that chased goosebumps down her arms. Easing the door wide, she slipped inside.

The ordered kitchen lay in disarray. Stainless steel pots from the overhead rack scattered across the once-immaculate tile floor. The refrigerator hummed, its door gaping. Half-gallons of milk meant to feed the daycare children had been flung across the room. The waxed cartons had split. Puddles of dingy white gathered in the worn spots on the floor.

She stepped forward. Her foot slipped on a paper plate. A gasp burst from between dry lips as she caught her balance. Pieces of elbow macaroni crunched beneath her shoes. A dented can rolled from the touch of her toe. Shards–from their few plates, cups, and glasses–glittered in the light sneaking in through the back door. Cook’s most proud possession, a set of kitchen knives gifted by a store in Seattle, lay amid the detritus.

Biting her lower lip, she held the cry of despair inside her. Caution weighed every step as she shuffled through the spacious kitchen, nudging aside the dented pots and pans, the cooking utensils, and the remnants of the carefully hoarded food.

At the swinging double doors that led into the main room, she halted. The pulse in her throat ramped up. She sucked in a deep breath and mustered her courage. One hand grasping her keys like a weapon, she pushed open the left door.

A sob tore from her throat. Her hand flew to her mouth to hold in the wail of despair that threatened to crash through the spacious room. Slowly, her eyes registered the shattered tables, the smashed toys, the holes in the plasterboard walls so recently painted a vibrant blue, and the blood. So much blood. Dark red streaks smeared across the walls; reddish-brown puddles hardened on the scuffed wood floor. It appeared that what remained of the furnishings had been doused with blood. The smell gagged her. Her stomach flip-flopped.

Someone had dragged in black, plastic garbage bags from the dumpster by the rear door. Egg shells, discarded vegetables, Styrofoam meat trays, empty milk cartons, and crumpled paper towels, lay strewn across the room. The reek of rancid food vied with the rotting odor of blood.

She swallowed hard and prayed for strength, for courage. Still, she couldn’t force her feet to move. Her mind sluggishly tried to process the scene. Tears stung her eyes. She blinked them away. Inhaling a jagged breath, her stomach nearly retched. She reprimanded herself. This was no time to give in to weakness.

All of the blinds were closed. Sunlight, she needed sunlight.  With the cloth of her hijab over her nose and mouth to filter out some of the stench, she shuffled forward. From the corner of her eye, in front of what was left of one of the children’s tables, she noted a pile of black rags. More garbage, she thought. Then the black rags moved and a low moan issued from them.

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Life is Dynamic

The only things certain about life, my mother used to say, was death and taxes. Actually, on this I have to disagree. The only thing certain is death and that life will change.

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Since the latter part of 2016 and the first six months of 2017, my life has been in a state of flux. My wife was laid off, my favorite dog died, Trump is in the White House, I’ve joined political resistance groups when I thought my days of protesting were over, I’ve published Attack on Freedom, a political thriller, I’m completing the edits of two more books for release this year, and I’ve taken employment as a cashier at an Arco gas station and convenience store.

AND, the most important change–at least, to me–Beyond the Silence: A Woman’s Journey to Freedom is a FINALIST in the Golden Crown Literary Society awards! I am so pleased to be a finalist in the GCLS awards that until July 9th, Beyond the Silence #ebook will be #FREE at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/606365. Simply use the coupon code VM53C at checkout. Easy as that.

GCLS

Unfortunately, in order to deal with many of the changes in my life, I have had to cut back on the amount of time I spend on social media. Consequently, you won’t catch me as frequently on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. My blog may only get two posts per month beginning in July. I apologize.

Meanwhile, to keep up with what I am doing, catch me on my profile page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ayawalksfar   or  my author’s page at https://www.facebook.com/AyaWalksfarAuthor.

If you want to know about my involvement in politics, you can check out https://www.facebook.com/TogetherWomenCan  or  https://www.facebook.com/groups/440389712959710/

Remember, even though change happens, it is how we deal with it that counts. Life is an adventure; it is dynamic. But, isn’t that what keeps us growing?

 

 

 

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GCLS Finalist! #She Persisted!

Beyond the Silence: A Woman’s Journey to Freedom, has been chosen as a finalist in the Golden Crown Literary Society Awards contest. The #GCLS’ mission is to educate, and to recognize and promote #lesbian literature. They receive thousands of entries to their awards contest every year. I am honored to have become a finalist in the dramatic fiction category. https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Silence-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B01ADRQ0K8

Though I set this novel in the Deep South in 1988, it is timely when we view our current political climate. Many states have passed so-called “religious liberty” laws that discriminate against #LGBTQ people and other states prepare to pass such laws. Beyond the Silence was based on research that exposed the harsh reality of how such discrimination played out in real women’s and real children’s lives. The legalities that allowed the discrimination that ripped apart Barb Hensen’s life were real. Lesbian women could have their children removed from their custody on the claim that their “lifestyle” endangered the child.

In the years since 1988, many strides have been made to protect lesbians and other LGBTQ people from harmful, and often devastating, discrimination. Unfortunately, there is a very real danger that the progress we have made could be rolled back. We could once again face powerful forces that want to tear apart our families.

However, Beyond the Silence is a story of triumph; the triumph of a woman who loses everything, yet finally finds herself. A woman who persisted; who refused to quit when many times she would have welcomed death. A woman who built a life in spite of all the obstacles that stood in her path.

I wrote this book as a tribute to such women, whether they are lesbian or straight; bisexual or transgender. This book is not about a single life, no matter how heroic such a life might be. It is the story of every woman who has ever struggle and nearly given up, yet dragged herself to her feet to fight on.

I salute you.

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Changes

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Like my life, this website is undergoing some changes. Please be patient. Meanwhile, as an apology to my readers, I am offering a free ecopy of Attack on Freedom, a political thriller with a touch of romance. It’s simple to claim your free ebook: go to https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/707335  Follow instructions and be sure to enter the coupon code PN52B when you are prompted to enter the code.

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Meanwhile, amid my political work I #amwriting the last of the Vampire War trilogy–The Final Battle (or Girl Rescues Mom, Inherits Vampires). This has been a fun and challenging project for me both in terms of the graphic sexuality (I don’t usually write graphic sex) as well as the subject matter–vampires. Quite divergent from mysteries and literary fiction.

Talking about mysteries: Twisted Minds, A Special Crimes Team novel, will be out later this summer.

Twisted Minds Summer 2017

I believe it makes us better when we challenge ourselves to do something different.

A list of places where you can find me:

https://www.facebook.com/AyaWalksfarAuthor

https://www.facebook.com/ayawalksfar

https://www.facebook.com/groups/440389712959710/  (Together Women Can Group open to public) (information, petitions, articles dealing with women’s rights)

https://www.twitter.com/BooksRDoorways  (a place for all things bookish with links to great reads, etc.)

https://www.twitter.com/2getherwomencan  (companion to above group)

 

 

 

 

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1st Amendment: Stand Up or Shut Up!

While most people’s attention is on national politics, the Republicans in our own state of Washington are attempting to slip a few unsavory laws through the legislature. The worst of these laws are what the Republicans are calling anti-riot laws, but are really anti-protest laws.

Six reasons no legislation should be written that dampens the citizen’s right to protest:

1.We already have vandalism/malicious mischief laws in place for any situation, including during protests, both organized and unorganized.

2.We already have trespass laws in place for any situation, including during protests, both organized and unorganized.

3.We already have assault laws in place for any situation, including during protests, both organized and unorganized.

4.A law that makes the organizer of a protest or anyone participating in the protest liable for the actions of another person essentially forces an untrained civilian into the role of law enforcement. It does not matter whether the person breaking the laws is with the protest or is a rogue attempting to disrupt a peaceful protest.

5.Placing a civilian in such a position is a no-win situation for everyone, including innocent bystanders and law enforcement. Civilians are seldom trained to deal with violent offenders, regardless whether the offending is trespassing or assaulting someone. When you force a civilian into this role, you are very possibly forcing that civilian to break the laws against assault which would lead to legal repercussions from jail time to fines to civil lawsuits.
In addition, anytime civilians act as law enforcement they place real law enforcement in danger. Law enforcement officers have a specific protocol in matters of riot containment or offenses by individuals during a peaceful protest both to ensure that the offenders are stopped and the law enforcement officers are kept as safe as possible. When you inject civilians into the situation, that protocol is disrupted.

6.The right to peacefully protest is part of the Bill of Rights, First Amendment. Without the right to protest, a tool for citizens to force government to change is taken away. Without the right to impact our government, our democracy is seriously endangered.

7.When any part of the Bill of Rights, or the First Amendment, is compromised it then weakens that amendment and the Bill of Rights and other parts can then be more easily destroyed. Without the First Amendment not only will you, as a citizen, have no right to protest government actions, you will eventually have no right to speak out against the government. This leads to dictatorships.
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Peaceful protests have always been the match that people lit to change government; sometimes, protests are the only way to change government.

If you believe that our “blue” state would never stand for such a law being passed, you are asleep while driving your citizenship. Such proposals have already been introduced into our state legislature. If such a bill can be proposed, it will be passed without sufficient protest from the people. Such protest might be physical actions like marching or the protests might take the form of calling, emailing, and writing to not only the representatives for your district, but also the representatives for other districts to let them know they answer to our state, to all of our citizens.

Many people thought Trump would never be elected. They were asleep while driving their citizenship. If you want your rights protected, you need to stand up. Democracy is a choice: stand up or shut up!

The state of Washington is not the only state where laws are currently being proposed that would dampen or violate First Amendment rights to peaceful protest. As of February 24, 2017, seventeen states have bills being proposed that would deny citizens the right to protest. To see if your state is one, go to the link below. It has a map of the states of concern. These laws would, according to the Washington Post do such things as: “…indemnify drivers who strike protesters with their cars and, in at least one case, seize the assets of people involved in protests that later turn violent.”

According to Cornell University Law School:
“…The Supreme Court has expressly recognized that a right to freedom of association and belief is implicit in the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. This implicit right is limited to the right to associate for First Amendment purposes. It does not include a right of social association. The government may prohibit people from knowingly associating in groups that engage and promote illegal activities….”
Cornell University Law School:
“Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Three important changes in the United States that were brought about by protesters:
1. The right to form unions
2. Voting rights for black Americans and women
3. December 16, 1773 The Boston Tea Party signaled the colonists’ determination to live in a country where their needs were clearly represented.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/02/24/republican-lawmakers-introduce-bills-to-curb-protesting-in-at-least-17-states/
https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment

To read about protests that changed history, go to https://www.facebook.com/TogetherWomenCan

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8 Methods for Self-care During Stressful Times

There is no doubt that we have entered a highly stressful point in our national history. Such extreme stress–especially when added to everyday stressors we all face such as jobs, family, and time constraints–affects all of us and causes a number of physical and cognitive issues from headaches to stomachaches to sleepless nights and depression to mention only a few.
Regardless whether you have girded up to resist the current administration or if you simply want to survive the insanity of it, there are things you need to know.

Signs of Stress:
–Overeating/undereating/loss of appetite/nausea/diarrhea/constipation
–Inability to sleep/change of sleep patterns/restless sleep
–Feeling hopeless/helpless/defeated/being pessimistic
–Restlessness and irritability/snapping at people/losing your temper more easily
–Low energy/that blah feeling
–Headaches/body aches, pains and tense muscles
–Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
–Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
–Nervousness/shaking/ringing in the ear/cold or sweaty hands and feet
–Clenched jaw/grinding of teeth
–Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
–Constant worrying/racing thoughts
–Forgetfulness and disorganization/inability to focus/poor judgment
–Procrastinating/avoiding responsibilities/wanting to ‘hide under the bed’/wanting to ‘hide in the bed’
–Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
–Increased nail biting/fidgeting/pacing/restlessness

If you, or anyone you know, are exhibiting any or all of these symptoms they may be warning signs that stress levels have reached unmanageable proportions. The more symptoms or the more severe the symptoms, the higher the degree of stress.

Stress is not only unpleasant, but it can cause or exacerbate such things as heart ailments, skin disorders, sexual dysfunctions, mental health problems, and gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn, indigestion, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

As an author, I am deeply involved in a career that is, during the best of times, stressful. Because of the current political climate, as an author I have certain responsibilities to use words to keep people informed and to do my part to protect the freedoms that we in the United States enjoy; freedoms that are facing unparalleled challenges during this administration. Here are some ways that I manage the stress that is inherent in my life:

8 Methods for self-care during stressful times:
1.The first and best defense against stress is someone to talk to. This person needs to be non-judgmental, accepting, and someone you can trust not to repeat what you said. If you don’t have a family member or friend to whom to turn, I would recommend seeking professional counseling services or speaking with your doctor.

2.Eating regular meals, preferably eaten with people you like–can fuel your body to fight off stress. During meals, avoid discussing upsetting issues. Let that occur after you eat and have had a little bit of time to digest your food. If you don’t have time to sit down and eat, carry healthy snacks with you such as cheese and apples. This will give you the extra boost of energy while also supplying protein for repair of the body.

3.Exercise not only allows you to blow off steam, but it strengthens the body, and releases internal chemicals that lift our moods. Exercise does not have to be complicated. Depending on your physical condition is the level to begin exercising. You can take a brisk walk outside, go jogging along the street in your neighborhood, use a treadmill, do sit-ups/push-ups/ running up and down stairs or stretches at home.

4.Baths/showers can help overcome stress. A long, warm/hot bath or a long shower can wash away not only the grime of day-to-day living, but it will relax muscles and give you a time to quietly decompress. The sound of showers can be very soothing to some people while a decadence of a long bath will relax others.

5.Sitting down with a cup of tea or decaf coffee or a cool glass of water will also aid in managing stress. The water actually assists in washing toxins from the body. The warmth of tea or decaf coffee can be very soothing. Peppermint tea is good for digestive upsets; chamomile tea is good for restlessness and sleeping problems. Ginger root (made from real ginger root brought to a boil and then simmered for 15 minutes and then left to steep until it reaches the potency you wish) is great for infections, colds, sore throats, and upset digestion.

6.Sometimes, you have to simply leave the current reality. Find a good movie or book to take you on an adventure that transports you from everyday reality. Put on soothing music and sit back and immerse yourself in the notes and the tones of the instruments.

7.Attitude of Gratitude List is remarkably helpful in managing stress as it pulls us away from the feeling of helplessness and reminds us of the beauty and joy in our lives.
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8.Resist.
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Join a group or organization that is fighting for the issue you are most invested in. Sign online petitions from reputable organizations (FYI: do NOT donate money to any organization you have not researched. Now is a great time for SCAM artists to rip people off!),email your senators and representatives about issues that are important to you, handwrite letters to your senators and representatives about issues or to simply thank them for their stands on different issues (since emails are easily done and senators and representatives get tons of them a day, a handwritten note of no more than one page will often catch their attention faster. Also, this gives them physical evidence of their constituents concerns to wave under the noses of the opposing senators or representatives), phone your senators and representatives and leave short messages of concern or thank you.
Volunteer on the campaign of people who are running for governmental positions. Tweet to your senators and representatives.
And don’t be hesitant to contact senators and representatives to let them know that once they hit Capitol Hill, they represent all the people of the nation, not just their narrow constituency. Be polite, state your concern, be brief.

Remember that stress can make us feel that we have done nothing of any worth, that we are failures. Stress lies.

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If you have other stress relief methods, feel free to share them in the comments section.

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Research Meet Reality

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In Attack on Freedom, which began to take shape in 2013, I explored the possibility of the United States experiencing a military coup. Looking at the Presidential Succession Act which governs who becomes president if the current office holder resigns, dies, or is removed from office—impeached, it became clear that the United States under the current system was indeed at risk for a military coup. It could occur by assassination of key people and/or by a declaration of a “State of Emergency” by the president thus thrusting the United States under military control. It was on this premise that I wrote the thriller, Attack on Freedom.

One of the lesser-known facts about the United States government is that the president can declare a “State of Emergency” (#MartialLaw) nationally in the event of war or large scale terrorist attacks or locally as in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. President George W. Bush Expanded Martial Law Authority on September 29, 2006, when he signed the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).The law expanded the president’s authority to declare Martial Law under revisions of the Insurrection Act and gave the president the power to take charge of National Guard troops without state governor authorization.

In 2017, the NDAA remains in force with a provision that allows the military to detain United States citizens without cause and without due process for an indefinite period of time. This type of power was exercised against Japanese-Americans in 1943 when the Supreme Court upheld a race specific curfew. In 1944 the Court justified the random internment—imprisonment—of more than 110,000 Japanese-American citizens with the subsequent forced loss of their homes and businesses for which they were never monetarily compensated.

During Trump’s first couple of weeks in office, he threatened the city of Chicago with Martial Law for nothing more than Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago calling him out. “You didn’t get elected to debate crowd size at your inaugural. You got elected to make sure people have a job, that the economy continues to grow, people have security as it relates to their children’s education. It wasn’t about your crowd size. It was about their lives and their jobs.” (NOTE: Trump claimed that Chicago was experiencing violent “carnage”. Looking up FBI Statistics as well as several independent city violence ratings, Chicago did not make the list of Top 25 most violent cities.)

However, with such whimsy by the president, a city, a state, or the entire country could be declared in a “State of Emergency” (under Martial Law) which would replace civilian authority with military authority.

What would occur is this:
–The suspension of the #Constitution, probably starting with the First Amendment. The #FirstAmendment guarantees the citizens of the United States the right to worship as they choose, the right to peacefully protest, the right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
–Confiscation of #firearms
–Suspension of Habeas corpus: imprisonment without due process and without a trial
–Travel restrictions, including road closures and perhaps even quarantine zones
–Mandatory curfews and Mandatory identification
–Automatic search and seizures without a warrant

Martial law has been used in the United States during political protests, labor strikes, and any other unrest deemed a “State of Emergency” by either state or national government. Currently, we have seen some of these indicators with Trump’s Muslim Ban and detainment of lawful citizens of the United States on the soil of the United States (ie: travel restrictions for a specific segment of society), suspension of Habeas Corpus during protests when protesters were detained without access to attorneys.

One of my beta readers told me that this book disturbed her because the scenario “could so easily occur”. Attack on Freedom is eerily echoing many events happening in our country at the present time. As the Americans in my novel discover, freedom isn’t free and everyone has to be united and must take action to secure freedom for all of us. If one person is not free, then no one is free.

Get your copy of Attack on Freedom NOW! https://www.amazon.com/Attack-Freedom-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B01N5WU1LE

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