The 12 Most Popular Books of September

September 30 2021
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Even though September has come and gone, the most popular books of this month are here to stay! If you’re looking for some titles to add to your fall reading list, these are the ones that booklovers haven’t been able to put down.

The Fortnight in September
by R.C. Sherriff

The novel is an explication of a two-week vacation, and I read it slowly, savoring each day, the way you try to do with a vacation, before it slips through your hands. It is both a period piece, set in early twentieth-century England, and a timeless, always-relevant story. While contemporary readers can relate to the swims in the ocean and lying in the sand, they also get to imagine what life was like with bathing dresses and charabancs (which are motor coaches used for sightseeing) and dance halls and evening promenades. Read more of Ethan Joella’s review: A Timeless Classic Celebrating Life’s Simple Pleasures

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The Fortnight in September
R.C. Sherriff

This charming, timeless classic about a family of five setting out on their annual seaside vacation is “the most uplifting, life-affirming novel I can think of...the beautiful dignity to be found in everyday living has rarely been captured more delicately” (Kazuo Ishiguro).

Meet the Stevens family, as they prepare to embark on their yearly holiday to the coast of England. Mr. and Mrs. Stevens first made the trip to Bognor Regis on their honeymoon, and the tradition has continued ever since. They stay in the same guest house and follow the same carefully honed schedule—now accompanied by their three children, twenty-year-old Mary, seventeen-year-old Dick, and little brother Ernie.

Arriving in Bognor they head to Seaview, the guesthouse where they stay every year. It’s a bit shabbier than it once was—the landlord has died and his wife is struggling as the number of guests dwindles every year. But the family finds bliss in booking a slightly bigger cabana, with a balcony, and in their rediscovery of the familiar places they visit every year.

Mr. Stevens goes on his annual walk across the downs, reflecting on his life, his worries and disappointments, and returns refreshed. Mrs. Stevens treasures an hour spent sitting alone with her medicinal glass of port. Mary has her first small taste of romance. And Dick pulls himself out of the malaise he’s sunk into since graduation, resolving to work towards a new career. The Stevenses savor every moment of their holiday, aware that things may not be the same next year.

Delightfully nostalgic and soothing, The Fortnight in September is an extraordinary novel about ordinary people enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

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The Night She Disappeared
by Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell, the queen of suspense writing, is back with another perfect book club pick. THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED begins on a beautiful summer evening in an English suburb when a young couple disappears after a night-long party. Flash-forward exactly one year, when a writer moves into a cottage in town. After stumbling upon an ominous note in her garden that reads, “Dig Here,” she wonders if this mysterious message could be a vital clue to uncovering what happened to Tallulah and Zach on that fateful night. Read more of Book Club Favorites: 8 Autumnal Picks to Discuss with Cider Nearby

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The Night She Disappeared
Lisa Jewell

“I love all Lisa’s books, but The Night She Disappeared is her best thriller yet.” —Harlan Coben, New York Times bestselling author of Win

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and The Family Upstairs comes another riveting work of “gloriously twisted” (Marie Claire) psychological suspense about a web of people whose lives are forever changed in the wake of a young couple’s disappearance.

On a beautiful summer night in a charming English suburb, a young woman and her boyfriend disappear after partying at the massive country estate of a new college friend.

One year later, a writer moves into a cottage on the edge of the woods that border the same estate. Known locally as the Dark Place, the dense forest is the writer’s favorite area for long walks and it’s on one such walk that she stumbles upon a mysterious note that simply reads, “DIG HERE.”

Could this be a clue towards what has happened to the missing young couple? And what exactly is buried in this haunted ground?

With her signature “rich, dark, and intricately twisted” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Lisa Jewell has crafted a dazzling work of suspense that will keep on the edge of your seat until the final page.

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The Last Garden in England
by Julia Kelly

In present-day England, Emma is thrilled when she is hired to restore the Highbury House estate’s famed gardens, which were originally designed by her hero Venetia Smith. In 1907, Venetia Smith is determined to make the Highbury House gardens the triumph of her career but is unprepared for how the people she meets there will change her life. Finally, in 1944, as the war draws nearer, three dissimilar women find themselves bonded together at Highbury House by a secret that will last generations. Read more of New in Paperback: 9 September Releases We Need ASAP

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The Last Garden in England
Julia Kelly

From the author of the international bestsellers The Light Over London and The Whispers of War comes “a compelling read, filled with lovable characters and an alluring twist of fates” (Ellen Keith, author of The Dutch Wife) about five women living across three different times whose lives are all connected by one very special garden.

Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden.

1907: A talented artist with a growing reputation for her work, Venetia Smith has carved out a niche for herself as a garden designer to industrialists, solicitors, and bankers looking to show off their wealth with sumptuous country houses. When she is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House, she is determined to make them a triumph, but the gardens—and the people she meets—promise to change her life forever.

1944: When land girl Beth Pedley arrives at a farm on the outskirts of the village of Highbury, all she wants is to find a place she can call home. Cook Stella Adderton, on the other hand, is desperate to leave Highbury House to pursue her own dreams. And widow Diana Symonds, the mistress of the grand house, is anxiously trying to cling to her pre-war life now that her home has been requisitioned and transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. But when war threatens Highbury House’s treasured gardens, these three very different women are drawn together by a secret that will last for decades.

“Gorgeously written and rooted in meticulous period detail, this novel is vibrant as it is stirring. Fans of historical fiction will fall in love with The Last Garden in England” (Roxanne Veletzos, author of The Girl They Left Behind).

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Three Apples Fell from the Sky
by Narine Abgaryan

An unforgettable debut, translated from Russian, Narine Abgaryan’s THREE APPLES FELL FROM THE SKY is the tale of a tiny Armenian mountain village on what appears to be the decline. Suffering from recent disasters, the town has a dwindling population of which Anatolia, at the age of fifty-eight, is the youngest living inhabitant—for now. Utterly convinced that she’s dying, Anatolia is prepared to leave behind the physical world, that is until she’s interrupted by a surprise proposal from the town’s widowed blacksmith. As she miraculously recovers, the town begins to experience even more unusual, even supernatural occurrences, deftly described by Anatolia as she watches the town become reborn into a thriving, loving community. Filled with friendships and romantic relationships, THREE APPLES FEEL FROM THE SKY invites you to join this unforgettable Armenian village as it embraces its magical connections and rich tradition of folklore. Read more of 10 Books with Characters Who Feel Like Family by the End

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Three Apples Fell from the Sky
Narine Abgaryan

An unforgettable story of friendship and feuds in a remote Armenian mountain village

In an isolated village high in the Armenian mountains, a close-knit community bickers, gossips and laughs. Their only connection to the outside world is an ancient telegraph wire and a perilous mountain road that even goats struggle to navigate.

As they go about their daily lives – harvesting crops, making baklava, tidying houses – the villagers sustain one another through good times and bad. But sometimes all it takes is a spark of romance to turn life on its head, and a plot to bring two of Maran's most stubbornly single residents together soon gives the village something new to gossip about...

Three Apples Fell from the Sky is an enchanting fable that brilliantly captures the idiosyncrasy of a small community. Sparkling with sumptuous imagery and warm humour, this is a vibrant tale of resilience, bravery and the miracle of everyday friendship.

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The Scribe of Siena
by Melodie Winawer

Readers of Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLAND and Tracy Chevalier’s GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING will especially enjoy the captivating story of a brilliant woman’s passionate affair with a time and a place that captures her in an impossibly romantic and dangerous trap—testing the strength of fate and the bonds of love. Accomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato welcomes the unexpected trip to the Tuscan city of Siena to resolve her deceased brother’s estate, even as she wrestles with grief. But as she delves deeper into her brother’s affairs, she discovers a 700-year-old conspiracy to decimate the city. As Beatrice explores the evidence further, she uncovers the journal and paintings of the fourteenth-century artist Gabriele Accorsi. And, after discovering a startling image of her own face, she is suddenly transported to the year 1347. As the Plague and the ruthless hands behind its trajectory threaten not only her survival but also Siena’s very existence, Beatrice must decide in which century she belongs. Read more of September eBook Deals: 10 Entertaining Reads for Your Digital Library

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The Scribe of Siena
Melodie Winawer

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Cloud Cuckoo Land
by Anthony Doerr

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE comes a beautiful and redemptive novel. CLOUD CUCKOO LAND is told from several different time periods: fifteenth-century Constantinople; a small town in present-day Idaho; and on an interstellar spaceship decades from now. This is a triumphant tale about children on the cusp of adulthood who find resilience, hope, and magic within a book. In the story, Anthony Doerr, in beautiful prose, contemplates our vast interconnectedness with different species and the legacy we will leave long after we’re gone. Read more of Book Club Favorites: 8 Autumnal Picks to Discuss with Cider Nearby

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Cloud Cuckoo Land
Anthony Doerr

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of All the Light We Cannot See, perhaps the most bestselling and beloved literary fiction of our time, comes a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring novel about children on the cusp of adulthood in a broken world, who find resilience, hope, and story.

The heroes of Cloud Cuckoo Land are trying to figure out the world around them: Anna and Omeir, on opposite sides of the formidable city walls during the 1453 siege of Constantinople; teenage idealist Seymour in an attack on a public library in present day Idaho; and Konstance, on an interstellar ship bound for an exoplanet, decades from now. Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders who find resourcefulness and hope in the midst of peril.

An ancient text—the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky—provides solace and mystery to these unforgettable characters. Doerr has created a tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness—with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us and those who will be here after we’re gone.

Dedicated to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come,” Cloud Cuckoo Land is a hauntingly beautiful and redemptive novel about stewardship—of the book, of the Earth, of the human heart.

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Magic Lessons
by Alice Hoffman

I don’t think that it’s a secret that I love PRACTICAL MAGIC and Alice Hoffman. So it should be no surprise that MAGIC LESSONS, the origin story for the Owens’ family curse, has found its way onto this fall feeling list. Set in the 1600s, we finally learn what happened to Maria Owens and the curse that has haunted generations of women since. Maria is taught the “Nameless Arts” by a woman named Hannah Owens. But when she is abandoned by the man she loves, she follows him to Salem and is accused of witchcraft. Hoffman’s approach to magical realism is always stunning, and whether you’re familiar with PRACTICAL MAGIC or not, this book is a treat. Read more of 10 Enchanting Books Crackling with Autumnal Energy

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Magic Lessons
Alice Hoffman

In this “ bewitching” (The New York Times Book Review) novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.

Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Nameless Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.

When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.

Magic Lessons is a “heartbreaking and heart-healing” (BookPage) celebration of life and love and a showcase of Alice Hoffman’s masterful storytelling.

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Lightning Strike
by William Kent Krueger

Love the small-town charm of Louise’s novels? William Kent Krueger’s LIGHTNING STRIKE will plop you down in Aurora, a close-knit community on the shore of Minnesota’s Iron Lake. When twelve-year-old Cork O’Connor stumbles upon the hanging body of a respected community member, his sheriff father launches an investigation into what appears to be a suicide. But Cork suspects otherwise. As you delve into the mystery, you’ll fall in love with these characters while they grow and change in the aftermath of tragedy. Read more of 8 Mystery Novels for Louise Penny Fans to Cozy Up with This Fall

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Lightning Strike
William Kent Krueger

The author of the instant New York Times bestseller This Tender Land returns with a powerful prequel to his acclaimed Cork O’Connor series—a book about fathers and sons, long-simmering conflicts in a small Minnesota town, and the events that echo through youth and shape our lives forever.

Aurora is a small town nestled in the ancient forest alongside the shores of Minnesota’s Iron Lake. In the summer of 1963, it is the whole world to twelve-year-old Cork O’Connor, its rhythms as familiar as his own heartbeat. But when Cork stumbles upon the body of a man he revered hanging from a tree in an abandoned logging camp, it is the first in a series of events that will cause him to question everything he took for granted about his hometown, his family, and himself.

Cork’s father, Liam O’Connor, is Aurora’s sheriff and it is his job to confirm that the man’s death was the result of suicide, as all the evidence suggests. In the shadow of his father’s official investigation, Cork begins to look for answers on his own. Together, father and son face the ultimate test of choosing between what their heads tell them is true and what their hearts know is right.

In this masterful story of a young man and a town on the cusp of change, beloved novelist William Kent Krueger shows that some mysteries can be solved even as others surpass our understanding.

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Plaid and Plagiarism
by Molly MacRae

Get ready to turn your cozy notch up to ten with PLAID AND PLAGIARISM by Molly MacRae. Not only is this book perfect for Louise Penny fans, but its setting during a literature festival in Scotland will appeal to any bibliophile. The heroine, Janet March, faces a series of unexpected circumstances, which lead to the death of a local advice columnist. With help from her friends, Janet works to solve the mystery while trying to open her new bookshop ahead of the famed festival. Read more of 8 Mystery Novels for Louise Penny Fans to Cozy Up with This Fall

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Plaid and Plagiarism
Molly MacRae

A murder in a garden turns the four new owners of Yon Bonnie Books into amateur detectives, in a captivating new cozy mystery novel from Molly MacRae.

Set in the weeks before the annual Inversgail Literature Festival in Scotland, Plaid and Plagiarism begins on a morning shortly after the four women take possession of their bookshop in the Highlands. Unfortunately, the move to Inversgail hasn’t gone as smoothly as they’d planned.

First, Janet Marsh is told she’ll have to wait before moving into her new home. Then she finds out the house has been vandalized. Again. The chief suspect? Una Graham, an advice columnist for the local paper—who’s trying to make a name for herself as an investigative reporter. When Janet and her business partners go looking for clues at the house, they find a body—it’s Una, in the garden shed, with a sickle in her neck. Janet never did like that garden shed.

Who wanted Una dead? After discovering a cache of nasty letters, Janet and her friends are beginning to wonder who didn’t, including Janet’s ex-husband. Surrounded by a cast of characters with whom readers will fall in love, the new owners of Yon Bonnie Books set out to solve Una’s murder so they can get back to business.

A delightful and deadly new novel about recognizing one’s strengths and weakness—while also trying to open a new book shop—Plaid and Plagiarism is the start of an entertaining new Scottish mystery series.

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The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina
by Zoraida Córdova

Drawing many comparisons to Isabel Allende’s writing, THE INHERITANCE OF ORQUÍDEA DIVINA is one of our most anticipated new releases of the fall. When the family’s mysterious matriarch, Orquídea, is close to dying, she gathers her descendants together for what they hope is a revealing reunion. But they’re in for a shock, since she dies before answers about their inheritance are presented. Seven years later her dark legacy—at play behind her odd behaviors and supernatural talents—leaks out, as magical objects and hidden creatures began to appear. The story lines in this enchanting novel alternate between Orquídea’s haunted past, as she travels from Ecuador to her tiny Midwest home of Four Rivers, and the strange occurrences surrounding her descendants’ present, ultimately exploring how our actions reverberate through generations. Read more of 8 Captivating Books to Read This Hispanic Heritage Month

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The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina
Zoraida Córdova

Perfect for fans of Alice Hoffman, Isabel Allende, and Sarah Addison Allen, this is a gorgeously written novel about a family searching for the truth hidden in their past and the power they’ve inherited, from the author of the acclaimed and “giddily exciting” (The New York Times Book Review) Brooklyn Brujas series.

The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers.

Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back.

Alternating between Orquídea’s past and her descendants’ present, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is an enchanting novel about what we knowingly and unknowingly inherit from our ancestors, the ties that bind, and reclaiming your power.

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State of Terror
by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny

What do you get when you pair Louise Penny, a bestselling thriller writer at the top of her game, with former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose decades of government service make her one of the world’s foremost experts on U.S. politics and foreign affairs? You get the whip-smart, scarily feasible novel STATE OF TERROR, about a newly sworn-in White House administration tasked with uncovering and disarming the shadowy, international cabal behind a series of deadly threats to the United States. Something tells me that we may come to this story out of curiosity about its authors but that we’ll stay for the white-knuckle suspense. Read more of Our 16 Most Anticipated New Reads of Fall 2021

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State of Terror
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny

From the #1 bestselling authors Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny comes a novel of unsurpassed thrills and incomparable insider expertise—State of Terror.

After a tumultuous period in American politics, a new administration has just been sworn in, and to everyone’s surprise the president chooses a political enemy for the vital position of secretary of state.

There is no love lost between the president of the United States and Ellen Adams, his new secretary of state. But it’s a canny move on the part of the president. With this appointment, he silences one of his harshest critics, since taking the job means Adams must step down as head of her multinational media conglomerate.

As the new president addresses Congress for the first time, with Secretary Adams in attendance, Anahita Dahir, a young foreign service officer (FSO) on the Pakistan desk at the State Department, receives a baffling text from an anonymous source.

Too late, she realizes the message was a hastily coded warning.

What begins as a series of apparent terrorist attacks is revealed to be the beginning of an international chess game involving the volatile and Byzantine politics of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran; the race to develop nuclear weapons in the region; the Russian mob; a burgeoning rogue terrorist organization; and an American government set back on its heels in the international arena.

As the horrifying scale of the threat becomes clear, Secretary Adams and her team realize it has been carefully planned to take advantage of four years of an American government out of touch with international affairs, out of practice with diplomacy, and out of power in the places where it counts the most.

To defeat such an intricate, carefully constructed conspiracy, it will take the skills of a unique team: a passionate young FSO; a dedicated journalist; and a smart, determined, but as yet untested new secretary of state.

State of Terror is a unique and utterly compelling international thriller cowritten by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 67th secretary of state, and Louise Penny, a multiple award-winning #1 New York Times bestselling novelist.

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City of Flickering Light
by Juliette Fay

It’s July 1921, “flickers” are all the rage, and Irene Van Beck has just declared her own independence by jumping off a moving train to escape her fate in a traveling burlesque show. When her friends, fellow dancer Millie Martin and comedian Henry Weiss, leap after her, the trio finds their way to the bright lights of Hollywood with hopes of making it big in the burgeoning silent film industry. But what begins as a quest for fame and fortune soon becomes a collective search for love, acceptance, and fulfillment as they navigate the backlots and stage sets where the illusions of the silver screen are brought to life. Read more of September eBook Deals: 10 Entertaining Reads for Your Digital Library

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City of Flickering Light
Juliette Fay

Juliette Fay—“one of the best authors of women’s fiction” (Library Journal)—transports us back to the Golden Age of Hollywood and the raucous Roaring Twenties, as three friends struggle to earn their places among the stars of the silent screen—perfect for fans of La La Land and Rules of Civility.

It’s July 1921, “flickers” are all the rage, and Irene Van Beck has just declared her own independence by jumping off a moving train to escape her fate in a traveling burlesque show. When her friends, fellow dancer Millie Martin and comedian Henry Weiss, leap after her, the trio finds their way to the bright lights of Hollywood with hopes of making it big in the burgeoning silent film industry.

At first glance, Hollywood in the 1920s is like no other place on earth—iridescent, scandalous, and utterly exhilarating—and the three friends yearn for a life they could only have dreamed of before. But despite the glamour and seduction of Tinseltown, success doesn’t come easy, and nothing can prepare Irene, Millie, and Henry for the poverty, temptation, and heartbreak that lie ahead. With their ambitions challenged by both the men above them and the prejudice surrounding them, their friendship is the only constant through desperate times, as each struggles to find their true calling in an uncertain world. What begins as a quest for fame and fortune soon becomes a collective search for love, acceptance, and fulfillment as they navigate the backlots and stage sets where the illusions of the silver screen are brought to life.

With her “trademark wit and grace” (Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Murderer’s Daughters), Juliette Fay crafts another radiant and fascinating historical novel as thrilling as the bygone era of Hollywood itself.

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Photo credit: iStock / Natalia Shabasheva

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