Playing with Fire

( 20 )

Overview

Welcome to Sweet Pepper, Tennessee. Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, it’s home to the hottest and sweetest peppers in the world—as well as at least one ghost and a hotbed of secrets…
 
GETTING WARMER
 
Fire Chief Stella Griffin is working to solve the mysterious death of her predecessor, Eric...

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Playing with Fire

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Overview

Welcome to Sweet Pepper, Tennessee. Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, it’s home to the hottest and sweetest peppers in the world—as well as at least one ghost and a hotbed of secrets…
 
GETTING WARMER
 
Fire Chief Stella Griffin is working to solve the mysterious death of her predecessor, Eric Gamlyn—who also haunts her cabin. Yet the more she learns, the more burning questions she must answer. Just as Stella thinks she has a lead from Deputy Chum, someone snuffs her hopes—and the lawman.
 
Adding fuel to the fire, Stella’s parents soon arrive—with her ex-boyfriend—hoping to persuade her to return to Chicago. Now Stella is torn between the life she left behind and uncovering what happened to her ghostly friend. But she’d better think fast or more than her investigation could go up in flames…

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
Praise for That Old Flame of Mine
 
“A well-crafted mystery that will keep you guessing until the smoke clears.”—Kari Lee Townsend, national bestselling author of the Fortune Teller Mysteries
 
“Dark family secrets, a delicious mystery—and a ghost! What reader could ask for more?”—Casey Daniels, author of the Pepper Martin Mysteries

“So difficult for me to put down, and even more difficult for me to have it end.”—Cozy Mystery Reviews

“A sizzling good mystery series.”—Lesa’s Book Critiques

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425252451
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/7/2014
  • Series: A Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Series , #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 155,996
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

J. J. Cook is a pseudonym for a married couple who writes mysteries, mostly set in the South, with a touch of paranormal and romance. Playing with Fire is the second Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 20 )
Rating Distribution

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(18)

4 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 7, 2014

    Playing with Fire by J.J. Cook The second Sweet Pepper Fire Brig

    Playing with Fire by J.J. Cook
    The second Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery

    Come back to Sweet Pepper, Tennessee with Playing with Fire, by J.J. Cook. There’s a lot going on in this, the second Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery. Everyone is wondering when Stella is going to leave Tennessee and return to Chicago, including Stella. Now that it’s known that Eric was indeed murdered, Stella feels she should stay to attempt to figure out what actually happened, shouldn’t she? She’s also growing attached to the town…and her ghost is growing attached to her. To add to the quagmire her parents have come to town, bringing along her philandering ex-boyfriend. When another murder occurs it seems it must be related to the former fire chief’s murder. Is it?

    I love this series and I was just as pleased with this book as I was with its predecessor. I love the fact that Eric can actually cook, actually physically prepare food and that he does so when stressed. I also appreciate the fact that he’s developing feelings for Stella and I’m wondering if she will begin to reciprocate. And what can happen if she does. I know that there can be ghostly happily ever afters in romance novels…but this is a mystery. Still, I’m quite enjoying the romantic aspect…especially Eric’s reaction to Doug! But never fear, to those of you who prefer not to get sidetracked by romance and the paranormal in your mysteries there is a good solid mystery story here. More than one actually.

    I was more than pleased to be back in Sweet Pepper, Tennessee and highly recommend this book. The author deftly weaves mysteries, both new and old, with a glimpse of romance, a touch of the paranormal, and a pleasant dose of humor.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2014

    Playing With Fire is the second book in the A Sweet Pepper Fire

    Playing With Fire is the second book in the A Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery series. There is also an e-book novella titled Hero's Journey which gives a great overview of the characters in the series and let's Hero' the Dalmatian come to the front.

    The story starts with a phone call from Stella's parents wanting to know when she is coming back home. Stella still has mixed emotions about leaving Sweet Pepper until she has found out exactly what that night that Eric Gamlyn died and ended up being buried in a wall at the fire station. Retired Deputy Crum wants meet with Stella to share some information pertaining to that night. After meeting with Stella, as he is heading to join his wife, he is shot and killed. Stella now knows that she is on the path and continues to pursue her leads. Things start to be clearer once Gamlyn's casket is exhumed and it is finally learned who was buried in Gamlyn's casket.

    To add to this problem, Stella's parents and former boyfriend arrive to try and convince her to pack up and return to Chicago with them. While in Sweet Pepper, Stella's mom, Barbara, does have an amiable meeting with her father

    Looking forward to the next book to see what will be happening with Stella's life next.

    Recipes are also included with the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2014

    Stella Griffin has a good job (even if it is temporary), a nice

    Stella Griffin has a good job (even if it is temporary), a nice cabin to live in (even if it is haunted), and a nice dog (Hero). She is the chief of the Sweet Pepper
    Fire Brigade and is responsible for organizing all the volunteers into a n efficient group of firefighters. She is also concerned and working on solving the death of her favorite ghost, Eric, the former fire chief and her current roommate at the cabin. She knows that she either needs to return to Chicago, or lose her job there, but she's not ready to leave without answers and solving Eric's sudden death. When retired Deputy Chum comes to talk to her about the night Eric died, he gives her more information, but then he is apparently the victim of a traffic accident.

    However, things really heat up when her parents and ex-boyfriend Doug come to town to convince her to return to Chicago. What is Stella going to do?

    I really like this series. Stella is a capable, confident fire chief with an unusual group of volunteers who are shaping up into a good team. Hero, the puppy is just precious. The small-town gossip mill is spot-on. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 31, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    If I haven't told you before, I'll tell you now, every book that

    If I haven't told you before, I'll tell you now, every book that the Lavenes (J.J. Cook) write is better than the one before. Their talent for story telling amazes me with every book they write. 
    Stella's parents, from Chicago, turn up in Sweet Pepper, TN. hoping to convince Stella that she needs to return home with them. They also brought Stella's cheating ex-fiance with them, (now why did they think that would help their case?). The last thing Stella wants is to be stuck entertaining dear old Doug for any length of time. Stella knows that she should go back to Chicago and resume her life there, but just can't seem to force herself to leave.
    What might the murder of newly retired police officer, Mace Chum, have in common with a 40 year old cold case involving Fire Chief Eric Gamlyn? Stella is pulled deeper and deeper into Eric's murder, especailly as she shares a cabin with his ghost.  She had moved to Sweet Pepper a year ago, planning to stay for just a few months until she had trained a volunteer fire department there, now she won't leave until she feels that Eric will be left in peace.  
    As always the Lavenes (J.J. Cook) leave us with just the right ending, to keep us all on the edge of our chairs, waiting for the next book. I love the fact that they place strong, inspiring women into roles that are not main stream for them. From Sheriff Sharyn Howard, in the mysteries of the same name, to Fire Chief Stella Griffin, in this series, any young lady who patterened themselves after one of these heroines, would have a step up in life. I have and will continue to urge my granddaughters to read the books by the Lavenes, and even if they absorb just a small piece of these women, I will be content.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2014

    Well Done

    I have enjoyed the 1st 2 books in this series. The characters are engaging, the plots are interesting, and the cliffhangers at the end of each book were very well done.

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  • Posted April 4, 2014

    I should have waited longer to read this book. What a cliff hang

    I should have waited longer to read this book. What a cliff hanger it ended with! How long before the next book comes out? I love this series!

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  • Posted February 28, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Playing with Fire is One Hot Read Playing with Fire By: J.J. Co

    Playing with Fire is One Hot Read

    Playing with Fire
    By: J.J. Cook
    Copyright: January 2014
    Publisher: Berkeley Prime Crime
    GETTING WARMER

    Fire Chief Stella Griffin is working to solve the mysterious death of her predecessor, Eric Gamlyn—who also haunts her cabin. Yet the more she learns, the more burning questions she must answer. Just as Stella thinks she has a lead from Deputy Chum, someone snuffs her hopes—and the lawman.

    Adding fuel to the fire, Stella’s parents soon arrive—with her ex-boyfriend—hoping to persuade her to return to Chicago. Now Stella is torn between the life she left behind and uncovering what happened to her ghostly friend. But she’d better think fast or more than her investigation could go up in flames.

    Stella is being pulled from all sides. She needs to find out who murdered her predecessor and keep her parents at bay at the same time. A retiring deputy visiting her with information he’d kept quiet about for years, exhuming the old chief’s body to find out who’s buried in the grave, and deciding whether to go back to Chicago are all weighing heavily on her. On top of that her parents show up with her ex in tow to bring her home is really putting the cherry on top.
    This second book in the Sweet Pepper series is bringing a lot of the storyline together in one book. I read this book with a sense of wonder and joy and pieces started to fall into place and the author’s talent takes us on a magical journey. I highly recommend this series to all lovers of cozies with a touch of the supernatural.

    FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author who only requested that I write a fair and honest review.

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  • Posted February 6, 2014

    The small town of Sweet Pepper has just gotten started with a ne

    The small town of Sweet Pepper has just gotten started with a new fire brigade.  The town's millionaire, has recruited his granddaughter, Stella,  to restart the fire department in their town in the first book in this series--THAT OLD FLAME OF MINE.  Suspicions abound about Grandpa, who is rumored to have murdered his first wife.  But Stella, a fire woman from Chicago, has done a great job and things are running rather smoothly.  




     Now Stella's parents want her to return to Chicago, and have come down to bring her home, but Stella is caught up in a mystery of her own.  The hunky original fire chief, Eric,  from years ago, is haunting her cabin.  His bones were found buried in the wall of the old firehouse.  So who is in his grave and what happened to him?  Though he's a ghost and confined to the cabin, he and Stella have a "sparking" relationship.  He's also a ghost who loves to cook even though he doesn't eat anything himself.  Stella finds herself caught up in finding answers when another fireman from Eric's time confesses something to Stella which gets him murdered.  So will Stella return home, or is she finding life in small town, Sweet Pepper, to be spicing her life too much to leave. 




    This is an extremely fun and original cozy series.  Facts about fireman's' lives and duties are very informative.  A couple of Dalmatian dogs keep life interesting.  The recipes and fun surrounding the pepper farming and festivals fires up my digestive juices--who doesn't like spicy foods?  The characters are terrific, with banter and conflicts that draw you right into their lives.  This book ends with a cliff hanger that just isn't fair to impatient readers like myself.  Can I pre-order the next book now please!! 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014

    Writing team who never cease to amaze with creative stories. Th

    Writing team who never cease to amaze with creative stories. This is another one guaranteed to become a favorite of mystery fans as well as anyone looking for a good story. Won from on line contest which did not influence my review. Have to admit being big fan of this team and awaiting their next book knowing there will be no disappointment.

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  • Posted January 22, 2014

    i've read both stories written so far in tis new series, and lov

    i've read both stories written so far in tis new series, and love them. well written and a good knowledge of fire-fighting techniques. how could you not like a story about a girl, a ghost, and a dog...oops, make that two dogs. chief stella has a decision to make-to stay in sweet pepper, or return to chicago with her family. first she wants to solve the mystery of the former chief's demise after his bones are found in the wall of the old firehouse, following a fire there. seems as though the story the townspeople believed for forty years isn't true. he didn't die a hero in a fire, he was murdered. strange goings on in tis small town. seems as though somebody doesn't want the truth known. won't spoil the ending for the reader, so i'll stop there. i will say you shouldn't miss this book, the writer will grab your attention early and not let you go. thoroughly enjoyed this story and am waiting for book 3.

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  • Posted January 21, 2014

    Enjoyable Cozy Mystery I received a complimentary copy of this

    Enjoyable Cozy Mystery

    I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review. I rated it 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

    A cozy mystery set in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Playing with Fire, the second book in J.J. Cook’s Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery series, has well developed characters, an interesting mystery and a smidgeon of romance. A well paced plot and lively dialogue kept me turning the pages to discover what was going to happen next. While part of a series, I was able to read and enjoy this book without having read the previous book first.

    Being pulled in several different directions, Fire Chief Stella Griffin needs to decide between staying in Sweet Pepper or returning to her job in Chicago. Staying in Sweet Pepper will allow her to continue investigating the mysterious death of her predecessor Eric Gamlyn, whose ghost shares her temporary home. She’ll also be able to continue training and developing the volunteer fire fighters she’s turned into the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade. If she heads home to Chicago, Eric’s death would remain a mystery and would probably never be solved; especially since the local police don’t seem interested in looking into such an old case.

    Just as Stella begins gathering clues about Eric’s death, and a newly retired cop tells her about what he’s thinks is the motive, Stella’s parents arrive for an unexpected visit. They want Stella to come home and hope they’ll be able to talk her into going back to Chicago with them. The author does a wonderful job developing Stella’s character; she’s smart, strong and independent. She doesn’t like unsolved mysteries, especially when they involve other fire fighters. While she realizes Eric is now a ghost, and that there’s only so much she can do for him, she’s determined to discover what happened forty years ago.

    The secondary characters are also well developed and all of them made a contribution to the story. I especially enjoyed getting to know Eric, who secretly loves Stella even though he knows there relationship can’t go anywhere because after all he’s a ghost. Stella’s parents are fun, clearly love their daughter and want her to do what’s in her best interest. The volunteer fire fighters are also well developed and I enjoyed their interactions with Stella.

    Will Stella uncover the truth behind Eric’s death? Will she stay in Sweet Pepper or return to Chicago? You’ll have to read Playing with Fire to find out. I enjoyed it and look forward to the next book in this series.

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  • Posted January 17, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Another excellent story from these authors. They continue to top

    Another excellent story from these authors. They continue to top themselves and exceed my expectations. They are amazing storytellers.

    This series always touches my heart because Eric Gamlyn makes me think of my dad who was also a fire chief who left this earth too soon. The words that come out of Eric’s mouth, his thoughts, everything he does reminds me of my dad. I wouldn’t doubt my dad still haunts his station as well since firefighting and training firefighters were his life.

    Eric is just one of the wonderful characters in this series. Stella is a strong woman in a profession many people still believe only a man can do. It is awesome to read about a woman fire chief. There are more women entering this field every day so it makes me so happy to see her as a main character in this series. The relationship between Stella and Eric is what makes this story soar.

    Stella’s parents and her ex play a major part in this installment. They are ready for her to come home and Stella faces a huge decision. Can she leave Sweet Pepper and the life she is making for herself there?

    The mystery started in the first book continues and we learn a bit more Stella’s grandfather, Ben Carson. There is a lot of smoke and a bit of fire as we start to untangle the clues to Eric’s death. The reader quickly becomes engaged in trying to solve the mystery right along with Stella and while some questions are answered others remain and the author leaves us with a cliffhanger to boot. I reached the last page and screamed NO!! I need the next book as quick as possible, with red lights and sirens!!!

    Great Job Joyce and Jim!!!

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  • Posted January 17, 2014

    4 STARS I like Playing with Fire. It has strong female charact

    4 STARS

    I like Playing with Fire. It has strong female characters, good suspense never sure who the bad guys are till the end, a ghost who likes to cook, family secrets, Overall a book you don't want to put down. This is the second book of the series.

    Stella Griffin is the Fire Chief for Sweet Pepper, Tennessee. She is from Chicago and came to spend three months setting up the new Fire station. That was last year. Everyone wants to know when she is leaving. Stella wants to find out who killed the old Fire Chief Erik and hid him in old fire station.

    Erik died 40 years ago. Everyone thought he died in a fire before his body was found. He has lived in his old house and Fire Station that he built since he died. Erik has haunted everyone who has tried to live their except Stella. Erika does not remember dying. I am glad I am not on his bad side.

    Small town of Sweet Pepper Tennessee is the setting for the book. Their is one rich millionaire that runs the town. He is blamed for everything. Ben Carson who Stella found out to her surprise is her grandfather.

    The plot has a bunch of twists, humor, that leaves you wanting to find out what happens next. It is interesting all the practice that a volunteer fireman have to do. Since I live in a town that has volunteers too. Makes me appreciate them more.

    Lots of information about Sweet Peppers thrown into too.

    I was given this book and asked to give honest review of it and be part of its blog tour.

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  • Posted January 17, 2014

    Excellent series!

    I have read this series from the beginning and can't wait for each new one. Have gotten a short story ebook as well. Characters are great and love the story line. My parents and sister read this series as well. Keep them coming.

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  • Posted January 13, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    J.J. Cook, aka. Joyce and Jim Lavene bring readers the second bo

    J.J. Cook, aka. Joyce and Jim Lavene bring readers the second book in the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade series, Playing With Fire. This series is about a small town fire house that needed a helping hand. But when Stella Griffin comes to help out she didn't figure on having a ghostly roommate, the former fire chiefs murder to solve, or the unusual town of Sweet Pepper to entice her to stay. Cook does a fantastic job of drawing the ready in and holding on to them. Playing With Fire is as much about a 40 year old murder as it is about a new one that has just occurred. With two mysteries, a ghost and a HERO, this one is hard to put down!

    What I liked:

    The firefighting theme is exceptional. I think service men and women, whether it be Fire, Police, EMT or anything else are heroes from the git go and using that kind of theme in a mystery series is a no-brainer. It adds a human element that grabs the readers attention before they even turn the first page. One of the things that I think these authors do so well, is gauging what readers want to read about. They know the market well and it comes across in everything they write. What better hero than a firefighter? Great idea.

    I also enjoy the fact that the Lavenes are not hesitant to use unusual plot devices and paranormal elements to enhance their stories. This is a very popular theme in writing of any kind these days and I think they use it well here. Eric Gamlyn's ghost is an excellent example of how to do it right. Eric is the victim of a 40-year old murder and he wants justice. The fact that he may be falling for his would be hero certainly complicates matters, but it also adds a romantic edge to the story as well. This may be a cozy mystery but there is something here for many different types of readers from the romantic enthusiast to the paranormal fan.

    My favorite part of this series and book is of course Fire Chief, Stella Griffin. Stella is a strong female character that has a streak of curiosity to rival any feline. The authors are very good at writing unconventional female leads and Stella is no different. The roles of women in the Lavene's books have always interested me. They are not only writing good mysteries but they are also influencing how readers view female role types and showing what women are capable of. That in itself is a good reason to read this series.

    The mystery aspects of the story, as usual are spot on. Readers are not only trying to solve the mystery of Eric's death right along with Stella, but they are also trying to figure out the current murder and how they might be related. There were plenty of suspects and motives to go around and enough twists and turns in the plot to keep readers guessing right til the end. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, until right before the big reveal. The ending was satisfying and left me wanting more. I wouldn't call it a cliffhanger ending, but it will definitely entice readers to come back to Sweet Pepper, TN. for more.

    What I didn't like:

    This one is easy, not a thing. I liked everything about this book. It was a great sophomore effort in the series and gave readers a lot to think about in Eric's murder as well as Chum's. 

    Bottom Line:

    This is shaping up to be a very good series. I like the characters, the paranormal elements, the romantic idea of a ghost falling in love with one of the living and so on and so on. You don't want to miss this one. Playing With Fire is a great addition to the series!

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  • Posted January 4, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Stella Griffin has been Sweet Pepper's Fire Chief for ten months

    Stella Griffin has been Sweet Pepper's Fire Chief for ten months now, and is long overdue to return to her job and family in Chicago. Her parents are pushing her to finally return home, but what exactly is keeping her in Sweet Pepper. Now that the bones of Eric Gamlyn, her ghostly cabin mate, have been found and properly identified, a murder investigation is underway, one that doesn't need Stella's amateur assistance. But she feels an obligation to Eric to help solve his death. And then one of the sheriff's deputies retires and before leaving town gives Stella some startling information about Eric's death. A short time later, his car and body are found at the bottom of a hill. Can Stella solve these murders before she leaves Sweet Pepper forever? Adding to her quandary about returning home, her parents and ex boyfriend show up for a visit and a heart-to-heart chat with her. Life is not easy as Stella combs through old ignored clues and juggles family and friends, all the while contemplating life without Sweet Pepper and Eric. The story keeps the readers attention and offers enough clues and twists so that the outcome is not readily predictable. I am looking forward to the next book in this series.

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  • Posted January 2, 2014

    Playing with Fire by JJ Cook Stella Griffin has been in Sweet Pe

    Playing with Fire by JJ Cook
    Stella Griffin has been in Sweet Pepper for 10 months as temporary Fire Chief. Her three month leave from the fire department in Chicago has long been up. It’s time for her to make a decision to either stay or head back to her life in Chicago. Her parents Sean and Barbara along with her ex boyfriend Doug show up to convince her its time to go come home. Stella is reluctant to leave without solving the forty year old cold case of the murder of Fire Chief Eric. Eric is the resident ghost of the cabin she is living in. He was thought to have died in a fire at the silo but his remains turned up in the wall of the fire station. Who is in Eric’s coffin? With the help of Eric’s friend retired chief of police Walt Fenway they look into the murder.
    Eric may be a ghost but the pranks he plays on Doug are hilarious. I loved his escapades. The author JJ Cook does an outstand job of bringing the characters to life. They have such personality. She did a great job of incorporating Hero, the fire brigade’s adopted Dalmatian puppy from the novella Hero‘s Journey into this book. Playing with Fire earns five stars from me and I hope there is another to soon follow.

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    Posted January 21, 2014

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    Posted February 19, 2014

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    Posted February 14, 2014

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