Posted on Apr 21st, 2014 by audra
In these categories Society's Bookshelf

Book Title: Dorothy Must Die
Author: Danielle Paige
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Source: Publisher ARC

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still the yellow brick road, though—but even that’s crumbling.

What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I’ve been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart.
Steal the Scarecrow’s brain.
Take the Lion’s courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

It seems that nowadays every fairy tale is getting a facelift in the YA genre and of course we couldn’t leave the world of OZ behind. This is the second Wizard of Oz reimagining I’ve dabbled into and both times I wasn’t too thrilled. Dorothy Must Die takes an interesting twist on Oz lore where Dorothy goes power hungry and has Oz gripped in a terror that would probably make them wish the Wicked Witch was back.

Amy’s been dealt a rough hand in her life. She has to parent her drug addicted mother who wastes away in their Dusty Pines trailer park home. The final straw happens when her mother deserts her for a tornado warning party, leaving Amy all alone while a tornado rips apart her home. Familiarly enough, when she awakens and the storm clears she is in a different place! Where else could that be but Oz!

Of course, Oz is not all it’s cracked up to be. Dorothy is now in control and she’s greedy for all the magical power she can get her grubby little hands on. It’s ruining Oz and its inhabitants and Amy is quickly recruited into an Order hoping to finally kill Dorothy.

Throughout the book Amy is put through multiple trials and tribulations, making her a likeable character who has had to overcome a multitude of obstacles no girl should have to go through. AUTHOR was able to really touch on a variety of worlds and characters within Oz. Dorothy’s henchmen, the Scarecrow, TinMan and Cowardly-no-more Lion are beyond twisted.

I think these messed up versions of Dorothy’s sidekicks are one of my favorite parts of the book and left me wanting more of them. It seemed we didn’t really get exposed to the meet of these guys until the book was halfway over. Of course there will be more books to explore this world but I’m not quite sure if I liked Dorothy Must Die enough to continue on with the series.

Order: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|IndieBound

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Posted on Apr 18th, 2014 by audra
In these categories Book Blitz

Big Fat Disaster
by Beth Fehlbaum

Insecure, shy, and way overweight, Colby hates the limelight as much as her pageant-pretty mom and sisters love it. It’s her life: Dad’s a superstar, running for office on a family values platform. Then suddenly, he ditches his marriage for a younger woman and gets caught stealing money from the campaign. Everyone hates Colby for finding out and blowing the whistle on him. From a mansion, they end up in a poor relative’s trailer, where her mom’s contempt swells right along with Colby’s supersized jeans. Then, a cruel video of Colby half-dressed, made by her cousin Ryan, finds its way onto the internet. Colby plans her own death. A tragic family accident intervenes, and Colby’s role in it seems to paint her as a hero, but she’s only a fraud. Finally, threatened with exposure, Colby must face facts about her selfish mother and her own shame. Harrowing and hopeful, proof that the truth that saves us can come with a fierce and terrible price, Big Fat Disaster is that rare thing, a story that is authentically new.

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About the Author

About The Author

In addition to writing Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Beth Fehlbaum is an experienced English teacher who frequently draws on her experience as an educator to write her books. She has a B.A. in English, Minor in Secondary Education, and an M.Ed. in Reading. She is currently a Library Science student at Sam Houston State University.

Beth is the author of Big Fat Disaster (Merit Press/F+W Media, March 2014); Courage in Patience (Kunati Books, 2008); and Hope in Patience(WestSide Books, 2010). Hope in Patience was named a 2011 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Truth in Patience, which rounds outThe Patience Trilogy, is as yet unpublished. The Patience Trilogy has been revised and is available for acquisition!

Beth has a following in the young adult literature world and also among survivors of sexual abuse because of her work with victims’ advocacy groups. She has been the keynote speaker at the National Crime Victims’ Week Commemoration Ceremony at the Hall of State in Dallas, Texas and a presenter for Greater Texas Community Partners, where she addressed a group of social workers and foster children on the subject of “Hope”.

Beth is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, like Ashley in The Patience Trilogy, and the day-to-day manager of an eating disorder much like Colby’s in Big Fat Disaster. These life experiences give her a unique perspective, and she writes her characters’ stories in a way meant to inspire hope.

Beth lives with her family in the woods of East Texas.
You can find Beth online at http:www.bethfehlbaumbooks.com
on Facebook, and on https://twitter.com/bethfehlbaum.

Posted on Apr 8th, 2014 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

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Book Title: Rebel Belle
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: January 30, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Source: Publisher

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him–and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

I was immediately pulled in from the title of this book alone. As a gal who grew up in what I considered to be the south (okay, Virginia isn’t that much South, but it’s South!) I always loved the southern country culture but never really knew about cotillions until the television show Gilmore Girls. Since then I’ve been kind of enamored with the idea of these, so seeing a book with this definitely piqued my interest. The cover is cute too, a rather perfect shade of pink, a signature strand of pearls, and a knife! Rebel Belle has a cutesy balance between poise, pageantry and violence.

From the first chapter I really loved the narrating and writing style set in Rebel Belle. The words flow so well that I wound up reading it as if I was actually Harper Price. It’s been a while since a book allowed me to become so into it from the character’s voice and I loved it. Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t notice the heavy amount of really cheeseball stuff going on here, because let’s be honest this book reads like a CW television show. This isn’t a bad thing, but I wish I was a little bit more prepared for this.

We’ve got an overachieving wonder girl determined to meet all her goals in life before she graduates High School who is suddenly thrust into this supernatural ass kicking universe where she’s forced to save her practical arch nemesis, David Stark’s, life. I haven’t seen more than a handful Buffy the Vampire Slayer television episodes but I can really see how people think Rebel Belle compares to it. I’m not usually a fan of supernatural books like this, but again it worked. Harper was an incredible character who seems so one sided and it was great to go on her journey in this book to see her change into a strong female role model.

I wasn’t really sold on the hipster school newspaper editor that is David Stark. I had a really hard time accepting their dynamics at first, but then of course fell into the trap of really liking their interactions and wanting more to happen between them. But I still couldn’t get past his dislike of Harper and her hatred of him to really get too deep into it.

The fight scenes were really intense and would play out really well in a TV or movie situation. I actually got way more into them than I thought I would and really became engrossed in some of the supernatural aspects. However, towards the end of the book I started to get a bit disengaged with everything. While I really enjoyed reading from Harper’s point of view, her voice got really irritating. I wouldn’t be able to stand someone like her in real life and that started to rub off on my reading experience. I can’t quite pinpoint where things started to go downhill for me. Overall it was a neat book, but I don’t see myself rushing the shelves when/if a sequel releases.

Order: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|IndieBound

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Posted on Apr 1st, 2014 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

Book Title: Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Ava Dellaira
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

Love Letters to the Dead is a coming of age roller coaster told through Laurel’s letters to the dead. Everyone from Kurt Cobain to Amy Winehouse to long gone poets. See, Laurel’s sister May died and now Laurel gets to navigate high school without her older sister and with a broken family. After May’s death, her mother practically fled their home for a ranch in California. Laurel manages to split her time alternating weeks between her mostly absent father’s home and her religious Jesus loving aunt’s home.

To sum this book up in one word would be raw. As someone who struggles with depression, reading this book allowed me to feel a whole spectrum of emotions. After putting the book down I just sat on my couch, enveloped in the raw emotions I experienced while reading this book. A lot of readers are comparing this book to Perks of Being a Wallflower, and honestly? The last time I felt this way was when I watched that movie.

There are similar themes to Perks, and I was a little surprised to discover that the author was an associate producer on the film. Regardless, this book holds its own and was a young adult masterpiece. The letters Laurel writes range from everyday musings, to deep and haunting, slowly revealing Laurel’s past to the readers. I wasn’t quite sure the letter format would work, and at times it wasn’t entirely believable, as there are things that need to be said to keep the story moving which doesn’t quite make sense for a letter.

We get to travel on Laurel’s journey in her first year of high school along with her. Her attempts to fit in, find friends and still process the grief of her dead sister and absent mother is a lot for one teenager to shoulder at such an important turning point in a young girls life. She also manages to develop a crush on a rather dreamy boy named Sky. He’s aloof and you can’t quite tell what is going on with him, and when you do, things start to fall in place and you start to see more about what happened with not just Laurel, but also Sky.

Love Letters to the Dead covered a wide range of issues, and didn’t force feed the reader like a cheesy after school television special. We see Laurel’s grief affecting every aspect of her life. We see the issues her friend’s are forced to go through too, which I think might have been my favorite scenes in the book. The characters became like friends to me, and I became immensely invested in their story. Truthfully, these characters and this story left a lasting impression on me.

Order: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound

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Posted on Mar 18th, 2014 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

Book Title: Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murphy
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

It’s true that Side Effects May Vary is a fearless book. Alice is a very fearless character, facing a death sentence after her leukemia diagnosis. She spends what she thinks is her last couple of months with her friend Harvey. It becomes a bit tumultuous when her cancer goes into remission and Harvey seems to want more from their friendship than Alice does.

Murphy tackles some really difficult issues through her characters diagnosis and life afterwards and I appreciated how different this book is from a lot of young adult books out there in the world. There isn’t your typical love triangle to get wrapped up in, and instead of pining for the girl to get with the guy, I was pining for her to stop being so horrible to everyone in the book.

I had the exact opposite reaction to this book and the characters than I thought I would. Of course the main character Alice went through a lot dealing with a breakup, cancer, a cheating mother and everything that those things bring with it, but I personally don’t think that excuses any of her really horrific behavior towards her family and Harvey. Especially Harvey. The way she handled her issues towards him made me feel so completely bitter and unsympathetic towards her that I would’t have minded if something horrible happened to her by the end of the book.

Overall Side Effects May Vary paints a much different picture into the life of a teenager dealing with life and illness than I’ve seen in any other young adult book. This might be enjoyable and refreshing to some readers, but I wasn’t able to get past Alice’s character defects, which ultimately is what ruined the reading experience with this book for me.

Order: Amazon|Barnes & Noble

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Posted on Mar 15th, 2014 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

Book Title: Panic
Author: Lauren Oliver
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

As a fan of the Delirium series, I couldn’t wait for the chance to read Lauren Oliver’s latest young adult book Panic. At first, I thought the idea of the Panic reminded me of a small town Hunger Games. Carp, NY is a smaller country town and every summer graduating seniors have the chance to play the risky game where the winner takes all. Heather and Natalie are best friends, yet only Natalie was going to enter Panic. Of course Heather decides to join after her boyfriend starts shacking up with a new girl which leads to some issues not just between the two, but also for Heather.

The game tests not only the contestants but also the residents of Carp. Their events get busted up and even one event leads to a death. Despite this, Heather and Natalie push onwards along with their new friend and somewhat ally Dodge. Everyone has their reasons for playing Panic; the earnings from the game give them more than enough to live it big in their small town. Some want to move on and away from Carp but some want revenge which makes an already dangerous game that much worse.

Panic was an engaging read that I devoured in one day! Oliver’s style of writing flows so well on the page that it is so easy to immerse yourself in the story and characters. I really liked the idea of the game played in the story, but had a difficult time with the idea of the town trying to stop it. I understand the secrecy and wanting to continue, but I would have loved to have seen more of the town’s reaction to the games. In a way, this was shown, but with the narration style it was a bit difficult to show this.

The ending seemed really abrupt to me, but I really loved it. Overall, Oliver really nailed the characters and their voices and I think that is what I enjoyed so much about this book. There were minor twists and shocks which complimented the story so well and really just made for an overall great reading experience. I really loved her Delirium series, but was left a bit disappointed with Requiem, the final book in the series. Panic really made me fall in love with her again, and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

 

Order: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|IndieBound

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Posted on Mar 11th, 2014 by audra
In these categories Society's Bookshelf

Emily’s Heart
by Natalie Wright
Release Date 11.26.13

**The long-awaited final book in this popular magickal, action-packed teen series! Seventeen-year-old Emily Adams unintentionally unleashed a shadow god’s dark energy power into the world and started an Apocalypse. But Emily is also the only one that can end the dark god’s reign. Though the powerful faerie magic of the golden torc is still coiled around her arm, self-doubt threatens to undo her. Emily wants nothing more than to feel the soft kiss of her one true love, but he won’t even speak to her. Her first crush is still quite dead and her best friend remains a prisoner in the dark god’s house of nightmares. A growing legion of black-eyed shadow people, devoid of conscience, roam the streets. Emily needs help now more than ever, but redemption seems far off indeed as she faces the expanding darkness alone. Emily will need an army of her own if she is to save the world from being taken over by pure evil. But will a small band of Lucent geeks and freaks be enough to send the dark god packing? Amidst chaos and ruin, will love blossom in Emily’s Heart?

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Books One & Two in the series.

Book Exerpt: Welcome to the Apocalypse

You shut the door
and dare not look.
You hide from the shadow
that lurks there.

Galloping wildly
in the crevasses of your mind,
it takes up residence
in your grey matter,
content to live
amongst your fears.

Did you see it there,
skulking behind the door?
Did you feel it stalk as
you step into the obsidian night?

Try as you might
to resist its call,
it pulls at you,
both night and day,
like the tide
eating the shore.

Your hope,
like grains of sand.
Pulled inexorably
into the dark sea.

Purchase:

Amazon|Amazon UK|Barnes & Noble|Apple iBooks|Smashwords (*Please use discount code WX85L for 25% off Cover Price!)

About the Author

Natalie is the author of The Akasha Chronicles, a young adult paranormal fantasy trilogy. When not writing, blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, Wattpadding or eating chocolate, Natalie nurtures her young daughter, plays with her two young cats, and feeds her dog too many treats.

Natalie enjoys walking in the high desert, snorkeling in warm waters, travel, and excellent food shared with family and friends. She was raised an Ohio farm girl, now lives in the desert Southwest, and dreams of living in a big city high rise.

Natalie enjoys chatting with readers, so stop by and say hi:

Blog|Twitter|Facebook|Goodreads|YouTube|Wattpad|Pinterest

***GIVEAWAY***

$20 Amazon gift card + winner’s choice of ebook or audiobook of Emily’s Trial (book 2)

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RULES AND RESTRICTIONS:
Contest is void where prohibited. Entrants must be 13 or else have parent or guardian’s permission to enter. Winners will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner’s name will be selected. Winning entries will be verified for authenticity.

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Posted on Feb 26th, 2014 by audra
In these categories Society's Bookshelf, Waiting on Wednesday

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Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine, and gives us a chance to feature a book we’re waiting to read.

I absolutely loved Amy’s debut book Reboot and have been anxiously awaiting a sequel since I finished it!

The sequel to the action-packed Reboot is a can’t-miss thrill ride, perfect for fans of James Patterson, Veronica Roth, and Marie Lu.

After coming back from death as Reboots and being trained by HARC as soldiers, Wren and Callum have finally escaped north, where they hope to find a life of freedom. But when they arrive at the Reboot Reservation, it isn’t what they expected. Under the rule of a bloodthirsty leader, Micah, the Reboots are about to wage an all-out war on the humans. Although Wren’s instincts are telling her to set off into the wilderness on their own and leave the battle far behind, Callum is unwilling to let his human family be murdered. When Micah commits the ultimate betrayal, the choice is made for them. But Micah has also made a fatal mistake . . . he’s underestimated Wren and Callum.

The explosive finale to the Reboot duology is full of riveting action and steamy love scenes as Wren and Callum become rebels against their own kind.

What book are you waiting on this week?

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Posted on Feb 24th, 2014 by audra
In these categories Uncategorized

My protagonist, Victoria Darling, is passionate about drawing the nude figure, it’s her thing, and she doesn’t make apologies for it. In Edwardian-era England drawing the nude something boys can do but not the girls. It was way too scandalous to be in a room with a naked person in it, especially if that naked person was a boy!  But Vicky is that kind of girl who will do whatever it takes to reach her goals.

She also hates to be ignored because she’s “just a girl.” I can relate to Vicky in this because I’ve always hated being told you can’t do this or that because you’re female. In the beginning of the story one of the artists in Vicky’s life drawing class asks Vicky why she hasn’t posed nude. All the male students posed for the class when a model couldn’t be found. Vicky is a feminist, and therefore she won’t accept double standards for men and women, so she does it. And although she gets in trouble, she doesn’t regret it. And she has goals and problems that aren’t just romantic. Although she does has a love interest, he isn’t her whole world, and he isn’t the answer to her problems.

About a Mad, Wicked Folly

The year is 1909. After seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling poses nude for her art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school and shipped back to London to live with her parents. To minimize the scandal Vicky has caused, her parents inform her that she is to marry the young man they have selected for her, Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. She is not to continue painting. Vicky knows little about Edmund but accepts the match, reasoning that she can use his money to pay for tuition at the Royal College of Art.

But things don’t go according to plan. Despite her engagement, Vicky develops an interest in the handsome young police constable William Fletcher, an aspiring novelist who encourages Vicky to pursue her dreams. She goes quickly from seeing Will as an artistic muse to seeing him as much more, all the while knowing that she could never be with a man so far below her class.

When Vicky becomes entangled with a group of suffragettes, she comes to realize that the constraints on her aspirations and independence don’t apply only to her-they apply to all women. But how can she fight for women’s equality and pursue the life that she wants without driving away everyone and everything that she’s known?

About Sharon Biggs Waller:
Sharon Biggs Waller is a novelist and award-winning non-fiction writer who lives on a 10-acre sustainable farm in northwest Indiana with two horses, four dairy goats, four cats, two dogs, and 60 laying hens. She is a dressage trainer who for many years was a Civil Service Club instructor at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace in London.  Visit her at http://sharonbiggswaller.com or on Twitter @Sbiggswaller.

Posted on Feb 19th, 2014 by audra
In these categories Society's Bookshelf, Waiting on Wednesday

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Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine, and gives us a chance to feature a book we’re waiting to read.

I was drawn to this book by the cover and the synopsis really had me wanting to read this!

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

What book are you waiting on this week?

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