ARC Review: Blood Rose Rebellion

Blood Rose Rebellion (Blood Rose Rebellion, #1)

 

Before I started this book, I feared it would be a repeat of nearly every other fantasy book that has come out lately. I wish I could say I was wrong… but I cannot. This felt uneventful and predictable.

Short recap: Anna, a “Barren” girl, follows her grandmother to Hungary. Anna’s family is part of the Luminate, a rich group and powerful throughout society. The society is controlled by “The Circle”, which is an highly elite group of magic-holders. Anna must choose a side in the battle that is about to begin.

This was one of the most boring fantasy stories I have read. It read like historical fiction with a wee bit o’ magic thrown in for fun. I read more about proper edicate of a lady during the time period and how a woman should be courted by a man of wealth than anything about magic or battles. The talk of magic was thrown around like it was a cold to be caught. It was something everyone had yet nobody really wanted. Perhaps it was simply taken for granted. Regardless, the story was dreadfully uneventful. There was no heart stopping moments of, “OH MY GOSH! WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?!” or “GASP!”. Instead, it was about high tea and what dress should be worn for what event. Yawn. The best part of the story itself was the setting. I haven’t read a story set in Hungary so that was interesting, but only partially. I really would have liked the author to expand on the historical impact and what actually lead the story to be set in Hungary other than the MC’s grandmother was from there. Too convenient in my mind. Alas, it did not happen and I was left wondering.

The characters did not feel developed, instead they felt flat and dull. I read no personalities, no flair, no individuality. You could have given every character the same name as they all sounded the same. I struggled to keep everyone straight because they never came alive for me. Anna came across as the most naive and dimwitted character I have read in a long time. She continued to do dumb things and then was shocked when the outcome was not favorable. Surprise, surprise. As such, I was not invested in what she did or what happened to the other characters. This should not come as any surprise but the MC was said to be “a special snowflake” with “special abilities” yet she is “just like everyone else because she doesn’t want to stand out”. Not original at all.

The number one reason I did not like this story: instalove. GAAAAAHHH! I cannot stand instalove! On top of that, Anna goes around kissing every single boy she comes into contact with. How can you tell me Anna has instalove with someone, yet continue to write her flirting and kissing every boy? That does not make sense. This story is set in a time when marriages are arranged for the sake of convenience and money. You cannot expect me to believe Anna behaves the way she does and it is okay when her sister is practically in an arranged marriage for money. That caused me to lose all faith in all aspects of this story. There was zero chemistry and I quickly lost interest in who she was flittering after next. I actually lost all interest in characters and the story but refused to DNF because I really didn’t want to DNF an ARC.

After forcing my way through this terrible story, I wish I had swallowed my pride and put this book down. This was such an unoriginal mashup of every other fantasy story that has been released. The characters were bland, the world building was lackluster, but the only thing that was slightly intriguing about this was the setting, which is why I gave this 2 stars and not 1.5. That was not enough to save this story. I know I will not be picking up the next book in this series.

 

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ARC Audio Review: A Crown of Wishes

A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen, #2)

**Huge Thank You to the publisher for providing me with an audio version of the book to review!**

 

I struggled with the first book in this series but really wanted to give the second book a try. This was a beautifully created world, but I don’t feel it was enough to hold my interest. It was not enough for me to like this story to give it more than 3 stars.

Gauri is the princess of Bharata and is a prisoner of war, captured by her kingdom’s enemies. She has so few choices on who to trust and questions everything when she has to trust the prince from another land, Vikram. This unlikely pair teams up to enter the Tournament of Wishes, where the winner will be granted one wish. Can these two work together to make it out alive? Or will what they desire most get the better of them?

When I finished Star-Touched Queen, I was underwhelmed and lost. Still, I promised myself I would give the sequel a chance. I did and yet I could still not get into this story. The writing is breath-taking but it was too…. flowery? Too showy? Too much? Whatever term I want to use, I use it because the wording covered up the actual plot of the story. I was again lost in the words and confused by what was going on. I couldn’t follow what was happening. I know for a fact there is an amazing story within the words of this book, but I couldn’t find it. I felt overwhelmed by the overuse of descriptive terms to explain the simplest items and/or tasks. It felt like too much.

Even though I was lost in the overall story, I did enjoy the characters this time around. Gauri and Vikram were very well done. Gauri came across spunky and fearless, while Vikram was steadfast and headstrong. These two together were a force to be reckoned with. The banter and chemistry between them was what I enjoyed most. I dare say I liked them better than Maya and Amar.

Even though my review has been rather ho-hum and almost repetitive of the first Roshani book, I still gave this story 3 stars. Why? I cannot deny how beautiful the writing is. I cannot get over how effortlessly the words come off the pages. However, the writing felt verbose. The overuse of words to describe something that should have been simple caused my mind to check out. I quickly found myself not excited to read the next page or the next chapter. I was not invested in the characters, their romances, or their journeys. I kick myself for not being able to love these stories the way everyone else does, but then again, not every book is meant for every reader.

I adore Roshani as an author and will forever support her, but this particular book series just is not for me. I know she will be a powerhouse of an author and will be around for a very long time. I’m so thrilled for her and wish her nothing but success as she continues to write novels. I will say that I will give her next book/series a chance, but I cannot read any more within this series itself. While I did not enjoy TSTQ that much, I hope people give this book a chance. I believe the characters are better and are more enjoyable to read.

 

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ILLUMINAE Paperback Blog Tour & Review

ILLUMINAE

www.rockstarbooktours.com

Illuminae paperback

 

Title: ILLUMINAE

Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Pub. Date: April 25, 2017

Publisher: Ember

Pages: 624

Formats: Paperback

Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads

 

 

 

It certainly filled the Battlestar Galactica-shaped hole in my heart.- –Victoria Aveyard, bestselling author of The Red Queen

Read the New York Times bestselling blockbuster that critics are calling -out-of-this-world awesome.- The first in an epic sci-fi series unlike anything else out there.

Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents–including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more–Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Brace yourself, because you’re about to be immersed in a mindscape that you’ll never want to leave.- –Marie Lu, author of the bestselling Legend series


Prepare yourselves for Illuminae.- –EW.com


You’re not in for an ordinary novel experience. . . .- –Bustle.com


A truly interactive experience. . . . A fantastically fun ride.- –MTV.com

 

Don’t miss the rest of the series!

The Illuminae Files_02: GEMINA

The Illuminae Files_03 — OBSIDIO

 

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My Original Review:

https://agingerlyreview.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/review-illuminae/

How does one properly review this KICK ASS book? HOW?

Let me make this brief: The illegal Kerenza colony is attached by BeiTech and two teens, Kady and Ezra, find themselves in serious danger while fighting to stay alive. They are aboard a spaceship that is supposed to take them to safety, but they end up trying to outrun the Lincoln, a BeiTech spaceship that is clearly set on destroying them. As if that wasn’t enough, the main ship’s AI system becomes damaged and becomes… deranged. Crazy, if you will. But just to add a cherry to the top of this sundae, while trying to outrun an enemy space ship and outwit the current ship’s crazy AI system, there is a deadly plague aboard the ship that threatens to whip out all human life. No pressure, right?

THIS. BOOK. This book blew my freaking mind. GONE. *POOF* It is a 600 page book that I tore through in no time. It is so action packed and suspenseful that you cannot put it down. It is told in such a unique way that the reader (YOU) have to keep going. It is told through emails, chat logs, memos, transcripted video surveillance, official debreifs, and more. It is so completely originally told that it actually makes the story better. (PSSST: there are even sections told from the AI’s POV!)

I cannot even start to talk about development of characters because Ezra and Kady simply do what needs to be done. They are two kickass, badass characters that bite the bullet and throw themselves totally in harm’s way to try to save everyone. It does not take long to get to know the characters when the book starts and soon you feel as if you are on the ship with them. You truly feel as if you are taking the journey with these two and it is mind blowing. So many twists and turns that will keep you guessing!

The way the pages are presented are what helps set this book apart from the rest of sci-fi books. As I mentioned, most of the story is told from files, emails, IMs, etc. But some of the pages are maps of pilot’s flight journeys, or pictures written in ASCII (google that if you don’t know what it is… it’s so cool!), or text looped over the pages to represent when the AI was talking. My words are not doing this justice but I hope you can sense the passion I trying to express. It is amazing beyond what I am able to properly convey.

I do not believe there are enough descriptive and good words in the English language to properly describe how much I loved this book (or maybe I lack the right words). This book is so full of everything unique, awesome, and edgy that when you finish, you sit the book down and let out a single whisper: “wow”. The authors took a risk with this book and it paid off a million times over because it was done perfectly. All of the stars in the sky are given to this book because it is amazing and everything else positive that I am not able to say.

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About Amie & Jay: 

Illuminae Author Photos credit Christopher Tovo

Amie Kaufman is the New York Times bestselling co-author of These Broken Stars and This Shattered World, and Illuminae, the first in a new series starting in 2015. She writes science fiction and fantasy for teens, and her favourite procrastination techniques involve chocolate, baking, sailing, excellent books and TV, plotting and executing overseas travel, and napping.

She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, their rescue dog, and her considerable library. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Jay Kristoff is the award-winning author of THE LOTUS WAR trilogy, a Japanese-inspired steampunk fantasy. Part 3, ENDSINGER, is out now. He’s also co-author of the upcoming ILLUMINAE (with Amie Kaufman), a YA Sci-Fi… thing, to be released by Knopf/Random House in 2015, and NEVERNIGHT, the first part of a new fantasy trilogy kicking off in 2016.

Jay is 6’7 and has approximately 13380 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

He does not believe in happy endings.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a paperback of ILLUMINAE, US Only.

 

Rafflecopter Embed Code:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rafflecopter Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/ZTIzODliYTI4ZTEzMGVjODBhNzA2MmFmMTU3YWM3OjU3NA==/?

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Tour Schedule:

Week One:

4/24/2017- A Gingerly Review– Re-Post-Review

4/25/2017- Adventures of a Book Junkie– Interview

4/26/2017- Mary Had a Little Book Blog–  Blogger Content

4/27/2017- YA and Wine– Review

4/28/2017-Such a Novel Idea– Review

Week Two:

5/1/2017- YA Bibliophile– Interview

5/2/2017- Owl Always Be Reading– Re-Post-Review

5/3/2017- Book Briefs– Review

5/4/2017- BookHounds YA– Re-Post Review or Blogger Content

5/5/2017- Novel Novice Interview

Week Three:

5/8/2017- Page Turners Blog– Re-Post Review or Blogger Content

5/9/2017- YA Books Central Interview

5/10/2017- Lisa Loves Literature– Review

5/11/2017- Two Chicks on Books Interview

5/12/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Re-Post Review or Blogger Content

 

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Review: The Star-Touched Queen

The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen, #1)

 

I was nervous to start this and for good reason: The. Hype. The hype around this book is intense. Sadly, after completing this one I realized I did not enjoy it as much as everyone else. It is beautifully written but I was lost the entire time.

Short recap: Maya is cursed and fights the horoscope prediction that says only bad things will come her way. She is quickly married to a stranger, Akaran. Life with him is not what she expected but he has his secrets of his own.

I wanted to love this book so hard. I wanted to be like many of the other readers and be swept away in the brilliant writing and magical story. That did not happen for me and it wasn’t for a lack of trying. I finished this book hoping it would have found a place in my heart but all I got was confusion. I think I know why: too much was going on. The writing style is gorgeous in a way that there doesn’t seem to be a strong enough word. Yet, I didn’t know where to focus my attention. There really was so much going on that I felt like I got lost in the details. I know there is a wonderful plot amongst all of those pretty words, but I never really found it. The world building was so heavy and full that once the story got rolling, I wasn’t invested enough in the characters to know or care what was happening to them. I did not feel anything towards Maya or her cause. I wanted more from her as a protagonist. I felt she was simply filling the role but not really adding to it. There was a case of instalove in this story and that nearly caused me to stop cold turkey. I did soldier on and I finished but it was not easy.

The pacing of the story itself was not consistent. The first half felt rather slow and as a result, I fumbled at keeping up with what was going on. I kept stopping to go back and re-read what I just read so I could make sense of it all. I just never felt the hook or the draw to make me invested in the overall story. This is the perfect example of why I shy away from high fantasy books: fear of getting lost in the story and not knowing what is happening.

This is still a very sought after story and everyone is dying to read it…so I am willing to give the second book a chance. Maybe I just did not jive with the first and the second will be my kindred spirit. I won’t know until I try. The sequel is from another character’s POV so maybe it will finally set its hooks into me.

 

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Black Sheep Review: The Upside of Unrequited

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The Upside of Unrequited

 

Prepare yourself: this will be a black sheep review. This just did not work for me. From the moment this story started, I knew it would not be one I would enjoy. I didn’t DNF but I struggled and rolled my eyes a lot.

Short recap: Molly is a seventeen year old girl that has had 26 crushes but never been kissed by a boy. She is afraid of rejection so she chooses to crush on a boy from afar. Things change when she starts a job and meets a boy.

I enjoyed Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda so I expected more of the same great writing with Albertalli’s new book. I don’t feel any of these characters possessed the same charm or charisma as the characters from Simon & Co. The characters’ lack of development was only half of the problem. The other half was the actual plot. I’ll get to that in a moment. I felt nothing for any character in this story. Not a thing. They felt super shallow, self centered, and void of personality. I did not like the protagonist, Molly, at all. I never believed her plight. Actually, here is a list of items that bothered me the most about her:

  • She acted like a very emotionally stunted 17 year old. She came across as an 11 year old girl discovering boys for the first time.
  • She is obsessed with finding a boy. AND she is obsessed with losing her V-Card to a boy. SLOW YOUR ROLL, SISTER. You shouldn’t give that away to just anyone simply because everyone, including your twin, is having sex. (The first boy she kisses she immediately takes to her bed and acts like she wants to do the deed. Whoa.)
  • She is also a voyeur that creepily watches her twin making out with other girls. Um… what?
  • She constantly, and I do mean constantly, refers to her physical size in the most negative way possible but then chooses to do nothing about it. (Ignore for a moment that the author never described what Molly looks like. If she did I missed it. All I know about Molly’s is that she’s a bigger sized girl.) She does defend herself when a jerk makes a weird comment, but is always worried a boy will not like her because of her size. I get that, but I just don’t feel that topic was written properly in this story.
  • She also reminds everyone that she is on Zoloft but it is never explained why. Does it matter? Not that I could tell. It felt like it didn’t have an impact on the overall story but it was constantly talked about.
  • She was wishy-washy with her feelings throughout the entire book.

I felt Molly was the most developed character in this book but I still knew nothing of who she was. I knew she was crafty and liked Pintrest. What about her likes and dislikes? What was she truly passionate about? I could not tell you that because all I knew was that she was obsessed with her crushes and she had never been kissed.

The supporting characters were not done well either. Every girl in this story was seventeen or eighteen and sleeping around. They were constantly bragging to the other girls about it. I get that teens are having sex and it is going to happen but I don’t feel it was delivered well in this story. I wanted to like the moms in this story but I felt they were trying too hard to be the “hip and cool” moms.

The plot itself did not speak to me. I read this story as an insecure virgin that longed to be kissed. Molly always talked about everyone’s physical appearance. She always referred to them as “cute” or “hot”and then she would compare herself to them. That is not healthy. Nor is it healthy that she didn’t feel she was good enough for anyone until she found a boy that liked her. I’m a strong enough female to know that I don’t need anyone to validate me and I wish that would have been more of the topic, but it wasn’t. Instead, we are given teenager Molly, with her lack of self worth, not feeling like she is good enough until a boy likes her.

I was hoping for so much more with this story. I wanted this to be a different kind of story. I always try to figure out how the title of a book gets worked into the overall story and I still don’t see it with this one. I did not feel any unrequited love in this story because Molly never told any of her crushes how she felt. So how can it be unrequited then? Molly never put herself out there to be rejected so the title felt misleading. Yes, Albertalli focused on Molly’s coping techniques for her insecurities, but that didn’t circle back to the title in any way. I did like the diversity within the story. There were topics of race, religion, gender identity, body size, and some mental health but it just was not enough to save this story.

I’m not sorry I read this as I liked the author’s first book, but I just did not jive with the overall story. I’m okay being the black sheep as I not every book is going to hit a homerun with every reader.

 

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Review: Just Fly Away

Just Fly Away

 

I enjoyed this story more than I thought I would. Reading a male author writing from the POV of a female protagonist was something I had to experience.

Fifteen year old Lucy had her entire world turned upside down when she discovers that her dad had an affair and fathered an eight year old son. Both of her parents are still together and both knew of the child, they just never clued Lucy into the fact that she had a step-brother. Lucy digs and discovers that the woman and her son (her step brother) live only a few blocks away. Unable to ignore her curiosity, Lucy spends time at the park across the street from the boy’s house and soon befriends him. The more time she sits watching this boy, the more furious she becomes. She is furious at her father cheating, she is furious at her parents not telling her (and her sister) what happened, she is furious that everyone is acting like this isn’t a big deal. Lucy wants nothing more than to return to “happier times” where it was just her, her sister, and their parents. Unable to process the flood of emotions, in a fit of rage Lucy runs away to the only safe haven she knows – her grandfather’s home many states away. This starts a chain of events that causes everyone to rethink how they treat people in their lives, how their decisions affect others, and just how important family is.

I did not absolutely love this story, but I did enjoy it. The further into the story I got, the more it grew on me. I struggled with Lucy’s knee-jerk reactions to everything, but had to remind myself she was fifteen. I don’t know a lot of fifteen year old girls that don’t fly off the handle and make rash decisions.  I certainly couldn’t fault her for reacting the way she did, I only wish she had chose a less dramatic way to handle the way she was feeling. Running away in the middle of the night and not telling anyone really was a ballsy move. Now I’m not saying it was a good idea, I’m saying it was drastic. The experiences she had while taking the bus through NYC would be enough to terrify anyone but for a teen to do that with little to no money was … foolish. Almost too extreme. I find it hard to believe that no adult thought it odd for a teen to be roaming the streets of a bus terminal in the middle of the night? No adult thought it best to call the authorities for a type of wellness check? Convenient. You can probably guess by now that I struggled to connect with Lucy. She did not feel like a fully developed character. Again, I argue with myself on this point because I don’t know many fifteen year old girls that are completely and totally rational. I just had a hard time agreeing with the actions she made and that caused me to almost stop the book several times. Why didn’t I? It was a quick read.

The plot itself felt … confusing. There are so many plot points that could have lead to something bigger but instead fizzled out. Am I supposed to focus on the affair Lucy’s father had and the hurt that caused everyone? What about Lucy discovering boys and self discovery? Or perhaps the tension and rift between Lucy’s father and grandfather? The overall plot slowly (and I do mean slowly) reveals itself in the later half of the story. Once Lucy meets up with her grandfather, we begin to see more of who she really is. She is not so self-involved and selfish. Well, she still is but she starts to open up to her grandfather but he isn’t without his issues either. I won’t give away what exactly happens (that would ruin the book!) but I believe the ending tied things up nicely. I just wish the author had spent more time developing Lucy and her voice rather than throwing so many possible plots out and confusing the reader.

This was a 3.25 star read. Odd number, no? As I mentioned, I enjoyed this story once it reached the later half. I liked Lucy’s grandfather a lot, but wish his character and story would have been explored more. It felt like there were so many unknown secrets that could have enhanced the story. This is the author’s first YA but I hope he continues writing. I would like to see what he comes up with next.

 

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ARC Review: Alex, Approximately

Alex, Approximately

 

SWOON! All of the swoony feelings! This felt like a modern retelling of You’ve Got Mail. Perhaps it was supposed to be but since I adored that movie, I could not wait to get my hands on this story. I was not disappointed. I loved every page of this delightful story.

Seventeen year old Bailey is a classic movie buff and regularly chats online with a boy she knows as Alex. They both have a deep love and appreciation for classic film. Bailey’s home life situation in New Jersey changes and she is forced to move in with her dad who lives in California. Her online crush, Alex, lives in California (in the same city as her dad, no less!) but she is too scared to tell him she is moving. She fears their online chemistry will not translate into real life chemistry. After moving, she starts working at a movie museum and catches the eyes of the very outgoing Porter Roth, who is a quiz-loving, weather-obsessed, surfer who works as security guard and also nerds out about movies. It starts as a casual friendship but it quickly becomes more. Bailey soon feels wrong for liking Porter so much while she still has feelings for Alex. She realizes it is time to come clean and tell Alex the truth. Little does Bailey know that Porter is Alex…

I shipped this book so hard I may have hurt myself. You name the swoony feelings and I had them. This book is the reason I love YA Contemporary. I only wish there were more like it. The reader is told from the beginning that Porter is online Alex, so there is no mystery there, yet to see how they interact every day it left me screaming, “HOW can you not tell that is Alex?!” Then again, it probably would not have been such an amazing read if Bailey had figured things out at the beginning, right? That being said, the characters were so dynamic throughout the entire read. I felt they were so well developed and they grew as the story went on. The author did not leave them clueless or not allow to mature as new clues appeared and events took place. I will admit, Porter was my favorite character. For lack of a better word, he was perfectly written in his role. I swooned for him hard. Reading Porter and Bailey talk about shared experiences brought a huge smile to my face. I really enjoyed how Bennett made this story feel real. I believed the thoughts and emotions these characters had and felt I was on the journey with them. Everything about this story felt believable.

Let us not forget the supporting characters in this story. Every one of them played a part and this story would not be what it is without them. Grace is front and center in my mind when I say that. I liked her “take no crap” attitude. The poor girl has been through her fair share of bad things but knows good people when she meets them. I liked how Bailey’s dad was very present in her life, even though their family went through some serious trauma years before. He wants to be involved in his daughter’s life and will do whatever he can to make that happen. He also felt like a real person. Even when he admitted to dating someone new. Good for you! It proved that even though parents get divorced, they are still real people.

I did not want this story to end. It was such a fun read that I wanted their story to continue. Bennett had a way of weaving a contemp story that pulled me in and I never wanted to leave. I don’t jump on the OTP bandwagon often (or at all) but I must admit, Porter and Bailey are on my OTP list. Probably at the top of that list. I wanted to stay in sunny California and bask in the sweetness that was their story. I don’t re-read a lot of stories but I know this is one I would happily pick up again. I couldn’t stop myself from giving this swoony read 5 stars because I believe this is what a contemporary story is supposed to be.

 

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