Reviews



Here's a list of all my book reviews - organised in order of posting (most recent first): 
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From goodreads: 
If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds. 

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs? 




I feel I should warn you... this review will be gushing and cheesy and completely cutesy - but in a good way! This book is adorable from start to finish, from the pets to the characters to the setting, and I hope my review will reflect that!

So... What does happy look like? It looks like an email that has been accidentally sent from an A-list teenage heart throb movie star to a small town girl on a budget. They email back and forth - sharing all kinds of secrets... but they don't reveal their identity. Graham Larkin knows where Ellie O'Neill lives, but he only knows her as 'E'. When his latest movie needs a new location he determines that her home town is the perfect location, and the rest - as they say - is history.

It is such an easy book to read and I found myself flipping through the pages at a ridiculous speed. I loved the characters; Ellie is so easy to warm to - she's a teenager with responsibilities and her head screwed on. Even Graham Larkin, who you would expect to be a brattish celebrity, is completely likeable guy who takes his fame in his stride. You get to see the negatives of his fame (the constant hounding by the paparazzi and the alienation from his family) and how he deals with it. 

This book was so nice that I almost have no criticisms! The plot was easy to follow and held no random twists that didn't fit into the story line. The characters all fit their age range perfectly and the secondary characters weren't in such an abundance that you forgot who was who. The teenager inside me wanted to be Ellie O'Neill, and I shall check all random emails a little more carefully in future just in case one happens to be a stray ditty from Mr Justin Timberlake (*crosses fingers*). You could buy this book for a teenage relative without worrying that you were unknowingly providing them something entirely inappropriate, and the teenager would definitely love receiving it. 

This book kept me completely entertained from start to finish and it did everything it promised. It's a Young Adult fiction book and it hits its target audience perfectly. There are no shocking surprises and there are no twists that leave you confused and disorientated at it's genre. It's a lovely read and a lovely story, and I would recommend it to any YA fan!



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All our pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry.

 

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for providing this book for review.

From goodreads: The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.


Oh where do I begin with this review? I hate to be negative, I really do, and I always try to find the good in any book I read… but with ‘All Our Pretty Songs’ this is going to be a struggle.

Okay, so let me try and focus on the positives.

All Our Pretty Songs is the tale of two best friends – brought up as sisters and leading whimsical lives that distinctly lack authority, direction or boundaries. Aurora is the daughter of a dead rock star and a drug addled mother. She lives a life of her own and flits along – an image of beauty and nonchalance, whilst the narrator (whose name we do not know) is her eternal protector. She is the one who keeps Aurora safe. She drags her home from concerts when she is too stoned or drunk to know what she is doing, and she makes sure that she doesn’t roam the night with too many strange men.

When the narrator falls in love with an older musician – the cracks in her and Aurora’s relationship begin to appear. Then when Aurora friendship with a skeleton looking man takes a dark turn, the crack turns into a gaping void that errs on the side of freaky and sends them tumbling into a very dark underworld.

The narrator is an artist – which was one aspect of the book that I did like. I liked imagining the beautiful creations she makes (especially on one occasion when she actually draws on a persons back!). I liked her. I liked her teenage angst and her obsession with black clothing and her awkwardness. I liked seeing her walls come down when she spoke about Jack and her constant support of Aurora. I liked that she was at least a little bit responsible – when the rest of the book was not.

I liked hearing about the relationship between the narrator and Aurora – it was interesting to see how a friendship between two opposites can be so intense and deep. However, I never felt a connection to Aurora. I felt that she constantly took advantage of the narrators responsible nature and whenever things when wrong for Aurora – I simply didn’t care. I wanted her out of the book. I wanted her to leave the narrator alone to get on with her angst filled teenage life. I felt like she was selfish and self-centred.

I also thought that the content in this book was simply inappropriate for the target audience. In it we see the main two characters (who are both in High School) having sex with strange men that they do not know, drinking alcohol to the point of incoherence, smoking all manner of things and taking intravenous drugs. I’m not prudish and I don’t live in a bubble – but would I want my teenage niece to read this? Um, no!

The description in this book was another irritating factor for me. Yes, set the scene – but don’t do it over three pages in the middle of a conversation. I got so tired of the overuse of adjectives that I ended up skimming through them just to find the next part of the conversation. How many ways can one person describe a man playing a guitar? It turns out… a lot!

This book was the first in a trilogy. Usually, in trilogies, I feel inspired to read the second book even when I didn’t enjoy the first book  - just to see what happened. I can’t see this happening with the second installment of this book. I didn’t relate to the content or the characters and I didn’t like where the story ended up.  

This wasn’t one for me, I’m afraid.


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The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

 

From goodreads: After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.


Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.



This book was purchased following all the hype surrounding its release. Everybody was excited for The 5th Wave. Everybody was talking about it. So I simply had to see if it lived up to its hype…

And did it?

In short, yes. I loved this book! Don’t get me wrong – it wasn't without its flaws, but on the whole I really enjoyed it.

The book is written from multiple perspectives, and you see the story unfold through the eyes of Cassie (a teenager who has lived through the waved attacks that have brought earth to its knees), through the eyes of Ben Parish (Cassie’s high school crush – she’s loved Ben Parish for an eternity, but has he ever known she existed?) and through the eyes of Sammy (Cassie’s younger brother). You get to live the attack of aliens though three different perspectives. You get to see how the three of them struggle to survive. You get to see how their lives parallel and interweave, often without them knowing it… it’s very clever, and great to read.

Cassie is trying to trace her little brother who has gone missing along the way. Her first rule is ‘trust no-one’… so when she stumbles across love interest Evan Walker, she is torn. Trust him or don’t trust him? Does she even have a choice? And what about Ben Parish – the boy she has loved forever? Will Evan ever live up to his standards? Does it matter? Because surely Ben Parish is dead, right?

Anyone who has ever read any of my reviews will know that I love a good love story! I love to see characters fall in love, and when external influences throw problems in their path – I lap it up! So to see Cassie falling for Evan in the middle of an alien invasion, with the thoughts of her first love in the back of her mind was a totally perfect story for me. In fact, this almost overshadowed the alien invasion aspect of the book! ;-)

The parts of the book that were written from both Sammy and Ben Parish’s perspective drove home the impact of the alien invasion, which proved to be the perfect counterbalance to Cassie’s love turmoil.

So, what were the flaws in this book? Well, for me, whilst I loved the switching point of views – they also drove me crazy! The chapters weren’t marked – so I never knew whose perspective I was reading. I had to skip a few pages in to every chapter to try and figure out whose perspective it was. Very annoying – but a small price to pay.

I’m so glad that this book will have a sequel – I want to know more and I want to know it NOW! Unfortunately I, like the rest of the world, will have to wait until August 2014. Roll on August 2014….

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The s-word by Chelsea Pitcher


Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me this book.



From goodreads: Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she's caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie's own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.


You know when you get one of those books that you know is going to be a tricky one to review? Well, this is one of them…

When I saw the synopsis for this book I got kind of excited. It looked good. It looked edgy. It wasn’t your typical high school bubblegum story… it had so much promise!

My main issue with this book was that it only half fulfilled that promise.

So the story begins in the aftermath of Lizzie’s suicide. She slept with her best friends boyfriend on prom night, got branded a slut, had the word scrawled all over her locker and she consequently killed herself.

Harsh, right?

Following her death – the word ‘suicide slut’ appears on Lizzie’s locker, written in Lizzie’s own handwriting. Then, pages of Lizzie’s diary start appearing dotted in random lockers around the school.

Spooky, right? (see… so much promise!)

Angie (Lizzie’s best friend) takes it upon herself to figure out who is the person vandalizing lockers and distributing Lizzie’s thoughts and emotions. She questions her suspects in an almost investigative manner. She almost has a shortlist of suspects.

… and this is where my issues begin.

Lizzie has JUST slept with Angie’s boyfriend. They had a huge falling out and stopped speaking. No, Angie wasn’t the one calling Lizzie a slut to her face – but she didn’t do anything to stop it either. She was mad at her. She had terminated her friendship… and now she is almost trekking around the school trying to clear perfect Lizzie’s name!

And that’s my other issue. Lizzie is portrayed to be perfect. A veritable princess from a Disney movie. If you believed her diary entries then this girl would NEVER sleep with her best friends boyfriend, which in turn made the premise of the story a little unbelievable.

This book could have tackled so many issues in one foul swoop. It could have dealt with the problems surrounding slut branding, name-calling, bullying and the consequences of people’s actions – but it fell a little flat for me. The s-word was an easy read and it certainly wasn’t one of the worst books I’ve ever read… I just felt that more could have been done with the subject matter and the story line. I was a little disappointed. 

 


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Shiver, Linger and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

      

From goodreads:

Shiver: 
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Linger:
In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

Forever: 
then.
When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their loved moved from curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.

now.
That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be kill in one final, spectacular hunt.

forever.
Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment - a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.

Okay, so I read all of these books back to back - so it's only fair that I review them as a trilogy rather than individual books (also, I may or may not be able to remember exactly which book certain things happen in - so doing it this way is much easier for me!)

So... not having read these books earlier kinda makes me feel like I've been living in a cave. They are everywhere. They are legendary. They are New York Times bestsellers. The covers are gorgeous and are practically everything I love in a cover... so what's wrong with me? Why haven't I picked these books up sooner?

Honestly... it was the werewolves. I feel like I've done the werewolf and vampire thing to death. They're everywhere, and each and every werewolf - no matter who it is - I compare to Jacob Black. Is that wrong? Absolutely. But I can't help it. And it is for this reason alone that I kept my distance from Shiver, Linger and Forever.

However, when a work friend gave them to me and told me that they were a great read - I decided to give them a go! How bad could it be, right?

Well... here I am with my tail between my leg (no werewolf pun intended there!). I really enjoyed these books. They were easy to read, they were well paced and they kept me interested... and, more importantly, not once did I compare Sam to Jacob Black!

Sam is the main werewolf in this trilogy. His golden eyes entrance and intrigue Grace who once had a close call with the wolves. Sam is battling with his humanity - fighting desperately to avoid the cold weather that turns him from human to wolf, for if Sam loses his battle and turns to a wolf then he will lose both his human form and his relationship with Grace.

All three books continue with the relationship of Sam and Grace - with a few other characters and a few other werewolves thrown in too, of course. The plot changes and the stories expand - but throughout the books this a relationship that you find yourself rooting for, and consequently you're rooting for Sam the human. They story lines grab your interest and are very easy to read - before I knew it I'd finished all three books.

Would I recommend this trilogy? Yes, I would. No, they aren't Twilight - but they aren't trying to be. In fact, they're a great YA pick! Lose your werewolf misconceptions and give these books a go!



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Looking for Alaska by John Green.

From goodreads:
Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.


I have yet to meet a person that did not love this book. Seriously. Looking for Alaska is one of those books that all Young Adult books strive to be. It has two main characters that are equally as interesting and equally as enjoyable to read about, which is something that not many books achieve.

Main character one is Miles - a boy who is starting a new, posh, super-school and looking for a place to 'fit'. Cue Alaska (main character number two)... a girl who is totally entrancing and she instantly mesmerizes Miles. When you think of a teenage girl (with mood swings included) you can think of Alaska. She;s a great character to read about because you can see why Miles is so captivated with her craziness. This book takes you on the journey of love, lust, friendship and more... I won't say too much more because I want you to read it and enjoy it as much as I did.

I walked into Looking for Alaska without knowing what it was actually about (Alaska, right?) and I advise you to do the same. I'm glad I didn't know a whole lot about it. It meant that I could connect with the story and go with it. It meant that I could fall into the emotions of the characters without having pre-conceived ideas about them.

On the whole, this is a brilliant book and you won't regret reading it.

John Green, I salute you Sir.



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5th May 2013 - The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

From goodreads: High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness. Angry and alone, he takes refuge in his imagination and soon finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a world that is a strange reflection of his own -- populated by heroes and monsters and ruled by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book, The Book of Lost Things.
Taking readers on a vivid journey through the loss of innocence into adulthood and beyond, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly tells a dark and compelling tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.

Ok, I admit it. I totally bought this book for the cover. It has got to be one of my favourite covers ever. I love it! What's even better than the cover is the fact that this book is amazing on the inside too.

It's been out for quite a while now, so I'm always surprised when people say they haven't read it, but inside this book is a tale that twists and contorts the most classic fairytales into almost unrecognisable fables. The main character; David, is a young twelve year old boy who is trapped in a fairy tale world reminiscent of a horror story, and he is forced to tackle the dark side of these fairy tales in his journey through a forest.

It's an amazing story, and  if you are enjoying the current phenomenon of fairy tale retelling, then you will LOVE this book. Seriously. You won't be able to put it down. It's gripping and spooky and the twists on he fairy tales will make your eyes pop out of your head.

Can you tell I love this book?

Go read it. Go read it now.



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29/3/13: Beth Reekles - The Kissing Booth -

Author: Beth Reekles

Title: The Kissing Booth

Release: Available on ebook now - Available in paperback from 25th April 2013 by Random House.


The Kissing Booth


From goodreads: 


Meet Rochelle Evans: pretty, popular - and never been kissed. 
Meet Noah Flynn: badass, volatile - and a total player. And also Elle's best friend's older brother... When Elle decides to run a kissing booth for the school's Spring Carnival, she locks lips with Noah and her life is turned upside down. Her head says to keep away, but her heart wants to draw closer - this romance seems far from fairy tale and headed for heartbreak. But will Elle get her happily ever after?


The Kissing Booth is a very modern twist on the classic tale of a girl who falls in love with the bad boy. She knows she shouldn't do it, and the reader knows that she doesn't do it... but somehow you find yourself willing her to go ahead an fall head over heels anyway! 

The main characters were the thing I liked the most about this book - Rochelle (Elle), Noah and Lee were all so easy to like. Even Noah - the bad boy - was extremely likable  And cute. However, the secondary characters were plentiful and I did find it a little difficult to try and remember who was who, and who else was dating who else (although - the book is set in a high school and there are parties aplenty, so the author could hardly be criticized for creating a busy social scene). 

The events that happen in this book are sweet, shocking and they will definitely bring out the romantic in you,  and whilst it does touch upon some eyebrow raising antics (sixteen years old's drinking and having sex!) there are also some good underlying morals in it too. Especially surrounding Elle and Lee's friendship.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely. It's a teen fiction book and it hits that spot perfectly. The main character is sixteen years old, and I've no doubt that sixteen year old girls will like reading about her. 

I think it helps that the book was written by seventeen year old Welsh wattpad sensation; Beth Reekles. Beth originally published this story on wattpad, and after the story received 19 million reads and 40,000 comments - Random House snapped her up and they're about to publish the story in paperback. It's a teenage book, written from a teenage perspective... and teenagers will love it!

 

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20/3/13: All Things Oz -


WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Believe it or not, it's been almost 113 years since L. Frank Baum's novel - The Wizard of Oz - was first published. Seriously! That's the kind of longevity that most authors could barely dream of. I could still walk into my local bookstore and pick up a copy of this children's classic today, and today's generation would still love it. How amazing is that?
What's even more amazing than the ongoing popularity of the original classic is the amount of things that have been born from it.

Of course, there was the 1939 Judy Garland film.

And then there is 'Wicked' - the Wizard of Oz prequel written by Gregory Maguire, and it's hit musical.

And now, of course, is the Disney Blockbuster turned book; 'Oz - The Great and Powerful'.

And those are to just name a few. So, if we just take a look at the books, how similar are they? Is there a need for three versions of the same story? And can these newcomers even come close to the original story?
Of course, 'The Wizard of Oz' is the tale of Dorothy Gale, a young girl who is whisked away on a tornado to the land of Oz; a place filled with munchkins, scarecrows seeking hearts, tin men seeking brains and cowardly lions. A place that is home to the Wicked Witch of the West, Glinda the Good Witch and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz - the man they all seek to answer their prayers.

'Wicked' is a book that predates all of that. It starts with the Wicked Witch of the West (who's real name is Elphaba) being born and it provides us with an explanation as to why she's green and why she's terrified of water. It offers a debate on whether Elphaba was born evil, or whether her evilness was created as a result of the things that happened to her in her life. The books skips forwards to her university years and her original meeting of Glinda (or Galinda as she is known originally) and it describes how they were once friends. But then events occur that send Elphaba into a life of solitude, and for a while she leaves her life, her friends and her sister Nessa (the Wicked Witch of the East) behind. When a storm arrives in Oz - it brings with it a young girl named Dorothy, who's house falls upon Nessa and kills her. Elphaba attends Nessa's funeral - hoping to reclaim Nessa's ruby slippers. When Glinda advises Elphaba that she has given the ruby slippers to Dorothy - Elphaba is furious. And, well, we know how that ends!

'Oz - The Great and Powerful' also predates the original book, but instead of telling the story from the viewpoint of the Wicked Witch of the West -it focuses on the tale of the Wizard of Oz himself. A man named Oscar arrives in Oz after his hot air balloon is caught in a storm. he is found by a witch - Theodora - who thinks that he is the wizard that has been prophesied to overthrow the Wicked Witch. Theodora takes Oscar to the Emerald City and they fall in love along the way.

Once in the Emerald City, Oscar meets Evanora (the real Wicked Witch) who misleads Oscar and send him to kill Glinda the Good Witch. Cue a lot of misrepresentation, flying monkeys, witches turning green, poppy fields and Oscar using a hologram of himself and a curtain to portay the mighty Wizard of Oz... and you've got yourself a book!

But are three books necessary? Do they fill in the blanks around L. Frank Baum's creation? I'm gonna say yes! I loved the books. I loved the stories. I love that fact that you get to see the world of Oz through different eyes. I like that you get to see that there is more to a Wicked Witch than meets the eye, and that the Wizard came to Oz in the same way that Dorothy did - he just chose not to leave. I just wish that they hadn't tampered with L. Frank Baum's original too much, and that they would all stick to the same names!
Whilst 'Wicked' calls the Wicked Witches Nessa and Elphaba, 'Oz - The Great and Powerful' call them Evanora and Theodora. In the original they didn't even have names! Only Glinda has an element of consistency. And, of course, in the original book the ruby slippers were actually silver. And the Emerald City was only Emerald because the Wizard made everyone wear green tinted glasses. I think that these are certain things that they should have stayed true to L. Frank Baum's vision. And by creating so many deviations they have actually made certain things confusing to an avid Oz fan. I found myself trying to figure things out along the way; "who is she again?", "who would she be in the original?", "she wasn't in Wicked!". I know you shouldn't really do that - but when you're reading different variations of the same story - it's hard not to do that.

So, would I recommend you read them all? Absolutely! Should you watch the films and see the shows? Of course! Just don't expect them to represent each other, and leave any thoughts of the other versions at the door. It'll only confuse you!


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