Review: All Hallows by Christopher Golden

All HallowsAll Hallows by Christopher Golden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

All Hallows, Christopher Golden’s upcoming Horror release, is set in Coventry, Massachusetts.

More specifically, all the events contained within this story surround Halloween Night, 1984, in the solitary neighborhood of Parmenter Road.

The energy in the neighborhood that day is electric, as everyone puts the last-minute touches on the night’s events, decor and costumes.

The Barbosa Family will be hosting their annual and this year, their final, Haunted Woods event. Tony and his daughter, Chloe, have been pouring their hearts and souls into this event for years; setting up just the right props and scares for neighbors and strangers alike to enjoy.

Also that evening will be the typical door-to-door trick-or-treating by neighborhood kids, as well as a block party hosted by the Koenig Family. There’s a lot happening.

The Reader follows the unfolding events via multiple perspectives of individuals living in the neighborhood, including both children and adults.

As the night begins to build, more and more drama is exposed on what one might suppose is a quiet little street. Parmenter Road, like many small town streets, contains a lot of people harboring a lot of secrets. A few of which are about to be brought to light in a big way.

On this night in particular, there are outsiders added to the mix as well. Children dressed in old-fashioned costumes, a Clown, a Scarecrow and a Raggedy Ann, begin to insert themselves into the activities, pleading with the local children for help.

They need to hide, just until midnight from The Cunning Man. Will anyone help them?

I had a lot of fun with this. I love neighborhood-focused stories and this one night on Parmenter Road gave me all the spectacle and intrigue that I could want in that regard.

There was just the right amount of family drama, 80s-references, kills, gore and creepy imagery to keep me 100% invested all the way through.

There are a lot of perspectives, which I feel like not everyone will be crazy about, but for me it made perfect sense. Considering how the story plays out, I actually can’t imagine it being told any other way.

I also loved the atmosphere. Golden brought me back to the Halloween Nights of my youth. Traipsing around with the other neighborhood kids under our claustrophobic masks, carrying plastic orange pumpkins, hitting up as many houses as we could, walking a little faster through the dark spaces between homes.

The strange children and the idea of The Cunning Man definitely brought the chills as well. Nostalgic and scary, I definitely enjoyed the unsettling vibes.

Thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me a copy to read and review. I always enjoy checking out Golden’s new work, sure to be full of creativity and frightening imagery.

Hallow’s Eve is being released on Tuesday, January 24, 2023. Preorder your copy now!!!

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Review: Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger

Secluded Cabin Sleeps SixSecluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Yeahhhhhh. No. This wasn’t it for me. This wasn’t even in the same zip code as it. I’m disappointed, not gonna lie. You see the rating. I legit celebrated when it was over. We all know, that’s never a good sign.

When Hannah’s often over-the-top brother, Mako, rents an isolated luxury cabin for their friend group for a weekend, she and her husband Bruce, begrudgingly agree to go. Sometimes it is just easier to give Mako what he wants than to fight against him.

Hannah and Bruce have a baby daughter and it will be their first time really leaving her behind. Hannah struggles with the choice a lot, but her mother-in-law is more than capable of babysitting while they’re away.

Thus, they go. Prepared to unplug with Mako, his wife, Liza, Hannah’s best friend, Cricket and her new beau, who none of them have met before.

Arriving at the cabin, they’re impressed. It’s gorgeous, but with Mako, they would really expect nothing less. The tech mogul does tend to go all out.

As the Reader, you follow the interactions of the family and friends as they settle into the cabin. The first night is full of food, drink and fun. An isolated atmosphere is created as they have trouble with wifi connectivity and a storm is coming in. They’ve been warned they could lose power, or worse, get stuck there.

That’s nice. I like the idea of that, but it’s only one part.

There’s also Henry, who we start following as a child in a completely different time and place. Also, it’s not clear how his life is connected to the rest of the story.

And by not clear, I mean not at all. At first when he came in, it was so jarring, I thought I had accidentally opened the wrong book on my kindle.

But wait, yeah, I’m not done yet. You also get the perspective of the owner of the house Mako rented. That was the oddest of them all to me, like, why?!

And lest you believe that we only get the group scenes from Hannah’s perspective, let me assure you, we do not. We get those scenes from multiple perspectives as well.

To me, this story really suffered from trying to do too much. I didn’t feel like the multiple perspectives, or alternating storylines, meshed well together at all.

Additionally, I felt like the thread tying it all together was ridiculous. The antagonist was so unbelievable. I was actually surprised when my eyeballs didn’t roll out of my head during any dialogue involving that character.

I’m gonna leave it there. I have plenty more thoughts, but nobody has time to read through them all and honestly, I’ve burned enough time and energy on this. I’m so ready to move along.

However, with all of this being said, I can see how some Readers may be entertained by this. Just because it didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. If you think it sounds interesting, give it a shot. You seriously could end up loving it.

Thank you to the publisher, Park Row Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. They can’t all knock our socks off.

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Review: The Family Game by Catherine Steadman

The Family GameThe Family Game by Catherine Steadman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The publisher claims the rules are as follows:

1. Listen carefully
2. Do your research
3. Trust no one
4. Run for your life

With the The Family Game, Steadman has created her most intriguing plot yet. I was truly captivated!!

We follow UK-born novelist, Harry, who currently lives in NYC with her beau, Edward. Things are going so well for Harry. Her first novel was well-received and she is currently writing her second. And there’s Edward. She can hardly believe their relationship. It’s almost too good to be true.

He’s as handsome as a movie star and as wealthy as an Astor; old money, family money. He’s also kind, supportive and seems so into her it hurts.

The thing is, their relationship is progressing rapidly and Harry has yet to be introduced to his family. Edward has warned her they can be a bit much.

Now that they are engaged, the Holbeck family suddenly emerges as a huge force in their lives. Edward was right, they are a bit overwhelming. That American old-money vibe is just poring from every orifice.

Harry grins and tries her best to take it in stride, but her future-father-in-law, Robert Holbeck really gets under her skin. She’s drawn to him in a way that frankly makes her uncomfortable. Then, of course, there is the Dictaphone cassette he slips her upon their initial meeting.

Harry is confused. What is this? Some sort of test?

Firstly, she will need to find a device to play the ancient form of technology, but once she does, it takes even longer for her to actually listen to it. Frankly, I would have had that baby listened to in full by the end of brunch the next day, but that’s just me.

Harry is shocked by the contents of the tape. It seems to be a confession of a very dark family secret. Something that, if true, could be the downfall of them all. Is it real? Why would Robert have given it to her?

With this potentially shocking information in mind, Harry must endure more family events, each one more dangerous than the last. It’s the holiday season, after all.

In between festive activities, Harry puts her natural research skills to the test as she tries to figure out whether or not Robert’s tape is based in fact or fiction. She’s not sure who she can trust, but the wrong decision could cost her everything.

The Family Game is fun, crazy, dangerous and dramatic, just how I like ’em. The twist was a bit obvious in my opinion, but the writing made it wildly-entertaining anyway.

Harry was in a tough spot. Having no family of her own, I could see why she would be attracted to the Holbecks.

Even though they were a bit scary in their forwardness, there was also something attractive about their closeness and traditions. I can certainly see why she would get caught up a bit in their opulent lifestyle.

I really enjoyed Harry’s investigations into the tape. Because of her work as an author, she was used to researching things and brought all of her experience to the table when looking into Robert’s confession.

I also loved the use of the contents of the tape as a narrative device for learning more about the Holbeck family and Edward’s backstory. We don’t get Edward’s perspective at all, so I found that useful for actually getting a read on him and his life.

I had a lot of fun reading this. It was paced so well and I loved the different family events that Harry got to attend with the Holbecks, each one more startling than the last.

By the end, this was well and truly wild, as over-the-top as they come, but still super fun with a satisfying conclusion. It’s the sort of story where you’ll need to suspend belief for a bit, but for me, that didn’t impact my enjoyment level at all.

Thank you to the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Steadman!

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Review: Never Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Never Coming HomeNever Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The number one thing on Lucas Forester’s checklist for a future mate was that she have money, and we’re talking serious money. The kind of money most people can only dream of; top 1%-levels.

When he meets Michelle while she’s vacationing in London, he sees those big, beautiful dollar signs all over her. She’s perfectly wealthy.

He can hardly believe his luck. His long-time plans of acquiring wealth through a loveless marriage are about to come to fruition. Thus, he puts his well-thought out plan into motion.

The culmination of this plan requires he take a hit out on Michelle and he does, without hesitancy or complication. Now he must play his most important role yet, that of the grieving widower.

Everything is falling into place. He’s feeling good. He’s going to get away with this and then the photos and cryptic messages begin popping up.

Someone knows what he did…

Lucas is scrambling. He needs to figure out who is doing this and put an end to it before they’re able to expose him, but no matter what he does, they seem to remain a step ahead.

Lucas has a lot to hide and this mystery individual is a risk to everything he has built for himself. He’ll stop at nothing to take out this threat.

I really enjoyed Hannah Mary McKinnon’s last two novels, so was very excited to get to this one. Never Coming Home brought her signature wild drama, all while providing a unique perspective.

Getting the story from Lucas’s POV was different and admittedly, very fun. He’s a conniving-dirtbag, there’s no doubt about that, but I found myself quietly rooting for him. It felt a little strange initially, but I got swept up fairly quickly and then was all in.

The final twist was exciting and sort of a fist pump, jaw drop moment, but my main critique actually involves it. The big twist comes very close to the end and I actually could have done with a bit more after the big reveal.

I wanted more of that goodness and I felt it wrapped up a little too quickly for my tastes. Although, with this being said, the final few lines were super-satisfying.

Thank you so much to the publisher, MIRA, for providing me with a copy to read and review. It took me a long time to get around to it, but I’m so glad I have finally read this one.

I am absolutely looking forward to more from McKinnon!

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Review: My Summer Darlings by May Cobb

My Summer DarlingsMy Summer Darlings by May Cobb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

My Summer Darlings begins in a very intriguing way. You get the perspective of a woman lying in the woods, bleeding profusely, contemplating her death.

You don’t know who she is or who has harmed her, but it is clear she ended up in her predicament by nefarious means.

You are then sent 6-weeks back in time to follow the perspectives of Jen, Kittie and Cynthia.

The trio have been best friends since childhood and even though Jen moved away for a bit, once she returned to their East Texas town after a messy divorce, they picked up right where they left off. They’re thick as thieves through all the ups and downs of their bougie lifestyles.

The women each have their own personal concerns of course, Jen for example, post-divorce is actually really struggling financially. Luckily her friends and parents never mind helping her out. They’re just happy she is finally away from him.

Cynthia and Kittie are both very well off and their husbands are great, but you know life.

When Will Harding moves to town, a drop-dead gorgeous man who ends up in the most luxurious home in the neighborhood, the three women are intrigued.

Will could be exactly the type of man Jen needs to move past her divorce. Will’s presence in town however stirs things up for the trio more than they ever could have expected. We’re talking secrets, lies and shady alibis.

There is no denying that May Cobb has a knack for writing rich people drama. With this novel, as with The Hunting Wives, once I started, I could not put it down.

I loved the set-up; the way it began and then going back to piece together what had lead that mystery woman to that point, it was so engaging.

While I was addicted to the drama, however, there were a few things toward the end that I found to be a touch too convenient for my tastes. Hence the 3.5-stars rounded up.

Regardless, that is still a great rating and it’s undeniable that I really enjoyed this. It was a ton of fun. If you enjoy over-the-top, reality show-levels of ridiculously entertaining drama, you have to check this one out.

I think if you go into this expecting a strict to the genre Thriller, you may be disappointed. Just know this is more of a Domestic Drama centering around the friend group, with a touch of mystery running throughout.

At this point, I am sold on May Cobb. I love the risqué drama she’s serving up. I’m here for it and will continuing coming back.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I appreciate it and look forward to seeing what crazy hijinks Cobb comes up with next!

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Review: On a Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass

On a Quiet StreetOn a Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

A twisted neighborhood drama, thick as a bird’s nest with secrets, I had an absolute blast reading On a Quiet Street.

Nova Glass delivered a super-compelling, twisted narrative that dragged me in from the very start and never let go. I was so impressed with this!

The exclusive neighborhood of Brighton Hills may look tranquil, but behind the scenes it is anything but.

Cora thinks her husband Finn is cheating, Paige, after losing her son, is angry and combative, Georgia is afraid to leave her house; and these details just brush the surface of what is happening on this one quiet street.

Our narrative cycles through these three perspectives and fills in all the gaps as they’re lives twist and blend together, ultimately leading to one shockingly intense conclusion!

Y’all that’s all I really want to say about the details of this story. It behooves you to go into this one knowing as little as possible, with no preconceived notions of what is going to play out.

I’ve read from Seraphina Nova Glass before, her 2020-release Someone’s Listening, and I really enjoyed it, but this book is next level.

I thought the pace of the reveals was absolutely perfect. There wasn’t one single chapter where I wasn’t learning some new facts that steadily progressed the plot.

I really enjoyed all of the characters as well. I found them to be relatable and realistic.

Sure, taken all together, it may seem a little over the top, but when I really thought about it, the things they were experiencing are actually somewhat common, such as infidelity, grief and loss of identity.

I started to become attached to this trio of women. They weren’t perfect, but when it really counted they formed a kind of alliance that to me was uplifting. They found strength through one another and I appreciated that journey.

I would definitely recommend this to Readers who enjoy a great, twisted neighborhood drama. This one definitely delivers that vibe 100%.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Graydon House, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I had so much for with this one and am definitely looking forward to reading more from Seraphina Nova Glass!

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Review: My Wife is Missing by D.J. Palmer

My Wife Is MissingMy Wife Is Missing by D.J. Palmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

On the first day of their NYC-vacation, Michael and Natalie Hart split up for what is expected to be a brief period of time.

While Michael runs out to pick up take-out pizza for the family, Natalie stays back at the hotel with their two children, Addie and Bryce, to get settled in.

When he returns, Michael spots Bryce’s teddy bear just outside the door to their room. That’s certainly strange as the young boy is beyond attached to the stuffed toy.

Entering the room, Michael is surprised his family isn’t there. Surprise turns to confusion when he notices the only bag in the room is his own. Where is his family?

Michael raises the alarm to hotel staff and then the police. As he is unable to reach Natalie by phone and has no other explanation, Michael fears they’ve been kidnapped.

After viewing hotel camera footage though, it appears Natalie left quite willing, of her own volition; just her and the kids. Michael is so confused, why would she do this?

These opening scenes set the tone for the entire novel. It’s intense and fast paced. Through alternating perspectives, as well as past and present timelines, the full depth of Michael and Natalie’s relationship is revealed.

It’s clear that the couple were having problems prior to their ill-fated trip to NYC. Natalie doesn’t trust her husband at all and Michael, well, he has his issues.

Due to stress and struggles within their relationship, Natalie has been suffering severe insomnia. Michael uses that fact against her, claiming she is not in her right mind. Frankly, it’s not entirely clear if she is or not.

I love an unreliable narrator and I would say that Natalie falls into that category. In spite of her insomnia though, it’s really through Natalie’s perspective that the truth of this story begins to be revealed.

I really enjoyed my time reading My Wife is Missing. Palmer has a signature over-the-top style. His books are always a wild ride, never failing to keep me engaged.

I loved how quickly this one kicked off and it really never let up. Towards the end I was flying through, I had to know what the conclusion was going to be. It turned into this sort of intense cat and mouse scenario, although at times it was hard to determine who was the cat and who was the mouse.

I have read all of Palmer’s novels, in order, as they’ve been released and in my opinion each one has been stronger than the last. We love to see that sort of upward trajectory with an author’s work.

He always keeps me guessing, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to see what sort of insanity he throws at us next!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I appreciate it so much!!

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Review: The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

The Younger WifeThe Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

Heather is a young interior designer, who upon first meeting her new client, physician, Stephen Aston, is impressed with the man’s patience with his wife struggling with dementia.

He treats his wife with such care, always including her in the meetings regarding the project and seeking her input, in spite of her struggles. Heather can’t help but warm to the gentleman.

Stephen is also quite taken with Heather. She’s young, beautiful and is always kind and open with him.

Stephen’s two adult daughters, Tully and Rachel, are taken aback when their father confirms to them that he is now in a relationship with Heather. What about Mom?!

Heather is younger than the two girls. She must be after Dad’s money, what could they possibly have in common?

Stephen pushes his daughters to get to know Heather and frankly, they’re a little curious about her themselves, so they agree. That’s what I will leave you with. Well, that and the fact that this is a bit of a murder mystery…

I listened to the audiobook for The Younger Wife and definitely recommend that medium. There are different narrators for the various perspectives and it made me feel like I was actually part of the action.

The drama level is a bit reality television, but who doesn’t love that as a bit of a guilty pleasure?

I found the drama to be completely addicting, but more than that, this story turned out to be grander than the petty squabbles I anticipated given the set-up.

From the vague description of the narrative given above, you may think this will go a certain way, but Hepworth actually gave me something unexpected. I was impressed with that.

Also, Hepworth loosely explores some powerful real world issues in this that I think would make it an excellent choice to read with friends, or a book group. There’s definitely plenty of topics to discuss while reading this one.

Thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review.

This is the second novel I have read from Sally Hepworth and it’s definitely safe to say that I will happily pick up anything else she writes!!

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Review: Blood Will Tell by Heather Chavez

Blood Will TellBlood Will Tell by Heather Chavez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blood Will Tell is the sophomore effort from author Heather Chavez. Her 2020-debut, No Bad Deed entertained me from the very start. I really enjoyed it!

Because of this, I was definitely looking forward to this new release. Could she keep up her stellar, fast-paced writing and over-the-top level of intrigue?

YES!!!

In Blood Will Tell our focus is on sisters, Frankie and Izzy. Frankie has always been very protective of her little sister, Izzy, and both girls acknowledge that Frankie practically raised her.

Their father has a chronic illness and with their parents often focused on that, the girls sort of circled in their own little orbit. They would keep secrets from their parents, as they didn’t want to trouble them, or worry them. In fact, even as adults, they’re still doing that.

Over the years, Izzy’s choices have been continuously reckless. Her drug and alcohol use certainly hasn’t helped matters.

Their most troubling night involved events that happened five-year ago, when Izzy and some friends partied in the woods just outside of town. Six of them arrived, but only five left. One of the girls there that night, Rachel, has been missing ever since.

Izzy drunk and disoriented ended up getting in a minor accident that night in their mother’s car. As always, she called Frankie for help.

After Frankie managed to arrive for a rescue, Izzy was a mess and couldn’t recall exactly what had happened. Based on some troubling evidence that Frankie found, and a bit of Izzy’s rantings, Frankie had a sinking suspicion she knew what happened.

Now when an Amber alert goes out and Frankie’s vehicle matches a description given by witnesses, she fears the worst.

She knows she didn’t just kidnap the teen girl, Marina, but it is possible that Izzy could be involved. She’s the only other person with access to Frankie’s truck. With fear in her heart, Frankie sets about investigating what happened to Marina.

Alternating between this present case, and the events of the infamous party night, 5-years earlier, the truth behind Rachel’s and Marina’s disappearances is revealed. We also gain a full understanding of the sisterly relationship; how intertwined they are with one another.

There’s something about Chavez’s writing that feels so addictive. She gives you just enough in each chapter to keep you vigorously turning pages. The drama is always high and this sisterly relationship was giving me all the twisted family dynamics I crave.

I really felt for Frankie. Izzy was a lot and Frankie’s dedication to her felt like it was extreme at times, but when I sat and thought about it, it really wasn’t.

The lengths I would go to for one of my siblings knows no bounds; blood runs thick. I found their relationship, overall, to be quite believable. There were other aspects of this that were more far-fetched than the sisters loyalty.

At the end of the day, I don’t mind over-the-top plots. In fact, that’s generally what I’m here for. I read to escape and this was a great one for me!

Thank you so much to the publisher, William Morrow & Company, for providing me a copy to read and review. I had a lot of fun with this and look forward to seeing what Chavez comes up with next!!

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Review: One of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose

One of Us is DeadOne of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Jenny is the owner of a posh salon in the upscale area of Buckhead in Atlanta. Her salon, Glow, caters to a set number of wealthy clients who come in for very regular treatments.

Because of this exclusivity and frequency of visits, Jenny has come to know her clients very, very well. Almost too well for her tastes. Along with her assistant, Jenny has become quite versed in navigating the ups-and-downs of her clients toxic relationships.

The most recent drama involves former Queen Bee, Shannon, whose politician husband, Bryce Madison, recently left her for a 20-something waitress he met while on a business trip to Texas.

The waitress, Crystal, has recently moved to town and become the new Mrs. Madison. Young and innocent, like Dorothy walking into Oz, Crystal has no idea what she is in for when it comes to Buckhead society.

For her part, Olivia is all too happy to sit back and watch Shannon’s demise. Truthfully, she’s been waiting for that star to fall for a while. As she sees it, now is her time.

Lastly, there’s Karen. The least aggressive socially of the bunch, Karen’s still hiding some big secrets of her own.

These women are used to a constant state of drama, with under-handed insults being slung back and forth, but how far are they willing to take it? Would someone actually kill to protect their position in the community? How about to keep their secrets secret?

Y’all, somebody is not going to make it out alive…

One of Us is Dead is like Fried Green Tomatoes met The Real Housewives of Atlanta, they fell in love and had a baby that was essentially an Adult version of Mean Girls.

You know based off that description that my evil a$$ is 100% here for it.

I had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook for this one, which does feature a full cast. It was really well done and I definitely recommend that format.

It was fun having a different narrator for each perspective. It felt like I was really getting to know these characters and they are twisted. Everyone was hiding something. Everyone knew things they shouldn’t. They were just all up in each others business. It was captivating.

The more I think on it, the more I am realizing just how much fun I had with it. It was really close to a full 4-stars for me. I think initially though, I was disappointed that the ending wrapped everything up so quickly.

I wanted more intrigue as far as the murdery bits were concerned. For most of the narrative I actually forgot that the whole point was that someone was ultimately going to end up dead. There was so little focus on that.

I would have appreciated more time invested in those aspects, but of course, that is completely a personal taste issue. I was just sort of hoping for a wee more mystery.

Overall, this is a super fun, fast-paced, dramatic and slightly ridiculous read.

Be forewarned, however, if you are not into girl-on-girl slander, back-stabbing and crime, this may not be for you. Just know going in these women are brutal. They aren’t holding any punches.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Blackstone Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had a ton of fun with this one!

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