Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

SadieSadie by Courtney Summers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Reaction:

Alternating between a Serial-type podcast, researched and narrated by a man named West McCray, and Sadie’s perspective, this book is a gut-punching tour de force of modern-American noir.

By the time she is in her teens, and maybe even before, Sadie has accepted the fact that she is the sole person responsible for the care and upbringing of her little sister, Mattie.

Although at times infuriating, she does love Mattie with her whole heart and has done her best to provide her with a safe and constant environment. Their mother, a junkie whose biggest concern is what man she’ll be shacking up with next, never truly provided the care the girls needed.

Sadie has never felt loved by her mother and this lack of connection displays itself through her outlook on the world. Jaded and cynical, Sadie has good reason to be, her situation only made more difficult by the severe stutter that has plagued her since early childhood. Her stutter makes it challenging for her to express her feelings and she feels people judge and underestimate her because of it.

After her mother runs off, seemingly for good, Sadie’s fate is sealed. She is left to provide for Mattie around the clock. After a fight regarding their mother’s whereabouts, Mattie runs off one night, only to be discovered later, murdered.

Sadie, rocked by her loss and overcome with anger and despair, is determined to track down Mattie’s killer and bring him to justice. Her own. She knows who killed her and won’t rest until he pays.

As sad as this story is, it is boldly realistic and I respect the fact that Summers never shied away from tough, taboo topics. I am not going to go into them here, but if you are a sensitive reader, you may want to check other reviews for trigger warnings.

I listened to the audiobook for this, while also reading the hardcover version. The audiobook is definitely worth listening to. The podcast sections were particularly well done and listening to it enhanced my reading experience.

While I did enjoy this a lot, I wasn’t as blown away by it as others seemed to be. It was really well told and the topics were well handled. I just think the hype made me expect a little more. I read a lot of gritty, dark stories, so nothing about this surprised me or felt particularly groundbreaking besides the format.

Overall, the story is depressing but important and I would recommend it to anyone, particularly the audiobook.

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Contemporary-A-Thon Wrap-Up!!!

As some of you may know, if you have been following me, last week I participated in my second Contemporary-A-Thon. Essentially this is a week long readathon dedicated to reading Contemporary books. There were 7-challenges this round but, as always, you can double up on challenges, so you do no necessarily need to read 7-books over the course of the week.

For the first time ever, I has a successful readathon. I completed all 7-challenges and even stuck to my original 4-book TBR. 

Without further ado, let’s get into the books that I read and what challenges they met:

1. The first book I finished was Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch. This is a YA book that involves a strained sibling relationship, a couple of broken hearts and road-trip through Ireland. This book was 303-pages and I ended up giving it 3.5-stars. This helped me complete two challenges: read a book in a non-traditional format (I listened to this on audiobook) and read a book with a picture on the spine.

2. The second book I finished was They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Again, this was a YA book that followed two boys on their ‘death’ days as they learn how to live. This was such a moving story. Silvera’s writing is top-notch and definitely known to break hearts. This book was 373-pages, I read it in under 24-hours by reading both the audiobook and hard copy versions, and I gave it a full 5-stars. Additionally, I added this book to my all-time ‘favorites’ shelf on Goodreads. This completed two challenges: read a dark or taboo contemporary (story about death) and book you planned to read in 2018 and never got around to.

3. The next book I finished was Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo. This was an ARC-copy as the book actually doesn’t release until March 5, 2019. Basically a story about a girl really struggling to find her place in the world after the loss of her sister and suffering severe bullying at school. This was a very tough story to read. I didn’t end up giving it a star rating as I was so all over the place on how I felt about it. This was 352-pages long and I used it to complete two challenges: read your most recently acquired contemporary (I received this from the publisher a couple of days before the readathon started) and read a book with blurple (blue or purple) on the cover (this book had a lot of purple on it).

4. Finally, the last book I completed was Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann. This is a YA book about a girl coming to terms with her sexuality and trying to navigate relations with her family as she doesn’t want to do with her life what they want her to do with it. There’s a lot of drama in this one. This book is 304-pages long, one of the shortest of my week, but it took me the longest to read. This was the first book I began for the readathon and the last book I finished. I found it to be a tad boring and really had to force myself to complete it. Something about the writing style just didn’t mesh with me. I ended up giving this one 3-stars and frankly, the last star was mainly for the diversity which I really liked and appreciated. I am looking forward to Kann’s next book releasing later this year. I am just hoping her writing has evolved a bit since this one. I used this book to complete one challenge: read a diverse contemporary.

So that sums it up! My first ever successful readathon. I completed all 4-books on my designated TBR, which is a minor miracle if I am being honest as I rarely stick to a TBR, and read 1,332-pages for the week. This put me a little behind with some of my other reading but I am trying not to get stressed about the amount of ARCs I have to read over the coming weeks! Also me:

Did you participate in Contemporary-A-Thon? How did it go for you? If you didn’t, what did you read last week? I want to know! Comment below or reach out to me through any of my social media outlets.

Cheers & Happy Reading~

 

Review: They Both Die in the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the EndThey Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I may never be the same again!

What would you do if you were told your life would end within the next 24-hours?

A lot of us may say, spend as much time with our loved ones as we could, right?

But what if they were inaccessible or unavailable to you? What then?

You wouldn’t want to stay inside would you?
Curled up with your books…
Okay, maybe YOU would and maybe I would but most people would want to go out there, live life, have experiences…but with who?

For Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio these are very real questions. The day, September 5th, and they both have received their Death-Cast alerts. They will both die within the next 24-hours. Due to circumstances I will not go into here, they do not have loved ones to spend their last day with.

Through the use of a cleverly imagined social app called, Last Friend, they connect with one another. So begins the last adventure of their lives.

To say this book gutted me would be an understatement.

Once I started down the path of Ruf and Mateo’s journey, I could think of nothing else. I read this, via audio and hardcover, within the course of 24-hours which seemed fitting, considering the subject matter. Upon completion, I immediately added it to my ‘favorites’ shelf, an act I do not take lightly.

The emotions that Silvera is able to draw out – He is a master.

Who would I recommend this to? Anyone who has a heart and wants to read about what it means to LIVE.
All the stars.

Original: Book #4 for Contemporary-A-Thon!!!

Why did I save this one for last?
Basically, I think I will enjoy this one the most but I also KNOW it will crush me.

Pray for me.

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Review: Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & LuckLove & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

When Addie embarks on a family trip to Ireland for her Aunt’s destination wedding, she couldn’t be happier to get out of town. It has been the
worst summer of her life
for dramatic reasons unknown to the reader for pretty much the entire book.

The plan is that after the wedding, Addie and her brother Ian, will travel on to Italy to visit Addie’s best friend, Lena. That’s right, Lena from Love & Gelato, the book that completely stole my heart last month.

However, things do not go exactly as planned when Addie catches Ian running away from their hotel room on the morning they are suppose to depart. Ian has other plans and none of them include Lena or Italy.

What happens next is a wild road trip through Ireland with their new friend, Rowan, in one of the biggest POS cars in the country.

While this book did have moments of cute and quirky, it also had moments that were highly annoying and bland. Ian and Addie are in a petty sibling battle pretty much for the entirety of the book that, frankly, was wearing on my last nerve.

I get it, siblings fight sometimes but good grief. I also wasn’t crazy about the format. Not knowing what Addie’s drama was all about until the very end. I would have rather known up front so that I could have at least had some sympathy for the girl. Instead I just felt like…

It had a lovely ending which bumped it up a half a star but otherwise, I was underwhelmed. I didn’t feel as connected to Addie as I did with Lena and the overall plot of Love & Gelato was much more to my personal preference than this book. Overall, I am glad I read this and I would read more books by this author but I am glad to be done with this one.

Original:Book 3 for Contemporary-A-Thon Round 4!!! I am using this to meet two of the challenges:

6. Read a book in a nontraditional format (audiobook)
7. Read a book with a picture on the spine

I really enjoyed Love & Gelato last month! Looking forward to this as well as it is set in Ireland which is basically my favorite place in the world.

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Review: Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Fat Angie: Rebel Girl RevolutionFat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Angie’s life is in absolute shambles. It is the start of a new school year, her sister is dead, having been killed while serving overseas in the military, her girlfriend has moved away to Texas to live with her father and her best friend has ghosted.

Returning to school, Angie faces extreme bullying and acts of violence. During one particularly heinous incident, she stands up to her bully and breaks his nose. Since no one will come forward and tell the truth, that she was protecting herself from a violent assault, Angie is now facing expulsion.

Her mother, an absolutely atrocious woman who can CHOKE, is threatening to send Angie away to in inpatient treatment center. Suffering from severe depression, grief over the loss of her sister and debilitating panic attacks, Angie is left to navigate what is left of her life essentially on her own.

This book was difficult to read. I was uncomfortable pretty much the entire time and now that I am done, I am not comfortable assigning a star-rating. I know this may seem silly but I just can’t narrow down my thoughts to one number.

This book was oddly compelling. The writing was a little strange to me and the narrative was much more ‘stream of consciousness’-based than I tend to like but I could not stop reading.

I wanted to know where Angie would end up and how her life would go. She is a character who is in a really bad place, physically, mentally, emotionally and literally, her home is terrible. She doesn’t feel positive about anything in her life and was just so down on herself. It hurt to read this.

In addition to all of that, there are horrible scenes of violence, fat-shaming and hate speech. I questioned at times whether or not it was necessary for the plot and I’m not sure. At times, it almost felt like certain aspects were thrown in more for shock value but I don’t know, life does get messy sometimes. Ugh, I am just so torn on this one, you guys.

As a consumer reviewer, I can tell you this story made me uncomfortable, but I feel by ‘judging’ (aka. adding a rating) it, I am in essence casting judgement on the author’s story. ‘Isn’t that what we always do?’ you may ask. In a way, yes, but this story just felt so personal, probably due to the ‘stream of consciousness’ narrative, and it did have a lot of aspects to it that I liked and respected but other things that felt ‘off’.

I am making zero sense right now, I know. That is what this book will do you.

I wouldn’t know where to begin in recommending this book to anyone. Trigger warnings are too numerous to list but there was a lot of diversity and a lot of serious topics that should be explored more.

The road trip aspect of the story was my favorite element. Basically, before Angie’s sister was killed, she wrote a letter to Angie listing a bunch of things she wanted to experience with her, via a road trip in their state, when she got back home. Since she never made it back, Angie, along with her sister’s urn, convinces an old friend to take her parent’s RV and drive them to the different locations listed in the letter. They are joined by two additional characters and your typical road trip hijinks ensue.

It is important to note that this book is a continuation to a prior book, titled Fat Angie. I never read that first book and I don’t feel like I was missing anything. This felt like a complete story to me. If you are interested in this one, and haven’t read the first, it is my opinion that you do not need to go back and read that first one.

This is not my typical review. In fact, I have been dreading writing this. No gifs, no attempts at humor, this story just doesn’t seem the place for it. My final decision is to not add a star rating. I want people to read this. I want to hear other’s opinions on this. I think there are so many important issues throughout this that should be discussed more, not just the ‘real life’ issues but how we express and take in those topics via literature.

Original: Book 2 for
Contemporary-A-Thon
!!! I will be using this for two challenges:

1. my most recently acquired Contemporary novel
2. read a book with blurple on the cover

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My Favorite Contemporary Novels from 2018

In honor of Contemporary-A-Thon happening this week, I thought I would write about my three favorite Contemporary Novels from 2018. It is important to note that these are the best Contemporaries I read in 2018, they were not necessarily 2018 releases.

To be honest, I really only started reading Contemporary books at the end of 2017. Previous to that, I generally read horror, science-fiction, fantasy, mystery and non-fiction exclusively. I mistakenly believed that I would find Contemporary stories boring or not relatable.

The book that really changed that for me was, Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills, which I received in an OwlCrate subscription box and figured I may as well give it a go. I absolutely adored it. I loved the humor and the characters and all the drama. After that I started picking up Contemporaries whenever I could. In the beginning, I mainly went with this that were recommended from various BookTubers. Now that I am more familiar with Contemporary authors and the styles that I like, I try to keep up with all the latest releases.

Without further chat, let’s get into my top 5 Contemporaries from 2018 (in no particular order):

  1. Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson – When Monday Charles goes missing, her best friend, Claudia, seems to be the only person to take notice. Claudia knows that Monday would never leave her with a new school year looming and all that comes with that. Claudia brings up her concerns repeatedly to her parents, to adults at school, even to Monday’s family and everyone seems to brush her off. More and more confused and more and more concerned for her friend’s safety, Claudia decides to investigate the matter herself. This book is vivid, heart-wrenching and important. Jackson’s writing is so smooth and engaging. I finished this book in 2-days, absolutely loved it and have recommended it to friends since who have enjoyed it as well. This story takes place in present day Washington D.C. and focuses on missing kids who are overlooked and abandoned. It examines failures in our society in a really creative way and I feel it is quite an impactful read.
  2. Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer – This is another vivid and heartbreaking story concerning loss, grief and the art of moving forward. Following two high school students with equally complicated histories, this story examines their relationship development and their efforts to rediscover happiness after great personal tragedies. Again, Kemmerer’s writing really set this book apart. I found it fluid and easy to enjoy. I felt connected to the characters and my heart truly hurt for them at times. I loved the format of this as well, which ties in correspondence, both in letter and email form. In my opinion, that trope tends to add depth to a story, as sometimes characters (and real people) are better able to express themselves through the written word than through interpersonal communications. I feel like it allows us to delve deeper into character’s inner thoughts, dreams, desires and motivations.
  3. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – At the time that I read this, I felt like I was the last person on the globe who had not read this story. I won’t go into too much detail here, as with the movie released last year, I feel like everyone pretty much knows what this is about. A boy, corresponding with a crush, coming out to his family, friend drama, teenage angst, it was amazing and adorable and I loved it. The end.

I am currently in the middle of three YA Contemporary books for Contemporary-A-Thon Round 4. Although not all created equal, I think they all do offer up a bit of modern day social commentary which can provide a great service to those who read them. So, with that being said, what are some of your Contemporary novels that you may have read lately? What would you recommend to others or what books do you feel are important for people to read and discuss? I want to know! Leave a comment below or contact me through any of my social media links.

Cheers & Happy Reading~

Contemporary-A-Thon TBR

Hi all! It is time for another round of Contemporary-A-Thon hosted by a great group of gals over on BookTube. I will link all of their announcement videos at the end of this post, if you would like to check them out and hopefully join us in the fun!

There are 7 challenges in this round and you can double up on challenges so you don’t necessarily have to complete 7 books. Although, honestly, that would be great and I do have B-plan books in addition to the ones listed below. I am going to put the books I am currently reading on hold for the duration of the Readathon and read exclusively the books on this TBR.

The dates of the Readathon are from Monday, February 11th, running through Sunday, February 17th. Without further ado, let’s get into the challenges and thus my TBR for next week:

  1. Read your most recently acquired ContemporaryFor this challenge I am going to be reading Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, Candlewick Press, so a big thank you to them. This sounds like a hard-hitting story following Angie as she struggles to live beyond the negativity of her surroundings. This book also involves an RV road trip. I am definitely down for that!
  2. Read a book with blurple (blue or purple) on the cover – For this, see above, because I am counting Fat Angie for this challenge as well!
  3. Read a diverse ContemporaryFor this I am planning to read Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann. This story follows, Alice, a black asexual girl, as she works her way through a surprising summer friendship. This book also features one of my favorite book covers of 2018. It’s gorgeous. I had this on my TBR last year for Pride Month but never ended up getting to it. I am really looking forward to this one!
  4. Read a dark or taboo Contemporary – Someone grab the tissues because for this challenge I am planning to read Adam Silvera’s, They Both Die At The End. This futuristic YA-Contemporary imagines a world where a company, Death-Cast, lets people know the day they are going to die. When Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio get their Death-Cast calls they both decide to seek a new friend for their ‘death day’. Using the app, Last Friend, they find each other and set out on one last adventure. I know this book is going to crush me but it has been sitting on my shelves for way to long and I need to get it read. My eyes fill up with tears just thinking about it.
  5. Read a Contemporary you meant to read in 2018 but didn’t get to – For this challenge I am going to double-up and count either Let’s Talk About Love or They Both Die at the End. Both of those books made it onto monthly TBRs last year but never ended up being read. Let me tell you, they are excited for the opportunity!
  6. Read a Contemporary in a non-traditional format – For this I am going to listen to the audiobook of Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch. I just read Love & Gelato by Welch last month and absolutely adored the humor and the topics of family and love that it touched upon. I am really looking forward to this one as it is set in Ireland, which if you know me, you know I am pretty much obsessed with.
  7. Read a Contemporary with a picture on the spine – Again for this one, I get to double up. The hardcover edition of Love & Luck, which I do own, has a completely adorable little shamrock on the side with leaves configured of heart images. It’s pretty much the cutest thing ever and I thought of it right away when they announced this challenge!

Alright you guys, that is it! That wraps up my Contemporary-A-Thon February 2019 TBR. Are you participating in Contemporary-A-Thon? If so, are any of these books on your TBR? What books are you including to go with what challenges? I really want to know. Leave a comment below or contact me through any of my social media links.

Also, guys, don’t forget to watch the BookTube Announcement videos linked below! Give the videos a like and be sure to subscribe. These four are seriously some of my favorite BookTubers ever. They are constantly uploading new, fun content and I don’t think you will be disappointed!

Julie @ Pages and Pens

Chelsea @ chelseadolling reads

Natasha @ myreadingisodd

Melanie @ meltotheany

Cheers y’all & Happy Reading~

Review: The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

The Wicker KingThe Wicker King by K. Ancrum
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Original and hard-hitting.

Punch you in the gut and face. Mmmmm. This one, I felt it in my heart, my bones and my head hurt.

August and Jack. This is the story of their relationship but at its heart, it is so much more than that. The overwhelming emotion I had during this story was anger.

I wasn’t angry at August and Jack though, I was angry at the characters we didn’t really know. The absent adults: the parents, the teachers, the counselors. Where were all the people who should have been helping, leading and influencing these boys lives?

Anyone?

The story closely follows August and Jack during the course of their increasingly codependent relationship.

Is that relationship good?
It’s powerful. I wouldn’t call it good.

Is that relationship confusing?
Darn right, it is.

Is that relationship healthy?
Definitely not.

Jack is suffering from hallucinations that are getting worse. He confides in August, his best friend and together they try to navigate this new and disordered world. We get a lot of insight into Jack’s world and it is chaotic and bizarre. It was very sad to me to consider how scary and desperate that must be.

August, who cares not only for himself but his completely useless mother, is used to the role of caregiver and he throws himself into that role in his relationship with Jack. You see, Jack’s parents are also missing in action, ALL THE TIME. Both boys have essentially been abandoned by their parents so it is not surprising that they turn to one another in their darkest hours of need.

While I think it would be easy to focus on the codependency of the boys relationship, I think it is important to see the details of what is going on behind the scene. What propelled the boys into the circumstances we find them in during the course of the book. The absentee adults are the real villains here and I think it is significant to recognize how their choices influence the kids around them.

The story itself, although not literally ‘stream of consciousness’, reminded me a lot of some stream of consciousness works that I have read, in that it was disjointed and muddled. I think that makes sense though as a way to tell this story. The story of Jack and August is disjointed and confusing. They are experiencing their life this way. Why shouldn’t the reader go along for the ride in the same vein?

I also found the format of the book itself, how the pages get increasingly darker the farther you get into the story (Hardcover Edition) contributed to my overall enjoyment while reading. It was a very unique way to experience a story such as this and I really want to applaud whoever was responsible for coming up with that concept. Whether it was the author herself or someone at the publishing house, I found it super effective and impressive.

Overall, I was very moved by this story. It felt so original and like it was an important (I feel like I have been using that word a lot in this review) story to tell. I was hovering somewhere around a 4-to-4.5-star rating throughout the course of the story but after reading the Author’s Note, I had to bump it up to a 5. I will definitely pick up anything else K. Ancrum writes. Very impressive.

Original: I am very excited to be picking up this beautiful book tomorrow as part of the Dragons & Tea Book Club

Anyone else joining in the fun??

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Review: Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Bellweather RhapsodyBellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


**A quirky and oddly compelling tale**

Bellweather Rhapsody was like nothing I have ever read before. I really enjoyed it. It was 100% unique and read like a Wes Anderson film.

The setting is the Bellweather Hotel: large, a bit in disrepair and possibly haunted. The cast of characters: flawed, nerdy, dangerous and dramatic. The plot: a weekend music gathering for the most talented young musicians in the state of New York; obviously dramatics ensue.

Two of our main characters from the high school perspective are Alice and Rabbit Hatmaker, a brother and sister duo, who are basically the novel interpretation of what would happen if Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel were brother and sister.

Aspirations and attitudes are high both among the kids and the adults. This was completely entertaining even though I can hardly form into words an accurate description of what I just read. There is a lot going on including murder, hauntings (both external and internal), disappearances, shouting matches, a love affair, self discovery, robbery and so much more.

I am so glad I picked this up. It was as random as this storyline and I’m down for that. I would recommend this for any music geeks out there – you know who you are. Be proud and read this book!

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Review: Love a la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Love à la ModeLove à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“…part of the magic of food. It didn’t last. It couldn’t. Each bite was only a moment transformed into a memory.”


FOODIES REJOICE!!!

This book stole my heart right out of the gate. A departure gate at O’Hare International Airport to be specific. We meet our main characters, Rosie Radeke and Henry Yi, aboard a plane to Paris. Both teens have been selected to attend the very prestigious Ecole of Chef Laurent. The program is part competition, part culinary school, open to only 20 students per year. Being selected is an honor in itself and both Rosie and Henry are full of excitement and trepidation on their flight.

This book was absolutely adorable ((one of the best ‘Meet Cutes’ I have ever read!!)) and reminded me that sometimes it is okay to just read something that makes your heart happy. There was nothing complicated, no horrible hidden secrets or murders or deceptions, just love, reflection and growth…oh and a heck of a lot of fun, food and friends!

In addition to Henry and Rosie, the story incorporates quite a few of the other students who are from different areas around the world and brought such unique personalities to the story. If you are someone who enjoys stories with a strong friendship group you should definitely pick this one up. I loved the support and camaraderie amongst the main cast. Yumi in particular, loved her so much!! The banter between the characters is great; I was laughing out loud by only 3% into the book.

“There’s no one else I’d rather eat with.”

As a romance-heavy YA Contemporary will do, this book is replete with the angsty sort of romance tropes that you would typically find in a YA but, that being said, they were really well done here. It never felt cheesy to me or overplayed, just nice, steady and sweet. I loved watching the evolution of the relationship between Rosie and Henry, even through the miscommunications that made me want to scream, I just truly felt filled to the brim with warmth from this story.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to provide my feedback and I look forward to hearing what other readers think of this one! Well done, Ms. Strohm. Very well done.

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