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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Diamonds in the Rough By Michelle Madow {Review}

Review by Tamara 
Diamonds in the Rough
By Michelle Madow
Series: The Secret Diamond Sisters (Book 2)
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Teen (October 28, 2014)
Goodreads | Amazon

All-access doesn't mean no problems.

The three Diamond sisters survived the summer in style after coming to live with their long-lost billionaire father. But making a place for themselves at their exclusive new Las Vegas private school is throwing them any number of gold-plated curves. Savannah's YouTube stardom turns into a Sweet Sixteen reality show extravaganza--with complimentary enemies on the side. Dangerous flirtations don't keep Peyton from a gamble that will risk far more than she planned to bet. And when Courtney and the sisters' archenemy, Madison, uncover two explosive secrets, it will rock even this town of glittering illusion--and turn their lives upside down all over again.

Diamonds in the Rough picks up at the beginning of the school year after the summer of The Secret Diamond Sisters. Peyton, Courtney, and Savannah are ready to start the school year at Goodman, their new private school.

Savannah is still my least favorite Diamond sister. She comes off as shallow and very naive in both books. She adjusts the easiest to the new lifestyle as Adrian Diamond’s daughter. She has no problem spending the money and trying to fit in with all the popular girls at her new private school. She makes some questionable choices when it comes to friends in this book. Savannah might not be my favorite but a lot of her behavior can be understood considering she is the youngest and the most sheltered. Peyton and Courtney have spent most of their lives protecting Savannah from their mother’s drinking and their family problems.

Peyton is a lot more likable in this book. She’s not as defiant and quick to do anything to get a rise out of her father. She seems to have matured a little bit, but she still makes some reckless choices in this book that end up effecting other people in a bad way.

Courtney is still my favorite Diamond sister. She is the most together out of all of them and always tries to be fair. She finds out some big secrets in this book. Adrian and her mother have been keeping a huge secret about her kidnapping from her and there’s some fallout from her learning the truth. On top of finding out that truth she’s still trying to stay away from her future step brother Brett.

Madison is another POV character and a lot goes on with her in this book that can’t be talked about without giving away major spoilers. I actually felt a lot of sympathy for her in this book after hating her in the first one. Her life is turned upside down during this book and she has a lot to deal with on her own. Plus, she’s not so hellbent on ruining the Diamond girls as she was in the first book.

This book is like one of those guilty pleasure soap opera. There is a lot of drama and it can seem far fetched at times but it’s so fun you can’t stop reading and just want to know more. I’m definitely going to continue this series because I’m dying to know what crazy things are going to happen with the Diamond sister. Plus, this book end with quite a cliffhanger and there are some more secrets that need to be let out. I’d recommend this book for anyone who likes Gossip Girl like drama and soapy fun.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thoughts on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies #OneLastTime



Before I say anything else, let me make it clear that I love these movies. I would watch the extended edition of the extended edition of the Extended Edition if it existed. Also, this is entirely based on the movies and not the books. I have read the books but it's been a long time, and I think the movies should stand on their own.

For the most part, I enjoyed The Battle of the Five Armies immensely. The battle scenes were intense, and I loved seeing all our old favorites again. Thorin's inner battle with greed was incredibly frustrating and moving. Smaug was just awesome. I love Evangeline Lilly's character, Tauriel, and seeing Galadriel kick some major butt made me incredibly happy (even if it was a little weird).

However, I have to say I'm a little bit unsatisfied with the way things ended. I don't know if this is a product of this small book being stretched into three long movies, or if it just needed a little bit more liberties taken with the ending. The Battle of the Five Armies was basically just one long battle scene (I know, I know, the title should've clued me in). Unlike the other movies, there wasn't much of a story line to this one. Considering how many changes they have made to this series already, I wish they would've added a little bit more to this movie in particular. The ending just felt incomplete, which would make sense if there were going to be more movies, but we already know where the next one begins. And there was a huge gap left in between them.

There are actually a lot of things that I wish that they had expounded on. After following these characters for so long, I would have liked to have known a little bit more about what happened to them, and where they ended up. 

{Spoilers} 

For instance, we know that the men were successful in beating the Orcs, but we don't really know what happened to them afterward. Did Bard the Bowman become king? Did they live peacefully with the dwarves? Did the dwarves help them build their city and give them money? How did that coexistence happen, what did it look like? I'm sure that all happened, but I would've liked to have seen it played out. 

Then there was what happened with the dwarves. Now that Thorin is dead, who is king? Did they stay in the mountain? Did they share the money? Did they give the elves their heirlooms? Is that where the Star of Elendil came from?

I also wish they would have shown a little bit more of what Saruman was up to. It would've been really interesting to see his descent into evil. It was basically just hinted at, kind of. How did he find the palantír?

Also, what happened to Tauriel? She's such a huge character in these movies, and has no role in the Lord of the Rings, so it would've been nice to have some idea of where she ends up and what she does. It felt like there was some kind of romantic tension between her and Legolas, was that all in my head? I mean I know she was in love with Kili, but it seemed like Legolas was in love with her. But he just leaves her, without a second thought, after all that he did to save her, and how loyal he was to her. He didn't even say goodbye. Do they ever see each other again?
Another thing that bugged me was that Alfrid (the conniving assistant to the Master of Laketown) was a pretty big character, who was just pathetic, and cruel, and cowardly. And in the end he just kind of runs off with a bunch of gold, with no consequences. If he played some role in The Lord of the Rings, it wouldn't bother me, but I really would've liked to have seen some sort of justice as far as he was concerned.

And really, couldn't Tauriel and Kili have gotten one good kissing scene? ONE?? Is that too much to ask?

{End Spoilers}

It's like there was no time for all of these things to be resolved, or further explored. There was a LOT of fighting. Actually the movie was almost entirely one big battle scene. I know that those are good and important, and I love them, but they should have just been part of the story, not the entire thing, in my opinion. And honestly, the battles in LoTR were a lot more creative and intense. The battle strategies were more intelligent and the contraptions they came up with were more elaborate. If you're going to make the whole movie a battle, it should at least be the best battle that we've seen.


I did like the tone of this movie. I like for them to be a little bit more serious, and dark, than the first two Hobbit movies were. But there was no comic relief at all. There was no humor. The other two movies had quite a bit of that, and I wish there had been at least a touch of that.

I know this sounds like I was really unhappy with the movie, and there were a lot of things that bothered me, or left me wanting, but I did still love it. These are probably my favorite movies ever made (with the LoTR movies), which is why I feel so passionately about them. I guess in the end, I just want more.

Will I ever be satisfied? Will it ever be enough? Probably not. I just needed to get my thoughts out there. And see if anyone else felt the same.

If you haven't seen it yet, you definitely still need to get out there and see it, then come back and tell me your thoughts!



Sunday, December 14, 2014

True Fire by Gary Meehan {Review}

"Review My Books" review by Tamara

True Fire
by Gary Meehan
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Quercus (November 4, 2014)
Language: English
Goodreads | Amazon

Sixteen-year-old Megan is pregnant.

As she prepares to tell her family, the unthinkable happens. Her village is razed by soldiers: her grandfather murdered, her twin sister taken.

On a desperate mission to rescue her beloved Gwyneth, Megan discovers a terrifying truth - that the destruction of her old life is inextricably linked to her unborn child. The feared witch soldiers, vanquished a generation ago, have returned to see the fulfilment of a prophecy: one that will put Megan and her new friends - Eleanor, a fiery ex-aristocrat, and Damon, a wayward charmer - at the heart of the greatest war her world has ever known.

True Fire follows sixteen year old Megan on a journey to save her sister after her village is attacked by witches. Her entire village is slaughtered one night by the witches and Meagan believes that her sister may have been taken and not killed. On top of that Megan just found out that she is pregnant and has to figure out how she’s going to raise a baby when her home and her family are now gone.

I like that this book broke away from the typical tropes and tried to bring something completely different. No romance or love triangles, just a girl on a journey to save her twin sister. Megan is a very likable main character, she’s very dedicated to finding her sister, and she won’t let anything get in her way.

I loved that there is no romance. Megan has so much going on in this story that she doesn’t have time for romance and it wouldn’t fit the story anyway. It would have been pretty unbelievable for Megan to be in the middle of a romance with all this happening around her.

Along the way she finds some unlikely allies. There's Eleanor, a 40 something ex aristocrat, and Damon. a 20 something guy that Megan and Eleanor find after the witches leave him to die. I really enjoyed the banter between these three, their unlikely partnership is refreshing and fun to read.

One thing that bothered me was that many times it seemed like Megan was careless with her pregnancy. There were a lot of things she shouldn’t have done while pregnant and she seemed unconcerned about the baby’s health. I know this was a very action packed book, but at times it was just unrealistic.

There were a lot of twists and betrayals throughout the story. Some I saw coming and some I didn’t. No one can be trusted, everyone has some kind of ulterior motive. The war between the Priests and the Witches is complicated and it’s hard to know which side to root for. I don’t know if I’ll continue this series but this first installment definitely left me with a lot of questions. Overall, this book was pretty enjoyable if you can handle the pacing.

My 15 Book Summer

Post by Kit

This past summer I decided to read whatever I wanted, and I didn't blog about any of them! (If you'd like to hear more about why I quit blogging, check out this post!) SO, I just thought I'd make a list of all the books I chose to read during the time when I wasn't swayed by dates that ARCs come out, or the fact that nobody really wants to read reviews about books (like The Fault in Our Stars) that everyone already loves.  So here's what I was occupying my time with during my dark days:

1) The Geography of You and Me
By Jennifer E. Smith
Print Length: 311 pages
Publisher: Poppy
Reagan's Review
Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.
2) Looking for Alaska
By John Green
Print Length: 254 pages
Publisher: Speak
Sold by: Penguin Group
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" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. 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.

After. Nothing is ever the same.
3) Isla and the Happily Ever After
By Stephanie Perkins
Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Dutton Children's (August 14, 2014)
Sold by: Penguin Group
Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.
4) Time After Time
By Tamara Ireland Stone
Print Length: 353 pages
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Calling Anna and Bennett’s romance long distance is an understatement: she’s from 1995 Chicago and he’s a time traveler from 2012 San Francisco. The two of them never should have met, but they did. They fell in love, even though they knew they shouldn't. And they found a way to stay together, against all odds.

It’s not a perfect arrangement, though, with Bennett unable to stay in the past for more than brief visits, skipping out on big chunks of his present in order to be with Anna in hers. They each are confident that they’ll find a way to make things work...until Bennett witnesses a single event he never should have seen (and certainly never expected to). Will the decisions he makes from that point on cement a future he doesn't want?

Told from Bennett’s point of view, Time After Time will satisfy readers looking for a fresh, exciting, and beautifully-written love story, both those who are eager to find out what’s next for Time Between Us's Anna and Bennett and those discovering their story for the first time.
5) The Beginning of Everything
By Robyn Schneider
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
My Review
Goodreads | Amazon
Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.
6) The Fault in Our Stars (again)
By John Green
Print Length: 337 pages
Publisher: Speak
Amazon | Goodreads
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

7) Eleanor and Park
By Rainbow Rowell
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Andye's Review
Amazon | Goodreads
Two misfits.One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
8) An Abundance of Katherines
By John Green
Print Length: 276 pages
Publisher: Speak
Amazon | Goodreads
19 Katherines and counting...

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun - but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.
9) Clockwork Angel
By Cassandra Clare
Print Length: 497 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Andye's Review
Amazon Goodreads
In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them....
10) Clockwork Prince
By Cassandra Clare
Print Length: 529 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Andye's Review
In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.
11) Clockwork Princess
By Cassandra Clare
Print Length: 593 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Tessa Gray should be happy—aren't all brides happy? Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.

12) LandlineBy Rainbow Rowell
Print Length: 319 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press 
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble;it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn't expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
13) We Were Liars
By E. Lockhart
Print Length: 242 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Amazon | Goodreads 
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
14) Magnolia
By Kristi Cook
Print Length: 337 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.
15) Let's Get Lost
By Adi Alsaid
Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Amazon | Goodreads
Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost.

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most.
There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love.

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.
Needless to say, all of these books were fantastic and if you're looking for 15 books to read this winter break, I would definitely recommend this list. (And no, I do not actually think anyone will read 15 books in 3 1/2 weeks;P)


Friday, December 12, 2014

Chasing Power {Review}

Review by Valerie


CHASING POWER
by Sarah Beth Durst
Hardcover: 376 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (October 14, 2014)
Language: English
Goodreads | Amazon

Sixteen-year-old Kayla was born with the ability to move things with her mind-things like credit cards and buttons on cash registers-and she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again . . . which would mean grave danger for them both.

When she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel-a boy with the ability to teleport-he needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family-and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive . . . or survive.
Chasing Power was a solid 3.5-3.75 star read for me; the characters were hilarious though a tad exaggerated, the plot was thoroughly interesting, and there were plenty of twists that I didn’t see coming. I did have my problems with this book but overall, it left me feeling satisfied.

First up, this book is all about a motley bunch of weirdoes which appealed to my weirdo loving heart from the start; our main character is Kayla, a telekinetic who secretly uses her powers behind her mom’s back. Next up is Selena, Kayla’s best friend, who is loud and proud and awesome, she is the computer of the operation. Daniel is the mysterious boy who shows up and maybe sort of blackmails Kayla into helping him; he is also “special” with the gift of teleportation. Finally, there’s Moonbeam, good old mom with a few secrets up her magical sleeves. All of these characters are on the exaggerated sidewhich I enjoyed (I wouldn’t have enjoyed this in a contemporary but I enjoyed it for this book) but then the unthinkable happens…. The characters did things that were… out of character. Oh my heart! I just need for characters to be well-developed and then to stick to whom the author made them to be and that wasn’t always the case for Chasing Power. My heart still hurts a little.

The plot was probably my favorite part of this book; it started off right away and there was plenty to keep me hooked. Daniel’s mother is kidnapped and the only way to retrieve her is to collect two stones located in various places around the world. You know what that vaguely sounds like? People, it sounds like National Treasure! I LOVE National Treasure! It was a really fun journey to find the stone and a few extras along the way. I honestly didn’t see over half of the plot twists coming and that’s my favorite way to read a book, I had to put it down and freak out a few times. This plot was on point!

​Aside from the things that I liked, there were some things that I didn’t love so much (like the characters acting out of character). The weirdest thing about this book is that it’s written in third person when it shouldn’t be, it made everything confusing and it made the book difficult to read at times. It is also possible that people could think that this book is boring and drags on, I didn’t think that until the ending… I barely got through it.

​Overall, I really enjoyed this book though it had some bumps along the way. Thanks for letting me read it, Andye!

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