Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Adding to the Stacks #13

I can't believe this is my last Adding to the Stacks post for the year. It went by so fast!

One book for review:

Ingredients for Success: 10 Best Practices for Business and Life by Joseph James Slawek. This is a super short book that I can't even find on goodreads. *shrugs*

Two purchased:

Eve by Anna Carey - a dystopian that I can't remember if was good or not. I'll take a chance on most any book that says Epic Reads on the back though.

Books and Book-Collectors by John Carter. Another one I can't find on goodreads. This is a book from the 50's that I couldn't not take home. It includes essays about book collectors and other things delightfully bookish.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Thoughts On)

Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
Pages: 215
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Christmas gift from My Favorite
Rating: 5/5

Summary from Goodreads:

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting — he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments.

The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.

From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd — whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself — Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.


I'm doing a few reviews backwards because I didn't write up reviews during the #ReadingCram. Oopies. A Monster Calls is an example of a book that I wanted because of the cover. I actually knew nothing about the book other than a few favorite bloggers loved it. When I got a gift card from My Favorite, this is one that I purchased. 

I had been told not to get the Kindle version so that I could see the illustrations. That they make the book even better. Boy were they right. The illustrations are beyond awesome and added so much to an already stellar story. 

My version has a blurb from John Green on the cover that says something about Patrick Ness being a beautiful writer. And beautiful is just how I would describe it. This was my first Ness but it won't be my last. The writing was lush but still stark enough to fit the story.

The story itself started with an idea from the late writer Siobhan Dowd. She is another author that I need to read immediately. This story was heart wrenching but yet it healed at the same time. I know that sounds crazy - that it breaks your hear while healing it - but it really did.

The story is about a 13 year old boy as he struggles with his mom's cancer. A few minutes after midnight, a monster shows up at his house. The monster tells him that he's going to tell him a few stories and then have Conor tell him one. 

It's a short book at just over 200 pages and I read it in one sitting. I had to find out what happened. The pacing was just wonderful and there was laughter mixed with the sadness. I went into this one blind but came out of it with a deep appreciation for the imagination of Ness. The way the story was weaved and the ultimate sad but satisfying ending, was mind blowing. The illustrations added another layer of awesomeness. I almost can't put into words an adequate review for this one because I'm still processing it all.

If you like books that make you think and that are beautifully written, A Monster Calls will not disappoint.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Book Goodness

My Favorite gave me a gift card to Barnes and Noble and I had such a fun time spending it. After looking at my Goodreads TBR list, I narrowed it down to 15. Then I went in and browsed around. Added and subtracted and had it down to 5. Ended up with...

Anyone who has read my blog for long knows that I feel all.the.love for Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone. I think it's all kinds of neat that my favorite book of the year is on my shelves now because of My Favorite. I pre-ordered a hardcover of the second in the series, Siege and Storm. It will bug me a bit that they don't match but not enough not to buy a copy. I want to do an immediate re-read. If you haven't read these yet, do yourself a favor and fix that immediately.

Next is The Farm by Emily McKay. This one as been on my want list for a long time and the library doesn't own a copy so I really had no choice. It wanted to go home with me. I've read some great reviews from bloggers that I trust so yeah...bring on the creepy Ticks. 

And finally, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I literally squealed when I saw the copy of this and knew for sure that I'd buy it. Read it in one sitting and loved it. Review to come on this once I've processed all.the.feels. The illustrations are as great as everyone keeps saying they are.

So Merry Christmas to me from My Favorite. He made this book nerd extremely happy.

Friday, December 20, 2013

#ReadingCram check in

My goal for the #ReadingCram was 7 books and I've read four so far. Go me!

The boys will be with their dad for the first week of Christmas break so I got an armload of books from the library and plan to read a ton. I have quite a few projects I want to work on but am hoping that I'll get quite a bit read too.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Right Now

Right now I'm loving the #ReadingCram. My goal was to read 7 books and I've already read 3 and most of the 4th. Go me!

Right now I'm watching Christmas movies with the boys.

Right now I'm enjoying surprise visits from My Favorite. 

Right now I'm looking forward to getting some deep cleaning while the boys are at their dad's house for Christmas.

Right now I'm listening to church Christmas musical CD. Still. NGL, will be glad when they tire of it. I tired of it weeks ago.

Right now I'm making plans for scrapbooking pages. Itching to create again. It's been years and that's terrible. I loved it so much.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bout of Books 9.0

Bout of Books is one of my very favorite bookish events and today registration is open!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

As usual I won't be making a list of books to read but my goal of books read will be 5. Let the fun begin...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Spotlight: The Christmas Cats Chase the Christmas Rats {Kids Book}

The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats is a Seuss-ical tale for young children which builds upon the moral of the first Christmas Cats book to once again teach children a valuable life lesson.

In this second Christmas Cats adventure the lesson to be learned is: In life, always keep an open mind. Don't accept stereotypes as true or let the unfounded opinions of others prevent you from finding out the truth for yourself. We all need to act without prejudice and learn to accept each other as individuals.

The Christmas Cats learn that rats, too, should be judged as individuals. Another message: all of us should try to help others.

Written for the author's four-year-old granddaughters, Ava and Elise Wilson, with the assistance of talented professional illustrator Gary McCloskey, The Christmas Cats continue to have adventures while attired in their familiar silly hats from Book One (The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats).

Learning to accept others in a non-judgmental, open-minded fashion is a lesson we all must learn. If children can internalize this behavior while young, learning to help others and to do good works, the world will be a better place.

About Constance Corcoran Wilson:

CONSTANCE WILSON graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in English and Journalism, but she began writing for her hometown (Independence, Iowa) newspaper at the age of 10 and was Editor-in-Chief of her high school newspaper. She continued her education, including a Ferner/Hearst Journalism Scholarship and a Freshman Merit Scholarship at Iowa, and then at Berkeley, WIU, NIU and the University of Chicago.

Connie holds a Masters (+30) in English, Journalism and Education. Her career path led to teaching 7th and 8th grade language arts (Silvis, Illinois) and teaching writing at 6 IA/IL colleges or universities, including a class teaching film at Black Hawk Junior College. She then established the second Sylvan Learning Center in the state of Iowa and a Prometric Testing site, in conjunction with ETS of Princeton, NJ. She has taught writing and literature classes at all 6 IA/ILQuad City colleges.

"Constance (aka Connie) was Midwest Writing Center Writer of the Year, Content Producer of the Year for Yahoo, and Illinois Women's Press Association Silver Feather Award winner (Chicago chapter.) She was named one of the "10 Most Creative Teachers in America" in a TAB Scholastic Books competition. Her Sylvan Learning Center (#3301) in Bettendorf, Iowa, was named Best Business of the Year by the Bettendorf Chamber of Commerce that year and the free reading program for poor kids she established was the largest scholarship program of its kind among a 900-member chain, for which she was personally awarded a Bi-State Literacy Award by then sitting First Lady Barbara Bush in 1993.

Constance lives in East Moline, Illinois with husband Craig and in Chicago, Illinois, where her son, Scott and daughter-in-law Jessica and their four-year-old twins Elise and Ava reside. Her daughter, Stacey, a graduate of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, recently returned from a year spent living and working in Australia and now lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee.

Connie's Website

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Author Interview: Julia Swift and Andrew Landis, authors of Bold.

Andrew Landis and Julia Swift on the set of Smallville.

Hi everyone!  We are so happy to be visiting Little Lovely Books!  We are Julia Swift and Andrew Landis, and we have released our first book, Bold.  We are happy to answer a few questions from Dana.

What was the inspiration for Bold?

We came up with the idea for Bold from a conversation we were having one day about how society looks at things that are appropriate/inappropriate for boys versus girls.  Crying came up as something that is more acceptable for girls to do in public, but for boys, it shows weakness.  Then we realized that if we witnessed a boy crying, it would make us want to know more about him — it was proof he had a sensitive soul.  So we thought what if a girl saw a guy crying, assumed that meant he had a sweet side, but then later found out he was faking crying.  But by then he had become more sensitive just because that’s what she expected/allowed him to be.  So we used that situation as a springboard for how two unlikely characters meet and then their relationship ends up changing each other’s lives.

How did you decide to write together instead of separately?

We decided to write together when we were both at U.S.C. Film School taking a class on writing one-hour dramas for television.  After reading each other’s scripts and giving notes, we realized immediately the other person’s comments took our individual stories to the next level.  So many times we would receive feedback from students who didn’t understand the story that we wanted to tell and would try and change it to how they thought it should be.  But with us, we instantly knew that the other person understood what we were trying to say and knew how to make it even better, deeper, more emotional.  We had “the talk” about how committed are we to working together and have been a team for more than a decade now.

Your blog tagline is a "celebration of the shy, awkward, nerdy underdog in all of us". I love that. Can you tell me more about writing about the underdog and loving yourself for yourself?

We were both shy, awkward kids growing up so creating a blog that celebrates the good in an underdog seemed like a natural fit for us.  Andrew was born in South Korea, but he was adopted and grew up the son of a minister in a small, Pennsylvania town where he stood out like a sore thumb.  Julia’s childhood was filled with chaos in Los Angeles and Vegas so disappearing into books created a safe haven for her.  When we write, we remember what it was like to have been that outsider or loner who watched from afar, and we try to depict stories where our characters overcome an emotional challenge facing them by changing who they are, accepting it or learning to celebrate that uniqueness in a positive way. 

Is there any chance for a continuation of Will and Sasha? Or maybe a companion novel about her brother?

We love that idea about a companion novel about her brother, and yes we are definitely going to see Will and Sasha again.  But first we are finishing up our second novel about a 17-year-old girl, Mya, who grew up in a mob family and has plans to go to college to escape from that world.  She was never like her family, she always followed the rules and worked hard for everything.  When her whole world comes tumbling down right before she’s to leave for college and her brother and sister need her, Mya must decide whether she’ll start the new life in a new city that she’s always dreamt about, or if she’ll let herself be sucked back into the life she always hated. And then next year, we will release a follow-up to Bold.

Bold tackles some tough issues but they are handled with grace. What is the biggest thing you hope readers take away from the book?

All of us always imagine everyone else is judging us, but what if instead we could imagine everyone else is rooting for us?  What would we do differently?  What chances would we take?  Our dream is that a shy kid somewhere will read this and realize they are not alone and try to open themselves up more to life.  In the long run, people don’t regret embarrassing things they’ve done, they only regret what they were too scared to do. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas {Thoughts On}

Title: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)
Author: Sarah J. Maas (website)(Twitter)
Pages: 406 pages 
Source: library
Publication Date: March 30, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Rating: 4 of 5....excellent!

Summary from Goodreads:

Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?


This is a perfect example of a book that I'd pick up because of a good cover. The first one isn't something that I'd think I'd like but the second one...yes please! I'm glad I got this one for my Kindle because I didn't want to put it down and I was able to read it way longer into the night on there. 

Celaena is an awesome badass character and I loved that. Her wit was awesome. She went through terrible things in her short life but she made such an effort to keep living and being happy. That was great. So many times books don't allow the character to still be happy.

I enjoyed the scenes where the Champions were training for the big to-the-death match. It was my favorite part of the book. I could completely picture her training with the different weapons in my mind. 

I'm not sure how I feel about the romance because it seemed a bit all over the place and I couldn't decide just who I was rooting for. It was sort of a triangle but not really and I was just confused. I'm looking forward to how the characters interact in the next book.

The world building was wonderful. I love being able to feel like I'm actually there and Maas did an outstanding job with that. From the flashback scenes in Endovier to the scenes around the castle, it was well developed and awesome.

The only issue I had was that the ending felt a bit rushed. After spending so much time in that world, it seemed to end awfully fast. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in Crown of Midnight.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Adding to the Stacks #11

Two beauties from HarperCollins. The House Girl was a win from co-hostessing the Dewey Read-a-Thon for Andi. I keep saying that I'm not going to request or accept anymore books but Avalon sounds incredible! Hoping to start on that one this week. The cover gives me grabby hands!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bold by Julia Swift and Andrew Landis (Thoughts On)

Title: Bold
Author: Julia Swift and Andrew Landis (website)
Pages: 174
Source: Received from authors in exchange for an honest review
Published: July 4, 2013
Rating: 3 of 5

Summary from Goodreads:

Sasha, a shy, 15-year-old girl who hides from the world, almost dies in a car crash and vows that if she survives, she will be bold and live life to the fullest. Her newfound courage is tested when she meets Will, who just moved to her Air Force desert town after his journalist father’s disappearance. Will is fascinated by Sasha’s brush with and secret knowledge of death.

Sasha and Will push each other to take chances and break out of their sheltered suburban world. But will they discover there is a difference between being bold and being stupid before they put themselves, or someone else, in danger?


Bold isn't my usual genre of choice but the story is an interesting one. After Sasha almost dies she decides to re-invent herself and stop being shy. Will and his mom move across the country to escape pain. They meet by chance during an "experiment" that Will does for his school newspaper. They are immediately struck by each other but being typical teenagers, drama occurs. Lies and misunderstandings occur but in the end they come to find that they can just be themselves.

Bold is a short book at just under 175 pages but it packs in a ton of experiences. The narration switches from Sasha to Will but I sometimes had a bit of trouble remembering which was which because they sounded so similar. Swift and Landis were TV writers and this was apparent in several of the more dramatic scenes. I could easily picture them on the screen.

Although it's marketed as a romance, it wasn't heavy. I enjoyed that they didn't start out professing their undying love to each other. Insta-love is beyond annoying to me. They started liking each other from the start but they really were friends first.

There were a couple of parts that I didn't quite understand but overall it's a quick, fun read with a great message. I think that it would be a good choice for younger teens who need help remembering that they don't have to be like everyone else. Being yourself is the only and best way to be.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Reading Cram

Juliababyjen's Reading Room and Dana Square are hostessing an end of the year read-a-thon with the best name ever...the #ReadingCram. Beginning December 9th through the 22nd, it is the perfect time to finish up some of those books before the new year. There will be lots of fun challenges and even some prizes. To find out more and to sign up go here.

Since I rock read-a-thons, I'm in. No specific list of books to read but I'd like to read 7 or so.

Guest Post from Isaura author Ruth Silver

Title: Isaura (Aberrant 3)
Author: Ruth Silver
Publisher: Patchwork Press/Lazy Day Publishing
Published On: December 4th, 2013
Cover Art: Erica Crouch (paperback), Lazy Day Publishing (eBook)
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Fantasy
With Joshua’s recent disappearance, Olivia has little choice but to head into the dangerous Gravelands as the new government wrestles with fixing the damage to society. Joining forces with her estranged father and a girl from Haven, they go on a search-and-rescue mission to find Joshua and bring him back alive. If traveling through outlaw territory isn’t frightening enough, Olivia learns she has exposed her secret and is hunted by her allies.
Available for purchase:
Paperback: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
eBook: Kindle | Nook
“I'm fine!” I pushed harder on the gas. “They can't be that far ahead of us.” I just hoped we were headed in the right direction.

We drove another twenty minutes north as I moved off the dirt road and onto grass. I glanced back at Rane. “Do you think Craynor could have found a place in Haven to keep Joshua?”

“I don't know. Not much was left. There could have been a cellar or basement abandoned that didn't get struck. That's how I survived,” Rane admitted.

It at least gave me hope. As we drove north, the rain stopped and the clouds parted. Cresting a hill, I slammed the brakes as we jolted to an abrupt halt.

“What the hell?” Gavin's voice echoed as the seatbelt restrained him and his arm shot up on the dashboard to steady himself. A few feet away, I saw outlaws with weapons pointed in our direction. “Hurry up!” His voice threatened in my ear as I slammed on the gas, but our car wasn't going anywhere: the tires had blown from spikes in the road.

Locking the doors hadn't helped. They busted the car window and flipped the lock, opening the door, dragging all three of us out.

eBook Cover

And Ruth is here with a special guest post. Tips about authors and blog tours.

Authors and Blog Tours
by Ruth Silver

Quite often, I get asked by other authors how I promote and market my books. There are tons of dystopian novels in the young adult genre. How can I differentiate myself? The biggest factor: letting people know about your book. If they don’t know it’s out there, they can’t read it. So, how do you get people to know you have a new book out there: Blog Tours.

You can create a book blog tour yourself, or hire a tour company to do. I will warn you, if you hire a tour company, do not pay them more than 45 days in advance of the start date to your tour. Why? If you’re paying via Paypal (and every tour I’ve seen, so far it’s all Paypal), you can dispute your payment if the tour host vanishes. Sadly, I had this happen during the Moirai tour. I won’t name the tour company, but I will say that I was disappointed by their lack of professionalism. They were supposed to e-mail book bloggers with both copies of my books (Aberrant & Moirai). It never happened. They had two months from the time I paid until the tour. The only e-mail sent to the tour hosts was to sign up. Nothing else was done. Many of the tour hosts had booked other tours for that date. Even a few had emailed about rescheduling or confirming their date, they received no response. My point is, if I had paid within 45 days (I was at 60 days), I could have disputed the transaction and got my money back. Now, that doesn’t mean if you’re not happy with the tour you should dispute the transaction. If you received the service that you paid for, then they’ve held up their end of the commitment. There are times that book bloggers don’t post. If you’re concerned that the tour will just be a bust, then you should ask for referrals from authors that have used their services.

If you decide to save the money and do the tour yourself, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Create a sign up form (Google Docs is excellent)  

  • Offer an HTML post. Book bloggers often prefer HTML because it’s already set up and ready to go. It makes their life easier. If you don’t know how to do HMTL try it in Wordpress under Post. If you’re an author - you need a website!
  • You’ll want to contact book bloggers. The best thing to do is create a spreadsheet. Get their contact information from their website (email address, name, whether they’re taking requests, genres, etc). Don’t contact someone that isn’t your genre. Specifically, if you’re an erotica author, don’t go asking a YA book blog to host you.
  • It’s best to try and do a tour that isn’t reviews only. You’ll have more people offering to host a spotlight/excerpt then write a review. There isn’t enough time in the day for book bloggers to read every book that is offered to them.
  • Follow the rules of the book blogger. In most cases, book bloggers don’t want you to send them an e-ARC without talking to them and asking for it.
  • Also, if you’re asking a book blogger to review your book, you need to provide them with a copy. Don’t expect them to buy it.
  • Get organized. Contact the bloggers that have agreed to host your tour, and get interview questions and anything else you need. Then write up the posts and be sure to send them everything. If you forget, no one else will do it for you.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Right Now

Right now I'm listening to Unlimited by Jillian Michaels.

Right now I'm working hard on the business side.

Right now I'm enjoying the cooler weather. Still.

Right now I'm loving that the boys love board games.

Right now I'm excited about scrapbooking again.

Right now I'm still processing the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead. Wow.

Right now I'm wishing I had gone to bed earlier. I want a nap.

Monday, December 2, 2013

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch (Thoughts On)

Title: If You Find Me
Author: Emily Murdoch (website)(Twitter)
Pages: 256
Source: library loan
Published: March 26, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin 
Rating: 5 of 5...wowsers.

Summary from Goodreads:

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

This is one of those books that has gotten buzz and I immediately put on my TBR list. I hadn't gotten around to reading it yet because all.the.books but when Kat had a review of it and told me to bump it up my list, I listened. Sooooo glad I did. 

The story was a tough one to read because of the subject but the writing...oh my. Lush and lyrical. When Carey and her sister are found at the their campsite in the woods, their worlds change forever. Getting the back story in bits and pieces made the story even more compelling.  There was a bit of a mystery since Carey spoke of the "white star night". They had to relearn and in some case plain learn things about the way the world really works. They had been at that camp site fending for themselves - with their mom popping in and out randomly - for so long that it was hard for them to adjust. The way that was written was so amazing. Just thinking through how two girls would react is amazing and that Murdoch so easily pulled it off is even more amazing.

The things those girls went through in the woods were so horrific and yet there is still such a strong sense of hope throughout the entire novel. This is a testament to Murdoch's stellar writing skills. I connected with Carey and Nessa from the beginning and rooted for them the whole way through. I hated that Carey felt at fault for whatever made Nessa stop talking. I hated that she had to adjust to high school after never having been there. I wanted to tuck them into a soft, warm bed and let them do whatever they wanted. 

The use of Carey as the narrator and her flashbacks and sidebars were helpful in putting the story together but it also made the story even more real. Had the narrator been anything other than first person, I think the story would have missed some of the emotional punch it had.

If You Find Me has really wonderful characters that were well rounded. From the social worker to the new family members - both good and "bad" ones - they felt like real people with real histories. I enjoyed seeing how they all progressed into a true family. The hardships and bumps along the way just made the good things that happened be even more special.

And the way the title played into the story at the end? Gah. 

It is hard to believe that this was a first novel but If You Find Me was Emily Murdoch's debut. She is an auto-buy author for me after this one. I want to hug this book and poor Carey and Nessa too. I almost can't put into words how wonderful this book was. The subject was terrible but the emotions were so wonderfully drawn. All.the.feels.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

#novemberthon wrap up

#Novemberthon was an impromptu read-a-thon put together by Amber from Books of Amber. Running from Sunday, November 24th to today, it was a read-a-thon with no rules but to read.

I've managed to finish:

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (review coming soon)
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch (review coming tomorrow. Soooooo good!)
Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
and have started on Bold by Julia Swift and Andrew Landis

I'm not sure that I will be able to read much more today so I'm posting this wrap up now. I love read-a-thons and impromptu ones are the best!

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