Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Review: Onyx and Ivory

Onyx and Ivory
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled in riding and bow hunting ride for the Relay; and only the fastest survive, for when dark falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, as being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death or exile. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by nightdrakes in broad daylight—the only survivor her childhood friend, her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart.

The high king’s second son, Corwin Tormane, never asked to lead. Even as he waits for the uror—the once-in-a-generation ritual to decide which of the king’s children will succeed him—he knows it’s always been his brother who will assume the throne. And that’s fine by him. He’d rather spend his days away from the palace, away from the sight of his father, broken with sickness from the attempt on his life. But the peacekeeping tour Corwin is on has given him too much time to reflect upon the night he saved his father’s life—the night he condemned the would-be killer to death and lost the girl he loved. Which is why he takes it on himself to investigate rumors of unrest in one of the remote city-states, only for his caravan to be attacked—and for him to be saved by Kate.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin have to put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s attack upon the king and will thrust them into the middle of a brewing civil war in the kingdom of Rime. 

I love a good fantasy book, and this one piqued my interest just from the synopsis! It's a nice chunky book and I was so ready to dive in..and then I read the opening and I knew I was totally stuffed when it came to this book! My interest was grabbed straight away by the world and the characters. Nightdrakes...magic....I was so here for it and I was so curious about it all! Not to mention Kate and the other relay riders and what they do and so on. There where plenty of mysteries thrown in to the plot from the start to keep you interested and keep you reading, and you wanted answers! There where hints of romance mixed in to the plot too. 

I ended up being fully drawn in to the book, the world building was nicely done and there was so much to be curious about....the history of the world, the magic system and so on. I actually really loved the magic system in the book, I was kind of confused at first but then I understood the difference between the two types of magic users and so on. It was an intriguing approach and I was fascinated by the different aspects of it. 

I have to say, I really liked Kate. She was determined, she was a bit of a badass...and I kind of felt for her and how she felt. She's struggled a lot but she doesn't give up and she comes through. I really liked that she had some degree of self awareness too, she's changed a lot since she was younger and she acknowledges that she wouldn't have been able to look at things objectively when she was younger. She also didn't have some of the reactions I thought she would so she kept me on my toes. 

Corwin is our other narrator, I wasn't too sure about him at the beginning, he kind of seemed like a bit of a prat. But you see how things are for him with Edwin, his brother, and how he's been treated and you understand him and he wants to help and make a difference but he actually lacks the confidence, I felt. He struggles to overcome that and it was nice to see that in a main character. 

Along with our MC's, there where a few supporting characters I completely loved! Bonner and Signe where a lot of fun, and I kind of lowkey shipped Bonner and Kate at one point, I'm not going to lie. But then I ended up fully invested in Corwin and Kate. I did however, hardcore ship Dal and Signe! Although I wasn't entirely sure whether I trusted Dal in the beginning, I wanted to love him, but he felt kind of shady to me. I did end up really loving him and I felt for him so badly, he hasn't had it easy but I still kind of feel like there's something about him...the mystery of who his father is perhaps? It has the potential to be something major. 

Of course, there are the less likeable characters. Cort was such a nasty piece of work and I was praying that he would get his but nope. Edwin isn't painted in too good of a light to me either. He has a ridiculous and deep hatred and refuses to see reason or listen to anything Corwin has to say. I was hoping by the end of the book perhaps the two brothers could work together but I think that's going to be pretty impossible unfortunately. 

I'm not going to lie to you guys, there are some pretty big plot twists and reveals that surprised me and had me like "NO WAAAY". Pieces suddenly fell in to place as I was reading and it was brilliantly done! There where all these seemingly innocuous things mentioned, that I thought where to flesh out the world or characters...but they're actually all part of the overall plot and what's really going on and where little clues. Like I picked up on them and noted them but I didn't put it all together! 

Onyx and Ivory is well written, and is full of magic, romance, action an interesting plot and characters. The world and magic system are fleshed out enough without being overly complicated and going in to pages of explanation. The plot keeps you intrigued and keeps drawing you further and further in and the world is painted vividly enough that you can be easily drawn in to the book. 

I'm actually kind of addicted to this new series, and after that ending...I neeeed the next book now! Like..the third trial?! And while Edwin is such a prat I'm still kind of rooting for him to become less of one! Plus there's multiple plot threads to carry on, and we'll get to see more of the world which I'm super excited for! Onyx and Ivory is a brilliant start to a new fantasy series, and I can't wait for more! 


Friday, 18 May 2018

Review: Eden Conquered

Eden Conquered 
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Borrow
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!

The Trials of Virtuous Succession have ended. Prince Andreus is king—and Princess Carys is dead.

But even as he’s haunted by what he did to win the throne, Andreus discovers that his dream of ruling only brings new problems. The people love his twin even more in death than they did when she was alive. The Elders treat him as a figurehead. And worst of all, the winds of Eden are faltering. 

But despite what everyone believes, Carys is alive. Exiled to the wilderness, Carys struggles to control the powers that have broken free inside her. And as she grows stronger, so does her conviction that she must return to the Palace of Winds, face her twin and root out the treachery that began long before the first Trials started. 

The Kingdom of Eden is growing darker with each passing day. Brother and sister, former foes, must decide whether some betrayals cut too deep to be forgiven—and whether one will wear the crown or both will lose everything. 

Okaaaaay, so, the previous book I had a few issues with but the last part of the book blew me away and I was anticipating this book being a lot better than the first. That's partly true. I feel like the writing was a lot better this book, there was a lot more action and things going on and some brilliant plot twists. 

One of my main issues with this book is that I distinctly remember Andreus being a Class A douchebag and really unlikeable in the previous book. So I had zero sympathy for him in this book, and I actually still think he's an idiot. I still didn't really like him, he spent a lot of the book trying to work out who he can trust and still not entirely trusting Carys. So I couldn't really get behind the ending of the book.

Carys meanwhile, I feel, is a lot stronger than she was before. She's determined and she's struggling with her new power, but isn't letting it deter her and I fully applauded for her when she confronted Andreus. I do feel like she kind of took a backseat at points, and blokes did everything for her. While I did ship her with Errik, at the same time I don't think there was enough time spent on their romance. To be perfectly honest, she's with Errik and Garret at the beginning, then Garrett, then Errik miraculously shows up, and then Garret and Errik are both gone until they show up at the end. I just felt it was a bit strange in particular that Garret vanished until the end of the book. 

The world is fascinating and I'd love to know more about it, I wish we could have seen more of it. I wish we could have seen more of the monsters and spent more time dealing with all of that instead of Andreus's trust issues. I feel like this book had some pacing issues, and a few scenes seemed a bit random. While the pacing was a bit better this book, in contrast to the first book being quite slow, this one felt too fast with not enough things explained or expanded upon. 

While this may have been too fast paced at points, and some scenes where missing or not expanded upon that I felt should have been, there where some brilliant plot twists which made this a much more interesting read than the previous book. I'm not going to lie to you all though, the ending did really disappoint me. It felt a bit anti-climatic but I think mostly it was personal preference because of my dislike for the character, and I still couldn't bring myself to like him by the end of the book. 

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Review: Exile

The Extinction Trials: Exile
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Betrayal. Sacrifice. Survival. Welcome to The Extinction Trials.

After surviving on Piloria once, Storm and Lincoln are the obvious candidates to return to the dinosaur continent to test the new virus that should clear the way for human settlement. But they have their own priorities – finding a cure for the plague that’s sweeping Earthasia, and keeping themselves alive. 

As you all are probably aware, Jurassic World 2 is going to be hitting the big screens this Summer, unfortunately I didn't get to be involved with the movie to my constant disappointment, BUT I did get to read the sequel to Extinction Trials! If you're a fan of Jurassic Park or eagerly awaiting the next Jurassic World movie...you need to get on this series! 

Huge Jurassic Park fan that I am....I freaking love dinosaurs and honestly...this is the only YA book I know of with dinosaurs in it, which I find ridiculous because how has no-one done dinosaurs before!? But The Extinction Trials kinda makes my life complete and brings dinosaurs to the YA genre perfectly! 

Both of our narrators, Lincoln and Storm, are back and they're still haunted by the island and what they went through there. Storm is now an aide to the Captain Regent...at least on paper. But really she's mapping Piloria and telling him all she knows about the dinosaurs, while mourning the loss of Milo who's disappeared. Meanwhile Lincoln is working in the lab on the T-Rex virus, but the scientist in charge has them start investigating human DNA, in hopes of finding out more about the blistering plague...and a cure, when his daughter is struck with it. 

But that's just the start of everything. We have a new and rather unpleasant character in the form of Silas, who's after Reban's job and thanks to the DNA research he knows exactly how to get it. He's most certainly shady AF, and he's out to get Storm...or at least her father. I really don't like him, nor do I trust him. He decides it's time to crack out the dinosaur viruses and basically grabs and kidnaps all the previous finalists because they're getting a nice little return trip to Plioria to plant the virus and they don't have a lot of say in the matter. 

That does mean we get to see Leif again, and it was interesting to see the relationship between the three of them after the events of the previous book. They had to work at their friendship, but it was heart warming to see them working as a team again! Plus Leif and new character Jesa where totally cute together! Jesa is Blaine's daughter, oh yeah, his family is coming in to play in this book! I wasn't sure I liked her at first but I ended up loving her, she was scared but she persevered and she was actually kinda like Storm! Which is just as well because they buddy up! I'm hoping we get to see more of her in the next book! 

Reban was an interesting addition to the cast, I know he was in the last book but we didn't get to see much of him, and in this book we really get to know him and see what he's like. We also get to see him interacting with Storm, which was an interesting development and we learned a few revelations about Storm's family. I was rooting for him and Storm to establish some kind of relationship bt it was a tough road, I can't say I was surprised by Storm's decision at the end, but it's certainly opened up an interesting avenue for the next book!

I have to say, I do kind of ship Storm and Lincoln after this book. There's no more lies between them, and no-one's hiding anything and they gradually get back to a good place. They hit me in the feels more than once, but don't get me wrong...there's no glaring, in your face romance. The feelings and relationship are very subtle, it's only really with this book that I started to ship them in earnest! 

Exile has a steady pace, the first half has us getting to grips with how things are in the aftermath of the previous book, meeting some shady characters and getting clued in that something is going on...something possibly not quite right, as well as some clues about a potential cure. 

The second half of the book sees us back on Piloria, and the author really comes through for us, hitting us with some new dinosaurs, including my favourite from Jurassic Park, although I doubt I'll cackle quite so much at that scene after reading about them in this book. You know the one....the dude that totally deserves it at the beginning of the movie....

Exile gives us some new characters, some interesting and hopefully coming in to play in the next book and some shady, we're also provided with some new plot openings, and plot threads to carry on in the next book, as well as having some from the last book carried on and expanded upon. There's action, danger and adventure and we're left, once again, wanting more. Things are starting to head in a certain direction, one that might not be so good for the dinosaurs and I'm excited to see how it plays out...not to be mean to the dinosaurs or anything! 

This is one of my favourite new series, I have to say, I mostly love this series because it's like a YA Jurassic Park mixed with the Hunger Games, although this book has none of the Hunger Games vibe of the previous one. This one lets us explore the science and Piloria more, as well as the dinosaurs. Like I said...there aren't enough YA books about dinosaurs, and this has such a brilliant mix of elements to it, it keeps drawing you in, and Piloria is a very vivid place. The mystery, and the foreboding, and the danger and tension...and the whole "what happens next?!" of it all keeps you hooked in to the story! 

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Review: Olivia Twist

Olivia Twist
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive.

Jack MacCarron rose from his place in London’s East End to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron. Little does society know that MacCarron is a false name for a boy once known among London gangs as the Artful Dodger, and that he and his “aunt” are robbing them blind every chance they get. When Jack encounters Olivia Brownlow in places he least expects, his curiosity is piqued. Why is a society girl helping a bunch of homeless orphan thieves? Even more intriguing, why does she remind him so much of someone he once knew? Jack finds himself wondering if going legit and risking it all might be worth it for love.

Olivia Twist is an innovative reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist, in which Olivia was forced to live as a boy for her own safety until she was rescued from the streets. Now eighteen, Olivia finds herself at a crossroads: revealed secrets threaten to destroy the “proper” life she has built for her herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future. 

I so, so love books set in the Victorian era, and this sounded like such a blast! I forever have memories of the musical....the movie....and the Disney movie drifting through my head, and I feel like this is kind of a post Oliver Twist thing but I haven't actually read the actual book so I'm not 100% sure. Either way, this is the kind of book I pick up and devour and love, and I freaking love this version of Oliver Twist! I really loved how the story and characters where twisted to fit the narrative! 

I loved Olivia, she's headstrong and capable and she stands her ground. I loved her attitude and her sass, she had me chuckling. But she also had such a kind heart too, looking after the orphans and so on. She's a socialite by day and she runs around London dressed as a boy at night! She can be sophisticated when she needs to be, but she's also street smart too. 

Jack/Dodger...he's the dashing criminal, let's be real. He's my adorable little cinnamon roll, and he has his vulnerable moments...but then he's also a badass thief who can casually take out three dudes with a brolly and his fists. He's trying to fit in with Society and the toffs, and he was such a fun character. I loved him, and I couldn't not ship he and Olivia...I'm not going to lie. 

I really loved the romance between the two of them, it gave me the warm and fuzzies, and it had me shrieking and squealing throughout the book! I shipped them so freaking hard, and I was rooting for them, and the contrast between the love interest was so very obvious. This was literally everything you need in a good historical romance! 

As for the other characters...I didn't want to like Topher at first but as Jack said....he grew on me and provided the odd chuckle too. I really liked Vi too and...oh look, Langdon provided me another ship to ship! 

I loved Langdon's writing style, it was period appropriate without being overly stodgy! Plus there was no over blown cockney phrasing continuously which as a Londoner...has made me cringe hardcore in other books! The writing was enough to aid in painting the picture of the setting and helped to draw you in to this London. 

Olivia Twist is fast paced, with a nice amount of action mixed in with the fancy parties and the cute fluffy moments with the romance! Sure some things where a little bit convenient towards the end, but it was a fun and entertaining read. I found myself chuckling and getting completely swept away with the story! I really loved how the romance was done, it along with some of the tense scenes had my heart racing! I'm hoping for more in this genre from Langdon!

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Review: Aru Shah and The End of Time

Aru Shah and the End of Time
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from their latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

Okay folks, you need to read this book! If you loved Roshani's other books...if you love Percy Jackson...you need to read this! I think I've been anticipating this book since sometime last year or so? I remember stumbling across it on GoodReads and it didn't even have a cover or a proper synopsis but I needed it so badly and I finally got a copy in my hands and I read it in one sitting because it was so good!

I really loved our MC Aru, and I really felt for her too. She was trying to fit in at school, which was a place full of rich and snobby people, FYI. So she told the odd lie to try and fit in with the popular people. Who hasn't, let's be real. I really rooted for her, and she definitely gains confidence over the course of the book, and she actually has to kinda look out for Mini a bit too! I liked seeing her journey throughout the book, coming to terms with herself and who she is now and so on. She's scared...but that doesn't stop her. I love her narrative voice, and so she was so relatable....like hello Instagram Algorithm that's ruining Bookstagram for everyone...Aru knows. 

I wasn't too sure about Mini at first, but she was actually a lot of fun with her knowledge and her whole "and you COULD DIE" thing. I found her to be quite relatable too, she was also scared, but I really loved watching Mini and Aru bond, and become friends and, well, sisters, and work together to get the job done. I'm looking forward to seeing more of their interactions in the future! 

Along with our girls, we had Subala, their trusty pigeon sidekick who was funny and kind of ridiculous at the same time. There was much snort laughing! We unfortunately also had Arielle, Poppy and Burton, no more of them please. Such nasty children. I've never wanted to punch a fictional 12 year old before. 

We also had an array of Gods and Goddesses and I freaking loved it. You guys know me, I live for mythology and Gods and Godesses, I want to know aaaaallll about them and I'll read anything with mythology..hence you know...why I wanted to read this book! That and well...Roshani was the author so...double need. But the Gods and Goddesses where entertaining, particularly Urvashi and I loved getting to know them and learn about them through Aru! 

Aru Shah and the End of Time is just...amazing. It's got a brilliantly fast pace, you can breeze through this book in one go...like I did because I have no self control. There's plenty of action and humour to go with the mythology, the perfect combination of three of my favourite things in a book! I really, really, loved all the mythology! It was fascinating to read about and it's made me curious to know more so I'm definitely looking forward to Aru's next adventure! 

I don't usually go for Middle Grade, because I'm quite picky, but Aru Shah was a lot of fun, the characters are relatable, and easy to root for as well as being entertaining! Honestly...it's a freaking hilarious read, and it's definitely one for Rick Riordan fans! Aru Shah also leaves you wanting a hell of a lot more, as it ends on a high with a nice little cliffhanger that simultaneously makes you chuckle...but also go..."GIMME THE NEXT BOOK NOW!". 

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Blog Tour: Ace of Shades

Ace of Shades
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn't have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne's offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi's enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

I am so excited to be part of this blog tour! As you guys probably know, I freaking loved Daughter of the Burning City and I'd been looking forward to it since the previous year....I've been looking forward to Ace of Shades for nearly as long! Since before it had a cover or a synopsis on GoodReads in fact! Considering how much I loved Daughter of the Burning City, I became even more excited for Ace of Shades....I was expecting brilliant things from it....and I wasn't disappointed. 

Ace of Shades grabs you from the start. Seriously, the opening line is not here to play. I was immediately drawn in to the book by the world...it was fascinating and original and the world building was done perfectly. We got plenty of information on the world from Levi and from Enne's handy guidebook. Plus it was concise and to the point, while still painting a vivid and atmospheric picture. I have a certain aesthetic in my head for this book now! 

Ace of Shades has two narrators, Enne and Levi and I loved both of them! Enne...I had to admire her determination to go to New Reynes and find her mother. She didn't give up, she didn't quit no matter how scary the situation got. She adapted and she changed and I feel like she became a stronger character by the end of the book, she certainly wasn't the same Enne that we met at the beginning of the book, she became quite the rebellious badass and she's not about to take anyone's crap. She goes on quite the journey throughout the book and she gets more...interesting, shall we say? At least concerning her history. I loved her attitude too, she gave as good as she got to Levi and the others! 

As for Levi, he's the kind of unscrupulous, Kaz Brekker kinda character that I love. He's kind of not one of the good guys, he does some bad things, but you love him anyway because he's charming and amusing, but also kind of sweet and protective when he wants to be. Not to mention he's not afraid to show that he's scared which was interesting to me. Plus, to be fair to him, he did try to help Enne as best he could, and he genuinely cares about the Irons...he's just gotten himself in to a tricky situation he can't quite extract himself from. I really felt for him, and I was rooting for him! Interestingly, with Levi we get some diverse, LGBTQ rep, as he's bi and a PoC, which made a nice change for me! I can't speak to the accuracy but I enjoyed seeing some Bi representation in this book, and I'd been hoping for it considering Amanda's previous book, she doesn't shy away from LGBTQ representation!

I'm not going to lie to you guys, I do kinda ship Enne and Levi quite a lot, I loved the chemistry between the two of them, and their relationship and interactions. It was always entertaining and was quite the game to watch! Along with our main characters, we have Jac, who's Levi's bestie and second in command and I'm reaaaallly curious about him. I have a little suspicion about him, that I'm waiting to see if it's right! Reymond was shady at first, but was actually quite fun for as long as he was present in the story. And then we have Lola, I really liked her, and I was curious about her past. There's a lot of potential with her and her brother that I'm excited to see play out! 

I really enjoyed the dynamics between Enne, Levi, Lola and Jac, their interactions where humorous and the building friendships between them all was brilliantly done. They're another little rag tag group for me to get behind and cheer for! 

Ace of Shades is fast paced, and the world is vivid and atmospheric as is to be expected from Amanda, as well as original and a lot of fun. I was completely fascinated by the history of the world, and the magic system with the talents. There where so many and they where so original and fun to read about! I really am in love with Amanda's writing style, I ended up fully immersed in the world thanks to the world building! I had such a clear, gritty picture of the scenes and settings, like a little movie was playing out for me. I really felt like I was in the book with the characters. 

Amanda's prose was laced with subtle terms and phrases linked with gambling/Vegas/cards that kind of thing, that I felt really helped set the tone and scene, and pull you in. The slang words kind of put me in mind of the 20's/30's too, which was an interesting twist! The characters where interesting, I feel like they're kinda morally grey, shall we say. I mean...they do some things they probably shouldn't do but they do kinda have reasons for it. I found them interesting because of it, and Levi even called them the villains at one point, which I think was a bit extra of him, but...you do you Levi. 

Ace of Shades has plenty of action that has you on the edge of your seat, not to mention the card games! I was tense for the entire end of the book, I'm not going to lie! The character development is brilliant, the plot twists have you shrieking and it's all just getting started. I see this book as the first act, and judging by the end of the book...the second one is going to be even more mind blowing! I'm looking forward to seeing the history and talents expanded on more, and seeing what happens to my precious little cinnamon rolls! 

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