The Wicked King

The Wicked King by Holly Black

Summary

The Wicked King picks up where The Cruel Prince left off. Cardan has been crowned King but he’s still subject to Jude’s true rule. The Kingdom is in turmoil. Some support Cardan, some are slow to accept his crown, and others want to use this time of pandemonium as an excuse to usurp Cardan. Jude must find a way to protect Cardan and his supports. But there are threats from all sides. In this second novel, the main characters are faced with some tough decisions. Whether they should follow their hearts or play the game that has been set in motion.

Characters

Most of the characters I covered in my original review of The Cruel Prince. There are not many new players in this book, but we do get a closer look at the Undersea. I liked seeing the new underwater creatures, but they were not memorable.

Review

I struggled with this book. At every turn, I was left wanting more. I was waiting for Jude to take charge. I was waiting for Cardan to defy Jude. I wanted Taryn to stand up for herself. But we didn’t see any of that.

Jude panders back and forth. While it is true no one listens to her commentary and observations, she could do more to have a commanding presence. She may be the right hand of the King, but she does not have a strong voice. She does not take charge, and I constantly find myself rolling my eyes at her predictable actions.

Cardan just comes off as spineless. He did take an oath to listen to Jude and be under her control, but he’s supposed to be intelligent and is capable of tricking her. What happened the the Cardan everyone talks about? The one that finds loopholes and thwarts Judes plans or wishes. I will say that the ending of this book FINALLY had be cheering for Cardan, but it was not a plot twist.

Overall, I don’t think this is a bad story. It’s a quick read and things feel like they start to come together. I feel like Holly Black has A LOT of explaining to do in this next book, Queen of Nothing. But again, the events of this book are predictable. And I wanted to see more of the Fae Realm and its creatures. Sure, we got to see the merpeople in the Undersea, but I still feel like there was not much description. It felt like an event to rush through.

Rating: 4/5

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The Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Summary

Jude and Taryn are twin girls who are ripped away from their human home and taken to the Fae land of Elfhame. There, they are raised alongside their older sister, Vivi, in a world that is far from familiar. While the Fae cannot lie, they all harbor secrets. Jude and Taryn separately try to fit in by going to classes and keeping up on their swordplay. But nothing in Elfhame is what it seems and each girl must decide the course of their fate.

Characters

Jade, the protagonist, is a young teen who wants to earn her place in the Fae Realm of Elfhame. She wants to rise through the ranks and use her skills to become part of the Royal Guard. She opposes some of the norms of Elfhame. Like humans being treated like their are dispensable. But Jade is cunning and knows how to trick some Fae into following her own plans.

Taryn is Jane’s twin sister. We’re constantly reminded of this as Jane refers to her as her own mirror. She is also determined to fit into the Fae Realm, but she plans to marry into a well-off family. Taryn is less determined than her twin, and is constantly willing to bend to the whims of everyone else around her. Above all, Taryn is a people pleaser who is constantly worried about what others think of her.

Cardan, the antagonist, is a spoiled young prince who does what he wants and gets away with it. He tortures Jade because she’s defiant and is the only one who stands up to him. Cardan is a bully. His passionate hatred for Jane is what drives him. He picks on her every chance he gets and even encourages his group of friends to do the same. Cardan hides behind is crown because he can, being one of the youngest. He knows he’s not destine to become king, so he acts out.

Vivi is the only one who is not in love with Elfhame. Although she is a fae, she desperately wants out and to be part of the human world. She defies her father whenever she can because she’s resentful for being pulled back to Elfhame. She’s the biggest voice of reason and tries to be rational.

Review

I have mixed feelings about this book. I think I expected a lot because there was a huge ope surrounding this novel. I have always been a fan of Holly Black’s writing, but this book falls short.

My biggest problem is Jude. I don’t feel a connection to her. She’s not likable. You spend most of the book yelling at her to stop being an idiot. She thinks she’s being defiant and standing up to someone who bullies her, but she’s at a huge disadvantage. Jude is human and is navigating through a world that is not her own. She constantly underestimates her opponents. I want more for her and I feel disappointed with her.

I also have a problem with Taryn. Much like her twin, she’s not likable, but for different reasons. She’s weak and selfish. She doesn’t care about her sister’s feelings, she only wants what’s best for her. She’s more than willing to lie to and manipulate her twin to get what she wants. But Taryn isn’t even cunning, she does these things because she’s told to. It’ll make her loved and more desirable I she does what she’s told.

I have heard a lot of people praise the world building of Elfhame, but I don’t see it. While there are beautiful new creatures, I don’t otherwise see the draw of Elfhame. It seems like this realm is similar to every other faerie realm I’ve read about.

I also feel frustrated with the potential of Vivi. I was excited to see a bisexual character in this story. Vivi is vibrant and rebellious. She’s like any teenager, but she’s not human and not typical. She’s the only one who wants to escape Elfhame. Vivi has a much better story to tell than the twins do (combined). I wanted to see more of her and why she has a chip on her shoulder.

Overall, I don’t understand the hype surrounding this book. The characters and the faerie realm are nothing spectacular. The only thing that saves this book is how well written it is. But there are some points that feel too verbose or too amateur. I don’t have high expectations for the rest of this series, but I will continue reading the rest of the books.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Girl, Wash Your Face Review

Girl Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Are Meant To Be by Rachel Hollis

When I hear this title of this book and people talking about it, all I can think is “Girl, Shut Up!” I should start by saying that I absolutely HATED this book. I was close to walking away from it so many times, but I figured I should stick it out. Have you ever hate read or hate listened to something? That was this book for me. The longer I listened, the more I rolled my eyes. For someone who hold themselves out to be a guru and give sage advice, I found cliche stacked on top of cliche.

This book is an anthology of self-entitled stories from a woman who is obsessed with herself and her #tribe. She uses experiences she has had as a way to connect to others. But her experiences are not common, unless you too are privileged and self-entitled. She advocates stung with someone who treated her horribly. She has no self-awareness and it shows. Hollis pawns off her experience as all-telling because she has millions of followers. But honestly, I had no idea who Rachel Hollis was until I picked up this book.

I also did not know that this was a Christian book until I started reading. That fact was never advertised anywhere. While I have no issues with Christian novels or content, I found that a lot of the sayings Hollis came back to are general teachings that she pretends are profound.

This book is as shallow as its author. I cannot and will not recommend this book. It is filled with not so humble brags and the kind of advice you’d find on kitten posters in any classroom. Instead of giving useful advice, Hollis belittles others who do not fit into her limited worldview. This is not a story filled with good advice. Most self-help gurus are a self-made scam, and Hollis fits under that category.

Haunted in Hollywood

Haunted in Hollywood by Loey Lane

As a general preface, I have no idea who Loey Lane is because I have not watched her YouTube channel or seen her social media. I didn’t know her name until I saw this book. I picked it up on a whim because I was looking for a light book to read after finishing a dense nonfiction book. This did the trick and refreshed my reading palate.

Haunted in Hollywood follows aspiring model, Loey Lane, to the set of Marilyn Monroe’s most iconic photoshoots. Loey is supposed to be a young Marilyn in a cover spread as a tribute to her greatest and most memorable moments. But when Loey arrives, things don’t seem right. The model she’s replaced has mysteriously disappeared. Everyone says she’s checked out, but she left her makeup in the closet and Loey believes there’s something greater at work. Then, Loey comes encounter with a pink mist and bouts of electricity. She believes that a ghost is after her and calls in the rest of her LitSquad to help solve the crime. But things do not go as planned, and Loey’s enemies, the Grimm Brothers, show up at the hotel and stop up some trouble of their own.

Take this book at face value: it is a short fictional story about a young millennial girl who wants to become a famous model. With the help of her friends and some unlikely allies, the hauntings are solved! The characters are young and predictable. The plot twist you can see coming from a mile away. And this story is littered with millennial slang and hashtags galore. But the story is a little charming and delivers what it promises. I do recommend this book for anyone that wants a quick read and an easy distraction.

Rating: 3/5

Pretty in Punxsutawney

Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton

The description of Pretty in Punxsutawney offers a mashup of the movies Groundhog Day and Pretty in Pink. I feel like this is an adequate description of the story, and if you walk in with these expectations, you will not be disappointed.

At the beginning of the summer, Andie and her family move to a new town. She spends the summer obsessing over Colton, a soon to be senior and football star who works at the local movie theatre. Andie is a movie buff, but the main reason she spends most of her summer at the theatre is in hopes of having Colton fall in love with her. Finally, at the end of the summer, Andie is ready to make her senior debut at her new school with Colton by her side. However, Andie’s first day at her new high school proves to be anything but typical. After an embarrassing first day, Andie is given the chance at a do-over. But the day keeps repeating, and Andie must find a way to break this curse or she’l be a first-day senior for the rest of her life.

The story gives a huge nod to filmmaker John Hughes and his classic 80s movies. From Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Weird Science, to The Breakfast Club and more, many of the themes, characters, and issues presented mimic Hughes’ classics.

Andie finds that her new school is separated into different cliques. Just like students coming from different backgrounds and leaving as friends in The Breakfast Club, Andie hopes to knock down social barriers. She spends each repeated day trying to find a new way to impress Colton, but she quickly learns that not every social clique is what it seems. The cheerleaders are nice, they’re driven by the sense of being a team and like to give back to the community. The goths are kind and love to laugh. The popular girl is struggling with personal issues and her body image. The nerdy girls are more caddy than you’d expect. Each cycle through the same day opens Andie’s eyes a little more about how Punx High works and the type of person Andie wants to become.

Overall, this is a cute book but it’s not very memorable. I feel like it tries too hard to bring nostalgia for a few 80s classics and blurs the lines into something that has already been done, and done well. The storyline is predictable because the setup is there from the beginning. The main character is likable but frustrating because she’s blinded by some good looking guy and she forgets who is is. This is a quick read that would be ideal for someone who wants a taste of a modern day Pretty in Pink meets Groundhog Day meets The Breakfast Club. Or, you could spend an afternoon watching the movies this book is molded after.

Rating: 3/5

Pretty in Punxsutawney is available today, January 15, 2019.

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

2018 Round Up

At the beginning of the year, I complied a yearly TBR (to be read) List. I broke it down into 2 categories: “Books I Will Read” and “Books I Hope to Finish.” While I did clock in at just under 60 books read this year, I definitely strayed from my TBR list. Below, I have crossed out the books I finished on each list.

I also want to take the time to list my 5 favorite and least favorite reads from this year. I tried to branch out and read new things, from romance to fantasy to biographies. But, I found that I always came back to my favorite YA material. It was good to branch out though. I discovered I LOVE listening to biographies on audiobook, especially humor based bios read by the author.

Books I Will Read

  1. The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
  2. Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
  3. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
  4. The Case Against the Supreme Court by Erwin Chemerinsky
  5. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  6. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
  7. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
  8. Let it Snow by John Green
  9. The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
  10. Rising by Holly Kelly
  11. Starfall by Melissa Landers
  12. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
  13. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
  14. Warcross by Marie Lu
  15. *A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas
  16. *Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J Maas
  17. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas
  18. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  19. Nyxia by Scott Reintgen
  20. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  21. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  22. Zodiac by Romina Russell
  23. Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies by Laura Stampler
  24. Lord of the Rings Series (The Fellowship, Two Towers, Return of the King, Hobbit, Silmarillion) by JRR Tolkien
  25. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Books I Hope to Finish

  1. The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
  2. Flawed by Cecilia Ahern
  3. With Malice by Eileen Cook
  4. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
  5. My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  6. Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
  7. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  8. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
  9. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin
  10. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
  11. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
  12. As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott
  13. A Love Letter to Whiskey by Kandi Steiner
  14. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
  15. Shrill by Lindy West

Books I Did Read in 2018

  1. Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas
  2. Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu
  3. The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll
  4. Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
  5. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  6. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
  7. Warcross by Marie Lu
  8. Everyday by David Levithan
  9. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
  10. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
  11. The Book of Joe Biden by Jeff Willser
  12. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
  13. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  14. To All The Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han
  15. Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
  16. Fates by Lanie Bross
  17. The Lost World by Michael Crichton
  18. The Librarian by Christy Sloat
  19. #Nerd by Cambria Hebert
  20. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  21. Whiskey Prince by Toni Aleo
  22. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  23. Beauty and the Beast by K.M. Shea
  24. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
  25. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
  26. Confessions of a Queen B* by Crista McHugh
  27. A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas
  28. The Queen B* Strikes Bach by Crista McHugh
  29. The Queen B* and the Homecoming King by Crista McHugh
  30. #FashionVictim by Amina Akhtar
  31. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
  32. Salt by Hannah Moskowitz
  33. You’re You by Mette Bach
  34. Summer Constellations by Alisha Sevigny
  35. The Extinction Trials by S.M. Wilson
  36. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
  37. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  38. A Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
  39. How to Walk Away by Kathrine Center
  40. Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
  41. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  42. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
  43. Royals by Rachel Hawkins
  44. The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
  45. The Darkest Star by Jenifer L. Armentrout
  46. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
  47. Some Girls Bind by Rory James
  48. Bring Me Home by Bree Howard
  49. The Dead Queen’s Club by Hanna Capin
  50. Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis
  51. The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
  52. Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham
  53. I’ve Got This Round: More Tales of Debauchery by Marie Hart
  54. In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham
  55. Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Things I’m Not Allowed to Say on TV by Joe Buck
  56. Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-Up by Grace Helbig
  57. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
  58. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Favorite Reads of 2018

  • A Slow Regard of Silent Things
  • The Calculating Stars
  • Norse Mythology
  • Bring Me Home
  • Undead Girl Gang

These five books have little in common, but they all left the biggest impression on me this year. I connected to the main character, Auri, in a Slow Regard of Silent Things. I was blown away by the character development and writing in The Calculating Stars. I was throughly amused at Gaiman’s takes and stories in his Norse Mythology. Bring Me Home is one of the best feel-good romance novels I have ever read. Undead Girl Gang made me laugh out loud and appreciate having a best friend who would do anything for me.

Least Favorite Reads

  • Girl, Wash Your Face
  • Fates
  • You’re You
  • Not That I Could Tell
  • Dead Queen’s Club

These books all fell short of expectation. Girl, Wash Your Face sounded like a privileged girl trying to show how much her and her “#girlgang” or “tribe” has shaped her. But it is full of cliche advice. Fates was a book that I skimmed because it was predictable. You’re You and Not That I Could Tell were two books that I felt never amounted to a true climax. I was left waiting for something to happen. Finally, Dead Queen’s Club was confusing, convoluted, and suffers from trying too hard to make teenagers fit historical stereotypes.

What books have you read, loved, or hated in 2018?

The Dead Queens Club

The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin

Synopsis:

If your school’s homecoming king had a little too much in common with Henry VIII, would you survive with your head still attached?

You’d think being the new girl in a tiny town would equal one very boring senior year. But if you’re me—Annie Marck, alias Cleves—and you accidentally transform into teenage royalty by entering Lancaster High on the arm of the king himself? Life becomes the exact opposite of boring.

Henry has it all: he’s the jock, the genius and the brooding bad boy all in one. Which sort of explains why he’s on his sixth girlfriend in two years.

What it doesn’t explain is why two of them—two of us—are dead.

My best friend thinks it’s Henry’s fault, which is obviously ridiculous. My nemesis says we shouldn’t talk about it, which is straight-up sketchy. But as the resident nosy new girl, I’m determined to find out what really happened to Lancaster’s dead queens…ideally before history repeats itself.

Review

The description of this book drew me in, on goodreads, someone mentioned that this book was a cross between Henry VIII and Mean Girls. I think I went in with too high of expectations because of this, or maybe the writing was too convoluted to understand. Either way, I was not impressed by this one.

Cleves is obsessed with her best friend Henry. He’s everything she’s not. Henry is cool and popular and people are inherently drawn to him. Perhaps because he oozes charm, or he’s good looking, or people just seem to trust Henry. But Henry also has a bad streak with his ex girlfriends. They always seem to cheat on him or break his heart. So Henry enlists the help of Celves to get back at them, through pranks to embarrass the girls. 

But Cleves is uprooted to Henry’s town and thrown into his school and inner circle. Cleves becomes torn between what Henry has told her and what her new friends tell her about events in their small Indiana town. 

There is a lot of back and forth in this book, but it is not done well. You get confused because there are not distinct chapters distinguishing the past and the present. Instead, flashbacks are in the middle of chapters and you have to pay attention to what is taking place. 

This book is also a giant cliche, every high school troupe you can think of rears its head at some point. From the girl swooning over her best friend, to the popular jock getting together with the cheerleader. If you like (pointless) high school drama, then this is the story for you. 

I don’t believe that there are any twists or turns in this book. You can see the ending coming from the beginning. There are attempts at high-stake action, but they all fall flat. The characters are predictable and this makes the plot seem boring. But, everything also feels drawn out. I stopped reading so many times because I was either bored, not invested, or rolled my eyes so much I got a headache. I cannot recommend this book. 

Rating: 2.5/5

The Dead Queens Club has an expected release date of January 29, 2019.

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Some Girls Bind Review

Some Girls Bind by Rory James

“You’re everything you need to be right now and it’s enough.”

Some Girls Bind is a story about secrets. Everyone has something that they are afraid to share with the world, especially when they’re in high school. Maybe it is a personal issue that one person is hesitant to tell another, or maybe it is a family secret that someone is trying to conceal from the world. But this tale looks into how each of us gets by with something to hide and the every day consequences of keeping a secret. 

Jamie is a high school teenager. Jamie’s group of friends get together and share their secrets or what is plaguing their minds. But Jamie does not feel comfortable coming forth just yet. 

One of Jamie’s close friends, Levi, came out to his group of friends. Levi felt that he could share with his friends and as a result, each of the friends picked up his secret and carried it with them. In turn, the rest of the friend group took turns sharing their secrets. Everyone except for Jamie. 

Jamie is gender fluid or genderqueer and they are still trying to figure out what that means and how it is going to effect Jamie’s every day life. Jamie knows that their preferred pronouns are they/them because the terms are gender-less. They also know that binding themselves is what feel normal and it is something that they have done since the age of 14. Jamie struggles with what it means to be gender fluid because Jamie was taught to be a girl, but they know what something doesn’t feel right with that label. Jamie also thinks that binding your chest is that “girly,” as this sentiment is repeated throughout Jamie’s internal dialogue moments. But when Jamie looks in the mirror, it is not a boy and it is not a girl that is reflected back. Jamie sees Jamie.  

While we are introduced to the rest of Jamie’s friends, the story focuses primarily on Jamie. But there is also an undertone of Levi’s struggles. Jamie shields herself with Levi, because Levi has come out to more people, Jamie can gauge everyone else’s opinions on what it is like to deviate from the norm. Personally, I have an issue with this friendship. I understand that Jamie is struggling, but is feels like Levi is being used in a way he shouldn’t. I feel like this hinders the LGBTQ+ undertone that the author sets of accepting people for who they are and being supportive of one another. 

Overall, I did enjoy this book. It is a quick read but it is a “feel good” story. Jamie finds themselves, first sharing with a close friend, then going on to seek out other genderqueer peoples in the community until Jamie becomes comfortable enough to share with the people in her life what her secret is. I like that no one makes a big deal of Jamie’s secret and instead accepts Jamie. I believe this is a must read and a great addition to every reader’s TBR list.

Some Girls Bind by Rory James is set to publish on February 1, 2019

Rating: 4/5

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Bring Me Home Review

Bring Me Home by Bree Howland

Synopsis:

While Kailey was growing up, she was sure of two things:

1. She wanted to devote her life to helping animals.
2. She would never be without her best friend Cole Martin.

When her father had them pack up and move two provinces away two years before graduation, it felt like the rug was pulled out from under her.

Now she’s in college, finally pursuing her interest in veterinary medicine. Even better, Cole is at the same school. But Cole has changed and so has she. Gone was the innocence of childhood friendship and easy conversations.

Between new friends, unexpected feelings, and a road trip, Kailey’s first year in college will be more eye opening than she ever imagined.

Review

I LOVED this book. I want to start out by stating that I am usually not a romance reader, but this is a story that should be on everyone’s TBR list. It’s not cheesy and it will not make you roll your eyes into oblivion. It is a sweet story that will make you believe in love and happy endings. I binge read this book in one sitting because it was that good. I suggest curling up in a warm blanket and settling in while reading this book, because you will not want to put it down.

Kailey (Kail) and Cole are wonderful characters. Their friendship and love feel real and in no way forced. All of Howland’s characters have great chemistry. You can picture yourself in college along side Kail and her friends and you can easily fit into the friend’s adventures and witty banter.

This is a beautifully written story that will leave you wanting completely satisfied. There’s friendship, true love, cute animals, and an atmosphere of pure delight. Whether you’re an avid reader of romance stories or a fair weather fan, you will find something in the story to connect to or believe in. I cannot recommend this book enough!

Rating: 5/5

I received this ARC from the author, Bree Howland, in exchange for an honest review

Bring Me Home will be available on January 1, 2019 

Preorder Links!

*Bring Me Home is also available on Kindle Unlimited!

About the Author

Bree Howland lives in Atlantic Canada with her husband and two fur children, two finicky felines. When she’s not working, her life revolves around reading, writing and taking care of her foster cats. You will more than likely find her curled up somewhere quiet with a book or scrolling aimlessly through Twitter.

Be sure to check out Bree’s website and social media pages: Website; Twitter: Instagram; Goodreads

Fortunate Felines Rescue

If the story alone is not enough to convince you to buy and read this book, all proceeds from Bring Me Home go to the Fortunate Felines Rescue. If you would like more information about this organization, check out their Facebook or Instagram pages. 

Be sure to check out all posts on the Bring Me Home Blog Tour!

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