Friday, May 29, 2020

Review: The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty

Title: The Echo Killing
Author: Christi Daugherty
Series: Harper McClain, #1
Published: March 2018, Minotaur Books
Format: Hardcover, 356 pages
Source: Personal copy

When a murder echoing a fifteen-year-old cold case rocks the Southern town of Savannah, crime reporter Harper McClain risks everything to find the identity of this calculated killer.

A city of antebellum architecture, picturesque parks, and cobblestone streets, Savannah moves at a graceful pace. But for Harper McClain, the timeless beauty and culture that distinguishes her home’s Southern heritage vanishes during the dark and dangerous nights. She wouldn’t have it any other way. Not even finding her mother brutally murdered in their home when she was twelve has made her love Savannah any less.

Her mother’s killer was never found, and that unsolved murder left Harper with an obsession that drove her to become one of the best crime reporters in the state of Georgia. She spends her nights with the police, searching for criminals. Her latest investigation takes her to the scene of a homicide where the details are hauntingly familiar: a young girl being led from the scene by a detective, a female victim naked and stabbed multiple times in the kitchen, and no traces of any evidence pointing towards a suspect.

Harper has seen all of this before in her own life. The similarities between the murder of Marie Whitney and her own mother’s death lead her to believe they’re both victims of the same killer. At last, she has the chance to find the murderer who’s eluded justice for fifteen years and make sure another little girl isn’t forever haunted by a senseless act of violence―even if it puts Harper in the killer’s cross-hairs…

My thoughts: After hearing some rave reviews about this series from a bunch of friends, I finally got myself a copy of this book and I cannot believe I waited so long...I loved it. I loved it so much that as soon as I finished it, I immediately went online and ordered the other two books in the series. Have you ever done that?

I love the main character in this series, Harper McClain. She was born to do her job - that of a crime reporter. She hasn't had the easiest life. Her mother was murdered when she was young and that case was never solved. So when she is called to a case now, fifteen years later, that is eerily similar to that of her mother's case, she is definitely not going to let it go. She is like a dog with a bone. There are just too many details that don't add up for her walk away from this one.

I loved getting to know Harper as this book progresses. We find out about her life and just how what happened to her mother and how the fact that the case never being solved became such a driving force in her life and why she ultimately became a crime reporter. Having this new case pop up really throws her and she becomes totally focused on it, almost to the detriment of all else in her life.

The tension slowly builds as we learn more about the people in Harper's life, her history, and more about both cases. It is both suspenseful and atmospheric and I was completely captivated and all in. I wanted a resolution for both Harper and the little girl who now finds herself in a similar position to that of Harper so many years ago. While I had my suspicions as to the person behind the murders, I never fully got to the final answer and was a bit floored at the reveal. 

I am so excited to continue on with this series. I am a big series fan and love nothing more than finding one I can keep reading and this is one I hope has a long run!

Books in this series:
  1. The Echo Killing
  2. A Beautiful Corpse
  3. Revolver Road

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Review: Tough Love by Lori Foster (audio/print)

Title: Tough Love
Author: Lori Foster
Series: Ultimate, #3
Narrator: Jim Frangione
Published: August 2015, Recorded Books / HQN Books
Length: 11 hours 10 minutes / 538 pages
Source: Audio - Personal copy via Audible / Print - ARC e-copy via Netgalley

She's playing hard to get…to win the MMA fighter of her ultimate fantasies in a sultry new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster

Vanity Baker loves a good, clean match, but she's not above playing a little dirty. She's wanted Stack "The Wolf" Hannigan from day one. Seems as though the best way to corral the famously commitment-phobic fighter is to insist on keeping it casual. And her plan works—deliciously well—until Stack's past steps out of the shadows.

Stack learned early to stay free of attachments. But with sexy, forthright Vanity, he's the one always left wanting more. Then his troublemaking family comes back into the picture, threatening everything Stack cares about—Vanity included. Suddenly he realizes they're much more than friends with benefits. He's ready to go to the mat for her…but will it be in time to protect the woman who's tamed him for good?

My thoughts: This is the third book in Lori Foster's Ultimate series and I'm so glad I am catching up in really is quite enjoyable. As I mentioned in my review of the previous book in this series, I had read the discovered this series when it was first released and then went on a requesting spree via Netgalley, but then got sidetracked and forgot about them with all the other books I had to read, so one of my goals this year is to try and clean out some of my older Netgalley books...and I am starting with this series.

Having just read the second book in this series, Holding Strong, not too long ago, it was much easier to get back into the swing of things with this next book, though I will say I really do find that each of these books do hold their own if you do decide to pick up any of them to read independently. I think authors now are writing their series book to stand alone just in case readers haven't read the entire series, but give you that option of having connecting stories so that if you are like me, you might want to read all the books.

One thing I love about this series is it jumps right into the romance between the main couple. We know right off the bat that this is Vanity and Stack's story and things get hot and heavy between them right in the first chapter. But, what I also love is that this book doesn't just focus on their romance. There is so much more to this story. Stack's family is a huge part of this book and I loved that we get to see how he deals with them. He doesn't just push them aside to be with Vanity, and because she has lost her family, she comes with him and then ends up developing a relationship, a true relationship with his family. I loved that and felt that this was real and authentic. 

Of course, this book isn't without some conflict and this is where we see the other fighters come into the fray. I love that these guys have each other's backs. They even have their own bat signal - a special phone that they only use when there is trouble. This just speaks volumes on the friendship that these guys have.

This was an enjoyable read with fun, dynamic characters. I've got one more book in this series and I'm actually quite bummed about that...I really like this series and wish there were a few more books to go! But on the other hand...I am glad that I got these books cleared up on my Netgalley queue!

Audio thoughts: Once again, I decided to do a combination of listening and reading with this book. I really enjoy Jim Frangione's narration. His pacing was good and he did a great job with all the characters, giving them all unique personalities.

Books in this series:
0.5  Hard Knocks
   1.  No Limits
   2.  Holding Strong 

   3.  Tough Love
   4.  Fighting Dirty


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Review: The Liar's Room by Simon Lelic

Title: The Liar's Room
Author: Simon Lelic
Published: January 2019, Berkley Books
Format: ARC E-copy,
Source: Netgalley

A new spine-tingling thriller from the author of The New Neighbors that takes place over the course of a therapy session, in which neither patient nor therapist are who they claim to be.

Two liars. One room. No way out.

Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago she left her identity behind, reinventing herself as a therapist and starting a new life. It was the only way to keep her daughter safe.

But when a young man, Adam Geraghty, walks into her office, claiming he needs Susanna's help but asking unsettling questions, she begins to fear that her secret has been discovered.

Who is Adam, really? What does he intend to do to Susanna?

And what has he done to her daughter?

My thoughts: This is the second book I've read by Simon Lelic and it was quite the addictive, binge-worthy book I found the previous book I read by him to be. Once I started it, I had a hard time putting it down.

I love a book where I have a hard time knowing who I can trust and that is exactly what I felt with this book. Susanna has a secret and I was desperate to know it, and it is hinted at, but it is not until the end that we finally find out just what it is. Adam also has a secret and he is unwilling to reveal it until just the right moment.

I loved the tension in this book - it really kept me flipping the pages, trying to piece together just what was going on. In addition to these two characters, who are in a therapy session, we are also introduced to Susanna's teen daughter, who is keeping some secrets of her own.

This book really kept me guessing and on my toes and it wasn't until the last quarter of the book that I started to put the pieces together, right before things started to come together. This in no way detracted from my enjoyment because of course I had no idea of the why - and that is always the most important part and the most revealing. I never get upset when I guess parts of a book because I very rarely guess the motivation behind things and this was one I never would have been able to figure out.

I love Simon Lelic's writing and the way he spins his tales. I am definitely a fan and will be keeping an eye out for what comes next from this talented author!


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Review: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner (audio/print)

Title: The Jane Austen Society
Author: Natalie Jenner
Narrator: Richard Armitage
Published: May 2020, Macmillan Audio / St. Martin's Press
Length: 9 hours 55 minutes / 320 pages
Source: Audio - ALC via / Print - ARC Paperback via Publisher


"Fans of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will adore The Jane Austen Society… A charming and memorable debut, which reminds us of the universal language of literature and the power of books to unite and heal." —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen's legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen's home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner's The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

My thoughts:  As soon as I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. I love Pride and Prejudice - it is the one classic I have read multiple times, and while I have not read all of Jane Austen's other books, I do own all of them and do plan on reading them at some point.

I really enjoyed this book. It was so charming and I loved the simple message it delivers - that books have a way of feeding our souls. This motley group of characters that we meet all come together for one reason - they love Jane Austen and want to preserve her legacy. They couldn't be more different from each other, but the one thing unites them is their love of this one author and they are willing to do just about anything to keep her legacy from disappearing.

This is a book that I will certainly be coming back to as I read the rest of my Jane Austen books as her novels are referenced quite often. Would I have gotten more out of this book if I had already read all of Jane Austen's books - possibly but I still enjoyed it and now I am more determined to read the ones I have not. I loved listening to the characters talk about their favorite passages and discuss Jane's life and how their own lives are quite like the character's lives. It was quite cleverly done and just pulled me in deeper and deeper.

If you are an Austen fan, this book is for you. If you like the book-within-a-book format, this book is for you. It's such a fitting book to be coming out right now as so many of us are turning to books for comfort and whether that is the classics or rom-coms or thrillers, I think it shows the power of books and how reading can bring people together and help them understand themselves and others.

Audio thoughts: I had the opportunity to listen to this and it was so enjoyable. I alternated between listening and reading and I just loved it. Richard Armitage has such a lovely voice and it was so soothing to listen to. He did a great job with all the characters - there are eight which is a lot to keep track of, but he made it easy! He had a great cadence for this book and I really enjoyed it. 


Short & Sweet Review: The 19th Christmas by James Patterson

Title: The 19th Christmas
Author: James Patterson
Series: Women's Murder Club, #19
Published: October 2019, Little, Brown & Company
Format: Hardcover, 344 pages
Source: Personal copy

It's not sleigh beels that are ringing this Christmas.

As the holidays approach, Detective Lindsay Boxer and her friends in the Women's Murder Club have much to celebrate. Crime is down. The medical examiner's office is quiet. Even the courts are showing some Christmas spirit. And the news cycle is so slow that journalist Cindy Thomas is on assignment to tell a story about the true meaning of the season for San Francisco.

Then a fearsome criminal known only as "Loman" seizes control of the headlines. He is planning a deadly surprise for Christmas morning. And he has commissioned dozens of criminal colleagues to take actions that will mask his plans. All that Lindsay and the SFPD can figure out is that Loman's greed -- for riches, for bloodshed, for attention -- is limitless.
Solving crimes never happens on schedule, but as this criminal mastermind unleashes credible threats by the hour, the month of December is upended for the Women's Murder Club. Avoiding tragedy is the only holiday miracle they seek.

***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: I was excited to see that this series was coming out with a Christmas-themed book and after the last installment had questions as to how the series was going to move forward. Well, I'm happy to see that things have moved back to normal and enjoyed this holiday-themed mystery, though I do wish that Claire had been more involved.

This latest installment had one main story that involved Lindsay and her partner and the other side story involves Cindy and Yuki. While I enjoyed both, I do miss the older books where the four women would get together and hash things out at their weekly get-togethers. I miss getting updates on their lives seeing them working together to solve the mysteries. I just feel that it's missing that part of what made this series great to begin with.

Of course, I'm not quite ready to throw the towel in just yet. I will see what comes next with book 20, which is out but I haven't bought yet. I find these books to be fun, quick reads and I'm hopeful they will eventually go back to what they were.

Books in this series:

1.   1st to Die                                    13.   Unlucky 13
     2.   2nd Chance                               14.   14th Deadly Sin
     3.   3rd Degree                                15.    15th Affair
     4.   4th of July                                 15.5   The Trial
     5.   The 5th Horseman                   16.    16th Seduction
     6.   The 6th Target                          16.5   The Medical Examiner
     7.   7th Heaven                                 17.    The 17th Suspect   
     8.   The 8th Confession                  18.   The 18th Abduction
     9.   The 9th Judgment               19.   The 19th Christmas
    10.  10th Anniversary                 20.   The 20th Victim
    11.   11th Hour
    12.   12th of Never         


Sunday, May 24, 2020

Review: The Summer Set by Aimee Agresti

Title: The Summer Set
Author: Aimee Agresti
Published: May 2020, Graydon House
Format: ARC E-copy, 384 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

The real drama happens backstage in this juicy novel about an idyllic summer theater where hot stars, has-beens and hopefuls chase roles—and each other.

Charlie Savoy was once Hollywood’s hottest A-lister. Now, ten years later, she's pushing forty, exiled from the film world and back at the summer Shakespeare theater that launched her career—and where her old flame, Nick, is the artistic director.

It’s not exactly her first choice. But as parts are cast and rehearsals begin, Charlie is surprised to find herself getting her groove back, bonding with celebrity actors, forging unexpected new friendships and even reigniting her spark with Nick, who still seems to bring out the best in her despite their complicated history.

Until Charlie’s old rival, Hollywood’s current it girl, is brought in to attract theater donors, threatening to undo everything she’s built. As the drama amps up both on the stage and behind the curtains, Charlie must put on the show of a lifetime to fight for the second chance she deserves in career and in love.

My thoughts: I don't typically read a whole lot of contemporary romance but in light of everything going on, I've been gravitating towards some light reads lately and this one was just what I was craving. And I liked that there was more than just romance here.

This was a fun book. It's about second chance love and I'm always up for that. But it was so much more than that. It's about trying to save something that is meaningful and realizing just who you are in the middle of that. 

There are a lot of moving parts to this book and at first, it's hard to keep everyone straight, especially the younger set, but eventually everyone stands on their own. Of course, Charlie and Nick are really the stand-outs and while I enjoyed their stories, I do wish the younger set had equal screen time...there was a lot of potential for them.

I loved all the drama that was brought forth over the course of this book. It made for a fun book and again, this was what I needed. It might have been a little over the top at times, but set against the backdrop of the theater, it fit perfectly. This was a good story, filled with well-rounded characters that I was invested in from start to finish. I haven't read anything by this author before, but I would definitely read her again!


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Review: The Sunday Girl by Pip Drysdale

Title: The Sunday Girl
Author: Pip Drysdale
Published: May 2020, Sourcesbook Landmark
Format: ARC E-copy, 288 pages
Source: Netgalley

Any woman who’s ever been involved with a bad, bad man and been dumped will understand what it feels like to be broken, broken-hearted and bent on revenge.

Taylor Bishop is hurt, angry and wants to destroy Angus Hollingsworth in the way he destroyed her: Insidiously. Irreparably. Like a puzzle, he’d slowly dissembled … stolen a couple of pieces from, and then discarded, knowing that nobody would ever be able to put it back together ever again.

So Taylor consults The Art of War and makes a plan. Then she takes the next irrevocable step — one that will change her life forever.

Things start to spiral out of her control — and The Sunday Girl becomes impossible to put down.

My thoughts: This is the debut novel from Pip Drysdale and what a fun, thrilling read it was. Who doesn't love a good revenge plot? All I know is that I devoured this book, needing to know how it was going to play out and boy did it keep me on my toes!

I loved that this book took your typical revenge story and turned it upside down. It's not just girl gets dumped by boy and therefore decides to take her anger out by exacting revenge. That's where Drysdale takes this a step further by introducing a most delicious cat and mouse game between Taylor and Angus. It makes it so that you aren't sure which way things will go, keeping you completely glued to the pages.

Taylor is for the most part a likeable character and you really do find yourself feeling sorry for the situation that she finds herself in. There were plenty of times that I found myself questioning her actions, but I never once felt she was unreliable...I trusted her the whole time and wanted her to come out on top. Angus, on the other hand, was the most despicable character and his actions were just awful. I kept thinking this is what a psychopath is she not seeing this? But, this is what domestic abuse is all about...the victim doesn't ever see it, right?

I loved that Taylor was using The Art of War as her guide for exacting revenge but unfortunately Angus always seemed to be a few steps ahead of her. Drysdale manages to turn the classic cat and mouse game on it's head and you aren't quite sure who is the cat and who is the mouse.

I really enjoyed this book and loved the way it was written. It kept me engaged from start to finish and I had a hard time putting this one down. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves psychological thrillers. I will definitely be looking forward to reading more from this talented author!


Friday, May 22, 2020

Review: The Ingredients of You and Me by Nina Bocci

Title: The Ingredients of You and Me
Author: Nina Bocci
Series: Hopeless Romantics, #3
Published: April 2020, Gallery Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 320 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of the “heartwarming and refreshingly sweet” (Lauren Layne, New York Times bestselling author) On the Corner of Love and Hate comes a sizzling and sweet small-town love story that follows a bakery store owner who decides to take her chances on a truly hopeless romantic.

After selling her successful bakery back in New York, Parker Powell decides to visit her best friend Charlotte in Hope Lake, Pennsylvania, to figure out her next steps. As she acquaints herself with the people in town, she begins to wonder why she ever loved city life in the first place. Between the Golden Girls (a.k.a. the senior citizen women who hold court), the response from the town to her sweet treats, and Nick Arthur, the ever-charming local owner of a landscaping business she spent time with during her last visit, Parker finds a community of cheerleaders who encourage her to get her baking mojo back.

At first, everything is great—she collaborates with the Golden Girls to put new twists on traditional confections, and thanks to Nick’s advice, she quickly learns the stark differences between big city and small-town business practices. Although Nick has become her friend and confidant, Parker’s determined to keep things platonic—especially since his girlfriend isn’t a fan of their friendship. But just when things fall into place so they can finally be together, Parker’s dream bakery is threatened by a major corporation who wants to take her down using the very bit of advice that Nick gave her.

With a recipe for disaster looming, Parker must cook up a new scheme, figuring out how to keep the business—and man—she’s come to love before she loses it all.

Perfect for fans of Amy E. Reichert and Jenny Colgan, The Ingredients of You and Me is a scrumptious romantic comedy that lets you have your cake and eat it too.

My thoughts:  While this is the third book in Nina Bocci's Hopeless Romantic series, it's only the first one I've read and it was exactly the type of read I needed right now. This book is equal parts charming, sweet and downright funny and I loved every minute I spent with these characters. I had a smile on my face the entire time I was reading this - it was just what I needed with all that is going on right now.

While I don't typically like to jump into a series in the middle, I've found that it is not always possible to start at the beginning, especially when I am offered a book for review that is part of a series. So, I've thrown my own rule out the window and have decided to just read whatever book it is I'm given and if I like it, then I go back and start the series at book 1. If I don't like it, then no need to read anymore. And, what I've been finding is that most authors are writing the books in their series in such a way that each book really does stand on their own. 

Luckily, my experience with this book is that I definitely plan on going back to read the earlier books. I'm not sure if the characters we meet in this third book are all involved, but either way, I want more of this author's writing.

As for this particular book...I loved it. While there is a romance component to this book, and a second chance romance at that, I don't necessarily think it's the main focus. It's mainly focused on Parker finding her passion for baking again. Luckily she has a great group of women to help her with this - the Golden Girls. And what a group they are! These women have such huge personalities and really made the book. They had me laughing so hard at times, yet I also found myself thinking of my grandmother each time they offered their unsolicited advice.

I loved this book. I loved the small town charm and the way friends banded around Parker. I loved the Golden Girls and cannot wait to read the earlier books just so I can get more of them alone. This was definitely a feel-good book and it includes recipes...I can't wait to give them a try!

Books in this series:
  1. On the Corner of Love and Hate
  2. Meet Me on Love Lane
  3. The Ingredients of You and Me


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Blog Tour Stop & Excerpt: Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Today, I'm so happy to be a tour stop on the Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon  blog tour - I have an excerpt for you to read thanks to Harlequin Publishing.

Title: Sister Dear
Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon
Published: May 2020, MIRA Books
Format: Paperback, 384 pages

Beauty. Wealth. Success.

She’s got it all.

And it all should’ve been mine.

When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister.

Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.


About the author: Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing, and is now the author of The Neighbors and Her Secret Son. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons, and is delighted by her twenty-second commute.

Authors Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook  |   Instagram
|   Goodreads

Purchase Links: 



Chapter 1 

The police didn't believe me.

A jury wouldn't have, either, if I'd gone on trial, and most definitely not the judge. My attorney had more than a few reservations about my story. Ms. Allerton hadn't said as much. She didn't need to. I saw it in her eyes, could tell by the way she shuffled and reshuffled her papers, as if doing so might shake my lies clean off the pages, leaving only the truth behind in her inky, royal blue swirls. 

After our first meeting, I'd concluded she must've known early on--before she shook my hand with her icy fingers--that I was a liar. Before she'd walked into the room in shiny, four-inch heels, she'd no doubt decided she'd heard my excuses, or a variation thereof, from countless clients, already. I was yet another person claiming to be innocent. Another criminal who'd remained adamant they'd done nothing wrong, it wasn't their fault, honest, despite the overwhelming amount of evident to the contrary, a wall of impending doom surrounding me.

And still, at the time I'd believed the only reason Ms. Allerton had taken on my case pro-bono was because of the amount of publicity it gave her firm. Reducing my sentence--for there would be one--would amplify her legacy as a hot-shot lawyer. I'd accepted her help. There was no other option. I needed her knowledge, her expertise, saw her as my final hope. I now know her motivations were something else I'd miscalculated. All hope extinguished. Game over.

If I'm being fair, the judgements Ms. Allerton and other people had made about me weren't completely wrong. I had told lies, some, anyway. While that stripped away part of my claim to innocence, it didn't mean I was entirely guilty. Not of the things everybody said I'd done. Things I'd had no choice but to confess to, despite that being my biggest lie of all. 

But I'll tell you the truth. The whole truth and nothing but. I'll start at the beginning, and share everything that happened. Every last detail leading up to one fateful night. The night someone died because of me. The night I lost you, too.

I won't expect your forgiveness. Our relationship--or lack thereof--will have gone way beyond that point. No. All I can hope for, is that my side of the story will one day help you understand why I did the things I did.

And why I have to do the things I've not yet done.

Excerpted from Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon, Copyright © 2020 by Hannah McKinnon.
Published by MIRA Books

Hope I've enticed you to pick this book up with this excerpt...that it gives you a flavor of the book. 

I read the book a few months back and absolutely loved it! You can find my review here.

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