ARC Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Rating: ★★★

Publication Date: February 5,2019

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a modern retelling of the Beauty and the Beast. It features a much darker story then the old classic. With the “beast” being cursed to repeat the same three months over and over until he find the person to fall in love with him. After three hundred seasons and countless bloodshed, this is finally

Friends, I gotta be honest. I completely forgot what this book was about until I started reading it. I’m not the biggest fan of Beauty and the Beast retellings, but I have read some good ones in recent years. I was really excited to read this book, but it was just so so for me.

“Failure isn’t absolute. Just because you couldn’t save everyone doesn’t mean you didn’t save anyone.”

Harper is from DC and she’s had a Rough ™life. Her mother is dying of cancer and her family cannot afford medical treatments. Her brother, Jake is forced to work for the crime lords to just scrape by. Harper also has Cerebral Palsy. Based on my own personal experiences with this disability and the story itself, its given that Harper is a little more high functioning. She was a pretty cool character, who stuck to her guns and just wanted to make sure her family was safe. She was badass and had no problem telling anyone off including the prince.

Rhen is pretty much over everything and it shows. Reminded me of Rhys a bit from The Court Series. Every time a girl doesn’t fall in love with him, he turns into a different beast and no one is safe from him.

Grey was my dude. Probably my fave character. Loyal to a fault, he is the only one left with Rhen and has seen what happens after every single season. He is also given the ability to travel between the worlds and kidnaps the girls for each season.

The problem I always have with Beauty and the Beast retellings is someone is still kidnapped and held against their will. What made this book so interesting was that Harper was not the intended target, it was a mistake for her to be taken. And so she is already beyond apprehensive about Rhen and Grey and the whole curse. It made Harper’s relationships with both men more realistic and I appreciated it.

“We are not always presented with the choices we want, but choices exist nonetheless.”

My favorite part of this whole book was the theme of choice. Y’all know I love Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier and damn, Rhen and Bucky would be self-loathing best friends for sure. Rhen has been cursed by Lilith and in turn, has killed many people close to him. Harper has had to watch her mother slowly deteriorate and her brother does questionable things. But sometimes things are out of our control. Yes, there are choices we can make, but sometimes it doesn’t matter what is chosen, things still happen.

Overall, I didn’t hate this and I didn’t absolutely love it either. A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a LONG book and sometimes you really felt how long. Some things were a little cliched and Lilith showing up was just annoying sometimes. The ending felt rushed and scrambled, but I saw this isn’t standalone. So maybe I’ll like the second one a little better.

But while I wasn’t the biggest of fans for this book. I can see how some people would really enjoy this. This still had some cool twists and turns and was a good retelling of a beloved classic.

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Review: The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

Title: The Wicker King

Author: K. Ancrum

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Publication Date: October 31, 2017

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Friends! This book was such a surprise for me. I am not the biggest fan of contemporary but I’m trying new things. This was also the first book pick for The Dragons and Tea Book Club! I’m so very thankful to be a part of this club and can’t wait to make new friends in this wonderful book community.

This is a messed up book. The whole time reading I felt every emotion imaginable and it wasn’t until the end where I thought “wow I love this and I hate how much I love it.” I can see why this would be a polarizing story for some.

The Wicker King is a brilliantly written well-plotted story that takes the reader on a dark, emotional and (even a little) disturbing journey. I devoured this book at work and then proceeded to tell my friend (also at work) to please read this so I could have someone to cry over this with. The entire time reading I felt every emotion imaginable. The end of the book had me feeling like Kat reading “10 Things I Hate About You” to Patrick in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. I hated how much I loved The Wicker King 

Visually stunning by using the pages to signify the main characters’ inner turmoil. As the story progresses, the pages become darker eventually turning black. One of the most creative things I’ve ever seen in a book. The plot is enthralling and the characters are unique, making for a gripping story. The chapters were short which made it very hard for me to put it down.

August and Jack were such interesting TRAGIC characters who I loved. I just want to take them home with me and make them all the food. Broken kids who have gone through a lot for their age. Abusive and neglectful parenting tied these two men together into a relationship that was unhealthy for them both. Codependent to an unhealthy level, Ancrum gives us the story of two young men obsessed with each other and the lengths they will go for each other.

August’s voice throughout the book is so jumbled and well-done that it added an extra level of suspense for the reader. Ancrum does a wonderful job of showing August’s confused inner thoughts. I was confused about his relationships with the other characters and so was August.

A raw and powerful look at mental illness, The Wicker King explores many topics that resonate with many of us. The repercussions of absent, and neglectful parenting greatly impacted the characters and greatly propelled the plot. The effects of unhealthy relationships also really move the plot along. Ancrum does a brilliant job of having a neutral perspective on the characters and their relationships.

All in all, I think this was a brilliantly written book I fell in love with. For my first contemporary book in many years, I found myself asking for more. This is a messed up book, as I’ve said. You’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. But it’s a book I will forever be recommending to people.

“If you drop the weight you are carrying, it is okay. You can build yourself back up out of the pieces.”

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The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3) by Katherine Arden

Title: The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy #3)

Author: Katherine Arden

Rating: ★★★★★ (all the stars)

Publication Date: January 8, 2019

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  1. The Bear and the Nightingale– ★★★★★
  2. The Girl in the Tower– ★★★★★

Many years ago, Baby girl Smith was born… me! I wouldn’t meet my parents for another month, but today is my birthday! And since we are just beginning winter I thought today would be a perfect day to release my review for not only my favorite book of 2019 but also the perfect winter read.

“There are no monsters in the world, and no saints. Only infinite shades woven into the same tapestry, light and dark. One man’s monster is another man’s beloved. The wise know that.”

I probably talk about this trilogy at least 3 times a week, so everyone knows about my deep devotion to the first two books. So of course, the last book in this trilogy has been at the top of the most anticipated reads of 2019. I was fortunate enough to finally meet Katherine Arden this year at NYCC and man did I cry. I walked out of NYCC practically cradling The Winter of the Witch.

The Winter of the Witch picks up right at the end of Girl in the Tower and the action is there. Not going to lie, I was stressed at some points. The stakes have never been higher for Vasya and we see that in this fast-paced plot. From the very first moment, you are captured by the story of it all. I said Bear and the Nightingale is a breathtaking fairy tale and Girl in the Tower is an epic adventure, but Winter of the Witch is both. All those easter eggs you were given in the first two books come together in the most creative and imaginative ways. We see where Katherine Arden wanted to take us; a wonderful journey filled with the most fantastical of characters.

“What use am I? None. I have made more mistakes than I can count, and the world has no place for me. And yet, as I said before, I am still not going to die to please you.”

Katherine Arden character development is one of the greatest things I’ve ever read. Vasya is no longer the little girl who stole honeycakes from her nursemaid. Instead, she is this amazingly strong woman who has defied all expectations people had for her. Brilliantly flawed, Arden gives Vasya more character development in just a short time. I say it every day, but Vasya is my all time favorite female character. But it’s not just the main characters brilliantly written in this book. Even the most minor characters show a depth that expertly adds to this folkloric story.

Just like the previous two we are introduced to more fairy tales. This installment adds many whimsical elements that are sure to entice any reader. Midnight roads, quirky characters and legends of old add an extra level of fairytale to this story that reminded me of Bear and the Nightingale.

Friends, I WAS NOT ready for the range of emotions Arden would deliver. I cried, no, BAWLED my eyes out. I felt knocked down multiple times but slowly was put back together by Arden’s story-telling. This book is sure to give you feelings. And that scene…… I…. just.. *cries*

This book was everything I wanted it to be and more. I could read 100 more books about each character. BUT this is the perfect ending to a beautiful story. The characters, the setting, the story all feel completed by the end.

Winter of the Witch really cemented my love for this Trilogy. You may see me hugging these books around town. This is my favorite series of all time. If you ever want my recommendation it is The Winternight Trilogy.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Thank you to Del Rey for this arc 🙂

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The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden


“You are immortal, and perhaps I seem small to you,” she said at last fiercely. “But my life is not your game.”

Title: The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2)

Author: Katherine Arden

Rating: ★★★★★

Publication Date: December 5, 2017

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  1. The Bear and the Nightingale  ★★★★★

The Bear and the Nightingale is one of my favorite books so of course, I was beyond excited to reread The Girl in the Tower. If Bear and the Nightingale is a breathtaking fairy tale, than The Girl in the Tower is an epic adventure. 

The Girl in the Tower picks up right where The Bear and the Nightingale ended. Vasya needs to make a choice: go to the convent or marry. But for Vasya, she chooses a third option: travel the world with Solovey. But it’s hard to travel as an unmarried female, so Vasya travels disguised as a boy. Although Vasya enjoys the freedom, she is still grieving the loss of her father. It is hard to travel alone and soon Vasya runs into people who need her help. Unable to do anything but help others in need, Vasya is once again put back into society. 

Vasya then crosses paths with her older brother Sasha, who had become a monk and her sister Olga, who has married a prince and has a family of her own. Meeting her siblings unexpectedly forces Vasya to keep up the disguise of being a boy. This creates some tension for Vasya and her older siblings who have also not seen her in over 10 years.

Most of this story takes place in Moscow and it is very much different from the life Vasya is used to in the wilderness of Northern Russia. The kind creatures she has been so used to are powerless in the more modern world of Moscow. Vaysa has yet to find out what her disguise means for her siblings and their lives in Moscow. Betrayal is coming and Vasya will soon discover the city is not at all as it seems.

“I did not know I was lonely, she thought, until I was no longer alone.”

Once again I found myself really connected to the story because of three things: the characters arcs, the setting and the overall themes of the story.

This series has some of the best characters, I’ve ever read.  While Bear and the Nightingale had Vasya growing physically, Girl in the Tower has Vasya growing emotionally. I think her growth as a character really shined in this sequel. We see Vasya struggle with her loneliness, her family and a new city. She discovers her lies and half-truths have real consequences to her, her family and for Moscow.

But it’s not just Vasya, Katherine Arden is able to create a beautiful world filled with some of the most interesting characters. Not a single character is wasted in terms of development. We get more frost demon, Morozko!! With his much bigger role, Morozko was able to give us great balance to Vasya’s wildfire spirit. We learn more about him and his motives for always coming to Vasya’s aid. 

“Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory of the other: of a life left unchosen.”

It’s been two months since I read this last, and I already want to read it again. The setting for this sequel has changed a little, with us being in Moscow. But it’s still just as atmospheric. You feel how old and new Moscow is to Vasya. Rich and descriptive, you will think you are actually transported into the world Katherine Arden has created.

“Do you think that is all I want, in all my life— a royal dowry, and a man to force his children into me”

The Themes!!! Vasya is the biggest feminist, ahead of her time.  She has never tried to follow social norms and her clear want for freedom is so prevalent in Girl in the Tower. This whole series is about a girl who refuses to conform to gender roles and just wants to travel. I mean what an icon. She knew traveling would be hard for a women, so she disguises herself as a boy. She risked her life to save other girls who had been kidnapped. Vasilisa Petrovna’s entire character is wrapped around this theme of gender roles and social norms. It’s what makes her a great protagonist. She’s independent, strong-willed. She’s not afraid to fail and she does fail a lot in this book. She knows the risks of being unwed, but it’s worth it to her to find her own happiness.

“A woman married. Or she became a nun. Or she died. That was what being a women meant. What then, was she?”

Her step-mother acted as a foil for Vasya’s attitude towards magic and tradition. But in this sequel, it’s her sister who acts as the foil. The opposites of having a family vs wanting to be free. While Olga misses some of her freedoms, she does understand her sense of duty to her family and her role as a woman. Whereas, Vasya clearly wants to be free of the burdens of being married. I absolutely love the way Arden uniquely, creates tension between the sisters centered on this plot device. Honestly, I could talk about Vasya until I’m blue in the face.

This series, this book, these characters mean everything to me. If there’s one series I wish I could reread over again for the first time, it’s this one. Do yourself some self-care and pick up this book. Come fall in love with a frost demon, a talking horse, and a girl who just wants freedom.

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Anticipated reads of 2019: January- April

Hello! Just a few weeks left of December and 2018 so I thought it would be a good time to look ahead to 2019 and some of my most anticipated reads. I am so ready for my heart to be put through the wringer with some of these books. Click each title to find its Goodreads page and I’ll be listing my thoughts on each book as well 🙂

JANUARY

Title: The Gilded Wolves

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Publication Date: January 15, 2018 by Wednesday Books

Thoughts: “It’s heist day” I think Roshani has some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read and I can’t wait to finally devour this book. This cover is stunning. 

Title: White Stag

Author: Kara Barbieri

Publication Date: January 8, 2018 by Wednesday Books

Thoughts:  “young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human” SIGN ME UP! This sounds like the perfect winter read.

Title: Dragon Pearl

Author: Yoon Ha Lee

Publication Date: January 15, 2018 by Rick Riordan Presents

Thoughts: I loved Aru, and Storm Runner. So I’m super pumped for Dragon Pearl. There’s Fox spirits and Korean Mythology. 

FEBRUARY

Title: Lady Smoke (Ash Princess Trilogy #2)

Author: Laura Sebastian

Publication Date: February 5, 2018 by Delacorte Press

Thoughts: Not going to lie. I read Ash Princess in like October 2017. So I don’t really remember all that happened, but I do remember how intense the ending was. So I guess I need to reread it before Lady Smoke comes out. 

Title: Courting Darkness 

Author: Robin Lafevers

Publication Date: February 5, 2019 by HMH books for Young Readers

Thoughts: I really liked Grave Mercy. Yes I know I need to read the second and third. But I can’t wait for this new Duology. Let me read all the books about assassin nuns. 

Title: Crown of Feathers

Author: Nicki Pau Preto

Publication Date: February 12, 2019 by Simon Pulse

Thoughts: This cover, though. A girl disguised as a boy while riding a Phoenix. I’m so in. This book has been getting a lot of buzz. So I’m really hoping I enjoy it. 

MARCH

Title: The Fever King 

Author: Victoria Lee

Publication Date: March 1, 2019 by Skyscape

Thoughts: This cover is so pretty I could cry. This is one of my top anticiapated books. Is it gay? Political? I freaking hope so.

Title: Once and Future

Author: Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

Publication Date: March 5, 2019 by Little, Brown and Company

Thoughts: A genderbent Arthurian tale. This cover. Amy Rose Capetta. Do I need to say more?

Title: The Waking Forest

Author: Alyssa Wees

Publication Date: March 12, 2019 by Delacorte Press

Thoughts: This book sounds so wonderfully creepy. It just sounds like Labyrinth and I’m ready. A creepy fairy tale is all I want to read in 2019.

APRIL

Title: The Raven’s Tale

Author: Cat Winters

Publication Date: April 16, 2019 by Amulet Books

Thoughts: I.Love.Edgar. Allen. Poe. So a retelling about Poe is always on my list of books I need to read. Poe and his muse. PLUS CAT FREAKING WINTERS!!! Sold.

Title: The Devouring Gray

Author: Christine Lynn Herman

Publication Date: April 2, 2019 by Disney- Hyperion

Thoughts: This cover is one of the spookiest things I’ve ever seen. Like the temporary cover did not mentally prepare me for this. Stranger Things meets the Raven Cycle. Is there anything else we need in this world?

Title: King of Fools (The Shadow Game #2)

Author: Amanda Foody

Publication Date: April 30, 2019 by Inkyard Press

Thoughts: Ace of Shades is a book that was iffy for me until the very end when all the stuff happened. So now I’m pumped for King of Fools because there’s so many questions I have.


Well there we have it! You notice some books missing but this was for books I have yet to read. My real anticipated list from Jan-Apr has quite a lot of books on them so I’m going to be very busy the first half of the year and I’m excited! What are some books you can’t wait to read in 2019? 

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Top 10 Albums of 2018

Happy Thursday friends! Quick update on life. Just got back from my mini vacation to NYC for Cassandra Clare’s signing of Queen of Air and Darkness. It was sooo much fun and super fun to get away to one of my favorite cities. 

Today’s list is my favorite albums of 2018. I live and breathe music and 2018 was the year of some of the best albums I’ve seen in a long time. I found new bands to fall in love with, old favorites come back and surprise me. Just a fantastic year of music! Now to the list……..


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 10. Delta by Mumford and Sons

Honestly, it’s probably going to be way higher than this but the album came out a little later and I’m still listening to it. “Pictures of You” is my favorite currently. But damn, did I miss Mumford and Sons and their music.  

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9. Pray for the Wicked by Panic! at the Disco

I’m still really torn on whether I like this album or not. On one hand, “Overpass” is my favorite song on the album and I think it’s fantastic. However, the tone of the album is strange to me. Like we get it, Brenden, you’re the last of the OG members still standing. We got it. I do really enjoy listening to some of these songs. Just sometimes I get the thoughts, and I don’t know if I love it or not. But it’s still on the list because I was dying for this album to be released. haha.

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8. Electric Light by James Bay

I really enjoyed Bay’s first album and thought it was a cute coffee shop soundtrack, but man is this album wonderful. What I love is this is clearly the James Bay we are supposed to see and I love it. Electric Light never fails to bring a smile to my face. The lead guitar in “Pink Lemonade” is everything the world needs right now. 

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7. Youngblood by 5 Seconds of Summer

Another album where the artists took the time to fully develop into what they truly want. I remember them touring with One Direction and look at them now. I love how they are finally a rock band. This is so dark and edgy, and my alternative rock heart really loves this album. “Babylon” is my fave, Callum’s voice is important to me. lol

Image result for a brief inquiry into online relationships album cover

6.  A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships by The 1975

You’re probably thinking “Mel, why are Mumford and Sons number 10 and The 1975 number 6 if that album came out like a week ago?” Well, my friends, I’ve been waiting for this album for a very long time now. Pretty much since the last album came out and I ADORE The 1975. This was everything I could have hoped it would be and more. “Mine” has been on repeat since it came out. One of the top artists I would like to see live (soon)

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5. Everything is Love The Carters

🙌🏾 We are not worthy! I freaking love Beyonce. A lot. Have since I was a child and this album is great. Beyonce’s range is one of the world’s hidden treasures. She’s only 37 years old!?!? “APESHIT” music video is one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever seen in my entire life. 

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4. My Dear Melancholy EP– The Weeknd

This album was so painful when it first came out. I was going through my own things, and I just felt what Abel was clearly trying to say with this EP. It’s raw and completely different in tone from Starboy and even Beauty Behind the Madness. This EP gave me some serious Kiss Land vibes. I’ll listen to anything Abel gives me. 

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3. Good Thing by Leon Bridges

*heart eyes* This album is a love song to the 70s and it’s perfect to me. I think Leon Bridges is one of the most underrated singers. Coming Home was great, but I really thought this sophomore album showcases Bridges’s range a little more clearly. From the deep soulful ballad of “Georgia to Texas” (my favorite song) to the upbeat dance of  “If It Feels Good (Then it Must Be), Leon Bridges shows that he’s ready to tackle it all. I could talk about him forever.  

HONORABLE MENTIONS

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Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae

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Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino by Arctic Monkeys


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2. Love Yourself: Tear and Love Yourself: Answer by BTS

There are probably a bunch of people who are hella surprised this isn’t my number 1. But as much as I love BTS, I had to think objectively.  But Because these both came out in 2018, I combined them. I don’t know what to say about them without gushing too much because I absolutely love the message the Love Yourself series is giving, so I’ll just tell you my 2 top songs from each album. From Tear, I love “So What” and “Outro: Tear” and from Answer, I love “Singularity” and “Serendipity” bonus is also “Trivia: Seesaw” I’m excited to see what these guys will do in 2019!

And finally, number 1 album of 2018 is…………..

Image result for black panther album

1. Black Panther: The Album by Kendrick Lamar and various others

THIS ALBUM IS A MASTERPIECE! I remember being in Arizona when it was first announced that this album was being produced by Kendrick Lamar. This album as a whole is simply unbelievable. It features names we’ve heard and many we’ve haven’t. An underground rap album meets mainstream truly emphasizes the whole point of Black Panther. There are songs that reflect T’Challa as well as Killmonger. This is easily one of my forever favorite albums. 


Well, there it is, friends! My Top 10 list for my favorite albums of 2018. As you can see I listen to a wide range of music. What are some of your favorite albums? Do we have any matches? Happy Thursday!💜 

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December TBR and updates!

Hello Friends! The end of 2018 is upon us. Did anyone feel like this year was ridiculously long? But welcome to December and it’s my Birthday month. Every year I say I’m going to get into the Christmas spirit and then I don’t. BUT…. This is going to be the year, finally! I already helped someone decorate a real Christmas tree which was cool because I’ve never had one a real one before. To celebrate my Birthmas I’m going to be posting my review of The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden. But before the 23rd I’ll doing cool, end of the year Top 10s along with all the books I’ve read recently and just never got around to posting a review. It’s going to be a busy month here but I’m really excited!


This month I can’t wait to read some of these books! Winter reads for the Win! These are the 7 books I plan on reading this month!

Echo North Fire and Heist White Stag (Permafrost, #1)

 Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices, #3)  The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)  Circle of Shadows (Circle of Shadows, #1) The Priory of the Orange Tree

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer Publication Date: January 15, 2019

Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst   Publication Date: December 4, 2018

White Stag (Permafrost #1) by Kara Barbieri Publication Date: January 8, 2019

Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3) by Cassandra Clare Publication Date: December 4, 2018

My most anticipated book of the month. Tomorrow, my friends and I are going up to NYC for her signing on Tuesday. I’m soooo excited.

The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1) by Roshani Chokshi Publication Date: January 15,2019

Circle of Shadows (Circle of Shadows #1) by Evelyn Skye  Publication Date: January 22, 2019

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon Publication Date: February 26, 2019

 

 

I hope everyone has a beautiful December and happy reading!💜💜

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