Contagion by Erin Bowman – Spoiler Free Review

Title: Contagion
Series Name: Contagion
Author: Erin Bowman
Genre: YA Sci-Fi Horror
Publication Date: July 24th, 2018
Pages: 423 (Hardcover)
Publishers: HarperTeen
Rating:

Goodreads Synopsis

After receiving a distress call from a drill team on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is sent into deep space to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

When they arrive, they find the planet littered with the remains of the project—including its members’ dead bodies. As they try to piece together what could have possibly decimated an entire project, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

It got in us.

Writing

Oh my god!
This book was SO intense, SO gripping, SO interesting and just my god! I could not put this book down! The writing was awesome. There was the perfect amount of world building, character development, action, creepiness, sarcasm & second guessing. It was just awesome. It flowed really well & there was never any confusion. The atmosphere of this book was just outstanding. You could feel it & you could see it playing out, it was just amazingly written! I don’t read horror too often & this is Sci-Fi Horror and it definitely came through. The creepiness was just everywhere. Like if I heard a noise in the real world when I was deep in this book I would nearly shit myself. The writing just drags you so far into this story that it will feel real.

Most are dead.

Plot

This book did not slow down from start to finish! And it worked perfectly that way. The plot was unpredictable, action packed & intense in the best ways possible!

Don’t set foot here again.

Characters

These characters were just all over the place. In the best way. You never know who to trust, who has secrets, who is just doing something for their own gain & who is hiding something that could change everything! This is multi POV & in every POV you end up second guessing another character who you thought you trusted. All the characters were written amazingly & I loved and hated them all a little bit. They all developed over the course of the book, some in bad ways & some in worse ways. They all felt so fleshed out & were just so well written!

Don’t trust the kid.

Overall

This book was just so well done! Everything was written amazingly & the suspense was insane throughout the whole book! I can’t wait for book 2 which comes out very soon! 2nd of July which happens to be my birthday!! So that is super convenient!

You can purchase a copy for yourself at any of the links below.

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The Bone Charmer by Breeana Shields – Spoiler Free Review

Title: The Bone Charmer
Author: Breeana Shields
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: May 21st, 2019
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
Publishers: Page Street Publishing
Rating:

Goodreads Synopsis

In Saskia’s world, bones are the source of all power. They tell the future, reveal the past, and expose secrets in the present. Each village has a designated seer who performs readings for the townsfolk, and in Midwood, the Bone Charmer is Saskia’s mother.

On the day of her kenning—a special bone reading that determines the apprenticeships of all seventeen-year-olds—Saskia’s worst fears come true. She receives an assignment to train as a Bone Charmer, like her mother, and even worse, a match-making reading that pairs her with Bram—a boy who has suspicious tattoos that hint of violence.

Saskia knows her mother saw multiple paths for her, yet chose one she knew Saskia wouldn’t want. Their argument leads to a fracture in one of the bones. Broken bones are always bad luck, but this particular set of bones have been infused with extra magic, and so the break has devastating consequences—Saskia’s future has split as well. Now she will live her two potential paths simultaneously. Only one future can survive. And Saskia’s life is in danger in both.

Writing

This book was actually REALLY good! The writing was very gripping & interesting. I read 75% of this book in 1 day because I was just so into the story, I just couldn’t put it down! I really enjoyed the writing. The author did an awesome job of describing the world & magic system thoroughly but it never felt like info dumping which was awesome. The characters developed well throughout the book, some good & some bad but the development was there and it felt natural.

Plot

The plot of this book is so freaking interesting. This book basically follows two possible futures after a certain point in time and it was done SOO well! There was action & drama in both sides that kept you on your toes! It was very unpredictable as well which is awesome. The whole plot just flowed really well on both sides. I thought things might of been confusing but that definitely wasn’t the case. The author did an awesome job of writing this unique plot and I loved it.

I also love that there was never any confusion when it came to the 2 different plots we were following. Obviously both sides followed the same MC & I feel like she felt different in each side and she developed differently because of what she went through on that side. It was just written really well!

Characters

The characters are kinda hard to talk about because there were 2 versions of most characters, one in each possible future. The characters in each future developed really well though & I was really invested in these characters. Especially so on one of the futures and I really liked one of the romances , which is really weird as I’m just not usually that person. All the characters were really well done, the good guys & the bad guys. They were all written very well! I think that is all I’ll say about the characters as otherwise it is going to get too confusing by trying to avoid spoilers if I actually talk about the characters individually.

Overall

I really enjoyed this book! The characters were awesome, the world was super interesting, the magic system was unique and interesting as well. Everything about this book was just interesting & fun. It dragged me in and did not want to let go! I really hope there is a sequel to this book. It ended as if it was leading into another book but there is no series for this book on Goodreads and I can’t find any info for it! I really hope there is though! It was just so good and also, like I said, the ending felt like it was leading somewhere else & I need to know!!

Thank you to NetGalley & Page Street Publishing for providing me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

You can purchase a copy for yourself at any of the links below.

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Wicked Saints by Emily A Duncan – Spoiler Free Review

Title: Wicked Saints
Series Name: Something Dark and Holy
Author: Emily A Duncan
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2019
Pages: 385 (Hardcover)
Publishers: Wednesday Books (St. Martin’s Press)
Rating:

Goodreads Synopsis

An instant New York Times bestseller!

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy..

Writing

Okay, this book was quite disappointing to me in many ways. One of which was the lack or world building & explanation around the magic systems. While I wasn’t necessarily confused about the magic, there just wasn’t enough of it! We were only told the bear minimum of what it can do, not how or why or any background. Again for the world building, there was barely any! I feel like I don’t know any background about the world, the magic, the war or anything really. The book was quite fast paced but I think that was part of it’s downfall as there was never slow points to be able to explain anything.

This book felt very centred around the characters which meant the plot felt very lacking. However, even though it felt more character driven the characters were very lacking and under developed as well.

I also want to talk on the fact that this book was advertised a ‘villain romance’ but this slightly spoilery, so skip to the Plot section if you don’t want spoilers.
I honestly don’t see this as a villain romance. Nadya falls into Mal’s group SO quickly. There was inner turmoil because of what he was, throughout but she never really acted on that! She just accepted him, trusted him and fell for him so quickly! Even as a reader, he didn’t feel like a villain for 80% of the book. He was a little questionable but it all seemed genuine until the very end when he betrayed her. So yeah, I really don’t think this is even a villain romance. It’s just a romance but one character turned out to be an ass…

Plot

The plot of this book was kinda all over the place & there wasn’t really a big ending like was expected. The whole book felt like it was building to something. I was waiting for Nadya to have her big powerful moment but it never happened. It all just kinda feel flat in the end.

Characters

This book follows Multi POV between Nadya (Nadezhda) & Serefin. There is also one major side character, Mal (Malachiasz).

The only character I enjoyed was Serefin. He was a kinda mysterious character and we were left guessing whether he was the bad or good guy throughout. Even though he was one of the POVs the main focus seemed to be on Nadya, which is mostly where the plot takes place. So his POV points were lacking a little when it came to plot but I still enjoyed reading from him. He felt the most developed out of the characters.

As for both Nadya & Mal, they were both very flat one dimensional characters. Nadya was built up to be a kinda ‘chosen one’ character but that never amounted to anything. While her POV was where the action was, I didn’t like reading from her POV. She was a bland character & very contradictory of herself all the time! Thoughts would be one thing but actions would be the opposite. Neither Nadya or Mal developed at all throughout the book, they felt like the same boring characters all the way through & I didn’t care for either of them. Which made me care less about what happened to them in the plot..

Overall

This book was just disappointing in so many aspects! I started out by reading this physically but then swapped to the audiobook. Which I will say was quite well done. I definitely prefer the audiobook for this one. The 2 voice actors that play Nadya & Serefin brought the characters to life a bit more than they actually felt in the book. I am still curious about book 2 of this book, mainly for Serefin and his story but I probably won’t pick it up unless I can grab the audiobook.

Thank you to NetGalley & Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press for providing me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

You can purchase a copy for yourself at any of the links below.

You could also use my affiliate links for Book DepositoryBooktopia or Angus & Robertson.

*Please be aware that the Hardcover of Wicked Saints has deckled edges
ISBN: 9781250195661

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Hardcover

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Hardcover // Paperback

Amazon Australia
eBook // Hardcover

Angus and Robertson
Hardcover

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The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang – Spoiler Free Review

Title: The Poppy War
Series Name: The Poppy War
Author: R.F. Kuang
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: May 15th, 2018
Pages: 530 (Hardcover)
Publishers: Harper Voyager
Rating:

Goodreads Synopsis

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

Writing

My god, was this book intense! It’s been a while since I have read an adult fantasy book, so I kinda forgot how intense and detailed they can be. There was a lot to this magic system & this world, as well as the insane plot but not once was I lost or confused. This book was so well thought out, explained & detailed. My issue with Adult books is generally the slower pace because of larger amounts of world building but that was not the case in this book! It was the perfect balance of fast paced, detailed & intense and I loved it!

The only thing I disliked and I think the book could have done well still without it was the odd romancey obsession that the MC had with a specific character. It just was kinda pointless to me when the same idea could of been achieved by other means.

Plot

I’ve already partially mentioned the plot. It was fast paced and insane basically. Plot twists on top of plot twists! This plot was SOOO unpredictable it’s not funny. It was just out of this freaking world and you could barely process one thing before another unexpected thing happened! Was definitely a roller coaster ride.

Characters

This is a hard bit to talk about without spoilers because nearly all the characters make drastic changes throughout the book and my opinions of them jumped around all the time! So I’ll just talk about Rin our MC.

Rin, in the beginning I really enjoyed. She was doing what she could to get out of a shitty situation & wouldn’t let anyone hold her back. But by the end of this book, I don’t even know if I like her as a character. Don’t get me wrong, she was written amazingly but her actions in the book make you question everything! For the most part in books, we root for the main character to succeed but this was definitely a twist on that usual view of the MC.

Overall

All I can say it, this book was insane! This book was intense! This book was a freaking roller coaster!
It was amazing and I HIGHLY recommend it!! I can’t wait to read The Dragon Republic, book 2!
Only reason it didn’t get a 5 stars for me was that iffy romance part which I didn’t enjoy but the rest is perfection.

You can purchase a copy for yourself at any of the links below.

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Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao – Spoiler Free Review

Title: Blood Heir
Series Name: Blood Heir Trilogy
Author: Amélie Wen Zhao
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: November 19th, 2019
Pages: 496 (Paperback)
Publishers: Random House Children’s
Rating:

Goodreads Synopsis

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls. 

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.

So there has been some ‘drama’ for this book. So I want to address that first.
I don’t know everything but from what I can tell some people read this book out of context and went ape shit at the author on Twitter. This was written with the authors own culture/heritage in mind but apparently some people viewed it differently/from a different cultural view and called it Racist & “anti-black”. Originally this book was meant to release in I think April. But the author decided to cancel the release due to all the hate she was receiving. We thought it was all over for this book but then the author decided to release the book but go in and do edits and to add emphasis to the culture she is trying to represent. Now it will be released on the 19th of November, 2019.
So this review is based on the original eARC that I received from Delacorte Press through NetGalley which is before any of these edits. And I wanted to say straight up that I do not see anything wrong with this book! I guess I can kinda see where someone could see it as Racist if took out of context. The character death that I think all the racist comments are behind was described to have “bronze skin” & “Brown Curls” which in a not ASIAN inspired book could be assumed is a ‘black’ character however this is an ASAIAN inspired book.. There are a few Asian cultures who have these features too and that is what the author was going for as opposed to placing a single (FOR EXAMPLE) African character in and ASIAN inspired fantasy.
I really enjoyed this book and I quite simply don’t see what the issue is… But anyway, I won’t mention any of this again, this is just a normal review from here on out and here it is!

**All quotes were taken from the eARC edition of this book & may differ from the final copy

“Your Affinity does not define you”

“What defines you is how you choose to wield it.”

Writing

I really enjoyed the writing in this book. The flow of this book was awesome. There was the right amount of action and adventure but also some slower areas where we got to focus on the characters too which I enjoyed. I really enjoyed the action/fight scenes! They were written in a way that felt quick, but you were given all the details so it made sense. I feel like some authors try and write it fast paced but then leave out details, so when you actually break it down, it doesn’t make sense and the movements don’t flow. This was definitely not the case with this book!

“Papa had once told her, after Mama’s death, that there were two types of grief. One was the type that crushed you, that broke your soul and shattered your heart, and left you an empty shell. The other was a grief that made you stronger. You rose from it, you sharpened it, and you carried it with you as a piece of your armour. And you made yourself better.”

Plot

This book is absolutely full of twists and turns. It’s also not afraid of being brutal and ripping apart this calm world. This plot was completely unpredictable! There wasn’t a single thing that I guessed correctly and I loved that! Fast paced and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time!

“Ana had no weapon and no plan, but she also had nothing more to lose.
And that, perhaps, was the most dangerous type of an opponent to have.”

Characters

I really enjoyed both Ana & Ramson! The banter, the sarcasm, the treats, etc. LOVED IT ALL!

Ana is such a badass character and I loved her. Even with everything that goes down in this book she never lets it stop her from following through with her plans. I love that you see all the struggles she goes through and she pulls through all of it and is such a strong character.

“In the face of fear, one could choose to run, or to rise.”

Ramson I really liked too! He was mysterious, funny and super interesting. I loved learning about him & can’t wait for more of him in book 2!

We also had a heap of side characters and all of them were amazing and well fleshed out! None of them felt one dimensional. You learn to love all of them and then your heart gets wrenched out of your chest, soooo there is that. But the characters are amazing! All of them.

“Figure out what you want to do in this life. Live for yourself. You might be the world’s strongest battleship, but you can’t navigate without a compass.”

Overall

I loved this book so much! Everything flowed, the world was thought out& the characters were well developed. I really can’t fault this book! I can’t wait for this to release and the rest of the world can read this amazing book!

“The smallest, weakest ones are often the most underestimated and tend to be much stronger than we anticipate.”

Also, this is the alternate cover & it is GORGEOUS!! This cover seems to be more common when you look at places to pre-order.

Thank you to NetGalley & Random House Children’s/Delacorte Press for providing me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

You can Pre-Order a copy for yourself at any of the links below.

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eBook // Hardcover

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The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle – Spoiler Free Review

Title: The Storm Keeper’s Island
Series Name: Storm Keeper
Author: Catherine Doyle
Genre: MG Fantasy
Publication Date: July 1st, 2018
Pages: 301 (Paperback)
Publishers: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Rating:

Goodreads Synopsis

When Fionn Boyle sets foot on Arranmore Island, it begins to stir beneath his feet …

Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for Fionn’s grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new Keeper will rise.

But, deep underground, someone has been waiting for Fionn. As the battle to become the island’s next champion rages, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war.

Writing

May as well get the negative out of the road straight away. While this book was entertaining it wasn’t overly engaging or gripping. I kept put it down and not really wanting to pick it back up. It was a tad childish & tropey for me and I found the characters very one dimensional and also kinda annoying at times.

I did enjoy the references to real world fandoms spread throughout the book. They were a nice little touch!

Whenever he watched The Lord of the Rings, he imagined himself as a lone rider galloping away from a battle while all the other characters were marching into it. When everyone else was in Helm’s Deep, he’d be back in the Shire, making a sandwich.

I did find the world & magic system quite interesting. I would love to learn more about the Storm Keeper’s magic but it was very vague and unexplained in this book.

Plot

I found the plot relatively predictable majority of the time. I also found the plot clunky and all over the place at times. It just didn’t flow nicely and was a bit confusing. Which I think added to my previously mentioned putting it down and not wanting to pick it up. I was guessing most of the major things and didn’t understand the other half, so that took the fun out of the reading experience.

Characters

As I said previously the characters were very one dimensional. So I honestly don’t have many feelings about any of them as I don’t really feel like I know any of their traits well enough.

Overall

So overall this was fairly disappointing. The world & magic system sounds really interesting but paired with the lack of good well developed characters, predictable plot & poor writing this book fell short for me.

You can purchase a copy for yourself at any of the links below.
*Alternate Cover is below!*

You could also use my affiliate links for Book DepositoryBooktopia or Angus & Robertson.

Booktopia
Paperback // Hardcover

Book Depository
Paperback

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eBook // Paperback

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Paperback // Hardcover

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – Spoiler Free Review

Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Series Name: A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: YA Fantasy Retelling
Publication Date: January 29th, 2019
Pages: 496 (Hardcover)
Publishers: Bloomsbury YA
Rating:

Goodreads Synopsis

Fall in love, break the curse. 

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom. 

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

Trigger Warnings: Sexual Assault/Threats, Abelism & Suicide.

Writing

This was an interesting twist to a classic. I love that this was turned to portal fantasy, which added another layer to the story. The world was well developed and very creative. I really enjoyed being in this world and discovering more about it through the book. I can’t wait to learn more in book 2, A Heart So Fierce and Broken!

This book is multi POV following Rhen & Harper and was done really well. It was very easy to distinguish between the 2 POVs. I’m also glad this book was multi POV rather than just following Harper or Rhen. This book was the best seeing both sides, both characters struggles and the truth from both sides.

“I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.”

– Freya (A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer)

Plot

This book is very suspenseful & adventure filled. There are plenty of twists and turns throughout the book which kept the book very interesting. It was hard to put down and was a very easy and quick read.

“My father once said we are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose–just as a poor hand can win–but we must all play the cards fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.”

-Rhen (A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Birgid Kemmerer)

As many of you know, I am not a huge romance fan, but as this is a retelling. I knew from the start that there would be a romance & who it would be between so when it came to pass I didn’t mind it. It was well done compared to most YA romances.

Characters

Our 3 main characters are Rhen, Harper & Grey. My favourite out of the 3 is actually Grey, who while plays a major part is a side character. All the characters are fierce, loyal & determined to do what is right. Grey especially is extremely loyal to those that he trusts. He is also quick witted & brave to a fault.

Also I really enjoyed the disability rep (Cerebral Palsy) in this book! There are very few books I have read that have MCs with disabilities in the physical realm. So it was interesting to see this in the book. It never stopped Harper from braving what needed to be done and she shut anyone down that doubted her ability because of it.

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

Harper (A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Thank you to NetGalley & Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for providing me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

You can purchase a copy for yourself at any of the links below.

You could also use my affiliate links for Book DepositoryBooktopia or Angus & Robertson.

Bloomsbury Aus
eBook, Hardcover & Paperback

Book Depository
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Booktopia
Paperback // Hardcover

Amazon Australia
eBook // Paperback // Hardcover

Angus & Robertson
Paperback // Hardcover

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