The Munich Girl Review

I know there is an abundance of WWII books in the marketplace right now, but I promise you this is a book unlike any other.  It is so well researched that it is hard to believe it is fiction.

The Munich Girl tells the story of Anna Dahlberg, a university professor who after remembering a young girl’s portrait from her childhood, sets out to discover its origin.  Little does she know this journey will turn the life as she knows it upside down.  As she does her research, she unravels a background of her mother that has been hidden her whole life.  And the encounters with historical figures are eye opening as well.

I truly enjoyed reading about Eva Braun, a woman in history I knew nothing about.  And from what Phyllis has written in this book, a woman rarely written about.  As Hitler’s mistress (and very short time as his wife), she puts a happier and innocent face on such a trying era of our past.

The duplicate storylines between the past and present keep this story flowing and would be recommended for fans of Orphan Train, The Mapmaker’s Children, and What She Left Behind.  And for those who read and enjoyed The Nightingale, I think you’ll also love this women-focused account of the past.

As of this posting date, the Kindle edition of The Munich Girl is only $2.99.  An incredible price for this one of a kind historical fiction novel.

image About the author:

As she writes fiction and nonfiction, Phyllis Edgerly Ring watches for the noblest possibilities in the human heart. She’s always curious to discover how history, culture, relationships, spirituality, and the natural world influence us and point the way for the human family on our shared journey.

Her newest novel, The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War, traces a pathway of love and secrets in WWII Germany when protagonist Anna Dahlberg discovers that her mother shared a secret friendship with Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun. Her journey to discover the truth about this, and her own life, will challenge most every belief she has about right and wrong.

The author has worked as writer, editor, nurse, tour guide, program director at a Baha’i conference center, taught English to kindergartners in China, and served as instructor for the Long Ridge Writer’s Group. She has written for such publications as Christian Science Monitor, Ms., Writer’s Digest, and Yankee, and also published several nonfiction books about creating balance between the spiritual and material aspects of life. More information can be found at her blog, Leaf of the Tree.

Thanks to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Spotlight: The Adjustments

The Adjustments (Paperback)


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In the postcard Connecticut town of Cannondale, financial status is followed closely by social standing. Nowhere is this battle more fiercely contested than among the housewives of Fairfield County. THE ADJUSTMENTS (FULL FATHOM FIVE), a debut romance/women’s fiction title by Ann Lineberger, airs the deliciously dirty laundry hidden behind one town’s picture-perfect facade.

In Cannodale, attending yoga classes at the trendy studio in town—taught by the sexy and mysterious Yogi Jack—is part of every elite woman’s routine. But the inner peace that yoga brings is only part of the appeal: many of the women come only for Jack and his seductive in-class adjustments. And in his private sessions, Jack provides services far beyond the usual realm of warrior pose, downward-facing dog, and shavasana.
Drama, jealousy, and intrigue will emerge as readers delve into the town’s greedy underbelly, and when one dark secret finds the light of day, it will threaten to change everything.
Fans of Desperate Housewives and Revenge will find a romance/women’s fiction story with an unhealthy dose of dirty scandal; yogis will find themselves yearning for their own kundalini awakening; and as a veritable realty expert, Lineberger’s layers of architectural detail will have design junkies salivating with property lust.

A yoga teacher with a dark side; broken families hidden within impeccable McMansions; and an insightful take on the importance of authenticity—in THE ADJUSTMENTS, Lineberger has deftly weaved a compelling story that touches on one inescapable truth: nobody is perfect, and nothing is ever what it seems.

This novel contains mature content.

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR THE ADJUSTMENTS

Ann Lineberger cooks up a devilishly delicious blend of yoga, sexcapades, McMansions, videotapes and a roaring bonfire of intrigue in The Adjustments, as she rips open the underbelly of contemporary suburban life. This scalding novel speaks to one indelible truth: people are rarely who or what they seem to be. ~ Mark Rubinstein, award winning author of The Lovers’ Tango

Eastern holistic practice collides with Western materialism in Fairfield County! Ann Lineberger’s keen awareness of the insecurities that quake behind wealthy facades allows her to both tweak and empathize with her subjects. Yoga isn’t the only thing tying the women of Cannondale in knots in this saucy, sexy, and insightful debut novel. ~ Jacques Lamarre, Playwright and Director of Communications, The Mark Twain House & Museum

Are those well-heeled suburbanites flocking to their fancy yoga classes because they’re honestly searching for inner peace–or for something more exciting? You’ll find the scandalous answer in The Adjustments, a scorching page-turner that shows how a Connecticut town can be as hot as L.A. or Miami. ~ Alan Deutschman, author of A Tale of Two Valleys: Wine, Wealth, and the Battle for the Good Life in Napa and Sonoma.

It’s often said that good fiction is grounded in reality and Ann Lineberger’s first novel is no exception. Set in Cannondale, a picturesque bedroom community in Fairfield County, CT, The Adjustments is anything but sleepy. Ann seductively captures the loneliness and drama that boil directly beneath the surface when husbands commute an hour each way into the city to maintain a lavish lifestyle of decorators, charitable balls, fancy schools and personal trainers. In each perfectly manicured home resides a perfectly manicured woman hiding her own imperfect story. The only place the women of Cannondale feel truly “recognized” is at the local yoga studio of handsome Yogi Jack. However, the women soon find that awakening they seek under the spell of Yogi Jack is anything but spiritual. One by one each woman learns that fantasy is just fantasy until someone finds out. Then they understand that dirty laundry is even more unsightly when in a picture perfect place like suburban Cannondale. ~ Annie Heisler, Founder of Fairfield County’s Hello Yoga

imageAUTHOR INFORMATION

Ann Lineberger is the author of New Spaces, Old World Charm (McGraw-Hill) and has worked as a reporter, editor, and writer for numerous publications, including Fortune, Entertainment Weekly, Cottages & Gardens, and Home Remodeling. She earned a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from New York University and an associate’s degree from the New York School of Interior Design. Her independent studies program undergraduate degree is from Providence College. In addition to writing, Ann is an interior designer and Halstead Property realtor. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, two daughters, and two very silly dogs.  You can connect with Ann on her website.

Book Spotlight: A Girl Like You

Synopsis from Amazon:

Henrietta Von Harmon works as a 26 girl at a corner bar on Chicago’s northwest side. It’s 1935, but things still aren’t looking up since the big crash and her father’s subsequent suicide, leaving Henrietta to care for her antagonistic mother and younger siblings. Henrietta is eventually persuaded to take a job as a taxi dancer at a local dance hall—and just when she’s beginning to enjoy herself, the floor matron turns up dead.

When aloof Inspector Clive Howard appears on the scene, Henrietta agrees to go undercover for him—and is plunged into Chicago’s grittier underworld. Meanwhile, she’s still busy playing mother hen to her younger siblings, as well as to pesky neighborhood boy Stanley, who believes himself in love with her and keeps popping up in the most unlikely places, determined to keep Henrietta safe—even from the Inspector, if need be. Despite his efforts, however, and his penchant for messing up the Inspector’s investigation, the lovely Henrietta and the impenetrable Inspector find themselves drawn to each other in most unsuitable ways.

image About the author:

Michelle Cox has a BA in English literature from Mundelein College, Chicago. While her heart might lie in the eighteenth century with Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy or in the crooked streets of Little Dorrit’s London, she tends to write of a slightly more recent age, a time closer to the World Wars, when all was not yet lost and the last roses of summer were first coming into bloom. Cox lives with her husband and three children in the Chicago suburbs. This is her first novel.

Thank you to BookSparks for allowing us to share this book with our readers.

No Ordinary Life Review

No Ordinary Life (Paperback)


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I rushed through Suzanne’s first novel, Hush Little Baby, when it came out.  Impossible to put down, I was recommending it to everybody.  So as soon as I found out she had a new book, I knew I had to read it.

No Ordinary Life does not disappoint.  Once again, Suzanne captures motherhood in a new and enlightening way, all with a pace that has you quickly flipping the pages.

She tells the story of Faye, a single mother, down on her luck and money, struggling to keep her kids fed and happy after her truck driver husband takes off for the millionth time.  She knows she can’t afford to stay where she is, so she packs the kids up from the one place they know to move in with her mom in Los Angeles.  When her youngest daughter, Molly, is discovered when a video of hers goes viral, Faye has to determine whether the sacrifices she’s making in order to earn money are worth it to keep her family together.

While not a single mother, with a husband working two jobs, I can certainly relate to Faye’s feelings about trying to keep it all together.  It’s a feeling I struggle with on a daily basis because there is barely any time for yourself.  And no matter how many kids a mother has, it’s almost impossible not to feel guilty that you’re paying more attention to one than any other.

I loved the short chapters in this novel because I was able to just tell myself “One more chapter” just to get back to it.  And with a Hollywood curiosity, I was fascinated reading about it from the perspective of a star’s mother, a unique approach to what we see in the magazines and tabloids.  So while most people cannot relate to the storyline, they absolutely can relate to being a sibling or a mother.

As usual, I cannot wait to get my hands on Suzanne’s next novel.  She has a loyal reader in me.

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and Suzanne’s publicist for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

image About the Author

Suzanne Redfearn is the author of No Ordinary Life, a Target Emerging Author selection, and Hush Little Baby, a Target Recommends selection and a Target Emerging Author selection.

She graduated summa cum laude from California Polytechnic University and, prior to becoming an author, was an architect. She is an avid surfer, golfer, skier, and Angels fan. She lives with her husband and children in Southern California. No Ordinary Life is her second novel.

Connect with her on Facebook, Goodreads, and her website.

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard Review

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard (Paperback)


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When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take the reader on a journey to the past.

It’s 1938 and Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Los Angeles after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, landing a job on the film-set of Gone With the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires collide.

What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future.

(Above synopsis courtesy of the publisher.)

As a pop culture junkie, to get the inside track to Hollywood, especially during the 1930s, was fascinating.  Meissner writes as if you are actually on set with the cast and crew experiencing it just as they are.  I loved the references to the secretaries dutifully following everyone around to take notes and dictation, something completely different from our world today.  My favorite part was all the behind-the-scenes details that went in to make this classic movie.

This was so much more than just a Hollywood story.  At the base of this novel is a friendship between two women and the lengths they go to get what they want.  As unusual as this was back before World War II, it proves to be a battle women are still fighting today.  If you didn’t know the time period of this book before you opened it, you’d realize that Audrey and Violet’s ambitions would make sense even now.

For those who love historical fiction with ties to the present (books like Orphan Train and The Mapmaker’s Children), be sure to add this to your reading list.  Anybody who likes a story with female friendship at its core should pick this one up.

This would make a perfect choice for book clubs to discuss if these ladies made the right decisions and how their lives would be different if others were made.  The paperback copy even provides a reading guide along with an interview with Susan so you can learn more about her writing process.

Thank you to Berkeley/NAL and Susan’s publicist for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

image ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include A Fall of Marigolds, named by Booklist’s Top Ten women’s fiction titles for 2014, and The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008. She is also a RITA finalist, and Christy Award winner.

A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University. Susan is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When she’s not working on a novel, she writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church. She is also a writing workshop volunteer for Words Alive, a San Diego non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth foster a love for reading and writing.

Connect with Susan via her website, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Sister Dear Review

So many people had recommended Laura McNeill’s first release, Center of Gravity, to me last year.  Unfortunately, I never grabbed an opportunity to read it because at the time I had too many other books I my pile.  As soon as I was offered the chance to review her next book, Sister Dear, I jumped at the chance.

Sister Dear tells the story of Allie Marshall, just paroled from prison after 10 years for a crime she insists she didn’t commit, the killing of the town’s beloved football coach, Boyd Thomas.  Her sister, Emma, currently has custody of Allie’s teenage daughter, Caroline.  Her parents have just sold their vet practice to a new family in town.

Caroline seems to be the most affected by Allie’s return, as her mother was gone for a huge portion of her life and she’s worried about he social repercussions for her as news spreads.  To keep herself busy, she chooses to volunteer at the local nursing home after school.

Once this story gets going, readers will have a pretty good idea of who is ultimately responsible for the crime.  But what I love about this book is how Laura dropped little surprising nuggets of information throughout.  Little puzzle pieces were found every few chapters that started forming the ultimate picture of what really happened.  Just when you think you cannot be surprised anymore, you get a new twisty tidbit to keep you reading.

Now I cannot wait to go back and read Center of Gravity and whatever new novels Laura has coming our way.  She has an amazing ability to hook you early without a ton of extraneous information.  My thanks to TNZFiction, Litfuse, and Laura McNeill for the copy in exchange for an honest review.

Follow the blog tour for more reviews: http://litfusegroup.com/author/lmcneill/

image
Laura McNeill is a writer, web geek, travel enthusiast, and coffee drinker. In her former life, she was a television news anchor for CBS News affiliates in New York and Alabama. Laura holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and is completing a graduate program in interactive technology at the University of Alabama. When she’s not writing and doing homework, she enjoys running, yoga, and spending time at the beach. She lives in Mobile, AL with her family.

Center Ring Review

If you are a mother, have a mother, or want to be a mother.  If you have a job, had a job, or want a job.  If you are married, used to be married, or want to be married.  If you relate to any of those categories, you will find a relatable character in this debut read.  Grab your girlfriends and your wine because this is a book you’ll want to read with company.

Center Ring is the first in The Circus of Women trilogy by Nicole Waggoner.  It features five best friends:

Norah, an ob-gyn struggling with her own infertility and marriage

Camille, a photojournalist at a crossroads in her career

Leila, mother of two and former professor

Ellison, a publicist for Hollywood’s elite and unlucky in love

Kate, brand-new mother struggling with trying to be perfect

As the girls get together for a night out, Norah lets out a secret and the book follows each woman share her story as they rally around her.  The book continuously changes point of view from woman to woman, but the chapters are short so it’s easy to read large portions at a time.

As a working married mother, I completely related to multiple stories in this book, especially those when the characters were trying to balance it all, just like the “circus” theme suggests.  Nicole does a fabulous job of bringing readers back to that concept throughout.  You’ll be rooting for each woman as she experiences her highs, and sympathizing with them as they experience their lows.

This book would make a great addition to your beach bag, but I guarantee you’ll want to share the story with your friends.  It will be hard having time pass by as you immerse yourself in the lives of these women.  What will be harder is waiting for Book 2 in the trilogy to find out what happens next.

Thanks so much to Nicole Waggoner for the copy in exchange for an honest review.  Be sure to follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

Somewhere Out There Review

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Amy Hatvany could publish her grocery list and I’d read it.  She has this ability to hook a reader from the first page without her book being a thriller and make you feel every emotion.

Somewhere Out There starts off with a glimpse of Jennifer, a young mom to two girls, living out of her car and trying to get them taken care of and fed.  Not being careful enough, she is caught shoplifting and even after an explanation, the store doesn’t want to cut her any slack.  Her social worker suggests that giving up her girls will be the best thing she can do for them moving forward.

Fast forward 30 years where we meet mother and caterer Natalie and cocktail waitress Brooke, the two girls Jennifer gave up.  The reader is introduced to their current lives and how each grew up in very different circumstances.  The book flashes back to what happened to Jennifer once she was arrested for shoplifting and, subsequently, what happened in the past as the girls grew up and how that shaped them in the present.

I love how everything Hatvany does is so realistic.  She doesn’t have Natalie living a picture perfect life with a lawyer husband and two kids.  She struggles between work and motherhood and even has spats with her husband, just like real life.  What may look more perfect on the outside is anything but.

As I read this, I kept going back to the fact that I couldn’t put this book down starting on page 2.  It’s rare that a women’s fiction story hooks me so quickly.

This is one you’ll want to discuss with all your friends and will make you want to complete your Amy Hatvany library.   As usual, I cannot wait for another new release from her.

Thanks to BookSparks as part of their #mywinterisbooked campaign for the copy in exchange for an honest review.

Losing the Light Review

Losing the Light: A Novel (Paperback)


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A book about a wine-filled excursion to France?  Sign me up.  What I loved about this novel was that it doesn’t take place in the part of France we hear about so often, Paris, but rather the coastal town of Nantes with escapes to the glamorous Cap Ferrat.  It was a completely new setting for me, one which satisfied my wanderlust every time I picked it up.

Losing the Light tells the story of two college students, Brooke and Sophie, who study abroad for a year.  Brooke is sent away after an affair with a college professor her school needs to pretend didn’t happen, and Sophie is longing for a place where she isn’t just known as just the pretty girl.  At a mixer when they arrive, Brooke meets Veronique, who soon introduces both girls to her handsome cousin Alex.  And that’s where the trouble starts.

Dunlop easily portrays Brooke as an insecure and jealous woman who falls for Alex quickly and is seduced by his good looks and charm.  Several get-togethers have the girls alone with Alex and while Brooke is pining for him, her friendship with Sophie is tested when her paranoia seems to take over.  I just had a wish for more tension throughout, all to set the stage for what we learn in the opening chapter about how everything ends.

This book would be perfect to throw in your beach bag or grab for a quick read over spring break where you can get lost in a world countries away and think back on your 20s as a time you thoght the whole world was at your feet.

You can read more about Andrea here.  Thank you to BookSparks for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

19 Can’t Miss Debut Reads

Oftentimes with the first book of an author, you might not be very impressed and hope that in time their writing and stories improve.  In the cases of these talented novelists, I couldn’t wait for their next release because the debut was incredible.  Here are my 19 Can’t Miss Debut Reads in no particular order.

imageCalling Me Home by Julie Kibler

As soon as I finished this one, I wanted to give it a hug and never let go.  This was the best women’s fiction novel I had read in years.  It broke my heart and comforted me at the same time.  Aside from the main story focusing on race relations, it tells a story of an unlikely friendship between a young and old woman as they take a road trip.

imageThe Magician’s Lie by Greer McAllister

I’ve always been fascinated by illusionists and magicians, so I knew this story of a female illusionist would be a perfect match.  I read this in 24 hours because of how compulsively readable it was.  If you liked The Night Circus, don’t miss this one.  So excited to see a movie in the works too!

imageBeautiful Malice by Rebecca James

Imagine being a teenager and having to move to a new city.  You’re the kind who doesn’t intentionally draw attention to yourself but now you are befriended by the most popular girl at school.  Would you trust her to keep your secrets? This is a true “not everyone is who they seem” story.

imageJulia’s Chocolates by Cathy Lamb

Once I finished this book, I became a lifelong fan of Cathy Lamb.  She puts so much love and personality into her characters.  After leaving her abusive fiancé at the altar, Julia is on the run.  This novel has a hopeful message but is filled with funny and unusual characters and scenarios along the way.

imageOnce We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson

A legal thriller and a story of a family torn apart during the Holocaust, this book had me flipping the pages to discover what happens next.  It was originally self-published but came so highly recommended and popular that St. Martin’s Press had to publish it under their imprint.  If the WWII era is a must read for you, don’t miss out on this one.

imageWhat Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

This novel asks the question, What defines “motherhood”?  Is it the act of giving birth or raising a child?  Can it be one or the other?  Book clubs will have lively discussions surrounding those questions as they learn a 4-month-old baby is kidnapped from a shopping cart and raised by a woman eager to have a baby.

imageBefore I Go by Colleen Oakley

Have tissues handy.  The protagonist in this novel, Daisy, beats cancer once only to find out it has returned and she only has months to live.  In her short time left, she wants to make sure her husband is taken care of, so she sets out to find him a wife.  Oakley sprinkles some humor throughout so the book isn’t a complete downer and had me thinking of what I would do in a similar situation.

imageThe Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley

Another great read for book clubs, this thought-provoking novel is a ripped from the headlines story and has you questioning your beliefs.  Sibley is a former nurse and writes from experience.  As a family is torn apart dealing with an ethical dilemma, the reader is left wondering how it will play out.

imageStill Missing by Chevy Stevens

This disturbing thriller put Stevens on the map for page-turning mysteries and now I won’t miss one.  If you want an easy to read book, the short chapters make for one that won’t take you forever.  If you like shows like CSI and Criminal Minds, be sure to give this author a try.

imageA Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

Art, antiques, love, Paris.  That was enough to win me over.  But I loved how Gable combined two storylines, one historical and one in the present to unearth the truth.  So much of that reminded me of a favorite author, Sarah Jio.

imageShelter Me by Juliette Fay

I was worried a book about a widower and her young children wouldn’t be able to hold me captive but I was glad I was wrong.  You will find yourself cheering for this flawed mother as she takes the year to reflect on heartbreak and forgiveness and realizes you don’t have to do it all alone.

imageLetters from Home by Kristina McMorris

In this day and age, when we so commonly communicate with emails and texts, reading this historical fiction told through handwritten letters was refreshing.  The story is based in part on the love story of her grandparents. So if you need a book to pull you out of your fast-paced and hectic life into a romance of an earlier generation, this is it.

imageThe Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

As soon as I finished reading this one, I started recommending it to friends.  It is absolutely going on my best reads of 2016 list, as it had the most unique storyline I’ve ever read.  I was completely caught up in this spellbinding premise and loved how Guskin was even able to incorporate a mystery.

imageRoses by Leila Meacham

Roses is a saga in every sense of the word, one that spans three generations of three families over the 20th century.  Even though it’s hefty at over 600 pages, it reads quickly because you’ll be eager to learn the fates of these families.  Gone with the Wind fans will especially enjoy this one.

imageThe Good Girl by Mary Kubica

When you see a psychological thriller debut being compared to Gone Girl, you are likely to be skeptical.  But Kubica really hit it out of the ballpark with this novel and did it with such ease.  New writers will be having their books compared to hers in the future.  Read more about this book and Kubica’s writing process in my interview with her here.

imageA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I did not know what to expect when I received this book. Hailed as an international bestseller, this novel from Sweden didn’t seem like it was up my alley. It follows Ove, a grumpy widower not sure how to spend his days other than doing daily neighborhood inspections. As the book quickly grew on me, so did Ove. I dare you to read this and not feel good when you’re done.

imageA Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison

This is a beautifully written story about an extremely ugly topic, human trafficking.  Addison seamlessly weaves an important message throughout this story.  With a background in law and activism, his books always teach me something new.

imageFive Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer

When a new book is blurbed by Jodi Picoult, I know I’m in for a treat.  And sure enough, this didn’t disappoint.  Told in two separate storylines of two characters with five days left before the world they know is changed forever.  This novel constantly had me asking myself, what would I do in their situation?

imageHush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn

This emotionally charged story of domestic violence had me so captivated that I neglected my responsibilities while reading it.  It was one of those books where you know what’s going to happen, but you don’t know when or how, like a car crash you can’t turn away from.  All the characters felt so real to me.  It’s impressive when fiction reads like it could be nonfiction.

What debut novels did you love that didn’t make the list?  I would love to hear your recommendations and your reviews on the ones I loved.

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