This was such an adorable, sweet and quirky feel-good rom com! I binge-read this book in one sitting, so smitten by the wonderful characters and the fun and charming story with a royal twist!
The story follows Australian lawyer Amelia Glendale, who’s spent her life swooning about the British royals (especially the youngest of the princes, Leo) and who’s landed her dream job in London at the Queen’s Charitable Foundation. But when the queen dies, Amelia finds herself now working for her long-time crush and his stuffy older brother Prince Edmund. Thrown into the princes’ orbit though, Amelia discovers that maybe the perfect man for her isn’t the prince she expected…
This was such a funny (laugh-out-loud even) and smart rom com, completely adorable! I loved the main character Amelia so much and how witty and sarcastic she was and how little impressed she was by the upper-crust people (except for being a bit too star-struck to speak to Prince Leo the first time she met him…) and the stuffy traditions. She came across as a little too naïve at times though, and the story was perhaps a little unrealistic, but it didn’t really matter when the story overall was so well and charmingly executed.
I also really loved so many of the other characters, like Amelia’s best friend Penny and the hilarious royal princess cousins Lucy and Emma.
All in all, this was an adorable and fast-paced feel-good story with a swoon-worthy romance, wonderful friendships and lovable characters, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series to find out what happens next!
Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for the ARC and blog tour invitation for this wonderful book! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
4 royal stars
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I live in Australia with my husband and three small humans. In my seventeen seconds of free time each day I love reading romantic comedies, watching cheesy Netflix movies and baking cakes which I absolutely do not eat most of myself.
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This anthology is part of a charity project to help celebrate International Take A Chance Day. Seventeen authors came together to write stories outside their comfort zones to explore gender and sexuality aspects that span the whole spectrum and genres from contemporary to sci fi to paranormal and relationships of all kinds, and with all proceeds going to the AIDs Healthcare Foundation.
As in all anthologies there are stories you enjoy more than others, but all were very well written and added something unique. My favorites were Desert Knight by D.G. Carothers, Alien Attraction by Gianni Holmes, The Twilight Hours by KC Luck, Always and Only You by Claire Marta and Abrianna Denae and The Sweetest Ache by Bretton Sans.
Desert Knight by D.G. Carothers was a sweet sci fi story containing intelligent species of all shapes, cuddle parties and a very sexy lavender skinned male with boundary issues who the space PI Tekken Mcallister can’t help falling in love with when helping him find his missing uncle and stumbling into a case of futuristic sex trafficking. Very unique but so adorable!
Alien Attraction by Gianni Holmes was another unique but adorable story about true love defying all obstacles, when an alien prince finds his chosen one in a human man and ends up fighting for his inter-species love story and the life of his unborn children.
In The Twilight Hours by KC Luck we returned to earth again in a story about how it’s never too late to find love and happiness when 60+ women Helen and Mel meets by chance at a remote campground.
Always and Only You by Claire Marta and Abrianna Denae was my absolute favorite of all the stories. It was such a gripping and heartfelt story about a lost love and second chances when Dallas comes back as a transgender man to the only boy he’s ever loved, but who he couldn’t be with until he finally was his true self. It was so raw and authentic in the way Dallas had to feel at home in his own body before he could meet Ward again. It was so beautiful about souls understanding each other, about the chemistry between Dallas and Ward and about the two of them being soul mates not because they were perfect but because their combined flaws pieced them together.
The Sweetest Ache by Bretton Sans was another gorgeous second chance romance. The Summer after high school, Travis kissed his best friend Spencer, but the next week he left for an LDS Church mission and never pretended it happened. Ten years later, he returns as a famous musician, finally out and ready for a relationship. Despite his fear of getting heart-broken all over again, Spencer agrees to go for a hike with Travis. I really loved this low-angst romance and the cute bantering between Travis and Spencer, but also the vulnerability and the sweetness between the two of them exploring what they could have had already ten years ago, if Church and other people’s opinions hadn’t stopped them.
Some of the stories were perhaps a little too much out of my comfort zone, and the anthology as a whole was a bit long; the stories were all a bit longer than usual and added up to a total of over 1,000 pages. But all in all, I recommend this anthology with all my heart! It’s such a unique collection of amazing stories all showing in different ways that love truly is love and doesn’t see any gender, race or sexuality!
Thank you to Gay Book Promotions for the blog tour invitation for this wonderful book! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
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This is such a delightful and entertaining YA rom com, with amazing representation and authentic characters! Highly recommended for anyone looking for a light-hearted read that at the same time discusses important themes and deals with many of the issues queer teenagers struggles with in a real way.
The story follows sixteen-year-old Darcy Phillips who gives anonymous relationship advice to her high school peers via ‘Locker 89’. Darcy is openly bisexual and has a wonderful supportive group of friends and family, especially her sister (my absolute favorite person in this story!). But she could nevertheless really need some of her own relationship advice about how to tell her best friend, Brooke, that she’s been secretly in love with her for forever. Especially when she can’t help herself from meddling in Brooke’s dating life out of jealousy. Or when things take a turn for the worse when the school hottie and swim star Alexander Brougham sees her opening locker 89 and blackmails her into being her own private relationship coach in the strive to win his ex-girlfriend back.
There were so many things I loved about this book, like the wonderful relationship between Darcy and her older transgender sister Ainsley (and the fact in itself that Ainsley was transgender but it wasn’t made into a big deal), the insightful discussions about internal biphobia and how bisexual people aren’t ‘queer enough’ if they’re in a relationship with someone of the opposite gender, all the representation including gay, lesbian, pansexual, ace and non-binary characters (to name a few), and the great dialogues. I loved the funny bantering and authentic dialogues, and how the teenage friendships were described. It was all so well done in the way issues such as crushes, jealousy, insecurity, finding your true self and where you belong, were addressed.
I must admit though that it took me a long time to root for Darcy. Normally I love flawed characters, but here I had problems connecting with her because she didn’t feel fleshed out enough for me to accept some of the double standards she had and because I just couldn’t understand her motivations at times. And the relationship with, and Darcy’s secret crush on, her best friend Brooke never felt completely believable, there was something off with the dynamics there for me. But kudos to Sophie Gonzales for not being afraid of showing Darcy’s lesser likable sides, like her selfishness, jealousy and pettiness, and for the amazing character development she let her (and some of the other characters, especially Brougham) undergo. No matter how cliché it might be, I do have a soft spot for missunderstood bad boys with hidden good hearts, so after a rough start Brougham really won me over...
All in all, this was such a delightful, sweet, adorkable and wonderful YA story that embraced and showed an amazing array of queer characters who all felt authentic and real, and opened up for important discussions about biphobia at the same time as it was a fast-paced, light-hearted and addictive read. Highly recommended!
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This is such an important, beautiful and inspiring ownvoices-story showing that there are many ways to be queer and trans, and how important it is to find your own voice and be your fullest self. Between Perfect and Real is honest and raw, but also so full of hope, and with amazing characters that have completely captured my heart! This heartfelt coming-of-age story about the struggles of a transgender teen boy deserves to be read by everyone!
The story follows high school senior Dean Foster, who knows he’s a trans guy, but to everyone else, including his girlfriend Zoe, is seen as a lesbian girl. But when he gets casted as Romeo in the school play, he realizes that he wants everyone to see him for who he really is. Not just on the stage, but everywhere in his life.
I completely rooted for Dean from the very first second and my heart ached for him through all his struggles and doubts. This story was so real and didn’t shy away from any of the difficulties Dean faced, such as body dysphoria, anxiety, self-doubt, transphobia, bullying and all other highs and lows of coming out as trans and the struggles when not everyone close to you can accept the change. The way Dean’s mother reacted and how she kept dead-naming him made me so angry I wanted to scream out loud at times… But it was nevertheless a hopeful and inspiring story about self-discovery and acceptance, about making it possible to live out your true self and to be loved for who you are.
One of things I loved most about this book was how it showed that there is not just one way to be trans, but that being queer and trans comes with infinite possibilities to find your own voice. I also really loved the beautiful friendships and support from Dean’s friends and his support group. There were so many wonderful characters that I rooted for almost as much as for Dean. Especially his best friend Ronnie completely stole my heart away in the way he unconditionally supported Dean and helped him find a way to express himself via his clothes.
All in all, Between Perfect and Real was an absolutely wonderful and heart-wrenching story with an important message and authentic and relatable characters to root for. I am so glad that Ray Stoeve wrote this book to give more nuances to the narrative about transness and to show that there are so many more ways of being trans and queer. I hope that many readers will feel empowered and seen by this book and the way it shows how no one should have to conform to anyone else’s standards of sexual identity or gender, but that we are all free to be who we are. I highly recommend it and know that Dean and his moving story will stay with me for a very long time!
Thank you NetGalley and ABRAMS Kids for the eARC and the possibility to read this wonderful book! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
This book will be released on April 27, 2021.
4.5 heartfelt stars rounding up to 5
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Today is my stop for the Gay Book Promotions Blog Tour for Hit the Brakes by Beth Bolden. I’m so happy and honored to be a part of the tour celebrating this adorable fake-dating, second chance m/m romance! It was so addictive that I binge-read it in just a few hours!
For his senior year in high school, Tate Ward had Home Economics together with the big football star Chase Riley. He also had the biggest crush on him. A crush that he’d never really recovered from ten years later either, compulsively following Chase’s football career and whereabouts on social media. When his sister suggests that they use Chase’s name to help their food truck business survive the desperate situation they’re in, he didn’t expect Chase himself to turn up on his doorstep. And he certainly didn’t expect Chase to give him an offer he couldn’t refuse. An offer that will help his dreams come true, as long as he can pretend that his very real feelings are actually fake…
This book has so many things that I love, like a sports romance, a fake dating trope, wonderful siblings and supportive friends. And food! All foodie scenes from the food truck added such a wonderful vibe to the story! And the characters… I immediately rooted for both Tate and Chase and I loved the wonderful chemistry between them. They were both such amazing and relatable characters, with depth and as far from any stereotype cliches you can come. I really appreciated how Beth Bolden showed Chase’s problems with anxiety, loss of self-control and panic attacks, and Tate’s insecurity and feeling of not being worthy of Chase’s love, but also the amazing character development they made throughout this book. I also really appreciated the discussion about there not being a ‘right’ way of coming out, and how ‘coming out’ is not something you do once, but a statement you constantly have to make in any new situation.
This is the second book in the Food Truck Warriors series, but each book can be read as a standalone as they focus on different characters from a group of food truck owners and their relationships. I loved getting glimpses of the characters from the first book in this one too, I love when an author creates her own universe by weaving stories together the way Beth Bolden has done with both her Food Truck Warriors and Kitchen Gods series.
All in all, I absolutely loved this swooning, sweet and emotional rollercoaster for a love story! I read it in one sitting, it was so addictive and I rooted so much for all characters that I just couldn’t bear to put it down until the very end! Highly recommended, and the bonus scene was to die for, it completely melted my heart!
Thank you to Gay Book Promotions for the ARC and blog tour invitation! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
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About the Author:
A lifelong Pacific Northwester, Beth Bolden has just recently moved to North Carolina with her supportive husband. Beth still believes in Keeping Portland Weird, and intends to be just as weird in Raleigh.
Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published twenty-three novels and seven novellas.
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I think Colleen Hoover has described exactly how I feel about this book in her cover quote: “THIS BOOK! You. Must. Read. It. It’s beautiful. Heart-wrenching.”. Bright Side is a gem that deserves to be so much more talked about! It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time, it’s adorable and cute, but also so sad and gripping, it has epic love and friendship and hilarious banter. Simply put, this book has all the feels and will break your heart but also inspire you to live life to the fullest!
The story follows college student Kate Sedgwick as she leaves San Diego to start a new life attending college in small town Grant, Minnesota, leaving grief and sorrow behind, as well as the best night of her life after sleeping with her best friend since childhood, and rock-star-in-the-making, Gus.
Kate was such a wonderful character! So badass, strong-willed, sassy and unbelievably optimistic despite all bad things happening to her. (Hence Gus’s nickname for her, ‘Bright Side’.) I immediately rooted for her, and read this story with a beating heart, wishing so much for her tragedies to be left behind and not come haunting her anymore. I also loved the new friends she made in Grant, with darling Clayton, sweet Pete, cool Shelley and the wonderful Keller Banks… This book has a really great representation and a lot of amazing character developments. But most of all, I loved Gus and the wonderful friendship between him and Kate, and the found family that Gus and his mother were to Kate and her sister.
This book was recommended to me by one of my favorite fellow book bloggers (Sophie at Sophie’s Reading Corner) so I already knew I was going to love it before even starting it, but it nevertheless managed to exceed all of my high expectations and completely blew me away! Given the title, I wasn’t prepared to have my heart scattered to pieces and ending up sobbing the way I did. But this book had it all; amazing characters to root for, secrets that came back haunting, epic friendships, found families, a swooning love story, heartache and loss, hope and faith and light in the darkness.
I don’t want to give anything away as it comes to the story and its twist, they deserve to be experienced first hand and with an open heart. All I have to say is, be prepared to cry! Some of the events were just so heartbreaking. But I wouldn’t call this a sad book. Not at all. There were so many happy moments, so many times this book made me laugh and warmed my heart. It was emotional for sure, but with all the feels, and a book that will make me look at life in a different light and made me want to ‘do epic’ the way Kate did.
All in all, Bright Side was an empowering book, so full of hope in all the darkness, and with so much love. It’s one of the most tender and warm, yet fierce, gripping and compelling stories I’ve ever read. I know for sure that its’s a book I will keep in my heart forever!
5 epic stars
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This book isn’t like anything I’ve ever read before! Completely unique in its mix of fairytale atmosphere with lake monsters and the very raw and painful reality with a dead mother, a father with eating disorders, a predator on/off boyfriend, a friend who is abused by his step dad and the struggle for Callie to figure out her own sexuality and feelings for her best friend. Beautiful and poignant, desperate and hopeful, and awkward and sweet at the same time.
The story follows teenager Callie Catwell, whose life certainly is not a walk in the park. After the death of her mother, she’s living in a trailer park with her father, who is struggling with anorexia and panic attacks. Her best friend and neighbor, Rafael, is living with an abusive and homophobic step father and Callie herself is in an on/off toxic relationship with her ex-boyfriend Joseph. In addition to all that, she’s struggling with her own sexuality and the growing romantic feelings for her best girl friend Mei. When she sees a lake monster one morning, it brings Callie some magic for the first time in her life, and a way to forget all difficulties in her life.
Callie was such a unique and amazing main character! It took me a little while to fully root for her and the way she told the story. The writing style and the language was very special, in the way Callie reflected upon the world and in the way she thought and dissected and worried about just about all and everything. But once I got into it, I absolutely loved the narration and Callie herself! She was so caring and emphatic of others, yet with so little self-esteem herself. She took on so much emotional responsibilities, especially for her father, and put everyone else’s needs first. It was so frustrating how she let her ex Joseph treat her, and how she self-destructively she kept seeking him out, when she knew that he was nothing but trouble. But eventually, and with the help of her friends (and the lake monster in a way), she started an amazing growth journey to explore her sexuality and find the courage to be true to herself.
The monster didn’t play as big a part in the story as I’d first thought, but it did add a wonderful magical touch and worked as a guiding light to Callie in her struggles to stand up for herself and find hope and courage in her difficulties.
All in all, this was a unique, raw, honest and beautiful coming-of-age story, with great representation and a touch of magic to light up a very harsh and painful reality. It was a powerful and gripping tale exploring eating disorders, abuse and victim blaming, that was heartbreaking at times, but most of all empowering and heartwarming. I sincerely enjoyed it, and know that I will keep think about it and Callie and her friends for a long time.
Thank you NetGalley and GenZ Publishing for the opportunity to read this wonderful book! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
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Today is my stop for the Gay Book Promotions Blog Tour for Young King Arthur and the Round Table Knights by Siryn Sueng. I’m so happy and honored to be a part of the tour celebrating this sweet retelling of the King Arthur legend with a queer twist!
Arthur is a very young and gay peasant boy who pulls Excalibur by mistake and suddenly finds himself being put on the throne of Camelot. In the midst of learning to be a king and step up to meet his new responsibilities Arthur’s feelings for one of his knights might be turning into a little more than just loyalty and camaraderie...
I really enjoyed this version of the legend with Arthur as a fifteen-year-old peasant boy who accidentally grips the Excalibur and finds himself thrown into a completely unknown world full of betrayal, conspiracies and threats to his life. Luckily though, his kind heart and moral compass soon helps him gain Merlin’s and the knights’ trust and friendship. Perhaps even more from one on them...
But the most wonderful twist is how the mighty mage Merlin is a hottie in this story. Like a real hunk showing of his muscular chest under the wizard cloak, but also so sweet and kind and sassy. I really love this version of Merlin!
The love story was perhaps a bit too fast for my full liking and at times it felt a bit construed, but all in all, this was a wonderful King Arthur-retelling with a unique twist. Highly recommended!
Thank you to Gay Book Promotions for the review copy and blog tour invitation! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
3.5 magical stars rounding up to 4
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Siryn Sueng is a writer of fantasy, paranormal, and even Sci-Fi genres. She’s married to a wonderful husband with a minion of two years. They have a full house with three adorable fur babies, Anubis -the mighty cat hunter- Kida -the momma bear- and Mishka -the loveable husky.
Siryn is a lover of games on a wide range of platforms. She plays on the PC, console, and hand-held devices including the phone. Japan is where she would love to visit sometime and is a huge inspiration to many of her projects. She’s a huge fan of Japan, including manga and anime. Siryn has even begun to dabble in comic/manga script writing. Future works in this will be posted on WebToon.
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Seeing this beautiful cover and reading the blurb and all amazing reviews I had such high expectations and was ready to have my heart completely broken by this book. The story and premise with the grieving girlfriend suddenly being able to call her dead boyfriend had such potential. But even though it was very well written, I never rooted enough for the characters for it to be the gripping, heartbreaking experience that I’d hoped for.
This story follows Julie who is grieving her boyfriend Sam who has just died in a car crash. She’s withdrawn from all her friends and family to try and handle her grief and her guilt for calling Sam to pick her up, and to figure out how to live a life without Sam. Regretting having thrown all his things away, she calls his phone, desperate to hear his voice on the voicemail, but to her surprise Sam picks up the phone and answers her.
The story is told from Julie’s perspective, but through flashbacks we get to see how she and Sam met and fell in love. These flashbacks were so sweet and I loved the small glimpses of Julie being happy and with Sam, in contrast to the present-day grief. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and a very well written and insightful exploration of grief, and there were some really great character developments and wonderful new friendships forming in the shadows of the loss. But this book had the potential to be so much more. The premises were so unique and the story set out to be so gripping and emotional that I was expecting a completely heart-breaking, ugly-crying experience, but for some reason I never felt as invested as I’d hoped for.
Even though the glimpses of Sam from the past were so sweet, he never became more than a memory to me, I never felt that I got to know him for real or feel the chemistry between him and Julie. And Julie, well, to be honest I never rooted for her. I can understand that we all grieve in different ways and that her way was to withdraw from everyone, but she still came across as too selfish for me to feel connected to her. The reason for her to not go to Sam’s funeral or any of the vigils or not even talk to Sam’s parents and little brother that she’d been so close to was never explained in a way that made any real sense. I also kept waiting for the explanation how she and Sam could talk on the phone, hoping for some big magical revelation or a twist of some sort, but this unique premise of the story about being able to call someone who’s dead was never fully explored or used to its full potential.
But I really enjoyed Julie’s character development and how she learned how to handle her grief in a healthy way, and the friendships that formed with the different persons missing Sam the most even though they hadn’t been friends before. Losing a loved one can lead to new love and friendships coming together in grief, and that new group of friends finding each other was such a lovely example of that. I also loved the epilogue and how it wrapped things up in a perfect way.
All in all, You’ve Reached Sam was a very well-written and insightful debut book exploring grief, friendship, and how to find a way to live on and form a new future without forgetting the love you’ve lost. So even though it wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for, I am definitely curious to read more of Dustin Thao’s books ahead.
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC and the opportunity to read this book! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
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Happy Book Birthday to All The Way Out! I’m so happy and honored to be a part of the Gay Book Promotions blog tour celebrating this adorable, gripping and heart-warming m/m romance about a closeted star football player having to choose between risking his whole career or being brave enough to reveal his most vulnerable self for a chance of true love and happiness.
Already in his early teens, Zach was absolutely sure about three things: 1) he wanted to play football at the highest levels of college and pro ball, 2) he was gay, and 3) those two truths could never exist concurrently. So Zach settled for a life in the closet, started dating Rebecca, who as a devoted Catholic conveniently wanted to wait to have sex until marriage, and kept his needs at bay with the occasional Grindr hook-ups.
But on a team trip to Rome, he meets Liam, an American raised in Paris but now about to relocate his life due to a scandal. The night was one of the highlights in Zach’s life, but saying goodbye he never thought he’d see Liam again. So the sight of Liam in his uni class the first day of the fall semester almost stops his heart, and completely scatter his carefully laid plans to remain closeted.
I rooted so much for both Zach and Liam from the very first moment and my heart ached for them in their struggles. They were both such wonderful characters, with depth and as far from any stereotype cliches you can come. Yes, Zach was an all-star football athlete, but he was certainly not the typical jock, being interested in philosophy and Roman history. And yes, Liam was a troubled music student, but he was also so sweet and caring and vulnerable, really putting his heart out there for Zach. I loved the wonderful chemistry between them… it was so intense and sizzling it was almost palpable!
Ingrid Sterling’s writing style was incredible, with a wonderful flow and capture of the suppressed feelings and longings between the characters. I especially loved the way she made us readers come along on Zach’s and Liam’s journey to finding themselves and coming to a decision what’s really worth living for.
I read this book in one sitting, it was so addictive and I rooted so much for all characters that I just couldn’t bear to put it down until the very end! It was not just Zach and Liam who stole my heart, but so many of the wonderful secondary characters too, like Zach’s best friend Des and Liam’s friends Mackenzie and Sam, and his brother Eben. I also really loved the way the relationship between Zach and Rebecca was portrayed; it was not just about using Rebecca as a cover, Zach had such wonderful respect and affectionate feelings for her.
All in all, this is one of my absolute favorite m/m romances ever! It was such a powerful story about accepting and being proud of who you are, for wanting things and for being brave enough to chase after those things no matter how scary it feels or how hard it might make your life. It dealt with difficult topics in an honest and realistic way, but it was also such an uplifting, heart-warming, sweet and emotional rollercoaster for a love story!
Thank you to Gay Book Promotions for the ARC and blog tour invitation for this gem! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
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I dance in my kitchen. I vote. I love all the cats in the world and a good IPA. I will scream over college sports.
I write about love, with love, because #loveislove.
With two degrees in music performance, I strive to make my words sing. The rhythm and pacing of the prose are as important to me as my complicated, imperfect characters and my guaranteed happily-ever-afters.
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