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Featured Book Reviews

 

A Time for Change

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Southern Winds A' Changing
by Elizabeth Carroll Foster
iUniverse

reviewed by Anita Lock

"She said our relationship be remarkable. A white woman and Afro-American woman living like sisters."

The year is 1932. Allise DeWitt is a well-educated white woman and the wife of a landowner. Maizee Colson is an woman and a sharecropper's daughter, living and working on DeWitt farm. The two women who seem to have nothing in common acuneducated Afro-American tually have more than one may expect. For starters, they are connected via Quent, Allise's husband, who rapes and gets Maizee pregnant—unbeknown at the time to a very expectant Allise. As a result, Allise and Maizee give birth to his boys who are roughly the same age. Maizee longs to be respected as an individual. ... (read more)

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Who Really Killed Stella?

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Death of a Diva: From Berlin to Broadway
by Brigitte Goldstein
Pierredor Books

reviewed by Jacquelyn Gilchrist

"Each witness had a personal agenda, and each brought a skewed perspective to the story. Each had a multitude of sins and motives to sweep under the carpet woven of lies and distortions."

Grand in its scope and intricate in its design, this ambitious story attempts to bridge time and space—and accomplishes both quite nicely. Likewise, the author seamlessly melds the murder mystery and historical fiction genres, although the story reads much more like intertwined biographies of fictional characters and real-life individuals. ... (read more)

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Encouraging the Classics

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Classics: Why We Should Encourage Children to Read Them
by Fiza Pathan

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"Through this book, I in a very humble and modest way have tried to propagate my testimony about classics and what they can do for many."

Mumbai-born author and teacher Fiza Pathan believes fervently that reading classic books enhances imagination and improves language skills. She bases her theory on experience: At an early age, she read Bram Stoker's Dracula, inciting in her a love of good grammar and grand ideas. In her teaching, she observes that children who frequently surf the Internet or watch TV (even educational channels) tend merely to ingest... (read more)

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Pyrrhus Continues

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A Pyrrhic Victory: Volume II, Destiny Unfolds
by Ian Crouch
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co.

reviewed by John E. Roper

"Pantauchus was shocked with pain and fear. Seeing the man almost immobilized, Pyrrhus attacked again, transfixing Pantauchus's left leg."

For many people history is a boring subject, especially ancient history. Yet the problem usually lies not in the content but in the method of delivering it. History is rich with excitement, brimming over with tales of adventure, romance, tragedy, and triumph. But usually the best way to get this across to someone is not through a collection of facts and dates but by presenting it in a way that brings it back to life. Good historical fiction is frequently the best way to accomplish this, and the author proves in his latest volume on the life of Pyrrhus that he... (read more)

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The Johns Saga Begins

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The Lion Trees, Part One: Unraveling
by Owen Thomas
OTF Literary

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"Love will not be banished, nor longing consumed; fates reserved for the heart and the will."

Owen Thomas’ Lion Trees: Part One: Unraveling can be anointed any number of superlatives to showcase its brilliance; highly addictive, spectacular, and mind blowing will have to suffice. Thomas is a wizard of fiction, and his novel a captivating gem that engulfs the reader from the beginning. Whether it's the reliability factor, exhilarating plot arcs, or the deep allegiances built with the characters, this novel is brought to life in the readers’ mind. Lion Trees is primarily written from the perspective of the Johns family: Hollis, the patriarch by any definition; Susan, the abiding housewife for four decades; David and Susan, siblings who are polar opposites, and yet, strangely similar in their misery. ... (read more)

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A Job To Do

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South of Good
by Randall Reneau
Create Space

reviewed by Anita Lock

"In less than ten days, I'd gone from being a sworn law enforcement officer to a co-conspirator in a drug deal."

South of Good is a story about Hardin Steel, a sheriff who is constantly trying to nab drug dealers in a South Texas border county. When he attempts to capture the ringleader of a Mexican drug cartel, Steel is unaware of the compromises he will have to make to get the job done, as well as protect those who are near and dear to him. ... (read more)

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Worldwide Laughter

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Proverbial Laughter of the World: Afghanistan to Zimbabwe
by Nicholas Hoesl
LaughterDoc Publications

reviewed by Michael Radon

"Love makes the time pass. Time makes love pass. I've been lucky in love. None of the bad relationships worked out."

Taking readers on a trip around the world, this book serves as a collection of proverbs from dozens of countries. Organized alphabetically by country, these little nuggets of wisdom are paired with the author's own reflections or wisecracks about each of them with one purpose of mind: getting the reader to laugh. Walking a balance between good advice, cultural understanding, and entertaining the reader, these proverbs can serve many purposes but are compiled to put a smile on peoples' faces. ... (read more)

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Journey of Self-Discovery

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OK2BG
by Jack Dunsmoor
Lulu Publishing

reviewed by Dylan Ward

"I knew I wanted to do something significant to help mankind, or perhaps I just wanted to save one life somehow, and maybe my own in the process."

In what begins as a humorous attempt to become involved in a mentor program, Jack Dunsmoor accidentally finds himself drawn into a complex system to help at-risk kids that tests both his emotional and physical strength. After a chance meeting with the shy, vulnerable fifteen year-old Andrew and later the young men, Tosh and Devin, Jack quickly faces harsh realities as he plunges into the convoluted maze of social workers and foster children. Plagued by strange and vivid dreams and nightmares in the lengthy attempt to realize his goal of finding Andrew and to help Tosh and Devin, Jack learns the difficult and unsettling truths of the foster system. ... (read more)

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Songs of Freedom

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Women's Poems of Protest and Resistance: Honduras (2009-2014)
edited by Lety Elvir and Maria Roof
Casasola

reviewed by John E. Roper

"You watch bright stars fall
steeped in blood,
without blushing,
you feel no compassion
for those who open their fist
to beg for life."

The June 28, 2009, military takeover of the government of Honduras and the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya completely altered Honduran society. In the aftermath human rights abuses as well as the percentage of homicides per capita soared. Although powerless to adequately combat the new regime through force of arms, many Hondurans, especially women, refused to silently accept what was happening to their country. ... (read more)

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Moving Beyong Self

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Grow Up Your Ego: Ten Scientifically Validated Stages to Emotional and Spiritual Maturity
by Jeannette M. Gagan, PhD
Rio Chama Publications

reviewed by Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW

"This book will reveal how a full understanding of the ego's essence will further your emotional and spiritual evolution and strengthen your intent to make the ego your ally."

With nine chapters, exercises, reviews, appendices, and an index, this well-written, concise, informative book offers valuable information for both lay persons and therapists regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the ego and how to grow into healthier human beings. Chapters include: dismantling the myth of the bad ego, how the ego develops, the ten stages of ego growth, defense mechanisms, and the growth spiral. Other chapters explore emotions, obstacles to growth including the shadow self, spirituality, and the relationship between science and spirituality. ... (read more)

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Going Completely Solar

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Power Shift: From Fossil Energy to Dynamic Solar Power
by Robert Arthur Stayton
Sandstone Publishing

reviewed by Priscilla Estes

"Every five days, the sun delivers the energy equivalent of all the fossil fuel reserves in the world."

Fifteen years in the making, Stayton's book delivers an excellent primer on how to shift from fossil fuel to solar power. It will do for the energy chain what The Omnivore's Dilemma did for the food chain and much more. Stayton's book is a forty-five–year blueprint for total solar dependence. This physicist and teacher begins at the dawn of man and rolls smoothly through the history of how we became energy-consuming animals and adapted well to each energy shift, from fire to water, coal, steam, and oil. Eloquently, Stayton persuades that our current swing from fossil fuel to solar power can also remain gradual and non-traumatic. ... (read more)

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A Riveting Read

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What Makes It Worthy
by David Paul Kuhn
CLM

reviewed by Anita Lock

"Repeat lies enough, raise a false premise enough, and a lie can feel true."

Following in the pattern of the technological age, the barrage of social media is a cacophony of tweets and beeps, demanding the attention of news aggregators who are vying for the most sensational news, especially in a general election. While campaign journalists Taylor Solomon and Cait Ellis report on their respective Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, news not only turns ugly with the political opponents, but also Cait unwittingly finds herself in the crossfire. ... (read more)

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How to Encourage the Classics

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Classics: How We Can Encourage Children to Read Them
by Fiza Pathan
CreateSpace

reviewed by Caroline Blaha-Black

"We are living in a dying culture where the reading of classics is not being encouraged by modern-day parents."

This book is a sequel to the previous volume in this series, the award-winning Classics: Why We Should Encourage Children to Read Them. In this installment, Pathan explores various techniques that can encourage children to read classic works of literature, and she makes it a fun task for the student instead of being a chore. ... (read more)

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In Service of the Country

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Immigrant Soldier: The Story of the Ritchie Boys
by K. Lang-Slattery
Pacific Bookworks

reviewed by Peter M. Fitzpatrick

"The members of the prisoner of war interrogation teams were mostly, like Herman, refugees who had fled Europe because of Hitler..."

This work of historical fiction closely follows the story of Herman Lang's WWII experience. Lang witnesses the rise of anti-Jewish sentiment and laws as a young teenager in Germany, eventually gaining passage to England as he awaits a hard-won U.S. visa. He succeeds, but is carried forward into the tides of war. Enlisting shortly after learning of his A-1 draft status, the bombing of Pearl Harbor automatically extends the draft for the duration. Private Lang is summoned to report for a top secret assignment at "Camp Ritchie," the U.S. Military Intelligence... (read more)

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A Collision Course

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Vision Speak
by Eden Remme Watt
Future Day Publications

reviewed by Michael Radon

"Leaning back, Willow resolved to find her way again, relaxing her mind and body in the way she had been taught, focusing inwards."

After the death of her great grandmother Elzabeth, young Willow's life goes from complicated to chaotic. Preparing for a life in the Artist's Community in the futuristic Republic, Willow's time spent with Elzabeth learning about her belief in the meditative practice of Vision Speak transforms her life completely. ... (read more)

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Expert Procedures Advice

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Procedures Writing Manual: How to Document Your Organization's Process and Procedures from Planning to Writing
by Thomas Langtry
Lulu Press

reviewed by Donna Ford

"Using a flowchart allows professionals to temporarily bypass the need for precise and exact writing while…mapping a process and diagnosing strong and weak points."

If you ever participated in documenting the processes and tasks used by a company, then you can truly appreciate the value in Thomas Langtry’s, Procedures Manual Writing how-To book. This hands-on manual is a guide that breaks down a huge undertaking into manageable sections. Parts 1 and 2 explain the nuts and bolts of creating process flowcharts. Learn how to define the scope of a process, organize a team of Subject Matter Experts... (read more)

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Ali the Scientist

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Ali the Inventor Saves the Garden!
by Amir Makin
A.I.C Publications

reviewed by Michael Radon

"We must always know that math and electronics are all around us."

Young Ali, local inventor and science and math enthusiast, has a firm belief that everything in our world involves math or engineering in some way. Following this creed, he travels the neighborhood looking for problems that can be solved with his scientific mind. It doesn't take Ali long before he comes across Mr. Maxwell, whose garden is dying off due to a faulty automatic sprinkler system. Ali takes the circuitry from the equipment and quickly deduces that a fault in the system's timer is preventing the sprinklers from ever getting the signal to water the plants. ... (read more)

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The Cost of Freedom

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Summers in Bayville: A Fairchild Family Novel
by Louise Gaylord
Little Moose Press

reviewed by John E. Roper

"He glanced down the line at Lucia. No way to hide it now. There she was, acting like a blatant hussy, thrusting her pregnancy in everybody's face."

It's not easy to be someone you believe you're not. While it is very true that we are products of our culture, we are also individuals, and sometimes an individual's personality chafes against the bindings of society. During the fifties, American women were still expected to be homemakers while their men carved out careers for themselves. To defy these roles took courage, stubbornness, and a willingness to press through the social stigma to find personal fulfillment and success. ... (read more)

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Supernatural, Historical Thriller

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Shaytan: A Journey into Evil
by David S. Arthur
Brighton Publishing

reviewed by John E. Roper

"He stared for a moment at the glowering mask as if mesmerized by its shimmering glass eyes then whispered, 'From all that flies, from all that crawls, from all that prowls the mountain, oh night, protect us.'"

India, with its varied religious beliefs and unique blending of ethnic cultures, has long held a fascination for Westerners. Possibly because of its shared history with this ancient land, England has arguably produced some of the finest tales to emerge in literature about the subcontinent. However, the author, a native Texan, convincingly bucks that trend in a well-written novel that manages to deftly capture the magic and mystery of its exotic location. ... (read more)

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Learning to be Special

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Gollywood Here I Come!
by Terry John Barto
AuthorHouse

reviewed by John E. Roper

"When Anamazie was introduced, she strutted on stage and performed a patriotic medley. Thunderous applause roared from the audience as Anamazie landed in the splits and belted out the last note."

Many children, and not a few adults, wish they could become superstars. Whether their talent lies in music, drama, dance, or some combination of all three, they hope to one day walk the red carpet and have their name in lights. Unfortunately, for most the dream will remain just that, but what would it be like to have your ambition finally be realized one day? That is the subject of the author's slightly goofy but totally charming children's book. ... (read more)

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A Personal Hell

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Night Sea Journey
by Paula Cappa
Crispin Books

reviewed by Anita Lock

"The road to hell is paved with the skulls of priests."

Father Raymond Kera's request to be released from the priesthood is denied. Raymond spinelessly adheres to the instructions from the Vatican to do carpentry at St. Gregory's Church on a remote area of Horn Island. Raymond encounters the dreamscape artist Kip Livingston when he inquires about one of her apocalyptic-looking paintings entitled "Night Sea Journey." After divulging her relentlessly terrifying nightmares to Raymond, Kip asks him to stay the night... (read more)

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Modern Family

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Second Thoughts, Second Chances
by D.C. Moses
Xlibris

reviewed by Peter M. Fitzpatrick

"Viktor took another good long look at all the Clinton Street his eyes could take in. 'Where have all the immigrants gone?' he hummed to himself."

First generation children of Polish immigrants to the U.S., Mitchell and Viktor Kipnis have reached retirement age. Mitchell’s declining health leads him from the West Coast, where he led a successful career in aeronautics, back home to Thompsonville to live with his cousin Viktor. Paul Kipnis, son of Mitchell, now in his thirties, is also there. Mitchell and Paul are soon introduced to Corrina, a vibrantly attractive adoptive daughter of Viktor's, now in her twenties. ... (read more)

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Maintaining Hope

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Anita's Piano
by Marion A. Stahl
Corpwell Publishing

reviewed by Donna Ford

"I dreamt... I was playing the piano. The notes were strangely monotonous and had lost their melodious tone."

Anita Ron Schorr lived her early years in Czechoslovakia as the daughter of a Jewish family who loved music. Their lives changed when Germany invaded their country and began targeting Jewish people. The family was ordered to vacate their large home near Spielberg Castle in Brno. Anita, a precocious nine year old, called Hitler a yobo (bully) and wrote him an angry letter. When she turned eleven, they were forced to leave their apartment and transported to a ghetto. There Anita and her younger brother stayed with their mother, while the father lived and worked elsewhere in the complex. ... (read more)

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A Literary Landscape

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Murder in Mosaic
by F. R. Merrill
Red Fox Publishing

reviewed by Carol Davala

"We have an advantage. We know Harris is in Ravenna, and he doesn't know we know."

In this latest installment from noted storyteller and traveller F. R. Merrill, readers are drawn into the intricacies of a literary landscape overlaid with the simple elements of art, beauty, love, betrayal, murder, and revenge. At center stage is Dr. Ivan Harris, the man convicted of kidnapping Amanda Straton and killing her father. Incarcerated for thirteen years, an early release ignites his revenge. While Amanda pursues a new business venture in the Southeast, a suitor with his own vendetta against Harris quickly enters the picture. From NYC to coastal Florida, Washington D.C. and old world Italy, Merrill structures a well-paced narrative that keeps characters and readers on edge. ... (read more)

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Poetic Mastery

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City Times and Other Poems
by Vihang A. Naik
AuthorHouse

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"There
the road unwinds
where
you'll pick up
the race
and melt away
in the noises
of a city
whose streets
lead you nowhere."

Renowned poet and teacher, Vihang A. Naik puts his arsenal of poetic devices on display as he describes the modern city and its residents, particularly in Gujarat, India. Having authored Jeevangeet, a poetic tribute to the lives lost in the devastating 2001 Gujarat earthquake, Naik is well versed in exploring critical topics with compelling imagery and sentence structure. ... (read more)

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Strange Times

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The Stranger and the Time Machine: Volume 1
by Phil Scrima
CreateSpace

reviewed by Anita Lock

"You're not of this Earth anymore."

Believed to be dead, an inventor places a lawyer in charge of overseeing his Living Trust, which includes the most unusual inheritance earmarked to Stranger, his adopted nephew. Besides receiving great financial wealth, Stranger is also given an opportunity to carry out secret missions (including one of Stranger's choice) via his uncle's time machine. But in order to prepare for his missions as well as accomplish his personal mission of saving and reincarnating Laura, the lawyer's deceased daughter, Stranger has to undergo arduous training and human molecular transformations. ... (read more)

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Solving Home

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Leaving Montana
by Thomas Whaley
Sakura Publishing

reviewed by Jacquelyn Gilchrist

"Although our goodbye was quick, it was not final. It was just for now."

A psychologist might say that all families are dysfunctional to some degree—some more so than others—simply because human nature is fallible.. The narrator of this story, Benjamin Sean Quinn, has extracted himself from a family that is not only dysfunctional, but downright toxic. After many years, he has successfully built a life for himself in Long Island, with a loving partner, two daughters, and a home that "belongs in a Pottery Barn catalog." Yet, despite all outward appearances to the contrary, Quinn harbors a deep-seated, abiding hatred born of his unfortunate childhood in New York and his parents' experiences in Billings, Montana. ... (read more)

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A New West Mystery

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Legend of War Creek
by Randall Reneau
CreateSpace

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"No human being can own what belongs to the spirit world."

Take a gold strike seemingly lost to history, unexplained disappearances, Army Officers, and Cheyenne Dog Soldiers, and you'd probably think you have a recipe for a tale of the old west. However, in Reneau’s Legend Of War Creek, all of the aforementioned are place settings for a tale of the new west, replete with satellite cell phones, helicopters, private planes, and high explosives. ... (read more)

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First Chapter Reviews


First Chapter Review archive

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Big Nana and Joey
by Joey Tormino
cartoons by Bryan Bradley & Joey Tormino
Amazon Digital

In order to really get a grasp on a "slice of life" story, one has to be able to visualize everything about the scenery and the characters that populate it. Young Joey begins to set the stage for us immediately with the larger than life Big Nana, whose wish for the wiry Joey is to become a plump, rotund opera singer. ... (read more)

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Mary Lou's Brew
by Jennifer Craig
Friesen Press

The Dean of the Academy of Sophists has a problem. Her department is about to be run off campus—literally. The proposed new site seems nice enough, albeit built on a former graveyard, but it forms a sort of exile across town from the main campus. ... (read more)

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