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Review: Stitch and Structure by Jean Draper – A luscious tactile experience

“This object that we hold in our hands, a book… that tactile pleasure, it’s just not going to go away.” –Maggie Stiefvater

I am incredibly tactile. If I see a beautiful object, I want to touch it. To run my fingertips over it, search for a scent, close my eyes and enjoy the texture over my palms. Doesn’t work real well in museum situations, but books, textiles, fibers? Plants and wood, leaves and flowers. It’s all the same to me. I want to touch. To breathe in the scents. To run my eyes over beauty and feel it in my soul.

Touch. And to touch Stitch and Structure by Jean Draper is sheer pleasure to touch. I Feet in the Soil  Jean Draper- sculptural  Pieced cottons and silks, dense hand stitching in Mulberry silk and cotton perle to give a three-dimensional structure to the surface: removed it from its packaging and was immediately surprised by just how tactile the cover is. Soft, with a definite velvety feel, as if I were touching a newborn kitten. The format is large, allowing me to rub my palms over the cover, my fingertips loving the softness. The beauty of the cover on a visual scale is gorgeous. Textured textile, cords and wraps, spread out in a luscious view, reminiscent of a landscape of mountains and valleys seen from above – and the eyes of the earth along the top, both clever and surprising.

Then, opening the book is yet another joy. Smooth, supple paper, cool to the touch. Rich, vibrant colour, brilliant black line drawings, the artwork leaps from the page, starting that little flutter of the heart that indicates that you have in your hand something truly gorgeous.

And then, the art itself. These are unconventional structures: linear and curved, odd and unusual, some radiantly colorful, some reminiscent of earth, wood and stone and the swirl of water, the nest of a bird, the striations of a cave wall. Beauty. Structure. Form. Light and airy, or dense and convoluted, each item on the pages carries a sense of the soul of the earth. Draper’s work is the epitome of organic textiles. You learn her methods, whether it be drawing with a purpose, photographing natures lines and edges to constructing with threads, mounting threads in apparent thin air – her methods are beautifully Jean Draper interview: Hand stitched landscapes - TextileArtist.orgdesigned, her art flawlessly flawed, making each piece a mix of odd, unique, and stunningly unusual in the best of ways. I am thrilled with the book, can you tell?

I won Stitch and Structure from Reader’s Desk ( in their Read Whatcha Like startup-logoGiveaway, and I can’t say just how pleased I am. Thanks, Reader’s Desk, for allowing me to choose this book for my prize!

Kindle Store eBook Prices Are Rising … Or Are They?

I have had to laugh lately at the rising prices of “Name Publishers” books. With the plethora of truly well written books out there by Indie Authors I no longer even consider buying the “Big Name” authors. That is what libraries are for. Their books are just too expensive for my budget. Besides, why spend a small fortune on their books when authors like Mark Henwick, Michael Angel, Susan Bliler, Celia Kyle, and many many others put out exceptional books at reasonable prices? Besides that, what possible reason, other than price gouging, can one use to justify this sort of thing? Observe:

Stephen King’s

Mr. Mercedes

Kindle $12.99  Paperback $10.40

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #1)

Yep. $2.59 MORE for the Kindle edition than the Print Edition. The print edition requires paper, ink, cover materials, shipping and handling. And yet, you pay MORE for the Kindle edition that has none of these inherent costs.

So, anyway…

I was reading my mail this morning, and came across a email from If you haven’t found the site before, I highly recommend it.

The email led me to an article entitled, “Kindle Store eBook Prices Are Rising … Or Are They?” The article includes a link to a spreadsheet of the Price Breakdown of the Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers as of today, October 7.

What I found was surprising – but then again, not. One thing that tickled my fancy is the severe drop in “Name Published” books on the Top 100 List.

“In our ( January 2013 analysis, 58% of the Top 50 bestsellers were published by the big traditional publishers, and that figure has since declined to 38%. Conversely, 42% of the Top 50 bestsellers were published by indie authors or by Amazon’s own publishing imprints in January 2013, compared with 62% this past weekend.”

In other words, what the big publishers have won in their latest round of contract “victories” over Amazon is the right to price themselves right off the bestseller list.” –, Kindle Store eBook Prices Are Rising … Or Are They?, October 5, 2015 by Steve Windwalker

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Screen shot by All rights reserved.

Looking at my Library on my Kindle, I find that the Top 100 books in my library (most recent purchases – yes, I have literally hundreds of books on my tablet, rather they be Kindle, B&N, PDF, or other) none of the books cost me more than $5.99. What does that mean for the authors I buy books from? Well, the way I look at it, none of us “Normal People” have a huge supply of cash available for “Entertainment Purchases.” Therefore, pennies are pinched where we can. And having books priced $5.99 and under means that I can buy a lot more Indie books, and review a lot more Indie books, than I ever could buying the books of people like Stephen King, whose books are way outside that $5.99 personal spending limit. And I only have a few of those. The books by my favorite “Big Publishing” authors, such as Ilona Andrews? Ilona and Gordon are with Penguin, hence the $12.99 Kindle tag. Well, that is what Libraries are for! I may have to wait for my turn, but I don’t have to shell out that $13.00 price tag I can’t afford.

Where does my limit lie on the Top 100 Kindle Books List? Well, Life and Other Near-Death Experiences” by Camille Pagán holds the number one spot right now, and lists at $5.99. However, if you are  a member of Kindle First? $1.99. The Mentor by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli is $5.99 as well, $1.99 on Kindle First. “Life” is published by the Lake Union Publishing small press, while “Mentor” is Amazon Crossing. A couple of the “Names” pop up in the top ten, “Twilight” (Of course. Sigh.) at $12.99 and “The Survivor” by Vince Flynn at $14.99. Well, there are still going to be those who will save their pennies for the higher dollar authors. Rick Riordan comes in at #14 and Lee Child at #16, but John Sanford languishes at #97.

Of course, then there are the Top 100 Free Books! What’s not to like about FREE?! Of course, those are Indie Published – and a great way to catch attention. I can think of several authors I have found through a free book and have continued to read (and pay for) so the whole “Freebie” thing worked out, as far as I am concerned! Now, it is time to go scan the free list and see if I come up with something new!

What are your thoughts? Wanna share?


Review: Taken Away #CleanRomance

Taken Away by Patricia Yager Delagrange“I never wanted to be pregnant. I want to paint. I don’t want to burp a baby, feed it bottles, change dirty diapers. Shit! You know that.” – Serena Middleton, wife of Dr. Jessee Bradford

Serena never wanted to be married. Never wanted to have a baby. But, she did both. Sophia is a beautiful child, and Serena seems to settle. She is painting, Jessee is working as a veterinarian in a 24-hour emergency animal hospital, and they are happy.

Then one day Jessee comes home to an empty house. And neither the FBI nor private investigators can find Serena and Sophia. Kidnapping? Or did Serena simply run, taking Sophia with her? Jessee doesn’t know and, subject to panic attacks and severe depression he decides to leave Santa Monica and return to his home in Iowa to take over his grandfather’s veterinary practice.

There, he learns to relax. To enjoy his grandparent’s company, and even finds someone to love. But then? A visit to a gallery changes everything. Is Jessee’s life destroyed? Or will all his dreams come true?

There are things I liked about the story, and other things that didn’t quite work for me. The book it written in first person, which sometimes works, but in this case simply led to “telling not showing.” It made the story slow going, and I found myself flipping pages to get past the boring parts. Delagrange also devolves into the trite and corny much too heavily for my tastes. For example, there is an instance at the very end, involving Laura, that was just too ‘smarmy on steroids’ for me. It was OK, but not a book I will keep in my stash.

I received Taken Away from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Wounded Needs A New Publisher . . .

“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.” – Henri Nouwen

Amy Lane has a beautiful, lyrical voice. And I wanted to enjoy her book as much as much as a friend who recommended it did. However. I was so confused. The title on Netgalley is “Wounded, Vol. 1.” So, I was starting a series, right? But when I started reading, it was as if I jumped into a series in the middle. Now, all characters have backstories, but this was too disturbing for me to enjoy the book. Was the author truly incapable of presenting backstory in a logical manner? That couldn’t be right. Her writing, when not confused, is beautiful. So, what was up?

First, just because it says “Vol. 1” that doesn’t mean this is the first book in the series.Product Details

Product Details

The problem? There are two books. They both have the same cover. The title on the Netgalley edition says Vol. 1, but when you look on Amazon you will see that, besides having the same cover, one title is Wounded, Vol. 1 (Little Goddess, Book 2) and one is Wounded, Vol. 2 (Little Goddess). So, what’s up with that? So confusing! It seems like a good story, but as much as I wanted to sink into it, every time I started getting into the flow, I got hit with something that I should have “known” in under to understand, and it blew me out of the story. I finally enlarged the cover of the one I have and see that it says “Volume 2” but if you are looking really close, it blends into the cover.

So. If you have read the first book (is that Vol. 2 or Vol. 1?) I would recommend the books for the lyrical writing style and likable characters, but I couldn’t finish it due to being lost in backstory more often than not.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. I hope the author obtains a better publisher – allowing this type of bad design has cost the author two stars on my review.

Review: Claimed By The Mate -Two Book Set: Feral Passions and The Alpha’s Mate

Claimed by the Mate is actually two books in one. “Feral Passions” by Kate Douglas, and “The Alpha’s Mate” by A. C. Arthur. I have reviewed both, one a wonderful story – the other? Not so much.

Parents can be so hateful. So cruel and full of spite, destroying the souls of their children on a whim, trying to force their will, destroying their child’s self-esteem. It never goes away. The pain of knowing that you are not enough, not good enough, not perfect enough, for your parents to love you.

Cheraza “Cherry” DuBois knows all about being unloved. She has her father’s height, his big bones, big breasts and lush hips. She isn’t out of proportion, she is just a big girl. And her parents hate her for that. While her sister got summer camp, Cherry got fat camp. And when she lost her virginity in the back of a car, while the guy took photos and spread them all over the net to humiliate her, he wasn’t punished. Oh, no. While she was kicked out of school and made a pariah by everyone who knew her, her parents made it worse. They cut all ties and threw her out of their lives like garbage. Their daughter wasn’t perfect, she was an embarrassment, and they made sure she knew it.

Now, ten years later, Cherry lives her own life as a marketing analyst, loving her work, but locking everyone but her sister, Christa, and Christa’s best friend Steph out of her life. Cissy and Steph have always been there for her. Always supported her. So when they beg Cherry to come along on a girl’s only vacation, a week at a private wolf preserve, how can she say no? A week in the northern California mountains, at a preserve and resort where only six women a week are allowed, where women can “get in touch with nature without the hassle of guys and all that testosterone-driven need to hike farther, climb higher.” Six women, the total focus of a bunch of really hot guys who are determined to make sure they enjoy their stay. Well, they do encourage you to bring along books, or knitting, or painting, or whatever other hobbies you wish to pursue. No Wi-Fi or cell phone reception, so the idea of total relaxation is quite appealing.

The landscape is gorgeous. The wolves come close, and the air is fresh and clean, just what a San Francisco girl needs to clear her head and relax. And it allowed me to relax as well as I pictured the landscape of the story in my mind. I could almost smell the air and see the wildflowers and the wolves. Kate Douglas paints a beautiful picture of the preserve. And of course, the massage that Cherry gets at her cabin made me way jealous… sigh.

Feral Passions is a lovely little paranormal romance that I truly enjoyed and will read again. I haven’t read Douglas before, but this book encourages me to check out her other works. I loved her understanding of Cherry’s pain and inability to see herself as anything other than ugly and unlovable because of what her family and others did to her. I also loved watching as she began to grow and change, beginning to believe in her own worth as a human being. Thank you, Ms. Douglas, for your eyes-open approach to Cherry’s situation and how her parents destroyed her ability to see good in herself.

The second book in this two volume set, The Alpha’s Woman by A. C. Arthur was diametrically opposed to the mindset of the first book. Honestly, it clashed so deeply with the strong woman character of the first book I found it disconcerting. Kira Radney is the daughter of an alpha wolf, and the mythology of the story is different than most paranormal romance werewolf stories. Here, the wolves came about through Zeus being Zeus, i.e., a complete and total jerk. Fast forward and the wolves have been segregated on earth, away from utopian Arcadia, and are now two warring tribes, the Hunters and the Devoted. The Hunters want to kill off all the Devoted, who wish to live in harmony and peace with humans and the other hidden creatures as well. The Hunters simply with to hunt, kill and rut. Kira is an alpha, born to the Hunters, but when her mother is murdered and her father tries to foist her off on a brutal beta so that she can be controlled, she takes off, only to find herself captured by yet another alpha. An alpha who captures her and drags her back to his home, only to mind rape her and pull the whole “you are going to take it, and not come until I allow you to” crap that some women, for some stomach twisting reason, think is ‘sexy.’ When it got to the alpha telling Kira that she was going to learn to be strong and in control, then tying her to a weight bench and raping her – well, that is when I stopped reading. That sort of cold, manipulative, demeaning savagery makes me sick, and I had to put the book down and walk away. How is rape teaching a woman that she is in control of her own life? The whole ‘out of control’ sexual content of the book, and the weak-minded female character thinking with her vagina instead of her head, was diametrically opposed to the strong female character of the first book. I wouldn’t have put these two together on a bet.

So, one beautifully done book and one bit of sickening, over-sexed savagery. Kate Douglas will get more of my attention, while Arthur will go on my “not again, even if there is nothing else left in the world to read” list.

I received Claimed by the Mate from the publisher in exchange for a realistic, honest review. As you can see, I honestly loved the first, honestly despised the second! Five stars for Feral Passions, zero stars for The Alpha’s Mate.

Review: Blanche Passes Go by Barbara Neely #SouthernMurderMystery #SouthernMystery #BeingBlackInTheSouth

“It was always so hot, and everyone was so polite, and everything was all surface but underneath it was like a bomb waiting to go off. I always felt that way about the South, that beneath the smiles and southern hospitality and politeness were a lot of guns and liquor and secrets.” ― James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

Blanche Passes Go: A Blanche White Mystery (Blanche White Mystery Series)

Ahh, the “New South.” Where the ancestral mansions were built by slaves, and the moneyed want to forget that their wealth was built on the efforts of “slavers, Indian-killers, Confederate generals, and diehard segregationists. Of course, they still occasionally named their sons Braxton and Zebulon, in honor of their Confederate slaver ancestors . . . and they still didn’t invite their string of mulatto relatives with the same looks and last name to sit down at the family table.”

Yep. Pretty much the same “Old South” I grew up on. And when pretty much the first thing Blanche sees when she returns to Farleigh, North Carolina is one of the privileged white trying to rape a black catering waitress in the family mansion, Blanche knows one thing. Underneath it all? The South is still the “Old South” just like before she left and moved to Boston. She left Farleigh after her own rape by a rich white man, David Palmer, but she is back now, her sister’s children, Taifa and Malik now raised and out on their own. It is time to come home, to work with her childhood friend Ardell in her catering business, Carolina Catering.

“Half of it’s yours whenever you’re ready,” Ardell had told her.

So, Blanche is back. And whom should she run into but David Palmer – the rich, entitled, knife wielding rapist. And all the pain and humiliation, the terror and boiling rage, come slamming back. David Palmer. He’s back in Farleigh with his wife and children, his wealth and old family history.

Terror. Panic. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder on steroids. “He’d already killed the woman she’d been before he raped her.” Of course, Blanche can’t get back at him to his face. The police would never listen to a black woman’s story about a white man. But surely her Ancestors will point the way.

And then, the possibility for payback falls right into her lap. But sometimes, payback is a bitch. A deadly, cruel bitch with a wicked sense of humour.

I have to admit, I let my timing fall off on Blanche’s story. I simply couldn’t get into it at first. But once I finally sat down and started reading, I discovered something. This is a really, really good book. Blanche is not your ‘typical’ heroine. Fifty years old, blue-black, size-sixteen and going gray, Blanch is one tough cookie. Someone I would love to emulate in my own life. She has had it far from easy in her life, but she keeps going, keeps moving, keeps doing what she wants no matter what anyone else says. That is something to admire, an attitude to strive for.

This is apparently the fifth of the Blanche White Mystery Series, and I will be adding the others to my teetering piles of to-be-read. I won’t get to them right away, but when I do get to them I think I will be glad I did.

I received Blanche Passes Go from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Review: Missing by Randa Flannery #MissingPersons #MysterySuspense

“The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were less real and important than they had been hours before.”― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Rowan Is Brilliant. Brilliant on a level that Einstein didn’t approach, but Da Vinci may have shared. That kind of brilliance makes it hard enough to bond with ‘normals’ under the best of circumstances. Add in parents who saw her as an interesting experiment, homeschooling her and discouraging any outside hobbies, interest, or friends, and living a normal life is pretty much an impossibility of stunning proportions. But, when Rowan meets Lexi in college, her life changes. Lexi teaches her ‘social studies.’ How to talk to people. How to smile. How to have fun. How to be human.

But then, Lexi disappeared. And Rowen’s life was shattered. The pieces that Lexi had nurtured fell away, leaving the cold, precise, analytical Rowen behind. It hurts to be so broken. So, she analyzes. She analyzes at work, putting together business strategies for the customers of Hologram Security. She analyzes everything, researching, investigating, plotting and graphing everything that strikes her fancy. But especially missing persons, and Lexi’s disappearance. She even researches dating strategies when her friend, Farrah Lewis, whom she met in a support group for friends and family members of missing persons, asks. For six long years, ever since the day Lexi disappeared, Rowan has functioned like an analytical droid, living for her work, for her analysis. For the faint hope that one day she will find the thread that will bring Lexi back to her. Rowan is The Bloodhound, sniffing out facts and presenting them to her clients in the form of cold logic. Just as coldly logical as her life is lived.

And then one day, Harrison Briggs appears in her office. And all the pain comes rushing back. For Harrison Briggs is Lexi’s boyfriend. Was the last person to see her alive on that terrible day, when Lexi disappeared, and Rowan’s whole life imploded. Harrison Briggs, who has the gall to stand in front of her and swear that he didn’t attend Columbia. That he has never heard of Lexi. What kind of monster can do that? To stand in front of her and deny his relationship with the one person Rowan loved above all others? How Could He?

But things are even stranger than she thought. And what is true may very well cost Rowan her life.

I adored Rowan and her story. Mystery. Suspense. Convolutions. This a very well written, enjoyable book that kept me reading for way too long into the night. She is brilliant, but in such pain. Watching what has become of her psyche due to her parents cold scientific parenting is heartbreaking, and her ability to grow and change through the book gave me heart. Her search for her friend, and the pain of all family and friends of missing persons, is extremely well written. Highly recommended.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. This is Randa Flannery’s first book and I will be watching closely for her next.


Review: Forbidden (Never After Dark #1) by Elle Thorne #ShifterRomance

Forbidden (Never After Dark #1)She dreams of a white tiger. Safe. Warm. Secure. Unlike her life. Oh, it isn’t that she grew up hard – unless you count overwhelming parents as ‘hard.’ So, she put Baton Rouge in her rear view, finding herself in college in Rome. Stuck with a tiny apartment and a useless, jobless boyfriend, life is a circle of class, coffee shop barista, and paying the useless video game playing boyfriend’s bills. Well, at least her parents don’t know that useless is still hanging around.


When her parents call with a ‘surprise’ – i.e. guess who’s in town? – she latches onto the sexy guy in the coffee shop with a plea. Could he please, please play boyfriend for a day?

She really didn’t know what she was getting into. For Rafe Tiero is used to getting what he wants. And what he wants is Callie.

Forbidden is spin off of the Shifters Forever series, book one of Never After Dark by Elle Thorne. There is a strong carryover from the earlier books, which I haven’t read, but I was still able to keep up and follow the story well.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Review: Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom by Syne Mitchell #Weaving #RigidHeddleLoom

23705565Having just purchased my first loom, a Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle 15”, I was very pleased when I was asked to review Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom by Syne Mitchell. At its most basic, and historical, weaving is simply pulling fibers in an over and under pattern to create cloth.

In 2009, a team led by two Harvard professors working in the Republic of Georgia uncovered the oldest remnant of woven cloth found thus far: a 34,000-year-old piece of linen.

With such a long and amazing history, weaving has captured the imaginations of artists the world over, just as it has captured mine. Of course, at its very basics, fabric can be woven using sticks tied together with bits of grasses or strips of leather. And very early on weaving fibers could be simply reeds from the banks of the Nile. But as time went along, systems for weaving became more sophisticated, leading to the industrial age’s massive weaving machines through to today when artists and craftspeople have a variety of looms to choose from.

The rigid heddle loom is a great ‘beginner loom’ for anyone who wants to learn weaving and produce beautiful, usable fabrics. Less expensive than a floor loom, and quite a bit smaller, it allows you to start with something simple, like a scarf, then work your way up to creating fabrics that can be cut and sewn together to make incredible custom clothing. What you learn when using a rigid heddle loom is also transferable to more sophisticated looms, and is a wonderful way to begin the learning process. Why do I love weaving? Like knitting, weaving relaxes my brain and my body. The soothing, repetitive motions allow me to sink into the peace of the movements, while watching the colours and patterns both engages my brain and allows me to walk away from anything ‘outside’ of the process and simply relax.

Of course, weaving does require information, a how-to base when it comes to what materials you need, how much, and how you want your final product to look. Even though you may have expectations of exactly how your cloth will look, weaving can still surprise you, as the warp and weft come together, creating something that even experienced weavers may not expect. Something new, different, and wonderful.

Syne Mitchell has written a lovely book, starting with information on the history of weaving and continuing on through the different types and brands of rigid heddle looms. Mitchell describes the different ‘pieces-and-parts’ of the loom, and then goes on to describe the different type of weavers. While some are “scientific” weavers, meticulously detailing the how and why of their weaving, others (like myself!) are “intuitive weavers” who approach weaving with a grand sense of play – a “Stick your hand in the yarn bag and see what you come up with next” method that allows a sense of whimsy in their work.

Then, of course, there is the designing. Choosing your yarn, your colour palette, the feel of your work when you complete your project – all of these are important, and fun, parts of the weaving process. Of course, running out of yarn is no fun L when you have an idea of what you want your finished project to look like. Loom waste (the ends that are necessarily not part of the finished product, but are needed to ‘fix’ your warp to the loom), draw-in (the ‘shrinkage’ as you are weaving) and take-up (the over-and-under of weaving) will need to be calculated. An then, you have to decide the “face” of the project – are the warp or weft threads going to stand out as the pattern?

Yep. There. Is. MATH. Sigh. The thing is, Mitchell gives you a format for your calculations, making it quick and easy to find out how much yarn you need for any particular project based on factors like length, width and, yes, the size of the yarn you are using… I blew it on a wonderful hand painted yarn I had designed – I painted on sport instead of worsted yarn and, yep. Ran out of yarn! Duh. Mitchell helps with that, giving you a simple form you can print out and fill out for each project. Stick that into a plastic cover sheet with samples of your yarn and you can go back and recreate any project. From using a warping board to setting up your warp and rigid heddle, there are step-by-step directions to make everything easy. And we all love easy, right? Oh, and I really LOVE the parts that address “fixing your boo-boos!!”

Then there are the patterns! I am a complete color junkie, so the section on Using Painted Skeins Cleverly was quite a thrill. From the most simple ‘flat weaving’ to tapestry-like weaving designs and pickup patterns, it is all her, all laid out logically, and presented with beautiful photos. This is going to be my go-to book for weaving – I just wish I had been offered the book before I used all that gorgeous hand painted alpaca, and then ran out before my project was finished!

I received Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. If you are a weaver this books covers the basics for beginners, up to information even an experienced weaver will find useful!

This book will be released on November 3, 2015.


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