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Gugulu, The Little Bear Dares by Srividhya Lakshmanan (Book Review)

Go on a wild adventure with Gugulu, the sloth bear, as he takes on a journey deep inside the western ghats of India.

Gugulu’s parents won’t allow him to go to school alone. But he can’t wait to explore the forest on his own. So one day, he runs ahead of his parents. And before he knows it, he ends up in a river filled with danger – first a roaring leopard, then a gang of gaurs, but soon he shrinks in fear. Will naughty Gugulu be able to reunite with his parents?

Gugulu, The Little Bear Dares, is a quirky, funny, beautifully illustrated story about new experiences and courageously facing challenges when encountered.

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 Goodreads Link

 

 

 

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

First impressions matter when it comes to books, and Gugulu, The Little Bear Dares by Srividhya Lakshmanan was very eye-catching. Akansha Krishnan knocked it out of the park with their illustrators! The group selfie was adorable. A few times, Gugulu’s nose seemed to get away from the illustrator. For example, the scene where the bear meets the purple frog. 

Gugulu meets many animals during his adventure; the time doesn’t stick close to his parents. Some animals will be familiar to most children: leopard, jaguar, snake, and elephant. There might be some that are not so familiar to many kids: pangolin, Nilgiri flycatcher, and gaur. Srividhya Lakshmanan compiled a reference page with photos, favorite food, trait, and which family it belongs to. You’ll notice on this page there’re insects included. There’s also a fun maze to complete where children can help Gugulu get to school. 

I couldn’t locate a recommended reading age for Gugulu, The Little Bear Dares, when I was writing this review, but I do not think preschoolers or kindergartners will be able to read the story. However, they will enjoy having it read to them. Second and third graders will probably have a better chance at sounding out the animal names. 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

Amazon Purchase Link

 Goodreads Link

 

 

Meet the Author

Srividhya Lakshmanan is an award-winning children’s author, entrepreneur and writer. She always had a passion for storytelling and started to write when she was eleven. ​Her early success came when one of her dramas got selected by the ‘All India Radio’. She spent years reading and writing stories, giving her characters a bright sparkle. ​She spent 15 years in corporate jobs. Later, she founded and managed a fashion e-commerce company, Pink Hippo, before venturing into publishing.

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Crystal Clear Confusion:  A Fiona Quinn Quick Mystery by C.S. McDonald (Book Review)

CYSTRAL CLEAR CONFUSION by C.S. McDonald

Yikes! Fiona’s been having a recurring nightmare and it’s driving her to distraction—so much so that she’s allowed her kooky neighbor, Astrid Dingle, to search for the answer through her crystal ball. What could be the cause of the dream, and what lengths will Fiona go to get to the crux of it all? You’ll be chasing dreams with Fiona, Detective Landry and Astrid in this fun quick mystery!  ​

 
Buy the Book:
Amazon ~  
Audible
 
 
 
 
 
 I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 
Crystal Clear Confusion:  A Fiona Quinn Quick Mystery by C.S. McDonald literally had a nightmarish start. Poor Fiona was getting chased through the halls of Westwood Elementary School by a ferocious lion. All I can say is, thank goodness, it was only a terrible dream. 


Astrid, the wannabe clairvoyant, wanted to help Fiona interpret her dream — it was her first step in her new career path. Through their session, I learned the names of two phobias: cynophobia – fear of dogs, and ophidiophobia – fear of snakes. It’s always awesome to learn new facts, no matter what your age is. 


While the story didn’t hold my interest as much as C.S. McDonald’s other works, it did have its comedic moments. Like the rest in the series, it’s a family-friendly read. 


Whether you’re an educator or not, this story creates an opportunity to explore dream interpretation and examine phobias. I bet everyone will learn a new fact or two. 🙂

 
Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. Classically trained at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School, The Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, and many others, she became a professional dancer and choreographer. During that time, she choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards. In 2011 she retired from her dance career to write. Under her real name, Cindy McDonald, she writes murder-suspense and romantic suspense novels. In 2014 she added the pen name, C.S. McDonald, to write children’s books for her grandchildren. In 2016 she added the Fiona Quinn Mysteries to that expansion. She decided to write the cozy mystery series that everyone, including teens and tweens, can read and enjoy. Presently, the Fiona Quinn Mysteries nine books with a tenth slated for 2021. The books are also available on audio, narrated by Maren Swenson Waxenberg. Cindy’s newest venture is The Owl’s Nest Mysteries. Once again, she has set her cozy mystery in Pittsburgh. The female protagonist, Alexa Owl, is much different from Fiona Quinn. The Owl’s Next Mysteries has a little grit, a little time travel, a little romance, and a whole lot of cozy! Ms. McDonald resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Bill, and her poorly behaved Cocker Spaniel, Allister.
 
 
Connect with the author:  
Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook
 
 

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Ponce: What Actually Happened at the Fountain of Youth by Jim Halverson (Book Review)

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Two Florida State geology students found the pages written by Ponce de Leon’s chronicler in a dry limestone cave in the northwest panhandle. The original Spanish papers, five hundred years old, were found in relatively good shape, protected from time and moisture in a heavy triple-walled leather case. They chronicle Ponce de Leon’s second expedition to Florida in search of the fountain of youth.
 
 
 
 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 
In history, it is pretty well-known explorers took land from the Natives. Power was the name of the game. Explorers wanted wealth and notoriety, while Kings aimed to increase their wealth, power, and control of lands. 


Speaking of explorers, readers will recognize the ones mentioned in the story. Most children study them in middle school; my daughter did, so she knew who Ponce de Leon was and about the Fountain of Youth. 


Through lessons, we know that when explorers traveled to new lands, they brought with them diseases. Ponce: What Actually Happened at the Fountain of Youth by Jim Halverson did note this and how the Natives got revenge on foreigners by giving them an STD, which they brought back to their homelands. (If you haven’t spoken to your child about STDs yet, then this might be a good time to explain it.)

There were no graphic scenes or questionable topics (besides the STD passages), so middle school children could read this on their own. At less than 160 pages, it shouldn’t take them too long to read it. If your family homeschools, maybe have your child write a review on the story or complete a book report. I’m sure they’ll have plenty to talk about: snake bites, runaway rooster, greed-filled men, “magic water,” and much more. 


While Ponce: What Actually Happened at the Fountain of Youth did lag for me a bit, I did find it amusing how the white men underestimated the Natives, and how Ponce was on the constant verge of having an absolute hissy fit. 


The ending was superb too! 

 
Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:

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​Jim Halverson grew up in the rural, gold-mining town of Mokelumne Hill, CA and received his MBA from Golden Gate University. He spent part of his life on a ranch and is an avid student of psychology. He recognizes the struggles of all men and women seeking equality and respect. Jim and his wife, Gail, spend their time traveling from their small farm in Forestville, CA.

 
connect with the author: 
 
 
 

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Realms of Glory, Realms of Death (The Epthelion Series) by Sandra Kopp (Book Review)

 

Valhalea lies in ruins, the victim of sorcerer Lucius Mordarius’ wrath.

In the black forests of Barren-Fel Ryadok, a rival sorcerer possessing a weapon capable of leveling the continent, snakes his destructive tentacles across Epthelion. Amid the chaos Destiny unites five unlikely allies: an ostracized mystic and his younger brother; a tradesman and a battle-hardened mercenary; and the daughter of a murdered nobleman–each a thorn in a sorcerer’s side and marked for death.

Battling nature’s wrath, the sorcerers’ relentless pursuit, and a land notorious for devouring its inhabitants, they find temporary sanctuary only to be thrust to opposite ends of Epthelion–the girl to the west where she falls into the hands of the blood-thirsty Horse Lords; and the men into the dark reaches of the shadowy east.

Victory is essential; defeat spells certain death for their world.  The girl must survive the Horse Lord’s brutality and rally them to her aid in defeating Mordarius while the mystic races to destroy Ryadok before his sweeping holocaust.

Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

 

 

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

 

There are not many fantasy books that I think would 100% translate beautifully onto the big screen. However,  I believe Sandra’s beasts, the lesser ones and the Destroyer, need to be brought to life in 2D or (better yet) 3D. Once you read Realms Of Glory, Realms of Death, I’m sure you’ll agree Sandra’s magical bringers of death need to be shown on a big screen. 

Besides the beasts, what I adored about Realms Of Glory, Realms of Death is its plot/subject matter is not limited to one age group. As a parent, I look for books that my daughter and I can read and discuss. I don’t recall seeing any unfavorable words except whore. While I am not a fan of this word, it didn’t hurt the book or affect my rating. I would still recommend my daughter to read it. I would encourage you to read it also. 

I can’t end this review without pointing out how much I appreciated Sandra giving props to women and their abilities. We are fierce. We are strong. We can fight. We are leaders! 

 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤1/2

Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

 

 

About Sandra Kopp

I’m an Idaho native, a lover of chocolate, builder of kingdoms, and ever a dreamer. From childhood I loved a good story and spent hours lost in the wonderful and fantastic worlds I found in books. Even while pursuing a career in Information Technology I remained a voracious reader, and in 2003 began penning my own stories. My first three, a fantasy trilogy which I am currently reworking, were influenced by The Lord of the Rings. My current book, The Windwilder Haunting, arose from the arson fire of one of Pasco, Washington’s last landmarks, the James A. Moore House. The house’s rich and colorful history intrigued me, and I am proud to say I played a small part in its restoration. The Windwilder Haunting, however, details a fictional family and set of events. After relaunching the trilogy (in about two months) I will be working on a prequel to the Windwilder tale.

Fantasy and paranormal romance remain my favorite genres, but I am also working on a familial saga and a series of children’s books based on Timothy Wonder, an adventurous lad with a huge imagination.

When not writing, I enjoy photography, hiking, cycling, and playing the accordion.

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Interview with Sandra Kopp (A Multi-Genre Author)

I want to welcome author Sandra Kopp to Kam’s Place.
Howdy, Sandra!

 

  1. For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?

 

Sandra: Howdy, Kam! It’s a pleasure to be here. I grew up on an Idaho potato farm along with two brothers, one sister, an accordion, and an assortment of dogs, cats, horses, and cows. I’d wanted to be a farm wife, but Fate propelled me into the wonderful world of IBM and computer programming, a career I pursued for 33 years. A music lover and history buff, I played the trombone and accordion semiprofessionally and served as a docent at a number of historical homes, notably the Pittock Mansion in Portland, OR. As for writing, I have loved books since childhood. In grade school I spent more time reading library books than doing my homework (which landed me in the corner more than once!), and my active imagination churned out stories I would scribble down and show my teachers who, in turn, asked me to share with the class! As I entered adulthood, however, career demands and social commitments forced my writing onto the back burner. But the fire never died, and neither did my imagination. A mundane event might spark a plot that took intriguing turns as it evolved into a full-blown novel (case in point: THE WINDWILDER HAUNTING, inspired by the Moore Mansion fire in Pasco, WA). In 2003 I decided to get serious. Now that I’m retired, I have committed myself to honing and polishing my craft and producing the best work possible.


Kam: Holy smokes, that’s an impressive amount of time in one establishment. Now days, it seems no one can stick that long in one place. I’m also in awe of your musical achievements. I can’t play any instrument, but I do appreciate the time and effort it takes to learn a single instrument and you’ve mastered two. NICE! 

 

Let’s Check Out The Windwilder Haunting


Once acclaimed the Crown Jewel of Twin Bridges, Washington, a derelict mansion with a sordid past sits condemned, awaiting demolition. At the eleventh hour the great-grandson of its original owner intervenes to rescue and restore it. But few rejoice, particularly those whose lives the malignancy within those walls destroyed.

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Print Purchase Link

 

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, please share how you handle it.

Sandra: Oh, yes; in fact, for a while writer’s block so crippled me that I went for weeks and even months unable to write anything. In 2003 I enrolled in a creative writing course. Each session began with a 10-minute exercise during which we were to WRITE. Wasting time trying to pick a subject was NOT allowed—those pencils had to move! “If you can’t think of anything,” the professor told us, “just write ‘I can’t think of a thing to write, but the prof says I have to write something, so here I go.’ Write that sentence over and over, and pretty soon ideas will come.” Surprisingly, his method worked. The first session I think I wrote it twice. After that I always had a topic for class.  

 

While effective for beginning a piece, the method didn’t work so well for works already in progress. My major hurdle stemmed from striving to write the finished product on the first try.  Every few sentences I stalled, fumbling for the “right” words, until I became so mired in verbiage I forgot what I wanted to say. Finally I decided to, rather than flounder, just output the main points and then flesh out the details the following day. This actually works best for me. As I read over the previous day’s effort the creative juices flow, providing the missing elements and a running start into developing new material. 

 

 

  1. Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

Sandra: Except for sci-fi and romance, I love most genres. My current books are fantasy and paranormal, but I find myself leaning more toward contemporary, historical fiction, and a children’s series I started several years ago, along with a western based on an event in my father’s life when he was 10.

When not writing, I enjoy photography, hiking, bicycling, playing the accordion, knitting, and gardening. I’m also planning a You Tube channel featuring my better half, Sassy the Cat!


Kam: What a cutie! 

 

  1. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?

Sandra: Yes. One or two consider me gifted, but the majority recognize the flaws and weak spots in my work and aren’t afraid to point them out. It nettled me at first, but I quickly found their criticism valid and invaluable during the editing process. My Mom and sister are especially good beta readers, quick to pick up on parts that don’t flow right. I thought them too critical at first; but when my critique group pointed out the same issues, I decided I’d better listen! At any rate, all of them urge me to keep the stories coming.

Kam: Fantastic!!! 

 

 

  1. Will you share with us your all-time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.

Sandra: This is tough; I love so many! Colleen McCullough and Charlotte Bronte top the list, followed by Johanna Spyri. I still own a copy of HEIDI I received as a gift when I was eight. That book so captivated me I could smell the fresh alpine air and hear the wind roaring through those huge branches.  Lately I’ve discovered several excellent indie authors, including: Rebecca Carey Lyles, Ken Stark, Bibiana Krall, MK Whiting, Mike Wells, Isis Sousa, and Anastasia Abboud.

Kam: I actually reviewed Troika: A Supernatural Short Story by Bibiana Krall  back in 2019. 😀

 

 

  1. If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love to see cast in the parts?

Sandra: Peter Jackson’s movie series, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings had a huge impact on me. That said, I would like to see my book, REALMS OF GLORY, REALMS OF DEATH hit the big screen, since it contains many similar elements. I’m not sure, though, which actors I would choose, as I really don’t spend much time watching movies. Probably many of those that appeared in the Peter Jackson movies.

 

 

 

Valhalea lies in ruins, the victim of sorcerer Lucius Mordarius’ wrath.

In the black forests of Barren-Fel Ryadok, a rival sorcerer possessing a weapon capable of leveling the continent, snakes his destructive tentacles across Epthelion. Amid the chaos Destiny unites five unlikely allies: an ostracized mystic and his younger brother; a tradesman and a battle-hardened mercenary; and the daughter of a murdered nobleman–each a thorn in a sorcerer’s side and marked for death.

Battling nature’s wrath, the sorcerers’ relentless pursuit, and a land notorious for devouring its inhabitants, they find temporary sanctuary only to be thrust to opposite ends of Epthelion–the girl to the west where she falls into the hands of the blood-thirsty Horse Lords; and the men into the dark reaches of the shadowy east.

Victory is essential; defeat spells certain death for their world.  The girl must survive the Horse Lord’s brutality and rally them to her aid in defeating Mordarius while the mystic races to destroy Ryadok before his sweeping holocaust.

Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

My review of REALMS OF GLORY, REALMS OF DEATH will be live August 14th!
I encourage you all to come back and read my thoughts on it. 😉 

 

 

  1. Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now?

Sandra: I am working on the illustrations for the first book of my children’s series, TIMOTHY WONDER AND THE MAGIC SHIP. I started that story when I was twelve but never finished it. That magic ship took Timothy and his dog into the clouds but never brought them back! Now, several decades later, I decided it’s time to bring them home.  In addition, I am putting together notes for a humorous ghost story and an historical fiction novel, both inspired by my docent experiences at the Pittock Mansion.

Kam: I can’t wait to read them both. 

 

 

  1. Where can we find your stories, and is there a particular reading order?

Website:     https://www.sandrakopp.com

Amazon:     author.to/skoppbooks

Sandra: I gave each book a satisfying end, with no cliffhangers that resolve in subsequent books. Because many of the characters in later books are introduced and developed in the earlier volumes, reading the series sequentially provides a more even flow.

 

 

  1. Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?

Website:       https://www.sandrakopp.com/contact 

Email:          sandra@sandrakopp.com

Goodreadshttps://bit.ly/3i4Uo5b

Twitter:        twitter.com/EverDreamer7321

Sign up for my newsletter for updates on new releases, giveaways, and other fun things!

 

 

  1. Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.

Sandra: First of all, Kam, thanks so much for this spotlight opportunity.  Marketing has proven the toughest part of indie publishing, and I welcome the chance to introduce my work to new audiences.  Taking this plunge opened up a whole new world.  Not only am I an author and publisher, I’ve had to become a publicist, marketer, and I even designed and built my own website!

I appreciate my readers and am grateful for each and every one. I also appreciate their opinions of my books!  One of the nicest things you can do for an author is leave a review.  Of course, I love 4 and 5 stars best, but I also want to know the downside so that I can improve.  I have developed a newsletter, which you can sign up for on my website.  From time to time I host giveaways, contests, and opportunities for readers to become a character in an upcoming book!

Becoming a writer was my dream come true.  I encourage all of you to pursue your dreams.  You never know what you can do ‘til you try!

 

 

 

 

As a fellow author, I know the struggles of marketing a story. It’s a never-ending battle to get a story in front of new readers and build up reviews. As I stated above, my review of REALMS OF GLORY, REALMS OF DEATH will be live on August 14th, and you’ll love the score. 

For those visiting Kam’s Place, I highly encourage you all to check out Sandra Kopp’s works and sign up for her newsletter. I know once you read one story by her, you’ll want to be instantly notified when she’s created something new. 

To Sandra Kopp, thank you so much for allowing me to interview you and graciously asking me to read your stories. I can’t wait to read your future stories and/or the ones I haven’t read yet.

 

 

Before you go… How about a sneak peek at REALMS OF GLORY, REALMS OF DEATH!

 

Bristles brushed her feverish cheek.  Merewyn moaned and tried to move, but unbearable pain wracked her body.  Every bone felt broken and she lay still, wishing whoever hovered over her would thrust her through and end her torment.  Velvety lips nuzzled her ear and then her neck.  A horse nickered softly.

Merewyn rolled onto her back and opened her eyes.  Windrunner lay down beside her and nudged her cheek.  Gritting her teeth against the searing pain, Merewyn mustered her strength and crawled into the saddle, clinging to the horse’s mane as Windrunner hoisted herself to her feet.

“My faithful Windrunner.”  Merewyn could scarcely talk.  “Take me to the king.”

Windrunner stepped out, and as they crossed the corpse-littered plain, Merewyn’s heart sank.  Familiar faces stared vacantly through the cold gray light.  Some appeared to slumber peacefully.  Others grimaced in agony.

“Ohhhh!”  Merewyn’s anguished soul poured out its misery.  Bitter tears rolled down her cheeks.  Feeling dizzy, she closed her eyes, wishing only to distance herself from this place of death.  Windrunner walked on, her head bobbing lightly as she deftly stepped over and around the dead. 

Gradually the faintness passed.  Merewyn’s senses cleared.  She opened her eyes and recognized Aethelion, Elund, Hamiel, and Zithri amid a small group a short way ahead.  Zithri saw her first and alerted Hamiel and Aethelion.  Together they raced to Merewyn.

“My queen!”  Aethelion reached up and helped her dismount.

Zithri alit and rushed to her side.  “You’re hurt, my lady.”

“No worse than any of you.  Where is the king?”

“We don’t know.”  Aethelion grimly surveyed the field.  “Ryadok decimated our forces last night, both here and on the river.”

“How many of your five hundred remain?” Merewyn asked.

“Less than a hundred.  As yet we have no final tally.”

“And the enemy?”

“We drove them back after that fiery brute fell, but they’ll return in numbers beyond our strength to withstand.”

“The beast. . .slain?”  Merewyn’s memory had clouded. 

“Yes.”  Aethelion frowned.  “How, I don’t know.  The carcass burned, leaving nothing to examine.  When we engaged him at the river we made what should have been mortal strikes with every weapon we had, to no avail.”  His frown deepened.  “I would give my best horse to know what killed this one.”

“So Destroyer can be killed.”

“If, indeed, that was Destroyer.”

With great effort, Merewyn remounted and turned Windrunner toward the battlefield.  “First we must see to our wounded and find the king.”

The sun slowly rose, gouging the sky with blood-red shafts before hiding itself behind a curtain of somber gray clouds.  The Horse Lords wandered among the carnage, hoping against hope that some among their warriors lying there yet breathed. 

They found only death.  Over half of the valiant warriors of Ha-Ran-Fel had fallen, and the company could only guess what percentage of the enemy now littered their land.  Many wore the crest of Ryadok, but even more Lucius Mordarius’ green dragon.

The roughly four hundred remaining warriors fanned out to search for their wounded, strip the enemy corpses, and kill any foe still alive.  Merewyn searched for Ruelon, refusing to believe what she already knew.  Aethelion, Elund, Hamiel, and Zithri still lived.  Surely, she reasoned, God had spared Ruelon as well.

But hope quickly waned.  Ruelon neither answered her calls nor rode to meet her.

And then she saw him, lying beside his beloved charger, his sword impaling an enemy’s throat, his ashen face turned to the sky.  Red streaks trickled down his side from the bloody pool on his breastplate, and another from one corner of his mouth.  For a moment it seemed he looked at her, and she thought he would speak.  But his vacant blue eyes stared past her; his strong voice forever stilled.  Never again would he hold her close and soothe her in the night.  Never again would he whisper words of tender love.

“My lord.”  Swallowing hard, Merewyn knelt beside him and tenderly stroked his cheek.  The world blurred around her.  “Beloved husband. . .do not leave me.”  But she knew that he already had, and now the tears came fast and hot.  Merewyn collapsed on his chest, sobbing.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Don’t forget to visit  Sandra Kopp’s Amazon Author Page!

 

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