ARC Book Review: Lucky in Love

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Synopsis:

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

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Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Scholastic via Edelweiss. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on July 25, 2017.*

Kasie West has become my go to author for YA contemporary romance novels. Her books are always so cute, fun, and quick to read, and Lucky in Love was no exception. This novel is told in the first person point of view of Maddie, a high school senior who’s very focused on school. She’s so focused that she and her best friends, Blair and Elise, have a pact that they’re not allowed to date in high school.

Maddie believes nothing comes easy and you have to work hard for what you want, which is why she’s not interested in entering the lottery at first. However, when her friends bail on her birthday party Maddie decides to spend the rest of her money on a lottery ticket and surprisingly she actually wins.

Suddenly, her life goes from kind of boring to very exciting. Everyone wants to be her friend and every one wants her money. Her friends and family start acting differently and Maddie soon questions who she can and can’t trust. Except for Seth, her cute coworker at the zoo. Seth was grounded when the news of Maddie’s lottery win broke and rather than tell him about it, Maddie likes that there’s someone in her life who presumably doesn’t know about her lottery win, so she keeps it to herself.

My favorite part of this book was definitely Seth. First, I loved that he’s Vietnamese American. As far as I can tell this is the first time the love interest has been a person of color in West’s novels and I thought that was great, especially because Seth opened up to Maddie about what it’s like to be Asian in America. There were multiple points where he and Maddie had open conversations about race and I really liked that a lot because while it wasn’t the main topic of the book, West also didn’t shy away from it.

I also really liked Maddie as a character. Though I was frustrated that she wasn’t handling her new wealth very responsibly I also acknowledged the fact that she was 18 and truthfully she did win $50 million ($30 million once you take out the taxes). It wasn’t like she was actually going to use up all her money but it still stressed me out every time she bought something extravagant, especially because it was so out of character for her. Overall though, I was more upset with her parents for not stepping in when they saw how much she was spending.

That small frustration aside, I really enjoyed this novel. It was a quick read and I loved Seth from the moment he was first introduced. I highly recommend picking up Lucky in Love once it hits stores. It’s definitely worth a read.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“Magic cannot be explained. It can only be experienced.”

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ARC Book Review: Words in Deep Blue

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Synopsis:

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from First in Line and B-Fest. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released today.*

After reading a lot of fantasy lately, I was in the mood for a contemporary and Words in Deep Blue was the perfect choice. It’s a short contemporary romance told in the alternating points of views of former best friends Henry and Rachel. Right before Rachel was moving away she wrote Henry a love letter telling him, once and for all, how she felt about him. She put it in the Letter Library in his family’s bookshop, and this honestly sounds the coolest place ever.

In the Letter Library, you can’t take the books out and people write notes in the books or highlight their favorite parts and then put the books back. They also, of course, leave letters inside the books for others to read, which is what Rachel did on that fateful night.

Fast forward to a few years later and Rachel is totally over Henry because not only did he never respond to the letter but he didn’t even acknowledge it’s existence. So now, when Rachel returns to town, after the death of her younger brother, Cal, she’s not exactly excited to see Henry. Similarly, Henry, who feels Rachel just ditched him once she moved away, isn’t all that excited to see her either.

However, once Rachel and Henry start talking again, mainly thanks to their mutual friend, Lola, and the fact that they have to work together, their friendship begins to pick back up right where they left off. As Rachel continues to struggle with her grief over her brother’s death and Henry contemplates the end of his relationship with Amy, who he believes is the love his life, the two begin to lean on each other in a totally adorable, made-me-swoon kind of way.

Besides getting Henry and Rachel’s POVs, the books is also interspersed with letters from the Letter Library. These letters are between various people but mostly their the letters between George, Henry’s little sister, and a mystery guy named Pytheas; Rachel and Henry; and Henry’s parents. I thought these letters were really cute and a nice addition to the book, especially with the added mystery of Pytheas, though I figured it out pretty early on.

There were definitely times throughout the novel where I wanted to shake Rachel and tell her to stop acting so stupid but I gave her a pass because she’s grieving and besides those few moments I really enjoyed the novel. My only other issue, which is super small, was the random letter from the author in the book. I liked the idea behind it (that the book is kind of like a book in the Letter Library and this was her letter to the readers) but it appeared so abruptly in the novel that it totally took me out of the story.

At first I was confused by it and then I realized what it was and then I had to get back into the story after I read it. It just seemed very strange to me, though I did like the letter itself. Maybe if it came at the beginning of the book or at the very end it would’ve been fine but happening in the middle of the story just didn’t feel right.

Overall though, I really did like this book. If you’re looking for a cute and quick contemporary romance, this book is for you.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“People are not only their bodies. And if there is no hope of saving the things we love in their original form, we must save them however we can.”

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ARC Book Review: Flame in the Mist

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Synopsis:

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and track down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from First in Line and B-Fest. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 16, 2017.*

I didn’t know this was a Mulan retelling until someone on Instagram said it was and that made me feel so much better because my first thought while reading was, “Is this supposed to be like Mulan or are the similarities just an unfortunate coincidence?” Once I knew it was a retelling I was more comfortable with the similarities between the plots and I also liked how much Renée Ahdieh also changed it for her own story.

The first noticeable difference is this novel takes place in feudal Japan not Han China. However, there’s also a lot of other differences. I’d say the only real similarities is that Mariko disguises herself as a man and she develops romantic feelings for one of the men she ends up working alongside. Otherwise the stories are actually very different.

Mariko ends up disguising herself as a means of survival. Walking around in the jungle is never a good idea. Walking around in the jungle as a woman is an even a worse idea. It’s unfortunate but it’s also true. So Mariko takes on a new (male) identity and heads on a mission to find the Black Clan who she believes is responsible for trying to kill her and killing all those that were with her.

She of course finds them and figures out a way to weasel into their group. It’s not easy and she quickly realizes that while she’s smart in a lot of way, she’s not exactly “street smart.” Still, while working with the Black Clan she begins to make friends and even finds some romance.

Besides Mariko, the story also follows other characters. Told in the third person the story switches around a bit to Mariko’s brother, Kenshin, the Emperor, and members of the Black Clan. The jump in perspectives was nice because at points I found Mariko’s story to be a bit slow. I wanted action and she’s a planner, which is fine I just wasn’t really interested in all her plotting.

There’s also a great deal of mystery and magic in this novel and while I think the mystery did it’s job in making me want to know more it also left me thoroughly confused. Mainly, I was very confused by the ending and I’m not sure that I’m supposed to be. This book is the first in the series so obviously the cliff hanger sets up the next novel but I think the ending of this book was a plot twist that I somehow missed. I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll just say that the ending left me feeling unsatisfied, not entirely eager to continue on with the series but also curious to know what happens next.

Another issue I had with the novel was the romance. I won’t say who it’s with because one thing I did like about this novel was I wasn’t entirely sure at first who Mariko’s romance would be with. Not to say it took me by surprise when it happened but there’s definitely a few twists that I was definitely surprised by and liked a lot. What I didn’t enjoy was the ease in which the conflict between Mariko and her love interest was resolved. It just seemed way too easy to me. It was like there was this huge betrayal and then a few chapters it was like, “Never mind, we’re good.” I didn’t get it all and it didn’t sit right with me.

Besides that though, I did really love the romance. It made me swoon, which sounds cheesy to say but it’s true. Plus, I just really liked the relationship between them. Mariko spent her whole life feeling less than just because she was a woman and with the Black Clan and her love interest she began to realize that being a woman wasn’t a weakness or a fault, it was just who she was. I absolutely loved that and I loved that overall message of the book.

For that alone I really did enjoy this novel. Would I read it again? I’m not sure. Still, I think you should give this book a try. It’s really interesting and like I said, the romance is fantastic.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow.

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“You are first and foremost a person. A reckless, foolish person, but a person nonetheless. If I ever say you are not permitted to do something, rest assured that the last reason I would ever say so would be because you are a girl.”

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ARC Book Review: North of Happy

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Synopsis:

His whole life has been mapped out for him… 

Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy family, where he attends an elite international school. Always a rule follower and a parent pleaser, Carlos is more than happy to tread the well-worn path in front of him. He has always loved food and cooking, but his parents see it as just a hobby.

When his older brother, Felix—who has dropped out of college to live a life of travel—is tragically killed, Carlos begins hearing his brother’s voice, giving him advice and pushing him to rebel against his father’s plan for him. Worrying about his mental health but knowing the voice is right, Carlos runs away to the United States and manages to secure a job with his favorite celebrity chef. As he works to improve his skills in the kitchen and pursue his dream, he begins to fall for his boss’s daughter—a fact that could end his career before it begins. Finally living for himself, Carlos must decide what’s most important to him and where his true path really lies.

Purchase From:

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Review

*I won a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Harlequin Teen. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on April 25, 2017.*

Honestly, I’d never read a book by Adi Alsaid before but I love giveaways so I entered without a second thought and was happily surprised when I won. The book then sat on my shelves for a while but after reading two Ellen Hopkins books back to back I wanted to read something happier. Obviously, I forgot what this book was about.

The story follows Carlos, after his older brother Felix was tragically killed. Felix was the “wild child” of the family, meaning instead of going the traditional route and go to college like his parents wanted him to, he decided to travel the world instead. Carlos, did the very opposite, and planned to intern at his father’s company after graduating high school and then go to the University of Chicago, even though he loved to cook. However, after Felix’s death, Carlos, at the advice of Felix, who he keeps seeing everywhere and in everything, decides to head to an island by Seattle instead.

There, he goes to a restaurant his brother wanted to visit and finds himself meeting Emma, a girl who helps him feel less crazy about seeing his dead brother, and he also finds his way into the kitchen at the restaurant. However, Carlos unfortunately can’t have both the girl and the job. At least, he’s not supposed to, but being the new reckless teen that he is, he dates Emma anyway, which I loved. Forbidden romance is my jam.

Of course complications arise, and there’s some drama, both romantic and familial for Carlos, and overall I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I really liked that Carlos seeing Felix everywhere isn’t really explained so you can take it as you want to. I personally like to think Felix was indeed a ghost and Carlos wasn’t tripping, but that could just me. Additionally, I really liked Emma and Carlos’ relationship. I thought they were cute and funny but it was also realistic and didn’t feel forced.

Chef, Emma’s mom, annoyed me to no end but by the end of the novel I at least felt like I understood where she was coming from. I still didn’t like her but I respect her. I also really liked the side characters, especially Carlos’ roommates on the island; even Matt, who is kind of a jerk.

Although I was satisfied with the ending, I do think some people won’t be. It’s one of those endings where you can kind of decide for yourself what happens next, which I love but I know some people don’t. Still, I think this is definitely a must read. The way Alsaid handles grief, familial obligations, and just family in general, was great. I also enjoyed that every chapter started with a recipe, which was a constant reminder of Carlos’ love for food (and made me very hungry).

If you’ve never read Alsaid’s books like I hadn’t, I highly recommend this one. It was a quick read and I couldn’t put it down. Now I want to read his other novels. If you’ve read any of his books, which one should I read next? Let me know in the comments below.

Stars:

4 stars

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ARC Book Review: The Hot One

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Synopsis:

At first glance, stripping naked at my ex-girlfriend’s place of work might not seem like the brightest way to win her back. 
But trust me on this count – she always liked me best without any clothes on. And sometimes you’ve got to play to your strengths when you’re fighting an uphill battle. As a lawyer, I know how to fight, and I’m prepared to fight hard for her. I might have let her slip through my fingers the last time, but no way will that happen twice.
He’s the one who got away…
The nerve of Tyler Nichols to reappear like that, stripping at my job, showing off his rock hard body that drove me wild far too many nights. That man with his knowing grin and mischievous eyes is nothing but a cocky, arrogant jerk to saunter back into my life. Except, what if he’s not…?
He’s the one I’ve tried like hell to forget but just can’t. Maybe I’m cursed to remember him. My money is on him being the same guy he always was, but what’s the harm in giving him a week to prove he’s a new man? I won’t fall for him again.
But how do you resist the hot one…

Purchase From:

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Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Lauren Blakely Books. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on February 27, 2017.*

Honestly, when I first read the synopsis of The Hot One I wasn’t totally sold on it. Tyler just sounded too cocky and not my kind of guy at all. However, because I’ve loved almost every single one of Lauren Blakely’s books that I’ve read I still wanted to give this book a try and I’m so glad I did.

While Tyler was definitely just as cocky as I expected him to be he was also really funny and totally sweet. I absolutely loved his chemistry with Delaney and I also just loved Delaney as a person as well. The story is told in their alternating POVs, which I really liked because it was interesting to see how they viewed their past break-up in different ways. For Tyler, it was something he felt had to happen, whereas for Delaney it was devastating but also a major turning point in her life that turned out to be for the better.

What I loved most about this book was that the relationship between Tyler and Delaney was a slow burn. Not like really slow (this is an erotic novel after all) but unlike other Blakely books I’ve read, Tyler and Delaney didn’t just jump into bed right away. This was mainly because of their past relationship and the fact that they hadn’t seen each other since they broke up. These two had to get to know each other again and it was fun seeing them figure each other out as if it was the first time, not the second. Plus, when they finally did get in bed it was totally worth the build up.

My only issue in the book was Delaney had another love interest, Trevor, who seemed pretty pointless. Obviously I knew Tyler and Delaney were end game but still, we literally only see Trevor once and then he pretty much disappears after that. I kind wanted some drama there, especially because I feel like Tyler wouldn’t have taken the competition well and that could’ve been funny. But alas, it wasn’t so.

Still, Trevor aside, I really liked this book and read it in the span of day. I just couldn’t put it down. Definitely check this book out once it’s released. It’s a must read.

Stars:

4 stars

 

'Kids of Appetite' Book Review

ARC Book Review: Kids of Appetite

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Synopsis:

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.

Purchase From:

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Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from First in Line and B-Fest. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on September 20, 2016.*

If Coco was here she would say, “Did you have any intention of reading this book? Tell the truth.” To which I would say, “No CoCo I actually didn’t plan on reading Kids of Appetite, it just fell in my lap.” Because that’s the truth. I won this book at B-Fest and although I was so happy to win an ARC I had never heard of David Arnold before and I had no idea what I was in for. But free books are free books so I happily took my winnings home, put it on a shelf, and then left it there for months on end.

Until a few days ago when something compelled me to take this book off my shelf just to see what it was all about. Intrigued by the synopsis you can read above I literally stood in front of my bookshelf (mind you it was at least after midnight at this point in time; I had just finished another book) and began to read and was immediately sucked in just with the cast of characters. How many books begin with a cast of characters? Not many. And I needed to know more about these interesting characters and why people were being referred to as chapters. So I dived in and couldn’t put this book down.

First of all, the characters in this book are so well done and I loved all the Kids of Appetite. There’s of course Vic and Mad who tell the story in alternating first person point of views. Then you have the brothers, Baz and Zuz, and then the youngest of the group, Coco. Also, can I get a nice slow clap for the diversity in this book? Arnold, I applaud you. I don’t want to give anything about anything so sorry if this is vague but just know that Arnold put together an amazing cast of characters and did so really well. He deals with two important subjects and handles them flawlessly. Honestly, reading his author’s note at the end made me cry because you can practically feel how much he cared about getting this story right.

Kids of Appetite was the perfect mix of tragedy and comedy (which is apparently called a tragicomedy). It was heartfelt, the romance was there but not in a cheesy way, and it was just the right amount funny that didn’t make it feel like it was trying to hard. I liked the running themes throughout the book, like Vic’s Super Racehorse idea and CoCo’s use of “frakking” as a substitute for the f-word. I also liked how the plot fit together and everything came together in the end. I was definitely surprised and I also appreciated the fact that this book wasn’t as predictable as I thought it would be. In summary I just really loved this book, okay?

Anyway, I’m going to go grab Mosquitoland because apparently someone forgot to tell me that David Arnold is an amazing writer. In the meantime everyone go pre-order this book.

Stars:

5 stars

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'Gemina' by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

ARC Book Review: Gemina

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Synopsis:

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.
The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestsellerIlluminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.
Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and theHypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.
When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.
But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.
Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

Purchase From:

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Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from First in Line. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on October 18, 2016.*

There will be minimal spoilers for Illuminae in this review so tread carefully if you haven’t read it yet.

As soon as I finished Illuminae I picked up Gemina and I’m so incredible grateful that I was able to do that because this book is SO good! Typically I don’t like when sequels in a series don’t follow the same main characters in the first novel but I was so in love with the new characters in Gemina that it didn’t bother me at all.

In this novel the main characters are Hanna and Nik, two teens that come from two very different backgrounds. Hanna is the spoiled daughter of the Heimdall station’s captain, and Nik is part of the House of Knives crime family. While Hanna, Nik, and the rest of the residents on Heimdall are preparing for Terra Day (basically a day of celebration of parties), Kady and the rest of the Hypatia crew are on their way to Heimdall, as are some BeiTech troops and some drone ships. Awesome.

Although totally unplanned Hanna and Nik found themselves as the only means of protection for Heimdall and the only hope for the Hypatia crew. Together they’ll have to team up and figure out a way to save everyone…and the universe. Naturally things get complicated and Hanna and Nik have to trust each other if they even stand a chance of make it out of all of this alive. Just as with Illuminae, Gemina is filled with adventure, humor, plot twists, and a little romance. Also, the side characters are just as amazing as the MCs. When y’all meet Ella, you’ll know exactly what I mean. She’s a boss.

Anyway, the point is I couldn’t put this book down. I did, however, have to turn it upside down a few times. Just like Illuminae, this book is written in the same format of emails, surveillance logs, chat logs, journal entries, etc. I love how this book is formatted and the ending nearly killed me. I need to know what happens next!

Also, if you love Kady and the rest of the Hypatia crew as much as I did don’t worry they make an appearance in Gemina too but that’s all I’m going to say about that. No spoilers! I can’t wait for this book to come out so I can talk about it with all of you. It’s amazing!

Stars:

5 stars

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