Friday, March 25, 2016

Review: 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'

I really didn't want to be one of those people who seemed to hate "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" before I saw it, so I tried — I really, really tried — to keep an open mind going into it. When I saw some reviews on twitter after its premiere from DC fans who called it "amazing," I admit it. I became hopeful.  There was a part of me that actually believed it could be true.

Oh, disappointment is a horrible beast.



I won't get into too many spoilers, so I'll try to be as general as possible in my assessment. Also, I might give spoilers. I might not, but you've been warned.

Oh, before I start, "Walking Dead" fans like me will get excited and weirded out for a minute because Bruce Wayne's parents are played by the actors who play Maggie and Negan. I mean, how cool and weird is that?!? Maggie and Negan!

Anyway.

First of all, I still want to punch Zach Snyder in the face. His version of Superman is so much less than what the character deserves, and it's glaringly obvious in this movie. In "Batman v Superman," Clark/Supes is very sloppy and feels like an empty shell of this iconic character. I realize in this story that he's very young at being Superman and therefore prone to making mistakes, but honestly guys, I don't get the feeling he's trying very hard to improve. He spends way too much time focused on saving Lois, which I kind of love because I'm a big Lois-Clark shipper, but no, because it's kind of taken to the extreme here in a way that makes both of them come across as dumber than bricks. Plus, it's been 18 months since the events of "Man of Steel." I would expect a lot more remorse from Clark considering the amount of destruction and loss of life from his battle with Zod. There are a few glimpses of it here and there, but it's brushed off far too easily. He is still very brooding and kind of mopey, but I think it's mainly because mostly everyone in this movie hates him. Yep, a good part of the world hates Superman. WHAT?!?



Batman, of course, seems to hate him most of all because of what went down in Metropolis in "Man of Steel." That's the basic setup of this movie, which shows, by the way, a lot of favoritism for the Dark Knight. This is basically a Batman movie with Superman and some other Justice League cameos thrown in because.

I am predisposed to dislike any movie with Superman as a main character that then proceeds to torture, dehumanize, and degrade him for about 75% of the story. My heart hurt, y'all. It seriously did, and I teared up more than once because the hatred shown toward Superman is so tangible. My guy goes through a lot in this movie. There are some light scenes between him and Lois that gave me hope, but blip, and they're gone and both he and I were depressed again.

Lois Lane also suffers at Snyder's hands this time around. She did a lot of dumb things that are not very Lois Lane-like.

Snyder, I want to punch you in the face so bad right now.



Wonder Woman is, hands down, the best part of this movie. Gal Gadot did a great job bringing her to the big screen, and Snyder — amazingly — did not screw her up. Granted, she's only briefly in the movie and that's mostly as Diana Prince, but who cares? She's awesome. I did like the way they introduced the other Justice League characters, although my friend who is not a big DC fan like me had no idea that it was The Flash in a certain dream sequence with Bruce. I also went, "Wait. Is that The Flash? Or Zoom? Who is that?" while it was happening. I also had no idea what he was saying, mostly. Yeah, I don't think any of it had anything to do with the plot. *sighs*

By the way, there are a lot of dream sequences in this movie, and basically none of them make sense.

I am on the fence about Lex Luther as played by Jesse Eisenberg. He is immensely unlikable. He gives rambling speeches that are abstract and disjointed, but I guess it's supposed to show how crazy he is. I don't even know. This is the most despicable version of Lex Luther I've ever seen anyway, so I guess he did a good job. What he does to Martha Kent is...I can't even. Actually, what he does to Holly Hunter's character is gross and...I can't even.

I'm curious if fans of Batman end up loving this movie because I can see why they would.  My theater was full of DC fanboys when I saw it. I know because I overheard some of their conversations beforehand. None of them had very high expectations. Afterward, I overheard one say, "Well, that was about what I expected." Another loved it and was raving about it. Mostly, they were, "Meh. It was OK." I won't begin to guess whether you will like it, and it's OK if you do. I've seen some arguments by both haters and lovers, so yes, some people loved this movie. There was no standing ovation in my screening. No one clapped, ever. There was simply silence, followed by a few sighs.

I will give props to the fight between Batman and Superman when it happens. I thought it was well done, mostly.

OK. So here are some really big spoilers for this movie. If you're a comic book fan, you probably already know some of this because of Doomsday being in the movie, plus the Internet, but whatever.

Ready? If not, skip ahead to the end of spoiler note now.

OK.



Snyder tosses in the Death of Superman plot.  The movie ends after a double funeral for Clark and Superman. SNYDER KILLED SUPERMAN. Yes, I know he's not really dead, I read the comics, but to sit through 2 and 1/2 hours of Superman being tortured only to watch him die was almost more than I could take. It's also very hard to watch in live action as opposed to seeing on a comic book page. It really affected me. I was seriously, seriously depressed leaving this movie.

This movie is so dark. I would not take kids to see it, especially younger than 13. Why? It is hopeless and depressing, that's why. This is absolutely an adult movie in that regard.

Also, there are a ton of hints about Darkseid being the villain coming up for the Justice League movie. Lex's crazy speech about the dark coming confirms it, and I did notice that the box that creates Cyborg appears to be the Darkseid technology from the comics, although I don't know much about Cyborg and I don't think that's his real origin story, but OK. And the last shot of the movie is dirt lifting away from Clark's coffin, which I suppose is a shout-out to Darkseid, although I'll be honest and admit I didn't understand that at all. Was that because of Darkseid?

***END OF MAJOR SPOILERS***

Also, if you do go see this movie, don't sit through the entire credits because there isn't a teaser to the Justice League movie after them. Trust me. I checked.

Don't worry. I still love you, Henry Cavill, and thank you for that all-too-brief shot of your naked chest in that one scene. Seriously. I needed it.

That's it. That's enough.

Now I'll go weep silently in the corner so my cat can judge me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book progress and my ramblings on 'Batman v. Superman'

Welp, here it is March 2016. Yes, I’m still alive and kicking!

First, I want to thank all of the amazing folks who have discovered my books in recent months. I continue to get emails asking when my next book is coming out, so I want to let you all know that I am working on it. To say 2015 was a rough year for me personally is an understatement, and 2016 has been no less challenging. That said, I am now working hard to finish Connor’s story in my psychic detectives series and get it shipped off to my lovely editor. I know I’ve said that before, but I am determined to get his story right, and that means I have had to do some massive rewrites because I wasn’t happy with the first draft I churned out. Don’t worry. I think his story will be better for it! Fingers crossed.

Now, I hope you’ll indulge me for the rest of this post, which will focus on my favorite guy in blue tights — Superman. I’ve declared my love for the superhero before and you can go back and read that here if you want. I also reviewed “Man of Steel” which still continues to get hits (why? I have no idea) so you can read that, too.



Obviously, I’m going to write about “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” too, and I thought it would be interesting to share my expectations before I see the movie. I’ll be posting a review, too, probably Friday morning so check back here for my spoiler-free reaction.

So, let’s talk about Superman and why I’m both excited to see “Batman v. Superman” and why I’m dreading it almost as much as that time my editor forced me to write a review of “Fifty Shades of Grey” the movie.

Here’s why in five words. The movie’s director, Zach Snyder. I was never much of a fan before “Man of Steel,” and I now dislike him immensely, mainly because anytime someone calls him out for ruining Superman’s character in “Man of Steel,” his argument is that he gets Superman better than the fans do. I mean, really?!? Really, Zach Snyder?!?



I'll break this down for you, Mr. Snyder.

Problem No. 1: My beef with “Batman v. Superman” is this in a nutshell. It is supposed to be the sequel to “Man of Steel,” meaning it is supposed to be about Superman, period. And what does Snyder do? He tosses Batman in there. I’m willing to bet without having seen “Batman v. Superman” that it consists of 75% Batman and 25% Superman. I’m sorry, but I just do not like Batman’s dark and dreary gloominess. I simply don’t. I liked The Lego Movie Batman though.



Problem No. 2: The problems I had with “Man of Steel” are likely to be amplified in “Batman v. Superman.” For example, Superman — and yes, I know, there are so many different lines of Superman in the comics that sometimes even in the comics this doesn’t apply, but — he’s good, optimistic, brings hope to people, and cracks jokes every now and then. Those are kind of his underlying traits. 




Now, I love Henry Cavill to the moon and back, and I blame his version of Supes on Snyder, not him. But, for the love of all that is holy, Superman in “Man of Steel” was mopey, destroyed an entire city and then some, spent most of the movie brooding, and rarely cracked a smile. People feared him. They didn’t look to him in hope. I mean, he was gorgeous, but come on. The publicity photos from “Batman v. Superman” show this.




NO! For the love of kittens, Zach Snyder, NOOOOOOOOO!! That is not who Superman really is! Based on the trailer for this movie, he looks like he’s angry and more brooding this time around. What?!? I know Henry is capable of humor and smiling and looking like a fun guy because THIS:



That’s what we need to see more of. Instead of Superman glowering at Batman and Batman glowering back, I’d much rather pay to see this:



I mean, “Superman Returns” had its problems, but it was a much more enjoyable movie than “Man of Steel” and at least Brandon Routh had personality and seemed to be having fun with the role.


Problem No. 3: Wonder Woman. I have been waiting a lifetime to see Wonder Woman on the big screen. I’m actually excited to see what Gal Gadot does here, and I am so rooting for you to pull it off, girl. I really am. However, with Zach Snyder in charge, I imagine she will be dark and brooding and gloomy too. No. Just no. Plus, I am still disgusted she got thrown in like an after thought and will likely (I’m guessing here) only be in the movie for about five minutes. She deserves so much better than that. However, I’m excited a "Wonder Woman" stand alone film is coming and that IT IS NOT directed by Snyder. I'm excited that young girls and boys will have a new Wonder Woman to look up to — I simply hope she’s a worthy representation.



Problem No. 4: This movie looks like a mess simply from the trailer. If a better director had spent time developing Superman’s character, I might be OK with an action-packed beat-down between Superman and Batman. I’m wagering Superman and Clark get very little time to develop here. I mean, what’s going on? At least three or four plotlines, from what I can tell. I can't even.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. You get a slow hand clap if you’ve read this far.

So I’m expecting this to be my reaction when I leave the theater tomorrow night.



If a miracle happens and I actually leave like this instead, I’ll definitely let you know.


In the meantime, I leave you with a production I am certain will be much more enjoyable to watch than the actual "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice."

Because OHMYGOODNESSKITTENS!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Read my new novella for only 99 cents


I'm pleased to be a part of a boxed set that features some incredible authors in the paranormal and fantasy genres. HERE BE MAGIC features 8 magical tales from authors such as Rebecca York, Cindy Spencer Pape, and Veronica Scott.

My story in the set is a brand new novella titled GORGEOUS NIGHTMARE.

This story is not a part of my psychic detectives series, but it was written this year and inspired by my love of psychic-related mysteries. Here's a short synopsis:

Dakota McBride is doing everything she can to fit into her new life in Asheville while guarding secrets that could get her killed. An unexpected run-in with Tyler Jackson—her older brother’s best friend and her long-time fantasy—puts everything in jeopardy. Dakota is a woman being hunted by a deadly serial killer, and Tyler seems hell-bent on protecting her, same as he always has. Through dreams, he’s foreseen her impending death. What neither Tyler nor the killer understand is that Dakota doesn't need a protector. Heaven help anyone who threatens her now…

GORGEOUS NIGHTMARE is now available as part of the HERE BE MAGIC boxed set for only 99 cents! I'm fortunate to be included with seven other great authors, all of whom I admire. Grab this deal! You won't be sorry.

Buy the "Here Be Magic" boxed set now at
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS | iTunes

Learn more about the boxed set HERE.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Long time no write

For anyone who might have wondered what happened to me, well, I'm still kicking around. It turns out 2015 has not been the best year for me, writing-wise, because of numerous personal reasons I won't get into here.

The good news is that I am writing again and working furiously to finish the fourth book in my Psychic Detectives series. Fingers crossed, that manuscript will be winging its way to my editor's inbox soon. It has been an interesting journey with many rewrites, so I hope Connor's story entertains you once it makes its way into the world.

I've also written a novella that, fingers crossed, will be released in November. It's not related to my Psychic Detectives series, but it follows the same theme. It features a hunky psychic working to solve a serial killing mystery. It's a little darker than anything I've written before, but I'm proud of it because it helped me get past a bad case of writer's block. It also might feature a cat because every story needs an animal in it, don't ya think? More on that novella coming soon.

In the meantime, Halloween is right around the corner. Ah, candy corn, pumpkins, and spooky and not-so-spooky costumes. It's probably my favorite time of year, or a close second, so I'm excited. Grab a book or scary movie, relax, and have a safe and happy Halloween! 



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Written Fireside: Can't You See? Part 3 by Angela Campbell




Written Fireside: Can't You See?



Noah Hale is an author suffering from PTSD related insomnia, needing peace and sleep. All he wants is to be left alone. A certain little dog has other ideas.

Amanda Bell, a teacher, is grieving the loss of her sister, Rachel. Caring for her sister’s dog is comforting until a new neighbor moves in the other half of her duplex. Suddenly, the dog starts escaping her yard, running to the
man on the other side of the fence.


Part 1 by Lori Connelly 
Author of
 
Author of
 


Part 3 by Angela Campbell:


Hours later, Amanda had managed to clean the kitchen, the bathroom, and the living room, but she still couldn’t get the vision of haunted green eyes out of her head. Cleaning was always her go-to distraction when she needed to distance herself from bad memories or unwanted thoughts, but nope. Didn’t work this time.

The pain she’d seen glimmering beneath Noah Hale’s delicious green gaze had been easy to recognize because she’d seen it in her own eyes when looking in the mirror these past few weeks. Perhaps he’d lost someone, too.

A low whine caught her attention, and she turned around to see the small brown and white dog lying in the doorway, watching her. Wiping the sweat off her brow with the back of her wrist, Amanda shook her head and pointed the mop handle at Gertie.

“This is your fault. It’s your fault I can’t stop thinking about him.”

The dog’s eyebrows shifted anxiously as Gertie sighed and lowered her chin to her paws. Guilt tightened Amanda’s chest, and she sank to her haunches to pet the pup’s furry little head. Lord, Rachel had loved this dog, but Amanda had never had much time to spare for a pet. This was the first summer since she’d started teaching that she hadn’t traveled somewhere. Italy had been on the agenda this year — her once-in-a-lifetime vacation. She’d spent years saving to tour the streets long ago roamed by the likes of John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. But one month before Amanda's plane was scheduled to take flight, that heartbreaking phone call had shattered everything. A massive pileup on the highway. Her little sister hadn't survived the impact.

The hot burn of tears threatened to spill again, but Amanda sniffled and pushed them back.

After helping her mother with Rachel’s burial expenses, there simply hadn’t been enough money left in the bank to go anywhere, and besides, she had a dog now. A dog she didn’t know how to properly care for, considering it had only been a week since Gertie had gotten into some raw yeast dough, which had led to days of explosive flatulence and projectile diarrhea. The veterinarian had given Amanda a chastising look before lecturing her on all of the foods that were bad for dogs. It had made her feel inept, had caused her to burst into tears right then and there, and made her question whether keeping Gertie had been the right decision.

“You deserve better, Gertie.”

Gertie whined and then licked Amanda’s hand as if to say “It’s OK. I don’t blame you. You can’t help being stupid.”

Amanda sighed. “I’m a mess. Let’s take a shower and go to bed — what do you say, girl?”

Woof! Gertie’s butt began to wiggle as she jumped to her feet and pranced around the hallway, knowing a treat was in her near future.

Amanda set the wet mop outside to air dry and then leashed Gertie for a short walk.

After a quick shower and changing into a pair of tap pants and a tank top for bed, Amanda brushed out her hair, wondering what Mr. Tall Dark and Sexy next door was doing right now. No doubt a man like him was enjoying a fun night on the town with someone as equally attractive. Meanwhile, here she was, getting ready for bed before ten o’clock with only a dog to keep her company.

“I lead such an exciting life, Gertie.”

Woof! Woof! Gertie tapped out her frustration at being made to wait for her treat, alternately watching Amanda prepare for bed and then running back and forth to the kitchen where her doggie biscuit awaited their new nightly ritual.

Smiling, Amanda followed the precocious animal into the kitchen, gave Gertie her treat, and then remembered to bring the mop back inside since rain was in the forecast. Click. Standing on the outside back patio, Amanda turned and saw Gertie pressed up against the bottom glass of the patio door — inside the house.

The dog had closed the door behind her! Oh, no. Please tell me I didn’t have the door set to automatically lock.

She gripped the doorknob and tried to turn it. Oh, yeah. It was locked.

“Gertie!”

Standing against the door, the dog wiggled its butt and grinned a tongue-lolling grin at her through the door.

***

Leaning back in his desk chair, Noah lifted his arms above his head and cracked his knuckles. Fifteen pages. Not bad considering the trouble he’d had getting started a few hours ago. It was damn hard to write when every scene in his skull tonight wanted to involve a certain gorgeous blue-eyed schoolteacher as the main character.

Snapping his laptop shut, Noah stretched his legs and smirked a little. Come to think of it, he’d actually been more productive tonight than he’d been in weeks. Maybe his new neighbor wasn’t so bad after all, not if she turned out to be some kind of muse.

Wiping a hand down his face, Noah pushed to his feet. What was he thinking? The woman hadn’t exactly been friendly earlier, and he’d picked up on that spark of — what? — disapproval when she’d looked him over. He hadn’t exactly been courteous either, so he supposed he didn’t blame her all that much.

Noah moved to the fridge and peered inside, grimacing at the lack of beer in stock. The sudden tap tap tap at his front door drew his attention to the clock. Not yet ten, but still, pretty late to be having visitors.

Frowning, he stomped to the door and glanced out the peephole. Not believing his eyes, he jerked the door open.

“Um, hi.” His alluring new neighbor stood on his front step dressed in, hell, hardly anything at all. “I’m sorry to bother you, but I got locked out of my house. I was wondering if I could borrow your phone?”
***
Find Part 4 by Jane Hunt on July 14!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Harper Impulse Fortnight: Feeling the love



In case you aren't aware, several book bloggers are celebrating all of the wonderful books being published by the Harper Impulse line — which publishes some of the best romantic fiction I've read in years. You can follow along on social media with the hashtag #HIFortnight to see all of the author interviews, Q&As, and reviews being featured through May 10. 


I'm incredibly fortunate to be published by Harper Impulse because there are some amazing authors over there. I know because I've read more than a few of the titles. In a perfect world, I'd have time and be independently wealthy enough to read all the titles. All of them! Because they are just that good. So, to join in #HIFortnight, I culled my Goodreads profile for some of the reviews I've done for Harper Impulse books and have compiled them here for easy access. Sure, I've gotten to know some of these tremendously talented folks, but my reviews are completely honest. I can't wait to read some of the other Harper Impulse titles still waiting for me on my Kindle, but until then, here are some for you to consider:



***

The Keepers: Sienna and Archer
I absolutely love this series by Rae Rivers. As a fan of all things paranormal, I’m glad to see a series based on witches with a fresh, new take. Sienna is a witch, and she has three gorgeous brothers as her keepers, or protectors. These two books reveal a passionate love between Sienna and Archer, one of her Keepers, and the rough times they must weather to be together. I’ve been anxious to read “The Keepers: Declan” but haven’t managed to find time yet. I need to rectify that soon!


The Songbird and the Soldier by Wendy Lou Jones
It’s hard to reveal why I enjoyed this book without giving away spoilers, so I’ll simply say this book is hauntingly beautiful, in the way it stays with you long after you close the book. It does feature a triangle of sorts, although I was rooting for Andy from the beginning. Ultimately, the heroine must choose between two soldiers, and her journey is incredibly emotional — you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll love this book.


All Wrapped Up in You by Sun Chara
This was a short novella that’s Christmas-themed, although I read it in August. In this one, the hero and heroine are married but going through a rough patch after Ellie leaves Peter because she doesn’t feel fulfilled in their marriage. There’s angst and passion, which always makes for a good read. Plus, I love a good story where the hero/heroine get a second chance at love.


Twitter Girl by Nic Tatano
As a journalist, I am pretty wary of reading books that feature journalists as characters because they are usually misrepresented, with authors constraining those characters to most people's stereotypes of journalists. Thankfully, that isn't the case here. The "Twitter Girl" is Cassidy, a TV reporter who is fired for snarking in public that a tornado improved a certain state's landscape. She's hired because of her following on social media to work for a politician, and while I mistakenly assumed the hero of this book was going to be the politician, I was pleasantly surprised by who the hero turned out to be. Mr. Tatano's writing style is easy and fast-paced and kept me smiling as the story unfolded. He also portrays a realistic journalist, with all her quirks, and Cassidy reminded me of some of my colleagues. Many of her tweets were hilarious, and I was truly sad when this book ended. It was a quick read, fun, and entertaining.


What Happens To Men When They Move To Manhattan? By Jill Knapp
I really enjoyed this book, which is weird because I am among the rare minority who never liked the “Sex in the City” TV series and this book had the same kind of vibe. Here, there are lots of young adults trying to establish themselves and connect with one another in the bustling metropolis of Manhattan, but the main character is Amalia, who is, thank God, very grounded compared to a lot of her friends. But Amalia isn’t without her faults, which also makes her very relatable as a character. I didn’t spend my young adulthood in NYC, but who didn’t make mistakes or endure heartbreak when they were in their early 20s? A lot of the dialogue was witty and fun, allowing for a quick read. I assume there will be more books in the series, and I look forward to reading more from this author.


An American Girl in Italy by Aubrie Dionne
First of all, I read this book in one sitting, which should signify how much it captured my attention. The romance was a little slow to build, but honestly, I liked that Carly and Michelangelo had a rough meeting and a lot of "cute" moments before emotions got involved. As Carly noted early on, most romcom movies start out that way, which shows how clever and self aware the author was in her setup. I really liked Carly--her insights into being a career-minded member of an orchestra were often humorous and always interesting. Michelangelo was an honorable and worthy hero, which I found refreshing. Overall, this was simply a fast-paced enjoyable read.


Christmas at Thornton Hall by Lynn Marie Hulsman
I read this book in July, so it doesn't have to be Christmas for readers to enjoy it. What great read! Juliet is a fun and feisty heroine — I giggled when she thought about rolling the potatoes she'd just purchased at a market in the dirt to appease her employer who preferred fresh and organic — and her journey is one a lot of people can relate to, despite the high drama around her. The author has a real talent for creating likable characters, even if you aren't sure you're supposed to like them, and the romance builds and has a good, rewarding end. If you love contemporary romances, romantic comedies or Christmas stories, give this book a try.


Santa Wore Leathers by Vonnie Davis
This was a fun book to read at Christmas! I admit it — the dog on the cover had me reading it before all the other seasonal titles on my Kindle! Einstein was a great doggy character.


Waking Up in Vegas by Romy Sommer
This book features one of my favorite tropes — a h/h waking up married without any memory of how it happened. Plus, it features a lovable, zany heroine named Phoenix (I love that name) who needs some convincing by Max, her new hubby, not to run. Max, it turns out, believes in love at first sight, or at least, his family does. And Max is a great hero. This book was simply a lot of fun to read.

Monday, April 27, 2015

If I can do it, so can you


Anyone who knows me knows that I love animals. LOVE them. Cats, dogs, rabbits, horses, wolves, bears, elephants, snakes...well, maybe not so much on the snakes, but you get the idea.

For the past year or so, I've gotten involved in animal transporting, which means I pick up some at-risk animals from my local kill shelter and drive them to an animal rescue group, where volunteers foster and then help find homes for these lucky cats and dogs who were only within hours of death. This past weekend, I drove six cats from my local shelter to a rescuer in North Carolina — and I made a video explaining what transporting is and why it's so important. Make no mistake here. I'm not the heroine of this story; that credit belongs to the folks who arrange to pull the animals and then take them in until the fur babies find a new home. I'm simply giving these critters a lift, and anyone can do that. Unfortunately, it was far too dark to film on my phone any footage of the actual handing over of these kitties, plus I'm not gonna lie. I was too exhausted to film anything at that point. But the video below should give you an idea of what the entire process is like. I hope after watching it, you'll consider donating money or time to YOUR local animal shelter. Or, maybe you have a few hours to become an animal transporter, too. It's totally worth the cost of gas to give a few animals a second chance at life. Trust me.

In the meantime, please do me a favor and spay or neuter your pets. It really does save lives.


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