Books Missing From Our Options List?

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The life of a reader is complex and overwhelming. No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to read every book in existence. For every day you live, hundreds of new books are being published and made easily accessible. I’m only hazarding a guess, but I wonder if nearly every possible type of story has been written already and we are just unable to find something new and fresh. Between physical and electronic books, self-published and traditional published books, and recommendations or new discoveries, there are so many books out there, how do we really know if we’re finding that perfect book for us… you know, that book that meets every possible need you might have. Characters. Perspective. Point of view. Plot. Time period. Language. Length. Balance of dialog and narrative. Genre. You name it… the list could go on and on.


Have you ever thought about that amazing book sitting on some physical or virtual shelf somewhere… calling your name… wanting to meet its perfect match?

Whatbook is missing from ourlist of options_

The life of an author is complex and overwhelming. No matter how hard you try, someone will always have a problem with your book. Readers are a picky crowd. I know this because I’ve written over 700 book reviews in the last three years and find myself often thinking about the positive and the negative in whatever it is I’ve just read. As a writer, when I conjure up my next story, it often comes from some spark that called out to me… ‘Write about me, Jay… readers will love this story.’ While that little idea’s voice might be right, there is a completely different and opposite viewpoint to consider. Rather than dream up the story on my own, what if I said to someone:

What kind of book is missing from the plethora of novels that is our options list?

Give that some thought for a few moments… you’ve got your favorite genres, authors, series, or topics. You often gravitate to those first… then come the ARCs, beta reads, giveaways, and committed reviews we throw our hat in the ring for… and then there are the recommendations from friends or book review sites that dazzle us. Is that everything? Are there other ways to locate that book we haven’t yet to find? When I thought about these questions, I came to one conclusion first above all else:

What is still missing from our choices?

I’d love to hear from everyone over the next week as many of us sit down to eat our Thanksgiving meals… wish our international friends a happy holiday if we live elsewhere… or think about the many things we’re grateful for. This is a book-related post, so I’m not going to itemize everything I want to give gratitude to… purely focusing on books… I’m grateful for all the authors and readers out there. So tell me what’s missing in this wonderful literary canon we have in the 21st century.


I’ll organize all the response and create a poll later this month to see what we collectively think is the biggest type of book missing from our lives. I’m excited to see everyone’s input. Thank you for sharing it with me and everyone else.


Book Review: Kalorama Road by E. Denise Billups

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After reading a few articles written by E. Denise Billups in Conscious Talk Magazine, I found myself intrigued with her writing style and voice. After some research, I noticed she’d written a few books, so I selected the one that appealed to me the most, Kalorama Road. If you’re a fan of mysterious character connections, someone with memory loss trying to unearth what happened during a missing 24-hour period, or a subtle tense feeling of “uh oh” while reading, you will definitely enjoy this one!


The story takes place in modern day NYC (blocks from where I live) and the Washington DC / Virginia area. Allie, an editor at a big publishing company, can’t remember what happened one night at a party during her college years. She remembers being invited by a strange girl, showing up and seeing some peculiar behavior, but then all she knows is that her roommate saw a handsome guy drop her off the next morning. What happened overnight? Well… Allie’s been getting monthly text messages and emails asking her what happened at Kalorama Road that night. They scare her but also intrigue her. Is it someone else who doesn’t recall? Is it someone who wants her to remember? Is it the person who took her there who has since disappeared? It all begins coming back together when she’s let go from her publishing job and begins writing a blog. Someone submits a book for her review but it seems like a real life mystery, then it begins to resemble her own experience at Emsworth University. Allie never told anyone but she’s compelled to reveal all the details to her former colleague and the former roommate. At the same time, Allie’s sister has a secret she wants to keep hidden and a new man enters Allie’s life that seems very familiar. How does everything come together?

The book jumps back and forth between a few main characters, sharing their stories and actions over the course of a few weeks. We see a few memories from the past and learn who is really connected to who. As each chapter unfolds, a piece of the puzzle gets more clear but also opens up more confusion to leaf through. Throw in a powerful senator and his family, a suicide, a newspaper reporter trying to find out what happened in the past, a murder, and a family with a large endowment given to the university yet some secrets worth protecting, there’s bound to be a few explosive moments. What a wild ride, both in terms of how all the connections are revealed and in the build-up of tension between all the new people suddenly just appearing in Allie’s life as she’s trying to solve the puzzle of her missing memories.

Billups drew me in from the first few chapters. I’m a sucker for a lost memory story, but when it straddles that line of “oh, this seems obvious” but then throws you a curve where you’re like “wait, WHAT?” it’s even more appealing. It takes a lot to plan a story where you reveal things bit by bit. It’s also difficult to cover a story from multiple points of view without confusing readers. Billups handles both with great aplomb and talent, as it came together solidly without any concern.

Her character sketches of different women and men in their 20s, living in NY, were on point and realistic — there were moments were they annoyed me because of typical behavior, but that’s a good thing as it means Billups has evoked intense emotion and a strong connection to the story. I enjoyed the slow-build romance and potential eerie connections with her new friends, but I also could tell she had some blinders on when it came to all the ‘coincidences’ going on in her life. And there’s an explanation for it… as the tidbits of history we learn about Allie and her sister’s lives growing up clearly show why they act the way they do now. A great way to make things seem quite reasonable in a story that has you guessing who to trust.

I’m quite intrigued by what else might come from the author’s clever mind. I’ll be taking another look at her previous books and seeing if I can find out what’s coming up next… as I’ll definitely be reading another one this year. And I don’t want to wait a year for another book! 🙂

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Booktique: Intro to an Editor

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As a writer, we often think we are in full command of our language and grammar skills. In many of those instances we are probably strong, but at the same time we’re also not experts in everything. Nor should we be… writers and editors require different tool sets and knowledge. Many of the skills overlap, but there are several differences where it’s always important to find an editor who can help you succeed as an even stronger writer. It’s also important to have someone else read your work other than early beta readers, especially if you are self-published or your publisher doesn’t handle editing.

Stay tuned for another post in the future about the different types of editing, but for now, consider editing the generic term for someone assisting you with writing your novel from style / word choice to punctuation, spelling to proofreading, and story consistency to character development. I connected with a fantastic editor about six months ago shortly after she’d read my first novel, Watching Glass Shatter: Nicki Kuzn of Booktique Editing. It’s been such a fantastic experience that I wanted to share a bit about her so others in need of editing assistance can consider a similar route.


After publishing Watching Glass Shatter, I’d read through it over a hundred times believing I’d caught every possible proofreading, grammar, or spelling issue before it was published. After seeing a few reviews noting some issues (that I couldn’t find!), I asked Nicki to take a look for me as I was getting ready to update the final version with a few minor fixes before a huge marketing campaign. Nicki quickly read through the novel and sent back a ton of feedback. I had ~40 issues with spelling mistakes, words missing, or incorrect formatting. On top of that, she provided suggestions for improving the language and dialog, too. All her feedback was easily categorized so I knew what was a mistake versus potential issue, style option and choice, or general recommendation.

I made nearly ALL the edits and sent it back for a final review. Nicki found a few more items and really helped polish this novel — the way I should have had it when it first launched. Coming away from that process, I’d learned two things: (1) how/where I tend to make my mistakes (thanks to Nicki’s kindness and how easy it is to work with her) and (2) she was definitely getting my second book once I had a final draft for review. Nicki eventually read Father Figure in early January and worked with me through 3 revisions to finalize the version going to my publisher. She went above and beyond what we initially discussed as the focus areas and amount of time for each one. Nicki is fast, reliable, honest, friendly, and very focused. I always knew our schedule and believed we could build a great partnership in adding the finishing touches to my novel. I can’t wait to work with her again on my third book later this year.


If you’re in the market for an editor, or even just want to talk to one about the different types of editing or approaches she could take, I encourage you to spend some time on her website reviewing her options, testimonials, and portfolio. Then call or email her to discuss pricing… I’m confident you’ll find it fair. She’s easy to work with, but at the same time doesn’t hesitate to push back a second time when you indicate you don’t want to change something. She provides the reasons why and why not, then lets you make the decision as the content owner. I always knew when it was a required change versus a subjective one.

I also learned how to stop using so many commas… I still am heavy with them, but not as much thanks to Nicki’s guidance and basic rules. Two of the best aspects of working with Nicki include (1) an extremely reasonable price given the level of expertise and energy she brings to the table, and (2) incredibly quick turn-around time. In every round, Nicki delivered sooner than she planned — and sometimes when she’d tell me I’d have everything back in 48 hours, it would be in my mailbox after only 24 hours. It was a writer’s dream because of the efficiency and quality included in the package. You can see more on her Facebook page, link to her site or read some details below to help decide if this is the right path for you.


About Nicki Kuzn

I spend many hours reading. I was thinking one day (after reading a novel which was not proofed very well) that I could do this with excellent results, thus began Booktique Editing. Since I am a perfectionist, there is nothing more frustrating for me while reading to come across typos, incorrect grammar and punctuation, and incomplete sentences. It is too easy to lose your train of thought, and reading slows down for me when I have to figure out what is actually being said. Also, I am sure there is nothing more frustrating for an author to receive negative comments from reader reviews about errors in their publications. I can fix this for both the author and the reader.

I have made it my goal to ensure that any author/client of mine publishes an error-free book. I usually read a book several times before I return it to the author; I will review it again after the author has gone through my suggested changes. I check for spelling, grammar, typos, punctuation, consistency along with suggested changes to content when I feel they are warranted or necessary.


365 Challenge: Day 53 – Writer

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Writer: a person who writes (marks letters, words, or other symbols on a surface, typically paper, with a pen, pencil, or similar implement) books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation

After 50+ days of posts, and covering various characteristics such as creativity, reader, poetic, and lister, I’m sure you realize I am a writer. And if those weren’t clues, the amount of posts on my blog should be the true tell-all!

I do not plan to duplicate my thoughts on how I love to feel pen and paper in my hands, or type on a keyboard or use my creativity to bring life to characters, plots and settings. That’s all obvious, as you can see in the above clip… and BTW, I have never seen that show, but I loved the expression on her face when she said the words.

The reason I chose writer today is because I realized I’ve been so focused on reading, blogging and searching for a new job, I’d forgotten to focus on writing the last month. I spend a few hours each week researching literary agents who are looking for the type of fiction I write, and I customize my submissions prior to sending them off. BTW, it’s not an easy task. Each agent has a different preference, ranging from 5 pages to the entire manuscript, a query letter to a full synopsis, an author bio to links to your personal website. It’s a full-time job just preparing all that.

But in truth, I love it. There are days when suddenly it’s after 6pm and my significant other is on the way home… and I’m like… what did I accomplish today? Truth be told, I can usually tell roughly around that time how active Ryder (shiba inu dog) is… meaning if he’s throwing his stuffed toys at me on the couch, I know he needs play time. If he’s napping on the couch next to me, he wants me to keep working.

It’s the life of a writer. And it makes me happy. But it’s all about steps. And I’ve prepared my list of steps — overly generalized — but you get the point.

  1. Decide to focus on this as your career.
    • Done!
  2. Write the book.
    • Done!
  3. Search for agent.
    • In Progress
  4. Sign with agent.
    • Future
  5. Find publisher.
    • Future
  6. Sign with publisher.
    • Future
  7. Publish book.
    • Future
  8. Find fans and make them happy!
    • This should be happening the entire time, not only at the end.
    • In Progress

As you can see, I’m in the early stages for some of these steps. And I’m about to get focused on the next book. The outline is mostly written, so it’s about time to put the finishing touches on it and then begin writing the first chapter.

But I’ve also completed the first book. Took me about 4 months from start to finish, including working with 5 beta readers who helped provide feedback along the way. And then 5 other people read it and provided a few thoughts… all overwhelmingly positive, which helped push me even more.

I even created a website to start promoting the story and interact with potential readers. I’d love it if you took a look and provided some feedback. I’ve posted the prologue and first two chapters, as a teaser. If you hate it, tell me. Honestly. If it’s so-so, let me know what didn’t work. That’s how to improve. If you love it, share it! That’s all I ask. And if you’re not interest, that’s OK too. You can even read the chapters and choose not to reply. No pressure. You can find it at:

What does this have to do with traits and my 365 Challenge?  It’s all a learning process, and since I’ve confessed to being shy, this is forcing me to put myself out there and connect with people rather than hiding behind a door or wall. And while online is a bit of hiding, you have to start somewhere. And after 50+ days, I’ve more than met my goal at letting people get to know me even more. It’s rare I’m an armadillo anymore…

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

365 Challenge: Day 39 – Frustrated

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Frustrated:  feeling or expressing distress and annoyance, especially because of inability to change or achieve something

I usually take about 5 minutes to think of the characteristic or word I want to blog about each day. Today, it was an immediate word… no thinking… no reflecting… just appeared in my head. Then I thought… nah, I’m just exaggerating, I’m not really frustrated these days. But… I think I am.

Frustration occurs over so many things in our lives. Inability to meet our goals, delays, disappointment, worrying, etc. The form of frustration I feel today, and lately, is over response time when it comes to trying to move things forward. Though I’m not always perfect when it comes to responding, I am always timely on something important, especially when I know the recipient is expecting feedback or an update from me.

I have a few areas of frustration right now. One is my job search. For those that don’t know, or haven’t read any of the specifics on my sites, I left a corporate technology position last summer after working with the same family of companies for about 17 years. I needed a break, things were changing, and I thought it was time to look for something new and to focus on some writing. I fully expected to have a long period of time off, but along that path, I found people weren’t as responsive as I have always been.

When I was a hiring manager, I worked closely with our HR department to ensure all candidates got some level of a response. And once I interviewed you, you always got a follow-up, even when you didn’t get the job. Sometimes I wrote it, sometimes it was the generic HR response, sometimes HR called to explain why. Now that I’m on the other end, I expect the same treatment. Perhaps that’s too much, as we know I’ve said my expectations are often too high… remember that post… Ha!

But in all sincerity, this system is really in need of improvement. Hundreds of people thrust resumes and credentials… somehow a handful get picked out… even when you know people at the company, it just doesn’t feel optimal. And so I’m feeling quite frustrated that I want to get back to work, I have many skills, I have a lot of roles I can fill, but I can’t see to find that right angle or hook.

Part of it may be my fault as I’ve split my focus these days on writing and technology, so I’m half in and half out of both worlds. But there should be flexibility for that, right? So while I’m not necessary complaining here, I am just expressing frustration at an inability to make a situation easier — not just for me, but in general.

It’s not all that different from trying to get published. You dream up the idea. You write the book. You get good feedback. And then when you try to find the agent, sometimes you never even hear back. I totally understand that an agent may have 500 query letters to read each week, and that’s an impossible task.

I’m just saying what my frustrations are out loud, knowing I’m not trying to make a difference or even look for sympathy. I’m just expressing what I’m feeling today on this 39th day of the challenge. I’m sure by the end of the day, I’ll be back to “Both will happen… you’re not in a rush… enjoy your day and wait for the next step to occur naturally.” I’m a pretty even-tempered guy, so this is just a slight bump in the meter of my expressions this week.

I tend to get like this over a lot of things. I remember before I met my significant other… dating was a nightmare. It’s not all that different… you try try try… nothing comes along… you get frustrated… and then it happens. What is it people say? “Don’t watch the kettle while it’s boiling?” I think I just totally said that wrong, but I’m not going back to fix it. “Water doesn’t boil while you’re watching it?” LOL  Eh… hopefully you’re laughing at me over this.

All this said…somewhere in my next step, whatever it is, I hope I improve these things… perhaps find a way to create better opportunities or connections. But, in full 360 view, I do need to look at myself. Am I doing everything I can to be successful? Am I creating the right moments to help this along? Am I under the impression “It will happen because I am a good person.”

Yeah, but so are millions of other people. It’s not a matter of who is the luckiest or who works the hardest. Sometimes it’s just the right time and the right place. And so, frustrations will always creep about because you have an expectation. And unless you are absolutely perfect at controlling your feelings and emotions, or just the happiest person on the planet, you will feel disappointment. And I guess it’s about pushing yourself to keep on trucking along. And that’s what we need to do.

Hmmm… random rant today. Little organization around it. Just wrote without thinking or correcting any grammar or punctuation. Let’s go back and see how I did. :}

That looks about right! Not every post can be perfect. See I am learning… and not so frustrated anymore.

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post.

Review: The Girl in the Spider’s Web

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The Girl in the Spider's WebMy rating: 3 of 5 stars to David Lagercrantz‘s The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the fourth book in the “Millenium” thriller series, written by a new author given the original, Steig Larsson, passed away several years ago. While the book carries on with great characters and a similar style, it wasn’t as satisfying as the originals. But who can resist Blomkvist and Lisbeth — you can’t NOT read it!


As readers come to know of this series of books, the plots are incredibly complex, intense and twisty. From a basic point of view, several hackers have started infiltrating the NSA after learning about a conspiracy between different groups to buy and sell secrets about each other’s companies. The government is involved, trying to keep it running and trying to stop it, as well as several public companies involved in building new technology that ultimately will be the destruction of mankind should machines be able to build machines and think as sentient beings

Pushing that all to the side, the plot is about a professor who takes back his autistic son from his ex-wife and her new husband (who is abusing the young boy). When some members of the conspiracy group ultimately realize that the professor is the technologist who has the AI programs they are all after, and he’s potentially going to rat out the truth of what’s been happening to Blomkvist, someone orders a hit and the professor is killed minutes before telling his story. His young son witnesses the execution and the hunt begins. Lisbeth is involved in the hacking group and works through a secret computer program to help Blomkvist save the boy and ends up realizing she’s very close to the person at the head of the conspiracy. As they sort through the puzzle, family ties come back to haunt each of them and the struggle to keep the balance of the war just slightly in their own favor pushes forward.


1. Lisbeth and Blomkvist are as good as ever. They jump off the pages and yearn to be loved and hated at the same time. They annoy you, but you know they are good people.

2. It’s definitely a page-turner that captures your attention about 20% in when you realize how many different players are in the game to capture the technology and to double-cross one another. It stays strong and keeps you guessing throughout the whole story. And then the head of the conspiracy is revealed about 50% through, you have a whole new level of connections that keep your mind working over-time.


The summary of the story is strong, but the details get too technical and too convoluted. I work in technology, so it wasn’t that I didn’t understand what they were talking about… it was that so much of it was theory and advanced mathematical formulas, it got tedious to pay attention to that level of detail. There’s only so much I can swallow when it comes to prime numbers and the Fibonacci sequence and how many multipliers are needed to deviate from the quantum… what??????? stick to the drama and leave the minutia out when you’re trying to keep the sanctity of an author whose first successful novel was a genealogical mystery!

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed the book. I wanted to keep reading it. I’d like to see another one by this author. But… in order to move it up from a 3 to 4, it needs more substance. Hacking is a great topic. NSA double-crossing it a cool idea. The family ties (no spoilers here) was an amazing story line. But something felt like it was missing in how it truly all came together. I’m hoping it was left open so it can be explored in the next book — not all to different from the original three in the series — but it needs to more tightly weaved.

That said, kudos to Lagercrantz for successfully taking on the series and trying to continue the original creation. He’s done well enough for me to continue reading but still to keep my critical eye.

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Review: The St. Valentine’s Day Cookie Massacre

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The St. Valentine's Day Cookie MassacreMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to Elisabeth Crabtree‘s The St. Valentine’s Day Cookie Massacre, the first book in the “Hatter’s Cove Gazette” mystery series. I downloaded this e-book for free several months ago and found myself with a few spare hours this evening… so I jumped on it and am glad I did. It was a really fun new series I look forward to reading more. I’ll even check for other series by this author.

Kat Archer has taken a job at her local paper, hoping to get back into her investigative journalism career, but her new boss has put her on the food critic beat until he can hire more staff. After several bouts of food poisoning, and a few death threats, she worms her way into colleague Simon’s news reporting to try and mentor him while finding better stories for herself. When her mother’s best friend requests that Kat cover the new opening of her cookie shop, Kat has no choice but to comply. And by the time the party’s over, she sees tons of gossip and feuds ripe for the picking. But it’s when she tries to meet a snitch later that night that she finds her first dead body. And her mother’s best friend is the prime suspect. As Kat tutors young Simon, deals with the arrival of a new detective she once knew in Miami and finds herself attracted to her new boss, the paper’s owner, she’s about to crumble like the cookie. She narrowly escapes survival after weeding through several potential suspects and in the end finds herself with the culprit, and sent back to the food critic beat until they hire someone new!

For a debut cozy, it’s really good. The plot and the complexity of the timeline in the crime is pretty organized and detailed… too many things have to add up for it to be each potential suspect, and someone has to be lying, but Kat can’t figure out who it is. You can tell a lot of thought went into the relationships built between all the characters in order to make this work so well. And it really did.

Kat is likable, a little annoying at times, but heading down the right path if she can keep her opinions in check from time to time. I like her budding friendships with her fellow colleagues at the paper. And her two potential love interests both have a nice shine to them.

It was a little too short and rushed at the end. I thought the author could have drawn out the suspense and the resolve for at least another 30 pages to really keep the reader guessing. But it was done well and I will definitely read another book in this series.

Nice work!

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