Review ~ Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby.

Title: Ignoring Gravity.
Author: Sandra Danby.
Publisher: Beulah Press.
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction.
Publication Date: November 21, 2014.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

Rose Haldane is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it.

Ignoring Gravity connects two pairs of sisters separated by a generation of secrets. Finding her mother’s lost diaries, Rose begins to understand why she has always seemed the outsider in her family, why she feels so different from her sister Lily. Then just when she thinks there can’t be any more secrets…





Ignoring Gravity is an emotional, moving tale about two sisters, Rose and Lily, threatened to be torn apart by an adoption they discover, six months after the death of their mother. The novel is mostly told in alternating chapters from Rose and Lily. Whilst going through their mother’s things a little while after cancer killed her, they find her diaries and soon after learn the life-changing news that Rose was adopted and Lily isn’t her sister after all. In a way I was glad this moment happened early on because I struggled to connect with the novel beforehand but once we’re made fully aware of the adoption, the story really picks up.

The underlying theme throughout Ignoring Gravity is relationships – either family relationships or romantic relationships – and I thought the author’s writing was strong and sensitively done. The adoption is of course the main theme here and I was fascinated with learning more about Rose’s real parents, why she was adopted and how her upbringing was affected. I can’t even begin to imagine how it must feel to find out your family isn’t actually your real family after all – though I do know I’d be a complete emotional wreck – and so I loved how, instead of it all being tears and drama, Rose quickly started using her journalistic ability to her strength and began investigating, to discover who she really was. With each secret uncovered, I was gripped and intrigued to learn more. At times I felt Rose was oblivious to how her adoption would affect more people than just her, and at times I thought she came across a bit cold, but then it’s kind of impossible to judge how you’d react to such a situation…

Lily’s story was just as enjoyable to read too. She’s hurting herself, after another failed attempt to become pregnant. Her husband seemed to not care much at all and this only lead to more desperation from Lily, who I couldn’t help but sympathise with. Again, the author wrote Lily’s thoughts and actions with sensitivity and I thought the writing was brave, given that this debut novel tackles some pretty hard-hitting issues. I loved how, though Lily and Rose both had quite different individual issues to work though, their stories interlinked. As Rose is working, her articles and research delve into infertility and as Lily tries to learn more about her struggles to conceive, she finds out things which could help Rose on her way to discovery and so even though they’d lost the relationship name they once had, it was quite touching how they could still help each other. The writing was emotive and expressive and I thought their characters both showed a lot of courage.

There was more to Ignoring Gravity than the adoption but I liked how the author packed a lot into this story without anything distracting from what was such a life changing theme. I loved the introduction of Nick, Rose’s love interest. He seemed like such a considerate, thoughtful character and I liked how as he strived to help Rose, their relationship developed in a kind of low-key, plausible fashion. The twists in this book definitely came into the main storyline, and there were quite a few as you would expect. I thought they were all worked wonderfully in the way that they were captivating, and I found myself as eager to learn about Rose’s biological family as she was herself. There was one twist towards the end that I felt had been coming for a while, and wasn’t as unpredictable as I was hoping it might turn out, but it didn’t really impact how I felt on what was a well-written novel full of real, flawed characters and real feelings. It shows the reader the importance of trust and honesty and I felt it had a satisfying ending which also left me excited to read more from a promising author.




Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK




Sandra Danby grew up on a small dairy farm at the bleak edge of East Yorkshire where England meets the North Sea. She started reading early and has never stopped. After a degree in English Literature in London, she became a journalist. Now she writes fiction full-time.

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Review ~ The French for Christmas by Fiona Valpy.

Title: The French for Christmas.
Author: Fiona Valpy.
Publisher: Bookouture.
Genre: Women's Fiction.
Publication Date: October 3, 2014.
Source: Netgalley.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

A year to forget. The perfect escape. And a little Christmas magic…

Touching, uplifting, and filled with delicious French cooking, The French for Christmas is the perfect Christmas treat.

Evie used to LOVE Christmas, but this year she can’t wait for the tinsel and presents to be a distant memory.

When her best friends offer the use of their cottage in the beautiful French countryside, Evie jumps at the chance. With her soon-to-be-ex-husband, celebrity chef Will Brooke, plastered over the news with his latest ‘love interest’, leaving the country seems like the perfect plan.

Armed with her French grandmother’s tattered notebook of recipes, Evie is determined to ignore Christmas altogether and bake herself back to happiness.

And when Evie meets her next-door neighbour – the très gorgeous doctor Didier she finds a very willing taste-tester. But is it possible that he could be interested in more than just her Tarte Tatin?

With snow falling, a special Réveillon dinner and a little Christmas magic in the air, could Didier even be the one to thaw Evie’s heart? Or will a visit from the ghost of Christmas past change everything?





The French for Christmas is the second Fiona Valpy book I’ve read and I love how easily her writing transports the reader to the French location. Her writing is beautifully descriptive and though this means the book reads at a slower pace, that’s not an issue because the style of writing is mesmerising and emotive and really just lovely to read. Here we’re introduced to Evie, such a sincere character with a heart-breaking story. We learn that last Christmas, Evie’s baby was stillborn and that was followed by the break-up of her marriage and her worry about her sister’s pregnancy. It might not necessarily sound like it but actually this book isn’t made festive because it has snow on the cover and Christmas in the title – it really is a wonderfully festive novel. It’s a lot more realistic than most Christmas reads in that the author shows understanding that whilst Christmas can be the happiest time of year for lots of people, it can also be the most painful time of year for those suffering from loss or grief or those who are simply feeling alone. In those circumstances, all you can ask is to make the best of what you have and The French for Christmas is hopeful and inspiring.

To escape, Evie heads off to her friends’ cottage, which is practically in the middle of nowhere in the French countryside. I loved the author’s description of the picturesque location – it was really conveyed to be a quite special place to be, especially for those dreaming of a bit of escapism themselves. I loved Evie straight away. Although I sympathised with her, I was also rooting for her the whole way through, hoping she could regain some strength and show that she wasn’t all about running away and not facing up to her problems – really she was brave and courageous. But in the spirit of Christmas, I really didn’t want her to be alone and so here we meet her newfound neighbour, doctor Didier. Didier was described as a Bradley Cooper lookalike and so from my purely shallow perspective, he had me sold. Yet it was really, honestly, his personality that won me over. He was kind and thoughtful and knew a little bit about being dealt a bad hand himself. I wanted nothing more but for them to help each other through their individual heartache. I loved how there were only a few more characters in this novel because it really helped enhance those who were present and turned what could have been a lonely escape into almost a little community. The friendships built in this book made for some heart-warming reading.

Though both Evie and Didier provide some emotional, touching moments in The French for Christmas, the novel isn’t grim or off-putting. The author handles the sad themes with huge grace and sensitivity yet also brings us an array of moments to laugh at. A certain incident involving a pig stands out the most for me and it still makes me laugh thinking about it. Whilst this book was extremely moving throughout, in true Christmas spirit it will make you hungry too. Evie, on her journey through this book, works her way through her grandmother’s cookbook and some of the recipes sounded so mouth-watering I couldn’t help but crave them. I was impressed by the first Fiona Valpy book I’ve read, The French for Always, but loved The French for Christmas even more. It was told in such a charming, exquisite way and written with a lot of heart. I took out of it an uplifting impression of how love and friendship can slowly help heal even the most consuming pain and had the feeling that I’d just finished what was an endearingly precious novel.




Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

Review ~ A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale.

Title: A Christmas to Remember.
Author: Jenny Hale.
Publisher: Bookouture.
Genre: Contemporary Romance.
Publication Date: October 10, 2014.
Source: Review copy/Netgalley.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

Everyone loves Christmas – don’t they?

Carrie Blake loves her job as a nanny but, while her friends are settling down, all of Carrie’s spare time is spent with other people’s families. Though it breaks her heart, her New Year’s resolution is to embark on a new career and fix her love life.

As Carrie starts her last job, she’s sure she’ll be going out on a high – the house is amazing, the kids are adorable, and she’s in charge of decorating the tree!

The only problem could be her boss… single-dad, Adam Fletcher might be both handsome and successful, but he’s always working. Doesn’t he realise he’s missing out on precious moments with his son and daughter?

As Adam’s family arrive for Christmas including his sensitive sister, Sharon, and his fun-loving elderly Grandpa, Walter, Carrie realises that she might just have found the perfect allies in her quest to persuade Adam to loosen up. There’s still time for Carrie to make this the best Christmas ever… after all, Christmas is the time for miracles, isn’t it? Let the festivities begin!





A Christmas to Remember is another charmingly gorgeous novel by Jenny Hale, who has fast become one of my favourite authors. I love festive books which focus on what I consider the most important aspect of Christmas, the family aspect, and this book includes that in abundance. In it we meet Carrie, who’s spending the festive season working as a nanny with single dad Adam and his two lovely children, Olivia and David. Adam throws himself into his work and is seemingly oblivious to the fact he is surrounded by family and missing out on so many moments with his children. It’s left for Carrie to try and make him understand the importance of making memories and this was such a touching theme to the novel. Christmas for me is always about spending time with family and each year, we look back at moments from Christmases gone by and laugh and smile about them. When you’ve got little kids, surely you need to embrace the magical feel of Christmas, just for them, and I was desperate for that to happen here. A Christmas to Remember had a lovely warm, cosy feel to it and was so beautiful – the first book I’d choose to recommend for anyone looking for a heart-warming, Christmas read.

Carrie was a main character I liked instantly. Frustrated with the lack of direction in her own life, Carrie is approaching her last job as a nanny. She loves spending time with other people’s kids but more than that, she wants her own. She wants to settle down in her own perfect little family and make her own life better, instead of helping everyone else. But you know, she does a pretty wonderful job at helping other families. Carrie’s so caring and considerate – I couldn’t help but love her character. But what made me connect with Carrie the most is that I could relate to her so well. She’s a worrier, she battles with anxiety, she’s insecure and has a lack of confidence and the only time she feels okay is when she’s trying to help other people. I completely understood all of her issues and so, I warmed to her. I wanted to see a beautiful transition for Carrie throughout this novel, not only because I adored her character but because maybe it would give me hope too. I loved Carrie’s strength though and how she always wanted to help everybody else, without fail. Maybe her concern over everything might irritate some people but if you live with anxiety dominating your thought processes, you can see that really she has beautiful spirit and just want the best for her.

The format and writing in A Christmas to Remember, as I’ve come to expect from Jenny, was stunning. Each chapter starts with a quote from one of the self-help books Carrie feels the need to use. Not that they do her any good, since they always bring up more problems than she started with. Bless her, I’ve never used self-help books but you know that feeling when you google a problem that needs fixing and end up with about ten more issues you didn’t know were there to begin with. I loved that the quote for each chapter hinted at the sense of direction the novel was about to take. It was cleverly written and this book had everything I wanted to see, from a lovely slow-building romance to a great mixture of family to building trust, caring for each other and the attempts to make the best Christmas possible. I loved the way Carrie approached Adam, how she carefully worked at him to make him see what he was missing. Though she always had his kids’ best interests at heart, there was also the progression of a little something between her and Adam. I loved how meaningfully this was built up, without it being forced upon us too soon or too late, even, to believe in it. But I was of course wholeheartedly behind the hope of a happy ending – a magical, memorable Christmas for Adam and his family and maybe a new sense of positivity and direction for Carrie too.

I could really discuss A Christmas to Remember all day long, but I don’t think anybody would last reading this review for much longer. So my last mention will go to how wonderfully well Jenny developed every single character in this book, and we are introduced to quite a few of them in Adam’s family. There was Adam’s grandpa, Walter, who was warm and wise and always came in at the right moment. I adored him. Another character that particularly struck me was Adam’s sister, Sharon, who had her own little story to tell. This was, again, written beautifully and sensitively and it worked its way into the main story perfectly, because we really get to see it enhance Carrie’s character too. The focus on the dialogue and interaction between family members in A Christmas to Remember was great to read. Each character had their own individual voice and I could feel for them all – each just wanting the family to step up as one and make this Christmas special. My favourite moments came from the time Adam and Carrie spent with Olivia and David, but actually there wasn’t a moment in this novel I didn’t love. I could read Jenny Hale’s beautiful writing for months on end and never tire of it. After two months of reading Christmas novels so far, A Christmas to Remember is the best standalone and more than that, one of my favourite novels of the whole year too. Truly beautiful.




Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

Review ~ The Blood-Dimmed Tide by Anthony Quinn.

Title: The Blood-Dimmed Tide.
Author: Anthony Quinn.
Publisher: No Exit Press.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Publication Date: October 23, 2014.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

London at the dawn of 1918 and Ireland's most famous literary figure, WB Yeats, is immersed in supernatural investigations at his Bloomsbury rooms.

Haunted by the restless spirit of an Irish girl whose body is mysteriously washed ashore in a coffin, Yeats undertakes a perilous journey back to Ireland with his apprentice ghost-catcher Charles Adams to piece together the killer's identity.

Surrounded by spies, occultists and Irish rebels, the two are led on a gripping journey along Ireland's wild Atlantic coast, through the ruins of its abandoned estates, and into its darkest, most haunted corners. Falling under the spell of dark forces, Yeats and his novice ghost-catcher come dangerously close to crossing the invisible line that divides the living from the dead.





The Blood-Dimmed Tide is one of the most fascinating novels I’ve read in a long time. It has quite an unusual plot and I love it when an author is so unafraid to mix up genres and really make a novel stand out. We meet Charles Adams, who is an apprentice ghost catcher investigating the death of an Irish girl whose body was found in a coffin that had been washed ashore. This in itself is surely captivating enough to make a novel but where Anthony Quinn excels is that he combined so much more into this book that there’s pretty much something for everyone. We learn about some Irish politics and history, we read parts supernatural, parts espionage, parts everything. I’m not sure how the author even managed to put it all together but I was impressed.

The cover and the synopsis had me sold and I was very excited to start reading. So I was then a little disappointed at how long it took me to really get into the book. I can’t really even understand why I did struggle, because the book instantly brings us to the washed ashore coffin, and the mystery behind it. I was intrigued, right from the first page to the very last, but I still found it a little slow going to begin with. I wanted to be blown away from the beginning and I wasn’t, but I was pleased to find that The Blood-Dimmed Tide got stronger and stronger as the novel went on.

The mixing of themes in the book is unlike anything I’ve read before and I thought the author’s writing was impressive, the way he put so much into this novel and the way everything linked together. There were plenty of sub-plots and occasionally I felt disconnected from the novel when it switched, but then most of the time I was just hooked and so interested. The author wasn’t afraid to push the boundaries and his writing felt skilful and mesmerising.

What I loved the most about The Blood-Dimmed Tide was the beautiful prose. Quinn’s descriptive writing was so enchanting and really wonderful to read. I find that a lot of descriptive writing can either enhance the plot and bring it to life, or distract from the story. Quinn’s use of descriptive writing was perfect. Every word was striking and in my mind, I could build up a strong, vivid picture of the setting which then helped me imagine the events that were taking place there. Honestly, I never expected to completely love this book because some of the themes aren’t really for me but for the entire book, the sublime writing captured my interest. It’s hard to detail the plot without spoiling it but I will say that it was very enthralling and I’m looking forward to reading more. The Blood-Dimmed Tide was something a little different and a completely worthwhile read. It’s worth a read just for the bold and beautiful writing style the author possesses.



Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK




Anthony Quinn is an Irish writer and journalist whose first novel Disappeared was acclaimed by the Daily Mail as 'unquestionably one of the crime novels of the year, written in peerless prose.’ It was shortlisted for a Strand Literary Award by the book critics of the Guardian, LA Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and other US newspapers. It was also listed by Kirkus Reviews as one of the top ten thrillers of 2012.

His short stories have twice been shortlisted for a Hennessy/New Irish Writing award.

The Blood-Dimmed Tide is the first in a series of three historical novels set in Ireland during WWI and the War of Independence. He lives in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.


Review ~ This Christmas by Katlyn Duncan.

Title: This Christmas (This Summer #1.5).
Author: Katlyn Duncan.
Publisher: Carina UK.
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance.
Publication Date: November 18, 2014.
Source: Netgalley.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

This year, if Hadley wrote her dream Christmas list, it would go something like this:

1. Spend every waking – and sleeping – moment with her incredibly gorgeous boyfriend, Will.

2. Figure out what’s been bugging him lately. Yes, going away to college has been tough…but it’s time they reconnected.

3. Enjoy a sparkling Christmas in New York City, gazing at the Rockefeller tree, going ice skating, and drinking steaming mugs of cocoa in Central Park.

So, driving off to spend Christmas in a rustic cabin in the woods wasn’t exactly the plan. But when it comes to her irresistible, and at times, impossible boyfriend, nothing’s ever that simple. And as fantasies of an icy Times Square are replaced by a clumsily decorated tree, making snowmen and the warmth of a log fire, Hadley feels herself falling in love all over again.

Except does Will have something to tell her that could change Hadley’s happily-ever-after Christmas dreams into a not-so-winter wonderland after all?





This Christmas is the festive novella sequel to This Summer, continuing the romance story of Hadley and Will. Although you don’t necessarily need to have read This Summer first, I think you’d get a better reading experience if you did because there are a few references back that I understood, because I’ve read the first book, but not everyone will pick up on. In This Christmas, Hadley’s finals are over and she’s looking forward to spending her first Christmas in a relationship with Will – although his Scrooge-like mentality seems to be stopping any sense of fun she had. Concerned that Will was only interested in her for a summer romance, Hadley is determined to get their relationship back on track by putting a smile back on his face and helping him enjoy Christmas.

I liked This Christmas a lot more than the first book in the series. It didn’t have many twists or surprises but it didn’t need them either – it was cute and light-hearted and an easy read to put you in the Christmas spirit. Hadley’s character has won me over a lot more now and where in book one I was all about Will, I think I actually preferred her here. She was more feisty and willing to stand up to Will when he was being inexplicably moody and she felt a lot more fun here too, without taking herself too seriously. This Christmas was all about the story of Hadley and Will, so I was a little worried I wouldn’t connect with the Christmas theme as much as I’d like to because for me, Christmas is about being surrounded by your family. But I was wrong because I loved how Katlyn wrote in Hadley’s text messages and communication with her parents and Ethan. I really enjoy reading about Hadley’s family because they actually get along unlike quite a lot of New Adult books which seem to think all teenagers hate their family. Hadley’s family’s involvement was written in perfectly to allow the focus to still be on Will and Hadley yet contribute more to the festive feel of the novel because not many people of Hadley’s age would be away from their family at this time of year.

I loved the format to this book and how the chapters are all a countdown to Christmas Day. As the countdown gets shorter, the festivities increase and though at first I thought Will’s bad mood meant I wasn’t going to get much of a festive feel from the novella, I was proved wrong again. From putting up the Christmas tree and exchanging presents to Christmas carols and turkey, This Christmas had a lovely build-up of components to make it a happy time of a year for a young and in-love couple. There was even a snowball fight which I thought kept in fitting with the ages of both characters. My only issue with this book was how abruptly it ended, and it was way too quick. The ending was cute and actually fitting but the whole book was leading up to Christmas day, surely, with the chapter names and how hard Hadley was working at getting Will to have a good time on the day. So I thought it could have been worked differently because without offering spoilers, the Christmas Day chapter wasn’t even needed it was over that quickly. It was a shame that this book felt cut short because really, it was charming and endearing throughout and a delightful Christmas read. Through their ups and downs, Hadley and Will have me constantly smiling – they’re such a sweet couple and I’m hoping I get to read more from them both soon. If you like your Christmas stories short and sweet, This Christmas definitely needs adding to your list!



Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK


Review ~ The Night Falling by Katherine Webb.

Title: The Night Falling.
Author: Katherine Webb.
Publisher: Orion.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Publication Date: November 20, 2014.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

Puglia, 1921.

Leandro Cardetta, born into poverty, emigrated to America to make his fortune and has returned home to southern Italy a rich man, accompanied by his glamorous wife, Marcie, an ex-showgirl fighting middle age. Now Leandro has money enough to hire renowned English architect, Boyd Kinsgley, to renovate a crumbling palazzo into an Art Deco statement of wealth, and host Boyd's teenage son and his diffident young second wife, Clare, for one extraordinary summer.

Under the burning sky, beyond the luxury of Leandro's home, tensions are high. Veterans of the Great War are desperate for work and food. Among these is Ettore, Leandro's nephew. Gripped by grief at the loss of his fiancee, Ettore has sworn to identify Livia's killer, and take his revenge. He is too proud to go to his uncle for charity, but when he injures himself one day, he has no choice but to knock on Leandro's door. Meeting Clare there will change everything - and in the most violent way.

During the fierce summer of 1921, all these lives converge. Exactly how did Leandro grow rich in America, and what is the strange hold he has over Boyd? What happened to the first Mrs Kingsley, and what secret haunts the outwardly exuberant Marcie Cardetta? Hearts will be broken, blood will be spilt and the hardest of life's lessons will be learnt as shadows fall.





The Night Falling is a little different to the kind of books I normally read but I had no reservations – I’d heard wonderful things about Katherine Webb’s writing and I couldn’t wait to start reading it for myself. This book was truly incredible. In what should have taken me probably a good few chapters to get to grips with, considering I’ve not really read much about poverty or war before, Katherine Webb had me entranced within the first couple of pages. The level of detail and description to kick off this novel was beautiful and powerful and every page to follow was emotional and heart-wrenching. It was so stunning and I really did not expect to fall for this novel as much as I did but it was such an impacting read. I put down this book more times than I do most novels but only because I needed to take it in and appreciate what I was reading more, and in the hope that the more times I put it down, the longer I could delay it coming to an end. The Night Falling had me spellbound.

Set in 1921 Italy, the novel focuses on the perspective of two main characters, Clare and Ettore. Ettore is a peasant, returning from the war. Faced with an injury, he has to begrudgingly turn to his uncle Leandro for his support and this is where he meets Clare and her stepson Pip. Clare is battling her own issues, as her marriage to Boyd is under scrutiny, to say the least. But we also learn about Ettore’s plans to avenge the death of his fiancée, Livia, and with this see that each character has their own spectacular story. Although this book is separated into Clare and Ettore’s chapters, the author creates and develops many more characters than that and Katherine’s writing of characters is insanely good. There were no real outright likeable characters – each had their good and bad traits – and I loved the way the author built up every single character to the extent that nothing was black or white. It wasn’t so simple as having characters that would do no wrong and characters that would do everything wrong and this made it much more entertaining attempting to figure out their motives, whether they were being honest or not and the role they were playing in the at times extraordinary turn in events. The characters, just like the setting, the descriptions and in fact the entire novel, were vivid and felt very realistic. The way the author manages to bring out the emotions in every single character was amazing to read because you can connect with them, even though what they are doing might disgust you or confuse you, you feel for them and need to know how things will work out.

The Night Falling was completely captivating and the author’s style of writing told me that all the great things I’ve heard about her are true! Her portrayal of the poverty and the contrast between the wealthy and the poor was stunning and I was fascinated by how she conveyed every feeling and judgement and all the tension that came with the divide. We’re shown how living in those times could change even the most innocent of characters and I was completely absorbed seeing the impact on each character and the changes in them that occurred over the space of the novel. There is so much to this book that meant there was plenty to be uncovered and I was hooked with all the secrets and deceit. Though the writing could be brilliantly dramatic, and I loved it for that, a lot of the twists were hinted at and then took me by surprise and the unpredictability kept me in suspense right up until the final page. This book had everything – it could be horrifically violent at times, passionate at others and ultimately breath-taking throughout. The ending, as much as I didn’t want it to come, was a great way to finish what was a fantastic book and oh how I must get my hands on Katherine Webb’s other books now because The Night Falling was just perfect.




Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

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