Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bloomsbury's Epic Holiday E-Book Deals!

Is it really any surprise that Bloomsbury is jumping into the awesome ebook deals parade that seems to be going around lately? Well it shouldn't. And they've marked down some awesome books for the season! From now until January 6th, Bloomsbury's marked down 60 of their titles to $3.99 or less! What a steal, right? And they're available for every digital format. Check out the flyer below and then head on over to your favorite retailer to snag some books! Some titles you can get?





So what are you waiting for? Go buy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Author Bites - Kendare Blake on POV

After I read ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD, I wanted to gently place it onto the floor and roll around on it like a dog in the grass. YA needs more horror like this. So of course, because I loved it so much, I just HAD to have Kendare stop by and say a few things about this marvelous story she's written. And she agreed! Yay! This little piece was originally written to appear in a Tor newsletter but stuff happened and now I have it. Yay again! Thanks for stopping by, Kendare!

The Girl in the Picture: Perspective choices in Anna Dressed in Blood
By
Kendare Blake

One of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked since people started reading ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD, is, “How did you decide on Cas as the narrator? Why a male point of view?”

I’m not going to touch on the last part. It’s a male point of view because Cas is a boy. But as far as why I decided on Cas, well, the narrator was Cas, because it couldn’t have possibly been Anna. I didn’t know that in the beginning. Everything in the beginning feels magically organic, like the story decides on its own. But think about it: Anna Korlov was once a murder victim, and now is a vengeful ghost, confined to haunt the rooms of her boarded up Victorian. If she had been the narrator, what I would have had is a story better suited to the stage than the page, and it would have been a budget-friendly set design. See, even though it’s Anna’s story, a good deal of the action takes place where she can’t go. All of the things going on that she couldn’t see, like Cas’ plans to thwart her, would have to be told to her, resulting in complete, exposition bog down. Plus, writing through Anna’s eyes, I would have been knuckle deep in steaming entrails. And cracked spines. And torn-off limbs. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

By listening instead to Cas’ side of the story, I got a pass to the outside. And I think too, that seeing Anna through someone else’s eyes, someone sympathetic to her situation, really brought out the human side of the murdering, blood-soaked demon. She’s really quite a sympathetic character, despite all the killing and the maiming. But if she had tried to tell me so herself, I don’t think I would have believed her. “What? It’s not you? It’s just the little voices in your head? Sure, yeah, absolutely. (aside) Somebody get me an old priest, and a young priest.”

It seems obvious to me now, looking back, why ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD needed to be told the way that it was. I’m glad that it made the right choice on the first try. Trust me, I’ve had other projects that haven’t. But that is a pain-in-the-butt story for another time.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blog Tour Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa + an Excerpt and a Giveaway!

Published October 25, 2011.

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her
irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.
(netgalley.com)

Well, to be honest, this was my least favorite of the series. I didn't hate it. I didn't even not like it. I just wasn't thrilled with it (prepare for the zombie apocalypse as my twin at A Jane of All Reads had opposing feelings and when we don't agree, worlds die). Suffice it to say, I don't think Ash's is the best set of eyes to get behind. Unless you actually like the brooding spawn of Louis Point du Lac, then you'd like it. But the boy pinned far too much for my liking. All of his brooding and internal ponderings in this one book outnumbered Meghan's in all three of her books. She's a chick and even she didn't think in terms of the (heinously) overused irrevocably and End of the World and some such.

But the thing is, Meghan's story was done. Ash's soul-searching, literally, couldn't have been done from anyone else's eyes and Meghan's story, at this point, would have been a little dull if we just sat on her shoulder and watched her rule a kingdom. Except with the story told in Ash's POV, aside from the endless brooding, the surroundings aren't as magnificent as they were in the rest of the books. I think that's because that's Ash's home. That same wonder and awe is lost on him, even as he traveled through areas of the Nevernever that he'd never been to. That wondrous shine that was there for the first three books is dulled, I think simply because the POV switched to the eyes of a local. They're going to see things differently.

And that means seeing other people differently. Grimalkin remained the same, which I loved. But Puck? For the first half of the book I wanted to run him over with a truck. While in Meghan's eyes he's quirky and bouncy and just normal jokster Puck but from Ash's eyes, he's nails on a chalkboard while rubbing a cat backwards and scraping a fork against a plate. I really stopped liking him. It leveled out a bit when the story got a little more serious but holy crap. Kagawa really nailed just how Ash viewed Puck and it made me twitchy.

Ariella added an element that threw a wrench into Ash's spokes but in very odd ways. Ultimately her seer abilities dropped to being the Seer of the Obvious. All of her "real" seeing happened off page, before Ash even came upon her again so anything she "saw" after that, for me anyway, had me going 'duh' a lot. But she ultimately served a greater purpose than just being a hitch in Ash's story and when she does fulfill it I will say it brought tears to my eyes.

As did the ending of the story. What can I say? I'm a sap. It is a very poster fairy tale ending but if you didn't expect that going in, then you're obviously not familiar with Kagawa's writing. The overarching plots in her stories wrap up and if you honestly thought Ash would say eff it all and keep being Fey, you need to just go home. But it's not the ending that makes the book. While it got me teary, I'm ultimately not a fan of such cookie cutter endings, simply because they're too neat. Not that Ash didn't earn it, or Meghan didn't deserve it. They just never sit right with me, in any context. In THE IRON KNIGHT's case, it's the story that gets Ash to that standard end that really matters.

And overall, I did like it. I liked seeing all the new parts of the Nevernever (although I probably would have liked them better if I was seeing them through Meghan's eyes) and the Big Bad Wolf is pretty sweet. Although I would have liked to have seen him more threatening. That was another thing. The threats that would have been threats to Meghan weren't to Ash so any big action scene was kind of tampered. You knew going in he'd get out of it relatively unscathed and Puck would barely have a scratch on him. So the underlying expectation was much higher here. You could guess with greater certainly what was going to happen with Ash's story. It's just what he would face next that would remain a mystery.

I was surprised that I ended up liking THE IRON KNIGHT as much as I did because I had two reviewers whose reviews I trust (my twin and Sya at The Mountains of Instead) warn me that I probably wouldn't like it, so I was worried going in. But it really wasn't that bad. Nowhere near the pine factor of TWILIGHT (and I'm kind of insulted that the blurb 'Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series is the next TWILIGHT' is on the cover) but Ash is up there with Louis. If you haven't read INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE by Anne Rice, go do it and you'll see what I mean. Just almost constant brooding and pinning for a life one doesn't have and contemplating one's soul, or lack of one, and being human and blah blah blah. At least in Louis's case I could tell him to get a tan. But with both books, there was more going on than tons of internal mooing that it held me and I actually really liked IWTV. Except I haven't read further in that series. Had THE IRON KNIGHT been the first, I most likely wouldn't have gotten this far. But I did, because the other three books totally rocked and, really, THE IRON KNIGHT isn't so bad either.

Just be warned that Ash is a perpetual brooder, always contemplating something to within an inch of its life. But the writing is just as phenomenal and the book closes out the series nicely. It's not necessary, I don't think, to read THE IRON KNIGHT but it's not necessary to read 'Winter's Passage' or 'Summer's Crossing' either but it's the enrichment that's worth reading. It makes the world that much more dynamic and the story more beautiful for how many eyes you get to see it through. I just won't be glimpsing through Ash's again. I've had enough of his brooding to last me a lifetime.

Just read it. I think you'd like it, if for nothing more than Kagawa's awesome writing. That should be enough.



Ban Factor: High - FAERIES! And death.

And now, for your reading pleasure, a short excerpt from THE IRON KNIGHT -

The cat stood, waving his tail, regarding me with a solemn gold gaze. “I will name no price, not today. But the time will come, prince, when I arrive to collect this debt. And when that day comes, you will pay it in full.”

The words hung in the air between us, shimmering with power. A contract, and a particularly nasty one at that. Grimalkin, for whatever reason, was playing for keeps. A part of me recoiled, hating being bound in such a way. If I agreed to this, the cat could ask anything of me, take anything, and I would be forced to comply.

But, if it meant being human, being with her in the end…

“You sure about this, ice-boy?” Puck caught my gaze, worried as well. “This is your quest, but there’s no backing out if you agree to do this. You can’t just promise him a nice squeaky mouse and be done with it?”

I sighed and faced the cait sith, who waited calmly for my answer. “I will not deliberately harm anyone,” I told him firmly.

And, of course, the giveaway! One lucky winner will win a copy of THE IRON KNIGHT by Julie Kagawa! But it doesn't end here. Be sure to check out the next left of the tour over at Review from Here!
  • Open to US and Canadian residents 13 years of age and older only.
  • One entry per person per email address.
  • Duplicate entries will be deleted.
  • Being a follower of my blog via Google Friends Connect is required for entry.
  • Giveaway ends December 5th at midnight, EST.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Keep Your Eyes Open for The Iron Knight Blog Tour Here Tomorrow!


Because I won't be able to post my review until later tomorrow (Monday) evening, I just wanted to let everyone know that's it's coming! So tomorrow evening (again that's Monday, 11/28), be sure to stalk my blog for not only my review of THE IRON KNIGHT by Julie Kagawa but an exclusive excerpt from the book and your chance to win your own fresh copy! Exciting, right? You know it. So stay tuned!

The Little Black Dress and Zoot Suits by Alison Marie Behnke

Published October 1, 2011.

What would you have worn if you lived during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s? It depends on who you were! For 1930s high fashion, nothing beat Coco Chanel's women's suit—a slim, straight skirt with a matching boxy jacket. And for a classy evening, men donned black tuxedos and velvet smoking jackets. Read more about depression era and wartime fashions—from the form-fitting little black dress to polo shirts, stylish snoods, and chic chignons—in this fascinating book! (netgalley.com)

When this book popped up on NetGalley from Lerner, I was all over it. 40s fashion is usually how I like to dress when dressing fancy, simply because the styles were geared towards a more curvaceous body (which is what I have). Plus they had some awesome hair. So now there's a book that highlights all of the great moments in war time fashion? Yes, please!

This isn't a book with a plot; it's just something that's nice and informational about the clothing and general style of the era. From the hair to the clothes, accessories and shoes, for both men and women, LITTLE BLACK DRESS does a great job of highlighting the best parts of the fashion. Not to mention I got introduced to some awesome designers whose designs I might just have to take to a seamstress because, well, I want some of these dresses, quite frankly.

I only had a couple of complaints. One, I wish Behnke would have mentioned Betty Page, whose style had a huge influence on the culture of the time, along with the hair style known as the victory roll. It was a very popular wartime style that takes some practice to manage. I didn't see either of these mentioned and I felt the book could have even better if they'd been added.

Also, someone got a little liberal with some of the photos and using Photoshop. I liked most of the photography. Looking at old pictures always draws me in but some of them were wildly colored with backgrounds that weren't flattering to the part of the image that they were trying to make pop. I think a more subtle background with a simple 3D effect in the foreground would have been more than enough to highlight the fashion in those particular photos. (This is in the NetGalley digital advanced copy edition.)

Other than that, loved it and I want to buy it for my collection. It's a good book to have for reference (for costumes, for instance, or, if you're like me, for actual dressing) and it's just something nice to look at. It'd make a great coffee table book. One thing LITTLE BLACK DRESS really proved is that the styles that emerged in these three decades really made a lasting impression on culture as a whole. There's a level of class there that isn't seen too much today and now so many designs fall back on those older ones for inspiration, although they take it to levels now that demean the original class of the style. In a world where trash is class and the less you wear means the sexier you are, it's wonderful seeing images in a time where glamour really shown. Where sex appeal wasn't just in the type of body you had but in how you held yourself, in a time where clothes were made for bodies, not the other way around.

Seriously, I loved this book and if you're into the same kind of fashion I am, you'll love it too.


Ban Factor: Low - It's a book about dresses and suits. How horrible can it possibly be?

Author Bites - Blythe Woolston on . . . Herself

After I read THE FREAK OBSERVER, I knew I had to have Blythe on to say a few words, really, about anything because she's just that awesome. And lucky for me, she agreed to a drive-by posting that sated my Woolston requirement for the time being. Here's a little modge podge interview where Blythe waxes on reading, writing and Cthulhu. Thanks for stopping by, Blythe!

What's up next?

My second book, Catch and Release, is coming out around Groundhog's Day of 2012. The Library of Congress says it's about disfigured persons, automobile travel, fishing, and communicable diseases. That's all true. I'm looking forward to hearing what readers find in there. Bonus: It's short!

Why do you write contemporary realism?

In all honesty, I don't read read much straight-up contemporary realism. I usually read sci-fi, fantasy, and non-fiction. So I wonder sometimes why I write contemporary realism.
The best answer I've come up with is the echidna.

Echidnas are real animals. Their latin name is Tachyglossus (which means a ready or fast tongue). They are mammals that lay eggs. They rarely dream. They have cute babies called puggles.

The males have four-pronged penises.

Honestly, there is no way of keeping up with the weirdness of the echidna.

My books are like echidnas, or at least I hope so.

As a technical writer, I know that was confusing, so here's another attempt:

I write contemporary realism because every nightmare, every dystopia, every fantastic wonder is happening right now, really. I just have to look at it and see it for what it is.

What have you read recently?

I've read Franny Billingsley's Chime. That book achieves a level of perfection for me, as a reader. At the level of language, it was such a "read-aloud" book. It was delicious on the tongue and made such a rhythm of stop and starts--it was like being swept into a dance by someone who knows all the steps and turns you into a graceful partner. My feet hardly touched the floor. At the level of imagery, there was one line where I went, "Pfft! I don't like that. Not up to standard." But then she brought that image back and added layer upon layer of luster to it until I just wanted to apologize for being such a lunk-headed idjit a hundred pages before.

I also read to do my work as an indexer. (I write the indexes that appear in the back of non-fiction books--mostly academic stuff not for a "popular" audience.) I am reading about slavery and genocide right now. Every nightmare, every dystopia, and worse--all real.

What movie have you seen recently?

I finally saw The Call of Cthulu, which came out in 2005. I loved it, not just because Lovecraft?!?!, but also because it was so clearly a unique labor of love these artists created. It's a silent movie, which made it even more fun for me. Oh, just watch it. (It's on Hulu, I'm pretty sure.) I'm a terrible critic.

http://www.cthulhulives.org/cocmovie/

Things I've Learned from Books + 127


We've gone from idolizing the classiest of the class to the trashiest of the trash. What's next? Grub style? Fly larvae fashion?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Summer's Crossing by Julie Kagawa

Published June 1, 2011.

A Midsummer's Nightmare? Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Summer Court prankster, King Oberon's right hand, bane of many a faery queen's existence—and secret friend to Prince Ash of the Winter Court. Until one girl's death came between them, and another girl stole both their hearts.

Now Ash has granted one favor too many and someone's come to collect, forcing the prince to a place he cannot go without Puck's help—into the heart of the Summer Court. And Puck faces the ultimate choice—betray Ash and possibly win the girl they both love, or help his former friend turned bitter enemy pull off a deception that no true faery prankster could possibly resist.
(goodreads.com)

Of the two novellas (WINTER'S PASSAGE being the other), I definitely prefer SUMMER'S CROSSING. There's a bit more spunk to it, probably because it's told from Puck's point of view. What Kagawa has really showcased to me with her writing is just how well she knows her characters and just how different a single character can be portrayed. The first three books in The Iron Fey series are all from Meghan's POV so Puck is pretty harmless, quirky, the jokester. In THE IRON KNIGHT, it's from Ash's POV and Puck is coming off exceptionally annoying. But here he just is. He's neither too quirky because you're actually inside his head so his hijinks are tampered down and he's definitely not annoying because, well, why would he find himself annoying? You get to see a depth to Puck that you don't otherwise see in the rest of the series and I really liked that.

The overall story was really good and a great precursor to THE IRON KNIGHT. It threw a wrench into their spokes before the whole quest got started, plus it fleshed out some of the secondary characters a little more. You get to see a somewhat softer side of Mab that definitely hasn't been seen anywhere else. And while you probably already knew that Leanansidhe was as Fey as you could get, you get to see the lengths that she really goes to in order to get the pretty things she likes. Kagawa really knows how to develop her characters and make each one of them really stand on their own, no matter how small they are to the plot. Love it.

Getting to see Ash through a prankster's eyes was also really funny. It lightens the aura around the brooding love interest and it's a reminder to not take it all too seriously. Because he might be cross dressing when you're not looking.

If you don't read SUMMER'S CROSSING before THE IRON KNIGHT you won't be missing anything central to the greater plot of the series. It's just some really good extra information, and a new look into the Nevernever that you don't get in the regular series that'll just add more depth to an already dynamic story. It's an awesome extra and I'm glad I read it.


Ban Factor: High - I've said it before, I'll say it again: Faeries.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Published January 25th, 2011.

My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.
(goodreads.com)

Kagawa does not fail when it comes to the third installment in The Iron Fey series. I'm always a little wary of series simply because it's not uncommon for some aspect of the writing to taper off. Not here. Kagawa holds strong and delivers yet another amazing installment.

Meghan has a problem: the two glamours that exist within her, Summer and Iron, really don't like each other. Sure, she can use them but they make her throw up a little in her mouth. Literally. The iron and the oldblood magic violently react to each other, just as a Fey would who wandered into the Iron Kingdom. Except this is going on with Meghan's insides. So if she wants to use her glamour, major hurdle. Loved it. Why? Because it didn't let Meghan have anything easy. I love it when authors do that.

I also really liked how the love triangle really wasn't drawn out. Meghan loves Ash all the way. Puck was a mistake in the romantic relationship department. She admits this to herself. He's her best friend and that's how she loves him. So the kibosh is really smacked down on that. Doesn't leave Puck too happy but I'm loving it. None of this pseudo OMG-who-will-she-choose-although-it's-already-totally-obvious? Loved it.

I am in love with the world that Kagawa created. Reading it is like listening to a brilliant piece of music. It invoked envy and joy and even euphoria simply because it's so beautiful. I think Kagawa really captured the essence of the Nevernever superbly and when it came to creating the Iron Kingdom, it felt just as real as the Nevernever. Just as Kagawa relied heavily on old stories to build up her Faery, she created just as complex of a history for the Iron Kingdom, making it just as pulsing with life as everything else was. She didn't just rely on a few randomly-placed Iron fey in the hopes that people would believe it. The Iron Kingdom was its own character within the story and I wanted to hug it to my bosom and never let it go.

The ending? Effing phenomenal. Talk about not letting your characters off easily. Kagawa should get a crown for that. Totally didn't expect what came and while the overarching plot resolved itself, it left so much open in the end that I'm really looking forward to THE IRON KNIGHT.

THE IRON QUEEN was heads and tales better than THE IRON DAUGHTER. It felt like the story was more alive, there was more passion, more love for everything going on. If Kagawawere to say this was her favorite book to write, it wouldn't surprise me because it totally shows. There is just so much that is phenomenal about THE IRON QUEEN that I can't possibly express it all without drooling on myself a little. No wonder my twin Laura at A Jane of All Reads was super fangirl over this one. I get it now. I have so much love for this book that I want to go all John Cusack with Peter Gabriel on the boom box. Is that weird?


Ban Factor: High - Faeries + Christian Godlessness = Shenanigans

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Witchblade, Volume 1 by Ron Marz, illustrated by Mike Choi

Published January 30, 2008.

Sara Pezzini awakens from a coma and begins anew with a new partner, new precinct, and a new understanding of the Witchblade. (goodreads.com)

That blurb is a little misleading. Sara wakes up from a coma and both her and her current partner are on leave because of recent events. She doesn't actually have a new precinct but she sets out on her own to find out what happened to her. The guy that tags along is doing just that, tagging along. He's not actually her new partner but IAB that was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Beyond that I found the story pretty interesting although I couldn't help but think that I was walking into something that was already going on. Book-wise it doesn't actually appear to be that way but where the story starts, a pivotal moment has already happened and we're made to go along with the main character to figure out what was going on. But plot-wise I do feel like there's genuinely something missing because by this point Sara already has a grip on how to use the Witchblade. She already seems somewhat comfortable with it, leading me to believe that there is more to the story and maybe I'm not crazy thinking I missed a book. Ultimately I think it's just where the author chose to start the story.

Overall the story was pretty interesting. Your standard Catholic Church is plotting to overthrow the world type of story. I didn't mind it. Marz took it to a new extreme that I found entertaining. I would have liked to know more about the Witchblade but I'm guessing that happens in subsequent volumes. But what I did find out I enjoyed. The inklings of history behind it were enough to keep me reading and enough to get me to want to read further into the series.

The dialogue was a bit noir so some of the lines felt like they were pulled from something like Dick Tracey but I didn't disbelieve any of it. None of it was so over the top that it pulled me out of the story or anything. I really liked the characters. Sara was nice and strong with the men supporting her. Couldn't ask for more! :)

The art was beautiful, although I would have liked to see the chicks with bodies that were a little more attainable. I felt like I was looking at parodies of Barbie bodies, they were so disproportionate with measurements. That element had a chance of grating on me if I chose to read further into the series. Just because the women's bodies in this were so ridiculous.

Overall, I liked WITCHBLADE. Didn't take me long to read at all, the plot was engaging, I loved the art and the story was compelling. I may pick up the later volumes when my pile gets a little lower.


Ban Factor: High - The major boobage alone would get one on the banners' "to smite" list. Plus it's all supernaturally and all that. They don't like that. And boobs.

Added to the Pile + 98

Just one book from the awesome author herself -


CATCH & RELEASE by Blythe Woolston

Things I've Learned from Books + 126


Sometimes it's just not enough to be a regular cop. And knowing steroids are for pussies really puts you at a disadvantage.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

YA Novel Discovery Contest!


It's that time of year again for the Young Adult Novel Discovery Contest! From November 1st to November 30th, anyone that's at least 14 years old can submit a title and the first 250 words of their YA manuscript in for a chance to win a full submission to literary agent Regina Brooks and a ten week writing course from Gotham Writers Workshop! There are a bunch of other prizes to be won as well so be sure to check out the website to see what's up for grabs and to enter into the contest. Just keep an eye open for the entry fee. Don't want that to sneak up on you. Good luck to anyone that does enter!

80s Awesomeness! ~ 136

Rabbit Died!!!


You're probably looking at that going WTF? Apparently that was slang for getting pregnant. That's one for the OED. I have no idea. Like tin roof rusted, you probably have to be high and standing on your head to try and connect those etymological dots.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Freaky Friday :|: 136


Title: Nightmare Hall: The Dummy
Author: Diane Hoh
Published: October 1995
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
Summary:

Participating in a fun skit for a school Halloween bash, a teenage girl decides to liven up the act by using a ventriloquist dummy, with horrific and deadly results. (fantasticfiction.co.uk)

Seriously. What have I said about dummies and dolls? Nope. Not reading this one. Not sleeping for the rest of my life is not an option. Nope.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Darkness Falling by Peter Crowther

Published September 27, 2011.

When four employees of KMRT Radio investigate an unearthly light that cuts off communication with the outside world, they discover that something has taken the place of their friends and fellow townfolk, and imbued them with malign intentions. Little do they know, the phenomenon is not unique to the town of Jesman's Bend... (netgalley.com)

DNF.

I didn't want to stop reading it in the sense that I didn't want another horror novel to fail but I really just couldn't take it anymore. That blurb? It's misleading. Up to the point where I stopped reading, somewhere between a quarter and a third of the way through, not only was it from the POV of the radio people, but there was also some guy on a plane, a crazy old lady that talked to voices in her head and a serial killer. And they were all interpreting the same thing for far too long.

I was kind of wondering where the story was going right form the beginning when it started rambling on about this guy's wife and how he hated her and she was causing problems for him on the plane. This was one hell of a tangent that went on for far longer than it should have before the creepy element happened that zapped everyone away. Then that same zap moment was replayed from the POV of the crazy lady with an equally long tangent of backstory, the serial killer and all of his gross idiosyncrasies and the radio station people with more of the same. It's like I was stuck in the Twilight Zone, reliving the same damn moment over and over and over again. Or is that Groundhog's Day? Probably both.

The plot just stalled out for me and when actions actually started to get repeated amongst the characters (like serial killer and the radio people busting into people's empty houses) I just put it down. The characters were unnecessarily effed in the head, I felt like a hamster in a wheel reading and, personally, I could tell that it was someone only familiar with the stereotypes of Southern accents creating the accents in the story. I was right in assuming that since the author is British. Very cliche, podunk accents that one thinks of when they think of a Southerner, not necessarily what it really is.

Plus the author had a heinous habit of name dropping like crazy. I couldn't go a chapter without multiple references to books, authors, musicians, movies, actors and whatever else you could think of. And then he referenced Kent State, and needlessly mentioned the riots that happened there seemingly just to prove that the author himself knew about them, because it was irrelevant to anything that was going on. That just hammered the nail into the forceful coffin for me. I was done. I couldn't be bothered to make my way to the end if I had to slog through endless repetition and constant pop culture references.

This one had some great potential but it was far too scattered and directionless for my tastes. It breaks my heart when horror novels turn out to be turds but I'll carry on.

Ban Factor: Unknown - Didn't finish reading it so I couldn't tell you. But from what I did read it seemed pretty harmless despite it's horror categorizing. Except for the serial killer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Scholastic Predicts the Cool Books for Christmas!


This Christmas season Scholastic has compiled a list of what they think will be some hot sellers in the world of books, not only with Scholastic but across all publishers. They break it down by age group but, of course, I'm just going to stick to the YA list. And that is -

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Enclave by Ann Aguirre


Published April 12, 2011.

Deuce lives in an enclave, deep underground. Her friends are her family, her life revolves around training to become a Huntress, one of the elite cadres who protect the enclave.

Deuce is partnered with a mysterious Hunter named Fade, who is said to have lived in the surface world as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters - or Freaks - which seem to be growing more and more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade's long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they've ever know. (book back blurb)

It's reading books like this that make me wonder whether I'd be able to function in a post-apocalyptic group setting or not. I'm not one to follow blindly. Shit, I didn't understand why people followed Dumbledore so blindly let alone me myself doing it in a real life setting. So to see Deuce growing up under such indoctrination but seeing the cracks in the facade make it all the more realistic for me.

Deuce's disillusionment of her society doesn't happen instantly or unrealistically. She sees things that she knows aren't right. She comes back with information that's ignored and she's threatened in order to keep her mouth shut. Through the actions of the highest few she begins to see what's on the other side of the curtain and she's not liking this whole ruling by fear thing. The thing is they don't like her asking questions and since Fade wasn't one of them anyway, off they go! Have to keep order and all of that. Narrow-mindedness at its best.

Fade is the outcast so he's a natural contender for a love interest but when Stalker enters the picture, things get a little weird and Deuce gets a bit of Stockholm syndrome, just after the fact. That aspect of the love triangle I didn't get. I got to see Deuce's enclave mentality still kicking around, only the strong survive and all of that, but considering the humanity that's been shown in her, the fact that she would develop any kind of attraction to him is unsettling to me, especially considering what he did to her, and to Pearl. I'm not getting that.

I loved the world that Aguirre created in the tunnels. I could see and feel the darkness and the dank and the dirt. No one was really ever clean down there and that was prominent to me. I couldn't picture any of the characters, even after they bathed, looking clean. At least not our level of clean.

The Freaks reminded me of vampires a little bit, the underworld types that I've seen in the later Blade movies or 30 Days of Night. They're ravenous flesh eaters, not blood suckers, but just the pictures in my mind. They're nominally humanoid but not. And the fact that they evolve makes them more of a threat than just some hungry, feral beasts that need to be beaten back. And the notion that only the strong survive really comes into play. Is it strength to remain in the status quo or strength to shake the complacency for the sake of safety?

I liked how when they got up to the city that the sights remained in Deuce's eyes. The unknown was still the unknown and you could feel her uncertainty just when she was looking around. The sun was this beast that was hellbent on cooking her alive. That juxtaposition of such uneducated thought in an advanced being really adds complexity to the story. She's almost like a caveman that can have a coherent conversation. Although what kind of got to me was her language. The story was in first person but the language she was using I wouldn't think would come from someone that had been born underground with little education and had trained to be a fighter. She certainly had some flowery prose about her that was shocking.

But overall I really felt ENCLAVE. Not only the grime from the tunnels but I felt the characters as well. None of them were all that simple even though they may have looked it from the outside. Fade is far more than just the quiet fighter. Stalker is more than just the prick overlord of a gang of brats. Pearl is far from weak and Deuce shatters and rebuilds herself, breaking down her old beliefs for a completely different set. They're all products of their world. They've grown to adapt, blend in and survive and this is the result. They just have different ways of doing it and it's interesting watching them do it.

I'm looking forward to the next installment in the Razorland series. ENCLAVE ended at such a cut-off point that I was a little frustrated with it. It left a lot of questions unanswered and it was definitely a means to carry on to another book. But in this case that's okay. Because I really want to read it.



Ban Factor: High - A post-apocalyptic, godless world where kids go all Lord of the Flies on each other? Oh yeah. This one's getting the kibosh put on it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Guardian, Random House and Root


The Guardian, in collaboration with Random House, have started up an interactive online serial filled with spy games and espionage! The story is called Root and a new chapter is posted daily. The content of the chapters is influenced by reader input where you can even recommend characters and skill sets to be brought into the story.

A little blurb on the general gist of the story -

The heroine Molly Root is a 15 year old computer genius whose friend Danny is killed after being caught stealing priceless data from a ruthless global corporation. Now she's in over her head. So far Molly Root's mission to get to the bottom of her best friend's murder has taken her on a perilous trail across London. Her key lead is a dodgy police detective - and her attempts to expose his shady contacts are testing her ingenuity to the limits.

If that's catching your fancy, then just head on over to the site and get yourself caught up! You can even follow along via Twitter or Facebook and get interactive with some quizzes and puzzles. Be sure to check it out!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

YAckers Review: A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan


Published August 6, 2011.

It should have been a short suspended-animation sleep. But this time Rose wakes up to find her past is long gone— and her future full of peril.

Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten subbasement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long gone, and Rose— hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire— is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes— or be left without any future at all.
(goodreads.com)

DN to the mofo F.

I am going to make a plea to publishers: for the love of whatever god you may or may not worship, can you PLEASE stop publishing such hackneyed, lazily-built books and forcing them upon us simply to continue riding the wave of better-written books? PLEASE? Getting jazzed up by a blurb and then falling face first into a steaming pile of horse shit is not something I like doing repeatedly.

The "science" was drawn out of a text book from 1956 that was gang-raped by lobotomized chimps before hand, getting donkey-kicked by an actual donkey is less painful than the contrived romance, I've seen better worlds built by 6-year-olds with finger paints and I've been able to make more sense out of a wet Rorschach test than I have of the actual plot.

I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries. Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

To see our entire review, check out this month's Keeper of the Book, Sya at The Mountains of Instead. She holds the words.

Ban Factor: Unknown - I don't feel I read enough of it to determine if this would end up in the kindling pile or not.

I'm a YAcker


A few months ago the wonder that is Laura from A Jane of All Reads approached me. You want to do a book club? she asked. Sure, I said. Why not? A chance to have intelligent conversations about books? I'm game.

From there YAckers was born, comprising of nearly a dozen hand-picked (by invite-only so please no inquiries) book bloggers, thrown together to talk about books and then post our opinions for the world to see. We like to think we're doing our part to save the world from total shit-tastic books. Our own little altruistic thought fart into the world.

Each month we choose one book to read and discuss and then the Keeper of the Book for that month will then post our discussion on that person's blog. We will laugh, we will cry, we will attempt to stop terrible fiction from slaughtering innocent bunnies. We will bestow this knowledge onto you.

Unless it's my turn to host the book, what I have to say about the chosen title will be posted in the given discussion post. But I do want to mention something about the book here simply to appease my OCD. So this little post will serve as my YAckers reviews post. Separate from my normal reviews post due to much less content, the YAckers stand alone.

That is all.

A
B

Sarah Rees Brennan


C
D
E
F
G

John Green
H

Rachel Hawkins
Stuart Hill

I
J

Maureen Johnson
Hillary Jordan
K
L

Marie Lu
Barry Lyga

M
N
O

Lauren Oliver
P
Q
R

Ransom Riggs


S

Anna Sheehan

Laini Taylor


U
V
W
X
Y
Z

Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory

Published July 26, 2011.

Loory's series of forty short stories, with their stripped and finely-tuned prose, weave seamlessly between the dream world and reality, between light-hearted anecdotes and nightmarish fables. In Loory's world, trees walk and talk while an octopus lives in the next door apartment. Televisions sing opera, men find invisible crowns, and books without words are best-selling novels. His tales introduce the reader to people living among monsters, skydiving moose, Martians that keep house, and quiet men who write poetry, all finding themselves in bizarre and sometimes terrifying situations. Despite the great diversity of these stories, the characters are tied to each other-and the reader-by the familiar emotions of fear, desire, and the consequence of action. Not always as it seems, these strange characters and places invariably show us ourselves, leaving us to question the limits of human morality, perception, and truth. (netgalley.com)

The blurb there really pulled me in. A collection of short stories with a little bit of horror, a little bit of sci-fi, a little bit of everything. It sounded right up my alley. And it really wasn't bad but it left me wanting. Not necessarily more stories but more out of the stories that were already in there.

There's a thin thread of similarity among all of the stories - there's something not right about them. Whatever it is, the ending will twist. The degree of that twist isn't always the same but they're strung together by a hint of the macabre in each. That I really did like. There wasn't a story in this anthology that I didn't like.

Kind of in that same vein they were so short that I think that was a big reason why I couldn't find one that I didn't like. All of them had enough to pull me in and hold on to me, with endings that were more often than not abrupt but still provided a punch. But at the same time they were so short that, for a lot of them I felt like I couldn't get too much out of them. There were some that did well as short stories, written succinctly and that the voice did it a service. One that really stands out in my head is with a little boy crawling through a water tunnel trying to find the end and getting stuck. The ending to that one is phenomenal.

But by the end of STORIES I was a little done with the writing. It's a very simple type of style that I think works really well in small doses and fit many of Loory's shorts but reading one after another in the same tone just got a little boring for me. While the subjects of the stories differed, the voice was the same in every single one of them. Aside from the short I mentioned above, not too many others really stood out to me because the voice blended them all together. I would have liked to have seen different tones for the different stories in STORIES. I think it would have made them pop a little more and differentiated each a little better.

But I would really recommend this one. It's short and to the point and really, the shorts are pretty good with some really good twists. But the voice just got to me after a while. I was looking for something different by the end. I know a lot of people like that simpler way of storytelling, straightforward and to the point with zero fat, and like I said above, it can fit, but it was a bit of an overkill here. I would have liked either a shorter book or a greater tonal variety. But still, read it. The stories are great and all are some level of creepy. Just keep your eye out for the voice. The one lone voice throughout the anthology. You might be better able to stomach it than I could but even if not, I'm sure you'll still like what you're reading.


Ban Factor: Medium - The creepiness in these stories is of the subtle variety so it would take your smarter than normal banner to pick up on that. Never say never.

Happy Haul-idays from Chronicle Books!

It's that time of year again (you know, egg nog, family time with "those" relatives and ugly sweaters) and that means the second go-around for Chronicle's Happy Haul-idays Giveaway!


This year not only will a blogger have a change to win $500 in Chronicle books, but a commenter on that post will also get the big prize, along with the charity of the blogger's choice! That's $1,500 in books! If I win, I'll choose one commenter (at random) from this post to win along with me. I'll also make sure that the Connecticut Children's Hospital gets that last book check. Really, there's nothing worse in this world than a sick child and if I can help them get some happiness this holiday season, I'm going to give it to them. CCH helped me out when I was younger and having far more hip problems than any 14-year-old should be having, and they've helped out so many others far worse off than me. They deserve it.

So, here's my list of Chronicle books!

F IN EXAMS: THE VERY BEST TOTALLY WRONG TEST ANSWERS by Richard Benson
MILK & COOKIES: 89 HEIRLOOM RECIPES FROM NEW YORK'S MILK AND COOKIES BAKERY by Tina Casaceli
LUSCIOUS COCONUT DESSERTS by Lori Longbotham
SAVEUR THE NEW COMFORT FOOD: HOME COOKING FROM AROUND THE WORLD by the editors of Saveur Magazine
QUICK & EASY MEXICAN COOKING: MORE THAN 80 EVERYDAY RECIPES by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee
SLOW COOKER: THE BEST COOKBOOK EVER: WITH MORE THAN 400 EAST-TO-MAKE RECIPES by Diane Phillips
TAPAS: SENSATIONAL SMALL PLATES FROM SPAIN by Joyce Goldstein
SERIOUSLY SIMPLY DECK: 50 RECIPES FOR SIMPLY DELICIOUS MEALS by Diane Rossen Worthington
EXTREME BARBECUE: SMOKIN' RIGS AND REAL GOOD RECIPES by Dan Huntley and Lisa Grace Lednicer
MACARONI & CHEESE by Marlena Spieler
GRILLED CHEESE: 50 RECIPES TO MAKE YOU MELT by Marlena Spieler
PRISONERS IN THE PALACE: HOW PRINCESS VICTORIA BECAME A QUEEN WITH THE HELP OF HER MAID, A REPORTER, AND A SCOUNDREL by Michaela MacColl
BLUE PLATE SPECIAL by Michelle D. Kwasney
SCARY STORIES
ESCAPE UNDER THE FOREVER SKY by Eve Yohalem
PROMISE THE NIGHT by Michaela MacColl
DAWN OF THE BUNNY SUICIDES by Andy Riley
HOOKUPS & HANGOVERS: A JOURNAL
THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO SURVIVAL HANDBOOK: PARANORMAL by David Borgenicht
THE SEXY BOOK OF SEXY SEX by Kristen Schaal
HOW TO BE POPULAR: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW, AND MORE! by Jennifer McKnight-Trontz
THE EIGHTIES AT ECHO BEACH
THE HISTORY OF SURFING by Matt Warshaw
SURVIVAL CITY: ADVENTURES AMONG THE RUINS OF ATOMIC AMERICA by Tom Vanderbilt

If you haven't already, why don't you enter? You have until December 2nd to get your entry post in. Just click on the banner above for more information. If you want an extra daily entry, be sure to tweet with #happyhaulidays in your message! And don't forget to comment below because if I win, so do one of you! Good luck!

Things I've Learned from Books + 125


Sometimes all you need is simplicity. Other times it's just really fucking annoying and makes you want to inflict pain on something.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 135


As if leggings are anything new. These things were smeared all over the 80s, and all over the asses of many a woman (whether or not they SHOULD have been wearing them is another thing entirely). I remember wearing little girl leggings back in the 80s, coming halfway down my shins with lace at the bottom. So imagine my surprise when I see those things popping up again in a serious way 20 years later.

At points it can be horrifying, like those metallic pink things above. Just don't think leggings are anything other than a zombie throwback from decades past.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Freaky Friday :|: 135


Title: Nightmare Hall: Kidnapped
Author: Diane Hoh
Published: September 1995
Publisher: Point
Summary:

This time, poor Nora, an education major working at the campus daycare center, becomes the prime suspect when her favorite child is kidnapped in a spooky tale of sisterhood gone stark-raving wrong. (amazon.com)

Hey, that summary was better than the one on Fantastic Fiction, with it's poor sentence structure. This one just makes it sound cheesy. The other made is sound cheesy and poorly written. What this one doesn't say, though, is that Nora is an orphan and apparently the kidnapping is linked to a past she can't remember. Dun dun dun! It's always the orphans . . . And a great way to freak me the hell out is put a doll on the cover. Mission accomplished!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Published August 1, 2010.

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey - ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart. (book back blurb)

THE IRON DAUGHTER is the second book in The Iron Fey series and showcases Meghan toughing it out in the Winter court, trying to maneuver around survival from a bitch queen and, well, freezing to death. I didn't like this one as much as THE IRON KING but I did enjoy it. It's got that Romeo and Juliet aspect without the moronic teenagers killing themselves after knowing each other for three days. That doesn't mean Meghan and Ash don't make some bonehead moves for the sake of their feelings for each other but I've seen a hell of a lot worse so I'll take it.

Really the only aspect I'd want to complain about is the overuse of some facial expressions. Everyone, multiple times throughout the story each, slitted or narrowed their eyes. I would make a joke about a super awesome 80s song steeped in sexual innuendo as a ploy into the whole slitted eyes thing but there's going to be some douche nozzle thinking I'm being racist so I'll refrain (although I'm pretty sure I just did it underhandedly . . .). Also, Meghan was constantly fighting back tears, more so than she was fighting anything else. At least once a chapter there were tears at some level of cry in her eyes. It made her look like a bit of a crybaby. It got to the point where I just wanted to tell her to suck it up. There's no crying in baseball. And Puck's eyebrows made their way into his hairline a lot. I guess they liked to go on vacation.

But other than that, I was totally sucked into the story once again. Mab's a psychopath and I kind of like her because of it. I don't even want to smack her for being unreasonable, which she very obviously is. I like her just the way she is, delusional psychosis and all. Kagawa really keeps to the faery lore and I felt all of the characters she created. Nothing was watered down or sugared up so if a faery was supposed to be gross, she made it gross. Actually, none of them were anything close to being Disney clones. They were realistic and true to form. Loved it!

I also really liked how Meghan being the daughter of Oberon really doesn't come into play except for the romance part. There aren't any moments of spoiled brat syndrome. No running to Daddy or easy ways out. Meghan was really and truly on her own and despite all of her crying (literally), she stood up on her own. She fought on her own. Of course she had help. She couldn't have done it on her own. Another part I liked. It wasn't just "up to her" to handle. There were others involved, and other sacrifices, that helped her along. But Meghan walked on her own. She wasn't leaning on anyone and wasn't dependent on anyone. She knew what she had to do and she did it. That's a rarity in YA heroines, sad to say.

The romance part is probably my least favorite but that's going to be true for me for pretty much any book I read. I'm not in it for the romance. I'm not Team Ash or Team Puck. I'm Team Give Me A Good Fucking Story And I'll Read It. Which is what I got. I do think Meghan let Ash off a little easily after everything in this book but it's not suspension of disbelief shattering. I get the whys. I'd personally fester a little more about it but that's just me. But the thing is they're not doing insanely stupid things for the sake of their relationship and their relationship alone. They're considering the greater repercussions of their actions, another rarity in YA. There's thought there, not just pulsing hormones and OMFGBBQ luuuuuurve. Another awesome.

The ending could have nicely ended the series, but considering I have two more books and a novella to read, I'm guessing something else happens after this. Just my guess. I'm sure Meghan's relationship with Puck is going to get more complicated and, as a result, so is hers with Ash. Her confusion about Puck is real and I really like that. Does she like Ash simply because of how dangerous and seemingly unattainable he is? Didn't she admit that to herself? Isn't Puck the more natural choice since he knows her and she's already loved him in some aspect for a good chunk of time? Of course a YA novel can't be without its love triangles but I'm not minding this one. It just feels better than a lot of the ones that I've seen around. It doesn't make me want to punch a baby in the face. Always a good thing for everyone involved. It just seems to fit better.

I'm looking forward to seeing where the series takes me next. With the way THE IRON DAUGHTER ended, and with Meghan's blooming powers, I'm really curious to see what happens. Again, an excellent addition to The Iron Fey series, and a must read for anyone that likes faeries as they really are, strong heroines and a captivating and mesmerizing story.


Ban Factor: High - Faeries are evil creatures that need to stop corrupting the youth. Ban it! But all religions have their own mythology . . . Ban it anyway!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Holly Schindler Has Trailers!

I don't normally post book trailers but if it's for a book I love, why not? As you may already know, I LOVED Holly Schindler's A BLUE SO DARK, as my review can attest to. So if you haven't read it, you really should. Here's the trailer to further entice you.


While I haven't read Holly's latest, PLAYING HURT, I'm sure it's up to par of BLUE so it's definitely worth checking out. Have another trailer to further lure you to the pretty book.


And Holly just wanted to let everyone know that once she reaches 200 "likes" on her author Facebook page she's going to have some swag giveaways for her fans! And if you spread the book love by reposting the trailers and sending the link over to Holly, you can get extra credit into the contest. So get liking and get reading!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A little bit of me

I saw this over on Helen's Book Blog so I'm throwing in my little piece of myself. I hope it doesn't splatter everywhere.

Age: 28

Bed Size: Queen

Chore that you hate: Washing the dishes. Can't someone else do it?

Dogs: I think so . . .


Essential start to your day: Waking up.

Favorite colors: Green and the colors of a sunset (shut up).

Gold or silver: Silver (because Slytherin rules).

Height: 5'3 3/4" (when you're this short, specifics count)

Instruments you play: Does an iPod count?

Job title: Insurance Underwriter

Kids: Only when I can brew them in a bathtub like a packet of sea monkeys.

Live: In the remnants of the autumnal dysentery of Connecticut.

Overnight hospital stays: None

Pet peeves: Stupid people, prideful people, people.

Quote from a movie: "If you want to fuck with the eagles, you have to learn to fly." Guess the movie.

Right or left-handed: Right

Siblings: Not a one

Time you wake up: Far too early for my liking.

Underwear: Usually, except during yoga. That would be just a different level of horrible.

Vegetable you hate: Brussel sprouts. Rancid alien pods.

What makes you run late: Traffic and people not grasping the concept of merging.

X-Rays you've had: Holy shit, really? Both collar bones, both elbows, both ankles, hips, knees, teeth.

Yummy food that you make: A multi-layer Mexican dip heavy enough to make you able to curl the pan.

Zoo animal: Tigers
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