Blog Tour: Captivate by Vanessa Garden

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Happy Friday the Thirteenth! On this very auspicious day I’m very honoured to be a part of the Harlequin Teen Australia blog tour for Vanessa Garden’s debut novel. Captivate. The cover is gorgeous and the book is a great read. Hope you enjoy my review and character spotlight on Miranda! 🙂

Title: CaptivateCaptivate
Author: Vanessa Garden
Genre: Mermaids, Paranormal, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Date Published: January 2014
Pages: 304
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems…

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko…the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets…

My Review:

A few days before the first anniversary of her parents’ death – and her seventeenth birthday – Miranda, her older sister Lauren and their grandparents holiday at their beach side shack on Bob’s Bay to try and escape. But during a midnight swim with Lauren, Miranda gets taken. Waking up in a mysterious place, Miranda is determined to get back to her family and her life. But a break out is not an option because Miranda has been taken to an underwater city known as Marin and she’s a very valuable asset. King Marko needs Miranda to save the city from his enemies and isn’t likely to let her go any time soon. Miranda’s only hope of escape is to hope that Robbie, the King’s personal guard, best friend and the very person who took Miranda in the first place, will help her return to her family. But with the dangers lurking below and Marin’s version of a sun memorizing her into forgetting her past, Miranda might be captive and captivated in Marin forever…

It took me a little while to get into this book and some time to warm to Miranda but once I did I loved getting to experience the world of Marin. The world building is one of its strengths and I thoroughly enjoyed learning as Miranda did about day to day life and the origins of the incredible underwater city. Whilst the citizens are not mermaids, I still liked the mermaid elements that we got to see.

Miranda is a character that I grew to like very much. Her bold personality and brave actions made her interesting to read and I wanted things to go right for her. She didn’t give up nor did she let her capture define or defeat her. I thought that she coped with her situation incredibly well. Her relationships with King Marko, Robbie and the other people of Marin were fascinating. I didn’t feel entirely convinced by the romance that bloomed between Marko and Miranda mostly because of the pacing but I do think they are a promising couple.

Captivate is a great start to what promises to be an interesting series. There are characters with some secrets and not entirely clear motivations, handsome love interests and a world that is nothing quite like any that I’ve read before. I’m glad I got to read this novel by Vanessa Garden and after the ending in Captivate am eagerly awaiting another instalment of Miranda’s Marin adventures.

Thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Character Spotlight!

Name: Miranda Sun

Nickname: Randy

Birth date: January 13th, 

Age: 16 (turns 17 during Captivate)

Appearance: Long chocolate brown hair, 

Family: Lauren (older sister), Nana and Pop (grandparents). Parents died on Miranda’s 16th birthday in a car accident. 

Personality: Miranda is brave, stubborn and determined. She believes she is dangerous to everyone she loves. She’s fiercely loyal and a fighter who will do what she can to protect her loved ones. 

Other Interesting Facts: 

• Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is her favourite book

• Can appreciate beauty of Marin despite her captivity there

• Feels inferior compared to her sister, Lauren, and lives in her shadow

• Is not the most graceful dancer

• Feels responsible for her parents’ death.

AUTHOR BIO

Vanessa Garden

A bookseller and Young Adult author, Vanessa loves nothing more than immersing herself in the exciting world of books. When she is not raving about her favourite reads with customers, or mentally casting actors to play the characters in her next novel, she enjoys hanging out with those she loves most.

Vanessa is represented by Helen Breitwieser of Cornerstone Literary Agency.

Author Links:

Blog Tour (Q&A and Review): The Disappearance of Ember Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Firstwood

Today I’m delighted to be a part of the blog tour for Ambelin Kaymullina’s novel, The Disappearance of Ember Crow. I am loving the Tribe series so far and was very excited to be given the opportunity to ask Ambelin a few questions.

Q&A with Ambelin Kwaymullina

  •  What inspired you to write The Tribe series?

Ashala Wolf herself, and the rest of The Tribe. I can her voice so clearly, and see around me the towering trees of the Firstwood.

It was autumn the last time I was there. I stood just outside the wolf den, my feet sinking into the sodden earth, and inhaled the sharp tang of eucalyptus from the leaves of the tuarts. And I thought, I have missed you.

If I didn’t write, when would I go home?

  •  Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you have other dream careers in mind?

I always knew. Although I’m not sure ‘career’ is the right description – obsession, maybe. Necessity of life, like air or water or food. The thing that I do not give up, that I hold onto tightly even when all else is taken. Writing is the love of my life.

  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Work at my day job. Read. Watch sci fi dvds. Hang out with my dogs. Although the truth is that there is always a part of my mind that is lost in a story. Sometimes it is a large part – leaving me susceptible to walking in front of traffic, into light poles and three blocks further than I wanted to go.

  • What books do you think have influenced your life and your writing the most?

Not books but a story. An ancient tale, of blue sky and purple hills and the travels of generations of feet across red earth. The story of my people, the Palyku, my Ancestors, and my Country.

  • What are you currently reading?

Nothing right now – because I’m writing and I don’t read when I write, I simply don’t have the time.

  • Are you working on anything now?

The next book in the Tribe series, The Foretelling of Georgie Spider.

  • Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

You matter. You matter to me – you have taken the time to read my story, and that is a gift. You matter to Ashala and the Tribe – you have walked in their world, following Ash through the hallways of the detention centre and along the trails of the Firstwood. And you matter to this world too. Never believe that your thoughts or feelings lack meaning or significance. There are mistakes enough to be made, in this existence; don’t make the one of assuming that you cannot change your own or someone else’s reality for the better.

Thank you so much Ambelin for taking the time to answer my questions.

My Review

Title: The Disappearance of Ember Crow (The Tribe #2)The Disappearance of Ember Crow (The Tribe #2)
Author: Ambelin Kwaymillina
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult,
Publisher: Walker Books
Date Published: November 2013
Pages: 443
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
“However this ends, you’re probably going to find out some things about me, and they’re not nice things. But, Ash, even after you know, do you think you could remember the good? And whatever you end up discovering – try to think of me kindly. If you can.”

Ember Crow is missing. To find her friend, Ashala Wolf must control her increasingly erratic and dangerous Sleepwalking ability and leave the Firstwood. But Ashala doesn’t realise that Ember is harbouring terrible secrets and is trying to shield the Tribe and all Illegals from a devastating new threat – her own past

My Review:

All is not well with the Tribe. They may have had a triumph at Detention Centre 3 but life is far from peaceful for the residents in the Firstwood. Ashala Wolf has gone and embraced her wolf and is running with the pack. Ember Crow went to Gull City months ago and never returned – leaving Ashala only a dog and a memory to reassure her that Ember is okay. Not one to stand back when her tribe family are in danger, Ashala starts digging into Ember’s disappearance to try and find her best friend. Things come out that make Ember’s cryptic leaving and parting message seem even more complicated and dangerous than Ashala ever considered.

Starting a few months after the end of The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, this second book of the Tribe series has Ashala still feeling the effects from her actions at the end of the first book. She can’t trust her dreams, her ability or her feelings for her loved ones. Feeling it’s safer to run with the Pack Master, Ashala abandons her human self and becomes the wolf to protect the Tribe – from herself. Her relationship with Connor is on edge after Ashala doesn’t believe that she is good for him.

Ashala’s grandfather, the Serpent, who lives beneath the lake, is full of obscure and confusing advice wanting Ashala to “beware the angels“.Nothing is making sense and Ashala’s need to keep her tribe safe may be conflicting with what’s best for them.

I enjoy Ambelin’s writing. She’s brutal on her characters – we get to see the best and worst from them and I like them more for it. Ashala is flawed and doesn’t always know what’s best for everyone but she’s a good leader because she accepts her faults and learns from her mistakes. She loves fiercely with her whole being and is unapologetic about always thinking the best of her tribe and family. Ember is someone I was fascinated by after the first book and it was great to see more about her and her ability through this book. There are some incredible new characters introduced in this novel (like Jules!) and many familiar faces popping up again.

Whereas the first book took place over a few days – not including memories – The Disappearance of Ember Crow is setting the series up for the long game. Months pass and we get to see a lot of character development. People are growing and changing as the world takes its toll and as relationships mature. The Firstwood is a character in itself with the beauty and majesty of the forest evident throughout the novel.

This series is quickly becoming a favourite of mine and both The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf and The Disappearance of Ember Crow have been some of my favourite reads this year. The writing is vivid and beautiful, the story is creative and brilliantly executed. I love that the romance is there but not distracting from the plot nor is it too intense. I will definitely be continuing this series when the third book, The Foretelling of Georgia Spider, is released in the future.

Purchase the novel from:

Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Author Bio

Ambelin Kwaymullina

Ambelin Kwaymullina loves reading sci-fi/fantasy books, and has wanted to write a novel since she was six years old. She comes from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. When not writing or reading she works in cultural heritage, illustrates picture books, and hangs out with her dogs. She has written a number of children’s books, both alone and with other members of her family. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is her first novel.
Thanks for visiting my stop on the Disappearance of Ember Crow blog tour. Feel free to stop by Aussie Reviews for the next stop on the tour!

Book Review: Sia by Josh Grayson

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Title: Siasia cover
Author: Josh Grayson
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Social Change, Coming of Age, New Adult
Publisher: self-published
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 193
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle.

My Review:

Sia has no idea who she is. She doesn’t know her name, her address or anything about herself. The only thing she has to her name is a fairly skimpy jogging outfit and an ipod. With nowhere to go and no idea about who she can turn to, Sia spends the next week on the streets living as a homeless person. Kindness comes from the most surprising sources when and older woman befriends Sia and teaches her how to survive. But then Sia’s parents find her. They take her off the streets and back to their mansion. But Sia still doesn’t have a clue who she is. She doesn’t recognize her parents. her friends, her boyfriend or her life. What she finds is that she doesn’t like the sound of the person she was. And maybe she doesn’t need to be the Old Sia.

I liked how this story let us find out about Sia and Sia’s World as she discovered things for herself. The contrasts from her time on the streets and her rich and flashy life worked nicely against each other. It was a little hard for me to get into the story initially – Sia’s confusion was shared by me for a while – but it didn’t take long for me to get into things.

Sia is a little simplistic at times. Instead of finding out who she was, she decides to completely embrace the life of a street kid. After finishing the novel I don’t feel like that would be something Old Sia or the New and Improved version would do. She’s not really a go with the flow kind of person. But I understand that as a plot device, Sia needed to see what life on the other side would be like. The romance was nicely done but I felt like the end wrapped things up in a way that felt unnatural, over the top and a tad unnecessary.

This was an interesting journey to read. From the gutter to the Academy Awards – there’s a lot going on and Sia managed to traverse it all.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

 

AUTHOR BIO

Josh Author Pic

Josh Grayson was born in Mexico, raised in Massachusetts, and now lives in Martinsville, Virginia. It was his move to the South that stirred his imagination and gave him the courage to start writing. During his free time, Josh enjoys reading, jogging, swimming, and watching YouTube videos.

Josh currently works as a medical driver, shuttling people all over Virginia and North Carolina. He has also worked as a machinist, film sales rep, administrative assistant, and telemarketer (he apologizes if he called you).

Sia is his debut YA novel.

Author Links:

There’s a tour wide giveaway where you could win one of five print copies of Sia (US only) or one of five ecopies (open internationally). Click the rafflecopter link before to enter.

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Book Review, Q&A and Giveaway: Game Plan by Natalie Corbett Sampson

Title: Game Plangame-plan-cover-only
Author: Natalie Corbett Sampson
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Young Adult,
Publisher: Fierce Ink Press
Date Published: November 2013
Pages: 360
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Just because the play goes wrong, doesn’t mean you quit the game.

Ella Parker seems to have everything: great friends, an awesome family and a star position on her high school basketball team. The only thing missing from her life is a boyfriend. That changes once she catches the eye of Sam Cleveland. With Sam by her side Ella has it all. When a drunken night results in an unwanted pregnancy, her perfect life is turned upside down and she’s faced with an impossible decision.

Katherine Frayne has always wanted to be a mother. But with the last results of her in vitro fertilization pointing to no chance of a baby, her hopes are dashed. Then her husband Danny suggests they adopt. At first Kat is resistant, but she soon warms to the idea.

Ella and Katherine must navigate their lives amidst tough decisions, the consequences of which not only affect them but those they love the most.

My Review:
Teenage pregnancies and adoption at times may be considered controversial but in Natalie Corbett Sampson handles them beautifully in her debut novel, Game Plan.

Seventeen year old Ella Parker has a plan – to get a basketball scholarship to college. And she’s on track to get there too. There are scouts coming to her games and she’s never been in better form. But then she meets Sam Cleveland. He’s gorgeous and the first boy to ever take an interest in her. Will one drunken accident change every plan Ella’s ever made for herself?

Katherine and Danny Frayne have been married for seven years and trying for a baby for most of them. Unable to conceive naturally, they start looking into the adoption process and find it can be heartbreaking and seemingly hopeless at times.

The contrast between the two stories was beautifully executed. Ella is a girl who never expected to be a pregnant teenager. She’s a good student, never caused her parents any worry and is dedicated to her sport. Her distress at her situation is palpable and understandable. Katherine on the other hand has a deep instinctual need to be a mother. She feels like there’s something missing in her life without a baby and is desperate to do whatever she can to fill that need. I liked her scepticism regarding the adoption process. She’s passionate about becoming a mother but I admired that she didn’t let it completely take over her life.

Plot wise – there aren’t a lot of surprises. But that isn’t a problem. This story’s strengths lay in the honest way the characters deal with their situations and how their real their emotions feel. Both Ella and Katherine are heartbroken but for almost opposite reasons. Ella’s interactions with Sam felt relatable for many people – both in the upswing of the relationship and the way they reacted to the unplanned pregnancy.

I enjoyed reading this book and seeing how Ella and Katherine dealt with the tough situations life handed them. It was a beautiful read and I look forward to reading more from Natalie Corbett Sampson.

Thanks to Fierce Ink Press for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Special Edition Paperback: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | McNally Robinson |Fierce Ink Press

Regular paperback: Fierce Ink Press (best spot!) | CreateSpace | Amazon

AUTHOR BIO

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Natalie Corbett Sampson lives in Hatchet Lake, Nova Scotia with her husband, four school-aged Munsters and a menagerie of pets. Her day job is a speech language pathologist where she loves helping children improve their ability to communicate with the world around them. When she’s not working, writing or sitting in a hockey rink Natalie loves reading, photography and drawing.
Author Links:

Q & A with Natalie Corbett Sampson!

I was lucky enough to get to ask Natalie some questions about Game Plan, writing in general and reading.

  • What inspired you to write Game Plan?

This story came very quickly to me, driving home one night it just sort of tumbled into my head so all I had to do was get it down. A lot of the story came from my own adoption story, even though our family’s journey was very different. A lot of Ella’s story came from my own high school time – I wasn’t a pregnant teen but the insecurities and hopes she felt are pretty common to teens, I think. I have often wondered about birth mothers, how they come to their decision and what they go through. Ella’s experiences are how I imagine it might be sometimes.

  • When you first decided to write Game Plan, did you always know you wanted to focus on both the story of the birth mother and that of the adoptive family too?

They seemed like a good pair of stories to set parallel. Too often adoptions are only seen from one side – you see a family adopt a baby or know of someone who had to place a baby, but they really can’t be separated – during that time or any time after. It’s important to know that while adoption builds one family, it is always linked to a loss.

  • Teen pregnancy can be a very controversial issue in society. Were there any particular parts in Ella and Katherine’s story that were hard to write considering what reader’s reactions might be to your novel?

I’m glad you asked because that was one of the hardest parts for me to settle myself. I wanted Ella’s decision to be sound, and without a baby there’s no adoption. I struggled to portray realistically what would drive a teenager to complete a pregnancy instead of seeking an abortion but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing so in a judgmental way. I wanted to make sure the decision to have the baby was right for Ella, not because abortion was wrong, just that it wasn’t right for her.

  • What are you most proud of in Game Plan?

You mean besides getting it finished at all? I’ve been told that it’s real and relatable and that some readers have cried at parts. I’m proud of that. I really hope I have captured an image of a birth mother in a respectful light.

  • Are you fluent in text talk? I have to admit that I had to google some of the text messages characters sent and received in this book!

NO WAY! The first draft had few texts, lots of phone calls… my editor said ‘wait, teens text!’ So I turned them into texts and typed them out long like I text and again the editor reminded me how out of touch I was with new technology and communication. So I went back and ‘translated’ all the long forms into text talk. Then it got fun and I might have gotten a little carried away with it!

  • Are there any novels you’ve read that you think more people should read too?

I read a lot… GoodReads is my favourite app. My latest favourite was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I love historical fiction and Phillipa Gregory writes good ones. And of course it should be mandatory for everyone to read the Harry Potter series. I read the Divergent trilogy recently to help with writing my next book and really enjoyed those too.

  • You’re a very busy woman! Between your children, husband, work and other commitments, do you find it difficult to find time to write?

I do, so I’ve made an effort to prioritize and schedule it. I changed my hours at my day job to work longer but fewer days so I could commit two days to writing. It’s very easy to schedule that last and do what I need for everyone else but I’m trying very hard to respect it as a priority.

  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

My kids are terribly over scheduled. They are in basketball and hockey, swimming lessons and music… most of my ‘free time’ is spent shuttling to one activity or the other. I take my camera most places I go and force my kids to look cute. I have to read before I can fall asleep.

  • Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? What do you do when it happens?

Yes, it’s horrible! I usually just type something on the page – anything really – and let the words keep coming until they start to make sense and then go back and delete the garbage. It’s so much easier to edit bad work than to stare at a blank page and work from nothing.

  • Have there been any books or authors that have influenced your own writing? Which ones?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I read a lot, and a lot of different stuff. I would expect everything I read will have an impact on what and how I write, but I can’t say there’s anything specifically that I can say changed or impacted the way I write. Actually I would say songs have a greater impact on what I write. I love how a good song can elicit a strong memory or emotion with just a line or two. There are times when I hear a song and wish I could recreate that emotion in a story.

  • What are you currently reading?

I’m supposed to be reading Persuasion by Jane Austen for my book club. It’s a challenge.

  • Are you working on anything now?

I’m prepping my second book for submission to publishers. It’s a story that I love, it’s very different from Game Plan. It talks about choosing identity, the power of words and the necessity of creativity.

  • Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

THANK YOU!!! I’m so thrilled to have the little story I pecked away at on my computer turn into a real live book! I appreciate readers for taking the time to read it, and really really hope it’s enjoyed. I would love to hear back from any readers to know what worked for them and what wasn’t quite right.

Thanks Natalie for taking the time to answer my questions! I enjoyed reading Game Plan. I thought it captured a lot of the emotions and frustrations that both sides of an adoption face.

Thank you for reading and for including it on your blog!

I always think it’s fantastic when I have things in common with authors! I’m currently reading The Night Circus (and enjoying it) and Persuasion is one of my favourite book. I hope you finish reading it. I wish you the best with your second book and can’t wait to read it once it’s been published. 

Giveaway!

Fierce Ink Press is generously offering one ecopy of Game Plan for one of my readers. To be entered in the giveaway just leave a comment on this post and I’ll randomly select a winner one week from today.

Excerpt + Giveaway: If Only We by Jessica Sankiewicz

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I was delighted to be a part of the blog tour for Jessica Sankiewicz’s debut novel, If Only We. It’s a standalone contemporary book about love and regrets and the chance to do-over. It’s very sweet and I’m thrilled to have an excerpt on the blog today to share with you all! Don’t forget to check the rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post for your chance to win a copy of If Only We! 

 

Title: If Only WeIf-Only-We-Jessica-Sankiewicz-Medium
Author: Jessica Sankiewicz
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, Coming of Age,
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: October 2013
Pages: 187

Synopsis (from goodreads):
They say all it takes is one wrong move and you lose the game. One false step and you’re trapped. One slip-up in your choice of words and you ruin a friendship forever. That is what they say. They say I lost.

I do not believe them.

At the end of the summer after graduation, Adrienne wonders what happened to cause her life to be in ruins. She isn’t getting along with her mom, her stepsister isn’t talking to her, and, to top it off, the boy she’s been in love with doesn’t want anything to do with her. She believes the turning point was a choice she made at graduation. When she wakes up the next day, she has been transported back three months to that moment, the one where everything started to fall apart.

Adrienne realizes she has been given a second chance—and this time she doesn’t want to mess anything up. Reliving the entire summer, though, turns out to be a lot harder than she thought. As the same days and weeks go by, she starts to see how simple decisions can make a huge impact on the world around her. Despite knowing some of what lies ahead, there are some things she didn’t anticipate. She thought she knew what mistake led her to where she ended up the first time. She was wrong.

And by the time summer is over, she discovers what was really at stake.

Excerpt:

I find myself staring into the space she occupied a second ago. Something’s not right. She isn’t angry with me for leaving anymore. It isn’t possible for her to have forgiven me overnight. Plus, Kaitlin’s room couldn’t have changed, or my mom’s hair. And since when did she become so sentimental? Big day? A stage? Little girl is not so little anymore? It almost sounds like I am getting married. My head is starting to hurt from all these things that are not right. It is kind of like when you were a kid and they said “one of these things is not like the other”except everything is not like the one thing.

I put the empty glass into the sink, “hop to it,” and get into the shower. My questions will be answered when I see what outfit she puts on my bed. When I get to my room, I don’t find a wedding dress. Thank goodness. I do find, however, a dressand a graduation cap and gown.

Graduation.

The day everything changed. The day I ran away to my dad. The day my heart broke.

A wave of nausea crashes into me, almost causing my legs to give out beneath me. I grab hold of my doorway with both hands to keep myself standing. A few deep breaths later and my stomach calms down enough for me to close the door. I lean against it and stare at my bed.

How can I be graduating…again?

I rub my eyes and open them again, hoping it was all in my imagination. No such luck. It is still there. This doesn’t make any sense. Where is my suitcase? It’s not on top of my dresser anymore. I left it there when I got back since I didn’t have enough time to unpack. Where did it go?

Opening my closet door, I spot it on the top shelf. Did my mom unpack it for me? Where are the clothes? There is nothing in the hamper and a quick rummage through my dresser finds some of those shirts clean and folded where they belong. How could…? Mom was at work all day yesterday. Not only that, but I saw the suitcase right before I turned the lights out last night.

My head is starting to pound with all the conflicting information I’m taking in. Sitting down in my desk chair, I put my head in my hands and start to rub my temples. I need to find something that isn’t out of place. My desk appears to be the same as I left it. Pens and pencils neatly placed in holder, check. Pile of loose-leaf college-ruled paper on top of a pile of used notebooks, check. Word-of-the-Day calendar off to the side, check. Calendar set to the correct date…what…? I reach out and grab it. That can’t be right.

Saturday, June second.

It feels as though I can’t blink. I worry that if I do, the date on this page will disappear. I knowfor a factthat I peeled off every page I hadn’t removed all summer before I went to bed last night. Each one was crumpled into a small ball and thrown away. I set the calendar down and drop to the floor to look through my trash. However, I can’t look through it because it’s empty.

Nothing is making any sense.

I graduated already. This has already happened. Or did it? I dismiss that thought with a laugh. The most logical reason for what is happening is that I’m dreaming. I’m reliving this day in my mind because I spent the time while I was falling asleep thinking about it. Maybe my mind is playing a psychological trick on itself to right the wrongs and help me cope. Maybe this is all in my head. Maybe I’m just imagining all of this.

On the other hand, maybe I am just losing it.

But what if…what if this is really happening? What if I am reliving my whole summer? The prospect causes goose bumps to spread over my skin.

Have I been given a second chance?

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

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AUTHOR BIO

jesssankiewicz

Jessica is the 28-year-old author of IF ONLY WE, a YA contemporary. You can often find her either reading or marathon watching TV on DVD, her favorites being Castle and Veronica Mars. She frequently mismatches her clothes and giggles uncontrollably. She knows almost every Billy Joel song by heart. She collects books and toys, and she has an intense love of cats and lemurs. Currently in the midst of her quarter-life-crisis, she is still takin’ names and getting very close to reaching an epiphany.
Author Links:

 

Giveaway!

Jessica has put together a tour-wide giveaway to celebrate the release of If Only We. There’s a $30 Amazon gift card to be won as well as e-copies of her book and other great prizes. Click the link below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Blog Tour: Allusive Aftershock by Susan Grishom

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Title: Allusive AftershockAA
Author: Susan Griscom
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: December 2012
Pages: 274

Synopsis (from goodreads):
What happens when a major earthquake changes life as you know it and the boy you thought you hated ends up saving you? Three times!

Courtland Reese is the guy everyone hates and makes fun of because … well, he is weird. He communicates with animals. Strange or interesting, seventeen-year-old Adela Castielle can’t quite figure out, but when he saves her from being trampled by her own horse, she begins to understand him a little better and wants to learn more about him.

But, Max–her best friend/dream guy/someday-to-be-her-husband-only-he-doesn’t-know-it-yet–hates Courtland with a passion. Adela wants to know why, except neither boy is talking.

When Max leaves her stranded in his parents’ wine cave with his worst enemy, Courtland, after what the experts are calling a “megathrust” earthquake, Adela starts to question her loyalty to Max as steamy kisses in a dark damp cellar only fuel her emotions with more conflict.

But does she really have time to worry about that when fire, destruction and mayhem surround her?

Excerpt

As Courtland stood, the legs of his chair scraped along the floor and the back of his knees pushed it out of the way of his tall frame. His dark green hoodie hung loose and unzipped, his jeans sat low on his waist. His hair was slicked back away from his face, different from the normal way it usually fell over his forehead, giving him the appearance of an ancient Native American warrior. If I wasn’t already in love with Max and Court hadn’t been so mean to me the other day, I might actually think he was hot, the way he walked up to get the book without saying a word, his gait easy but cautious as he sauntered past Max’s desk. One never knew what Max might do and Courtland had been the brunt of his antics more than once.

“Stop by the library on your way back and pick up a couple of the books they have on earthquake preparedness. There should be a good selection on the subject. Ask Mrs. Snow to help you; she’ll steer you in the right direction.”
Courtland strolled out of the room while Mr. Montgomery continued his talk about earthquakes.

Sometimes I felt sorry for Courtland, the way some of the kids made fun of his keen intuition with animals. This morning, I was still too mad at him to care much about that, though. My mind wandered back to Big Blue. I really wanted to ride him—maybe today would be a good time to do it. If Max rode with me, Courtland might stay clear. I scribbled a quick note in my binder, ripped the page out, folded it into a little square and handed it to Max while Mr. Montgomery wrote something on the board. He read it and folded it back up before sticking it under his history book. After flashing a smile at me, he nodded.

I sat doodling on the paper in front of me, making little swirling designs I thought might look good on a book cover, half listening to Mr. Montgomery when I felt a brush of material glide over my arm. I looked up to see Courtland as he strolled past me, back from his trip to the office.

All of a sudden, my desk jolted

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

AUTHOR BIO

Susan 6-16-13

Susan Griscom daydreams often. And sometimes her daydreams interfere with her daydreams not to mention real life. Because, let’s face it, her character’s lives are so much more exciting. Sometimes it’s young adult or new adult or just plain old mainstream fiction and sometimes it’s paranormal romance, where her playing field delves into a different milieu than the usual vampires and werewolves. Some day she might write about fangs and fur, but for now she prefers sticking to strong heroes and heroines confronted with extraordinary forces of nature, powers and abilities beyond the norm, mixed with some steamy romance to get the blood boiling.
Susan lives in the Sierra Foothills in Northern California with her very romantic husband, her small yippy dog, Riley, and her humongous black cat, Saké. Her family consists of his and hers; four wonderful sons and one beautiful daughter, and seven grand angels.
Susan loves when a story takes hold and pulls her into the fantasy, that’s magic.
You can visit Susan at http://susangriscom.com or email her at susangriscom1@gmail.com. She loves hearing from her fans.
Author Links:

Book Review + Giveaway: The Rig by Joe Ducie

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Title: The RigThe Rig
Author: Joe Ducie
Genre: Thriller, Young Adult, Action, Mystery
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: September 2013
Pages: 368
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Fifteen-year-old Will Drake has made a career of breaking out from high-security prisons. His talents have landed him at the Rig, a specialist juvenile holding facility in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. No one can escape from the Rig. No one except for Drake…

After making some escape plans and meeting the first real friends of his life, Drake quickly realises that all is not as it seems on the Rig. The Warden is obsessed with the mysterious Crystal-X – a blue, glowing substance that appears to give superpowers to the teens exposed to it. Drake, Tristan and Irene are banking on a bid for freedom – but can they survive long enough to make it? Drake is an action hero to rival Jason Bourne and the CHERUB team in this debut author’s fantastically imagined sci-fi nightmare.

My Review:

Will Drake has already escaped from three maximum security juvenile detention facilities. But he’s seen nothing like the Rig. Located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean at a former oil rig, it’s not just the conditions that are brutal. With a tracker accounting for each inmates every move and guards who are crueller than the weather – it seems like there’s no escape for Will. But he’s determined. With a techno-genius for a cell mate and a girl who helps Will discover some of the secrets the Rig holds, there’s nothing going to stop Will escaping… not even the mysterious Crystal-X.

From the first page of The Rig I felt like I was watching a movie. There’s so much cinematic potential for this book. From the helicopters landing on one of the five old oil platforms now turned prison for criminal youth to the brilliant sport Ducie came up with “Rig Ball” – I felt like I could see all the action playing out like a film.

Will is a great character to let us into the secrets of the Rig. He’s street smart and practical but he’s nobodies fool. We get to find out as we read that whilst he may be an inmate of one of the world’s toughest juvenile facilities, he’s not a bad guy. That said – he can hold his own even against super enhanced bullies. There’s more than meets the eye to Will – and we get to see that as hardened as prison has made him he still cares for his family and friends. Tristan – Will’s cell mate – is an oddly likeable guy. He’s a quiet guy who just wants to do his time and get out – the opposite in many ways to Will – but he’s willing to stand up for his friends no matter the consequences to himself. I liked him. His interaction with Irene, a female detainee on the other side of the Rig, was somewhat adorable to read as it unfolded and added a little to the comic relief for what is a mostly serious novel.

The action is this novel is brilliant. There’s a lot going on and Ducie has come up with some great concepts. The idea for his magnetized lacrosse game – known as Rig Ball – is as fun as it is absolutely brutal. The trackers which not only detect location but also keep track of how much the inmates owe the establishment for their stay is an interesting design that I thought was pretty cool. The plot around Crystal-X is something that I wish was developed a little further. There’s a lot about the blue crystal that I thought had a lot of potential however it felt a little out of place. This book is suspenseful and a great contemporary thriller up until about half way though when the Crystal-X is introduced and it brought me out of the story a little. The alien mineral gave the novel a paranormal element which just felt a little odd considering the rest of what was going on.

I enjoyed reading this book. Great characters with a setting so vivid I felt like I could be there on the Rig with Will and the others – this book was a brilliant read.

Thanks to Five Mile Press for the review copy

Purchase the Novel From: 
Amazon| Booktopia | Book Depository

GIVEAWAY!

Thanks to Five Mile Press, as a part of this blog tour I have 1 paperback copy of The Rig to giveaway. Open to Australian residents only.

To Enter:

Leave a comment at the bottom of this post and then click on the link below and fill in the form.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

Entries close 14th October, 2013.

Winner will be drawn via random.org and will have 48 hours to reply or another winner will be chosen.

 

Book Review: Here by Ella James


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Title: Here (Here #1)
Author: Ella James
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Barkley’s Books
Publication Date: February 2012
Pages: 210
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):13490992

Milo Mitchell’s life used to be charmed, but that was before her father died, she went a little crazy, and her best friends started acting more like strangers. One Saturday morning as she roams the land around her family’s Colorado wind farm, tagging deer for a project that used to be her father’s, Milo makes a big mistake: a dart from her stun-gun takes down a teenage guy.

Dressed in a Brinoi tux and armed with a perfectly starched handkerchief, the guy looks like a young James Bond – or some country’s missing, playboy prince. Trouble is, he could be either. Mr. Mystery has no idea who or where he is. Afraid her dart caused his amnesia, Milo takes him in, names him Nick, and tries to get used to a hot guy sharing her bedroom.

But Milo’s Nick is more than he appears. Soon the pair find his face in a newspaper obituary, and Nick beings to have memories of Milo–who is sure she’s never met him. If ‘Nick’ survived a plunge off a steep cliffside on his way to a family camping trip, why did Milo find him dozens of miles away, wearing a freshly pressed tuxedo? If he’s just a high-school athlete, why does he have moves like Jason Bourne? And why does he feel more for her than his surviving family?

When a train of black SUVs shows up on Mitchell property, Nick and Milo run–toward a shocking conclusion that could destroy both their worlds.

My Review:

Whilst tagging deer for a project, Milo Mitchell never expected to come across anyone in the woods. Let alone a gorgeous stranger dressed in a tuxedo… and perhaps shooting him with her dart gun by accident wasn’t the best way to make a good first impression. To make things stranger – after having been shot, the well dressed stranger can’t remember anything about himself – not even his name. Milo takes in the stranger and giving him a change of clothes, a new name – ‘Nick’ – and a place to stay till they figure out what to do next. The stranger appearance of Nick isn’t the only weird thing happening in the small town of Golden. The electricity starts acting up and Nick finds himself knowing things that should be impossible to recall.

Milo and Nick start a quest to find who he may have been before they met in the woods. But Milo and Nick aren’t the only ones looking for answers… and things are not going to go well if they find Nick before he finds out who he is.

I love the vibe of this novel. It’s such a fun and quick read. Milo’s a little lost in the world after he father died but she’s keeping it together well. If you call hanging out in the woods tracking deer a good thing. She still manages to have a group of good friends, hobbies and a fairly healthy social life. She’s responsible and I like the mixture of level-headedness mixed with romantic wonder that she has. She’s brave and a great match for Nick.

This book is mostly told from Milo’s point of view but every now and then Ms. James switches things up and we get to see the world from Nick’s perspective. It’s an interesting way to show how things are not quite right for the boy – more than just some fairly extensive amnesia. Whilst I liked the look into him and his thoughts – I think I would have liked him more as a character had he been a bit more mysterious. Because we get to see him confused and vulnerable but only in short snippets – I didn’t really find him a desirable male lead. He’s not a bad boy nor is he the boy next door or any of those other categories that I like my leading men to fit into. He’s just a little lost and for the most part a little bland.

That said – I loved the action. This book is well paced with some characters that amused me and made me want to keep reading. Milo is sweet but a little damaged and I feel like Nick has potential to grow into someone who I really root for. This is a book I’d recommend for fans of Jennifer L Armentrout’s Lux series and not just because of the scifi-ness they have in common. It’s a well written exciting book and there is no doubt – I will definitely be reading the second book in the Here series.

Purchase the novel from:

 Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

Teaser

I shouldn’t have come to Milo’s house, but I was riding for my life, and when I thought about it ending, all I’d wanted—literally the only thing I thought about—was her.

It was startling, the clarity, the sense of purpose, because shortly after I saw Milo’s concert, I got mind-jacked. I didn’t know by what, but the presence had a serious hard-on for calculus and physics, other things I shouldn’t know or care about. I had a freaky suspicion that it was the Real Me, and that the Real Me was some kind of wizard/astrophysicist.

I spent two days in my bed after it happened, hung over on numbers, figures, but by the third day I could handle it. And my superpower had come back, stronger.

I knew intuitively how to control the van, how many meters away the Harley was when I landed, how to start it, how to drive it.

I ran for it as the van spun, tires screeching as it turned to come back for me. It had been modified, was faster than the bike, but I knew the town grid completely, and I’d clogged their fuel injector, which meant that ten minutes after our little chase started, I had lost them.

I doubled back, took an indirect path to get to Milo’s house. I didn’t want to leave an easy trail. When I pulled up and they were nowhere to be seen, I thought I had evaded them, told myself I had gotten away. But it wasn’t until I saw Milo that I realized what I’d done. I should have added to my lead, driven far away, stolen another bike, a car, hopped a train, gone anywhere but were I was. Where she was.

And what did I get for my utter stupidity?

Milo, wide-eyed and concerned. Milo, rubbing my back, tapping my knee. Milo heedless of the danger. Milo, achingly close.

She was leaning over me now, blowing on the scrape she’d just cleaned. “That feel any better?”

I nodded, my nose and forehead digging into her blankets.

“Good.” I felt her hand trail up my spine, then lift away and land atop my hair.

“You can go to sleep, you know. I’ll keep watch, just in case.”

I shook my head, dizzy from the pill and her soft hand. “I need to…leave…”

 

About Ella James

Ella James is a Colorado author who writes teen and adult romance. She is happily married to a man who knows how to wield a red pen, and together they are raising a feisty two-year-old who will probably grow up believing everyone’s parents go to war over the placement of a comma.

Ella’s books have been listed on numerous Amazon bestseller lists, including the Movers & Shakers list and the Amazon Top 100; two were listed among Amazon’s Top 100 Young Adult Ebooks of 2012.

To find out more about Ella’s projects and get dates on upcoming releases, find her on Facebook at facebook.com/ellajamesauthorpage and follow her blog, http://www.ellajamesbooks.com. Questions or comments? Tweet her at author_ellaj or e-mail her at ella_f_james@ymail.com.

Author Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter 

Book Review + Giveaway: The Night Has Claws by Kat Kruger

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I’m delighted today to be a part of The Night Has Claws blog tour hosted by Fierce Ink Press. I also have an ecopy of the book to give away so please make sure you keep reading right to the end of this post for details of how to enter!

Title: The Night Has Claws (The Magdeburg Trilogy #2)
Author: Kat Kruger
Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult
Publisher: Fierce Ink Press
Publication Date: September 2013
Pages: 199
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
What happens when you’re the thing that goes bump in the night?

Connor Lewis and Arden LaTène are experiencing a reversal of fortunes. Arden, once a prominent werewolf, has been cured against his will. As a result, he’s now considered dead by his former pack and has lost his longtime girlfriend in the mix. Connor, a newly created werewolf whose DNA has inadvertently led to the creation of the cure, now has to make some important decisions about his future and is not sure who to trust. Should he join a pack or try to go it alone?

When Connor is summoned by the Hounds of God to testify against the human scientist who developed the cure, he’s forced to choose sides. Comprised of humans bitten by werewolves, the Hounds have been the lawmakers and enforcers for hundreds of years, ensuring werewolves don’t endanger the lives of humans and exacting justice upon those who do. On the other hand, the pack werewolves have been persecuted for centuries and are seeking to tip the balance of power. Adding to his confusion is Madison Dallaire, the girl Connor has complicated feelings for, who has embarked on a path of corporate espionage.

In the second book of The Magdeburg Trilogy, Connor’s loyalties are pushed to the limits as he faces the challenges of being a modern werewolf caught in the grip of an ancient feud.

My Review:

After loving the first book in the Magdeburg Trilogy, The Night has Teeth,  I had high hopes for the second book. I’m delighted to tell you that The Night has Claws did not disappoint. Incorporating the characters I had adored with more of Kruger’s delightful writing and incredible take on werewolves, this book is even better than I was hoping.

Conner and Arden have both been bitten recently – only with entirely different outcomes. Conner is still trying to navigate his new life as one of the fanged and furry whereas Arden has been left for dead by his pack. Kruger has a great way with words. There are moments when I was reading this book when I was just struck with how much I enjoyed how she would phrase things. And how she would describe the world that Conner has found himself in the middle of. The way he discovers the way of the wolves and we the readers get to see things as he does is brilliant. These wolves do things are just as crazy to him as they are to me and there’s something about that I find comforting and somewhat disturbing. This is also one of those series where the setting adds to the ambiance. This is not a book which could be set just anywhere but rather the European influence becomes a part of the book – and that’s something I truly enjoyed about this book.

There’s a lot of young adult books around dealing with werewolves but Kruger’s treatment of the supernatural hounds sets this book apart. Whilst Conner may think that werewolf society is a little messed up, I found that these wolves are interesting and have a great history surrounding their condition. I like the born vs. bitten differences and the strange customs which the wolves maintain. These are not sweet and romantic dog but rather a little more gothic and bloodthirsty. They reminded me a little of Kelley Armstrong’s wolves in her Women of the Otherworld series in a good way.

If I was to describe this book using one word, that word would be “more”. More excitement, more of the characters I love to read about, more back story and – I just want more! The Night Has Claws is a brilliant follow-up to the first book in the series and has me eagerly anticipating the third and final book in this horrifyingly good trilogy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Fierce Ink Press

About the Author

Kat Kruger is a freelance writer and social media consultant with a degree in public relations from Mount Saint Vincent University. The Night Has Teeth is her first novel and won the 34th Atlantic Writing Competition. She splits her time between Toronto and Halifax with her husband.

Website | Twitter  | Goodreads

GIVEAWAY!

Fierce Ink Press is generously offering one ebook copy of the The Night Has Claws for me to give away. Open internationally and ending one week from today (on the 2nd of October 2013) to enter all you need to do is comment on this post and I’ll randomly select one commenter to win the ebook copy of this spectacular book!

Book Review: Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader

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Welcome to my stop on The Darkest Part blog tour hosted by YA Bound Book Tours.  Click HERE to see the full blog tour schedule!

Title: Escape from Eden
Author: Elisa Nader
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
Publisher: Merit PressElise 
Publication Date: 18th August 2013
Pages: 271Escape from Eden
Rating:
4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Since the age of ten, Mia has lived under the iron fist of the fundamentalist preacher who lured her mother away to join his fanatical family of followers. In Edenton, a supposed “Garden of Eden” deep in the South American jungle, everyone follows the Reverend’s strict but arbitrary rules—even the mandate of whom they can marry. Now sixteen, Mia dreams of slipping away from the armed guards who keep the faithful in, and the curious out. When the rebellious and sexy Gabriel, a new boy, arrives with his family, Mia sees a chance to escape.

But the scandalous secrets the two discover beyond the compound’s façade are more shocking than anything they ever imagined. While Gabriel has his own terrible secrets, he and Mia bond together, more than friends and freedom fighters. But is there time to think of each other as they race to stop the Reverend’s paranoid plan to free his flock from the corrupt world? Can two teenagers crush a criminal mastermind? And who will die in the fight to save the ones they love from a madman who’s only concerned about his own secrets?

My Review:

Despite living in Edenton since she was ten, Mia longs to know what’s outside the perimeter. She misses the freedom of drawing and the memories she has of her father. Now she’s sixteen and things are changing inside the commune. There’s a new mysterious boy, Gabriel, who has his own plans of escaping. And there’s the prayer circle that girls are chosen to join but the details of are never discussed, When blind faith in the Edenton’s way of life is tested – Mia feels like she can’t be a part of a this way of living anymore.

I haven’t read many books which are about people being stuck within a cult before – and I think that’s a word that many would apply to Edenton. I commend Nader on the way she managed to describe the day-to-day living and the commitment her citizens of Edenton have in God and the Reverend. This is a scary place – their whole-hearted belief in the Reverend and his decisions is something that I find revolting and yet – I liked how Nader had her citizens following him passionately and yet without question.

Mia is a great character. She’s been so sheltered within the Edenton community that she seems to be naive but she’s questioning. I liked her innocence and how despite her lack of street smarts, she wasn’t stupid. And Gabriel was great comic relief at the start but he has his own share of secrets. I love characters who evolve over the course of a novel and both Mia and Gabriel did. Action wise – things progressed at a great rate. There was enough drama and adventure along with catastrophic events to keep things interesting but they felt natural in the way they unfolded.

This is a book that contains some fairly heavy issues. The compound which seems idyllic and paradise at first is hiding some incredible – and not in a good way – secrets. I can imagine that some of the actions that take place within its razorwire fences would make some readers upset and feel uncomfortable reading about them. For me – I was impressed that Nader dared to go there. She really impressed upon me as a reader just how bad the commune was and just why Mia was going to sacrifice her mother and everything else to free herself from the Reverend’s grasp.

I enjoyed Escape From Eden. It’s a great first novel dealing with tough issues and featuring some interesting and endearing characters.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell’s | IndieBound

About the Author

elisa nader

Hi. I’m Elisa. I like cheese and reading and TV show marathons. Writing is scary, but not as scary as, say, Civil War amputations. I’m an Aquarius. Uh… let’s see… I’m not very good at writing my own biography. Or autobiography. I guess this is reading more like a slightly incoherent personal ad.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebookPinterest

GIVEAWAY:

There’s also a tour wide giveaway which is open internationally. Look at the prizes! I love that there is a notebook just like the one Mia would have used to sketch in!

eden giveaway

(2) Sets of Moleskine Sketchbook, set of Le Pen colored fine tip pens, a copy of Otherkin and Othermoon by Elisa’s crit partner Nina Berry, and a personalized copy of Escape from Eden

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

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