Thursday, September 21, 2017

End of Summer Book Review.

Hey, friends!  Happy Thursday!!  Today I've got something fun for all my fellow bookworms!  I've been promising this End of Summer Book Review for a few weeks now and am finally getting around to it!  Yay!!  I love book reviews from bloggers and I hope you do too!


#yes

Does anyone else feel like this??  To me, this is the definition of a really good book.  When someone asks me if I liked a book, this is what I think of.  Did I want it to end but NOT want it to end??  If yes, then it definitely falls directly into the "really good book" category.

Psssstttt...

I posted a pretty big Mid-Summer Book review here if you haven't checked it out yet.  I think I loved almost all of those!

And since I know you don't have all day to read major details on each book, you can click the titles of the ones you are interested in to take you to it on Amazon.  I always add the ones I like to my cart while I'm thinking of it and then do some shuffling when it's time to checkout.

I should also add, that I am an avid "reader"...but I use "reader" in quotes because I'm an audiobook girl.  So really I am an avid listener.  I LOVE sitting down and getting cozy with a good book in my hands but I have a full-time Etsy shop and work with my hands all day, every day.  So listening to my books while I work, do laundry, run errands, cook etc has been a lifesaver for me.  I would be miserable without getting to dive into a good book all the time!  

If you'd like to try out Audible, you can click here to try it out and get 2 free books!  I've posted more about Audible here too.

My mid-summer review ended somewhere around mid-July so I'm going to start there with the book I had just started at that time.



This book was about two people, Lucy and Gabe, who met, fell in love and then parted ways, somewhat abruptly when Gabe decided he just HAD to go live across the world in order to focus on his work.  (#hesjustnotthatintoyou)

Lucy is devastated.  But she moves on with her life and ends up married to an amazing man.  They have a daughter and a great life until Gabe comes back into the picture.  Uh oh.

This is where things start to make me squirm.  She clearly has never gotten over this ex.  She clearly still has feelings for him.  And yet she plays with fire while her sweet husband is oblivious.  I won't tell you much more but things get incredibly complicated and although it is a great story and very well written and engaging, her choices just bothered me the whole way through.

I don't think you'll regret it if you read it!  It has amazing reviews!  I didn't really see the ending coming either which I thought did a nice job at wrapping up Lucy and Gabe's story.



I have been on a Kristan Higgins kick all summer and have talked my friends into checking out her books as well!  (Which always makes me nervous because I hope they like my recommendations as much as I do!)  But Ms. Higgins is a steady win in the chick-lit department!

I've read 6 Kristan Higgins books now and all have been amazing!  (My all-time favorites of hers though are still the first and second books I read from her.  So if you're wanting to try out a Higgins novel, start with If You Only Knew and then move on to On Second Thought.  Trust me!!!)

This time I picked book #1 of her Blue Heron Series, The Best Man.

If you love chick-lit and a good love story, KH books are where it's at!  Her characters are always incredibly charming, endearing, sassy and funny.

This book was about Faith, a small-town girl raised on a vineyard and Levi who was her almost-husband's best friend and best man at their almost wedding.  Are you intrigued yet?  Haha.

Faith moves away out of sheer embarrassment after she was stood up at the altar, but after a few years, she moves back.  And then, of course, she finds herself being drawn to this guy who was basically responsible for getting the groom to back out on her.  Eek.

Their relationship develops, her family is involved with drama drama drama and it is just a great story.  You'll feel warm and happy when you're done and those are the kind of books I can get on board with.  ;)

You can't go wrong with Kristan Higgins y'all!  Add it to your cart along with the other two KH books I mentioned above!  And speaking of KH novels...

I also read Book #2 of the Blue Heron Series!



The Perfect Match was another great little funny and romantic love story.  KH never gets it wrong, y'all.  This story revolved around the sister (Honor) of the girl from Book 1 (Faith).  I love books like this, where they tie in characters from previous books and you can get a glimpse into their life now.  Since Honor and Faith are sisters, we get to see more of the family we fell in love with during Book 1 which makes me so happy!

In this story, Honor has just been dumped by her best friend/part-time lov-ah after she proposes to him.  (What?!  No girl.  She briefly lost her mind.  You'll see.)  

She is crushed, devastated, broken-hearted and cries on her (girl) best friends shoulder like any normal girl would.

And then best friend goes M.I.A. for a few weeks.  Only to turn up ENGAGED to Honor's ex!  Oh honey, no ma'am.

Let's just say, Honor does NOT take it well.  #blessherheart

Honor decides to take matters into her own hands and when she finds out the new guy in town, Tom, needs a green card marriage in order to stay in the country, things get interesting.

I loved this book, just like all her others.  Light, fun, romantic, sweet and an easy read.

Which leads me to my third KH book.



This Higgins novel wasn't my FAVOIRTE of hers.  I just didn't really feel the spark between the two main characters.  It sort of fell flat.  But it was still a good story.

In a nutshell, it starts with Callie, who has just turned 30.  Callie thinks she has been dating her boss, who she has been madly in love with for years, for the past couple of months.  When really, it was all in her head.  Ouch.

Boss Man turns up one day, engaged to Miss Perfect.  Callie is crushed but finds comfort with the new vet in town, Ian.

Although I liked this story, I didn't LOVE it.  Ian is a shy guy and I just didn't feel like I was fully invested in him or their love story.  So, if you're going to try out a KH novel, stick to the ones I mentioned above.  (Specifically, the two from last time's review that I mentioned in the beginning.)



Ahhhhhh!!!  I LOVE Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  I've read 18 of her books.  18!!!!  And there hasn't been a bad one in the bunch.

She hasn't published a new one in awhile so when I found out she had published a new book in the Chicago Stars series this summer, I had to have it.

I read this one on my beach trip at the beginning of August and blogged about it then too so I'm just going to copy and paste a lot of what I said before.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips has a Wynette, TX series and a Chicago Stars series as well as completely individual books.  The Chicago Stars series is what caught my attention all those years ago though.  I think I read my first one right after Craig retired from the NFL.

The Stars are a fictional professional football team and the entire series revolves around quarterbacks from the team finding their one true love.  Each book takes on a new quarterback and of course, over the years, QBs come and go.  (Something my family knows all too well!) 

The characters in her books are always so complex and just so endearing.  The men are all rugged and handsome and usually completely closed off.  And then they meet their total opposite and fall in love.  The women are always strong, smart and sassy!  If you want to give one a try, start with the Chicago Stars Series Book #1 (here), It Had To Be You.  I really think you'll be hooked!!

But S.E.P. hasn't had a new book published in awhile...until this summer!  I had no idea until a reader commented the other day saying I should try S.E.P. and when I replied letting her know I have all the heart eyes for S.E.P. she mentioned her new book that I didn't know existed.  So I made sure to run out to pick it up before we left.  I knew First Star I See Tonight would be my beach book.


You can go here for a list of SEP books.  I've read so many that I can't even begin to tell you which are my favorites.  They are all great picks!!  I am partial to the Chicago Stars series just because of my background though.  If you need a recommendation or have a question about one, just let me know!



This book pulled me in for a few reasons.   One-I was once a young wife.  (Married at 23.  Fairly young.)  Two-I married a Louisiana boy and went to school in Louisiana. Three-my hubby was also a high school quarterback with a scholarship to LSU and dreams of being in the NFL.

And this book has all of that.

The book is about 4 small-town Louisiana friends.  One drops out of high school to marry her boyfriend who has started his freshman year of college on a football scholarship at LSU.  He's a superstar with amazing potential.  But then he gets hurt in a game and they have to back home to recuperate.  He gets depressed, his career has pretty much ended with that one big hit and life suddenly looks a WHOLE lot different than they thought it was going to.

Another friend is married to the town pastor.  She has kids.  She works hard behind the scenes for her husband with no appreciation while he starts to "work late"...at the local strip joint.  Hmmmm....

Friend #3 is in love with a bad boy.  He can't commit though and she finds herself enjoying the company of a handsome and kind (and rich) coworker of her father's.  When her family finds themselves in money troubles, rich handsome man proposes...

Friend #4 has a fiance. They are truly, madly, deeply in love.  But she has yet to reveal the truth about her past.  Her mom is in jail.  She has been lying about being in college.  She is dirt poor and he is filthy rich and the son of a congressman.

I thought this book totally worth the read.  There were definite times I wanted to scream "What are you DOING?!" to some of the characters but it kept me involved in the story.



Let me start by saying I am no Fitness Junkie.  Don't let the title run you off.  ;)

This popped up as a recommendation on my Audible account and I thought it looked cute!  And it was!  It was funny and light but also had a little twist/mystery towards the end!

The book is about Janey, the CEO of a couture wedding dress company and Beau, her partner/BFF/jerk-face.  Beau drops a bomb on poor Janey out of the blue one day.  He basically tells her she's fat and that she's not a good look for the company.  He tells her to lose 30 pounds in 3 months or she's fired.  #punchhiminthethroatJaney

So Janey goes to some drastic lengths in order to lose the weight.  She makes friends with some crazy characters who bring in her into some ridiculous workouts.  (Topless yoga, anyone?)

She finds herself involved in a crazy new top secret workout called...The Workout.

They drink strange tea that gets them all amped up before the workout and keeps them coming back for more.  #redflag

And on a $15,000 retreat, a supermodel has a heart attack and ends up in a coma and everything begins to unravel.

I thought this book was slightly off-beat and also slightly ridiculous but in a good way.  If you need a good change from your basic romantic novel or your psychological thriller, give this a try!



Oh, friends!  You need this book!!!  I loved this one!!

I heard about this book from Reese Witherspoon.  She called to tell me all about it.  She knows how much I love to read!

Ok, so that's not true.

But I did hear about it from her.  Just from her Instagram.  ;)

(I laughed when I saw that Paris Hilton "liked" this pic.  Do we think Paris reads??)

Anyway, Did you know RW has a book club?  You can find it at @rwbookclub.  I had no idea she was a big reader but I'm not surprised. She seems like a pretty cool chick.

So this book is more of a drama with a little mystery thrown in.  I can't seem to narrow down my summary.  I keep wanting to add in way too much.  So I've deleted my summary and am just going to give you the publisher's summary instead.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs. 

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

They did a much better job of summarizing this than I did.  :)

This was definitely one of those books I was trying to finish up quickly so I could see how it would end.

Little Fires Everywhere was much deeper than my normal, light chick-lit books but not dark like the psychological thrillers I love so much either.  The characters were complicated and so real.  I felt like I really knew each one so well.

You're going to want to read this book.  Seriously.  And did I mention that Reese Witherspoon has also said she is making it into a series?!  She was on Watch What Happens Live the other day and Andy Cohen asked her about it.  Yay!!


A few others...

And a few other honorable mentions go out to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.  (Not my favorite.)  Bossypants by Tina Fey (which I've listened to at least 4 times now in the past few years.  She reads it herself and it's just so much funnier to hear her tell her story in her own voice.)  Balancing in Heels by Kristin Cavallari.  (#goals)  

For quiet time lately, I've been reading Confessions of a Good Christian Girl.  I'm just now getting into it but I'll definitely let you know what I think.  I found it in a closet a few weeks ago when I was cleaning out boxes from when we moved into our house....10 years ago.  #whoa

And last but not least, I've ordered Uninvited.  I've heard amazing things about this book for awhile but I decided to go ahead and grab it from Amazon yesterday when I started working on this review.  Here's the publisher's summary:


  The enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than.
In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences of rejection--from the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over to the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father. She leans in to honestly examine the roots of rejection, as well as rejection's ability to poison relationships from the inside out, including our relationship with God.

With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa will help you:

  • Stop feeling left out by believing that even when you are overlooked by others you are handpicked by God.
  • Change your tendency to either fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process your hurt.
  • Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady your soul and restore your confidence in the midst of rejection.
  • Overcome the two core fears that feed your insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging.
I can't wait to read this book.  I know I always say my sweet Matthew is super sensitive but I also know where he gets it from.  ;) 

So that's my End of Summer book wrap up!  Have you read any of these??  What did you think??  Let me know!!  I love hearing other opinions and suggestions on what to read next!

Have a happy Thursday, friends!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tomorrow!


Well, I thought I would have my End of Summer Book Review done by today but unfortunately, I don't.  This has been a crazy week (and it's only Wednesday!!) and I have 10 books I want to review for you.   And I just ran out of time.  I'm going to finish that up today and have it for you tomorrow, so please come back to check it out!

But for now, you can see my Mid-Summer Review here!  There are 14 or 15 great options for all you chick-lit lovers and even a few psychological thrillers!


So come back tomorrow for reviews on more Kristan Higgins books (because I'm obsessed), a book recommended by Reese Witherspoon's Book Club (loved it!), plus a few random finds that you've probably never heard of.  Sometimes those turn out to be my favorites!

Don't forget you can find me on Instagram @amandanall and @thatinspiredchick!

See you tomorrow, friends!!



Monday, September 18, 2017

Miscellaneous Monday.

Happy Monday, friends!  As I sat down to type up my Monday post, I looked through my pictures and from the weekend and there were approximately 3.  And they weren't even good ones.  I've got to get better at remembering to take pictures.

Here's what the weekend looked like in a nutshell.

Friday night Mason had a 7:30 game and Matthew had a birthday party to go to from 5:30 to 8.  Craig left straight from a golf tournament to meet Mason at the game and I had to miss Mason's game in order to pick Matthew up at 8.  Boo.  

I snapped a quick pic when I showed up to get Matthew.  They were playing tug of war with a towel.  Not the best picture but there were boys hopped up pizza and sugar everywhere and they looked like they had a blast!


I worked on orders Saturday morning and then we left for Mason's noon football game.

It was so hot.  We are so ready for some cooler weather.  



When we got home, I spent the rest of the day working on orders.  I am so boring.  But I have so many orders.

Which is why today's post is a Miscellaneous Monday post instead of a Weekend Wrap Up.  There's just not a whole lot to wrap up.  ;)

  Friday morning, we will be heading to Louisiana for Craig's high school reunion so I have to get all the orders that are scheduled to ship this week finished by Thursday.  And that is right around 100 separate items that need to be made, packed and shipped in the next 4 days. #yikes

So I skipped church this morning which I HATE doing but I needed every second I could get in order to get all these done on time.  It will be an absolute MIRACLE if I get that happens.  (I'm definitely going to need some divine intervention!) 

I even ended up skipping our Sunday School Book Exchange party because I knew I needed to keep going while I was in the zone.


I've got 15 of these to make.  They are my favorite fall signs though!!  


I've got a ton of other signs to make as well but the ones above have been the biggest seller so far this season.

I also listed a few new designs on some coffee mugs!  These designs can be put on any cup and even made into a sign.  Just message me for more details!





Colors can be changed too.  I just did the examples in all black which I kind of like.  :)

I also made quite a few of these.











I also go in several tumblers that have been out of stock lately so if you've been waiting for a restock, go check it out now!

I'm also going to be adding an all black confetti option in this tumbler (below) today!! Perfect for the fall!


Find them all in the shop here!

And remember!  If you are shopping from your phone, tap on Item Details for all the ordering info and Shipping & Policies for the turnaround time!

Moving on from business...

Tonight I have a dinner date with 2 of my favorite girls and I am just hoping I'll be able to actually eat something other than mashed potatoes or soup.

The braces thing is getting a TINY bit better.  I am going in today (I hope) in order to get a bracket put back on that I already bit off and see what they can do about me chomping on these things when I chew.  Eating used to be so fun (right!?!) and now it just SUCKS.  I'm trying to be patient though while I adjust but still.  It sucks.  I still hate them.  And I still wonder why I did this to myself.  Thankfully, I have some super supportive friends who have also had braces and are happy to give me tips on how to make it less annoying. #thankyoufriends

On a happy note, my flare jeans came in Friday afternoon and I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE them!!! They fit me perfectly, give my butt a little lift and are so cute with a casual tee or a fancier top.  Since they come in a 32 or 34 length, I chose the 32 length and they may be an inch too long but it's no big deal and nothing compared to some of my other flares.  I'm super happy and they will be in constant rotation.


So if you're looking for some cute, casual flares go check these out!  I was prepared to send them back if I didn't just absolutely HAVE to have them since they aren't super cheap but there's no way I could once I put them on.

For more of my favorite flares and fall wardrobe must-haves, go here.  Bring on Fall!!!

Hope you all have a great Monday!!  If you need me, I'll be covered in paint and glitter in my little craftroom at the top of my stairs.  ;)





Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday Favorites.


Yeah.  It's been a long week.  For several reasons.  But we'll get to that.

Like every Friday, I am linking up with Andrea, Erika, and Narci for Friday Favorites!



Let's start with the happy stuff!  The true favorites!  And then we'll get to why this week has lasted FOR.EV.ER. (#namethatmovie)

Wednesday, I found a super cute little chevron box on my doorstep!  I'm a big online shopper plus I'm constantly having tumblers/water bottles/supplies delivered for my Etsy shop, so finding boxes at my doorstep is a pretty common thing.

But this one was CUTE so I knew it must be special.

And it was!!!!


My girl, Shay, is at it again.  She has another AMAZING little cookbook, Simmers, coming out in October!  It is full of slow cooker recipes that are quick and easy to throw together.  Basically, they will make you feel like super mom at the end of the day.  Every time I use my crockpot, I feel like I am winning at life.  Throw it all in in the morning and when it's time to call everyone in for dinner, just scoop it out and pat yourself on the back for a making such a fabulous meal.  :)  And for being so organized.

You can pre-order the book on Amazon right now and it'll be on your doorstep as soon as it's released!

I've been drooling over a ton of the recipes for the past two days...  Unfortunately, I am on an all mush diet at the moment so, it's basically torture.  All I want to do is make some brisket nachos and I can't!!  Keep reading...


An Un-favorite.

I'll go ahead and use this opportunity to explain why this week is taking FOR.EV.ER.

On Tuesday morning, I got braces put on my bottom teeth.  I thought it would be no big deal.  I've had braces before as a kid.  But they shifted a lot as an adult on bottom so it was time to do something about it.  I don't have a smile that shows my bottom teeth so really, vanity wise, I was ok with it.  (Is that shallow?  It's just the truth.  No one WANTS to have a smile full of metal.  And Invisalign and clear braces were both ruled out for various reasons.)

But HOLY FREAKIN' COW, MAN.  I've had so many issues that I didn't plan on!  For starters, the actual doctor never even came over to "sign off" on me once my braces were placed by the assistant.  He never checked me once during my visit, even though he walked right by me several times.  Is that weird?

I had to mention to the assistant that when I would bite down, my top teeth were biting down on the bottom brackets.  I mean, that can't be good, right?  Wouldn't that be something you'd check?

So she put these bite blocks on my back molars so that when I would bite down, the only teeth that would touch were those bite blocks on the molars so I wouldn't eat my brackets.

I cannot begin to tell you how much that sucks.

I couldn't handle only having two back molars doing all the work for me when I tried to chew.  It was awful.  It was awkward.  And there's no way I could go 10 months like this.  So I called to see if that was normal and they told me to come back in the next day and they would see what they could do.

So I went back in on Wednesday.  And long story short, she shaved down the bite blocks so much that once again, I'm chomping on my brackets.  And the doc didn't check on me that time either.  Grrr....

It hasn't been a huge deal yet though because I can't chew anything anyway.  My mouth is so sore.  My jaw hurts.  The inside of my bottom lip is ripped to shreds.  My face is even a little puffier than normal.  (And I have some cheeks, y'all.)

Here's what I've eaten since they were put on Tuesday morning at 9:30.

Water.  A latte.  (Thank you, amazing new latte maker!)  Two spoonfuls of Cookie Two Step ice cream.  (Chocolate chip cookie dough plus cookies and cream?!  OMG it's AMAZING!!)


And then that Tuesday night we had two ball games back to back.  Mason played at 6 and Matthew played at 7:45.  So sometimes, we drive the couple of minutes to Sonic and get something to eat while we watch Matthew play.  I was STARVING obviously.  But couldn't eat anything.  My mouth hurt and I had those weird bite things in.  Miserable, y'all.


Fake smile.  Hurting.  And ignoring the backseat mess.

My dinner was a strawberry milkshake.


And by the way, Matthew pitched for the first time Tuesday night!  He struck out two (including his very first batter!) and did sooooo good!!  He also pitched again last night.  Craig and I were grinning from ear to ear.  Matthew was so proud of himself too and realizes he actually likes it!



Wednesday is the day I called to have them "fixed". That day I had a latte, water, a smoothie and entire pint of ice cream for dinner.  Yeah, that's it.  

Thursday things got even worse.  One of my brackets popped off and my soreness was at an all-time high.  I still couldn't eat.  There were moments of wanting to cry and moments of wanting to scream.  #whydidIdothis?!

So yeah, all I could do was stare at Shay's cookbook and drool all over the brisket nachos and chicken spaghetti.

Torture.

Instead, I made this.


It was actually really good.  I added butter and cheese since it was the only thing I'd eat all day.  I'm still counting down the days until I can chomp down on those brisket nachos though.

I absolutely hate having these stupid braces and can only hope it will get better soon.  I have to go in today again to see what they can do.  Super annoyed.

So there's "Favorite" #2.  An absolute non-favorite.  Un-favorite.  Not sure what to call it.  I just know mama is not happy right now!  #andImstarving


These jeans are supposed to be arriving today!! I can't WAIT!!!  They come in a 32 or 34 length so I got the 32 and am hoping they'll work for me!  I love flares. Flare jeans and a comfy tee are my favorite combo.


To check out all of my other must-haves for fall, click here!  So many cute options for flares, skinny jeans, cute tops and some favorite fall shoes!!  Wednesday's post should just be an extension of my Friday Favorites because there are just many there.  Come on, Fall!!



I mentioned my wreath last week but it finally arrived!!  I splurged on this thing but I know I'll be able to use it from now until the end of November and for years to come.  The little owl in the center was just the icing on the cake.  It's so cute!!!  




I love supporting other Etsy mamas, so be sure to check her store out here!


Mason and I have started watching an episode of Diff'rent Strokes (did you know that's how they spell it?!) every night before bed.  I used to watch it as a kid with my dad so when I saw that you could watch the entire series on Starz On Demand, I was excited!  It is so much funnier than I even remember it being!  The acting reminds me of how the acting is in a play but Arnold is hysterical and I just want to pinch his cheeks so hard!!


So cute.

 

Snuggling with my boys is my most favorite thing to do EVER.  And they are getting so big, so fast.  They STINK.  They are hormonal.  (Especially the 9-year-old.) But they love being tricked into "sniggling" with their mama.  Matthew is my sensitive one and when you go into hug him, he doesn't let go.  He loves to be hugged but he doesn't want you to know that he does!

Mason, on the other hand, is always on the move.  He doesn't like to sit still long enough to snuggle up with me.  So I have to trick him.  ;)  He loves having his back scratched so I usually offer that or I saw he can get in our bed and watch TV.  Once he climbs in, he's all cuddles.  He also never pulls away when start kissing those sweet cheeks.  He loves me fawning all over him.  They both do.  They are just starting to realize it's not cool.  Silly boys.  It's always cool to love on your mama.


My bonus #icanteven of the week goes to these beauties!  ;)

Nordstrom calls these Gucci shoes a "Gladiator Loafer".



I just call them ugly.

I can't imagine even Giselle's legs looking good in these shoes.  So please, save your $1,890.

;)











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