Author Archives: wedbriefsfic

Book Review: You Love Me (You #3) by Caroline Kepnes

You Love Me (You #3)     

Author: Caroline Kepnes

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

American release date:  April 6, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Psychological Thriller/400 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Joe Goldberg’s dreams of a forever love with Love Quinn, mother of his future child, have been crushed following the death of Love’s twin brother Forty and Joe’s arrest on suspicion of murder—namely RIP Beck and RIP Peach. But thanks to the wealthy Quinn family, Joe is freed and given 4 million dollars to go away, with the proviso that he sign a paper that says he must stay away from his son, whom Love names Forty in honor of her brother.

Joe winds up moving to Bainbridge Island, Washington, in a house bought for him by the Quinns, where he becomes a volunteer at the local library and falls madly in love with librarian Mary Kay DiMarco. Mary Kay comes with baggage, in the form of teen-age daughter Nomi,  whom Joe refers to as the Meerkat, but so what? Joe can deal with that. But MK (as he calls her) is hiding something else from him, something that is an even greater obstacle to their happiness, in the form of a has-been rock star husband named Phil.

Simple enough for Joe Goldberg, right? Not like he hasn’t killed people before, he has. But Joe has turned over a new leaf. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone, much less kill them. He’s a good boy, he is. But suddenly, people are dying, and none of it’s his fault. So why is he being made to suffer for their deaths?

The third book of the You series is just as delightful as the first two, with the deliciously psychotic Joe Goldberg as the main attraction. I love reading Joe’s voice, and his humor, even if I don’t get all the references (I do get a lot of them, though). Joe’s trying to do the right thing but the universe seems determined to get him, and his growing softness might just be the end of him.

More interesting characters along with some very unexpected events. Definite roller coaster ride with its ups and downs, and never knowing how things will turn out for Joe. Will surely be reading the next one whenever it comes out. I know this is not the end of the line for our hero, and I look forward to reading more as I wonder what he will be up to next.

 

Wednesday Briefs: May 12, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon: Chapter Thirty-eight by Cia Nordwell
 

Bouncer was up and snarling, his rumble a deeper counterpoint to my pissed off hissing anger. I only wished I sounded that intimidating. It didn’t matter, I had a cerops to back me up, and once I figured out who had touched Garjah, I would hunt them down and together we’d rip off all four of their arms so they couldn’t go around touching other people who shouldn’t be touched by anyone but—  

The ramble in my brain didn’t end as I circled Garjah who stood very, very still. No, it only got more violent when I realized the scent

 
 

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Saturday is Horror Day #10 – The Flesh and the Fiends, The Thompsons

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Flesh and the Fiends


In 1828 Scotland, medical research and anatomy studies depend on having cadavers to study. Dr. Robert Knox (Peter Cushing), an eminent surgeon, purchases bodies from a pair of ne’er-do-wells, Burke (George Rose) and Hare (Donald Pleasance), who are not above robbing a grave in order to supply the good doctor.

 

 

Before long, the lazy pair discover that they can get corpses without the trouble of digging them up and get more money for the fresher bodies, namely by killing people on the streets in the middle of the night! Dr. Knox remains oblivious to what they are doing, and never questions their methods,  although his assistants do. When Dr. Knox’s niece Martha (June Laverick) comes to stay after an absence of three years, she catches the eye of Dr. Mitchell (Dermot Walsh), while student Chris Jackson (John Cairney) becomes enamored of a young woman, Mary Patterson (Billie Whitelaw), who is known to frequent pubs and likes to have a good time.

 

Burke and Hare come under suspicion as people begin to turn up missing. How long can Dr. Knox turn a blind eye to their shenanigans?


I am a long-time Peter Cushing fan and was thrilled to find this film I wasn’t familiar with, on Shudder. It has the feel of a Hammer film, although it isn’t one. Peter Cushing is great, as always, and I enjoyed watching Donald Pleasance play the creepily sinister William Hare. The film is based on the true story of Burke and Hare, and can also be seen in The Body Snatcher, with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. The Flesh and the Fiends is a little known, underappreciated gem among horror movies. It has a definite dark and creepy atmosphere, and is well worth viewing, especially for the performances of Cushing, Pleasance, and Rose. I’ll give it a solid 4 stars.

The Thompsons


The Hamiltons, now going by the Thompsons, have had to move on, their dark family secret having been uncovered. Knowing little of their late parents’ past, their only clue is the name of a village in England, and the name Manderson. So it’s off to Europe for the Thompsons!

 

 

Unfortunately, they run afoul of a couple of robbers, and Lenny is hurt. Now it’s imperative that they find him help as soon as possible. Francis finds the small village in question, and the pub where he may find Manderson. But again, things go awry, and he gets more than he bargained for. Turns out the Mandersons are kinfolk, and that’s not all they have in common.

 

The second movie begins where the first one ends, picking up in the middle of events as we find Francis trapped in a box, and of course he has to explain what led to this. Cue flashbacks. The entire movie concerns finding these relatives, who are even more sadistic and bloodthirsty than their American cousins, and who have their own plans for them. In particularly, for Darlene, as she seems to be the last hope for the continuation of their bloodline.

Frankly, the plot is thin at best, with not much more than the Thompsons vs the Mandersons. Mainly an excuse for fighting and bloodletting…. and more fighting and bloodletting. That wears thin quickly. The writers seem intent on showing the Thompsons in a more favorable light than in the first film, as if they are trying to make them out to be human. They’re not vampires, they have a disease, one that requires them to have a diet of blood. 

 

Honestly, there just isn’t a lot of meat to this one, and I found myself getting bored. Certainly not scary. The first movie wasn’t great, this one is barely decent. And I’m being kind here. I’ll just give it a soft 2 stars and suggest you find something else to watch. Like The Flesh and the Fiends.

Wednesday Briefs: May 5, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon: Chapter Thirty-seven by Cia Nordwell
 

“You don’t need to be scared,” Garjah said. He hurried over to the bed and sat next to me. The bunk edge sank under his weight. I leaned against him. The scent was even better straight from the source.  

Timok stepped closer, and I snapped my head up. He eased back, raising his hands. “Okay, so I’m going to say the bonding is not yet complete.”  

“You think?” I wanted to snap, and I was probably shorter than I even thought that came out considering I couldn’t stop glaring at him.  

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Saturday is Horror Day – Suspiria (1977), Train to Busan

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Suspiria (1977)

On a dark and stormy night, American Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives at the prestigious German ballet school where she has been accepted as a student only to be told by a voice over the  intercom to go away. Just as she arrives, she sees another young woman rush out of the building, who mutters some strange words before disappearing into the night. Suzy Bannion returns the next day to a much better reception.

 

From the beginning, Suzy shows herself to be strong-minded, a trait not necessarily desirable at the

school, which seems to be oddly controlling. Since a room is not immediately available for her, Suzy makes arrangements to sleep elsewhere and is settled in before going to her first rehearsal. There she falls perilously ill. Despite her protestations, the autocratic dance mistress pushes her until she collapses. The proprietress of the school, Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett) is very solicitous and Suzy is cared for the school’s Professor Milius (Rudolf Schundler) who puts her on bedrest and a bland diet, although he prescribes wine to build up her blood. While she is asleep, someone has gone to her lodgings and brought her things back although Suzy was very clear that she did not want that!

Strange things are happening at the school, including an infestation of grotesque maggots on the floor just below the attic, which necessitates the girls on that floor sleep downstairs in a makeshift dormitory arrangement. Suzy befriends another girl, Sara (Stefania Casini), who tells her a story about a strange snoring noise. Sara wonders where the teachers go at night, since they all leave at 8:30, and what do they do?

 

The blind piano player for the school is cruelly dismissed by the dance mistress, and ends up meeting a horrible death. Suzy and Sara are determined to get to the bottom of whatever is going on at this school But at what price?

This movie was recommended to me, I forget by which site, as a  horror gem, but for the life of me I am not sure why it has garnered such great reviews. The sets are uniquely strange, and the cinematography isn’t bad, sometimes rather effective. Ditto for the background music, with performances by a group called Goblin. The plot is more shocking than scary, and that has to be some of the worst movie blood I’ve ever seen. Straight up looked like red paint.

 

And the acting… oh, the acting…. Sorry, but it was horrible. I think I could do better, and I don’t act. Joan Bennett you may remember from Dark Shadows. I also remember her from an old version of The Man in the Iron Mask. But her delivery has always been rather stiff and stilted, and nothing has changed there. Apparently, this was her last film. The lead, Jessica Harper,  turned down in a part in Annie Hall to do this film. I wonder how she felt about that later.

I read that the actors spoke different languages while shooting and all was dubbed into English later, which accounts for the bad sound of the dialogue. The ending doesn’t provide a satisfactory explanation of what just happened. I leave it to you whether to even bother watching. I’ll just give it a shaky 3 stars out of 5, and hope that the 2018 remake is better.

Train to Busan

Su-an Kim is a young girl who lives with her father, as her parents are currently separated. Her mother lives in Busan, and Su-an misses her greatly. But her father is a busy man, and he doesn’t have time to take her to visit her mother. Seems like he doesn’t have time for a lot of things. Su-an secretly telephones her mother and says she wants to see her the next day, and swears she can take the train alone. Her father overhears, and tries to placate her by giving her her birthday present early. Turns out Dad wasn’t paying attention, and Su-an already has a Wii. So he finds himself agreeing to take his daughter to Busan to visit her mother.

As the train prepares to leave, a young lady manages to climb aboard, but she seems to be in a bad way. And as the train pulls out of the station, something very odd seems to be happening.

 

What began as a simple train ride becomes a fight for survival, as people become rabid zombies right before everyone’s eyes. And this strange phenomenon is happening everywhere. Why and how did this start? And how can anyone survive/ Is there any place that is safe?

 

This was a very unusual zombie film, and I loved it. More than a simple horror film, it is about people and about survival, about working together for the common good. But the situation also brings out the selfish and the brutal in people, who can only see as far as their own needs. Everything in this Korean film is excellent, from direction to acting to story to cinematography. I am looking forward to seeing the sequel.

Word of advice – keep some Kleenex handy for this one, you’ll need it. I give this film a very strong 5 star rating.

Book Review: Deathless Divide (Dread Nation #2) by Justina Ireland

Deathless Divide ( Dread Nation #2)

Authors: Justina Ireland

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

American release date: April 6, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Young Adult Zombie Fiction/560 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Civil War has been called… on account of the dead! Ever since the dead first began to rise from the fields of Gettysburg, nothing has been the same. But sadly, some things do remain the same. Slavery may be illegal, but blacks and Indians are still downtrodden, second-class citizens, and they’re being thrown into the front lines to combat the dead menace.

Jane McKeene and Katherine Devereaux have been trained at the renowned Miss Preston’s School for Combat in Baltimore. But Jane’s impulsive and rash nature in regards to a certain young man named Jackson see them shipped out West to a supposed haven from the dead by the name of Summerland. Unfortunately, this is not the paradise it was intended to be. Things go from bad to worse, and the girls and their friends escape and head out to nearby Nicodemus.

As they travel, Jackson suddenly tries to dissuade them from going to Nicodemus, which makes no sense to Jane, but the stubborn boy refuses to talk… until he does, and what he tells her well nigh breaks her heart. No wonder he didn’t want to let her know the truth. Why did she ever trust him to begin  with?

The road to Nicodemus is not an easy one, and along the way, they lose someone they care about. When they finally reach Nicodemus they learn that Daniel Redfern is the mayor—how crazy is that?—and a number of refugees from Summerland are here as well. Which begs the question how long before this town run by blacks will be in the hands of the whites? And what can be done to combat that?

Quick thinking by Jane allows Katherine to pass as white, and she is sent to the nicer part of town, while the other girls end up bedding down in the local brothel, run by the Duchess. Jane is not surprised to see Gideon here, but is surprised to learn he’s made this a base of operations for some time. And he’s still hot on vaccinating anybody and everybody he can. Thanks to a terrible error of judgment on Gideon’s part, Nicodemus is overrun by the dead, who have become surely more savvy than before,  and while trying to escape, the unthinkable happens when Jane is bitten.

The second volume of the Dread Nation duology is written in two perspectives, both Jane’s and Katherine’s, where the first book was all in Jane’s voice. That becomes necessary when the friends are separated, beginning their own journeys.

I enjoyed hearing Katherine’s voice and learn more about her in her own words. She and Jane are so different from one another, but perhaps therein lies the attraction. Difficult times bring out the best and the worst in people, and that is very obvious in this book, as it was in the first. As abhorrent as the people of Summerland were, the people of Nicodemus are every bit as horrible with a few exceptions. And, as usual, Jane keeps putting herself behind the eight ball, so to speak, because that is how she is—strong-minded, and unwilling to let an injustice go unpunished. Even so, something happens which changes Jane, not necessarily for the better, and it will take everything these two girls possess to overcome this divide that has grown between them.

The second book is every bit as good as the first, and although there are no signs of a third book, the ending leaves that open to change, at least in my eyes. There is also a side book I intend to read, Three For the Road.

If you enjoyed Dread Nation, you are sure to love Deathless Divide. Looking forward to reading more from this author.

Wednesday Briefs: April 28, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Super Trooper #66 (15.3) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Everything had gone perfectly today, just as Evan hoped it would. It had been difficult to send Chan off to work looking like a wounded puppy because no one had acknowledged his birthday. But that would have given everything away, and he was sure his lover forgave him for that now.

Laksha had begun to bake as soon as Chan was out of sight. The result was the most beautiful carrot cake Evan had ever seen, completely with traditional fondant decorations. She seemed pleased with the praised he heaped on her, and helped him to prep for the food he was going to make for Chan’s birthday lunch. He couldn’t even pronounce the name of the main dish when he started, but with

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No more Irregulars for me and other shows I am enjoying (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming)

by Julie Lynn Hayes

It’s been a while since I talked about what I’m watching. Of course I can’t go back and  pick up what I missed, but I can move forward. Starting with my decision tonight to stop watching the Irregulars, a new Netflix show loosely based on the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

 


The Baker Street Irregulars are a group of street kids, led by a boy named Billy, who were utilized for their knowledge of London streets by famed private detective Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. John Watson. In this Netflix series, these kids are reimagined, with a young girl named Bea as their leader, and in this imagining we find a definite element of the supernatural. Edgy and youth oriented, I enjoyed it at first. After all, with sexy Royce Pierreson as Dr. Watson (last seen as Istredd on The Witcher), what can go wrong?

 

Sadly, a great deal. In this incarnation, they have completely changed Dr. Watson’s character, and are apparently portraying Sherlock as a weak, wasted drug addict (please don’t tell me he was an addict, he was high functioning and he did not spend time in opium dens). The straw that broke the camel’s back came when  I was about halfway through the fourth episode when  they introduced Inspector Lestrade as an utter asshole. I didn’t even care that they brought in one of Queen Victoria’s brood (the hemophiliac Prince Leopold) to run around with the group, although I personally don’t see that as ever happening. What I have come to realize is that this is Netflix’s version of any one of a number of shows on the CW – youth rules, age drools, that sort of thing. Bad enough what the CW did to Vampire Diaries, now Netflix is ruining Sherlock (and I won’t even consider watching Enola Holmes, not happening). So, it ends here. I can’t recommend this to anyone who enjoys watching or reading Doyle’s detective. Hard pass for me.

There is another book adaptation that Netflix is running. I just happened to read the book when I learned


about the series. You is the series in question, from the book by Caroline Kepnes. Told in the first person, it’s about a guy named Joe who works in a second-hand book store and becomes obsessed with a young female customer who enters the story by the name of Guinevere Beck. The first book in the series is all about this relationship as we quickly discover that Joe will do what it takes to get what he wants, up to and including murder.

 

****SPOILERS AHEAD*****  Joe stalks Beck, which she makes ridiculously easy by not having shades and by being something of an exhibitionist. For example, she has a little green pillow she humps when she’s horny. But she also has a friend with benefits named Benji, who is everything Joe despises. Plus he is using Beck. So he’s got to go.

Luckily the book store owner, Mr. Mooney, installed a sound proof cage in the basement where he 


keeps rare editions (although in the book, you have to take a ladder to get to them, in the series, they are reachable. Which is where Joe puts Benji, keeping him hostage until he dies from ingesting peanuts (Joe didn’t believe he had an allergy but by golly he did!)

 

Beck also has a very obnoxious, rich friend named Peach Salinger (yes, related to those Salingers), who is determined to win Beck’s heart (and body). Joe knows how to deal with her thought.  And then we have Beck’s analyst, Dr. Nicky, who is also (unknown to Beck) Joe’s analyst (played in the series by John Stamos). While he doesn’t die, he does end up framed for Beck’s murder. And that concludes the first book.

 

Now, the first season covers the first book, with some changes. In the book, Candace is dead. In the series, she comes back, and her characters is combined with Amy Adam. The second season, like the second book, sees Joe go to Hollywood where he meets Love Quinn and her brother Forty. But in this version, Joe takes the identity of a screenwriter, who he ends up trapping in the cage, now situated in a storage locker in LA) To be honest, I don’t know how that got there, but it did.

 


Other changes in the series include the addition of a young boy in the first season, Will’s neighbor’s son, who lives with his mother and her abusive boyfriend. In the second season, the writers gave Delilah a little sister, who is the object of the pedophile comedian Hendy, and Delilah is given more intelligence and less sluttiness, which apparently makes her less likeable too. I’m sure the writers had their reasons for this. I’ve finished the second book and am waiting on the third, and so far I am liking the series. Keep in mind, Joe is a sociopath. I think the addition of the young cast members was to instill some sort of humanity into someone who is a serial killer.

 

Okay, last show I want to discuss is Lilyhammer, another Netflix series. I recently watched the entire 


Sopranos series, which I received as a gift for Christmas, and I loved it! I was sorry to see it end. Then one day I ran across Lilyhammer, which stars Stephen Van Zandt, who played Sil in the Sopranos. Of course I had to check it out!

 

Van Zandt plays Frank Tagliano, a New York mobster who testifies against one of his associates and demands the FBI relocate him in Lillehammer, Norway. One, because he saw the town during the Olympics and thought it was beautiful. And two, because it’s the last place in the world that anyone will look for him.

 

He is given the new name of Giovanni Henriksen, supposedly his father was Norwegian, but he likes to go by Johnny. Johnny has to learn a new language and a new culture in order to make his way in his new homeland. Of course, you can take the guy out of the mob, but you can’t take the mob out of the guy…

C’mon, is anyone really surprised? This is SIl we’re taking about lol

 


He’s intent on learning the language and studies diligently.  New in town, he meets single mother Sigrid Haugli (Marian Saastad Ottesen) and is attracted to her. He also makes some new business associates of his own and sets himself up in business. But his time as a wise guy is far from wasted as he uses his experience to get ahead in this new world he finds himself. in.

 

I have only seen four episodes but I love it already and am looking forward to more. Johhny, aka Stephen Van Zandt, is utterly adorable. There are lots of laughs, as well as some very romantic moments. Johnny’s next door neighbor turns out to be the chief of police, and she is very suspicious of him. In one episode, they decide he’s actually an Arab terrorist!  lol This series is fun for all.

All right, that’s it for now. I hope to talk about The Magicians soon (which I am rewatching) and Castlevania (which I will watch again since season 4 comes out May 13) and The Witcher (which I’ve seen six times now and have no idea when the second season is coming).

Saturday is Horror Day #8 (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming) – Swiss Army Man, The Babadook

Reviewed by: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Swiss Army Man

Stranded and alone and sure he will never be found or loved again, Hank (Paul Dano) decides to take his own life. Poised on the top of his cooler, his head in the noose, he suddenly spies what seems to be another person washed up on the beach. Almost killing himself to reach that person, he discovers what appears to be a corpse. But appearances can be deceiving, as Hank discovers when the corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) begins to convulse.

 

Beside himself with joy at no longer being alone, Hank discovers that his newfound friend is very flatulent, even if silent. Harnessing the power of his flatulence, Hank finds himself on top of the corpse, whom he names Manny, and is swiftly cutting across the water thanks to his strong gassiness.

 

Hank and Manny thus begin their long journey together, during which Hank discovers all sorts of uses for Manny, in the strange powers he possesses – much like a Swiss Army knife. Manny’s spit is fresh water for Hank, and he can break things with his hands. When Manny spies Hank’s phone, he asks about the girl in the picture. Hank is embarrassed to admit she’s a random girl on the bus he has always been too scared to speak to. He leads Manny to believe the phone is his, and the girl is his sweetheart, giving Manny something to look forward to when they get home.

All right, maybe strictly speaking this isn’t a horror film, but it has a dead guy in it who talks and a 

whole lot more, so I’m including it. And hey, it’s Daniel Radcliffe, whom we saw last week in The Woman in Black. This was a surprisingly different movie than I expected. I think it’s much deeper than strictly the story of a farting corpse. I believe it’s Hank’s journey to find himself, and to work through all the angst in his life. Interpret the ending however you like, but this film will make you think about a lot of things.

The Babadook

Amelia Vanek(Essie Davis) is a single mother doing her best to raise her seven-year-old son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) on her own. Her husband was killed on the night Samuel was born, while driving AMelia to the hospital. Samuel is a very bright, creative boy who loves his mother dearly, but finds himself shunned by the other children and their mothers because they find him to be too different.

 

While Amelia loves her son, she has never gotten over the death of her husband, and she finds herself stressed all the time, which isn’t helped by Samuel’s clinginess, and the way he ends up in her bed because of his vivid imagination. He finds a book on the shelf which he requests she read to him, so she does, about someone called Mr. Babadook. For a children’s book, it sounds scary, and she isn’t sure it’s appropriate for her son. That idea is reinforced when he becomes convinced that the Babdook will get them if she lets him in.

 

The situation goes from bad to worse as Amelia’s friends don’t want to have her son around, his behavior gets him removed from school, and she doesn’t know how to deal with his nightmares, and his insistence that he will save her from the mysterious Babdook. Sometimes, she just wishes, her husband hadn’t been the one to die that night….

The Babdook is a gripping story about a woman who is trying to cope with stress/PTSD and unresolved grief, and then is faced with a supernatural creature who seems to want to take her son. Amelia is doing the best she can, but her continued lack of proper sleep puts them all in grave danger, as she becomes more and more unable to cope with the reality of her life. As the film progresses, we see a reversal in the roles of Amelia and Samuel as she regresses and he becomes more and more determined to protect the mother he loves.

This is a film that really begs to be paid attention to. It’s deeper than you might think it is. I would give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars. But don’t look for a sequel, there won’t be one.

Wednesday Briefs: April 21, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Super Trooper #65 (15.2) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Chan’s unhappiness over the day’s events—or rather the lack thereof—grew even greater when he arrived at work to find it was just another ordinary day on the job. Not one happy birthday in the bunch, just business as usual. He tried hard not to be grumpy or morose, but he found that difficult to do when everyone else was just so full of smiles and sunshine.

He hadn’t brought a lunch, thinking someone would treat him for his birthday, as was the usual custom among his fellow employees. But when an offer wasn’t forthcoming, he finally decided what the heck, he’d just do something for himself. Why not? Even if no one else realized what day it was, he did.

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