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October 15, 2010 Newsletter October 15, 2010
San Francisco, Here I Am

I am in San Francisco for Bouchercon, the world mystery convention. I love this event because it gives me a chance to see --- and talk to --- lots of readers. Of course, the fact that it’s in San Francisco, which is one of my favorite cities, is pretty grand, too.

I raced to the airport to fly out here on Wednesday morning after doing a talk about book groups to a gathering of librarians in New Jersey in conjunction with Reading Group Month. I packed very quickly and was half-paying attention to the task at hand and half-writing emails as I scrambled to leave the house. When I unpacked that evening, I realized I have SEVEN pairs of pants, assorted t-shirts and tanks, but I fear not enough to get me through until Tuesday, and the oddest collection of shoes. I am not sure what goes with what I was thinking as I packed. I also have three knitting projects --- a ruana, which is like a poncho wrap that is almost done, and two tank tops that are halfway done. Now I figure that if I run out of tops, I just need to knit faster so I have something to wear!

I read a lot, but many of the fans at this convention are such über readers that they are making me seem like a lackey. Seriously, this morning I was at a panel where participants were sharing their favorite titles; the audience was "oooohing" and "ahhhing," and I was feverishly scrambling notes. There is such pleasure in being around avid readers who are enthusiasts for the craft of writing and the discovery of new writers and books. There is an energy here that is so invigorating; I heard this morning that there may be more than 1,400 attendees! I attended my first Bouchercon in 2003 in Las Vegas; tonight a few of us were gathered at a party swapping stories from that event and others. Next year, Bouchercon will be held in St. Louis on September 15th-18th and then in Cleveland in 2013 and Albany in 2014. Mark your calendars!

Earlier this week, the nominees for this year’s National Book Awards were announced. Pat Conroy did the honors, announcing the list from the historic Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home in Savannah, Georgia. Prizes will be awarded in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature at a gala in New York City on Wednesday, November 17th. This year there are 13 female authors nominated, the largest number of women finalists in the awards’ history. You can see the complete list of nominees in each category here.

We have a review of one of the nominees, GREAT HOUSE by Nicole Krauss, in this week's update. Reviewer Norah Piehl says, “GREAT HOUSE is solidly and carefully constructed, but Krauss still gives her characters room to breathe, exhibit genuine emotion, and live.” This is Nicole’s first book since 2005’s THE HISTORY OF LOVE, which has been a book club favorite since its release.

This week, one of my favorite authors, Nicholas Evans, has a new book out, which is called THE BRAVE. I have selected it as a Bets On Pick. I read THE BRAVE back in the spring and was reminded how much I just love Nicholas's writing. He writes about human emotion with such care that you immediately see and feel his characters. Melanie Smith wrote our review and says, “There are good reasons we read books like these: to appreciate simplicity and to understand what makes the man, the everyday hero, who possesses the innate power to calm, honor and command our respect.”

You can also watch not one, but two great interviews with Nicholas on his website, In one, you will learn the astonishing story of what happened in Nicholas’s life, which is why this book took so much time to complete. In the second, he does an in-depth piece about THE BRAVE. My only disappointment in being in San Francisco this week is that Nicholas is in New York, and I will miss seeing him.

I am selecting a second Bets On Pick this week, and it’s the first time that I have selected a Young Adult title for this distinction. REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly is just brilliant. Donnelly crafts a book that crosses the lives of two young women --- one a modern-day high school student and the other a young girl growing up during the French Revolution. It’s multi-layered, rich and brilliantly composed. Ah, and yes, composed is the right word because the book also has themes of music throughout, pairing classical masters with some of the exciting music artists of today. Reviewer Sarah Rachel Egelman says, "REVOLUTION is a highly literary, emotional novel with elements of historical fiction, thriller and romance."

On the espionage front, we have reviews of the latest titles from John le Carré and Vince Flynn. I was lucky enough to get an early copy of le Carré’s OUR KIND OF TRAITOR and have it with me this trip. I confess I have never read le Carré, and I look forward to doing so, especially since sooooo many other authors are compared to him. Reviewer Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum says, “OUR KIND OF TRAITOR is a tour-de-force that is thrillingly paced and designed to keep the audiences half in and half out of the decisions that are being made.” AMERICAN ASSASSIN is the latest Mitch Rapp book from Vince Flynn, who has become one of the most-loved names in the genre. Reviewer Joe Hartlaub says, "Never one to flinch from his steely-eyed and accurate view of how the world truly works, Flynn has given us the latest in a long and memorable line of stirring and must-read thrillers.

We also have a review of THE PROSTITUTES’ BALL by Stephen J. Cannell, who sadly passed away on September 30th. I mentioned last week that I was lucky enough to have met Stephen a few times and was always impressed with how he interacted with fans, as well as his efforts in raising awareness for dyslexia. He’ll certainly be missed. Joe Hartlaub says in his review, “THE PROSTITUTES’ BALL is a worthy end to his career, a high note for a creator who played nothing but.

Another review to note this week is Liz Murray’s BREAKING NIGHT: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard, which has been spotlighted in our One to Watch feature for the past few weeks. I met Liz at a recent conference and was so impressed with her. She’s smart, articulate and most of all so passionate about telling her story. She was truly inspiring to listen to. Liz also is quite active in a charity called Blessings in a Backpack, which provides weekend meals and nourishment to disadvantaged children. Since we’ve featured BREAKING NIGHT, I’ve received a few emails from readers who give it high marks and many kind words --- and from others who have donated to Blessings after hearing about it. I love when this happens. Alexis Burling agrees in her review, saying, “Beyond the sheer impressiveness of Liz’s accomplishments is the honesty and humility she shows when writing about her experiences.” We also have an interview with Liz here.

Thinking about the holidays? Then you will want to delve into Patti Callahan Henry’s novella, THE PERFECT LOVE SONG, which is a wonderful holiday tale. It’s the kind of book that makes you smile and be glad you read it. Our reviewer Bronwyn Miller has this to say: "Patti Callahan Henry, known for celebrating the Low Country of South Carolina in her novels, puts her well-established charms to work on this holiday tale of life and love, with a little Celtic flavor thrown in for good measure."

In late June, I had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca D. Costa, the author of THE WATCHMAN’S RATTLE: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction, which is in stores now. It’s a book that tackles a very interesting subject --- how we as a people are so stuck in our evolution process that we are incapable of solving many of today’s problems. Rebecca shared that while the book’s official Foreword is by the legendary E.O. Wilson, others also asked to contribute forewords as they were so impressed with Rebecca’s work. Some of the incredibly successful and influential people who gave high praise to the book include Sir Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Tina Brown and Temple Grandin. You can read these pieces here.

The group launched their project, The Novel: Live!, on Monday, featuring 36 authors from the Pacific Northwest all contributing to one novel in just six days. Each writer worked in a two-hour shift with the final session scheduled for 6 PM Sunday with Susan Wiggs. Also involved with the project are Erica Bauermeister, Carol Cassella, Robert Dugoni, Jamie Ford, Elizabeth George, Erik Larson, Kevin O’Brien, Jennie Shortridge, Garth Stein and more. They have a great website for the project, which you can check out here. They’re also streaming a lot of the sessions through the site here. To read the book so far, click here and check back Sunday evening to see how it all ends. The Novel: Live! was conceived to raise money for literacy and writing programs in the Seattle area. If you live in the area, swing by the Richard Hugo House's Cabaret stage to join in the fun, or if you’d like to make a donation, click here. As I am on the West Coast, I wish I had been able to get up to Seattle to catch part of this event live, but my schedule just did not allow for it. You can keep with the project on our Facebook page or our weekly blog posts here.

After seeing my praise of "Mad Men," Reeves, one of our readers, pointed out the comment board for the show on The Wall Street Journal’s website that you can see here. A lot of the comments give some great insight on the show, as well as the time period. Thanks to Reeves for sharing this link with me! Of course, once again my hotel does not have AMC in the rooms, thus I can see myself hunting down a place to watch the show on Sunday night.

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful week of reading….I will have more to share about my San Francisco adventures next week. And hopefully some photos as well.

Carol Fitzgerald (


Now in Stores: OUR KIND OF TRAITOR by John le Carré

OUR KIND OF TRAITOR by John le Carré (Thriller)
When they splurge on a tennis vacation in Antigua, Perry and Gail are idealistic and in love. But Antigua’s charm begins to pall when a big-time Russian money launderer convinces them to help him defect from his criminal brotherhood. Now the guileless couple is caught in a deadly endgame that can end only when a winner emerges from the British Secret Service’s ruthless, internecine battles. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.

-Click here to read an excerpt from OUR KIND OF TRAITOR.

Click here to read a review of OUR KIND OF TRAITOR.


A Video Interview with Nicholas Evans, Author of THE BRAVE: A Bets On Selection

THE HORSE WHISPERER author Nicholas Evans is back with yet another amazing novel, THE BRAVE, which follows the life story of Tommy Bedford as he transforms from a quirky loner into an adult who is forced to confront his boyhood demons in order to re-forge a bond with his estranged son. In this video interview, Evans talks about the characters who have brought his most recent book to life, elaborating on Tommy’s troubled childhood and how his sister changes the way he sees his life. He also reveals how the sight of George W. Bush in a Stetson hat inspired Tommy’s obsession with cowboys and Indians, speculates on how the myth of the West has influenced the war in Iraq, and explains how his near-death experience informed his second attempt at his novel.

THE BRAVE by Nicholas Evans (October 12th): Nicholas Evans has been a favorite author of mine for years. He writes brilliantly about human emotion and the human spirit. While he is best known for THE HORSE WHISPERER, I still am haunted by the story in THE DIVIDE, which brilliantly explored the unraveling of a marriage. There are lines he has written there that are brutally honest and refreshingly stark and bold. In each of his books, he treads into relationships that work only because he is brave enough to go there. And thinking of this, I realize how apt it is that his new book is called THE BRAVE.

Nicholas loves the American West and spent a lot of time during his childhood caught up in stories of cowboys and Indians. He loves old Westerns with their heroes seated high on horseback commanding their worlds from the saddle. I always find it amusing when we talk, and I hear his fabulous British accent describing with abject enthusiasm these quintessential American icons. Nicholas has ridden and hiked and explored more of the West than most Americans, and his rich attachment to this part of the country infuses this book.

THE BRAVE is multi-layered and ambitiously crafted, exploring the power of love, the haunting effect of family secrets and the bonds that tie people together. The book alternates between the past and the present, and the setting moves from a prep school in England to Hollywood and then to Montana. It is so original that it only could have been written by Nicholas Evans. I finished it and immediately pronounced it a Bets On selection. Saddle up and enjoy.

-Click here to read a review of THE BRAVE.
-Visit Nicholas Evans’s official website,


Click here to watch an interview with Nicholas Evans.


An Interview with Liz Murray, Author of BREAKING NIGHT


Liz Murray is the author of BREAKING NIGHT, the awe-inspiring memoir about what it’s like to grow up in a dysfunctional household governed by drug-addicted parents and how she struggled to withstand the overwhelming odds that had been stacked against her. In this interview, Murray talks about how love can help people overcome the challenge of changing their lives, elaborating on the importance of community and the dangers of self-imposed limitations. She also discusses the differences between BREAKING NIGHT and the 2003 Lifetime movie inspired by her personal story, explains why her book doesn’t read like a “misery memoir” --- in spite of her horrific childhood --- and reveals why she decided to promote her stunning story the old-fashioned way: by driving across the country on a bus.

BREAKING NIGHT: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray (Memoir)
Written in the vein of THE GLASS CASTLE, BREAKING NIGHT is the stunning memoir of a young woman who was born to loving but drug-addicted parents. Taunted for her dirty clothes and lice-infested hair, Liz Murray skipped so many classes as a child that she was put into a girls’ home. At age 15 she was sleeping on the streets…and two years later, she found herself at Harvard. Reviewed by Alexis Burling.

-Click here to read a review of BREAKING NIGHT.
-Click here to read an excerpt from BREAKING NIGHT.
-Click here to read Liz Murray’s bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for BREAKING NIGHT.
-Click here to watch Liz Murray discuss BREAKING NIGHT.
-Click here to see our finished copy winners.


Click here to read an interview with Liz Murray. Bets On: REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly

REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly (October 12th): REVOLUTION is my first Young Adult Bets On selection. At a time when we see more and more adults reading young adult titles, this is one with clear crossover appeal. It’s set in both the present day and the French Revolution. History class is many years behind me at this point, but I found myself getting a wonderful refresher about Paris two centuries ago that made the city during the French Revolution come alive for me through the meticulous research of Jennifer Donnelly, who many of you know from her two adult novels, THE TEA ROSE and THE WINTER ROSE.

Andi, the modern character who lives in Brooklyn, has a number of issues with which to grapple. Her younger brother has died, something for which she blames herself, her father has a new wife and her mom is pretty much checked out. Combine that with the academic and social pressures of a swanky New York private school, and Andi becomes a teen with a lot to handle and not much support. When her father declares she will join him for winter break in Paris --- so he can monitor her getting her life and her senior thesis on track --- Andi goes kicking and screaming.

At a family friend’s home, she finds Alexandrine’s (love that name) diary, and from there she is caught up in the historical portion of the story that centers on Louis Charles, the young son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. While we all know his parents’ fate, most will not know what happened to the children they left behind. Donnelly has done an award-winning job of bringing the stories together. There also is a wonderful discussion of music, drawing connections between old world artists and today’s modern musicians. You can hear the music being played as you turn the pages, and though I am not a huge fan of classical music, I found myself wanting to plunge into listening to these scores and more deeply appreciating the old masters.

Donnelly spent 10 years researching and writing this book, and her painstaking work makes this a book that reads like a page-turner, but will be savored, reflected on and remembered long after the reading is done. There was more than one occasion that I commented that this book is nothing short of brilliant, not only for the way it addresses the story matter, but also for the way she weaves characters and time periods together. A triumph.

-Click here to read a review of REVOLUTION.
-Click here to read an excerpt from REVOLUTION.


Click here to see all the titles we’re betting you’ll love.


Featured One to Watch Author: Tatiana de Rosnay, Author of SARAH’S KEY

Tatiana de Rosnay's U.S. debut, SARAH'S KEY, has been a bestseller since its 2007 release and a popular book club selection. The story of a journalist researching the events that unfolded in Paris 60 years previously --- during the Nazi occupation of a French town --- has become a worldwide favorite.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from SARAH’S KEY.
here to read Tatiana de Rosnay’s bio.
here to see Tatiana de Rosnay’s backlist.
here to read critical praise for SARAH’S KEY.
-Click here to see our finished copy winners.

More about SARAH'S KEY:
Paris, July 1942
: Sarah, a 10-year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002
: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

Click here to read more about Tatiana de Rosnay and SARAH'S KEY.


Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: John Lutz, Author of MISTER X

Suspense/thriller veteran John Lutz returns with MISTER X, his latest page-turning, spine-tingling novel that will keep you guessing until the final paragraphs. A detective reopens a cold case, and with it, the idle serial killer.

-Click here to read afont size="2"> third excerpt from MISTER X.
-Click here to read John Lutz’s bio.
-Click here to see John Lutz’s backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for MISTER X.
-Visit John Lutz's official website,

-Click here to see our finished copy winners.

More about MISTER X:
He mutilates his victims. Slices their throats. And carves an X into their flesh. Five years ago, he claimed the lives of six women. Then the killings abruptly stopped --- no one knows why. Ex-homicide detective Frank Quinn remembers. Which is why he’s shocked to see one of the dead women in his office. Actually, she’s the identical twin of the last victim, and she wants Quinn to find her sister’s murderer. But when the cold case heats up, it attracts the media spotlight --- and suddenly the killings start again…
Click here to read more about John Lutz and MISTER X.

Now in Stores: THE PROSTITUTES' BALL by Stephen J. Cannell

THE PROSTITUTES' BALL: A Shane Scully Novel by Stephen J. Cannell (Thriller)
When LAPD Detective Shane Scully responds to a call at a once-immaculate mansion, the place is deserted --- except for three dead bodies, all shot with the same gun. But when Scully starts investigating what looks like an open-and-shut case, things take a turn for the worse. Now Scully and his new partner are caught in a killer’s crosshairs as they close in on the answer to a decades-old crime. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE PROSTITUTES' BALL.

Click here to read a review of THE PROSTITUTES' BALL.

Now in Stores: GREAT HOUSE by Nicole Krauss

GREAT HOUSE by Nicole Krauss (Fiction)
For 25 years, a reclusive American novelist has been writing on a desk she inherited from a Chilean poet taken by Pinochet’s secret police…until a girl claiming to be the poet’s daughter sends the writer’s life reeling. And while a man across the ocean unravels a terrible secret, an antiques dealer in Jerusalem reassembles his father’s study. As these individuals confess, the poet’s desk takes on more meaning, binding them all to what has disappeared. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read an excerpt from GREAT HOUSE.

Click here to read a review of GREAT HOUSE.

Now in Stores: AMERICAN ASSASSIN by Vince Flynn

AMERICAN ASSASSIN by Vince Flynn (Thriller)
Before he was a CIA super-agent, before he became a terrorist’s worst nightmare, and before he earned the loathing and admiration of everyone on Capitol Hill, Mitch Rapp was a star athlete without a care in the world…until the Pan Am Lockerbie attack changed his world forever. Now he’s a man on a mission that will bring him to the enemy’s doorstep, and he’ll need all the cunning he can muster in order to survive. Reviewed by
Joe Hartlaub.

Click here to read a review of AMERICAN ASSASSIN.

Now in Stores: FORBIDDEN PLACES by Penny Vincenzi

FORBIDDEN PLACES by Penny Vincenzi (Fiction)
Set in the English countryside during World War II, Penny Vincenzi’s eighth riveting family drama is about love, marriage and long-held secrets --- and how war tends to destroy every accepted social value.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

Click here to read a review of FORBIDDEN PLACES.


Now in Stores: THE PERFECT LOVE SONG by Patti Callahan Henry

THE PERFECT LOVE SONG: A Holiday Story by Patti Callahan Henry (Romance)
Jimmy Sullivan and his brother, Jack, lead a life of music and anonymous cities. But when Jimmy falls in love and writes the lyrics to the “Perfect Love Song,” he gets catapulted into a world of fame and fortune. A slave to his career, Jimmy finds himself alone on Christmas Eve in New York City. Now that he realizes what’s important to him, can he reunite with Jack and the girl behind his love song? Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE PERFECT LOVE SONG.
-Visit Patti Callahan Henry's official website,


Click here to read a review of THE PERFECT LOVE SONG.

This Week’s Reviews

DEWEY'S NINE LIVES: The Legacy of the Small-Town Library Cat Who Inspired Millions by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter (Pets/Essays)/span>
DEWEY was a bestselling blockbuster and a publishing phenomenon. No doubt about it, Dewey has touched readers everywhere, helping them realize that no matter how ordinary their talents are or how difficult their lives might seem, they can make a positive difference for those around them. And now, Dewey is back again, sharing more heartwarming moments and inspiring life-lessons than ever before. Reviewed by Carole Turner.

TRAVELS IN SIBERIA by Ian Frazier (Travel)
Training his eye on the vast expanse of Asiatic Russia, Ian Frazier explores this storied (and often grim) region in unforgettable detail. Taking readers through the history of an area that takes up one-seventh of the land on earth, TRAVELING IN SIBERIA is more than just a historical travelogue brimming with Mongols, royalty and revolutionists --- it’s an account of Russia since the end of the Soviet Union and a personal reflection on its all-around amazingness. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

BOUND by Antonya Nelson (Fiction)
Antonya Nelson’s fourth novel is a quiet character study of the bonds of family and friendship, at times fragile and at others strong as steel. Nelson plumbs the interior lives of a small but intriguing collection of characters, probing for some understanding of these often inexplicable ties. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for BOUND.

THE WEEKEND by Bernhard Schlink (Fiction)
Old friends and lovers reunite for a weekend in a secluded country home after spending decades apart. The occasion is the welcoming home of Jorg, a convicted terrorist free after 24 years in prison. The weekend with friends and family will pull Jorg in many directions --- and quite possibly towards his own past. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE WEEKEND.

THE CAPITOL GAME by Brian Haig (Financial Thriller)
When Wall Street banker Jack Wiley learns of a polymer with the power to change the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he thinks he’s found a dream come true. His plan is simple: enlist one of the nation’s most powerful corporations and execute a bloodless takeover of the developer. But when the Pentagon gets involved, Jack’s dream deal turns into a nightmare, putting his back against the wall in the greatest scandal America has ever seen. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

THE TYPIST by Michael Knight (Historical Fiction)
At the conclusion of World War II, Private First Class Francis “Van” Vancleave lands in Tokyo. Because of Van’s expert typing skills, he is assigned to the Officer Personnel Section, where he meets General Douglas “Bunny” MacArthur and witnesses firsthand the General’s love affair with the people of Japan. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.


Click here to read this week's reviews.

Poll and Question of the Week: YA Reading


Of all the books you read, approximately what percentage are written for a young adult audience?

Less than 25%

More than 75%
I'm not sure.

-Click here to answer our poll.


What are some of the best young adult books you've ever read? Name up to three.

-Click herefont face="verdana,helvetica,sans-serif" size="2"> to answer our question.


Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- and You Can Win THREE Books!
Tell us what books YOU are reading and loving --- or even those you don't.

This week we have three great prizes: FIVE readers each will win a copy of CHASING THE NIGHT by Iris Johansen, THE TEMPLAR SALVATION by Raymond Khoury, and TROUBLEMAKER: A Barnaby & Hooker Graphic Novel, Book One by Janet Evanovich and Alex Evanovich. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon ET on Friday, October 22nd to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.

Click here for more details about Word of Mouth.

As always, here are a few housekeeping notes. If you are seeing this newsletter in a text version, and would prefer to see the graphics, you can either read it online or change your preferences below.

Those of you who wish to send mail to, please see the form on the Write to Us page. If you would like to reach me, please write Writing any of the respond buttons below will not get to us.

Those who are subscribed to the newsletter by October 31, 2010 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: AMERICAN ASSASSIN by Vince Flynn, THE BRAVE by Nicholas Evans, CHASING THE NIGHT by Iris Johansen, OUR KIND OF TRAITOR by John le Carre, and WORTH DYING FOR: A Reacher Novel by Lee Child. Virginia from Tulsa, OK was last month's winner. She won FALL OF GIANTS: Book One of the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett, MINI SHOPAHOLIC by Sophie Kinsella, A NOSE FOR JUSTICE by Rita Mae Brown, SAFE HAVEN by Nicholas Sparks, and ZERO HISTORY by William Gibson.

Happy reading! Don't forget to forward this newsletter to a friend or to visit our other websites from,,,,, and

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