BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Sister – by Kjell Ola Dahl #blogtour #RandomThingsTours @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my stop of the Sister Random Things Tours blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve become a big fan of the nordic noir genre over the years and after a positive first experience with Kjell Ola Dahl‘s work (The Courier) last year I was ready for more. And Sister most definitely didn’t disappoint! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts.

Title: Sister
(Oslo Detectives #9)
Author: Kjell Ola Dahl
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: April 5th 2020
Pages: 276
(Originally written in Norwegian: ‘Søsteren’)

“He knew the only way to find an answer was to walk into the hornet’s nest and see what made it buzz.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve had the opportunity to rediscover the nordic noir genre in recent years and I’ve been trying to explore more authors and books ever since. After a positive first experience with Kjell Ola Dahl‘s work (The Courier) last year I was ready for more… And Sister sounded like the perfect read for me. I do have to confess that I didn’t realize Sister was actually book number 9 of the Oslo Detectives series when I signed up for the blog tour, but luckily this turned out to be one of those series where the sequels can be read quite easily as a stand-alone as well. Lucky for me, but also for those who don’t have time to catch up with the series first (I mean, eight books is a LOT) and are still curious about the Oslo Detectives books… Although you will probably end up like me wanting to read the previous books anyway after you finish Sister. You’ve been warned!

Before I start my review properly, first a big round of applause for translator Don Bartlett for providing us with another fluid and simply fantastic translation. Us poor English language readers wouldn’t be able to enjoy our dose of nordic noir otherwise! As soon as I started reading Sister, I knew that I was in for a treat. While I didn’t have the proper background information of main character Frølich, it was still really easy to connect to both the story and his character almost straight away. In the case of Sister, it didn’t seem too necessary to possess that background information… It was enough for me to know that Frølich is a former cop and currently working as a private detective. I do have to confess this story made me curious about the previous books and his character development over time, as I’m sure he has been through a lot in eight books. Frølich is your typical and almost cliche private detective character with a complicated past and former job as a police detective, but he has that je ne sais quoi that made me like him almost instantly and I enjoyed following him during his investigations.

The case Frølich is asked to investigate is both fascinating, deeply uncomfortable and potentially very dangerous. What starts out as a seemingly transparent case, the asylum seeker needing to find her sister living in Norway to avoid being deported, soon turns out to be a lot more than meets the eye. The story tackles a number of difficult and sensitive topics including abuse, immigrants, an old disaster case, conspiracy and murder… This may seem like a lot, but I personally enjoyed how everything was incorporated into the story. The main focus may seem to be on the asylum seeker case at first, but as the first body shows up Frølich’s attention shifts as he starts to wonder how everything fits in. Slowly more aspects, secrets and twists of the plot are revealed; those secrets and plot twists adding an extra level of suspense as welll as guiding Frølich to different characters and locations in play. We travel through Norway as the story evolves and the descriptions of the different settings really made that nordic noir feel shine through for me.

Sister doesn’t just follow one case and this diversity and overlap turns the story into a multidimentional thriller that is both suspenseful and addictive. We have Norway travels, we have multiple murders, we have an old disaster case and possible conspiracy, we have a human interest and immigrant angle, and we even have a little romance on the side to lighten up things a little… All combined together into one delicious nordic noir meal. If you are a fan of the genre, Sister is without doubt an excellent choice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in
1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven
novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum
psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In
2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the
prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has
been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.


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WWW Wednesdays #263 – April 8th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m still going strong with my Magical Readathon reads! I’m currently reading The Sign Of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle for my Potions exam… I’m also reading my physical copy of The Outsider by Stephen King during the evenings for my Astronomy exam. I’m craving a contemporary though so I will probably read one in between.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (4/5 stars) REVIEW 13/04
I’m trying to read more Agatha Christie books and I’ve been slowly working my way through the Hercule Poirot books… I really like his character and each meeting so far has without doubt been successful. The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd is no exception, and another very satisfying detective read.

2. Where She Went by Gayle Forman (4/5 stars) REVIEW 17/04
After taking years to finally pick up my copy of If I Stay, I decided to read the second book as soon as possible so I won’t forget about the details in the first. And as I was craving a contemporary, Where She Went seemed like the perfect fit for me… I’ve heard people saying that they enjoyed the sequel better than the first book, and I’m definitely joining that group now. While I liked the first book and was especially intrigued by the whole POV from an unconscious character, there was just something about Where She Went that made me enjoy Adam and Mia’s story even more.

3. Living Dead In Dallas by Charlaine Harris (2/5 stars) REVIEW 17/04
Wait, a vampire book on It’s All About Books?!?! Don’t worry, I’m still very much allergic to vampires, and I won’t be reading another one any time soon… I’ve learned from my mistakes. It’s just that somehow I actually really enjoyed the episodes I’ve seen of True Blood years ago and I remembered enjoying the first book back when I read it, so I had high hopes for the sequel as well. I guess I should have known… Sadly, the TV series is in this case so much better than the book!

4. Sister by Kjell Ola Dahl (4/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 11/04
Look out for my review during my stop of the blog tour!

5. Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan (3/5 stars) REVIEW 10/04
I’m still not sure what to think to be honest… The first book was gothic, dark and glorious and I fully expected to love the sequel as well. I might have been better off with a reread of book one first, but the fact remains the foreign names can become rather confusing and I felt the plot was rather lacking here. Ruthless Gods definitely didn’t have that same spark as the first book sadly…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

As I said before, I’m craving a contemporary so I’ll probably take a break from my Magical Readathon reads and pick up The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick as soon as I finish the Sherlock Holmes sequel. I’m also planning on reading Vox by Christina Dalcher soon as it’s the final book I need to complete exams needed for my career in the Magical Readathon... And I want to read my giveaway win The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith soon as well as it sounds like the perfect read for these strange times. I also need to read The Apartment by K.L. Slater as the NG deadline is coming up.


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WWW Wednesdays #262 – April 1st

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

It’s Magical Readathon month again! I’m currently reading The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie for my Herbology exam… I’ve been looking forward to meet up with Hercule Poirot again. I’m also starting Where She Went by Gayle Forman for my Arithmancy exam.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Find Her Alive by Lisa Regan (4,5/5 stars)  REVIEW 07/04
I know that I’m repeating myself, but that doesn’t mean it is less true: the Detective Josie Quinn series is one of my favorite detective series and every time I find out that a new installment is coming out it kind of feels like an early birthday present. It’s been a long and intense ride for Josie Quinn so far, and it seems like trouble keeps finding her in the small town where she works. I’m not complaining of course, as new trouble means a new Josie Quinn book and another rollercoaster thriller ride to look forward to. Find Her Alive is no exception, and is yet another excellent addition to the series. Book number eight is another firecracker!

2. Kilo by Toby Muse (4,5/5 stars) BLOG TOUR REVIEW 
Anyone who is interested in the Colombian drugs world should add this newly published non fiction account to their wishlist, as it turned out to be an absolutely fascinating read. Definitely one of the best drugs-related non fiction reads I’ve had the pleasure to read so far! Read more about my experience in my blog tour review posted earlier today.

3. And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott (4/5 stars) REVIEW 13/04
I’ve been meaning to try one of her books for ages now, and the blog tour of the Stephanie King sequel this month was a perfect excuse to finally do so. I definitely enjoyed my first experience with Rachel Abbott‘s writing, and And So It Begins was a more than satisfying read. More dark psychological thriller than detective thriller (something I didn’t expect), but well written and I’ll definitely be looking forward to read the sequel now.

4. The Lost Orphan (The Foundling) by Stacey Halls (4/5 stars) REVIEW 05/04
I confess I wasn’t that big of a fan of The Familiars last year, but I definitely had a lot more positive experience with her second book The Lost Orphan (also called The Foundling). I’m a fan of historical fiction and the both 18th century setting in London and the plot it self were excellently developed.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Next up are four more titles for the Magical Readathon… First up is Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan as the publish date is coming close and I’ve been in the mood for fantasy. Next is Sister by Kjell Ola Dahl as the blog tour stop is coming closer… Afterwards, it’s guilty pleasure read with Living Dead In Dallas by Charlaine Harris. I’m not a fan of vampire reads at all, but somehow I love the True Blood TV series anyway and I had a great time with the first book of the series too. I also want to read the second Sherlock Holmes book The Sign Of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle.


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BOOK REVIEW: Sister – by Rosamund Lupton

Title: Sister
Author: Rosamund Lupton

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 2nd 2010
Publisher: Boekerij
Finished reading: August 6th 2017
Pages: 352
(Read in Dutch: ‘Zusje’)

“Usually time alters and affects everything, but when someone you love dies time cannot change that, no amount of time will ever change that, so time stops having any meaning.”


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It may sound weird since I’m originally Dutch, but I haven’t used the language actively in years (I use Spanish all day and English for reading and blogging) and I can promise you it has become preeeetty rusty. How do I know? Let’s just say that when I visited Holland last year nobody believed I was actually Dutch when I tried to speak haha. I made a promise to myself when I came back from my trip to start reading at least one or two Dutch books a year to refresh my memories… And last month I finally decided to keep that promise and pick up my copy of the Dutch version of Sister by Rosamund Lupton. I was kind of hoping that picking up a story belonging to one of my favorite genres would make it easier to enjoy reading it, but unfortunately this didn’t end up being the case. It took me a whole month to actually finish this story, which was way longer than I had planned. Part of the problem was probably the language barrier (reading in Dutch just doesn’t feel ‘natural’ tp me anymore), but I don’t think that was the only reason why I didn’t enjoy reading Sister. The first thing that stands out is the superslow pace, which made it so much harder to keep going. I wasn’t really a fan of the writing style either, although it’s always tricky to talk about this element with a translation. Still, I wasn’t charmed by the tone or the way the sentences flowed and this made it considerably harder to stay focused on the story. And the characters… Boy, did I have a hard time with them! I wasn’t able to warm up to them at all and was mostly frustrated by Beatrice. The way the story is told is quite original though and I can’t deny the ending came as a surprise. The final part of Sister definitely made me rate this story higher than I would have thought initially, but I don’t think it actually makes up for the slow pace, writing style or characters. Most people seem to have enjoyed this story though, so it makes me wonder whether I should get an English copy some time in the future (when I don’t remember the plot twists or how it ends) and give this story another go.

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Beatrice has been living in New York for quite some time now, but when she receives a phone call that her younger sister Tess is missing she takes the first plane back to London. Nobody seems to know where her sister could have gone, and as Beatrice learns more about her disappearance she is starting to realize just how little she knows about Tess’ life. Everybody seems to accept they have lost her, but Beatrice doesn’t want to let go until she finds out the full truth. But will Beatrice be able to convince the rest?

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Part of the problem I had with this book has probably been caused by reading it in Dutch, but I don’t think the language barrier was solely to blame for my negative reading experience with Sister. Between the superslow pace, writing style I couldn’t connect to and characters I never warmed up to, it was quite hard to actually enjoy reading this story. It was a very slow ride and it took me a whole month to reach the final page. The last part did improve considerably and the final twist was a huge surprise that will make you reconsider everything you read before. I don’t think that made up for the rest of the story though.


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WWW Wednesdays #149 – August 9th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’ve just started with Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, a title I’ve decided to finally pick up since I needed to read an author starting with the letter ‘I’ to complete my ABC Author challenge. I also need to read Dead To Me by Stephen Edger since the publish date is coming up soon… And I picked another classic to read: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. I still can’t believe I’ve never read this book before! I must have seen the Disney movie a dozen of times when I was little.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
Initially I thought I was really going to enjoy this story and the writing style is without doubt enjoyable at first. I can’t point out the exact moment I started to enjoy Beautiful Broken Things less, but there is no doubt that the final part of this story didn’t live up to the promising start. There were certain things that started to bother me: the cliches, some of the characters and the way they act and think, the way important (darker) themes are handled… All in all not what I expected.

2. The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW
Just give one look at that cover and you will get a pretty good idea of what is waiting for you inside. The illustrations of The Little Red Wolf are absolutely gorgeous and will make you happy by just looking at them. They are very detailed as well; full of little drawings inside drawings to discover the longer you look at each page. The story itself is a mix of typical fairy tale and something a bit more darker and haunting, which is why I don’t think it’s suited for the youngest readers… But age 6 and up should be ok depending on how sensitive the child is to tragic themes.

3. Hide And Seek by Richard Parker (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 10/08
If you enjoy reading fast-paced, intense and slightly twisted thrillers, you will definitely be in a treat reading Hide And Seek. This story will have you in its claws right from the very first page and trust me, it will be very hard to stop reading before you reach the final page. Hide And Seek is a kidnapping story with a twist and a LOT of action and suspense. The only thing I wasn’t sure about involved the characters, but that was only minor compared to the rest of the story. Recommended!

4. Sister by Rosamund Lupton (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 12/08
Part of the problem I had with this book has probably been caused by reading it in Dutch, but I don’t think the language barrier was solely to blame for my negative reading experience with Sister. Between the superslow pace, writing style I couldn’t connect to and characters I never warmed up to, it was quite hard to actually enjoy reading this story. It was a very slow ride and it took me a whole month to reach the final page. The last part did improve considerably and the final twist was a huge surprise that will make you reconsider everything you read before. I don’t think that made up for the rest of the story though.

5. The Ask And The Answer (4/5 stars) REVIEW 14/08
It’s been too long since I read the first book, so I can’t properly compare the two… But what I do know is that I enjoyed The Ask And The Answer just as much as the first book. I had once again the same reaction to the slang the men use in Todd’s chapters, which I found mostly highly annoying. That would be my only real complaint though and I still thoroughly enjoyed this sequel. I’m definitely going to read the third and final book soon now!

6. The Other Girl by Erica Spindler (?/5 stars) REVIEW 15/08
Coming soon…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m probably going to pick up Monsters Of Men by Patrick Ness next because I really want to know how the story ends… The only reason I haven’t already is because I still need to finish my review of book two. I also need to read Girl In Snow by Danya Kukafka urgently and Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan is also high on my list. My newest TBR jar pick is still The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. I’ve been wanting to read this title for ages so I saw it as a sign it was about time I did when I opened the paper. Looking forward to be reading it soon!


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WWW Wednesdays #148 – August 2nd

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently flying through Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard. The writing style makes it a very readable story even though the plot itself hasn’t blown me away yet… It’s not a bad read at all, just nothing I haven’t seen before in a YA contemporary. Suzanne’s character is quite interesting, although I could have done without the high school cliches and jealousy (even though it’s only in small doses thankfully). I also picked up The Ask And The Answer by Patrick Ness, but I haven’t gotten around rereading my review of book one to properly start it. Those who will have read The Knife Of Never Letting Go will probably understand why I wouldn’t want to relive certain scene, so I’ve decided not to do a full reread. I also managed to read another chapter in Dutch of Sister by Rosamund Lupton … One chapter is better than no progress at all right? 😉

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Americosis Vol 4 by Haydn Wilks (3/5 stars) REVIEW 
No cover displayed since it’s basically a swearword… It might just have been I wasn’t in the right mood when I read Americosis Volume 4 and that’s why I rated it slightly lower than the previous three… But I did feel the excessive swearing and graphic scenes started to get out of control. It does read like a train and is basically an explosion of action and absurdness right in the middle of a dystopian America. The right person will probably love Americosis, but it is without doubt an acquired taste. The storyline set in the future was fascinating though!

2. The Lost Book Of The Grail by Charlie Lovett (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW
I really wanted to like The Lost Book Of The Grail and there were certain elements I did enjoy very much. The history of Barchester and its secrets is fascinating and I’m sure many will appreciate the bookish quotes and references. The pace is incredibly slow though and the plot feels both a bit chaotic and lacks action. I also had problems connecting to the characters and felt they lacked character development or at least originality. Such a shame!

3. The Girls In The Water by Victoria Jenkins (4/5 stars) REVIEW 03/08
I wanted to read this one as soon as I saw the cover and this story definitely didn’t disappoint. Both the writing style and pace made it really easy to read this serial killer thriller and the case itself was intriguing. Lots of plot twists and potential suspects to keep you guessing and I always like that! I wasn’t completely charmed by the characters, but that would be my only complaint. Looking forward to book two!

4. Love May Fail by Matthew Quick (3/5 stars) REVIEW 04/08
I picked this up looking for something different and I definitely got what I wanted. I’m still not sure what to make of this book, as there were things I did and didn’t like… The writing style and tone are very unconventional, blunt, brutally honest but also refreshing. There was a lot of swearing involved though… I’m not sure I actually liked the characters, but I could appreciate the well incorporated themes such as mental illness, depression, suicide, midlife crisis and hoarding. I think it’s the first story I’ve read with a hoarder as one of the characters!

5. The Lying Game by Ruth Ware (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 06/08
I have been wanting to read one of her books for ages and was actually going to pick up one of her other titles first, but decided to tackle The Lying Game first due to mixed reviews. I started with caution, but soon found myself hooked due to the writing style. Even though this story isn’t as fast-paced as I would have liked, it was the writing style that still made me thoroughly enjoy this story and the mystery around what happened all those years ago and what the friends are hiding. I can’t say I liked the character (actually despise Isa for how she treats her baby daughter), but the story itself was intriguing. I can’t wait to read her other books now!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m going to pick up Hide And Seek by Richard Parker as soon as I finish Beautiful Broken Things, most likely later today, since I’ve been in the mood for a thriller and I liked how intense his other book was. I also want to read Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan… And A Different Blue by Amy Harmon is high on my list as well. I’ve been eying her other book The Bird And The Sword as well, but decided to read this one first since it’s a stand-alone. I also have a new TBR jar pick! Number 35 since I started using it: The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. I’ve been wanting to read this title for ages so I saw it as a sign it was about time I did when I opened the paper. Looking forward to be reading it soon!


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WWW Wednesdays #147 – July 26th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m actually reading a short story called Americosis Vol. 4 by Haydn Wilks as well (although I’ll probably have finished it by now), but as the cover is basically a swearword I’ve decided not to show it on my blog (it’s bad enough it’ll show up on my Goodreads timeline xD) These volumes have been crazy rides so far and I don’t think this one will be any different. I’m also quite far into The Lost Book Of The Grail by Charlie Lovett, which is proving to be a goldmine for bookish quotes and references. The pace is superslow though and it’s taking me longer than expected to read it… I’m only a few pages into The Girls In The Water by Victoria Jenkins, but I’ll read it next since I’ve heard good things about it. And I made it to page 66 or chapter 4 of Sister by Rosamund Lupton (which I’m actually reading in Dutch). I’m not a fan of the story so far, although I’m not sure if it’s the language barrier or the book itself.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira (DNF at 32%) REVIEW 
I’m going to be honest and say I don’t think I would have picked up this story if this wouldn’t have turned up on my Netgalley shelf. I’m not a big fan of (cheesy) contemporary romance in the first place and Bookishly Ever After makes it definitely VERY easy to overdose on the high school cliches and romance tropes incorporated into the story. I’ve tried really hard to see beyond the cliches, but found myself too frustrated to be able to continue and finish the story. And I tell you, it makes me very sad to call Bookishly Ever After my second DNF this year! Part of the problem is definitely me though and I can see why fans of the genre would be able to enjoy it a lot better. Oh well, I guess we can’t like them all, can we?

2. Now You See Me by Sharon Bolton (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW COMING SOON
First of all I have to say that this book has probably suffered from the fact that I’m currently sort of in a slump and I can’t seem to love any book right now. Because there is definitely a lot to love in this first book of the Lacey Flint series. This book had me at serial killer and Jack The Ripper and I love how this old case plays such a big role in the story. It surely shows just how well the author has investigated this part! It’s a well written thriller with a lot of twists that will keep you guessing… I do have to say I never really warmed up to Lacey and the whole bantering between Joesbury and her started to get annoying. Also, the whole mystery around Lacey’s character and the twists and misinformation in the final part of the story sort of had the opposite effect on me and I mostly felt confused and frustrated instead of on the edge of my seat. I’m definitely still going to read the sequel though!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I actually started Girl In Snow by Danya Kukafka before, but after trying a few pages I just couldn’t get into the writing style. I decided to put it on hold to see if it just wasn’t the right time for it… And read some other titles first. Probably next up will be The Ask And The Answer by Patrick Ness as part of the promise to myself to start reading my own books. I also want to read The Lying Game by Ruth Ware, which is actually an ARC but a title I’m really excited about. My newest TBR jar pick is still Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard, which I’m hoping to read some time soon.


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