Jenny Knipfer–Author

Best-selling Christian historical fiction author, Jenny Knipfer, shares her books, inspiration, thoughts on life and writing, and book reviews. Purchase Jenny's books, read her blog, or listen to encouraging podcasts, highlighting the life of a writer.

Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My five-star review:

Drawing helps Lina process life and becomes a way for her to record the horrific way she, her family, and other Lithuanians are treated as they are herded into train cars like cattle and shipped off to the frozen tundra of Siberia. 

Lina, her brother, Jonas, and her mother strive to stay alive, together with people of the work camp they come to stay with. Almost beyond hope, they grasp for every scrap of food and build shelters from their surroundings, like animals to survive the cold, but many succumb to the inhabitable conditions.

Will Lina and her family survive to tell of their horrendous experience or will they be among their countrymen and women, whom Siberia and the military forces against them have beat into submission? 

This beautifully rendered, tragic tale steps out of the pages of little-known history to touch the hearts of readers with hope in the harshest of conditions and the inhumane cruelty of those in political control. Between Shades of Gray is a memorial to those who survived and those who lost their dignity and their lives. 

Readers of historical fiction, coming of age fiction, and historical, young adult fiction will be transported back in time to witness the courage of Lithuanians during the ethnic purging of Stalin and Hitler, around the time of WWII. 

Have you read this book? What historical fiction book have you enjoyed so far this year?

Happy Reading! J

With the new year comes an eagerness for changes in our lives. We make resolutions, set goals, and instill fresh mindsets. I’ve finally taken the time to establish an inventory of what’d I’d like to see change in my life during this year. An importance for setting aside some of the ruts I usually find myself in springs up in me. I desire my life to be cleaner and more free, both inside and out. Let me tell you about the five areas I want to concentrate on and why.

Spiritual:

As a Christian my faith is an integral part of who I am. Every pattern of thinking and action stems from the health of my walk with God. I’ve chosen to deepen that connection this year with a commitment to begin my days with prayer and reading the Bible. It’s been a goal of mine to read through the Bible in a year, and this year I’m going to do it! Prayer helps me focus on thankfulness, what’s truly important, and allows me to release my burdens. 

Thoughts:

By far, my biggest challenge in living with MS is not my physical disabilities but the inner frustration those tend to produce. Not being able to do simple tasks like put my socks on, unaided, stand at the sink and wash the dishes, cook a meal, cut my meat up, write, button a shirt, and countless other things aggravate me. But I can’t waste my days being constantly frustrated. I want to release it and be content, despite my obvious deficiencies. 

Gratitude:

When I choose to be grateful first, my mind doesn’t dwell on the things I don’t have or can’t do. I cultivate an abundant life, rather than a depleted and defeated one. Gratefulness keeps me from being envious, jealous, and greedy.

Grace:

I’m hardest on myself, not kind or gracious enough. I need to be conscious of the words I say, regarding my person and lift myself up instead dragging myself down. This keeps light frustration from leaking into harmful behaviors and emotions.

Intentions:

I wish to be more intentional with each day and focus on establishing: a schedule that’s not too demanding, healthy relationships, finding joy in the journey, and room for myself to simply be and breathe, not pressuring myself to produce something.

There. That’s a start. Everyday I plan to think over these goals and send up a prayer for help in implementing them.

How about you? What changes do you wish to see in your life in this new year?

Thanks for reading! Blessing to you in this new year, J

Publication Date: January 15th 2021 * Genre: Historical Fiction * Publisher: Poesy Quill Publishing * Print Length: 449 Pages

As a Coffee Pot Book Club tour host, I am happy to introduce Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things, Book #2, by Wendy J. Dunn. I throughly enjoyed this book!

BOOK BLURB:

Winter, 1539

María de Salinas is dying.

Too ill to travel, she writes a letter to her daughter Katherine, the young duchess of Suffolk. A letter telling of her life: a life intertwined with her friend and cousin Catalina of Aragon, the youngest child of Isabel of Castile. It is a letter to help her daughter understand the choices she has made in her life, beginning from the time she keeps her vow to Catalina to share her life of exile in England.

Friendship, betrayal, hatred, forgiveness – All Manner of Things tells a story of how love wins out in the end. 

MY REVIEW:

In 1501 Spanish born Maria de Salinas travels to England with her cousin, Catalina of Aragon, promised to The Prince of Wales, Arthur Tudor. Far from home in a foreign land, the cousins grow closer together, and Maria vows to stand at Catalina’s side forever. 

Catalina weds Prince Arthur and soon grows to care for him, despite his weak constitution. But happiness does not roost at her doorstep long when death comes calling for the prince. 

Heartbroken, Catalina can’t imagine her life married to Arthur’s younger brother, Henry, but with time her feelings change. When he comes of age, Catalina marries Henry. Although they enjoy months of wedded bliss, Henry has a roving eye and soon seeks his comfort elsewhere, especially during Catalina’s pregnancies. Henry even threatens Maria, making her promise something she loathes to give.

With the death of his father, Henry is crowned king and Catalina queen. Much joy and sorrow unfolds as the years pass for both Catalina and Maria. Maria wonders if she will ever be free to fully love the man who’s captured her heart, while Catalina turns the other cheek to Henry’s betrayals and learns to keep living through seasons of grief. 

Will Maria stay loyal to her cousin to the end and still find her own happiness? Will Catalina, Katherine, be forgiving of the injustices she suffers and continue to love the King? Can she forgive his final betrayal? 

Readers of detailed and meaty historical fiction will be enthralled with this enchanting Tudor saga of friendship and betrayal, embroiled in both love and hatred and steeped in the drama of two entwined families.

Dunn’s prose creates a strong, poetic structure for the drama to unfold, and she so aptly and skillfully weaves the setting to allow the reader to be fully submerged into the reign of Henry VIII and the life of Catalina of Aragon.  

NOTE: For those who are sensitive to sexual content, there are a few detailed scenes in the book.

Praise for All Manner of Things:

“A timeless story of friendship and love, which will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned, All Manner of Things is Wendy J. Dunn’s best novel yet…”

Lauren Chater, author of The Lace Weavers and Gulliver’s Wife.

“To read this book is like tasting a succulent pomegranate that swells and ripens and reveals the luscious fruit…”

Glenice Whitting, author Pickle to a Pie and What Time is it There?

“A sensitive and inspiring portrait of faith and friendship, framed around the devotion inspired by a remarkable queen. Wendy J. Dunn has written another gem of a novel for Tudor enthusiasts!”

Gareth Russell, author of Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII (US title) (2017), The Darksome Bounds of a Failing World: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era (2019).

“This is a story ripe with passion and rich in historical detail. All Manner of Things draws the reader deep into the heart of Henry’s Tudor court, with its machinations, betrayals and very human stories of love and loss…”

Rachel Nightingale, author of The Tales of Tarya.

“A finely wrought tale that resurrects the indomitable spirit of Katherine of Aragon, breathing new life into her oft-told story… Yet another spellbinding novel from Wendy J Dunn!”

Adrienne Dillard, author of Cor Rotto and The Raven’s Widow.

“I’m so fussy about historical fiction, but Wendy J Dunn never fails to please. Dunn breathes life into Catalina and Maria in this celebration of true friendship. Their story seemed to reach through the ages to truly touch me. Beautiful, just beautiful”

Claire Ridgway, author of The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown.

“…this book made me fascinate over times long ago, times when ancient buildings were brand new, faded portraits were still sharp and striking and faith and loyalty were absolute; times when women had so little autonomy it was never an option for them to venture out on their own and just ditch this damn place.”

Angela Wauchop, Backstory Literary Journal.

PURCHACE LINKS:

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian author, playwright and poet who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of three Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel, and Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters.

While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder, serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her own family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.

CONNECT WITH WENDY:

Website FacebookInstagramTwitterGoodreads

THANKS FOR READING!

Have you enjoyed reading historical fiction about royalty? If so, what titles have been your favorite?

I finally got around to taking a nice photo of my latest book, Harvest Moon. Each item in the picture represents some element in the story. Let me tell you about it. 

Black Feathers:

My main character in Harvest Moon, an Ojibwe women named Maang-ikwe “Loon Woman” takes a young crow from a nest and makes him her pet. She names him Waabi, and he becomes a good friend to her, someone she can tell her secrets to. 

True story: when they were young, one of my sisters and brothers each had a pet crow, and I remember them both. They were very smart birds and could do all kinds of tricks. 

Bottle of Indian Corn:

Something significant in the story happens in a field of corn, and in the book one of the stories I tell, based on an Ojibwe legend, is about corn. 

Deer Antler:

Historically, the Ojibwe and many native peoples harvested deer for food, clothing, and used bones and antlers for many things like utensils, tools, and buttons. In Harvest Moon, Maang-ikwe has a favorite deerhide dress she likes to wear. 

The antler pictured is a shed Whitetail Deer antler that one of my brothers found.

Medicine Pouch:

The pouch pictured is a real, handmade medicine pouch that I ordered from a shop owner on Etsy. It is similar to the kind I imagine Maang-ikwe uses. She learns the art of herbal healing from the tribe’s medicine woman, Wiineta, an old crone of a woman but wise in her perception and knowledge. In her faith as a Christian, Maang-ikwe must filter the knowledge she gains through her understanding of God, the ultimate healer. 

Green Leaves:

These represent the leaves of the many plants Maang-ikwe learns to harvest for medicine and food. 

At the heart, Harvest Moon tells a tale of finding grace and blessing amongst the hardships of life. I like to write novels that offer not only a glimpse into the past but leave the reader with a renewed sense of hope for the future.

Thanks for reading!

Thank you for reading about the story of the picture of Harvest Moon!

What are you currently reading? Do you enjoy novels about Native Americans?

I am pleased to be a blog hostess for A Painter in Penang –Penang Series, Book 3, by Clare Flynn–through The Coffee Pot Book Club. Here are some details about the book and the author, and following will be my review.

Book Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington hates everything about living in Kenya and longs to return to the island of Penang in British colonial Malaya where she was born. Expulsion from her Nairobi convent school offers a welcome escape – the chance to stay with her parents’ friends, Mary and Reggie Hyde-Underwood on their Penang rubber estate.

But this is 1948 and communist insurgents are embarking on a reign of terror in what becomes the Malayan Emergency. Jasmine goes through testing experiences – confronting heartache, a shocking past secret and danger. Throughout it all, the one constant in her life is her passion for painting.

From the international best-selling and award-winning author of The Pearl of Penang, this is a dramatic coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a tropical paradise torn apart by civil war.

*Publication Date: 6th October 2020 *Publisher: Cranbrook Press *Page Length: 362 Pages *Genre: Historical Fiction

About the Author:

Clare Flynn is the author of twelve historical novels and a collection of short stories. A former International Marketing Director and strategic management consultant, she is now a full-time writer. 

Having lived and worked in London, Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney, home is now on the coast, in Sussex, England, where she can watch the sea from her windows. An avid traveller, her books are often set in exotic locations.

Clare is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Society of Authors, Novelists Inc (NINC), ALLi, the Historical Novel Society and the Romantic Novelists Association, where she serves on the committee as the Member Services Officer. When not writing, she loves to read, quilt, paint and play the piano. She continues to travel as widely and as far as possible all over the world.

My Review:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

In the late 1940’s, sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington, with the permission of her step mother, transplants herself back to the country she loves—Penang. As she travels, Jasmine’s path crosses that of fellow traveler, Howard Baxter, also destined for Penang to work on a rubber plantation. Howard quickly becomes smitten with Jasmine, though she wants nothing to do with him. 

Living with friends of her family, the Hyde-Underwoods, Jasmine relaxes in the tropical atmosphere she loves. Social events throw her together with Howard, but will she keep up her uninterested facade or fall to his honest charm?

Political tensions rise as Penang is caught in a communist uprising. A native man, Bintang, serving the Hyde-Underwoods poses for Jasmine, while she paints. She thinks of him as a kind of friend but will Bintang think the same of her, or will the past crimes against his family by whites cause him to join forces with the enemy? 

Will her heart for Penang be enough to keep Jasmine with the Hyde-Underwoods, or will she travel out of the chaos of the political hotbed of Penang to safety?

Readers of coming of age and historical fiction will enjoy this well-painted, story portrait of an island country and a girl who holds Penang in her heart. 

The likable but flawed characters kept me interested in the story. I have a fondness for learning about new places and time periods, and Flynn successfully painted tropical Penang through her descriptions and setting. 

The ending dropped off a little for me. I would have liked to have had more of a completion of Jasmine’s story in an epilogue. One editorial choice I didn’t care for was the use of single quotation marks instead of double for dialogue. I think this makes a book more difficult to read.

Overall, A Painter in Penang was a pleasure to read and an engaging story with well-done dialogue. I thank the author for a complimentary copy of the book for me to read and review. 

Connect with Clare:

THANKS FOR READING! J

This photo was taken by my husband on a frosty morning in our back yard.

With a new year in mind, I recently wrote a poem in simile form about hope, how I see it and what it means to me.

Hope: a poem in simile

Hope is ….

obtuse, ethereal, and misty

but also 

a life preserver, 

an anchor in life’s storms, 

and a star to set our course by.

Hope is . . .

a ghost of a whisper, 

a plea in the dark, 

and a dream of a dream

but also

real, a light, and essential.

Hope is . . .

evasive, slippery, and demanding 

but also

can be captured, if one is careful, 

held to, if one has faith, 

and governed, if one has courage.

Hope is . . .

sometimes more than I deserve, 

an unlikely wish for freedom in the dungeons of life, 

and a pedestal, too far above me

but also 

universal, fathomable, and attainable.

Hope is . . .

a prayer when all appears lost, 

how we place one foot in front of the other, 

and the nourishment of our spirits

but also

invisible, weighty, and insatiable. 

Hope is . . . 

a huntress, stalking the future, 

an exhausting cycle, 

crushing in its loss

but also

meat, breath, and life to our souls.

Hope is . . . 

Jenny Knipfer (c) 2021

How do you see hope?

Thanks for reading and many blessings in the new year! J

When you open my books, you won’t find perfect, sinless characters. You’ll find those who are living amidst harsh circumstances or who face the temptation to walk an easier and perhaps more pleasurable path than what they have vowed to travel. I’ve grafted some of the deemed “seven deadly sins” in my work (Shocker, I know!) because we all face things in our life like greed and lust. 

In the words of the Bible, “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” Christian or faithless, we all have huge life issues to traverse. I write those issues into my books, hoping to help encourage someone who may have gone or is going through similar hardships or scenarios. 

Some characters in my books act rather Godless, because, in fact, they don’t know Him or don’t know Him yet. Often they are the “bad guy”, the antagonist, but sometimes that line is blurred. As in the novel I’m currently writing—By Broken Birch Bay, a mystery, in which even I won’t know who the killer will be until the end. 

Before I started my current work in progress, I asked myself the question: “Would anyone be able to kill someone—despite their moral beliefs or not—when presented with a situation that left them little alternative. I surmise someone has actually lived through this, because the more I live the more I realize that the old saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction,” is correct. 

An idea for my book cover…

Here’s my opening to my mystery novel:  

August  10th, 1925

For posterity, I pen my story here of how it happened—who killed who and why.

Let me tell you something from one who has been there: you’re capable of killing. Everyone is. I can hear your thoughts—“I would never. No! Not me”. But you’re wrong. You don’t know what lengths you’ll go to until you must. Never think yourself too good, too righteous for such a sin. Wasn’t it Jesus who said that if you so much as hate a person, you commit murder in your heart? 

Then I’ve done it—murdered someone. More than once. In my heart. But did I in reality? I recall nothing but the stillness of the air and the ringing in my ears—buzzing as if my head were a live hive of bees. Then those two pale faces, witnesses to my crime and that unmoving form, just lying there, splayed out like a bird who’s crashed into the window. 

I saw a little sparrow, the day before, die that way. One second he flitted and dove. The next he lay on his side, on the concrete step, wings extended slightly, feet curled under, and his beady eye closed. And when do birds ever have their eyes closed? 

But those eyes, surprised, spent, drained of that unexplainable light that’s present when the spirit still dwells in the body. Only emptiness stared back at me. That image will haunt me till my dying day. 

Do you enjoy reading clean or cozy mysteries? If so, what kind?

Thanks for reading! J

FAMILY:

Ask people what ranks high on their list of thanks, and likely it will be family. I have a wooden plaque in my kitchen with the words “Family is Forever” on it. I love my family and am so grateful for each member. We’ve been through the good, bad, and the ugly together, and I wouldn’t trade one day of the journey. Maybe you can say the same.

I wanted to work this sort of family importance into my novels, and I hope readers will get a sense of that. In my book, Silver Moon, family plays a big role in keeping the spirits of the fictional community of Webaashi Bay, Ontario going during WW1.

Oshki Cota, a young man from the Canadian town, fighting in the trenches on the Western Front, writes home to his wife and family, and the letters he receives back give him hope to keep fighting and hoping that he can return to his loved ones.

Mauve, Oshki’s wife, leans on her husband’s family as a young mother and the trials of depression and illness come calling. Her faith is strengthened by her in-laws, as they gather together to surrender Oshki to God in prayer, trusting in His love for Oshki to lead him through unknown valleys.

Luis Wilson, my main character, acting as a spy in France, is bolstered by the love and support of his family after surviving an auspicious day, fighting in Flanders with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.

Rose, a nurse working in a hospital receiving wounded men, makes an unusual bond with the parents of her once-intended fiancé. She blooms in her faith from their love and support.

FRIENDS:

Jimmy Smith, another man from Webaashi Bay, receives letters from Lily Parsons, an old schoolmate, who he once picked on in school. Over letters of friendship, they fall in love, and Lily’s words become an anchor for Jimmy in a sea of destruction.

The women of Webaashi Bay unite and do what they can to further the wartime effort and tame tensions rising at home. They form a group, meeting and talking about such things as: how to make meat and dairy rations go further, how to make new clothes from old ones, and how to can and preserve food.

Natalie Herman, the local café owner, accused of being a German spy by her neighbor, must defend herself to the local constabulary. Lionhearted Lily stands by her friend and challenges the town to do the same.

FAITH:

I can’t write a story without pouring my faith through my characters. My faith in God and the salvation of His Son, Jesus, is integral to who I am as a person and as an author. I’ve lived through some dark days, and I know that God was with me in the midst of those. And He will continue to be in the future. Although, I have not lived through a physical war, I’ve lived through a mental and spiritual one, and I battle with my health every day. I hope my writing reflects the deep places I have been to in the voices of my characters and their experiences.

TIME TOGETHER:

During our current health crisis around the world, we’ve come to realize just how important time together is as family and friends. We cherish the times and opportunities when we can see our loved ones.

Participating in or hosting tea parties has always been an activity I liked to do with friends and family. In Silver Moon, I have several scenes including friends, family, and tea—imagine that. In the back of the book, I included my own recipe for a lovely tea. Let’s have a cup together, shall we?

Thank you for reading! The very best of blessings to you,

Jenny

Autumn Comfort Tea

This is a recipe for a hand-blended tea from ingredients that I grew, except the spices.
It’s simple, light, and comforting.

Ingredients:
1 and 1⁄2 T. dried apple 2 t. dried sage
2 t. dried mint
1 t. dried chamomile
2 T. cinnamon bark chips 1⁄2 t. crushed clove buds

Instructions:
Chop dried ingredients separately before measuring. After chopping mix together well.
Store in airtight container away from light.
Use 1 t. per 8oz of boiling water.
Steep for 4-5 min. in an infuser.
~
Enjoy!

Dear Readers,

Thank you for following my blog or subscribing. I am most appreciative for you. I wish you every blessing with friends and family this Christmas. Though your traditions maybe have to be altered due to COVID, you can still make it a wonderful Christmas. The Reason we celebrate hasn’t changed, and we can all take joy in that.

Coming up in 2021:

I have two blog posts per month through April featuring authors and their books. I am super happy to be making connections with other authors in the Historical Fiction and Christian Historical Fiction genres. Most will be review posts and interviews, so that means I have a lot of READING to do!

Thankfully, I finished my first draft of the Christmas Novella, Holly’s Homecoming, I am writing and will have some time to read again. I will pick up with my writing where I left off in my Sheltering Trees series.

Speaking of Sheltering Trees, I am thrilled to be working with a cover designer for my first book in the series inspired by my grandparents: In a Grove of Maples. Read the synopsis HERE. I should have a cover to reveal sometime in March or April.

Join Journeying with Jenny:

I would love to have you join me in my reader and author group, Journeying with Jenny, that I am building on Facebook. As a member of the group, you will have first dibs on giveaways, opportunities to read my books for free, be able to partake in my writing process, have some fun :), and if you are an author of clean fiction, be a part of several group multi-author parties that I plan to host. PLEASE join me on my writing journey.

Have a Merry Christmas!

That’s all for now friends, but I’ll be back in January. Have a great holiday!

Blessings, J

CLICK IMAGE TO PURCHASE

This month I had planned to read a few Christmas-themed books. I loved both of these and wanted to share my thoughts with you.

Mr. Dickens and His Christmas Carol, by Samantha Silva

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Charles Dickens sets out to pen a Christmas novella by his publisher’s demand. However, his money and family troubles taint his creativity, and he drafts his main character, Scrooge, into a dark, grievous skinflint who only opens to improvement on the last page. 

By a power beyond him, Dickens’s Christmas tale is pilfered and plagiarized, infuriating him. He suspects the mysterious Eleanor LoveJoy—who he develops a strange association with—of stealing his work, but the fault lies a little closer to home. Dickens’s wife and family retreat to Scotland, leaving him to settle his spirit. He takes refuge in a nearby hotel, which he’s used before for writing. 

Cleared of any guilt, Eleanor and her son Timothy help Dickens recreate his tale but with a gentler filter to Mr. Scrooge, the old miser. The characters become alive to Dickens as he draws from the inspiration of the people and times around him. Weaving a more substantial ribbon of hope through his plot, Dickens finishes and reads his masterpiece to Timothy. 

But where has the ethereal Miss Lovejoy gone? And what will happen to Timothy? Will Dickens ever see his family and children again? 

Readers of Charles Dickens’s classic stories and historical fiction with relish this behind the scenes drama of Dickens creating his Christmas iconic classic, A Christmas Carol. 

I deliciously sunk my teeth into this one. I savored every page. A few moments of doubt arose in me during Miss Lovejoy’s entanglement with Dickens, but her story fit perfectly in the end. 

Mr. Dickens and His Carol was a delightful, Christmastime read that added much to my fondness for the classic story. 

Bespoke: a Tiny Christmas Tale, by Amanda Dykes

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Aria St. John, the daughter of a famous composer, learns early what loss means. Her deep-rooted gift is uprooted by a tragic accident. But she’s not the only one who bears the scars.

James Shaw blames himself for the silence that now reigns in the St. John house on the Isle of Espoir. Friends once, can Aria and James put the past behind them for a future they both desire?

Bespoke holds a deep message of forging a new path through tragic circumstances. Though a short novella, this beautifully wrought, Christmastime story full of meaning delves heavily in the heart of forgiveness and hope. 

Fans of Christmas romance, Christian fiction, and historical fiction, will be enraptured by this sweet but deep tale of hope. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this tale and look forward to reading another story by Dykes. 

What are you reading?

Have you read any Christmasy books this month? If so, tell me about them.

Happy Reading! J

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