The Sister Pact – Lisa Swift

I immediately warmed to Brooke because she appeared to be an intensive workaholic; a strong, powerful, single female. It felt sad that she had grown so far apart form her Sister Rhiannon; Rhianna came across as the most dreadful snob – although a sudden change in her circumstances affected the whole family. Their Mum, Janey, has been single for two long and I could understand why she might like some male company again.

I felt for Brooke, as the future of their family pub was looking most uncertain, and a chain was trying to buy the family out. The pub meant everything to Brooke, but they desperately needed to do something as a family to improve the finances of the business.

Rhianna – despite her snobbery, deep down she was a family woman and I hoped that she could once more settle into the arms of her wider family.

Hayden brought a breath of fresh air to the pub, although as a single Father, struggling to make ends meet, he had his own issues to deal with.

I really found myself hoping that as a team, they could do something together to improve both the finances of the pub and the inter-family dynamics. As for Hayden, I hoped that he could ameliorate both his finances and that of the pub, and perhaps even have a bit of love brought into his life. It just felt as though he deserved more from life. Another person who deserved mire was Janey. Read the book fir yourself to discover her wonderful surprise!

I thought that this book dealt with some huge issues, with the utmost empathy. These included starting to date again in later life, after bereavement, marital issues and family disagreements. I thought the book would offer both encouragement and empathy to anyone in the same kind of situations. Above all the book dealt with the strength of family; it showed how strong families should be, putting them above all else. I appreciated this.

To find out what ultimately happens, you will need to purchase this great book for yourself; just use this link:


Starting over at Sunset Cottage – Lisa Hobman

I was immediately drawn to this book for two reasons: The cover was instantly appealing to me, but more importantly I was drawn to the author. I have thoroughly enjoyed the previous titles from Lisa Hobman that I have read, and so it was with great anticipation that I started this story.

A relationship breakup is always sad, especially when it’s not overly apparent as to why it has happened and both parties emit the semblance of being inherently decent people. The way that this breakup was portrayed felt how; so real that I felt genuinely sad for the breakup and particularly for Jim, who seemed positively devastated by the turn of events. I had initially warmed to both Flick and Jim, but quickly changed my mind about Flick, after how she treated Jim at the very end of the first chapter. what was a bit of a ‘last hurrah’ for Flick, most certainly wasn’t for Jim!

It seemed wrong for Flick to be taking time sick off work ’to get over it’, when ’it’ seemed to be entirely her doing. It also seemed wrong that she felt her marriage breakdown was something she could ’get over’ in a couple of days. As you can tell, I had really warmed to Jim and I was struggling to come to terms with Flick’s treatment of him. Flick’s behaviour did seem to be driven by her meddling Mother to an extent, but I did wonder why she ever agreed to get married even? As to why Flick would allow her Mother to interfere so, when she is a fully fledged adult?

I was drawn to Ed, Flick’s Father. He came across as a thoroughly decent human being. I respected the way that he was prepared to speak up for what he believed in and was prepared to tell his Wife what he thought about her interfering. He was a true, loyal friend to Jim. i must confess that his wonderful letter to Jim was beautiful and caused me to cry real ugly tears; actually make that emotional tears, as nothing ugly should be associated with his wonderful, heartfelt writing.

I liked the way the story dipped in and out of the past, although I found the relationship breakup all the more confusing, reading about how Jim and Flick met and about how happy they were for much of their time together. It just seemed such a waste of a good relationship. I really did feel strongly that Flick had behaved badly towards Jim though, and to that end I hoped that moving to a new area might herald the start of something new on the romantic front, for Jim. He was just such a good, honest, decent man.

When the couple meet again, I felt more compassion for Flick and I confess to laughing out loud at Penelope’s ’sordid secret’.

I am not going to spoil the end of this book by revealing too much. I did love the story, despite the wide range of emotions it instilled in me and I cannot urge you enough to read the book for yourself.

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The Post Box at the North Pole – Jamie Admans

What a glorious, uplifting book, sure to bring unbridled joy to the stoniest of hearts. Perfect for the upcoming festive season. Set in the bitter cold, close to the North Pole, amidst the most inspirational flora and fauna. If that is not enough to give your heart a lift, add in some gorgeous characters and the hint of romance. What’s not to love!

One cannot help but empathise for someone who both loses their job and finds out that their Father has had a heart attack and needs their help, within very close proximity. Hence Sasha cements her place in my heart.

I loved the descriptions of Sasha’s Father’s home. The descriptions were such that I could practically see the images described, were I to close my eyes. I liked the elements of humour in the book, an example being not long after Sasha arrived and she ends up chasing a reindeer through the forest. I was absolutely taken with Taavi, Percy’s assistant, who sounded as though he was very easy on the eye (if that’s not a bit of an oxymoron) and I held out great hopes for him and Sasha. However there were hurdles to overcome first, including the almost instant disdain that my two ‘Northern Lights’ seemed to have for each other, and the fact that Sasha has been less than economical with the truth, when it comes to her recent work history!

I do enjoy a bit of mystery and this book has puzzles galore. What is Sasha’s Father doing there, why has Sasha lied about work, what is the story behind Taavi. Can Sasha manage to take-onboard all that is asked of her? Will her heart rule her head or vice versa?

To solve these mysteries and more, you will need to read on for yourself.

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Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop – Jessica Redland

Jessica Redland never fails to deliver comfort reading at its finest. For those who don’t know what my personally made up concept is, comfort reading is a bit like comfort eating; all the endorphins, but without the calories😀 It is the art of being able to pick up a new book, knowing that you are going to love it, without even reading the back cover. As you delve into the book, the anticipated endorphins are released, showering you with pleasure and a general sense of well being and feel-good. You 100% know it’s coming, but it still never fails to hit the spot. The creme de la creme of Choc-lit. My only disappointment is the lack of a new festive instalment in the ’Hedgehog Hollow’ series – but maybe next year?

I have read all of Jessica Redland’s novels and they never fail to bring me unbridled pleasure; they convey sheer joy. Jessica is a gifted author and she brings fun and romance to her books in a thoroughly uplifting way. Somehow each new book is better than the last.The incredible thing and what makes Jessica’s writing so clever, is the fact that each book is unique; individual in its own way, yet sharing that commonality of being a great read.

It is with great anticipation therefore that I am embarking on this new festive instalment, based in the ever fabulous Whitsborough Bay. I am a totally ‘Southern Softie’ myself, with scant appreciation of the UK’s geography north of Watford, so I must confess to googling Whitsborough Bay, as having read the author’s books based there, I really fancied a trip. What a blow to discover that Whitsborough Bay is an entirely fictional seaside resort, albeit an amalgamation of experiences from a collection of places. I was however, delighted to find an article by Jessica, detailing the advent of this resort; unusually for me, I have listed the link below, in the hope that you will find it equally interesting.

Back to the story, I immediately empathised with Charlee on two fronts: the first, in that she clearly loved her Grandparents dearly, and the second that she loved the beach – wanting to spread her Grandmother’s ashes there. You can’t go far wrong with a character who loves both their Grandparents, and the seaside. I was devastated at the thought of Charlee’s Grandmother hanging on in there, essentially waiting until after Charlee’s 30th birthday to die. I found myself crying ugly, genuine tears at this – and I was still only on the first page off the book!

I loved the narrative throughout this book. The sights and the smells were all-pervading and the characters so realistic. Indeed, at one point, upon closing my eyes, I swear that I could smell chocolate so strongly, to the extent that I could practically taste it. As for Charlees’s Christmas chocolate window display – I could visualise it with very little effort or imagination, such were the book’s descriptions; this may as well have been a picture book! What could possibly be more uplifting than a great book, accompanied by the smell and taste of my favourite confection, together with a mind full of glorious pictures! I revelled in the sense of community among the Castle Street shopkeepers, to the extent that I genuinely felt part of it, living as part of the community, vicariously through Charlee.

I was thrilled at the thought of revisiting Whitsborough Bay and I could really see Charlee living there. I loved the joy that she got from her skill as a chocolatier and looked forward to sharing in her setting up of a new shop of her own. What I wasn’t sure about however, was her boyfriend Ricky and where his loyalties lay – I just hoped with all my might, that he wasn’t using Charlee. The more I read about Charlee, the more she endeared herself to me and I found myself completely invested in her and her having a successful future, both in a business sense and from a personal view – building for herself that sense of family that she so yearned, no doubt a throw back desire from having been abandoned by her Mother as a baby. However, I found it difficult to dispel the sneaking suspicion from the back of my mind, that Ricky was taking advantage of Charlee. I am not going to spoil the ending of this book for you though, by dwelling on this any further, apart from stating the obvious – that as far as I’m concerned, she couldn’t be rid of him soon enough!

I was concerned at Charlee’s lack of friends in her new town, but it felt to me as though this situation was changing rapidly, after meeting both Sarah from the florists and Matt the plumber. He had a certain promise on the romantic front, apart from no being single!

Will Charlee make her own happy ever after? You will have to read this great book for yourself, to find out.

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The Reboot – Clodagh Murphy

I really liked the concept of a pair of people, meeting up again after ten years; both ready to kickstart their lives. I felt immediate empathy for both Roly and Ella – both at a crossroads in their life, albeit for different reasons. They were both just so likeable, that I wanted their lives to be better and if that being better could be together, then that would be an added bonus as far as I am concerned.

It felt to me as though this book laid bare the realities of life as a ‘popstar’ – how what we see and perceive is so far from the truth as to almost be laughable. I felt genuine sadness for Roly, that his life had come to its current point with having actually achieved very little. He had been so young and naive and yet all the public remembered about him was his issue with drugs. What about the good things he did and the fact that he was a novelty in the boy band, for actually having any modicum of musical talent?

I loved the office at Ella’s new job. It just sounded like my dream office, although I’m not sure how much work I’d get done – preferring to luxuriate in its utter funkiness.

We know that Roly and Ella know each other from way back, but I just felt overcome with a desire for them to reunited; indeed I felt truly happy when they met again. A joyous occasion. The idea of the pair house sharing also filled my with equal parts of anticipation and excitement and the actuality brought the advent of ’Operation Reboot’ – a chance for them both to start over.

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the themes running through this book, but the standout strand for me was around sticking up for what you believe in – standing upfor what you inherently think is right.

Ridiculously, one of my favourite things about the whole book – a new word – Spelunking – I just want to keep on saying it, wallowing in the way it rolls off my tongue like a bizarre new, but compelling flavour; saying it, again and again and again…..

I shall endeavour not to ruin too much of this super book, and merely implore you to buy it for yourself to find out what happens. Please use this link to purchase The Reboot for yourself :

A Christmas Wish on a Carousel – Lottie Cardew

I was instantly drawn both by the cover of this book and by the title and I couldn’t wait to read it.

I liked the sense of mystery in this book. Why was Cara still living free of charge in the annexe of the house owned by her former employer, when she hadn’t been their Nanny for years? Why does she perform man ’duties’ for family, when she is no longer employed by them? Why can’t she say no? Why was the broken snow globe so precious? Had something happened to Cara’s parents? Why does Cara need ’Dutch Courage’ just to go out for a drink with Greg? Why does Cara feel uncomfortable merely talking about her past? Does she subconsciously self destruct, when it comes to relationships? Why do her friends feel the need to be so protective of her? Why does every relationship end up in self-sabotage? What is she hiding about her past? What’s the story re Des and Uncle Wilf?

My mind was consumed with intrigue, the minute I started reading and I was fully invested in Cara being granted a fantastical wish, following her mystical carousel ride at the local Christmas fair. This ride did actually conjure up an eerie, evocative, almost magical sense of deja vu the next day! Had that ride really happened, or was it the product of an overactive imagination? After all, who else remembered seeing the carousel!

‘Uncle’ Wilf and Greg were both interesting additions to the storyline, albeit 2 very different characters. But, could either or both be considered a potential love interest for Cara? That does remain to be seen, although the fact that Cara refers to Greg as ’Great on paper Greg’ almost doesn’t auger well for him! Can the ‘sensible’ choice trump the potentially more dangerous, yet ultimately more exciting choice?

Octogenarian? Perdita makes an interesting entrance into Cara’s life. In face despite her age she seems to be a breathe of fresh air in Cara’s life; quite philosophical. Upon hearing about Cara’s date with Greg, she beseeches Cara to ‘Make sure he makes your heart sing, Cara!’ What wonderful, inspiring words, despite her advancing years. More hopefuls embarking on a new relationship would do well to heed those words! In truth though, Perdita seems almost as unreal and ethereal as the Christmas market carousel ride.

I felt for Cora – that her parents had died in quick succession, unable to live without each other. The author dealt with Cara’s feelings with the utmost empathy and I felt this would be a comfort for anyone going through the same kind of trauma in real life. it takes genuine talent to write so sympathetically and this little snippet of Cara’s back story contributed towards explaining why she behaves in the way that she does. It doesn’t however explain why Jojo treats Cara in the way she does. But is Jojo right, that things with Des are not as they should be?

From the very beginning this great book is crammed with mystery, but you will of course have to read on for yourself to find out the answers, although you will have to appeal to your spiritual side to grasp a proper understanding of the story. This story was a bit different, but that difference shone out like the brightest star in the sky and compounded my enjoyment of the whole thing; indeed I felt thoroughly touched by the whole story.

Oh why did I start reading this book so late in the evening that I become so compelled to read on, that I end up staying up all night reading! Take heed, or staying up all night may be your fate too!

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A Winter’s Wish for the Cornish Midwife – Jo Bartlett

A veritable treat – the next episode in the Cornish Midwife series – albeit a reminder that winter is approaching rapidly!

I did feel for Toni, who had ostensibly been railroaded into getting married, just to appease her future Mother-in-Law, who seemed to have been playing on her MS diagnosis for some years now. As I saw it, there was suspicion in Toni’s mind that she loved Aaron more like a Brother than a lover – after all, they had grown up in each others pockets, both only children and with their respective families very close.

I’m not going to ruin things too much, but Toni did move on – you will have to read for yourself to find out why – but when she fIndus a new partner, she struggles to move on and is very secretive about her new love – but how long can he put up with this? They surely can’t keep their relationship a secret forever. Yes, Toni has her reasons, but still…….

This story dealt with some heavy issues with the utmost empathy and I’m certain that some would find comfort from it.

I enjoyed this read from start to finish and can’t wait for the next in the series!

To read this great book for yourself, use this link:

Sunrise over Pebble Bay – Della Galton

As I sit down to read this book, I feel a wave of comfort coming over me. Not only a book by one of my favourite authors, but a book set in beautiful Dorset where I grew up. It never fails to make me happy, reading about places that sound so familiar.

From the very start of the book, I loved the author’s descriptive language. An example was in the very first chapter, when she was describing the smell of a cake. I swear that having read that, I felt as though I could smell cake and it was quite literally making my mouth water! Alas there was no cakeage to hand!

What an utter treat to twig that Olivia’s significant other, Phil, is THE Phil from Della Galton’s ’Shooting Stars Over Bluebell Cliff’. What a treat! I do so love coming across ’old friends’ from previous books and Della Galton has an amazing gift for seamlessly including them and their backstories. It’s a bit like wearing an old pair of boots for the first time in ages, and just knowing, from having worn them so often before, that your feet are going to be on clouds all day long. (Apologies to Della, for comparing your character to a pair of old boots, but it’s meant in the most positive way).

I feel comforted, knowing that Olivia is in Phil’s safe hands – or is she? I’d certainly like to think this is the case, but I was somehow getting the impression that he was hiding something from Olivia, for example he still hadn’t shown her his bedroom. I sincerely hope to be proven wrong, having become quite attached to Phil and Olivia, both as individuals, as well as as a couple. Could it possibly be something to do with his passion for acting? That he was actually being the man that he thought Olivia wanted him to be, as opposed to the man he actually was?

I loved the commonality threading through this series of books – of the feud/strange friendship between Mr B, the chef, and Phil. I know it’s childish, but each little prank raised a chuckle from this camp and it felt to me like a really nice, clever touch, to tie the books loosely together.

I did feel a little concerned though at the toy blue/pink elephant in the nursery throughout this book. I really liked Phil and Olivia as a couple and I so wanted them to have aligned future plans. Things didn’t seem to auger that well, in that Olivia didn’t want to bring the subject up with Phil, whilst Phil was seemingly oblivious of anything going on, even with the talk of Ruby, Olivia’s sister’s imminent baby.

I felt that the author dealt with the subjects of pregnancy and infertility in an intelligent, empathetic manner. it was clever, the way that the lives of Ruby and Olivia were seen to mirror the lives and experiences of their Mother and Aunt Dawn. Both Rub and the girls’ Mother had seemed to have no trouble conceiving, whereas Olivia worried that she was getting too old and it might never happen, and Dawn had been due to go and see a fertility expert when her Husband had died unexpectedly. This backstory mitred perfectly with the current story and I felt it would give Olivia the confidence to actually have a proper conversation with Phil about it. After all, she was just surmising that having a baby could potentially be an issue. As to the empathy of the writing – I thought that those in the same kind of situations might garner comfort from the written word. Ruby was feeling that she would get a huge amount of family support, whilst the Olivias out there would surely be comforted by the offer to play a huge part in a niece/nephew’s upbringing, in the way that Aunt Dawn had with Olivia and Ruby. Stuff the acting parts and auditions – it seemed to me that life is one big play and Olivia was being offered the part of her life (a part that I myself have coveted) – that of hands-on Aunt.

One big question remains though – could a blast from the past change everything? The said blast, alongside a current day confession, certainly presented Olivia with one heck of a moral and romantic dilemma. What exactly was he up to? Was he actually stalking Olivia? Would he set off a potentially lethal chain of events? An additional dilemma – facing the choice of an audition for a mainstream TV series, or supporting her Sister for the birth of her baby, what would Olivia choose? I am not going to spoil things for you though and you will have to read the book for yourself to find out what ultimately happens.

This was a throughly enjoyable book, simultaneously heartwarming yet heart-wrenching. Della Galton certainly has a gift for taking normal characters, like you and me, with normal families and the issues that go with them and every day problems, like parenthood and relationships; she then works her magic on their very being, to bring something truly magical to the reader. A novel that keeps you, the reader satisfied from beginning to end; a novel where you end up caring unconditionally about the characters and what happens to them; a story that feels so real, you almost sense that you have been absorbed into the story. A book that brings joy from the start, down to the very last word on the final page, such that whilst you do not want to put the book down, you equally do not want it to end. One can only hope that there are more chapters in the pipeline. My serious side has not had enough of the beautiful Dorset countryside, whilst my silly half simply can never get enough of schoolboy kitchen pranks. Whilst I can’t imagine such a feud being allowed to continue in an establishment such as the Bluebird Cliff Hotel, on paper they never fail to amuse me! I was clearly a schoolboy in another life!

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The Village Inn of Secret Dreams – Alison Sherlock

Happiness /ˈhapɪnəs/.

Happiness is what I feel when I settle down with a good book and a cuppa or a glass of wine.
I felt immensely happy to be given the opportunity to review this new Alison Sherlock book, a further delve into life in the village of Cranbridge. If this book is half as ‘The Village of Lost and Found’, then it will be a surefire winner.

I felt for Belle, having secretly fallen for her childhood friend, Pete. After kissing him, he ended up living in Singapore for years. Is there any hope of anything between them, now that he is coming back to Cranbridge? The romantic in me wants things to hit off between them, although practical me can foresee nothing but pitfalls!

Molly, Belle, Lucy and Amber seemed like the ultimate quadrumvirate from the outside and I just found myself wanting to be one of their gang. It felt to me as though as a group, they had brought life to what was otherwise a fairly humdrum, old fashioned village, with not a lot going for it. It would be a tragedy for the pub to close down or be sold; after all, who knows what could end up replacing the pub. In the previous book, the group had been involved with the rebirth of the village store and the advent of the community hub had come about due to their efforts in trying to save the village newspaper.

However, is the pub salvageable? it gets very little business. If Lucy was able to save her Uncles newspaper, why couldn’t they come up with a plan to rescue the pub. After all, on paper, it sounded idyllic. Auntie Angie’s culinary ineptitude was surely a causative factor to the pub’s problems! I must however confess to feeling rather sad at Belle’s belief that despite her fairytale name, there wasn’t necessarily a prince waiting in the wings for her, especially with the potential sale/closing down of the pub leaving her future to uncertain. What is life, if you can’t allow yourself to dream from time to time! Poor Belle, it seemed so sad to me, that she couldn’t bring herself to talk to anyone about her concerns for either the present or the future.

I do like a book with a bit of mystery; with Belle and Pete both hidings things too, this novel seems to have mystery in pages! Cranbridge seems to provide some kind of sanctuary to Belle, but sanctuary from what!? She is young and gorgeous, but still seems hell bent on blending into the background; the princess of not geting noticed. Oh Belle, please just let your friends and family in; they just want to help!

It seemed such a shame that it looked like the pub was going to have to be sold. This was a particularly bitter pill to swallow for Belle, as it was all she had ever known. I must confess to having had a rather unladylike snigger at the description of landlady Angie’s cooking as ‘soggy, dry or inedible. Sometimes all three at once’. This seemed like quite an achievement to me! I couldn’t help but wonder whether sorting out the culinary offerings of the pub would go someway towards reviving this village institution’s fortunes.

People often say things they don’t really mean – the words just kind of slip out, but Pete makes a promise of such immense proportions he must almost have wished he could have bitten his tongue off! The big question is surely as to whether or not he can follow through with his promise. Did he inadvertently make the offer due to his latent love for Belle? Is this reciprocated? Is there a future for them?

You may be able guess from my writing, the extent to which I enjoyed this thoroughly entertaining book; a contemporary prodigal son meets a modern Disney-style princess. A story that I didn’t want to come to an end. I can but hope that there may be another chapter depicting the inner workings and the lives and loves of Cranbridge in the offing?

I really do hope that my enjoyment of this story is reflected in my review and that you will buy this book for yourself, in order to get the answers to the many unanswered questions.

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High Blue Sky – Victoria Connelly

I so enjoyed the prequel to this book, it was with great anticipation and excitement that I pounced upon the opportunity to read this second book and to perhaps find out a little more about Abbie and Edward.

As we fall well into Autumn (please excuse the pun) it felt refreshing to open a new book in the throes of Spring. Abi and Edward are so different in so many ways, but I still hold out hope of them getting together, even if I was disappointed at how slowly their relationship had progressed in the last year. As they both let their first apartments in Winfield Hall out, it feels like a test of their potential future together. On one side you have level headed businessman Edward, who vets his potential tenants carefully, making sure they are good for the rent – whilst Abbie, who is also a successful businesswoman and artist, wants to rent her apartments out at minimum rent, to struggling artists.

I felt sad that Abi’s Sister Ellen hadn’t mellowed at all, even after downsizing to improve her finances. There was a bitter tinge to her – a sense of being hard done by and of everyone around her getting something for nothing. I was further saddened by the fact that her behaviour seemed to be causing issues with her children. Absolutely heartbreaking.

Call me wet (quite literally), but I found myself crying real tears at Ronnie’s gesture of kindness towards his friend Abi. He came across as such a kind gentle man and it was utterly heartbreaking to me that he had lost his wife and was still learning to live without her.

Aura, Abi’s new tenant was a beautiful etherial creature; a wise soul. Call me mad, but I felt calmer, just reading about her and I held great hopes for a relationship between her and Harry, Edward’s tenant, even though his parents would invariably not approve of her.

I loved everything about this book, from the cover and chapter one, right through to the very end. The residents found Winfield Hall a comforting place to live and I found it comforting to read about. I enjoyed reading about love and heartbreak, the kindness of those with few comforts, the generosity of those with gifts not if this world. The holistic side of the book left me feeling a sense of calm both for the characters and for myself. It seemed so rare to me, that feeling of wellbeing that I seemed to garner from reading a fictional book.

Did I find any answers to my burning questions though?

  • Why does Edward have a limp?
  • Will there be any romantic successes in this book?
  • Will Oscar and Edward sort out their relationship? Can their relationship survive them both liking Abi (in a romantic sense)?
  • Will Aura sort out the situation with her Brother?
  • Can Harry reconcile with his Parents over Aura?

You will have to read this mesmerising, feel-good book for yourself – and I defy you to not feel at least a little affected by Aura and her presence. I know that I feel sad that this book is over and I look forward to the next instalment with great anticipation.

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