Emerjas

Halloween Bingo - Spellbound

How to Hang a Witch - Adriana Mather

As the title suggests, How to Hang a Witch has a number of witches in it, including the main character, although she is unaware of this fact at the start of the book. The story takes place in Salem and a number of the main characters are descended from people involved in the Salem Witch Trials, so it seemed like the good pick for the Spellbound square.

 

 

Halloween Bingo - Ghost Stories

The Afterlife of Holly Chase - Cynthia Hand

As a retelling of A Christmas Carol, this story has the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future visit the main character, Holly Chase, right at the start of the book. When they fail to convince Holly to change her ways, she dies and becomes the new Ghost of Christmas Past. I'm using it for the Ghost Stories square.

 

 

Halloween Bingo - Doomsday

The Darkest Minds - Alexandra Bracken

In The Darkest Minds, a disease hits the US that kills over 90% of all the kids. Those that survive develop powers and are locked up in internment camps by the government where they are abused or killed. Outside of those camps, the world falls to chaos as everyone divides into groups and fights over what to do. With almost all the country's children dead and the few left alive being targeted by the government, the future is looking pretty dire in the US. And the rest of the world seems to have cut off all contact as it destroys itself. I decided to go with the Doomsday square for this one.

 

 

Halloween Bingo - Country House Mystery

Truly Devious - Maureen Johnson

With the story taking place at an isolated boarding school with a very small number of students allowed each year, the suspects list for who could have committed the murder is very limited. In an interview, the author even described the novel as a country house mystery, so it seemed like the perfect pick for the Country House Mystery square.

 

 

Halloween Bingo - Genre: Horror

The Beast Is an Animal - Peternelle van Arsdale

I'm not the biggest horror fan, so I'm using The Beast is an Animal for the Genre: Horror square to get it out of the way. It wasn't too bad in terms of creepiness for me.

 

Halloween Bingo - Modern Masters of Horror

The Unfortunates - Kim Liggett

Since The Unfortunates is a horror novel by a woman published in 2018, it fits for several squares. I decided to go with the Modern Masters of Horror square. Even though I figured out what was happening right away, it still managed to creep me out. Didn't help that I was alone while I read it.

 

Halloween Bingo - Baker Street Irregulars

Goldie Vance Vol 4 - Hope Larson, Jackie Ball, Sarah Stern, Elle Power

The moment I saw the Baker Street Irregulars square, I knew I'd be reading the next Goldie Vance book for it. The main character, Goldie, is a 16 year-old assistant detective at the hotel where she works. The latest volume brings another mystery for Goldie to solve and her girlfriend and their friends all assist with the crime solving, so their are plenty of teens involved in it.

 

Halloween Bingo - Gothic

All Together Dead - Charlaine Harris

I'm using Halloween Bingo to continue with my reading of The Southern Vampire Mysteries. With any luck, I'll finally finish the series. This was my pre-read that we got to have to start the game early. All Together Dead was #7, so I'm officially over halfway done with the series. With the wide range of supernatural creatures in this book, this can fit almost a third of the squares on my board, but I'm going to use it for the Gothic square.

 

 

August Books

I read 41 books this month with an average score of 3.58. I had a reread this month with Mature Content - Megan Erickson,Santino Hassell. I finished several series that I'd started a while ago (The Conqueror's SagaStorm Siren, and Rosario Vampire Season II).

 

23 of my books were young adult and 11 were graphic novels. My most read genres were contemporary, romance, and fantasy.

 

My favorite books were Bright We Burn (And I Darken) - Kiersten White and A Million Junes - Emily Henry. My least favorite book was Losing the Field - Abbi Glines.

 

 

5 Stars

Bright We Burn (And I Darken) - Kiersten White 

 

 

4.5 Stars

A Million Junes - Emily Henry Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel - A. W. Jantha Heavy Vinyl - Carly Usdin,Nina Vakueva 

 

4 Stars

Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist - Franchesca Ramsey  Aftermath - Kelley Armstrong  Love and Other Words - Christina Lauren  Save the Date - Morgan Matson  Fence, Vol. 1 - C.S. Pacat  I See London, I See France - Sarah Mlynowski  Rosario+Vampire: Season II, Vol. 2 - Akihisa Ikeda  The Cheerleaders - Kara Thomas  This Is Really Happening - Erin Chack  Alters, Vol. 2: The Story of No-Damn-Name: A Loving Mother - Paul Jenkins,Leïla Leïz  Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave - Shyima Hall,Lisa Wysocky  The Accidental Bad Girl - Maxine Kaplan  Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan  Mature Content  - Megan Erickson,Santino Hassell  All Together Dead - Charlaine Harris  

 

3.5 Stars

Monday's Not Coming - Tiffany D. Jackson Reclaiming Shilo Snow: The Pulse-Pounding Sequel to The Evaporation of Sofi Snow - Mary  Weber  Mimi the Cross-Dresser and His Boyfriend Kei - Meco Crack Star - Tomo Kurahashi  Tea Cup Toy Boy - Cana Umino Meow For Me - Sachi Murakami Bombshells: United Vol. 1: American Soil - Marguerite Sauvage,Marcelo Dichiara,Siya Oum,Marguerite Bennett  Siren's Song (The Storm Siren Trilogy) - Mary Weber  Catwoman: Soulstealer - Sarah J. Maas  The Kissing Booth - Beth Reekles 

 

3 Stars

Ash Princess - Laura Sebastian-Coleman  Powder Snow Melancholy Vol. 1 - Saki Tsukahara  Solo - Mary Rand Hess,Kwame Alexander  The Evaporation of Sofi Snow - Mary  Weber  Dark Days: The Road to Metal - Andy Kubert,Scott Snyder,John Romita Jr., 'James Tynion IV'  Siren's Fury (The Storm Siren Trilogy) - Mary Weber  The Careful Undressing of Love - Corey Ann Haydu  Expelled - James Patterson,Emily Raymond  

 

2.5 Stars

White Rabbit - Caleb Roehrig The Smoke Thieves - Sally Green Almost Adulting: All You Need to Know to Get It Together - Arden Rose 

 

2 Stars

Losing the Field - Abbi Glines 

 

Books by author gender:

  • Male: 6
  • Female: 30
  • Male/Female Mix: 2
  • Unknown: 3

 

Books by format:

  • Physical: 19
  • Audio: 22

 

 

A Million Junes

A Million Junes - Emily Henry

The O'Donnells and the Angerts have hated each other for generations. June O'Donnell was ready to keep that hatred going and avoid the Angerts, but that plan got wrecked when she literally ran into Saul Angert who had just returned to town. The two were drawn to one another despite June's best efforts to not be attracted to an Angert, and their time together caused June to begin to question everything she knew about their families' pasts. With a curse hanging over their heads, the two must work together to learn the truth before the curse strikes their families again.

 

I fell in love with June shortly into the book. She's very sarcastic and had me cracking up with her banter with her best friend, Hannah, and Saul. Hannah and Saul also had great lines and won me over quickly. The three of them were fun to follow and watch interact with one another. I loved June and Hannah's friendship. The two of them were very different from one another, but were so close and constantly caring and worrying about each other. June kept Hannah in the loop on the supernatural shenanigans that were happening to her. They felt like best friends.

 

And June and Saul hit it off right away with the banter too. June felt like she had to hate him because he was an Angert, but she couldn't help but be charmed by him from their very first meeting, so she covered her confused feelings with sarcasm and teasing which Saul was more than capable of matching. They were pretty adorable.

 

The supernatural elements started off low-key. June was revealed to be able to see a couple ghosts that haunt her lands right from the start with one of those ghosts being a sign of danger to come. A conversation between June and Saul revealed a few more magical elements of the O'Donnell's land like coywolves that take shoes, but don't touch the chickens. But after Saul and June meet, June got her first vision of the past when she returned home. The visions played out sporadically across the story, slowly revealing the mystery of what started the feud between the two families generations ago, but also forcing Saul and June to face the losses they've had in their lives.

 

More than anything, this was a story about grief and learning to move on from it. The use of a family feud spanning generations really helped to demonstrate how holding onto pain just continued the cycle for the families again and again. This theme really came through with the reveal of what started the feud and what was behind the curse of the families.

 

With compelling characters and plenty of humor, A Million Junes managed to charm me immediately. It wasn't all laughs since both June and Saul were coming to terms with loss in their family and the event of started the family feud was not a happy once, but the book balanced the pain and humor well so that the grief was never overwhelming. It was a beautiful read.

Monday's Not Coming

Monday's Not Coming - Tiffany D. Jackson

Claudia's best friend, Monday, is missing, but she can't get anyone to believe her. Monday's mother claims Monday is with her father, while Monday's sister says she's with her aunt. Monday hasn't shown up to school, but the school hasn't checked on her. And Claudia's parents don't want her worrying about it. Claudia knows something is wrong. But how can she get anyone else to believe her?

 

This book was frustrating to read at times simply because there were so many adults turning a blind eye to an obvious problem. Seeing Claudia try again and again to ask for help only to find none got painful. Especially since the book told you from the start how long it will take for Monday to be found, so you knew all of Claudia's early attempts were doomed to fail because it's too soon.

 

The biggest issue I had with the book was the timeline. The book had several different timelines that it jumped between. The timelines included the expected Before and After, but what made it confusing were the One Year Before the Before and Two Years Before the Before timelines. It was hard to keep them all straight early on. It all eventually made sense, but that didn't make easy before that point and that confusion detracted from the story.

 

What did shine through in the book were the emotions Claudia felt over Monday's disappearance. Claudia's pain was apparent throughout the entire novel, and the timelines set before Monday's disappearance established their relationship well. Monday meant a lot to Claudia and her disappearance caused big changes in Claudia's life beyond just not having her best friend that Claudia simultaneously was dealing with as she also tried to find her friend. Basically Claudia was a mess during the book for a number of reasons and that came across very well.

 

Monday's Not Coming was well-written and packed an emotional punch, but the structure with the multiple timelines took some of that punch away by adding confusion to a narrative that didn't benefit from it. Despite that, it was an overall enjoyable, although painful, read.

Bodysuit Fetish

Bodysuit Fetish - Uni Yamasaki

When Yoji asks the cosplay club if they could create some costumes and model to advertise the video games his club will be selling at a convention, the cost they give for it is not something they can afford. But their main costume designer, Toma, offers to make the costumes for free if Yoji will model for him. Yoji accepts the deal, but the modeling ends up being a bit different from what he expected.

 

This book is just silly, but sexy, fun. Toma wants a model for inspiration, but not how one would expect. He has a clothing fetish and gets turned on touching guy's body's covered in fabric. He uses that to reward himself and inspire creativity. But he's also upfront about what he's doing and asks permission from Yoji before touching him. Toma's pretty good about checking in anytime he wants to try something new to make sure Yoji is fine with it, explicitly telling him early on that he won't do something if Yoji doesn't want him to do it. There is really only one point I can recall where Yoji pushes things and he is immediately apologetic. And part of the issue is mutual misunderstanding on both parts from a lack of communication when it comes to feelings that lead both to get upset because they think they've upset the other. This is where talking helps. It doesn't happen right away, but eventually they get there.

 

Yoji and Toma's relationship is cute. Obviously it starts off physically, but the two bond over mutual admiration for one another's design skills (fashion for Toma and character for Yoji) and their shared understanding of what it's like to get so focused on designing when inspiration hits that everything else just disappears. And eventually they realize they've developed feelings. Which take even longer to then express. Basically, the two of them do quite a bit together physically before they figure things out emotionally.

 

The extra story at the end is also a funny one where Yoji tries to surprise Toma by dressing up as his favorite hero who started his whole clothing fetish years ago. Only it's Yoji who ends up being surprised when he finds out just how many roleplaying fantasies Toma has for that hero and the two act out several of them.

 

Overall, I really love this book. The art is great. The relationship is sexy and charming. And it's just a fun read.

SPOILER ALERT!

Powder Snow Melancholy Vol. 1+2 (Complete Series)

Powder Snow Melancholy Vol. 1 - Saki Tsukahara

When Kousuke injures his arm while saving Ryouto in a snowboarding incident during a trip, Ryouto feels guilty and helps take care of him. Ryouto typically avoids Kousuke out of jealousy because the girls Ryouto likes always like Kousuke instead, but this interaction reveals a new side to Kousuke that Ryouto's never seen and forces him to reconsider his feelings toward him.

 

The BL (boys' love) genre is one plagued with consent issues, unfortunately. Starting a new BL manga always has me wondering if I'm going to run into something, and the answer is usually yes. Such is the case here. Kousuke is aggressive, forcing himself on Ryouto early on in the story. He eventually backs off completely once he realizes he's scared Ryouto, only making contact again when Ryouto reaches out. They enter into a trial relationship at Ryouto's request where Kousuke precedes to push boundaries by trying to move things faster than Ryouto wants or by smalls displays of PDA that Ryouto's not ready for yet. But these issues end once Ryouto ends the trial relationship and asks to start a real relationship. It is at that point the story also gets much more enjoyable.

 

Watching Ryouto and Kousuke navigate their new relationship when a pretty big challenge pops up was fun and it brought a place I love into the mix. Kousuke loves skateboarding and plans to go pro. He gets an opportunity to train at Whistler for a year and the two struggle with how a long distance relationship would work. They both have conflicted feelings about him going and try to ignore the issue at first before it quickly becomes obvious that's not going to work.

 

Every mention of Whistler was fun for me because I've been on those mountains a number of times, so I actually recognized the places they were talking about. There wasn't a ton of Whistler talk, but it was a nice bonus for me.

 

There is an issue in the extras which brings the story down for me though. While the story already has the above mentioned consent issues, the extra adds a flashback that makes things much worse. The extra is from Kousuke's point of view and shows how he's been silently pining for Ryouto the past 3 years.

Until he finds Ryouto passed out drunk alone at a party one night and proceeds to make out with and fondle his unconscious body while masturbating. Then he cleans things up and acts like he just found him so he can get Ryouto's friends to help get him home.

(show spoiler)

The whole thing left me feeling gross. Scenes like that are why part of me is always wary while I'm reading any BL manga for the first time. I never know when sexual assault is suddenly going to appear.

 

Despite that, I enjoyed the series overall. The art was great. And once the couple was together (after the sexual assault and boundary pushing was finished), they were fun to see navigating their relationship. But Powder Snow Melancholy does have consent issues and sexual assault which will, understandably, make it a hard pass for some.

July Books

I read 33 books this month with an average score of 3.89 stars. 18 of my books were young adult and 7 were graphic novels. My most-read genres were contemporary and romance.

 

 My favorite books are quite a bit different from each other. Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World - Mackenzi Lee,Ms. Petra Eriksson is a nonfiction book featuring women who aren't well-known in history, and Bodysuit Fetish - Uni Yamasaki is a BL manga where one of the main characters has a fabric fetish and gets the other to model for him in exchange for costume designing skills. My least favorite book was Dark Nights: Metal: Deluxe Edition - Greg Capullo,Scott Snyder which was a big crossover in the DC universe where the Dark Multiverse is discovered and beings from there (led by Dark Knights/evil Batmen) invade Earth.

 

 

5 Stars

The Universe is Expanding and So Am I - Carolyn Mackler Unmasked by the Marquess - Cat Sebastian My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel - Kitty Curran,Larissa Zageris  Bodysuit Fetish - Uni Yamasaki  Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World - Mackenzi Lee,Ms. Petra Eriksson  

 

 

4.5 Stars

Anger Is a Gift - Mark Oshiro Smoke in the Sun - Renee Ahdieh  The Last Time I Lied - Riley Sager  Always and Forever, Lara Jean - Jenny Han 

 

4 Stars

Our Little Secret - Roz Nay  Public Relations - Katie Heaney,Arianna Rebolini  The Kiss Quotient - Helen Hoang  The Word is Murder - Anthony Horowitz  The Art of Feeling - Laura Tims  Mystik U - Alisa Kwitney,Mike Norton,Jordie Bellaire  The Fragile Ordinary - Samantha Young  My Plain Jane - Brodi Ashton,Cynthia Hand,Jodi Meadows  The Masked Tutor and the Innocent Shut-In - Arakata Wonder Woman/Conan - Aaron Lopresti,Gail Simone  Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol.1 - Brian Michael Bendis,Sara Pichelli   A Poison Dark and Drowning (Kingdom on Fire, Book Two) - Jessica Cluess  

 

3.5 Stars

From Twinkle, with Love - Sandhya Menon Nothing Happened - Molly Booth Wild Bird - Wendelin Van Draanen 

 

3 Stars

Neverworld Wake - Marisha Pessl Kill All Happies - Rachel Cohn A Daring Sacrifice - Jody Hedlund  Rebel of the Sands - Alwyn Hamilton A Sister's All You Need., Vol 1 (light novel) - Yomi Hirasaka Rules of Rain - Leah Scheier  Backfield Boys: A Football Mystery in Black and White - John Feinstein  Tyler Johnson Was Here - Jay Coles 

 

2.5 Stars

Dark Nights: Metal: Deluxe Edition - Greg Capullo,Scott Snyder 

 

Books by author gender:

  • Male: 7
  • Female: 23
  • Male/Female Mix: 1
  • Unknown: 2

 

Books by format:

  • Physical: 20
  • Audio: 13

 

June Books

 I had a really good month with 47 books. Part of that number was helped by the fact that I decided to clear out my reading list by reading some of my shorter books. In addition to reading 11 graphic novels this month, 13 of my books were under 300 pages (and 2 of those were even under 100 pages). I also finished several series I started years ago (IrredeemableRed QueenPrincess Jellyfish, and Assassination Classroom). My binge of The Dragonian series which started right at the end of May also ended in June. It was a productive reading month.

 

26 of my books were young adult. My most-read genres were contemporary, fantasy, and romance.

 

My favorite books were Archie, Vol. 5 - Mark Waid  and Children of Blood and Bone: The OrÏsha Legacy (Children of OrÏsha) - Tomi Adeyemi. My least favorite was Leah on the Offbeat - Becky Albertalli.

 

 

5 Stars

Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations - Amy Chua  Archie, Vol. 5 - Mark Waid  Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  Children of Blood and Bone: The OrÏsha Legacy (Children of OrÏsha) - Tomi Adeyemi  So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo  Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture - Roxane Gay  

 

4.5 Stars

Irredeemable Premier Vol. 4 - Mark Waid,Peter Krause,Diego Barreto Speak Easy, Speak Love - McKelle George  To All the Boys I've Loved Before - JennyHan  Girl Made of Stars - Ashley Herring Blake  P.S. I Still Love You - Jenny Han  Princess Jellyfish 1 - Akiko Higashimura  

 

4 Stars

Thunderlight - Adrienne Woods  Spring Awakening - Steven Sater,Duncan Sheik  Magpie Murders - Anthony Horowitz  Interlude with Tattoos - K.J. Charles  Undead Girl Gang - Lily Anderson  This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today - Chrissy Metz  Frostbite - Adrienne Woods  Moonbreeze - Adrienne Woods  Princess Princess Ever After - Katie O'Neill  Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen - Jazz Jennings  Orange Is the New Black - Piper Kerman  Irredeemable Premier Vol. 5 - Mark Waid,Damian Couceiro,Diego Barreto  Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us - Amanda Carpenter  Supergirl: Being Super - Joëlle Jones,Mariko Tamaki  Assassination Classroom (暗殺教室) 1 [Ansatsu Kyoushitsu vol. 1] - Yuusei Matsui  Beastly Bones: A Jackaby Novel - William Ritter  Not the Girls You're Looking - Aminah Mae Safi  Lies You Never Told Me - Jennifer Donaldson  

 

3.5 Stars

The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Emily M. Danforth Blood Water Paint - Joy McCullough  War Storm (Red Queen) - Victoria Aveyard Listen to Your Heart - Kasie West Final Draft - Riley Redgate  

 

3 Stars

Snow White: A Graphic Novel - Matt Phelan,Matt Phelan Deadly Class Volume 2: Kids of the Black Hole - Wes Craig,Rick Remender,Lee Loughridge  Starlight - Adrienne Woods Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change - Bonnie Burton  The Lies They Tell - Gillian French Generation X Vol. 1: Natural Selection - Christina Strain,Amilcar Pinna My So-Called Bollywood Life - Nisha Sharma Love & Other Carnivorous Plants - Florence Gonsalves  

 

2.5 Stars

Leah on the Offbeat - Becky Albertalli Ace of Shades - Amanda Foody  Crazy Beautiful - Lauren Baratz-Logsted Snotgirl Vol. 1: Green Hair Don't Care - Leslie Hung,Leslie Hung,Mickey Quinn,Bryan Lee O'Malley  

 

 

Books by author gender:

  • Male: 9
  • Female: 36
  • Male/Female Mix: 2

 

Books by format:

  • Physical: 26
  • Audio: 21

Listen to Your Heart

Listen to Your Heart - Kasie West

When Kate signed up for the school's podcasting class, she didn't expect to be picked as one of the cohosts of the show. Nor did she expect to recognize one of the callers as Diego, the crush of her best friend, who called in to ask for some advice on his crush. And she really didn't expect to begin to develop feelings herself for Diego as she tried to help him and her best friend, Alana, get together.

 

Before I get into what I liked about this book, and I did like things, I just have to say that I hated Kate's podcasting class and teacher. At the beginning, Kate told her fellow cohost, Victoria, that she hated the name Kat, but was fine with Kate (her full name is Kathryn). Victoria preceded to call her Kat on the podcast, which Kate repeatedly corrected. Victoria ignored this. The editing team then removed every instance of Kate correcting her name so that it seemed like she was fine with being called Kat. The teacher heard the podcast and reviewed the edits and said nothing about any of this and started calling her Kat too. When Kate was complaining about how much she hated the name Kat and didn't like the fact that everyone was ignoring her about it, the group she was talking to about it, which included her best friend and her cousin all said she should just go with it because it was a cool name for her podcasting persona. I just was mad at everyone at this point. If someone says not to call them something because they don't like it, then don't call them that. Call them the name they ask. Don't be a jerk.

 

And the podcasting teacher just did not impress in general. Anytime a student made any kind of request, the teacher would force the student to do the exact opposite of whatever they had asked because the teacher knew what the student truly wanted. At the beginning, Kate was told she was one of the hosts of the podcasts. When Kate said she didn't want to be a host, the teacher laughed at her and asked if she really thought she wouldn't have to speak in podcasting class. Considering only 2 students have to speak out of the entire class, that actually wasn't a ridiculous thought. When Kate still asked to not do it, the teacher told her she obviously took the class for a reason. (Sidenote: the real reason Kate took the class was just to be in a class with her best friend. You don't know your students better than they know themselves, teacher.) Kate then told her she wanted to learn the behind-the-scenes stuff for making a podcast, which she won't get hands-on experience for if she's forced to be the host the entire semester. Literally every other job gets to cycle through and practice everything else except the host. Instead of listening to her, the teacher kept her as a host. Your student is telling you she joined the class to learn all the technical aspects of creating a podcast, and you force them to take the one job that prevents them from getting hands-on experience for any of the parts they just told you they wanted to learn about. You are a terrible teacher.
Based on what we see of her, I can just imagine she'd be a nightmare to deal with if you're a student who needed a medical accommodation.

 

But there were things I liked in this book. The romance was pretty cute. I wish there had been more interactions between Kate and Diego. They had a fun and flirty dynamic together. It was easy to see why the two of them started liking one another. They were funny and had some nice banter. And it was pretty cute that Diego kept calling in to Kate's podcast to ask for advice, first on family, and then on his crush.

 

Also great was Kate and Alana's friendship. The two of them were very different personality-wise, but got along wonderfully anyways. Even when they had issues that would have caused major friendship blow-ups in other books, the two of them worked things out without huge fights. Not even the issue of them both liking the same guy was enough to threaten their friendship. They just talked things out. I loved them.

 

Overall, Listen to Your Heart was a cute romance. I could have done without everyone pointedly calling the main character the wrong name and nothing coming of that, as well as not having the teacher who refuses to listen to her students because she knows them better than they know themselves. But the romance was really cute and the main character had a great best friend.

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