Book Reviews: Pineapple Lies by Amy Vansant and Pineapple Mystery Box by Amy Vansant @AmyVansant @Rosemary_Benson

Pineapple Lies
A Pineapple Port Mystery #1
Amy Vansant
Amy Vansant, August 2015
Narrated by Rosemary Benson
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Growing up in one of Florida’s age-55-plus communities, Charlotte never expected life to be wild. Golf cart racing with her surrogate mothers Mariska and Darla was about as nutty as life got… until she found the hot pawnbroker’s mom buried in her backyard.

Talk about making a lousy first impression.

Armed with nothing but her wits, Pineapple Port’s questionable cast of characters and a growing crush, Charlotte is determined to solve the mystery of Declan’s mother’s murder.

Hey, at least this guy’s skeletons aren’t in his closet.

Sometimes it takes me what seems like forever to get around to reading a book I really wanted in the beginning. It isn’t usually because I lose interest, although that occasionally happens. Mostly it’s because I am constitutionally incapable of controlling my TBR hoard, a victim of my own book greed.

The result of this is that, once in a while, I’m completely blown away by a book I’ve put off for no good reason other than having too many books to read (!) and then I kick myself for missing out for way too long and that’s what happened with Pineapple Lies. It took me approximately 30 minutes of the audiobook to decide this was going to be a terrific read for three reasons:

1. I love the players and the premise of a youngish woman who lives in a retirement community in Florida being the sleuth. I live in Florida (but not in a retirement village) so I was already predisposed to like the setting and Ms. Vansant has created a bunch of characters who are a little stereotypical but in a very good way and who each bring something to the table, so to speak.

2. The mysteries are entertaining puzzles with the main one, the discovery of the local pawnbroker’s mom buried in Charlotte’s yard, keeping my little gray cells working while the side threads provide plenty of humor and distraction. The author’s pacing is especially good and not once was I the least bit let down as the plot progressed. There’s a budding romance, too, but it’s not obtrusive.

3. I’ve found an audiobook narrator to add to my list of favorites. Rosemary Benson is, in a word, amazing. Her ability to create individual voices is beyond that of most truly good narrators and I’ve listened to some I consider among the best. I’m very sure I would have fallen in book love with Pineapple Lies anyway but Ms. Benson brings it all to life.

So, big kudos to both author and narrator—this book is going on my list of best books read in 2021 and now we’ll see if the trend continues with the second book, Pineapple Mystery Box.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2021.

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Pineapple Mystery Box
A Pineapple Port Mystery #2
Amy Vansant
Amy Vansant, January 2018
Narrated by Rosemary Benson
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

When a giant inflatable Halloween witch goes missing in the Pineapple Port retirement community, Charlotte’s eager to nab the culprit. Before she can lift a fingerprint, someone threatens to kill a new neighbor who looks like an adorable Pomeranian but possesses a disturbing talent for revenge. Moments later, a stranger demands the return of a mysterious wooden box – or else. 

Charlotte’s boyfriend, Declan, isn’t having a great morning either. His calculating ex-girlfriend has returned to claim she’s the rightful owner of his pawn shop. She’s livid he’s found a new lady, too.

Eh. Things could be worse. At least Charlotte doesn’t know that a mojito-swilling killer who fed his grandmother to a cat is on his way to Pineapple Port!

Some series suffer from sophomore slump but this one most certainly does not. Charlotte has decided that her calling is to be a private investigator after her achievements in the previous story and her senior citizen community is more than willing to send cases her way, things like who stole Darla’s Halloween witch and who is moving outdoor decor from one yard to another.

When pawnbroker Declan’s former girlfriend threatens to make his life miserable and a peculiar box draws unhealthy attention, he thinks things are weird enough but they can’t explain his uncle Seamus’s bizarre behavior. Throw in a potentially homicidal newcomer and Charlotte suddenly has a full detecting plate.

Following up on the first book, Pineapple Mystery Box is just as clever and filled with humor and I appreciated narrator Rosemary Benson’s talents every bit as much. I highly recommend this and I’ll soon be starting the next audiobook, Pineapple Puzzles.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2021.

Book Review: A Twist of Fortune by Mike Martin @mike54martin @AnAudiobookworm

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Title: A Twist of Fortune
Series: Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 4
Author: Mike Martin
Narrator: Francis G. Kearney
Publication Date: July 7, 2021

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A Twist of Fortune
Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 4
Mike Martin
Narrated by Francis G. Kearney
Mike Martin, July 2021
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

A Twist of Fortune is the fourth book in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, and it continues the adventures of Sgt. Windflower, as he tries to solve crime and experience the joy and the sadness of life in a small maritime community. Follow along as he feels the sometimes bitter taste of an east coast winter and the unique culinary delights of this part of the world.

As is so often the case in a small coastal community, the local fish factory is the primary employer in Grand Banks, Newfoundland, and its closing is a major upset for the village. Such an economic downturn has repercussions and the small contingent of Mounties, led by Sgt. Winston Windflower, have much to keep them busy.

Not least in the reactions to the closing are the public protests with Windflower’s longtime girlfriend up front and center. When Sheila is arrested, Windflower finds himself in an awkward position and the choice he makes to stand on the side of law and order doesn’t exactly further their relationship.

Meanwhile, the usual life of a Mountie goes on and a body soon crops up, a body that shows evidence of murder, leading to the ever-present drug world, and that keeps Windflower’s attention but so do the myriad activities of life in a small town. At times, I thought the latter took too much precedence and, while I’m interested in the personal side of the community, I would have liked a little more consideration of the criminal and police aspects. Still, this remains one of my favorite traditional mystery series, largely because of its gentle nature.

As always, Francis G. Kearney does a fine job with the narration, particularly with the accents and inflections I expect to hear in a small Canadian town. All in all, I’m very happy whenever a new audio edition of Mr. Martin’s Sgt. Windflower books becomes available and I’m hoping the next one won’t be too far behind.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2021.

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

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About the Author

Mike Martin is the author of the award-winning Sgt. Windflower Mystery series set in beautiful Grand Bank. There are 4 audiobooks so far with more in the works. They include The Walker on the Cape, The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, and the latest audiobook A Twist of Fortune.

Mike is Past Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers and a member of the Newfoundland Writing Guild and Ottawa Independent Writers.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

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About the Narrator

I’m Francis G. Kearney. During college I began working as a local actor/performer, and upon leaving began a successful career building and selling multiple businesses. One close to my heart focused on aviation.

As an accomplished aviator, I worked on multiple films & tv as a helicopter camera ship pilot!

I have always been an insatiable reader with a love of history – the ultimate story, and anything military – especially if it flies.

My evolution into narration and the joy of storytelling is the culmination of many years of a life fully lived and is reflected in a voice of experience.

 

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Book Review: Taking Notes on Murder by C.S. McDonald @CSMcDonald7 @iReadBookTours

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Welcome to one of the July 12th stops on the blog tour
for Maxed Out by C.S. McDonald with iRead Book Tours.
(Tour schedule linked.) There are multiple books being
reviewed on this tour and today’s post is my review
of Taking Notes on Murder. Be sure to follow the rest
of the tour for spotlights and reviews on all included
books, other bonus content, and a giveaway!
More on that at the end of this post.

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Taking Notes on Murder
A Fiona Quinn Mystery #9
C.S. McDonald
C.S. McDonald, September 2020
Narrated by Maren Swenson Waxenberg
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Mysterious notes are showing up in Fiona’s kindergarten classroom, claiming a suicide from 2005 was actually a homicide. Detective Landry maintains the messages are too vague, possess no integrity, and do not warrant a review of the old case.

Fiona’s not convinced. She’s determined to find the author of the enigmatic notes and uncover the truth about a man who had many secrets and countless enemies, including Fiona’s mother and former suspect Nancy Quinn!

Can Fiona crack this cold case, and what will it take to get Detective Landry involved? Don’t miss taking notes on this murder!

Following their cruise in the last book, Fiona and Nathan are back home, keeping the secret that they got married. Fiona is once again in her kindergarten classroom and it isn’t long before she’s enticed into investigating another death, prompted by a series of notes claiming that a suicide from years ago was, in fact, not a suicide. Fiona needs nothing more to start snooping but her detective husband, Nathan, says the notes alone are not enough reason to re-open the case. Naturally, he changes his mind when Fiona herself is threatened.

As it turns out, high school teacher James Arnold was a most unlikeable man, a real creep, so there’s no shortage of suspects including his own family and colleagues. Fiona and Nathan have enough investigating to keep them busy but they also have to contend with the latest shenanigans of her unseen but present ghostly grandmother. Those interludes are refreshing and funny, helping to break the tension.

In my earlier review of the previous book, I mentioned that I was undecided as to whether I liked the narration of the audiobook. Unfortunately, this entry confirms my thought that the main character’s voice is really annoying—Fiona sounds like an overgrown version of one of those kindergartners she teaches. She plucks my last nerve but Ms. Waxenberg does a nice job with the other characters and maintains appropriate pacing so I was willing to overlook the distraction. All said, Taking Notes on Murder is a pleasant way to spend a few hours.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2021.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // Amazon

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About the Author

For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. Classically trained at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School, The Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, and many others, she became a professional dancer and choreographer. In 2011 she retired from her dance career to write. Under her real name, Cindy McDonald, she writes murder-suspense and romantic suspense novels. In 2014 she added the pen name, C.S. McDonald, to write children’s books for her grandchildren. In 2016 she added the Fiona Quinn Mysteries. Presently, the Fiona Quinn Mysteries has nine books.

Cindy’s newest venture is The Owl’s Nest Mysteries. Once again, she has set her cozy mystery in Pittsburgh. The Owl’s Next Mysteries has a little grit, a little time travel, a little romance, and a whole lot of cozy!

Cindy resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Bill, and her poorly behaved Cocker Spaniel, Allister.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

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About the Narrator

Ms. Waxenberg is a voice over artist and presentation coach.  She serves as a consultant to the Professional Development Company, Inc. teaching presentation and interview skills seminars to a variety of clients, Columbia MBA, and SIPA graduate students.  Maren has a 30-year background in special events, performing arts production and the entertainment industry.   In 1996, she founded Maren Productions which produces audio books, radio and television voice-overs, and podcasts.  Maren Productions also offers special event production and consultancy services. 

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Facebook

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

Autographed copy of MAXED OUT, plus
other gifts (USA only) (ends Jul 23)

Enter here.

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Book Review: Bon Voyage to Murder by C.S. McDonald @CSMcDonald7 @iReadBookTours

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Welcome to one of the July 6th stops on the blog tour
for Maxed Out by C.S. McDonald with iRead Book Tours.
(Tour schedule linked.) There are multiple books being
reviewed on this tour and today’s post is my review
of Bon Voyage to Murder. Be sure to follow the rest
of the tour for spotlights and reviews on all included
books, other bonus content, and a giveaway!
More on that at the end of this post.

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Bon Voyage to Murder
A Fiona Quinn Mystery #8
C.S. McDonald
C.S. McDonald, November 2020
Narrated by Maren Swenson Waxenberg
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Hooray! Fiona has finally convinced her boyfriend detective Nathan Landry to go on a romantic Caribbean cruise. Unfortunately, their fun on the high seas is interrupted by murder. It isn’t long before they discover a boatload of suspects, who have motives deeper than the ocean for wanting the victim out of their lives.

Pittsburgh teacher Fiona Quinn got her man, Nathan Landry, long ago and the pair have gone on a cruise with friends Julia and Rob Bell. Isn’t it handy to have a real detective nearby when a woman disappears, possibly overboard? Nathan’s presence gives Fiona entry to the investigation and Captain Baptiste is grateful for their help. Country singer Cassidy Kinsman was an aging, crabby drunk and there is no shortage of potential suspects but, as the sleuthing progresses, why would anyone want to attack a shy, skittish maid? Did she see or hear something she shouldn’t have?

The secondary storyline regarding Fiona’s brother, Chad, doesn’t add anything to the resolution of the mystery and I couldn’t help thinking she would never have left him to house-and-pet sit. These two are siblings so she would have known how out of touch with reality he is. Chad’s RPG buddies are pretty funny, though, and all these guys are like the modern day version of the Three Stooges so they’re worth a smile.

I haven’t quite made up my mind about Ms. Waxenberg’s narrative skills—there’s something a bit grating about Fiona’s voice in particular—but I’ll have another chance to evaluate when I listen to a second book next week. I do think Ms. Waxenberg handles the pacing nicely and does a variety of voices well.

All in all, Bon Voyage to Murder is a fun cozy, taking me back to my own cruising days, and I enjoyed the trip 🙂

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2021.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // Amazon

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About the Author

For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. Classically trained at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School, The Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, and many others, she became a professional dancer and choreographer. In 2011 she retired from her dance career to write. Under her real name, Cindy McDonald, she writes murder-suspense and romantic suspense novels. In 2014 she added the pen name, C.S. McDonald, to write children’s books for her grandchildren. In 2016 she added the Fiona Quinn Mysteries. Presently, the Fiona Quinn Mysteries has nine books.

Cindy’s newest venture is The Owl’s Nest Mysteries. Once again, she has set her cozy mystery in Pittsburgh. The Owl’s Next Mysteries has a little grit, a little time travel, a little romance, and a whole lot of cozy!

Cindy resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Bill, and her poorly behaved Cocker Spaniel, Allister.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

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About the Narrator

Ms. Waxenberg is a voice over artist and presentation coach.  She serves as a consultant to the Professional Development Company, Inc. teaching presentation and interview skills seminars to a variety of clients, Columbia MBA, and SIPA graduate students.  Maren has a 30-year background in special events, performing arts production and the entertainment industry.   In 1996, she founded Maren Productions which produces audio books, radio and television voice-overs, and podcasts.  Maren Productions also offers special event production and consultancy services. 

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Facebook

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

Autographed copy of MAXED OUT, plus
other gifts (USA only) (ends Jul 23)

Enter here.

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Book Review: The Ninth Session by Deborah Serani @DeborahSerani @TouchPointPress @AnAudiobookworm

 

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Title: The Ninth Session

Author: Deborah Serani

Narrator: Deborah Serani

Length: 6 hours and 52 minutes

Publisher: TouchPoint Press

Released: Apr. 16, 2021

Genre: Suspense

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An edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller that brings a unique mix of psychotherapy and sign language and Coda culture. Just when you think you have it figured out, think again!

Dr. Alicia Reese takes on a new patient. Lucas Ferro suffers with crippling anxiety, and as sessions progress, he begins to share the reasons why he’s struggling. As Ferro’s narrative becomes more menacing, Reese finds herself wedged between the cold hard frame of professional ethics and the integrity of personal truth. And, finally, when Ferro reveals his secrets, Reese learns how far she’s willing to go, willing to risk and willing to lose to do the right thing.

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Deborah Serani is an award-winning author, writing about psychological topics in many genres. She is a psychologist in practice over 30 years and a senior professor at Adelphi University. Dr. Serani has worked as a technical advisor for the NBC television show, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – where a recurring character, Judge D. Serani, was named for her.

 

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads

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Way back in medieval times, I majored in psychology; although I never did anything with it, to this day, I’m still fascinated by the abnormalities of the mind and, in particular, implications in criminal justice. The Ninth Session, written by a woman who knows her topic very well, satisfied my interests as well as any crime fiction I’ve read. Luke is a formidable and dangerous man while his doctor, psychologist Alicia Reese, may or may not be truly prepared for what she learns about him from one session to the next and my nerves became ever more tense with every revelation. Like Alicia, the more I learned, the more I realized that he was capable of causing great harm to Alicia and those who were important in her life. “Creepy” doesn’t begin to cover it.

As narrator, Ms. Serani is clear but the various voices are not especially distinguishable. Her pace is a little slow and I could understand very well at 1.45 speed which didn’t make her sound like she’d been inhaling gas.

One thing I especially liked was the author’s method of interweaving sessions and supervision and personal life. It was interesting that the notes Alicia wrote out provided a fair amount of information not heard in the session, meaning I had to always pay attention. All in all, this was a compelling look at a psychopath’s mind and how others, including his doctor, are affected.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2021.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Deborah Serani. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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Book Review: Eden Lost by Andrew Cunningham @arcnovels @GH_Narrator @AnAudiobookworm

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Author: Andrew Cunningham

Narrator: Greg Hernandez

Length: 6 hours 31 minutes

Series: Eden Rising, Book 2

Publisher: Andrew Cunningham

Released: Jan. 15, 2021

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

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Book Review: Six Days of Memories by Stacy Eaton @StacySEaton @AnAudiobookworm

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Title: Six Days of Memories
Author: Stacy Eaton
Narrator: Rebecca Ehrenpreis
Publication Date: June 15, 2020
Genres: Mystery, Police Procedural

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Six Days of Memories
Stacy Eaton
Narrated by Rebecca Ehrenpreis
Nitewolf Novels, June 2020
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Detective Natasha Foster will put her job on the line to prove her gut feeling is dead-on.

When Detective Foster responds to the scene of a crash, she finds the female passenger dead, a bag full of money in the back seat and a body in the trunk. It is only when the driver, whom she nicknames Jay, wakes up with no memory that she must go with her instincts and continue the investigation in a way that was never taught.

Jay finds himself lost, but drawn to the beautiful detective who steps above and beyond the call of duty. His need to know if he was a victim or the criminal pushes him to try and recall what happened and who he is. With the pull of a trigger, Jay’s memory will suddenly return and with it, the terrible truth.

Picking up a book labeled as romantic suspense can be a perilous adventure because you never know whether the emphasis will be on the romance or the mystery/suspense side. In this case, Six Days of Memories is decidedly heavy on the romance and pretty light on suspense.

I liked the way Ms. Eaton tells the story through the point of view of both Natasha and Jay and, from the beginning, we’re led down several paths because Jay’s amnesia causes so much questioning of circumstances and learning the truth about the two dead women and all the cash proves to be difficult. At the heart of the investigation—is Jay a criminal or a victim or, perhaps, something in between? And can Natasha trust her instincts this time?

There were a few things that I found less than enthralling including a sex/massage scene that’s a bit more graphic than I like and some noticeable weaknesses in police procedure but, more than that, Natasha’s behavior when she first meets Jay is really inappropriate and  inexplicable, behavior that brings into question whether she can do her job as expected. In fact, I think it’s probably grounds for being removed from the case in a real life situation.

As for the narration, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, Ms. Ehrenpreis has a very clear tone that’s easy to understand and there were only a few times when I personally disagreed with the way she pronounced specific words; I expect that sort of thing to happen. Beyond that, though, her narration sounded kind of stilted to me, as though she was reading the words on the page for the first time and so her emphasis on certain phrases and words just wasn’t quite the way a person would normally speak. That aside, I thought she performed well enough and I would definitely be willing to hear more books narrated by Ms. Ehrenpreis.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2021.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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About the Author

Stacy Eaton is a USA Today Best Selling author and began her writing career in October of 2010. Stacy took an early retirement from law enforcement after over fifteen years of service in 2016, with her last three years in investigations and crime scene investigation to write full time.

Stacy resides in southeastern Pennsylvania with her husband, who works in law enforcement, and her teen daughter. She also has a son who is currently serving in the United States Navy, and two grandchildren.

Stacy is involved in Domestic Violence Awareness and served on the Board of Directors for her local Domestic Violence Center for three years.

Be sure to visit www.stacyeaton.com for updates and more information on her books.

Sign up for all the latest information on Stacy’s Newsletter!

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

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About the Narrator

Rebecca is a Full Time Vibrant and Versatile Audiobook Narrator. With her distinctive voice and multitude of character voices, Rebecca will bring stories to life. She has a professional home studio and will produce high quality audiobooks.

Her voice is caring, insightful, and honest.

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