Review: Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

20652088Title: Ash & Bramble

Author: Sarah Prineas

Publishing Information:  September 15th 2015 by HarperTeen

Genre: Fantasy, retellings, romance, fairy tale, magic

Series Information: First in the Ash & Bramble series

Format: Hardcover, 464 pages

Source: Received an ARC for review from the publisher via Edelweiss

Recommended For: Fans of fairy tale retellings

 

I almost didn’t review Ash & Bramble because I have been feeling such frustration over the disappointment I had upon finishing. This book had so much promise, excellent writing fitted with a dark and twisty fairy tale retelling seemed like it would be a wonderful experience for me. Unfortunately, the novel didn’t just fall flat, but it frustrated me to no end. I will say that this novel was interesting and fast paced, Sarah Prineas writes eloquently and I wanted to love this novel so much for so many reasons. Unfortunately, I had a very hard time relating to our main character, Pin. However, due to her being an unreliable narrator I think that it isn’t unexpected that this was the case. It somehow frustrated me more that the secondary characters such as Shoe, were more likable and interesting than our main gal.

Throughout this novel there were continuous hints to the “before” and I needed more from that. I almost felt as if the novel was half finished, and to be honest the romance was not something that I fell into at all. I somewhat irrationally judged our male lead for liking Pin so much because I felt like she was so standoffish and somewhat rude. I like the dark parts to the plot, I liked the concept, but overall it just didn’t work for me. To be quite honest if this was the first in a duology I would probably be making excuses and saying that things were just getting fleshed out with hopes that we would learn answers to ALL THE THINGS in book two. Unfortunately this is not the case, so I was left very disappointed in the end.

Shelf Talker: The more time that has passed since I have read this novel, the more frustrated I have become. I felt that many parts of the novel were disconnected and though the ending was satisfying in a way, it still made me angry. The ending was conclusive for the most part, but on the other hand, it seemed very much like there could (ahem, should) be a sequel to explain some very open plot threads. I have just recently learned that there is to be a companion novel that takes place 50 years after the ending of Ash & Bramble. I can’t imagine how it will answer questions that I have, it seems as if a prequel would have been more helpful in answering my inquiries. I will say that there are many who absolutely adored this novel so as always I suggest you read other reviews and maybe give it a go yourself!

Review: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys

19364719Title: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys

Author: Various, edited by April Genevieve Tucholke

Publishing Information:  August 18th 2015 by Dial Books

Genre: Horror, short stories, paranormal, fantasy, myster

Series Information: Standaone anthology

Format: Hardcover, 385 pages

Source: Received from the publisher via Edelweiss

Recommended For: Fans of literally any of the authors in the anthology or those of you looking for some creepy reads that will leave you wanting more.

I am not usually one who enjoys short stories, but this seemed right up my alley so I decided to give it a go. I am so happy that I did because it opened my eyes to some new authors and I thoroughly enjoyed most of the anthology. I am going to share a quick glance review with some blurbs about each of the stories:

  • The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma was creepy in a real sort of way…3.5
  • In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan was excellent. A retelling of sorts of Alice in Wonderland, it gave me chills and somehow made me sad. 5 stars
  • Cat Winters delivers another fantastic historical ghostly tale in Emmeline. 5 stars
  • Bardugo’s story somehow makes celebrity rehab surprisingly creepy. 4 stars
  • I liked the lore of the story by Megan Shepherd, the harbinger of Death is always a go in my book! 3.5 stars
  • I still don’t love Danielle Paige’s writing…but she wrote about basically my favorite thing ever so I dig it. 4 stars
  • April’s story was probably my least favorite. Very “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” and very dull. 2 stars
  • The Maberry story was dull, and was too prequel like for my tastes. Zombies. Meh. 2 stars
  • OMG the Jay Kristoff story was awesome. 5 stars
  • Stefan Bachman’s was interesting enough…3 stars
  • The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu actually creeped me out a bit which is a feat in itself! Vengeful ghost for the win! 5 stars
  • A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman was quite good, and almost fable-like. 4 stars
  • Stitches by A.G. Howard is not for the squeamish, but it was fantastic. 5 stars
  • I like the vengeance in Kendare’s story. 4 stars

Shelf Talker: As you can see, I really enjoyed most of these short stories, which was a fantastic surprise for me! If you enjoy even a few of these authors, pick up this anthology and give it a go, it was the perfect creepy read that got me excited for more from these authors.

On the Same Page: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

11408650Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Author: Michelle Hodkin

Publishing Information:  September 27th 2011 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Genre: Fantasy, paranormal, romance, mystery, supernatural

Series Information: First in the Mara Dyer series

Format: Hardcover, 452 pages

Source: Bought for my personal library

Recommended For: Fans of books that you can’t put down due to the wtf is happening factor and those of you who want some swoons galore.

Related Posts: Check out Amy’s review and Brittany’s post on bingeable series!

Hey there, friends! Truth be told I read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer years ago, before book one and two were even published, and I remember finishing it and thinking, “what. just. happened.” When I finished it this time I immediately picked up book two and three and finished the whole series in just a few days. The series left me with an array of emotions, and so many swoons. There are great mystery aspects to these novels but I’ll be honest with you guys and admit that I kept reading for Noah and the swoons that surrounded him. So with that in mind I put together a Pinterest board with different swoony quotes from the novel and found some awesome playlists on 8tracks for your listening pleasure!

 

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LOVED this dedication so much, and here is a playlist to go with:

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Love-A-Thon (3)

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Hey there lovelies!! I am sure most of you know that the lovely Alexa over at Alexa Loves Books is hosting her annual Love-A-Thon, it is just another way that some of us are trying to focus on the cheer and positive aspects of our book blogging community. I will have a few posts on the blog throughout the weekend, and will be participating as much as I can on Twitter using the hashtag #LoveAThon so make sure to stay tuned! Happy reading, friends!!

What’s your name?

Alyssa, but honestly so few people call me that as I have so many nicknames from my loved ones. I go by “A” in the blogging world mostly.

Where in the world are you blogging from?

New England – I WAS PROMISED SNOW, WHERE IS IT?!

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How did you get into blogging in the first place?

I was actually in graduate school for my MLIS a few years back and we had to observe different resources for reader’s advisory, one of which being blogs. I had been following a few (The Book Smugglers, and Broke & the Bookish being two!) and I thought about how fun it would be so I started one, and convinced my friend Heidi from Bunbury in the Stacks that it was a good idea that she start one as well!

How did you come up with your blog name?

I wanted something that was meaningful to me, that spoke of my feelings regarding books and how important they are. I have always felt that books took me away from the drama of the real world and you can become immersed in the fictional world for a little while and forget whatever it is that needs forgetting. Thus Books Take You Places was born.

What genre do you read and review the most on your blog?

I read a lot of fantasy, it makes me the happiest!

What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews?

Hmm I have been known to write some Disney posts ranking the swooniest male leads and villains. I also write some “non-traditional” reviews for my On the Same Page feature that I do with Amy (Tripping Over Books) and Brittany (The Book Addict’s Guide)!

Best blogging experience so far?

Hands down, the best blogging experience has been meeting my best friends. I like to call Amy and Brittany my “better thirds” because they make me a better person overall. I often think about how lucky I am to have found soul friends through the power of THE INTERNET 😀 Honestly, I couldn’t make it through a day without these two. With these two, I have created The Secret Sister Project which does its own to foster positivity in the community, that is probably the blogging experience of which I am most proud.

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Favorite thing about the blogging community?

THE community is my favorite thing about the community!! Though we have those negative moments, for the most part everyone works hard to promote positivity and importantly, LITERACY. As a librarian I am a huge advocate for ALL THE READING!! It honestly brings me glee that I can hop on an app on my phone, send out a message or inquiry or even sad thought and have so many people reply back with an array of assistance.

Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2016!

-THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER by Renee Ahdieh (GIVE. IT. TO. ME. NOW.)

– The Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch (please please be this year)

– Yesternight by Cat Winters

– Heartless by Marissa Meyer

– The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (because now I can start and binge the whole series YAY)

Name the 5 books you want to read this 2016 that you didn’t get to in previous years!

Hmm this is harder…

I am going to binge read the entire Raven Boys series

….and The Mara Dyer series

I have to finish Winter…oops.

Six of Crows is still waiting for me

…and I still never started Shadow Scale

What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?

The Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni. I loved it so much. It encompasses so many wonderful elements. If you’re looking for an immensely atmospheric, mysterious, and romantic read, I highly recommend that you pick this one up immediately.

Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?

Sybella from Dark Triumph, I think. Though we are so very alike so I may need to choose Ismae instead so she can even me out a bit…

Which book boy or girl would be your book boyfriend/girlfriend?

AHHHHH….Bran from Son of the Shadows, I think…though I think Red is probably better for me as he is more patient than Bran and I am in need of a life partner with patience 😉

Who would you recruit for your apocalypse squad (5 characters max)

Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor for ALL THE REASONS

Agnieszka from Uprooted by Naomi Novik because duh, magic

Door from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman because duh, she can make doors and we might need them on the other side

Snow White from Fables by Bill Willingham because she is a fighter and basically never loses

Liadan from Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier because she is a skilled healer

Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests?

Hmm I binge watch a lot of shows (currently the last two seasons of Downton Abbey), I spend hours and days playing video games, and then don’t play again for ages (currently The Witcher), I do puzzles and just started loom knitting like a proper old lady. When it’s warm, I hike and Letterbox and sometimes Geocache…but for the most part, I read.

Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for?

Hmm…makeup, I suppose. I don’t really shop for myself, though I spend a lot of time buying fun presents for other people!

At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing?

Oh lawd…I don’t know! This depends on who I am with, you know? Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” is a song that I will sing no matter where I am when it comes on, can we count that?

Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book.

I think….The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Of course, this is only if it can be made PHENOMENAL. Like, Harry Potter adaptation phenomenal.

What would your dream library look like?

Actually it would look like my personal library…I work very hard to make it the coziest place ever! 

Author you want to meet and sit down to tea with?

Definitely Neil Gaiman! This is the obvious choice, right? It isn’t just because of my obvious obsession with his works, I think that he is incredibly brilliant. I would love to talk to him about all things in life, and I think we would have enlightening conversations! After I got over my definite nervousness, of course!

 

Review: Beastly Bones by William Ritter

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Title: Beastly Bones

Author: William Ritter

Publishing Information:  September 22nd 2015 by Algonquin Young Readers

Genre: Paranormal, Mystery, Historical Fiction

Series Information: Second in the Jackaby series

Format: Hardcover, 304 pages

Source: Received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Readers interested in a novel with a paranormal mystery, slight macabre, cheeky and interesting main characters and yes, those of you who love Sherlock and Doctor Who.

Related Posts: Check out my review of Jackaby

I am sure that you all remember me singing the praises about Jackaby last year. I went on about how much I loved the quirky and entertaining adventure between Abigail and Jackaby. I am so excited to tell you that Beastly Bones was just as fun as Jackaby, and even more endearing. Beastly Bones sends Jackaby and Abigail to a new location. They are headed out to where the now exile Charlie Cane resides, and much to Abigail’s excitement, their new case revolves around newly unearthed dinosaur bones.

One of my favorite parts of Jackaby was the mystery, and the way in which it reminded me so much of Sherlock meets Doctor Who. Beastly Bones brought me a different joy than Jackaby in that we were able to meet new characters, as well as see more of my favorite characters. We are introduced to Hank Hudson, a skilled trapper who has a long standing friendship with Jackaby, and Nellie Fuller who works hard to catch THE story of the year. These characters only add to the fun of the story and I would absolutely love to hear more about the Jackaby and Hank shenanigans from back in the day. As mentioned, Charlie is central to this novel, and he and Abigail take part in some very sweet moments. Along with many other readers, I look forward to seeing how their romance blossoms. Jackaby was especially endearing in relation to these romantic developments as he reminds me so much of my father in his, “please let’s not discuss you dating” way with Abigail, but when she really needs some encouragement, he is right there to help.

Now, the main storyline was intriguing and fun, but if I’m being completely honest, my favorite parts of the novel were the parts that centered around Jenny and the story of how she came to be a ghost. I loved the way William Ritter added the twists of her story to an already interesting plot, and the cliffhanger of the novel kept me absolutely needing more. From what I have gathered, at least one more book is coming, but no other details have been shared.

Shelf Talker: William Ritter again gave us an interesting, mysterious, and all around fun novel in Beastly Bones. Wildly entertaining, Beastly Bones is a fantastic follow up to Jackaby. This novel was full of wit, and intrigue and I loved every minute. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Jackaby and company!

 

The Secret Sister Project (4)

secret sister project

I cannot believe that it is already time for round FOUR of #OTSPSECRETSISTER!!

Let’s first get some housekeeping things out of the way…

The two most important things to do when signing up to be a part of this project are:

  1. Head over to the google form which coincides with your monetary tier and fill it out in full. NOTE: IF YOU FORGET TO DO THIS THEN YOU WILL NOT BE PAIRED. THIS IS LITERALLY WHAT WE ARE USING TO PAIR YOU UP, IF YOU AREN’T ON THE FORM, WE CAN NOT PAIR YOU.
  2. BEFORE scrolling down to the questions, and BEFORE signing up to be a part of this project please THOROUGHLY read our FAQ and Rules post. Memorize the rules and refers back to it throughout the project. We are going to have to put more strict standards in place this round and therefore there is little leeway for tolerance of people not abiding the “rules.”

Just to cover all of our bases let me reiterate a few things, but please keep in mind that this is just a basic glossing over of these rules, we go more in detail and clarify everything in the main post that we are asking you to reference.

First, please remember that this is a commitment. By signing up to be a secret sister you are promising to send at least one small card AND/OR gift to your secret sister a month depending on the “monetary group” you sign up forIN ADDITION to this, you are also asked to send letters and or/postcards to foster positive communication. Many people asked for their to be an emphasis on the pen pal aspects of this project and we have been working hard to remind everyone that it’s not about the gifts, and this seems like the perfect way to do so. It is very important that you don’t sign up for this unless you are willing to follow through. Please think of how sad (and unfair) it would be for someone to be working hard to make their secret sister feel special and not receive anything themselves!

Last thing, sign-ups run from January 16 to midnight on January 29! Continue reading

On the Same Page: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Title: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Author: Lish McBride

Publishing Information:  October 12th 2010 by Henry Holt and Company

Genre: Fantasy, paranormal, humor, horror, supernatural, magic

Series Information: First in the Necromancer series

Format: Hardcover, 343 pages

Source: Was gifted a copy

Recommended For: Fans of the humorous side of horror and those who value friendships over loveships.

Related Posts: Check out Amy’s post on readalikes and Brittany’s review!

I loved Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. Love it. It was full of heart, humor, and well, necromancy. What more could a gal ask for? I loved this book so much that I immediately started to read it’s sequel and friends, I just cannot get enough of Sam and his crew. The friendships in this novel were excellent, the loyalties among these friends is definitely something to be envious of. My favorite part of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was definitely the way in which it made me laugh. Sam’s personality is extremely lovable in his perfect use of wit and sarcasm. He is definitely a guy that I would was as my best friend. To better understand what I am talking about, I thought I would showcase some of the hilarious quotes found throughout the novel. Check them out, and check out Amy and Britt’s post and let us know what you think! Have you read Hold Me Closer, Necromancer? If not, have we convinced you that you should give it a go? 

jedi of hot chocolate

“Despite her obvious stress, my mom still managed to pour the hot chocolate into mugs, cover them with whipped cream and a pinch of cayenne, and add a cinnamon stick to them. She was like the Jedi master of hot chocolate.”

in peace

“Can you just tell them we don’t need Jesus, Girl Scout cookies, or whatever the Mormons worship, and let me lie here in peace?”

mustang

“Mrs. Winalski owned a candy-apple-red 1965 Mustang GT convertible, and she drove it like she could die at any minute and needed to get five things done before that happened.”

no no cha cha

“So you’re the guy who did the no-no cha-cha with my baby sister.”

The Secret Sister Project: Meet Your Hosts

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Hey there loves! As many of you know, one of the biggest “rules” that we are pushing is that we hosts must “know” you. A lot of you have asked what constitutes us “knowing” you, and that is a very valid question in this digital age! Basically, we want to have faith in those that we are allowing into our precious project. We want to be able to say, “Oh yeah, that is the girl who chatted with me about her search for a job as a Librarian.” Or, “She is the girl who was active in the hashtag despite not being able to join in on last round.” We look at your avi picture, we memorize your name, we make notations next to your sign-up in our spreadsheet. Full disclosure: when we go to our spreadsheet and one (OR TWO!!) of us has to notate, “no idea who she is, she doesn’t even follow me” we give some serious side eye. Are we looking for followers? Not in the least bit. Do we think that you ONE BILLION PERCENT should know who ALL THREE hosts are? OH. YES. We actually had a ridiculous amount of people this round thank two of us, not know that they were speaking to one of the hosts when we reached out to inquire about an issue, and so on. It is embarrassing for YOU when we bring this info back to base as the information on who we are is so readily available in a few different places. With that being said, we thought it would be helpful if we each wrote up a little “about me” so that you had some points to bring up when you chatted us up over the next month. HINT: THIS MEANS IT IS A VERY GOOD IDEA TO GO AND VISIT BRITT AND AMY’S POSTS, THERE MIGHT BE A QUIZ LATER. We put the question to twitter, and some of you had some things you just HAD to know, so let’s get goin’! 

How did you get the idea for The Secret Sister Project?

To sum it up, I was having a rough 2014 and needed some cheering up and I remembered about this Secret Sister project that is put on at churches where my family attends. I brought this idea to Britt and Ame and we pondered if we could take this idea and put it to the test with our online community because who doesn’t need more cheer in their life? We launched a mini group as a sort of trial to see how it worked out and we were so thrilled to see how well it worked. I am always astounded and proud to see how well it is working and feel so lucky that this community is filled with such kind people.

How did the three of you meet?

Through the magic of the Internet. To be perfectly honest, it is somewhat hard to remember a time in which we weren’t friends as we have become family over the years. I do know that Britt and I bonded over The Princess Bride after she saw my reference in my Twitter profile and continue bonding to this day over our conversations that can be carried out by using only quotes from the TV show, Friends. I was lucky enough to be paired with Amy for my first year participating in The Broke and the Bookish Secret Santa. I remember being floored at how perfect she is at picking out presents for me (something I am still thankful for to this day) and it wasn’t long before I realized that she was the best listener and kindest person I may ever know. Somehow we got a group chat going that now is a literal consistent conversation all day, every day. Fast forward through weddings, 15 hour road trips, tears, laughter that makes you pee a little and here we are – soul friends! There are few things that I am more thankful for.

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Fortnight of Fright: Not As Creepy Halloween Recommendations by Lauren

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Today we have my dear friend Lauren helping you all out with some not so creepy Halloween recommendations!! Though Halloween is indeed my favorite since I love being scared (and the Halloween decor is the type that I keep up all year round) I still know that a lot of you don’t love the whole horror vibe! So I am going to let Lauren take it away and help you guys out with some things to read, watch, and eat!!

I have to say, I think it’s kind of funny that I ended up here on Alyssa’s blog, with my post full of non-creepy Halloween things. Alyssa is probably the first person I think of when I think of scary things, skulls, and anything else along those lines (that I tend to avoid). Regardless, I’m happy to be here on her blog because Alyssa is one of my favorite people even though she’s like the Lucille Bluth-iest.

SO today, I’m here to share some Halloween fun from a person who usually doesn’t get into the scary, horror-filled books or movies of the season. I love fall more than most people (my birthday and football and pumpkin things!), but just… not the scary stuff. My mom is the complete opposite so it’s kind of weird that I turned out this way. Regardless, here are my picks for how to enjoy the Halloween vibes of October without getting scared.

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I’m not opposed to being scared every once in a while, but horror or mystery books are usually not the first ones I reach for. Fall is a great time for getting a little creeped out by what you’re reading… but I usually prefer not to be looking over my shoulder thinking there’s a ghost. (Reading in the dark apartment while my boyfriend is asleep makes me too nervous sometimes.) I’ve curated a list of books that are FAIRLY creepy or have a cool mystery/thriller vibe to them, but probably won’t cause you to be afraid of the dark. I also included a TBR of some of the books I hope to read this season. In addition to all of the Halloween-y books, I included some movies and recipes to get you in the spirit!

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Fortnight of Fright: Daughters Unto Devils Review & Cupcake Recipe by Becky of Stories and Sweeties

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Readers, you are the luckiest today! SUPER excited today to have Becky from Stories and Sweeties join me today because not only is she reviewing a book that I have been dying to read, but she is giving us an AMAZING cupcake recipe. Take it away, friend!

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Release date: September 29th, 2015

Intended audience: Young adult

Stand-alone

Source: from publisher for honest review

Rating: 4

Review: Daughters unto Devils is all the things I want for a perfect Halloween read.  Incredibly eerie atmosphere, a classic horror movie feel to it, a touch of gore, and plenty of spine-chilling scenes that make you hesitant to turn out the light at night—it’s all here.

Amanda Verner makes for a great unreliable narrator. The Verner family lives on a mountain side and their isolated family dynamic and extreme piety makes them feel like a bizarre and twisted Little House on the Prairie. They were trapped in their house during a bad winter, clinging to their lives and their sanity, while the flu-stricken mother gives birth to a deaf and blind baby.  Something happened to Amanda that winter, and it’s unclear if the isolation got to her head or if she truly saw something in the woods. Her bewildered family questions her goodness and her sanity nearly as much as she does herself. After a secret affair with a boy from town leaves her with child, she finds herself lost and at odds with her only ally, her sister Emma.

At the threat of another bad winters, the family fleas to the plains—and that’s where the creepy really sets in. Terrifying things start happening, you get a few of those classic horror moments where you find yourself yelling at the characters, “No! Why would you do that?!” The haunting past of the plains and their new house takes its toll on the whole family until things spin out of control and culminate in a wildly gut-churning end.

There are definitely no shortage of disturbing scenes in Daughters Unto Devilsnot for the faint-hearted, but absolutely perfect for readers looking for a truly horrifying Halloween read.

Devilishly Sweet Cupcakes

I’ve come up with a Halloween treat to perfectly accompany you while you dive into Daughters Unto Devils!  Rich devil’s food cake, fluffy cream cheese frosting, and a bloody good surprise inside! 😉

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