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Book Bargain: Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

Hey, everyone! It’s been a loooooooong time, but I just wanted to let everyone know that Born at Midnight, the first book in the Shadow Falls series, by C.C. Hunter is on sale at the moment via Kindle, Kobo and Apple Books! Currently, it’s only 1.99 CAD! Honestly, this is one of my favourite books in the paranormal genre and I remember awaiting the second book with so much eagerness! I definitely recommend Born at Midnight with all my heart!

Take care, everyone!

–  Sumaya

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Blog Tour: White Stag by Kara Barbieri (Excerpt Post)

Hello, fellow readers! Today, I’m really excited to be a part of the blog tour for White Stag by Kara Barbieri! If you’re lovers of fantasy, feel free to read on for a summary and excerpt of the novel. 😉

Summary

White Stag_cover image

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

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Excerpt

1

MASQUERADE
THE FIRST THING I learned as a hunter was how to hide. There was a skill in disappearing in the trees like the wind and merging into the river like stones; masquerading yourself as something you weren’t was what kept you alive in the end. Most humans didn’t think the masquerade was as important as the kill, and most humans ended up paying for it with their lifeblood.

Here, as the only mortal in a hall of monsters, I was very glad that I was not most humans.

I kept my steps silent and my back straight as I passed beneath the white marble pillars. My eyes flickered around me every so often, counting hallways, retracing my steps, so I could escape at a moment’s notice. The Erlking’s palace was treacherous, full of twists and turns, stairways that led into nowhere, and places where the hallways dropped to gaping chasms. According to Soren, there were also hollow spaces in the walls where you could slink around unnoticed to the mundane and the monstrous eye, but you could hear and see all that went on in the open world. The lair of a king, I thought bitterly. I dared not say it out loud in case someone was near. But beside me, Soren sensed my disgust and made a sound deep in his throat. It could’ve been agreement.

Soren examined his king’s palace with the usual contempt; his cold, calculating eyes took in everything and betrayed nothing. His lips turned down in a frown that was almost etched permanently into his face. Sometimes I forgot he was capable of other expressions. He didn’t even smile when he was killing things; as far as goblins went, that was a symptom of chronic depression. He lifted his bored gaze at the gurgling, choking sound coming from his right, and it took all my willpower not to follow his line of sight. When I felt the subtle whoosh of power transfer from one body to the next, my fingers twitched to where I’d slung my bow, only to remember too late that it had been left at the entrance of the keep in accordance with ancient tradition.

A scream echoed off the cavernous passageways as we made our way to the great hall where everyone gathered. It sent chills down my spine with its shrillness before it was abruptly cut off. Somehow, that made me shiver even more. Ancient tradition and custom aside, nothing could stop a goblin from killing you if that was what they desired. My hand reached for my nonexistent bow again, only to be captured by cold, pale fingers.

Soren’s upper lip curled, but his voice was low and steady. “The next time you reach for a weapon that isn’t there might be the last time you have hands to reach with,” he warned. “A move like that will invite conflict.”

I yanked myself away from his grip and suppressed the urge to wipe my hand on my tunic like a child wiping away cooties. “Force of habit.”

Soren shook his head slightly before continuing on, his frown deepening with each step he took.

“Don’t look so excited. Someone might get the wrong idea.”

He raised a fine white eyebrow at me. “I don’t look excited. I’m scowling.”

I bit back a sigh. “It’s sarcasm.”

“I’ve told you before, I don’t understand it,” he said.

“None of goblinkind understands sarcasm,” I said. “In another hundred years I’m going to lose my understanding completely.”

Another hundred years. It hadn’t hit me yet, not until I said it out loud. Another hundred years. It had been a hundred years since my village was slaughtered, a hundred years as a thrall in Soren’s service. Well, ninety-nine years and eight months, anyway, but who’s counting? Despite the century passing by, I still looked the same as I had when I was forcefully brought into this cursed land. Or, at least, mostly; the scars on my chest hadn’t been there a hundred years ago, and the now-hollow spot where my right breast should have been burned. The four months when I’d belonged to another were not something I liked to think about. I still woke up screaming from nightmares about it. My throat went dry and I swallowed. Soren isn’t Lydian.

“You look tense,” Soren said, breaking me out of my thoughts. I’d crossed my arms over my chest. Not good. A movement like that was a sign of weakness. It was obvious to everyone that I was the weakest being here, but showing it would do me no good.

“I’m fine,” I said. “I just don’t like this place.”

“Hmm,” Soren said, eyes flickering around the hall. “It does lack a certain touch.”

“What does that even mean?” I asked.

“The entire design of the palace is trite and overdone.”

I blinked. “Okay, then.”

By now we’d entered the great hall where the reception was held. Every hundred years, the goblins were required to visit the Erlking and swear their fealty. Of course, their loyalty only extended to him as long as he was the most powerful—goblins weren’t the type of creature to follow someone weaker than themselves.

The palace, for what it was worth, was much grander than most other parts of the goblin domain. Soren’s manor was all wood, stone, and ice, permanently freezing. Nothing grew—I knew because I had tried multiple times to start a garden—but the roots never took to the Permafrost. Here, it was warm, though not warm enough that I couldn’t feel the aching chill deep in my bones. The walls were made of pure white marble with intricate designs far above what a goblin was capable of creating, and streaked with yellow and red gold like open veins. It was obviously made by humans. Goblinkind were incredible predators and hunters, gifted by the Permafrost itself, but like all creatures, they had their flaws. The inability to create anything that wasn’t used for destruction was one of the main reasons humankind were often stolen from their lands on raids and put to work in the Permafrost.

Soren’s scowl deepened as we passed under a canopy of ice wrought to look like vines and flowers. “I feel like I need to vomit,” he said.

I stopped in my tracks. “Really?” I swore, if I ended up having to clean up Soren’s vomit …

He glanced at me, a playful light in his lilac eyes. “Sarcasm? Did I do it right?”

“No.” I forced myself not to roll my eyes. “Sarcasm would be when you use irony to show your contempt.”

“Irony?” He shook his head, his long white hair falling into his face.

“Saying one thing when you mean the other, dramatically.”

“This is beneath me,” he muttered. Then, even quieter, he said, “This place is in dire need of a redecoration.”

“I’m not even entirely sure what to say to that.” With those words, he flashed me a wicked grin that said little and suggested much. I turned away, actually rolling my eyes this time. For a powerful goblin lord, Soren definitely had the ability to act utterly childish. It could be almost endearing at times. This, however, was not one of those times.

In the hall, the gazes on the back of my neck were sharp as knives. I kept my head straight, trying my hardest not to pay attention to the wolfish faces of the other attendees.

From a distance they could almost be mistaken for human. They varied in size and shape and the color of their skin, hair, and eyes much like humans did. But even so, there was a sharpness to their features, a wildness, that could never be mistaken for human. The figures dressed in hunting leathers, long and lean, would only seek to torment me if I paid them any attention. As the only human in the hall, I was a curiosity. After all, what self-respecting goblin would bring a thrall to an event as important as this? That could very easily get me killed, and I wasn’t planning on dying anytime soon. My hand almost twitched again, but I stopped it just in time, heeding Soren’s warning.

We finally crossed the floor to where the Erlking sat. Like Soren’s, the Goblin King’s hair was long. But unlike Soren, whose hair was whiter than the snow, the Erlking’s hair was brown. Not my brown, the color of fallen leaves, underbrush, and dark cherry wood, but murky, muddy brown. It was the color of bog mud that sucks down both humans and animals alike and it somehow managed to make his yellow-toned skin even sallower. He was the strongest of all goblins, and I hated him for it. I also feared him—I was smart enough for that—but the fear was drowned out by the blood rushing in my ears as I locked eyes with Soren’s king.

Soren turned to me. “Stay here.” His eyes turned hard, the glimmer of light leaving them. Whatever softness he had before drained away until what was left was the hard, cold killer he was known to be, and with it went the last shreds of warmth in his voice. “Until I tell you otherwise.” Subtly, he jerked his pointer finger at the ground in a wordless warning.

I bowed my head. “Don’t take too long.”

“I don’t plan to,” he said, more to himself than to me, before approaching the Erlking’s throne. He went to one knee. “My king.”

I eyed Soren from underneath the curtain of my hair. His hands were clenched in fists at his sides. He must’ve sensed something from the Erlking, from the other goblins, something. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good. Cautiously, I directed my gaze to the Goblin King himself, aware that if I looked at him the wrong way, I might be inviting my own death. While the behavior and treatment of thralls varied widely among goblins, I had a feeling submissiveness was required for any human in the Erlking’s path.

This close, the Erlking’s eyes were dark in his shriveled husk of skin and there was a tinge of sickness in the air as he breathed his raspy breaths. His eyes flickered up to meet mine and I bowed my head again. Don’t attract attention.

Soren spat out the vows required of him in the old tongue of his kind, the words gravelly and thick. He paused every so often, like he was waiting for when he would be free to drive his hand through his king’s chest, continuing on with disappointment every time.

The tension around the room grew heavier, pressing down on those gathered. Somehow, like dogs sniffing out blood, they all knew the king was weak. Beautiful she-goblins and terrifying goblin brutes were all standing there waiting until it was legal to kill him.

Beside the weakened king’s throne, a white stag rested on a pile of rushes. Its eyes were closed, its breath slow. Its skin and antlers shone with youth, but the ancient power it leaked pressed heavy against my shoulders. That power was older than anything else in the world—maybe older than the world itself.

Goblins were, before all things, hunters. Born to reap and not to sow. Cursed with pain upon doing any action that did not in some way fit into the power the Permafrost gave them, the goblins fittingly had the submission of the stag as the symbol of their king’s ultimate power. Until it runs.

I didn’t want to think about what happened after that.

Soren continued to say his vows. The guttural language was like ice shards to my ears, and I shuddered. Catching myself about to fidget, I dug my fingers into my thigh. Control yourself, Janneke, I thought. If they can do it, you can.

A soft voice whispered in my ear, “Is that you, Janneka?” His breath tickled the back of my neck, and every muscle in my body immediately locked. Icy dread trickled down my spine, rooting me in place.

Don’t pay attention to him. He’ll go away.

“I know you can hear me, sweetling.”

Yes, I could hear him, and the sound of his voice made me want to vomit. My mouth went dry.

CREDIT: WHITE STAG by KARA BARBIERI Copyright © 2018 by the author and reprinted by permission of Wednesday Books.  

Buy Link From the Publisher’s Site

About the Author

Kara BarbieriKara Barbieri is a writer living in the tiny town of Hayward, Wisconsin. An avid fantasy fan, she began writing White Stag at eighteen and posting it to Wattpad soon after under the name of ‘Pandean’. When she’s not writing, you can find her marathoning Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reviving gothic fashion, and jamming to synthpop. Kara Barbieri’s Twitter handle is @PandeanPanic.

 

 

 

For those of you who are interested, White Stag can be found in stores on January 8th, 2019! Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

 

Review: Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis

Summary

I’ve got seven days to come clean to my new dad. Seven days to tell the truth…

For sixteen-year-old Tiffany Sly, life hasn’t been safe or normal for a while. Losing her mom to cancer has her a little bit traumatized and now she has to leave her hometown of Chicago to live with the biological dad she’s never known.

Anthony Stone is a rich man with four other daughters—and rules for every second of the day. Tiffany tries to make the best of things, but she doesn’t fit into her new luxurious, but super-strict, home—or get along with her standoffish sister London. The only thing that makes her new life even remotely bearable is the strange boy across the street. Marcus McKinney has had his own experiences with death, and the unexpected friendship that blossoms between them is the only thing that makes her feel grounded.

But Tiffany has a secret. Another man claims he’s Tiffany’s real dad—and she only has seven days before he shows up to demand a paternity test and the truth comes out. With her life about to fall apart all over again, Tiffany finds herself discovering unexpected truths about her father, her mother and herself, and realizing that maybe family is in the bonds you make—and that life means sometimes taking risks.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

Hi, wonderful readers! Today, I would like to talk about Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis. Now I knew I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it. The only problem is I was so hesitant about starting it. What if it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be? Lately, I’ve been having more of these thoughts when I start a book, so now I give myself full authority to read five chapters and if it isn’t going well, I can put the book down. Obviously I didn’t put this book down since I loved it!

Another reason I was apprehensive about Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now is that I didn’t know what to expect when reading this book. Tiffany’s personality isn’t discernible from the book jacket, so I didn’t have any inkling on if I would like reading in her perspective. But right from the getgo, I loved Tiffany Sly. It was really easy to relate to her as well as side with her opinion. I just got sucked into the story to the point where I audibly gasped on the subway. 😀

Since this was more of a character-driven novel, plot wasn’t as much of a concern in comparison. However, there was the deadline that was given at the start of the novel of a week before Tiffany’s other potential father shows up demanding a paternity test. Other than helping readers determine the chronology of the novel, it sets a tone and creates a tension that keeps both Tiffany and the reader in suspense. This deadline as well as the backstory of Tiffany Sly clashing with her current situation of living with a huge family means a lot to cover in one novel. This is the main reason I’m sympathetic that the author had some loose ends, which she didn’t pursue. All I can say is that the book is well worth the read!

Well, that’s all I have to say for now! I really recommend everyone who likes contemporary to read Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis. If you have any questions or thoughts though, feel free to share in the Comments Section below.

Take care and keep reading!

–  Sumaya

Any Online Book Club Recommendations?

Hi, lovely readers! I wanted to ask you all if you know of any YA book clubs that are held online, because I would love to join one! Feel free to leave the name or link  to the book club in the Comments Section!

Thank you! ❤ ❤ ❤

–  Sumaya

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 46

Hello, fellow readers! It’s been a while since I’ve done this, but I’m going to share what I’ve been reading in this post, “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” hosted by Kathryn @ Book Date.

What I’ve Read Recently:

 

What I’m Currently Reading:

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What I’m Planning to Read:

lovely dark and deep

Well, that’s all for now! Got quite a few books out of the way last week and I’m even more closer to completing my 2018 Reading Goal! What books are you reading this week?

Have a wonderful day!

–  Sumaya

Review: Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Summary

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

Hey, everyone! It’s been a while since I read Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand, but I really wanted to talk about it. There was just something about this book that made me read on, even as I long interest at the end. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good book and want to see what else Claire Legrand has to offer, like Furyborn.

Firstly, I was a big fan of the urban legends surrounding Sawkill Rock and its inhabitants.  Not only was it super creepy, but it was also pretty relevant to the town’s culture as well as the patriarchy. Isn’t that what urban legends spring from? Something true? There was a lot about how girls and women are treated as a whole, from the monsters who haunt their every move to the “heroes” that are supposed to banish these monsters (not talking about our protagonists in this case, but a secret organization that I will say no more about for fear of spoilers). The line is blurred between the two to the point where you don’t know who to trust. And that’s probably the point.

The characters themselves had really great POVs, and there wasn’t a character I wanted to read more than the other. That, in itself, is pretty rare for me, since I usually have a favourite character whose story I’d like to get back to over the others. While these POVs did intertwine, I loved how each character developed and at the end of the novel, there was real change in them versus the beginning of the novel. There was a good moment where I thought that at least two of the protagonists might have been compromised and joined the dark side… But I won’t tell you which ones; you’ll just have to find out on your own! 😉

Well, that’s all I have to say about Sawkill Girls, other than the fact that the cover is super gorgeous! If you have any questions or thoughts about this novel or whether I should read Furyborn, leave a comment in the section below. Thanks for reading!

–  Sumaya

 

ARC Review: Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Summary

Take two American teen chefs, add one heaping cup of Paris, toss in a pinch of romance, and stir. . . . Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent’s school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn’t all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes. Henry Yi grew up in his dad’s restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent’s school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie’s growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away. Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs. Perfect for lovers of Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship, as well as anyone who dreams of a romantic trip to France, Love à la Mode follows Rosie and Henry as they fall in love with food, with Paris, and ultimately, with each other.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

Hey, everyone! Today, I’ll be talking about Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm. Now, I remember first hearing about this book and being really excited. Not only was it about a boarding school set in France, this boarding school is actually a prestigious cooking school as well! I was definitely getting Anna and the French Kiss vibes with some competitive drama to boot! And while it was an okay read, I wouldn’t rank it with my favourite contemporary novels.

Firstly, my main concern was with the main characters. Rosie and Henry were pretty nice together, but alone, they’re kind of boring. While I loved those cute moments between Rosie and Henry, I prefer characters that I could root for based on their personality or empathy for them. Don’t get me wrong: in the beginning, I did like both characters. However, that changes when Rosie becomes a bit bland for me (I think she would have been perfectly fine in the early 2010s, though) and Henry begins to take out his frustrations on Rosie.

I did like the school, though, as well as the experience studying in France. I’ve been a big fan of reading boarding schools since forever, and thought that this book had a fun take on boarding school life. Also, the story really goes into detail about backstory of the school as well as characters within the novel, which I really appreciated. It made things easier to imagine and gave more depth to the story.

Overall, while I didn’t get into Love à la Mode as much as I wanted to, I wouldn’t discourage readers from checking it out if they like cooking or baking. By the way, Love à la Mode can be found in bookstores on November 27th, 2018, for those of you who are interested! Do you have any recommendations for great boarding school books, though? If you do, feel free to leave them in the section below.

Take care, everyone! And keep reading! 🙂

–  Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

Summary

Introducing an exciting new series! Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this diverting mystery trails a feisty heroine as she takes on a precarious secret assignment.

Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

Hey, everyone! Sorry I haven’t been posting lately. You’d think by this point I would learn to give notice for these things, but no! 😀 Hopefully, if I ever decide to take a break again, I’ll be more considerate in the future.

Well, this time around, I want to talk about A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee. Where do I even begin? There’s so much to talk about. First of all, I’d like to say that this is the first historical fiction I’ve read in quite a while; the last one was in 2013 or 2014. I just never got back into it for some reason. But I thought I’d give this one a whirl because of the elusive Agency mentioned in the blurb. I wanted to see how this would fit into the Victorian period. To be honest, I’m a little disappointed with the Agency since it didn’t live up to my standards of what I thought it should be. There was just so much potential for it. But ultimately, I realize that this is the first book and it might set up stuff for the next books instead of giving everything at once, which would just be too much.

While the book was pretty slow in the beginning, it did pick up by about halfway through. Then there were so many different theories about what everyone was up to that I could hardly keep up!

I felt kind of the same way about Mary Quinn. In the beginning, I didn’t really get a sense of character from her; she just seemed flat. Maybe it was her delivery or because she was pretending to be a paid companion at first. Either way, I wasn’t really sure about Mary until much later, like near the end of the book. I’m not saying she isn’t resourceful or clever, because she is. I just didn’t really connect with her as much as I could have, excluding one part in the middle and as the novel was near its end.

Well, that’s all I have to say about A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee. I don’t know if I’ll go on to reading the second book in the series, mainly because of the really slow beginning but also because of the lack of information that was given about the Agency, and now that I think about it, Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. At the moment, they seem more like tools used to explain Mary’s purpose within the story rather than being separate entities with entirely developed functions and histories. But hopefully if I ever do continue reading the series, this will change. If you have any questions about A Spy in the House, feel free to share them in the Comments Section below!

Have a nice day!

– Sumaya

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 45

Hey, everyone! Happy Labour Day to anyone enjoying their long weekend! 😉 It’s always pretty nice to have an extra day, even though by the end of it, you wish you had ten more! But it’s also Monday, which means it’s time for another “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” post, hosted by Kathryn @ Book Date. Good news is I finally finished my first audiobook since fifth grade! It only took two weeks, but it was definitely worth it for the number of things I learned while listening! 😉

What I Read Recently: 

90s

What I’m Currently Reading:

What I’m Planning to Read Next: 

shadow of the fox.jpg

Well, that’s all for now! I hope to read all of these by the end of the week, but life will probably get in the way! 😀 What’s everyone else reading at the moment?

–  Sumaya

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