Review: One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt

One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – Near Perfect, easily one of my all-time favorites.

Warning: May contain spoilers.

Eliza’s parents are away for the weekend, and she’s all settled to cozy up with her two best friends at home—until she discovers that her purple notebook is gone. A phone call reveals that her super-secret notebook is in the hands of her ex-boyfriend and his friends. And they have some tasks she needs to perform in order to get it back.

Oh, wow. This is the kind of story that while it ends well, is something that could easily happen today—with a far more disastrous outcome.

I still enjoyed it, though. The writing was light, the characters were funny sometimes, and the plot wasn’t completely farfetched.

I have to admit, that I personally isn’t a fan of the mention of drugs. This happened in some other YA contemporaries I’ve read too. It’s not that I try to deny that drugs are a thing when it comes to teens, it’s more that… it comes off as shallow. Like it’s only there to solicit a reaction from the reader that drugs are bad.

Which it is—no doubt about that. But a few lines mentioning how a side-character is so in love with the stoner-kid that she almost ends up in jail because she agrees to hold his stash? Not the way I would have chosen to incorporate the “don’t do drugs” message.

Alas, I’m getting off-topic. This particular hiccup didn’t derail me from enjoying the story, and it’s not the only book where it has been and issues for me either.

Despite the bullying/blackmailing theme, I really liked the story. The prospect of doing the things you’ve always been afraid of is just… thrilling. And I especially enjoyed the part that while she was forced to do this, she ended up without regrets afterwards.

To me, it shows two sides of youth:
The ugly side with blackmail and bullying.

But also the liberating and carefree nature of being young and living the life. I am not talking #YOLO, but more along the lines of “This is my life, and I want to make the best of every crappy situation I get.”

And I find the latter to be a very important thing to remember. Especially when you’re young.

I recommend this books for people who enjoy light-reads, not-too-farfetched plots, books about friendships, contemporary ya, and teenage love.

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Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – Near Perfect, easily one of my all-time favorites.

Warning: May contain spoilers.

Juliette’s touch is lethal. Sucking the energy from living people whenever she makes skin-to-skin contact with other people.

And that sucks. A lot.

Which is why she’s locked in isolation, with no one to talk to. That is, until she gets herself a cellmate.

Oh, wow. This was not a light read—at all. It was heavy on emotions, anxiety, fear and, most of all, the absence of hope.

Juliette’s pain was both easy, and impossible, to fully relate to. The descriptions fully explained how much she loathed her very existence, but at the same time, her situation isn’t something that anyone can empathize with. Sure, her sense of guilt, self-hatred and sorrow from being tossed away by her parents—the two people who should technically love her no matter what. That was all easy to understand.

But her fear of hurting someone with her touch, and actually enjoying it? Oh boy. I don’t think I can relate to that at all.

And I’m kinda glad that I don’t have to.

The story isn’t described in the same sense as many other science fiction stories, and I kinda enjoyed that part. There’s enough to get the sense that the world has seen better days, but at the same time, it wasn’t a focus on the world building. It was all raw emotions and Juliette’s observations.

Also… I totally call dibs on Warner from the start. (^__^)

Would recommend to fans of hunger games. And even fans of the Lunar Chronicles. Since I finished Lunar Chronicles just days before I started this one, I can say that while they aren’t similar, the two writing styles did their best to highlight different aspects of the reading experience.

Just read it.

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Do publishers not care about mental illness?

Okay, so… This will be salty. Fair warning. It will also be deeply personal. And probably a bit rambly.

It stems from the fact that thr other day I got a beautiful book in the mail. It was a highly anticipated sequel.

But it was promptly ruined when I tried placing it on the shelf. You see, for some unexplainable reason, the publisher decided to make them different sizes.

You may be sitting there wondering if I’m overreacting, and you might be right. But I am so tired of this happening to me.

Now, why would this be such a problem for me? Because I’m diagnosed with a very mild form of OCD.

No, I’m not a “neat freak”, a “perfectionist” or any of the other completely rude words often thrown in my face. I have the diagnosis. I have the symptoms, and I feel the physical discomfort when I ignore the urge to act on it. I can’t just “relax”, because I’m physically unable to do just that.

Are you aware how many different ways you can organise a bookshelf?

Height, author, title, genre, publisher, publication year, format, series, standalones, rainbow, sub genre etc.

I’ve been through them all, and only separating formats, then height, then author, then series has eased my mind enough to relax when I’m in the room.

So what do I do with mismatched series? I hide them. Legit. I stuff them on the bottom shelf, out of sight. When I have friends over, or I take a shelfie to share online? The mismatched books are never on there.

That’s a promotional fail on publishers part.

And the worst part? It’s not the physical symptoms. It’s not the knowledge that I spent money on something that essentially will bring me discomfort.

No, the worst part is that I feel bad.

I feel guilty for deliberately hiding the books. I feel guilty towards the authors, the cover designers, and even the publishers who are at fault in the first place.

So I end up buying the right editions, hoping the online retailer have labelled it correctly.

Is that the end game? To make me feel guilty enough to buy duplicates?

If so, that’s a big slap in the face to anyone who suffers from mental illnesses.

So here’s my proposal:

Since you all love your different heights and editions, then name them. In the same way beds are named King, Queen, Single and Double.

Don’t call a mass market paperback a “paperback”. Don’t call and indie published book a “paperback”. And don’t call five different sizes of hardcovers the same thing.

It’s thoughtless.

Show that you care about your readers. Your customers.

Please share this if you’re tired of this, as well. And feel free to comment your own thoughts below.

Note: I’m well aware that there are other forms of mental ilnesses, and many different variants of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that doesn’t match my own. If I offended you, triggered you or in any way harmed you, please shoot me an email at Bookishreview@gmail.com and I will amend it to the best of my ability.

Review: The Kiss by Lucy Courtenay

The Kiss by Lucy Courtenay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ ★ – Kept me interested all through and I liked it.

Delilah kisses a french boy on a beach in France, after he uses an old greek myth as a pickup-line. Back home, everything begins to feel weird, and after accidentally causing her best friend’s break-up, she puts on her big-girl pants and tries to mend everything.

“The Kiss” was an interesting read. It had a lot of things that I didn’t expect, drinking, drugs, parties, and some pg-13 action. Not that I complain. Much.

The characters were definitely the highlight. Delilah wasn’t the typical heroine, but how she grows towards the end was pretty impressive, furthermore, I kinda enjoyed that the hot guy had a kinda geeky hobby.

I don’t know who I’d recommend it to. The book was enjoyable, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. It’s definitely not a children’s book, and the subjects are probably more suited for New Adult, and older Young Adults. But it was interesting enough.

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Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ ★ – Kept me interested all through and I liked it.

“Ruby Red” is the first book in the “Ruby Red” Trilogy.

Gwen is a rather normal teenager—apart from the fact that she descends from a line of female time travelers. Wrapped in mystery, Gwen can only spectate as her Cousin is trained and prepared for the day she’ll receive her powers. Except, at a twist of fate, it turns out that Gwen—unprepared and ignorant—is the gifted one.

It’s really hard to review this trilogy. I read them back-to-back, and for me all three books feel more like one book, than three separate novels.

So if you’re going to read this one, prepare to read the other two, as well. Since this one ends on a huge cliffhanger.

With that said, if you take away the hiccups with the plot arc (Which spans over all three books, and is pretty decent) then you have a sweet teenage romance with some time travel on your hands.

It’s a very light read, and while the prologue and epilogue may confuse you a bit, (It did with me) then I can promise you that the writer will explain that part… eventually.

The whole time-travel part is pretty hard to understand, but I honestly found it refreshing that the MC didn’t know all the answers either. Honestly, it made it more fun to discover everything alongside the character.

I wasn’t a fan of the family feud. Gwen lives with her aunt, cousin, mom, siblings, grandmother and great-aunt. All of them are somewhat hot-headed and can be downright cruel to each other. I get the whole competition thing, but I would have just hoped there would be more support. Maybe that’s just me, though.

I do have to admit, that “Ruby Red” doesn’t live up to the potential it could have been—or at least what I expected it to be. This is of course my own opinion, but I found that it could have been so much more. As it is, it was just an enjoyable read for me. Nothing more, nothing less.

Plus, the cover is gorgeous. Who else would like to bring back such dressing gowns as the norm? Anyone? No? Just me, then…

I would recommend this book if you don’t mind insta-love, and you just want a pretty relaxed read with some timey-wimey fun thrown in.

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Review: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ – Finished, and found it okay, but with room for improvement.

“The Art of Truth or Dare” is a YA Contemporary.

Ella is the shy girl—the artistic soul who resigns herself to be a wallflower. Until she finds the King of the school’s sketchbook. As she battles with her art project, her French teacher assigns Alex Bainbridge as Ella’s tutor.

I wanted to love this story—I really did. The Main Character was an art-lover, and her romantic tale with Alex was sweet. They were great together.

But there were so many things that ruined it for me. The two main reason was this:

– The LGBT character: I liked that he was there. But I really didn’t like his attitude or personality. I got his dislike of Alex, but I didn’t think it was fair that he purposely punished Ella for it.

– The obsession with the dead painter was cute at first—even humorous. But his letters and journal entries, made the book seem like I was studying for finals. And there was a lot of letters with the sole purpose of being filler.

I’ve always had a weakness for the nerdy girl who gets with the prince charming. And therefore I had hoped to like this book more.

It is a sweet story. I kinda liked her conversations with her super-idol (the dead painter) and I could easily see how it would have fitted to a situation where the idol was a member of a boyband.

The story started off nice, but those letters, and other entries in italics just snapped me right out of the book.

With that said, it’s not a bad book. I just didn’t care about the painter as much as I cared about the characters.

I would recommend this one for people who enjoy YA love stories. And who doesn’t mind getting an art and history lecture while at it. (I don’t know if the painter actually lived or not, though.)

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Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Fairest: Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – Near Perfect, easily one of my all-time favorites.

Warning: This review may contain spoilers. Be warned. I really have no clue what constitutes spoilers nowadays.

“Fairest” is the backstory on the Lunar Chronicles antagonist; Queen Levana—the evil queen. It’s set before the events in Cinder, but I have to agree with the author that it would be good to read in-between “Cress” and “Winter”. This book was what made me devour the rest of the series in two days.

Princess Levana hates the sight of her true self. After an incident when she was a young child, her body is now covered in burns. Hiding behind the glamour from her bio-electric manipulation, she hopes that one day the people of Lunar will forget about her ugly self. Suffering from her beautiful sister’s endless torments, Levana finds solitude in the friendship with a guard whom she has a big crush on. Deciding to take matters into her own hands, she device a plan to get him through manipulation. She just need to look like his deceased wife.

Oh. Wow. I. Can’t. Even.

This book is everything I never knew that I really wanted, needed and desired.

In my reviews of the first three books, I’ve mentioned how much I wished for more information on the character’s past. Their motivations, and what made them to who they are.

And this book did just that, and whoa… Even now—three days after I finished the book—I’m still baffled with feelings over this book.

What I loved the most: Beautifully described, I loved how the author managed to make me feel Levana’s self-loathing without making her whiny. I sympathized with the young princess whose trust was shattered by none other than her older sister.

(view spoiler)

I can’t stress how amazing I found the character development. Often in books, I find that the author doesn’t give their characters enough flaws, but that is not the case here. Levana was crafted to perfection. Her scars, her ambitions, her motivation and even her delusions tugged on my heartstrings.

Alright, I’m going to talk about the plot next, because… feelings. So pardon the spoiler tag.

(view spoiler)

In a way, I think that had she had someone to love her, Levana would have become a great Queen instead of the evil one. Of course, then we wouldn’t have the series, but you know… I’m invested in this character damn.

The plot isn’t cute or lovely at all. But it is amazing.

The story follows a teenage Levana as she nurses her school girl crush on her married guard, tries to avoid her diabolic sister and practices her glamour to perfection.

Many years after the incident, Levana still has nightmares of the time where her sister—Cinder’s mom—held her down as flames licked her skin. We see how she lives in the shadows of her sister, and how she is tormented on an everyday basis.

It wasn’t pleasant to read this story. The bullying from one sister to another. The insecurities. The self-hatred. It made my stomach churn, and while I still hate Levana’s character in the chronicles, it made me want to jump into the book to give the poor princess a hug, and take her far away.

As the story goes on, we see how Levana finally snaps after she meets the wife of her crush—his very pregnant wife. Obsessed, Levana starts spiraling after Winter is born. Taking on the form of his dead wife, Levana basically tortures her crush into her bed. And after that, she forces him to marry her—although, she claims he had a choice, but we all know he hadn’t.

There are so many sides to Levana. She’s smart and ambitious—something her older sister definitely isn’t. When it comes to court business, her words are often overlooked, but it’s clear that she is as manipulative in politics as she is in her everyday life.

When Cinder is born, Levana’s sister—Channary—starts to cough more and more. It is discovered that she has an incurable lung disease, and eventually, Channary passes away.

And that’s how Princess Levana became Queen Regent, as a placeholder until Cinder—or Selene as she is named—is of age to overtake the throne.

The power turns the already delusional girl into a psychopath. Her paranoia grows, and she finds herself envying her step-daughter, wishing that her husband finally gave his heart.

Her envy extends to the baby Princess Selene(Cinder). And she starts dreaming that the girl didn’t exist. Somehow, her daydreams turn into reasoning as to why the true heir had to be killed. And what better way to do it, than with a fire? At least, Levana is merciful enough to let her niece’s life end there—a courtesy that Channary didn’t show Levana.

Of course, us semi-sane people can’t follow that kind of logic. But it becomes her excuse, her reason to kill off the true heir.

After the death of the princess, Levana’s guard husband starts to feel a bit unsettled by the rumors. And it spirals into fights about when he wants to give her his heart for real. After a while it’s clear to Levana that she’ll never receive his love, and then decides to kill him too.

I mean… THAT was clearly the logical thing to do to your so-called beloved. O_o (hide spoiler)]

While the story gives an in-depth look into Levana’s life, we also see how the biological warfare is created in order to take possession of Earth. We see Lunar’s inner workings, and it prepares us pretty well for the last book “Winter” who will follow Levana’s step daughter.

I just… this book is my favorite. By far.

I would recommend this to everyone. Even if you haven’t read the Lunar Chronicles. Since the book is set before the events in “Cinder” it can technically be read as a stand-alone.

Especially to all my writer-friends who might struggle to craft the perfect villain. This story would probably serve as inspiration for many—I know it does for me.

Just…. Read it. You most likely won’t regret it.

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Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – Near Perfect, easily one of my all-time favorites.

Warning: This review contain spoilers. Be warned.

Cinder is the retelling of Cinderella, but set in a futuristic world where a fourth world war has already gone to pass. She’s a mechanic, which is pretty smart considering that she’s a cyborg, and around 36% machine herself.

I have to admit: I’m a sucker for retellings. Whether it’s fairytales or classics—I just love it. There’s something awe inspiring about seeing what different people can do with the same premise. How they all change it to be unique, despite stemming from the same thing.

And, “Cinder” isn’t any different. Whereas, some may argue that the comparisons are sparse, I think it was just the right amount.

The ‘evil’ stepmother, the servant treatment of the main character, the handsome prince, the ball, and the dropped “shoe”.

But, at the same time, the author also changed the different aspects of the story.

– Where in the original Cinderella has two evil step sisters, Cinder has one evil and one good.

– Where in the original Cinderella Is treated like a servant because her father passed, Cinder is treated like a slave because the law dictates that cyborgs aren’t human beings, plus, she’s adopted.

– Where in the original Cinderella has a fairy godmother, Cinder has an android helper.

– Where in the original Cinderella drops a glass shoe as she runs away from the ball, Cinder drops her entire foot. (It’s prosthetic)

It was all incredibly awesome. With an engaging voice, Marissa Meyer managed to create this amazing futuristic society, that seemed believable to a point where it kinda scared me.

I devoured “Cinder” in less than a day, because I simply couldn’t stop. I had to know… more. Just more.

There are so many things I absolutely loved in this book. The characters. The plot. The world building. The writing. I adored everything.

This next section will be inside spoiler tags since I might accidentally spoil some events from the sequel. I’m writing this after I just finished the last book in the series, so my brain is a tad muddled.

I personally would have preferred a few differences. Hence the lost half star in the rating (although, I did round up!) . However, I am willing to admit that it might be slightly biased since it’s probably just that I wanted more.

Garan, Cinder’s adoptive father. Considering that he’s the one who adopted Cinder, I had hoped to know more about him and his motivations/aspirations. However, I know that he was already deceased a short time after the adoption went through, but still… had hoped for a bit more background.

Peony, Cinder’s good step sister. I absolutely adored her, and I found her entire existence refreshing. Like a ray of sunshine in one big shitstorm. However, the scenes with Peony are very sparse. Considering that she was one of the few humans who were actually decent to Cinder, I wanted a bit more of her. And I also think it’s absolutely unfair that she didn’t get to meet Prince Kai.

Lunars, the mysterious gifted moon people. I’m a sucker for world building, and I kinda liked the idea that a colony on the moon changed the DNA of the inhabitants, until it was an entire different race. However, I probably wouldn’t have minded a full on history lesson on all things Lunar.

Ah yes. We can’t have it all, can we? Despite my wishes for more content, I absolutely loved the book. If anything, I can always hope that I get a short story or a novella that will delve into the above mentioned things. Chopchop Marissa Meyer, no dallying. I. Need. More.

If you aren’t sure about this series, try one book—or even one of the free short stories on wattpad—and see if you like it. Personally, I ordered the entire series without having read anything. I’m just lucky it was worth it.

I would recommend this to Sci-fi, Fantasy and YA lovers. It’s truly an amazing series, and I believe both girls and boys will find something to like in this book. Comes highly recommended. To everyone. Go read it. Now.

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Review: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

My rating: 5 of 5 stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – Near Perfect, easily one of my all-time favorites.

Warning: There might be spoilers in this review.

“To all the boys I’ve loved before” was hilarious. There’s no other way to describe it. Just flat out funny.

Lara Jean has a secret box with love letters to the boys she’s been in love with. They’re entirely confidential, and is more like a diary than something that should ever be mailed to the boys.

And then they’re mailed out. Her innermost personal feelings about her sister’s boyfriend, the school’s hottest guy, and some others boys.

At first, it took a bit time to get used to the narrative voice, because it sounded so awkward in my head. But after just a few chapters, I was fully pulled into the drama. And, oh god, my stomach was hurting from the moment Lara Jean first is alerted to the fact that the boys have received her love letters.

It was refreshing, light and absolutely mortifying for the poor girl. I really enjoyed watching her suffer in that way. Because she always seemed to fix it in the most unexpected ways.

Other than the main plot itself, I also enjoyed watching as Lara Jean matured. After having depended on her sister for so long, it was nice to see how this catastrophe changed her—and her life—for the better.

I was totally rooting for her to come up on top.

With that said, I don’t know if I want to read the sequel. I really enjoyed the OTP in this book, and it will probably break my heart to watch as the Author tampers with my—and the character’s—poor feels.

I do recommend this book for anyone looking for a light read with some teen romance.

I devoured this book in one day, and it didn’t feel like it dragged on at any point.

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I’m an international reader, and I don’t matter.

TL;DR: Publishers, netgalley, goodreads and amazon sends all us international readers, bloggers and fans this festive message:

It sucks being international when it comes to the bookish community online. It always has been, but even more now—especially now.

Before I start in on my longer rant/ventilation piece/opinions on the subject, I’d like to clarify a few things:

  • I live in Denmark. We have few book cons, all limited to Danish publishers.
  • I’m unemployed, mentally ill and queer with a severe anxiety to top it off.
  • English falls more naturally to me than Danish.
  • I buy a lot of books. Like, a lot.

With those few things out of the way, I will talk about just a few of the ways I just got slapped across my face.

Yes, you read that right: ACROSS MY FACE.

I’ve been online a while. First, I was deeply ingrained into the writing community on wattpad. Then I joined instagram and discovered bookstagram. Finally, I realized that I ramble too much to stay within yhe character limits in captions and got myself this little blog.

All of that, has accumulated over 30k followers across the medias (mostly on wattpad) which are from all over the world.

And while I’m not the biggest, nor the most talented, I believe in my own little corner of the community. We are close, we trust each others opinions and we help each other spread the word worldwide.

Now this is being taken away from us. Let’s do this in alphabetical order:

Goodreads:

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Goodreads started the holiday mood by announcing that:

  • Authors will now have to pay between $109 to $600 in order to host a giveaway—that they already pay and ship themselves.
  • These Giveaways will only include US residents as winners.
  • If you’re an international author, you may also give away your book the winner will stilk be a US resident, though.

For more information in this, please check out: https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/1108-goodreads-introduces-new-u-s-giveaways-program-a-more-powerful-book-mar

There’s quite a few ways this will affect everyone. Indie and self publisher authors will not have the kind of money to enter. This means that the giveaways will fall largely on the major house that already controls a lot of the market.

Why is that bad? Because it will severely limit the outreach of diverse books—and in particular own voice authors who are already struggling to get a foot in.

It will affect the readers across the world who needs diverse books. And frankly, that’s just a dick bad move on Goodreads part.

I mean, Goodreads boasts of being “the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations.

How long do you think that’ll last? I mean, so far the only thing this has accomplished is for me to want to leave GR alltogether.

NetGalley:

Now onto Netgalley. There has been no actual statement as of yet, but if you are on Netgalley, you will see that there’s almost next to no “request this” buttons any longer. Instead, you are stuck with a “wish for it” button which leaves you at the mercy of the publisher’s very own Santa.

I personally stopped using Netgalley when I got truly into bookstagramming because it was easier to showcase physical books. This doesn’t mean that I support this decision. Quite the opposite, actually.

It’s not even about getting the books for free either. It’s about promotion. It’s about sharing a love for books, and Netgalley’s stunt is basically rendering that impossible unless yoi happen to be born in the US.

Publishers:

Don’t worry, this is old news really but I felt it warranted a mention.

I have had it up to here with your poor excuses for not including international readers in your giveaways, your review team and your preorder incentives.

I realise that the people controlling the social medias aren’t in charge, but the “sorry, legal rights” just don’t cut it.

I see you go to book cons across the world and hand ARCS out. I recieve the emails from your international marketings team. I follow international bloggers, bookstagrammers and booktubers who recieves gift baskets filled with exclusive swag, new edition covers, and it just pisses me off that you can spend that much on a limited promotion, but not on a single giveaway that could include international fans?

We buy, promote and review your books—often combined with a shipping cost that completely kicks our butts just so we can support our faves.

We wanna help with preorders to give debuts and new releases a good start. And what do we get? Nothing. Apart from the fact that we almost never get the books on time for the release, all the swag and merch are just out of reach unless we pay big bucks for something that you are giving away for free in US, UK, AUS and CA.

Yeah, I gotta admit. It sucks being an international reader right now. Because we don’t matter.

Disclaimer: I’m super bitter about this, and I doubt that’ll change anytime soon. Feel free to comment your thoughts below and as always, shares and likes are appreciated.