Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review & Favorite Quotes of Romanov

TOUR BANNER (1)

book cover
Title:
Romanov
Author: 
Nadine Brandes
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Retelling

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Synopsis:

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.


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I have always been fascinated by the history of the Romanov family, and through the narrative of many historical truths with a dash of magic, Nadine Brandes takes her readers on a new journey that explores Anastasia and her family’s lives. From the first page, the main character, Nastya, provides such a captivating voice and point of view that leaves the reader craving more about this mischievous spell caster and her daring trial to survive and save her family.

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Romanov hits a lot of the high points of the Romanov history, but this fictional mouthpiece also provides a unique perspective into one of the most sincerest families. While the Romanovs are imprisoned and hidden from society, this tight-knit group longs for justice, peace, and the chance to truly live again. They are often thrown into such uncomfortable situations but their tenacity, along with Nastya’s fierce but playful attitude, create perfect moments of relief. Every page had me emotional invested and yearning to see hope for Nastya and her family.

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Overall, Romanov is a very captivating story that portrays strengths in themes of forgiveness and love. I really enjoyed the steady pacing of the book, which allowed the book to smoothly flow and unfold. Plus, adding in a dash of magic and young love to a historically well-known story had me ingrained from beginning to end.

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WIN a copy of Romanov by Nadine Brandes (USA only)

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AUTHOR
Nadine once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She’s the author of FAWKES and of the award-winning The Out of Time Series. Her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she’s not busy writing novels about bold living, she’s adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. Nadine and her Auror husband are building a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom.

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Note: Thank you to the The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me on this blog tour. And a huge thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me an e-ARC to read and review for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Please note that all quoted material are not final and may change in the final publication of the book.

Raves & Craves: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

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Title:
Serious Moonlight
Author:  Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Physical ARC from publisher

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Synopsis:

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.


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That’s right, you guys, it’s my third post regarding Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett. Hashtag sorry not sorry! Today I am bringing you one of my favorite blog memes I love creating, the Raves & Craves post, where I always pair a short, raving review with a snack of some kind. And today, we have PIE!

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As I gushed about in several posts before (REVIEW HERE and MOOD BOARD HERE), I adored Serious Moonlight. There’s awkward teenage angst, pie for breakfast (well, basically pie at anytime of the day), a swoony boy, real-life mystery and sleuthing, a murder-mystery dinner date, and so many diverse relationships that make my heart so happy. This book will make your heart ache in the best ways. 

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You guys, this was the first ever pie I made that wasn’t a “frozen pie in a box that you just pop in the oven.” It was so intimidating because I wanted this pie to turn out perfectly. Hopefully, below, I can simplify this pie baking the best that I can, so you don’t have to make everything from scratch.

Ingredients:

  • Pie crust – I highly recommend using a pre-made pie crust that is already inserted in a pan. Or you can even buy the pre-made roll out pie crusts to save time.
  •  Strawberries (I used one pint)
  • Frozen cherries
  • Half a cup of sugar
  • 2/3 cups of flour
  • A lemon
  • 1 beaten egg

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cut up your strawberries into bite size pieces.
  3. Place the strawberries and frozen cherries in a sauce pan and cook at medium heat.
  4. Squeeze a whole lemon into the pan with the fruit and stir.
  5. Once the fruit cooks down, add the sugar, and stir.
  6. Once the fruit starts boiling, I added a 1/3 cup of flour to help thicken the juices. After 5 minutes turn off the burner and let the fruit cool down.
  7. Use the left over flour to help roll out and flatten your pie crust. Don’t make the crust too thin. You do you!
  8. Make sure that you line a pie pan with the crust, if you don’t already have a pre-made pie crust already in a pie pan.
  9. Add the fruit as the filling to the pie.
  10. Then add the top layer of pie crust over the fruit. Be sure to cut slits in the pie for the fruit/pie to vent. Note: When I was rolling out the pie crust, I went ahead and cut out stars in my top layer of crust.
  11. Brush the beaten egg over the top of the crust.
  12. Place the pie in the oven and cook it for 25 minutes or until golden brown at the top.

I call this tasty beauty, the “Best GD Cherry ‘Star’berry Pie”

serious moonlight raves and craves

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Note: A huge thank you to the Simon Pulse/Simon Teen for providing me an ARC to read and review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Blog Tour: In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton

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Title:
In the Neighborhood of True
Author:  Susan Kaplan Carlton
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: April 9, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Historical
Source: e-ARC from publisher
Rating: ★★★★

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Synopsis:

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.

After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.


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“If you want to fly, you have to ruffle some feathers.”

Set in the late 1950s, In the Neighborhood of True is an emotional novel that reawakens the reality of segregation and racism that darkened USA’s past and even haunts today’s America. As a very character-driven story, sixteen-year-old Ruth carries the reader through the heartbreak of losing her father and moving from New York to a Southern state where etiquette is inculcated through a pink book, her classmates fit the debutante mold, the boys are swoony, but her revelation of being Jewish is a dangled secret that puts her at risk from being part of the popular crowd. 

“Be strong when everything is going wrong.”

Ruth is a very quirky girl. She’s smart and straightforward, and the entire book is filled with her determination to be accepted by her pre-debutante-obsessed peers but also finding that strength and balance to honor herself, her family, and her religion. Ruth’s inner and outer dialogue is one of the most captivating mouthpieces I have a read in a long time. Her engaging voice and character development allows the novel to steadily unfold into a story of maturity, first love, and a teenage girl’s bravery to fight for social justice. 

“Imagine it and you can be it.”

In the Neighborhood of True was a constant page-turner of heartfelt characters and a main character that is not afraid to shake up her Southern town. The historical and fist-gripping hatred that is portrayed in this novel is heartbreaking, but like one of the characters points out to Ruth, “when hatred shows its face, you need to make a little ruckus. And you, dear Ruthie, made a very important little ruckus.”

Susan Carlton Credit Sharona Jacobs_HR
About the Author:

Susan Kaplan Carlton currently teaches writing at Boston University. She is the author of the YA novels Love & Haight and Lobsterland. Her writing has also appeared in Self, Elle, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen. She lived for a time with her family in Atlanta, where her daughters learned the finer points of etiquette from a little pink book and the power of social justice from their synagogue.

 susankaplancarlton.com | Twitter | Instagram

 

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Note: Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for inviting me on the blog tour and providing me an e-ARC to read and review All statements and opinions are my own.  Please note that all quoted material is not final and may change in the final publication of the book.

Mood Board: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

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Title:
Serious Moonlight
Author:  Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Physical ARC from publisher

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Synopsis:

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.


Mood Board banner Serious Moonlight

I’m back! And it is my second week in a row to gush and RAVE about Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett. 

While reading Jenn’s amazing book (you check out my full review HERE), I jotted down a few images, words, and passages that stuck out to me, and voilà: a mood board that conveys my love for Serious Moonlight.

MOOD BOARD -SERIOUS MOONLIGHT
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Note: A huge thank you to the Simon Pulse/Simon Teen for providing me an ARC to read and review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Blog Tour: Review of Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

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Title:
Wicked Saints
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: E-arc from publisher
Rating: ★★★★

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Synopsis:

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy . . . 

RAVING BLURBS:

“Prepare for a snow-frosted, blood-drenched fairy tale where the monsters steal your heart and love ends up being the nightmare.” – Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

“This book destroyed me and I adored it.”- Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval


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Oh, Wicked Saints, you were just a whirlwind to read, and I was so happy be caught up in your storm. As a fantasy novel, Wicked Saints started off with a bang . . . but a very confusing bang: chaos and war proceeded throughout the pages and I was desperately scrambling to understand the magic system and who was who. In all honesty, it took me about 15% of the book to finally familiarize myself with all the characters, who had what powers, and understanding the political and religious powers that fueled the war littered throughout the pages. But once I started to understand the holy mess and revolutions that ensued, I could not put this book down. 

As a rarity among society, Nadezhda can speak to gods. With this commodity, the gods grant her divine powers, but the power-granting gods hope for something in return. As Nadezhda tries to break the veil for the gods to finally return and stop a war, she is thrown into political intrigue and religious turmoil. The country and kingdom are crumbling, while her path interweaves with a drunken prince who has seen nothing but war and blood throughout his young adulthood and she also joins ranks with a band of misfits (and an often-smiling, monstrous boy) who seem too trusting and all too good to be true to accept as allies. 

You guys, you need to prepare yourself for the dark character agencies and merciless blood magic that saturates Wicked Saints. There are jaw-dropping moments of lies, deception, bloody kisses, and utter betrayal. And you know what, I am so here for the next book to knock me off my feet. 

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“The future was magic, it was power, it was mankind stepping out of the shadows and finding out the world had been kept in the dark by these gods.”

“We’re all monsters . . . some of us just hide it better than others.”

“You must make a choice, little bird. Do you continue on with your wings clipped or do you fly?”

“I don’t think love is such a force that it will stop you. I’m not sure you’re even capable of it.”

“He was a liar and she wanted his truths.”

“A witch is just a girl who has realized her power is her own.”

Emily A. Duncan
About the Emily A. Duncan

EMILY A. DUNCAN works as a youth services librarian. She received a Master’s degree in library science from Kent State University, which mostly taught her how to find obscure Slavic folklore texts through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons. Wicked Saints is her first book. She lives in Ohio.

 


SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: https://eaduncan.com/
Twitter: @glitzandshadows
Instagram: @glitzandshadows
Tumblr: http://glitzandshadows.tumblr.com/

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Note: Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing me an early copy of this book. I received this book as a #partner with St. Martin’s/Wednesday Books. All statements and opinions are my own. Please note that all quoted material are not final and may change in the final publication of the book.

 

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

36511805
Title:
Serious Moonlight
Author:  Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Physical ARC from publisher

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Synopsis:

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.


Serious Moonlight banner

Hi, my name is Cassie and I am a Jenn Bennett book addict . . . I mean fanatic.

If Jenn Bennett writes it. I will read it.

And I’m going to be completely honest with you right now, in the next few weeks, I will probably have multiple posts about Serious Moonlight on my blog. Yes, this post here serves as my official review, but do not fret, I will definitely be posting my favorite quotes and a possible “Raves & Craves” post, which will involve pie . . . yummy, yummy pie.


So what did I love about this book, you ask?


1. Birdie and Daniel’s awkward, sweet, cute, and witty banter. There is an undeniable connection between these two characters, and I really enjoyed how naturally their friendship grew from a “missed connection,” being co-workers, detective work, and their reserved ability to confess their insecurities and establish trust between each other.

2. I adored the most heartwarming relationship between Birdie and her late-mom’s best friend who Birdie calls Aunt Mona. Birdie and Aunt Mona are so enjoyable to read on the page. They are so hilarious and flipping fantastic. You know how in Pretty in Pink, Andie discusses so much of her life’s troubles with her amazing manager, Iona, and their banter is so grown up and funny? That is Birdie and Aunt Mona in a nutshell. I freakin’ love it.

3. There is a date that involves a murder mystery dinner, and GD it it’s so thoughtful and cheesy. This chapter is truly worth the muscle-aching cheeks from all the happy grinning and swooning.

4. Pie. Cherry pie. Breakfast pie. All the pie. 

5. Jenn Bennett’s approach to teen issues is always so gut-wrenching, realistic, and truthful. She handles and approaches issues like teen sex, insecurities, familial problems, mental illness, anxiety, suicide, grief, and depression in Serious Moonlight so well. Jenn’s characters and stories are so honest and relatable, and I look forward to gifting a finished copy of this book to my 16-year-old niece.
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Note: The HUGEST thank you to the Simon Pulse/Simon Teen for providing me an ARC to read and review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review & Favorite Quotes of The Waking Forest

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Title: The Waking Forest
Author: 
 Alyssa Wees
Publisher: Delacorte
Release Date: March 12, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

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Synopsis:

Pan’s Labyrinth meets The Hazel Wood in this novel about a girl with terrifying visions and a wish-granting witch whose lives collide in the most unexpected of ways.

The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more–until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?


review and quotes

You guys, I found The Waking Forest to be a combination of one of the most mind-boggling, creepiest, and eeriest books I have read in a long time. Told in chapters with alternating settings, this book was like reading dark fairy-stories within other grim fairytales. The novel truly felt like a web of dreams within nightmares within dreams.

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I have a strong fascination with fantasy books set in dark forests, and I loved how The Waking Forest used the forest as an entity to thicken the plot and mold the most magical scenes. Sometimes the highly decorated language was jarring and puzzling because it was literally being told through the character’s own eyes, which often stilted some scenes for me. But overall these specific instances kept me entranced by well-kept secrets and the yearning to know what was going to happen next.

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Overall, The Waking Forest is truly a dark and spellbinding novel. Once I was used to the alternating chapters and the multiple character perspectives, the book became a constant page-turner. The twisted lore and fascinating character development created a hint of mystery, and the unraveling of fantastical secrets was a constant eyeopener. Purple prose decorates the story with vivid imagery and unbelievable scenes filled with fox pets, undiscovered constellations, and tasty wishes that melt on your tongue. Family, friendships, sacrifice, and self-acceptance are important themes that allowed this story to grow into its own form of a memorable fairy tale.

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giveaway

WIN One copy of The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees (USA only)

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about the author

 

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In between training in ballet and watching lots of Disney movies, Alyssa grew up writing stories starring her Beanie Babies. She earned a BA in English from Creighton University and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago. Currently she works as an assistant librarian in youth services at an awesome public library. She lives in the Chicagoland area with her husband and their two cats.
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Note: Thank you to the The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me on this blog tour. And a huge thank you to Delacorte for providing me an ARC to read and review for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Please note that all quoted material are not final and may change in the final publication of the book.