Saturday, April 30, 2016

Kitty's Countryside Dream by Christie Barlow

4 Star

New home. New life. New beginning. Love affairs can blossom in the most unlikely places . . . 
When Kitty inherits Bluebell Lodge from her grandmother, a farm in the beautiful Staffordshire countryside, it’s time for fresh air and a fresh start. Up to her elbows in chickens and ponies, Kitty soon realises there’s an awful lot to learn about farming. Still, at least the locals seem friendly, not least her handsome neighbour Tom… 

But just as Kitty is beginning to find her feet, and the possibility of love, the discovery of a long-hidden diary, by a mysterious character called Violet changes everything. Who is Violet and what is her message for Kitty? As Kitty fills in the lost pieces of her family jigsaw and discovers some shocking revelations, will her countryside dream and blossoming relationship fall to pieces? When it comes to life in the country, nothing is ever quite as it seems … 



Kathryn - 4 Star

I found this novel a little tricky for the first 20 or so pages. Not sure why but it was presented in a way that didn’t pull me in right off the bat. However, that was only at first because I soon got into the story and was so enamoured by the characters and their lives that I was hooked.

Something about Kitty though gave me the impression she was quite na├»ve and not very with the times initially but she soon morphed into someone else. It also wasn’t always clear if we were set in the 1980’s or 90’s or if it was supposed to be set today?  The dates in the diary would have led me to believe we were mid 80’s but some of the things that were said and done in the novel seemed much more current. Perhaps this was just me but I found it a bit confusing.

Having said all that I was very much interested in the story, there were mysteries to unravel and people to connect. The plot moved really well and didn’t leave anything unsettled! I loved the chicken farm and all aspects of the farming we were treated too during the novel and was enchanted by the village. I also liked the way her relationship with her parents was described and the way their story was weaved into the novel. I was surprised by the ending, had imagined various possible scenes but didn’t quite imagine the ending.

Thank you to Bookouture for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Christie Barlow:


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Would you rather with Susan Sands

Please welcome Susan Sands, author of Love, Alabama.

Susan Sands:

 

I grew up in Northwest Louisiana, but have strong Cajun roots (Southern Louisiana) on both sides of my family. I  live in the Atlanta suburbs with my dentist husband and near-adult children, plus a few furry creatures.


I love to cook and I adore food. I play tennis, but don’t exercise nearly enough. I write Southern romantic women’s fiction. It’s a rare day when I run short of words. I’m a member of the Georgia Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. I’m represented by Inkwell Management.

Connect with Susan:
Website    Facebook     Twitter   Goodreads


Would You Rather... 
with Susan Sands

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Cheese and crackers and grapes.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Bridget Jones… I can’t wait for the new one!!

Wine, beer or vodka?

Vodka and something sweet and fizzy if I had to choose. I’ve been plagued with nasty migraines for years, so I have to use much moderation with alcohol…bummer.

Camping or spa vacation?

Spa now that I’m older. I hate bugs.

Water or mountains?

Water.

Zombies or vampires?

Vampires… Loved Bram Stoker’s version.

Dogs or cats?

Both!!

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke…I live in Atlanta.

Coffee or tea?

Sweet tea with lemon, please.

Dine out or take away?

Depends if I’ve showered.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Flip flops!

Physical Book or ebook?

Mostly ebook these days. I need a little backlight.

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback.

Pen or pencil?

Pen.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Downton Abbey.

Drama or comedy?

Comedy.

Twilight or Hunger Games?

Twilight.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lipgloss or chapstick—depends if I’m going out of the house.

Facebook or Twiter?

Facebook!

Plot your entire novel or fly by the seat of your pants?

Outlining pantser.

Love, Alabama

Emma Laroux’s a fallen Southern beauty queen whose past is barely whispered about in her small town. But the secrets and lies surrounding the scandal from long ago still haunt her, and something about Matthew Pope holds the answers. If only she could put her finger on it..

Matthew Pope wonders what awful karmic thing he’d done to land him in Podunk, Alabama. But when he sees Emma again after all this time, he knows he’s still the only one that holds the key to unlock the truth of her past…

Will a shared moment in time ten years ago threaten what might be the best thing that’s ever happen to either of them—each other?




Available at:

Kindle   Nook   Kobo


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Would you rather with Nora Zelevansky

 Please welcome Nora Zelevansky, author of Will you won't you want me?

Nora Zelevansky:

 

NORA ZELEVANSKY is the author of Will You Won't You Want Me? and Semi-Charmed Life. Her writing has appeared in ELLE, T Magazine (The New York Times), Town & Country, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair, among others. She lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn, New York.


Connect with Nora:
Website    Facebook     Twitter   Goodreads


Would You Rather... 
with Nora Zelevansky

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Chips. All salt, all the time.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Bridget Jones (or Elizabeth Bennet).

Wine, beer or vodka?

Beer. Preferably dark.

Camping or spa vacation?

Spa, please. I have this weird affinity for beds and working bathrooms. Lavender-scented massages are good too.

Water or mountains?

Both. Water with mountains―like Big Sur.

Zombies or vampires?

Neither, please. No monsters.

Dogs or cats?

Cats. My cat, Waldo, specifically.

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke. A million times, Coke.

Coffee or tea?

Herbal tea. Cause I’m wild like that.

Dine out or take away?

Depends on the night. Is The Bachelor on in this scenario?

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

All three. But, in my heart of hearts, high heels.

Physical Book or ebook?

Physical book, if I can help it.

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback, so I can throw it in my bag and read on the train.

Pen or pencil?

Pen. Indelibly.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Downton Abbey, for glimpses of Mary Crawley’s wardrobe alone.

Drama or comedy?

Comedy, with a little drama.

Twilight or Hunger Games?

Hunger Games. I love a makeover and a badass girl.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lipgloss of any shade but peach.

Facebook or Twiter?

Facebook. The better for cyberstalking ― I mean, keeping up with friends.

Plot your entire novel or fly by the seat of your pants?

Definitely the seat of my pants. I find outlines constraining. Write with abandon!


Will you won't you want me?

Marjorie Plum isn't your average washed up prom queen. After all, her New York City prep school was too cool for a royal court. Yet, ten years after high school graduation, she is undeniably stuck in the past and aching for that metaphorical tiara.
But when her life takes an unexpected turn, she is forced to start over, moving in to a tiny box of an apartment in Brooklyn with a musician roommate who looks like a pixie and talks like the Dalai Lama. Desperate to pay rent, she starts tutoring a precocious 11-year-old girl-who becomes the unknowing Ghost of Marjorie Past, beginning a surprise-filled journey towards adulthood, where she learns about herself from the most unlikely sources: a rekindled childhood love, a grumpy (but strangely adorable) new boss, even her tutee.



Available at:

Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle Nook Kobo 


Mom on the Road by Allyson Ochs Primack

3.5 Star

Shortly after she turned forty, Maggie Stevens took an unexpected journey that changed the course of her life. She didn't decide to visit all of the Earth's rain forests or spend months roaming through the African desert. It was not for scientific research nor was it for purposes of investigative journalism. Maggie’s journey took place in the most unlikely of places: on a bus with a bunch of actors. Think "Almost Famous," except instead of a teenage boy, it was a pre-pre-menopausal mom of three. Forced to face all of her fears on the road, Maggie must figure out how to get back the one thing she lost many years ago: herself.





Sabrina-Kate - 3.5 Star

Though this story was not quite what I was expecting, I did enjoy getting an insider's view of life on the road with a star as their mother. Though this is a work of fiction, the fact that the writer did just that is obviously apparent in the book with all of the detail they are able to provide. 

The book was a little slow at first but I liked how the main character went through her life relating it it to popular culture, whether it be with a song or a show. This helped me to relate to the character and her life.

I liked how the story built up through each decade of her life and then culminated with his life as a mom. The anecdotes of adulthood and being a mother certainly added to the story though the story was not quite what I had expected. I am not sure being on the road with kids would be so enjoyable. Even short trips have their trials so I am not sure I bought the whole story.

Despite my misgivings, this is a fun tale that I think could be an enjoyable road trip read.


Thank you to the author for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.


Connect with Allyson Ochs Primack:






Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Love the witch, hate the craft by Nora Lee

2.5 Star

When Rowan Middlebrook left Secret Hallow for college, she swore she would never return home. Her magic is too dangerous for her to control. 

But Nana Winterblossom has asked for Rowan’s help saving The Elder Tree. If it dies, there can be no magic in Secret Hallow at all. Rowan's family has cared for the coven for generations. She has no choice but to help, even though she'll have to resist the urge to embrace her witchy heritage. 

As soon as Rowan returns, she meets the new warlock in Secret Hallow: Caedmon McFarland, who thinks he’s going to take over the coven by marrying Rowan, despite the fact they’ve never met before. Between dodging arranged marriage and trying to save The Elder Tree, Rowan is remembering how much she loved being a witch among her coven - if only she could find a little control. 

After all, you can take the witch out of the magic, but you can't take the magic out of the witch.


Kathryn - 2.5 Star

I can see myself getting into this series but I did find this first installment a bit difficult. It was initially tricky to sort out the various magical abilities. Much like any fantasy series there were new terms and new characters that don’t only relate to each other but have additional powers that you need to keep straight.  

I wish the novel had been longer because there were a number of members whom I felt didn’t get enough background information for me to feel their link to Rowan.  Though Rowan was well described and you got a good understanding for her, there were the Ash sisters for example that I was a bit confused about. Are they Rowan’s sisters?  They seemed to behave as if they were but they didn’t have much link to her within the novel? 

I was also confused by Rowan’s relationship with Orianna- we were given the impression that they were really close but they hadn’t communicated in the four years Rowan left to go to college outside of the village?  That was tricky for me because the female characters should have an established bond which I didn’t feel until the end of this novel.  I was also taken aback by the assumption that Rowan should marry a complete stranger to save the village- he was in himself a bizarre character- his personality flip-flopped from completely unpleasant to mildly endearing but I loved Garrett immensely- I think if you don’t then you must have missed something.  He seemed like he could be Rowan’s dream man.

Overall I found the novel interesting but felt something was missing to make me fall in love. I would likely read the next one in the series (should it be offered) though as I’m curious about what happens next. I think it could have used more time and more in depth setting of the scene to really get my attention.


Thank you to Masterful Books for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Nora Lee:
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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt

2.5 Star

First I remember the darkness.
Then I remember the blood.
I don’t know where my daughter is.
Estelle Paradise wakes up in a hospital after being found near dead at the bottom of a ravine with a fragmented memory and a vague sense of loss. Then a terrifying reality sets in: her daughter is missing.
Days earlier, Estelle discovered her baby’s crib empty in their Brooklyn apartment. There was no sign of a break-in, but all traces of seven-month-old Mia had disappeared. Her diapers, her clothes, her bottles—all gone. 
Frustrated and unable to explain her daughter’s disappearance, Estelle begins a desperate search. But when the lack of evidence casts doubt on her story, Estelle becomes the number one suspect in the eyes of the police and the media.
As hope of reuniting with Mia becomes all she has left, Estelle will do anything to find answers: What has she done to her baby? And what has someone else done to her?




Michelle - 2.5 Star

After reading the first 50-60 pages I was not sure I would end up finishing this book.  It started off slow and the picture it painted was not one that drew me in and left me wanting to know more.  
It is clear early on that Estelle Paradise is suffering from some form of postpartum depression. The images of Mia being left alone and crying most of the time does not help in evoking any sympathy from me toward Estelle.  Her husband Jack is even less likable, being portrayed as an unsympathetic and unsupportive husband.  

After Estelle becomes the number one suspect in her daughter’s disappearance, and her subsequent confinement to a psychiatric hospital, my interest peaked a bit and my need to find out whether she truly did kill her child, or if she even ever existed, increased.   

I will say that this novel really did have me guessing for much of the time.  It was at times hard to follow as it jumped back and forth between the past and the present, but I did enjoy how information was slowly revealed to us through Estelle’s sessions with her psychiatrist. 

The climax and ending were definitely not what I had expected and I appreciate what the author was trying to do in terms of shock value and surprise, but at the same time I felt it was a bit far-fetched and I had trouble believing parts of it. 

I still cannot say with any definite conviction whether I enjoyed this book or not.  At times it compelled it me to want to read more and other times I felt I was dragging through to get to a more interesting part.


Thank you to Penguin Random House for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Alexandra Burt:
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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Name 3 things with Anita Hughes

Please welcome Anita Hughes, author of Island in the Sea, as she lets us into her life with our Name 3 Things interview!






About Anita Hughes:


Anita Hughes was born in Sydney, Australia. She attended UC Berkeley's Masters in Creative Writing program. She is the author of MONARCH BEACH, MARKET STREET, LAKE COMO, FRENCH COAST, ROME IN LOVE, and the forthcoming ISLAND IN THE SEA and SANTORINI SUNSETS published by St. Martin's Press.


Connect with Anita:
 Website      Facebook     Twitter    Goodreads


Anita Hughes on Name 3 things:


Name three things one wouldn’t normally expect to find…

 In your fridge

Leeks, vanilla soy milk, almond butter.
  
In your purse

Lindt chocolate ball, chap stick, St. Regis pen.

In/On your bedside table

Photos of all my children, fresh flowers, sea shell.

In your car

Fast Company magazine, bottle of Vitamin Water, paperback copy of The Moviegoer.
  
On your desk/writing spot

Pink Post-Its, mug filled with colored pencils, Birthday card from my children.

  
In the "junk drawer"

Old cell phones, receipts for last year's Christmas presents, plastic spoons.

In your closet/garage/storage room

Eighth grade science projects, school uniforms that have been outgrown, sports equipment.

In your music or movie collection

High School Musical, Young Einstein, A Night At the Roxbury.

On your bookshelf

The Madeline books, Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner.


Island in the Sea

Juliet Lyman is a senior executive at Yesterday Records. Music is her passion and she's very good at her job. That's why her famously philanthropic boss Gideon sends her to Majorca, Spain to work with a very tortured, but talented client. Lionel Harding is one of the best song writers of the 20th century, the multi-Grammy award-winning lyricist of the third most recorded song in history. But now he's 42 and six months overdue on the his latest paid assignment. Juliet is not leaving Majorca without either new lyrics or a very large check.

To Juliet, business comes first. Emotions are secondary, and love isn't even on the menu. But to Lionel, love is everything, and he blames Gideon for his broken heart. He's determined to show Juliet that nothing is more important than love, but Juliet is just as determined to get Lionel to create the music that made him famous. If she can sign up local talent, even better. Her new friend Gabriella has a voice like an angel, but she's not interested in fame. Her grandmother, Lydia, wants the world for Gabriella, and she wants Juliet's help to give it to her.

As her professional and personal lives start to mix for the first time, Juliet is forced to reevaluate her priorities. Gideon hasn't been totally honest, and love may be the only thing that gives them all what they need.

Available at:
Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle Kobo Nook 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Clutch: A Novel by Lisa Becker

3 Star

clutch: a novel is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto. 





Amazon  Kindle  


Kathryn - 3 Star

I loved the concept of this book- that different relationships or different men were paired with a type of handbag was fantastic and really leant intself to a variety of story lines. There were so many places it could go and I think Lisa Becker did a good job of exploring the options for her various “men”.

It’s a sweet novel and I read it quickly wanting to find out what happened with Caroline and Mike in the end. Somewhat predictable but I liked the little looks that were passed between them throughout which made the ending expected but still pleasing. The concept though of the men as bags was what really made the novel unique.

I found the lack of “g” on the endings on words sort of frustrating. While I believe it was supposed to give the tone of the southern accent it was distracting as was the constant reference to the ‘v’ when she frowned. Tiny things really overall but that may have been helped by an extra set of eyes on edit.

It was a lovely sweet novel despite the editing issues for me and in general I really liked the premise. I think it could have made an even longer novel and is an idea which could be expanded perhaps? Men as different types of footwear or hats?


Thank you to the author for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.



Connect with Lisa Becker:


Friday, April 8, 2016

Don't let my baby do rodeo by Boris Fishman


4 Star


Maya Shulman and Alex Rubin met in 1992, when she was a Ukrainian exchange student with “a devil in [her] head” about becoming a chef instead of a medical worker, and he the coddled son of Russian immigrants wanting to toe the water of a less predictable life.
Twenty years later, Maya Rubin is a medical worker in suburban New Jersey, and Alex his father’s second in the family business. The great dislocation of their lives is their eight-year-old son Max—adopted from two teenagers in Montana despite Alex’s view that “adopted children are second-class.”
At once a salvation and a mystery to his parents—with whom Max’s biological mother left the child with the cryptic exhortation “don’t let my baby do rodeo”—Max suddenly turns feral, consorting with wild animals, eating grass, and running away to sit face down in a river.
Searching for answers, Maya convinces Alex to embark on a cross-country trip to Montana to track down Max’s birth parents—the first drive west of New Jersey of their American lives. But it’s Maya who’s illuminated by the journey, her own erstwhile wildness summoned for a reckoning by the unsparing landscape, with seismic consequences for herself and her family


Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

I was not sure what to expect with this book as it was definitely very unique and although I had trouble getting into it, I came to really enjoy the characters and the resilience and chutzpah they demonstrated. 

This story focuses on a family that has adopted a son and all of the impact that can have on a life. On the parents mainly. It is a story of reckoning and knowing yourself. A story that gives hope in some senses as well. I found the family dynamic quite interesting and unique since everyone lived under one roof which may be more normal for some, but not for me. I had never thought of what that would be like until reading this book and it opened my eyes to see Maya have to deal with it.

I really enjoyed the cultural aspect of this story as it certainly involved everything possible, from history, culture to food which helped create a more complete picture of this family and their story.
The story seemed kind of slow for me at the beginning, but then ended up being somewhat of a whirlwind adventure, bringing the family on a journey, in reality and metaphorically. I truly enjoyed this book which showed how to come to terms with oneself. And I loved that the author did not shy away from difficult topics like immigration and adoption, showing us how to embrace who we are, no matter what.

Thank you to Harper Collins for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Boris Fishman:
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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Would you rather with Laura Barnard

Please welcome Laura Barnard, author of Porn Money and Wannabe Mummy.

Laura Barnard:

 

Laura Barnard lives in Hertfordshire, UK and writes romantic comedy or 'chick lit' as its so often described. In her spare time she enjoys drinking her body weight in tea, indulging in cupcakes the size of her face and drooling over hunks like Jamie Dornan, Ryan Gosling and Leo Dicaprio.

She enjoys wearing yoga pants and reading fitness magazines while sitting on the sofa eating chocolate. She's a real fan of the power nap and of course READING!


She writes not to get rich or famous, but because she LOVES writing. Even if one person tells her they enjoyed her book it makes the midnight typing worth it!

Connect with Laura:
Website    Facebook     Twitter   Goodreads


Would You Rather... 
with Laura Barnard

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Chocolate

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Becky Bloomwood - I love that series!

Wine, beer or vodka?

Vodka.

Camping or spa vacation?

Spa vacation.

Water or mountains?

Depends - if looking at for serenity it would be water.  But if you meant spend time on would be mountains - I get sea sick!

Zombies or vampires?

This is so hard as I not only love Twilight/The Vampire Diaries but I'm also a die hard Walking Dead fan!  Just went to the Walking Dead Walker Stalker Convention in London and saw all my favourite actors.  I would say....ooooh, zombies!

Dogs or cats?

Dogs, no contest - I  have a seven year old Springer Spaniel/Border Collie cross

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke.

Coffee or tea?

Tea, total tea-aholic.

Dine out or take away?

Take away comfy at home.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Sneakers.

Physical Book or ebook?

Ebook, although I love buying paperbacks of favourite books.

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback.

Pen or pencil?

Pen.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Mad Men.

Drama or comedy?

Comedy.

Twilight or Hunger Games?

Love both but I am a Twihard!

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lipstick.

Facebook or Twiter?

Facebook.

Plot your entire novel or fly by the seat of your pants?

Plot.

Porn Money and Wannabe Mummy


What is it about turning thirty that sends rational women into a tailspin?

Suddenly going from having all the time in the world, to cringing at the ticking of her biological clock, Poppy is drowning under the strain of trying to get pregnant.

With a dad in the throes of a mid-life crisis, a crazy mother-in-law and time racing towards Lilly's wedding, will she be able to cope with it all...and give Ryan the baby they so desperately want?

Finally able to inherit her dad's porn money, Jazz can't wait to be rich! She can buy a house in Chelsea, go out partying with her old mates and start living how she deserves. 

But with Ollie, Jemima and Meryl each clawing at their own little piece of her happiness, will she have to leave behind those closest to her in exchange for it?

The real question is, can Poppy and Jazz rescue their own lives before everything gets ruined, or will their own stubbornness destroy the lives they've created. 

Available at:

Kindle 



Saturday, April 2, 2016

A quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas

4 Star

In Sandra Dallas' novel A Quilt for Christmas, it is 1864 and Eliza Spooner's husband Will has joined the Kansas volunteers to fight the Confederates, leaving her with their two children and in charge of their home and land. Eliza is confident that he will return home, and she helps pass the months making a special quilt to keep Will warm during his winter in the army. When the unthinkable happens, she takes in a woman and child who have been left alone and made vulnerable by the war, and she finds solace and camaraderie amongst the women of her quilting group. And when she is asked to help hide an escaped slave, she must decide for herself what is right, and who can she can count on to help her. 






Kathryn - 4 Star

I was immediately drawn into the lives of the people in this novel, in fact I hadn’t been expecting to be so fascinated and I was impressed with Sandra Dallas’ writing style because the era could have seemed cold due to the war and difficult times.  I don’t know much about the era except the basic facts but I’ve probably always been interested in the lives of early settlers in North America due to my childhood obsession with Laura Ingalls Wilder novels. 

I found the relationship between Will and Eliza so charming, so sweet and so practical. Yes, practical. You were given snippets of their relationship through letters and though the love and admiration was always present there was also a great sense of their functionality as a couple to run their farm and to get things done.  I admired her immensely as the novel continued and her life changed so abruptly.
The other characters in the novel rounded out the story of the family perfectly and the quilting circle particularly gave me a sense of Eliza as a woman and as a friend. The little tidbits of information about quilting, the stitches, the patterns and the planning were just about my speed- I admire quilters greatly but think my patience level is lacking to actually make one myself.

The novel was short with so much packed into it and I was really happy with the outcome.


Thank you to St Martin's Press for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Sandra Dallas:
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