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MrsJoseph: Books, Life & Wine

I’m currently on the run from the Amazon Empire. The Empire recently used it’s planet sized money to destroy devour my previous safehouse: Goodreads.


I read a lot. Have a bit of a tendency to review as well. So…this is mostly a book review site. Unless its not. But I’m not taking review requests.


Cause sometimes I’ll write about whatever I feel like, book or no.


Things I [currently] like:


So, I’ll talk about that stuff. Unless I don’t.


That “life” part in the site title is all about flexibility, lol.

Currently reading

Mistborn: The Final Empire
Brandon Sanderson
Starting Strength, 3rd edition
Mark Rippetoe
Amanda Quick
Progress: 25 %

Dear Author on "Where Has the Fun Gone"

Reblogged from Bark at the Ghouls:

Great level headed letter of opinion that's a must read for most of us - whether you read romance or not.


Feel free to reblog this one. I think we all need to read it.

Reblogged from A Bookish Compulsion:
Now why didn't I think of this when dating?  Then again,  my Hubby did buy me books while courting me...no wonder I love him so much! :) I
Now why didn't I think of this when dating? Then again, my Hubby did buy me books while courting me...no wonder I love him so much! :) I

[REBLOG] Behold!

Reblogged from want a real life adventure? come to Australia we have spiders bigger than your hand. :


SPA-F: The Madness of Hallen (The Khalada Stone, #1) by Russell Meek

The Madness of Hallen (The Khalada Stone) (Volume 1) - Mr Russell Meek

Amount Read: Prologue and Chapter 1


What did I think? Well, I feel like I have previously established a relationship with Russell Meek. When this book was originally released, Meek posted about it in a group I belong to. I thought the cover was really pretty and his website is beyond beautiful…I love his website. Everything is so polished and professional and branded that it was astounding that Meek is self-published. The blurb was horrific but Meek’s demeanor and professionalism really intrigued me. My biggest issue at the time was that there was no ebook available (that has changed) and Meek is a New Zealand author. Shipping from New Zealand is…cost prohibitive.

So I waited. And waited. And waited.


The book was released in ebook form about a year later. But only for Amazon’s Kindle. Damn!


So I waited some more. And waited. And waited.


I finally got in contact with Meek to request notification of the ePub copy release and – in his kindness – he instead sent me a signed hardcopy.


Wow! I was ever so excited! The book is just as beautiful as I expected (I’m such a cover-whore). Everything about this book/series is so well branded. The site and the book go so well together that having a printed copy was super exciting!


But man, is this font small and tight. And this is a long book – 443 printed pages (about 216,470 words) that would average out to over 865 pages in MMPB format. So it is also a bit intimidating.


When I finally got a chance to start reading, I learned something else: Russell Meek is a fine writer who really needs the careful attentions of a great scalpel-wielding editor (someone who would excise just enough but not too much). The Madness of Hallen has very beautiful descriptive prose but it often feels like Meek is the King of Overly-Descriptive Prose. Here’s a section of the prologue that describes a sunrise:

With majestic grace the Haeringr appeared before them, the northern half of a range of mountains that divided their country in two. It was as though stage curtains were being drawn open just for the watchmen, revealing Brúnn in pristine virgin snow. As the morning sun finally crept over the mountain peaks, a shaft of light speared the city, leaving the men momentarily stunned.


“We might not have much in our ways,” came a low gravelly voice from beneath Bakke’s furry hood, “but I bet there are few others down in the city that will ever have laid eyes on a more beautiful sight than that, Poulle my boy.”


Poulle watched the sun’s light caterpillar over the buildings, sweeping away the cold blue tone of the night’s snowfall.


“It’s just a sunrise,” he said, his thoughts spoken unintentionally out loud. They happen everyday. How amazing can it be?


Poulle’s eyes followed as the sunlight crept silently over the rooftops, dipping into snow-covered lanes and courtyards. The town hall sparkled as the new dawn sun glistened off its steeple. Shadowy shafts stretched from chimneys and towers as the light mixed with smoke from the kitchens.


Relentlessly the sun continued to push back the cold, a wave of warmth forever seeking a new path. Only here the sun had no need to go around stone and thatch, it surged over all in its path, gathering force and strength. It poured through Brúnn, then suddenly faltered as it fell into the mighty Oystkrakr, the huge chasm that split the city in half, and plunged over a thousand feet to the Oysteinn river below.


Poulle held his breath as Brúnn was again lost to the cold clutches of winter. His heart beat eight times, but he felt none of them, until the ninth burst against his chest as the sunlight erupted from the western cliffs of the Oystkrakr.


He was transfixed by the sun’s path, nothing could stop it as the city was compelled to give in to its whim. It reached the far end of the long narrow causeway between the watchtower and the city gate, the ochre and red mixture of stone and cobbles igniting like a trail of explosives powder.


Like a fire rampaging unchecked, the light consumed the base of the tower, climbing ever higher toward them. Poulle clung to the open ledge, urging the warmth of the sun to envelop him, and soak into his chilled bones as though he was deep in a hot bath. Before it finally hit, he closed his eyes in anticipation and inhaled one last cold breath.


He waited. After several seconds he opened one eye, still convinced something momentous was about to occur, but nothing happened. He looked about only to see that the sunlight had moved well past the tower and had come at last to the western wall, and the imposing west gate. Disappointed, he turned to see Bakke standing in front of him, staring at the expression on his face. Then Bakke erupted into laughter.


That is…a lot! I enjoy the descriptions while still being completely frustrated.


I do plan to read the rest of this book (as well as write a full review) but now right now, lol. This series is faaaar from completed (I believe Meek is about to release book two in this series: A Brother’s Bond. One of the reasons I think I feel more compelled to finish this book is that I have a hardcopy. It sits there, accusing me. O_O


This is the third book in my Self-Published Author Challenge.

Source: http://bookslifewine.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/spa-f-the-madness-of-hallen

[REBLOG] Online thieves

Reblogged from Olga Godim:

One of the blogs I follow, Nose Graze, posted this. Someone stole her blog design 100% (HTML, graphics, and all) but put in their own advertising content. Fortunately, she just changed her design a few days ago - she is a professional web designer.

Sadly, the online theft is becoming more and more common. I know an artist here, in Vancouver, Lilian Broca, who makes wonderful mosaics, and of course the images are on her website. Someone from Turkey copied her images, put them on T-shirts, and started selling them on eBay. And they sell – the designs are beautiful. She didn’t know until one of her friends told her. The friend thought it was Broca’s idea and wanted to congratulate the artist. She tried to complain, eBay notified the company, they closed their store and 2 weeks later reopened it under another name. The T-shirts are still selling, and she doesn’t get a dime. And because those thieves are not in USA or Canada, she can do nothing. Very frustrating.
She tells her story on YouTube.

I blogged about thieves a couple weeks ago. Why do we like fictional thieves? The real things are repulsive.

SPA-F: The Tribe of Ishmael (Afterlife Chronicles #1) by Heather Heffner

The Tribe of Ishmael - Heather Heffner

This is the second book in my self-published author  challenge.


Amount Read: 3.5 Chapters


What did I think…


Well, so far the book is very readable – if that makes any sense. It took me no time to reach chapter 3 with this book. In comparison Wrona makes the reader work a little harder. The writing flowed easily and I only noticed a couple of editing errors.


I also took a few notes/highlights with this one – but the ones that stick out to me now is the negative portrayal of all the women I’ve been introduced to thus far. I’m assuming more female positive characters will show up later. I have to admit that was really turned off by the repeated references to a woman the MC nicknamed “Saggy Tits.” It felt harsh and unnecessary to any of the action that was taking place.

The Tribe of Ishmael starts with Ishmael already on the sin train – for me this introduction was like getting a bucket of cold water tossed on me. The “deadly sin” car Ishmael started in appeared to be racism or rage or something like that. So the first few interactions the MC has are very aggressive – the MC is 1/2 Italian and 1/2 Middle Eastern – the MC gets a racial slur yelled at him and basically accused of being a terrorist. Have to say, wasn’t quite what I was expecting.


When I originally planned to add this to my SPA challenge, I *thought* I’d picked up a copy of this while it was free. Later I realized I had not – probably because the book was only being offered at Amazon at the time and it’s a brick. I don’t own a kindle. I borrowed a friend’s copy but I had to read it on my phone…and this is a rather large book. There’s no way I was reading 600+ pages on my phone or my desktop. I’m getting older and my eyes aren’t what they used to be. *sigh*


IDK if I will ever get back to this book. I think – for me, at least – format puts this book at a disadvantage. It’s an easy page turner but when I put it down in ebook format it was also easy to not pick back up. I think that a hardcopy would be more “in your face” (if that makes any sense).


I can say that – if the rest of the book reads in the same manner – the book should be a pretty decent page turner.


Note: This book is marketed as a “dark” fantasy with adult content.



This is the second book in my self-published author  challenge.

Source: http://bookslifewine.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/spa-f-the-tribe-of-ishmael

SPA-F: Pale Queen’s Courtyard (Moonlit Cities #1) by Marcin Wrona

Pale Queen's Courtyard (Moonlit Cities #1) - Marcin Wrona

Amount of book completed: less than one chapter


My Impressions: From what I read, I think Marcin Wrona is a fantastic writer. The portion of the book that I completed felt extremely polished and professionally edited. The writing is very lyrical, reminding me of the first time I encountered Jacqueline Carey’s work.


Wrona’s worldbuilding style is one of my favorites: he drops the reader into his colorful and sensual world without explanation. To be honest, while that is my favorite style of worldbuilding, Wrona uses his own created words quite often which was a little confusing.

While I enjoyed the selection of Pale Queen’s Courtyard, I’m not quite in the mood for it. I don’t care for deception or deception based plotlines and Pale Queen’s Courtyard begins with a deception.


I think I will come back to Pale Queen’s Courtyard in the future. I would definitely recommend this book to others.


This book was recommended to me by Caleb Blake at Papyrus Independent Author reviews. Read Caleb’s review of Pale Queen’s Courtyard here.

Source: http://bookslifewine.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/spa-f-pale-queens-courtyard

SPA-F Challenge Update

I originally gave myself a small challenge: A Month of Self Published Authors (Fantasy).  In light of the recent BS that has been going on, I sorta am killing that whole "SPA" thing.  Again. 


It's just not worth it.


There are some exceptions: If I KNOW the author.  If MANY of my friends has read and recommend it (and considering most of my friends don't read SPAs...that won't happen often).  If I already own a copy and I'm clearing shit out.


Other than that - I'm done with the SPAs.  And Anne Rice (well, I've been done with Anne Rice or whatever the hell her name is).


I will post what I have...

Review: Shadow Blade by Seressia Glass

Shadow Blade - Seressia Glass

I heard about this series and author via a recommendation at Dear Author. We were discussing the way [some] authors and [most] publishers are really screwing with the sub-genre “Urban Fantasy.” Urban Fantasy started as basically Sword & Sorcery but in a modern format and urban location. Somehow, someway…Urban Fantasy became Romances with angry, sword wielding women who dressed in strings and had sex with paranormal creatures (not that I don't enjoy that, too.  ^.^).


This book…isn’t like that. I mean, it’s still an Urban Fantasy so it stays pretty close to the trope…but there is no emphasis on sex. The moment the heroine made a stupid decision…something bad happened to her. And there are POC characters!! Wow!


One of my favorite scenes in the book? When Khefar(hero) and Kira(heroine) are kissing and they stop. Because they have more important things to do…like planning for and killing the evil bad guy. :-D There is no sex in this book.


This being an Urban Fantasy, Kira is the strongest Shadowchaser in quite a while. Kira is a bit of loner but it’s not because she’s angry with the world. She is gifted (or as she considers it, cursed) with a power that does not allow her to touch people. If she touched them she would severely hurt them and possibly kill them. That puts a damper on interpersonal relationships, I’d say. She does have some really good “normal” friends but only a few – those she can trust. There is a relationship brewing in this book but it is not the focus of the story. Kira is fascinated with Khefar…but a huge portion of that comes from the fact the he is the only human she can touch.


Another thing I really liked about the book was its ethnicity and different focus. Kira is African American and Khefar is Nubian. Both Kira and Khefer worship Egyptian deities (Kira worships Ma’at and Khefar worships Isis). Egyptology is a large focus of this book (and I’m assuming the series). I haven’t ran across many (if all) fantasy books with this focus so kudos to the author!


While Kira is presented as very powerful, she is faced with a villain she cannot fight alone. She has to grow and learn teamwork during the course of the book. I appreciated the fact that Kira was shown as fallible and I hope that she will be forced into additional growth during the series. I do have a small concern: will she become too powerful? That becomes boring.


There is some info dumping at the beginning of the novel. Some of the terms are not really explained and the author leaves the reader to figure it out via context clues. While I love (love!) the fact that the characters are either African or African American (so far), I had to admit that some of it felt a little…forced? From what I could tell all the characters were African American and that’s just as unrealistic as all Caucasian characters. One of the things I love about Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series is the diversity of characters.


All in all, this is a fun book with great characters and a fresh background. I’m glad I ran across this author and I will be continuing this series.


4 stars!

Source: http://bookslifewine.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/shadow-blade-by-seressia-glass

Need a Caribbean Rec...Looking at you, Petra :-D

I have a friend doing a wonderful reading challenge this year: He's picking books written by at least one author from every country.  Of course, there are more rules to the challenge but that's the most important.


He's just now getting to the Caribbean but hasn't found enough authors that he enjoys. 


So I immediately thought of Petra and her wonderful bookstore.


So, if possible - could Petra (and other people familiar with non-genre Caribbean authors) recommend some authors and books?  Please?  :-D


He has enjoyed: Beka Lamb and Geographies of Home.  He just finished Earl Lovelace's The Wine of Astonishment but did not enjoy it as much as he expected.


Countries he needs to locate authors from at the moment:

Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Any help will be greatly appreciated!

DNF Review: Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart - Brandon Sanderson

I was bored. I found the book well written and equally as easy to put down. I tried my best to push my way through – even though I was constantly annoyed by the worldbuilding – at least 100 pages.


I was beyond irritated by the idea of the city and it’s people living in darkness for 10 years. WTF?? WHY? How is that even remotely possible? How would people live? How would they keep their teeth?? The whole idea just bothered the crap out of me. How would people eat? How are they able to sustain themselves in any way? The text doesn’t say but it does say that the country has fallen into little city-states ruled/owned by Epics and the worldbuilding implies little cooperation between different groups of Epics.


And the Diggers were another idea not fully explained. Who/what were the Diggers and why did they go crazy? If they were just people charged with digging holes…why describe them with a proper noun (Diggers vs. diggers)?




After that I was done. I’d made an honest try and it’s a library book and due. Maybe I’ll try again later.


Three stars because the writing was fine but meh.

Source: http://bookslifewine.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/dnf-review-steelheart

2014 Book Purchases: February (totally busted)

Well, it looks as if I totally busted my book budget this month. I can’t accept the blame, I blame Flights of Fantasy and my public library system. THEY [FoF] are the ones who forced me to read Gardens of the Moon and THEY [my library system] are the ones who somehow don’t have even a single copy of the damn Malazan Book of the Fallen series in the whole system!! So each book borrow is coming from out of the area (same state, different county systems) meaning they all take a month or more to arrive!

So there’s no way the blame falls on me. ^.^
Howl's Moving CastleBook: Howl’s Moving Castle
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Cost: $6.47
Format: Trade Paperback
Date Purchased: 04-Feb-2014
Notes: First in a series

Dark Lord of DerkholmBook: Dark Lord of Derkholm (Derkholm #1)
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Cost: $4.15
Format: Hardback
Date Purchased: 07-Feb-2014
Notes: First in a series but I own book 2
Ice CrownBook: Ice Crown
Author: Andre Norton
Cost: $4.94
Format: Hardback
Date Purchased: 12-Feb-2014
Notes: Andre Norton Collection
Gardens of the MoonBook: Gardens of the Moon
Author: Steven Erikson
Cost: $14.25
Format: Trade Paperback
Date Purchased: 19-Feb-2014
Notes: First in a series, already own book three (2/10)
Deadhouse GatesBook: Deadhouse Gates
Author: Steven Erikson
Cost: $15.37
Format: Trade Paperback
Date Purchased: 19-Feb-2014
Notes: Second in a series (3/10)
House of ChainsBook: House of Chains
Author: Steven Erikson
Cost: $11.29
Format: Hardback
Date Purchased: 18-Feb-2014
Notes: fourth in a series (4/10)
Deadhouse GatesBook: Deadhouse Gates
Author: Steven Erikson
Cost: $9.99
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Date Purchased: 20-Feb-2014
Notes: Because I have no willpower and got tired of waiting for my delivery of the Trade. :(
Apples Should Be RedBook: Apples Should Be Red
Author: Penny Watson
Cost: $1.49
Format: Ebook (ePub)
Date Purchased: 24-Feb-2014
Notes: Had a coupon that expired on the 28th.
His Contract BrideBook: His Contract Bride (Banks Brothers Brides #1)
Author: Rose Gordon
Cost: $3.49
Format: Ebook (ePub)
Date Purchased: 28-Feb-2014
Notes: Had a coupon that expired on the 28th.



February 2014 Totals:
Books Purchased: 9
Amount Spent: $71.44 (over budget)
Potential Sales Abandoned: 0
Money Saved (Lost Sales): $0.00
February Budget Available: -($51.44)

Source: http://bookslifewine.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/2014-february-book-buys

[REBLOG] Help me choose a cover

Reblogged from Olga Godim:

Please help me choose a cover for my new book - a selection of humorous UF short stories about a young witch and her squirrel familiar. Together, the kick butt of the bad guys and help friends in need. The first two differ only slightly. I appreciate your input, friends.


           Cover #1                           Cover #2                         Cover #3                           


  Cover #3







[REBLOG] Bullying: A Personal Anecdote **trigger warnings**

Sometimes I get people who wonder why I side with the so-called bully reviewers as an author. Am I trying to damage other authors' careers? Please. Do I enjoy the mob mentality? No. Am I a mean person? I don't think so, but at the end of the day that's really up to you.

This is a personal blog entry, and for some of you it might hit a little too close to home. There are anxiety and bullying triggers in this post, so please, consider yourself warned.

When I was in high school I had really bad social anxiety. Giving oral reports would cause me to have nightmares and stomachaches in the days before. I would shake so badly my knees would tremble and you could hear my notes rattling in my hand. Making friends was really difficult for me. I felt like everything I did was being noticed and criticized. I really, really, REALLY hated being forced into social interactions. Even buying something at a register made me feel faint.

During my freshman year, I had some people who were my friends betray me in the worst way possible. They decided that they had had enough of my weirdness and were going to teach me a lesson. They shoved me around and threatened to beat me up. They made fun of the way I looked, the way I dressed, the music I listened to, and even what I wore. They called me things like "dyke" and "tranny", just because I was a tomboy, and defaced all of my blogs with insults under various sockpuppet accounts. They would invade my personal space. They took my stories and shared them with other people without my permission, talking about how I had no talent and was a pathetic hack, and speculated about what these stories said about my mental state. They then turned all of my other friends against me - because my other friends were afraid of getting bullied too, and were too cowardly to stand up for me when I couldn't do so myself. It got so bad that my mom had the school put me on "watch" because she was terrified that something bad would happen to me. The school talked to the bullies, who then mocked me for being so pathetic that I had to get my parents to fight my battles for me. I was 14.

This went on for three. Fucking. Years.

I would come home, and I wanted to die. I felt so frustrated, so powerless, so angry. For the first time in my life, I understood what would drive someone to show up to school with a gun: it felt like I didn't own my own mind. It felt like I was being dissembled piece by piece, until I wasn't even a real person anymore. I felt so depersonalized. I felt like a monster.

My teachers looked the other way. Some of them even victimized me, also, as a way of establishing rapport with the other students. The principal didn't do anything, claimed that there wasn't anything the school COULD do, because this was mostly happening online. (This all happened when the internet was fairly new, and before all those Myspace-related incidents of bullying resulted in those highly publicized suicides.) I spent lunches in the library, because I felt too sick to eat. Sometimes I'd fake sick so I wouldn't have to go to school. I really, truly hated myself.

And I hated them for making me feel like I might even remotely deserve this. I hated them for making me hate myself.

It took me five years before I was able to really trust people again.

It took me five years to realize that overtures of friendships aren't traps being set by people who want to exploit and terrorize you.

It took me five years to be able to confide in other people without fear of rejection or retaliation.

Five years of my life.

When I see these authors throwing around the word “bullying,” just because of ONE NEGATIVE REVIEW (warranted or not), I get infuriated. Because that's not bullying. That's not even close. If you think that's bullying, you're damned lucky, because if a negative review is the worst case of social rejection you've ever gotten, you've probably lived a pretty good life.

When you throw the word "bully" around, you reduce its effect. Bullying is a serious problem. It ruins lives. Authors who make sock puppet accounts, or launch attacks against reviewers in some misguided attempts at justice aren't crusading against bullies—they ARE bullies. And some of those people you're victimizing? They might just be fourteen, too. They might be younger.

Five years of what should have been the best years of my life were ruined because of bullies.

Because of real, actual bullies.

How dare you do that to someone. How COULD you do that to someone? How could you stalk and harass someone over something as stupid as a book? How could you tell them they're worthless and that their words aren't worth hearing? How could you want to force them to real their true identities so you can stalk and harass them further? How could you say the things you said, knowing you have to look yourself in the mirror the next morning? How could you do that? How could you?

How could you?

WHY would you?

You're authors. You, more than anyone, should know the power of the words you use.

Stop bullying.


Review: Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1) - Diana Wynne Jones

I’ve heard of this book (and Diana Wynne Jones) before but I’d never read any of her work. Jones was on Mt. TBR but I pushed Howl’s Moving Castle up because it was picked to be a book club group read.




I really loved this book. It’s a quite the page turner. I loved it so much that I purchased a copy asap (the copy I originally read is a library loan).


Howl’s Moving Castle was one of those reads where I didn’t take any notes and I didn’t have any concerns – I just got pissy when I had to stop reading. :D


Howl’s Moving Castle starts with an introduction to the main character: Sophie. Sophie is so convinced that she will never amount to anything (being the eldest of three sisters) that nothing can change her mind. This idea of worthlessness was so strong that Sophie could not see her own abilities and strengths. While the reader is easily able to see how great Sophie is, Sophie doesn’t realize her worth til the end of the book. I feel that Sophie is a great character! So many people – old and young alike – believe that they are less than just like Sophie, making her a very easy character to relate to. I loved being in Sophie’s head.

Howl’s Moving Castle is also about judgement and first impressions: Sophie judges herself as less than her siblings; she judges Howl based on rumors and she even judges her stepmother with very little reason. In each of these situations (and many others) Sophie is wrong because she based her impressions on snap judgements and rumors. Sophie underestimated…everyone (including especially herself).


Read the rest here.



*Note - I have begun to truncate my posted Booklikes reviews due to Booklikes re-posting reviews on Facebook. 

Source: http://bookslifewine.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/howls-moving-castle

[REBLOG]The Solution to Amazon?

Reblogged from Gurglings of a Putrid Stream:

Organization. Respect. That's the solution to these problems with Amazon and other reviewing sites. How about, instead of wasting time (that's what I think it is, honestly, a waste of time) on petitions and BBA nonsense -- how about we focus on being recognized for what we are: self-published reviewers. SPAs use platforms like Kindle to make their work available to the public; we use platforms like Amazon, Goodreads, and Booklikes. We don't charge for our reviews; SPAs don't always charge for their...umm...stuff, either. SPAs can use their work to talk about anything they like; this is exactly what we do.

What we need is a group -- a kind of union, as it were -- for Self-Published Reviewers. Then we could have a voice, a coherent voice, instead of coming across as just a bunch of disgruntled bookworms.

What would we need, really? A Code of Conduct, certainly. A self-monitoring system, obviously. A membership list, and a way of deciding whom to give membership to. And some kind of "official" seal, or seal of approval.

Over time, such a group could develop some real respect. And leverage. And power. If an author complained about an SPR review, it wouldn't be an attack on a single review or reviewer, it would be an attack on the entire group. That would be a tougher fight.

Well, it's a thought. What do you guys think?