Monday, 31 October 2016

Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff book cover

Title: Nevernight
Author: Jay Kristoff
Series: The Nevernight Chronicles, #1
Format: eARC, kindly provided
by the publishers via NetGalley
(Thank you!!)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
My rating: 1.5 / 5

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In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

*I received an eARC from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This didn't influence my opinion in any way.*

In theory, Nevernight should be the book I’ve always wanted to read. If I find out assassins will be a main feature of a book – or if a main character is an assassin – you can bet I’ll be planning on reading it the minute I can get my hands on it. So when I saw what Nevernight was about you can imagine how hyped I was to read it. A school for cold hearted assassins set in a medieval Italian-type world?! YES! It has to be freaking awesome, right? Well… in practice, it’s not so simple.

I had quite a few issues with the book, but the more I think about it, they all revolved around one central issue: the writing style. Good grief, it was unbearable. Let me warn you, if you like a crisp, straight to the point writing style, you won’t find it here. On the other hand, if you like dense, overly descriptive writing styles thicker than tar, then this book could be everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Here’s the thing, though: I don’t usually have any issues with densely descriptive novels! I’m usually the one that will like books that others might find overly flowery and off-putting. Unfortunately, Nevernight was my breaking point and I couldn’t take it seriously.

I’m of the opinion that well placed metaphors and similes can add so much to the overall atmosphere and readability of a story. Okay, let me clarify: metaphors and similes that make sense add to a story. But when they’re overused or abused, I find they distract and take the focus away from the plot, characters and overall atmosphere. For my tastes, adding descriptions for the sake of adding descriptions, or describing the same thing five different ways in the one sentence feels forced and a bit pretentious. Seriously, I was expecting Nevernight to be an action packed story with lots of stabbing and murder, not a bloody thesaurus filled with incomprehensible and over written metaphors! Sometimes I hadn’t a clue what the author was even trying to say. It’s like if you’re standing at the top of a tall building and look out the window hoping to see a beautiful view, but all you can see in front of you dense fog. I know there is a story I could love here, I just couldn’t see it. Also, if I ever read the word ‘gentlefriend’ again, it’ll be too soon.

Another thing that didn’t work for me was the footnotes. I read an eARC and they appeared at the end of each chapter which meant I could choose to skip on and search out the corresponding note, or wait until I reached the end of the chapter and read them all in one go. By the third chapter, I ended up skimming over them, and by the fifth chapter I ignored them completely. Maybe if I could have read them in sync with the rest of the story I might have appreciated them more, but for my tastes, they felt unnecessary and distracting.

My opinions on the characters didn’t fare much better. I guess it would be easiest to say I was neutral toward them all. Mia, while she does have an antihero slant that I’m usually drawn to, didn’t appeal to me that much. I suspect the events that happened at the beginning of the book were supposed to instil some sort of sympathy for her, but it didn’t really work for me. Maybe it comes back to the writing/narration style, but I didn’t feel connected or sympathetic to any character in the book.

While the concept of the story is everything I look for in a book, Nevernight turned into an unexpected endurance test. I’m not too sure who I would recommend this book to specifically, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say if you enjoy the writing style, you’ll most likely adore the book. If you’re a little concerned about the flowery prose, my best advice would be to try out a few sample chapters and see whether it might suit you or not. I’m so disappointed that I didn’t enjoy Nevernight. It was one of my most anticipated 2016 releases, and I was almost positive I would love it. In practice, unfortunately, we just didn’t get along.

1.5 Stars Not Great

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

WoW #85: RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

Waiting on Wednesday Journey Through Fiction

This week, I'm waiting on...


by A.G. Howard

 RoseBlood by A.G. Howard book cover

Expected publication: 10th January 2016

Genres: Retellings; Fantasy; Young Adult

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In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

A. G. Howard brings the romantic storytelling that Splintered fans adore to France—and an entirely new world filled with lavish romance and intrigue—in a retelling inspired by a story that has captivated generations. Fans of both the Phantom of the Opera musical and novel, as well as YA retellings such as Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, will devour RoseBlood.

A Phantom of the Opera retelling, you say? And written by one of my favourite authors?? I don’t need to know anything else, just take my money! I remember hearing about it this time last year, and the wait is almost over. I have super high expectations, but I have every confidence that it’ll be just phenomenal as I think it’ll be.

Are you planning on reading RoseBlood? What do you think? Also, have you read the Splintered trilogy?? And do you like that the covers have a similar vibe?

What are you waiting on this week? Thanks for stopping by!

* Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. *

Monday, 24 October 2016

Mini-Reviews: Love Reborn and Fallen

Mini-Reviews: Love Reborn and Fallen

Love Reborn by Yvonne Woon book cover

Title: Love Reborn
Author: Yvonne Woon
Series: Dead Beautiful, #3
Format: Paperback, bought
My rating: 4 / 5

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Renée and Dante are dying. The soul they share cannot sustain them both, and they're quickly running out of time.

But Renée has in her possession a legendary chest said to contain the secret to eternal life-if only they could solve the clues that lie within it. With both the Liberum, a Brotherhood of the Undead, and a team of Monitors, led by Renée's own grandfather, in hot pursuit, Renée and Dante must keep the chest safe or risk having it fall into the wrong hands.

With the help of a mysterious letter-writer called only Monsieur, Renée and Dante follow a series of clues that lead them on a treacherous journey across Europe. They seek the Netherworld, a legendary chasm where souls go to be cleansed. It's their only chance at a fresh start, but with it comes a terrible choice, one they never imagined they would be forced to make.

The third novel in the acclaimed Dead Beautiful series is a haunting story of sacrifice, loyalty, and a love that can never die

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

A few years ago I picked up Dead Beautiful without knowing too much about it, and I didn’t have the best experience with it. But something told me to push through and try the second one, and I ended up finding two books that I really enjoyed. Both Life Eternal and Love Reborn turned into unique and entertaining reads that I’m so glad I got the chance to read. I’ve been on a mission since the start of the year to continue or finish as many series as I possibly can, and the time finally came to say goodbye to Renée, Dante and Co. It was a very bittersweet ending, but I thought it made sense considering all the build-up in the previous books. The mystery elements were tied up really well, and I loved the journey the characters took across Europe. My only criticisms would be it felt a little too neat, and the last chapter… umm, that’s all we get?! I can’t help wanting to see a little more of the aftermath… but overall, I’m quite satisfied with how it ultimately concluded.

4 Stars Really Liked

Fallen by Lauren Kate book cover

Title: Fallen
Author: Lauren Kate
Series: Fallen, #1
Format: Paperback, bought
My rating: DNF

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What if the person you were meant to be with could never be yours?

17-year-old Lucinda falls in love with a gorgeous, intelligent boy, Daniel, at her new school, the grim, foreboding Sword & Cross . . . only to find out that Daniel is a fallen angel, and that they have spent lifetimes finding and losing one another as good & evil forces plot to keep them apart.

Get ready to fall . . .

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

DNF @ page 104.

Sometimes you just know a book will stretch your patience to breaking point even when you’ve only read a handful of pages. I’m sorry, I just can’t do it. I bought Fallen on a whim several years ago but for some reason the right moment to read it never cropped up. Well, a few months ago I took a chance on it and it confirmed something I’d been suspicious of when I read Teardrop: I don’t like Lauren Kate’s writing style. It comes across as being incomplete – I know that sounds so weird, but it’s the only way I can describe it. Cam was the only potentially interesting thing I encountered in the hundred odd pages I read, but it wasn’t enough to justify investing in a series where I disliked everything else.

DNF Did Not Finish

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Book Series I’ve Completed this Year... and Others I've Abandoned

Book Series I’ve Completed this Year... and Others I've Abandoned

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to have as pressure-free reading year as I possibly could, and since I hadn’t signed up to any official reading challenges, back in February I challenged myself to try and catch up with or finish as many series as I possibly could. I’ve sort of kept to my original list… but there were a few changes.

Series I've completed in 2016

Book Series I’ve Completed this Year... and Others I've Abandoned

Tunnel Vision Duology by Susan Adrian

The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Hex Hall Trilogy by Rachel Hawkins

Dead Beautiful Trilogy by Yvonne Woon

Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

So far, I’ve completed six series. (Wooo!) But, only four of these series were on my list at the beginning of the year. I’m not sure how I feel about this, to be perfectly honest! I thought I’d done a little better with sticking to my plans, but I’m so glad I’ve got four series that’s been haunting me for a while completed.

Since February I have found out the His Fair Assassin series is getting two more books, so, technically I can't finish that series until 2019 even though I do own Mortal Heart. I plan on continuing with both the Infernal Devices and Mortal Instruments series soon. I own both Clockwork Prince and City of Lost Souls, so I hope to read both of those by the end of the year even if I don’t get around to completing each series just yet.

The Vampire Academy series on the other hand, well, I'm debating whether to continue on or to abandon it. I loved the first book, but the second wasn't anywhere near as enjoyable. I bought the third book, Shadow Kiss, recently so I'll probably give it a go and see how I feel about the series then. I’m conflicted. It’s really hard to justify investing the time to read a six book series when I’m not completely in love with it, ya know? If you’ve read the series, do you think it’s worth continuing?

Series I've Decided to Abandon

Speaking of investing time in books, while I was on a blogging break I went through all the series I’m currently in the middle of reading and I’ve started 45 series that I actively want to finish. That’s… an awful lot of books. So, I think I need to become a bit more heartless regarding whether I want to continue a series I feel conflicted about or to just cut ties and move on.

Now, I’ve decided to abandon a few VERY popular series and it might anger some people. I just want to say that these are my feelings, opinions and the reasons why I’m unwilling to invest time (and money) on something that isn’t making me happy. Please, please respect this. Okay *deep breaths* Here we go!

Book Series I’ve Completed this Year... and Others I've Abandoned

Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie - I should have listened to all the reviews for Crossed and Reached. But, oh no, my stubborn curiosity got the better of me and I had to try Crossed. There's only so much lovey-dovey pining and moping I can take before my nausea reflex kicks in.

Morganville Vampires Series by Rachel Caine - For some weird reason after I had finished reading Carpe Corpus (book six) I felt like the series was complete. It's definitely not: there are nine more books after this one, but I felt like it was a good time to step away. I was happy with the ending, and I thought walking away on a happy note would be good idea.

Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas - As many of you may know, I didn’t like Queen of Shadows. At all! I had been back and forth on whether to continue the series for the entire year up until Empire of Storms was released. Since I love Chaol Westfall with all my heart, I was on the verge of convincing myself to read the book just to see what he was up to. You can see where this is going…. I'm sure the entire world has seen the spoilers at this stage, but if you haven't, don't highlight the following text! --- I’m all for series changing and developing, as they rightly should. However, when the first half of a series doesn’t match the second half of the same series, there’s a SERIOUS consistency issue. I was here to read the story of the Crown Prince of Adarlan, the Captain of the Guard, and Adarlan’s best assassin. That was the story I invested my time and money in. But now it’s morphed into the fae version of The Blackdagger Brotherhood series, where abusive alpha assholes abound. It’s been obvious for quite a few books now that Chaol is the scapegoat for everything negative that has ever happened to anyone in the series. With regards to QoS and EoS, when I saw a certain little novella announced, I began to worry. I’ll support change that makes logical sense, but when a main character receives a personality transplant for no reason, gets his past rewritten mid-series, is shoved aside for the sake of a ship and is quite literally crippled at the end of one book, and then is written out of the next book only to get his own novella like someone is throwing crumbs to a starving crowd... ooh you have no idea how angry this makes me. I can’t justify reading, supporting or spending money on the rest of the series in a situation like this. I can’t. --- I'm sorry, but you've also used up all my reserves of patience. I’m done.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J. Maas - I was drawn to this series because it was advertised as a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a little bit of Tamlin woven in. When I saw lots of talk of the second book morphing into a Persephone and Hades retelling I had MAJOR reservations. I will always adore Sarah J. Maas as a person. But, as an author, my trust in her books has been severely and irreparably damaged. I’m unwilling to put myself through a scenario of Chaol 2.0, and I’m walking away from this series before history repeats itself. Sometimes you have to face up to the reality that a once favourite author doesn’t hold the same magic anymore, and sadly, you have to move on with a heavy heart.

*Sigh* I really hate leaving series unfinished as I love seeing the same characters grow and evolve over multiple books, but sometimes you just have to let go. It’s at times like this I wish I could escape my addiction to series. Standalones are starting to sounding extremely appealing! Which do you prefer: series or standalones? Or do you like both equally? Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Review: Partials by Dan Wells

Partials by Dan Wells book cover

Title: Partials
Author: Dan Wells
Series: Partials Sequence, #1
Format: Paperback, bought
My rating: 1 / 5

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Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. But sixteen-year-old Kira is determined to find a solution. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that that the survival of both humans and Partials rests in her attempts to answer questions about the war's origin that she never knew to ask.

Playing on our curiosity of and fascination with the complete collapse of civilization, Partials is, at its heart, a story of survival, one that explores the individual narratives and complex relationships of those left behind, both humans and Partials alike—and of the way in which the concept of what is right and wrong in this world is greatly dependent on one's own point of view.

-- As seen on Goodreads

My Thoughts

Ahh, Partials, what a disaster you turned out to be. When future-me looks back on this book I can imagine I’ll be classing it amongst some of my most hated books – and I only read 251 pages before I began skim reading to see if things improved. They didn’t. Maybe I missed some of the finer details, but there wasn’t anything that grabbed my attention to make me regret skimming on ahead. Let me explain my hatred. *Cracks knuckles*

Whenever I read a dystopian book, it’s inevitable I’ll compare it to The Hunger Games. Those books are pretty much a blueprint to everything I love about the dystopian genre, and everything I crave to experience when I pick up a dystopian book: fast pace; action packed; a real sense of risk; a bond with the characters; awesome writing etc. They’re my benchmark. Yes, it’s a bit unfair, but it’s how I subconsciously as well as consciously compare how I liked a book overall.

Here’s the thing: Partials is too slow. Slow, slow, slow. I don’t mind a slower pace if there’s an equal amount of heart stopping action popping up throughout the story. The glaring problem I had was that nothing happened. In my copy, on page 158 it says: “but nothing happened” and also on 159 it says “but nothing happened”. Why in the world would you even bother writing an action sequence where, quite literally, nothing happens?! The characters didn't do anything beyond talking to each other for dozens of pages at a time, walking through abandoned streets, or riding horse-drawn carts down even more abandoned streets. It’s tedious. For all the warning we get of how terrible The Voice is, and how lethal and horrible the Partials are, honestly, they didn’t seem very threatening in the grand scheme of things.

I haven’t a clue where this impression came from but I thought Paritals was going to be a zombie book. I was expecting hoards of the undead coming to eat every brain in sight and eradicate every glimmer of humanity left in the world. Colour me surprised when I began reading to discover a breeding programme that every woman is forced to participate in. *Grinds teeth* I’ll be honest here, if I had known about this going into the book, I wouldn’t have read it. Forcing pregnancy on anyone is something that’s guaranteed to unleash my inner fire breathing bitch queen. Ohh, I could just imagine someone coming up to me and telling me it was my responsibility, by some bloody proclamation, that I had to pop out a baby once a year as long as my fertility lasted. Honestly, the expression on my face alone would probably cause the coward to run away in fear, and that would be the sensible thing to do. Oh my good grief, heads would ROLL.

Also, the subtle layer of sexism throughout what I read infuriated me even more. I’m not sure if it’s accidental or intentional, but either way, I have some huge issues with ‘traditionally female activities’ being sneered at or classed as lesser. It doesn’t sit well with me on ANY level, and it makes it even worse when the female main character reinforces these themes. Overall it left me feeling very uncomfortable, and angry.

And speaking of the characters, quite frankly, they were unbearable. Kira was the biggest pain in the arse I’ve ever come across in YA. She’s sixteen, yet she acts like she’s freaking forty-six! And, of course, a sixteen year old will be the one to suggest a new avenue of study to enlighten poor little humanity on how to save itself. Feck all the people that were in the field studying for decades before the Break – they haven’t a clue! But the sixteen year old INTERN with TWO YEARS of study is smarter than the lot of ya. Sorry, I can’t buy this. We’re given the excuse that she’s supposed to be some sort of medical/biological genius. After two years of schooling! *Sigh*, I can’t take this stupidity.

Something else that hindered my suspension of disbelief: the book is set 60 years in the future. ONLY 60 YEARS! Since verbal traditions have been passed down through thousands of years – not to mention that buildings can last in various stages of abandonment for hundreds of years – it makes no sense to me whatsoever that they don’t know what an ice-rink or a weather station is. Or where the State of Georgia was located!! If we’re two, three or four hundred years in the future, then maybe I could try and accept it, but not sixty!

Add in endless info-dumping, stagnant writing and not enough action to stem off the boredom, and there was a never going to be a doubt about my overall feelings toward the book. In short, it was slow, boring, dull and pointless – and that was just the characters. The plot and pacing was even worse. Honestly, you won’t be missing anything if you skip reading Partials.

1 Star I Hated It

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

I Know You're Fictional, But I'd Name My Children After You

As tempted as I would be to name a child Voldemort just to see if people would run away in fear, I’m going to leave my evil sense of humour out of this list and keep things semi-realistic. I have included eight names on this list, and being honest, the odds of me having EIGHT children is non-existent – I mean, convincing me to have one would be an achievement in itself, never mind eight! But, hey, at least lots of naming choices never hurt anyone, right?!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme run by The Broke and the Bookish.

ClaraThe Unearthly Trilogy by Cynthia Hand – I loved Clara’s character throughout the Unearthly trilogy but I feel I don’t include her in favourites-type lists often enough. So, I shall hypothetically name a child after her! Fair trade, I think?

SylvainThe Night School Series by C.J. Daugherty – Okay, this might depend on whether the father is French. So, hello hypothetical French future father of a child of mine, I hope you like the name Sylvain.

NinaSix of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo – Okay, I was really tempted to choose Kaz… but let’s be honest here, the thoughts of having a spawn of yours start to emulate his namesake – and that namesake just happens to be KAZ BREKKER – well, that slightly terrifies me, so, we’ll go with Nina. Also, I adore her so it’s a very easy decision.

TobiasThe Animorphs Series by K.A. Applegate - Way back in the day when I read the Animorphs series I made the decision if I ever had a son, he’d be named after Tobias. Funnily enough I still like the name, so in honour of 13-year-old-past-me, Tobias makes this list.

KadenThe Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson – Speaking of emulating namesakes... Oh well, I adore the name Kaden way too much so I’ll take the chance!

ChaolThrone of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas – I can’t resist, I have to include Chaol’s name. Well, I’d hope a real version would be treated a little better than the fictional version was… just sayin’.

KelseaThe Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – I can’t really put my finger on exactly why I love the name Kelsea so much, but if I had a daughter named after Kelsea Glynn and she started emulating her, I’d actually be very proud!

Kami - The Lynburn Legacy Trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan - To me, Kami is a very underrated YA heroine. I loved her personality and individuality when I read the trilogy last year, and everything I said about Kelsea above I'll echo here.

Just looking back over this list I seem to have a strange affinity for names beginning with C and K. Huh. I have a feeling I'll be a bit paranoid over this for a while! What are some of your favourite character names? Do we share any favourites?

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

So, It's Been a While...

Hi! Hello! How've ya been? So, it's been quite a while. You may (or may not) have noticed that I disappeared for a while. About that, well, when I came back from the US at the end of April I started back blogging as normal, but I began to feel sick. I casually mentioned it on Instagram, and when I wasn't getting better I decided to take a week to ten days off to rest up, get healthy again and maybe catch up and schedule some posts so I could be a little less stressed in the long run. One week lead to another without writing anything, then fast forward to October and here we are…

I've written three versions of this post. Once in June. Then again in both August and September. Honestly, I spent most of this time debating whether to come back at all. Each time I was about to post I would chicken out because I felt extremely guilty and embarrassed. And the more time that went by, the worse I felt. I did the one thing I said I'd never do: disappear without a proper explanation. For that, I'm very sorry. No excuses. It's all on me.

To everyone that's stuck around, thank you. Those words aren't not enough, I know that, but nothing else covers what I want to say other than thank you.

So, Alma, what have you been doing with your new-found freedom? Well, I'd love to sit here and ramble off a list of humanity-benefitting and life-long wishes that I accomplished, but honestly I just RELAXED. You don't realise how much stress blogging dishes out until it's removed. I played PC games I haven't played in years. I baked. And between both the Euro's and the Olympics, my TV time was well spent in couch-potato sports watching bliss. Then add Pokemon Go to the mix and my couch-potato ways got a sudden but much needed shake up. Yep, I'm a complete Pokemon nerd, and if I had this back in the '90s when the anime was everywhere… wow, I'd have been in heaven. Plus, my dog doesn't seem to mind the extra walks and exploring, so win/win!

I've been trying for a blogging/life balance for the longest time, and with taking a really long and unexpected break I'm determined to achieve it this time. I'm the kind of person that tends to pour all my energy into a project until it's either finished or I burn out, and I know this attitude isn't healthy. So, I'm going to try and change it. My blogging schedule might be a bit unpredictable from here on out, but I want to balance the freedom of life outside blogging with the bookish community that I missed while I was away. So, that's about it, and hopefully I'll be back to blogging as normal over the coming weeks. Thanks for sticking around!


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