Category Archives: Book Reviews

Awakening: Bloodline by Tiera Rice

Awakening: Bloodline by Tiera Rice

 Awakening: Bloodline
by Tiera Rice

Antanasia knows better than anyone that being royal comes with lots of expectations. Born into war as a Vampyre Witch, she has to battle the ultimate enemy: her own blood. When she has a terrifying Vision, Antanasia fights harder than ever to prevent it from coming to pass. Will she succeed? Or does she die trying?

Nadia is an average teenager celebrating her nineteenth birthday. But her day turns upside down when she starts developing unusual abilities that make her question everything she knew. Searching for answers to her predicament, she finds herself trusting Nicolae, a stranger with a familiar presence. Why does she feel so drawn to him? Will Nadia find answers to the questions about her past and take on her new role willingly? Or will she choose to remain in the dark and deny her destiny?

Book One of the Bloodline series

Rated: ★½
Publisher: Eula Rae Printing & Publishing
Publication: October 12, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Vampires
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Awakening: Bloodline by Tiera Rice

As an aficionado of vampire fiction, I was really excited to pick up Awakening: Bloodline by Tiera Rice.  Beautiful cover, intriguing synopsis, destiny and romance, all the markings of a great YA paranormal book! But, they all fell a little flat for me. I was disappointed and left expecting and wanting more.

Now, as I’m not Rroma, my review will not be touching upon whether this was culturally acceptable, or whether the speech was fluid and made sense (I wish someone that was Rroma could take a look at it though). I will say, the parts that were full of Romani just distracted from the work. I understand Rice’s intent in wanting it to sound genuine, but honestly, I just glossed over all of it and thought okay, I guess this is a thing, which is funny because that was the extent of it. There was no huge emphasis on Nadia’s culture, not that there should be, it’s just if you’re going to make it a point to have her mother be extra Rroma and speak a mix of Romani and English, then I’d feel like there should be more to it. I mean, my own family will speak Spanglish, even though my mother has been in America for over thirty years, and she still has some very Latinx way of thinking and concerns. Nadia’s mother didn’t seem to exhibit any of those cultural nuances, which was disappointing and just left the influx of Romani words feeling awkward.

BUT, let’s move away from that since I’m not Rroma and therefore not really qualified to continue critiquing that. Let’s get to the things I can talk about. Nadia’s mother took a potion, knew what was going to happen, and then was surprised and angry when it did. I understand Rice is trying to go with the typical YA trope of having parents do something and not realize the consequences until it comes to fruition. However, it just annoyed me. She knew what was going to happen to her daughter and selfishly refused to prepare her for it, refused to even tell her what was going on. Knowing that keeping her daughter ignorant would put everyone in danger. Then, there’s Nadia who vacillates between understanding what’s going on and accepting it, to freaking out. She’s 19 but behaves like a 14 year old. She simply never feels real.

So, if I had all of these issues, why 2.5? Because Rice saves it with Antanasia and Nicolae. Antanasia’s story was exciting, riveting, and well constructed. Those were the parts I wanted to read more about. Antanasia is well-fleshed, and her romance with Nic is solid and real. The half of the novel that takes place in the past is well-paced and well written. All of the characters feel real and worthy of interest, which makes me wonder where the disconnect happened for Rice. Through Antanasia and Nic, we can see that she knows how to write great characters, but for some reason, it gets lost when we move to Nadia and friends.

Honestly, I’m not sure if I would pick up the sequel to Awakening: Bloodline by Tiera Rice. I want to know more about Antanasia, I want her to come back, I want to see more of Nic, but I don’t know if I’ll have the patience for Nadia. This one is a toss-up that you guys are gonna have to decide on your own if half a good book makes the whole worth it.

White Rabbit Society 2

White Rabbit Society pt2 by Brendan Detzner

 White Rabbit Society pt2
by Brendan Detzner

White Rabbit Society Part Two completes the story that started in White Rabbit Society Part One. Four years have passed. With a lot a of luck and at great personal cost, Andrew has managed to not get killed. He’s a magician now, for better or worse. He’s knowledgeable, confident, and also ambitious, which may be the biggest danger he’s had to face yet. Because there are scarier things out there than a teenager with a little magic and a chip on his shoulder, and Andrew’s heading right for them.

Rated: ★★★½
Publisher: Attack Rabbit Press
Publication: February 02, 2017
Genre: Magic realism, Urban fantasy, paranormal
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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White Rabbit Society pt2 by Brendan Detzner

An AMAZING follow-up, White Rabbit Society pt2 by Brendan Detzner takes readers on an emotional ride, culminating in an ending that satisfies. This honestly is one of the best follow-ups I have read in a while. It continues a great, original story, and keeps its characters true to themselves. White Rabbit Society, both parts 1 and 2, make me sad that there aren’t more books in this sort of gritty magic realism genre (UNLESS there are, and if so, please point me to them ALL).

Detzner is great at using his words concisely, which only serves to maximize the impact of the situation at hand. You are never bogged down by descriptions, nor do you find yourself lost in an amorphous world. Everything is tethered to and dependent on the characters, all of whom progress in arcs that feel natural and appropriate, both for the world and the characters themselves. Time passes between the first and second book and we see Andrew, and Josh, mature into young adults wildly different from one another. Yet, they both age as you’d expect them to. Andrew, independent, strong, loyal, conscientious. Josh, power hungry, loyal to a point, wild.

With quick and steady pacing, fantastic character development, and a world-ending plot, White Rabbit Society pt2 by Brendan Detzner is a great sequel and ending to an amazing story. Definitely pick up both halves and enjoy this gem!

Wintersong by S Jae Jones

Wintersong by S Jae Jones

 Wintersong
by S Jae Jones

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Rated: ★★½
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Book
Publication: February 7, 2017
Genre: Fairytale, Retelling
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Wintersong by S Jae Jones

I can honestly say I don’t know how to feel about this, other than I feel strongly. Wintersong by S Jae Jones is beautiful, with grand, sweeping descriptions that envelope the reader in a faerie new world. But it is also not enough at times. There are characters you come to love and grieve for, and others you grow to tolerate. It definitely bears the marking of an author trying to strike the right balance between all of the different elements needed to make a story truly amazing.

Jumping off of Christina Rossetti’s AMAZING Goblin Market poem, Jae Jones sets the bar high for her debut novel, perhaps unfairly so as it sets the readers aspirations aloft. You get a feeling that there’s danger and villainy abound. Yet, it never really feels that way, which was fine by me as I loved the Goblin King we did receive. But it sets up the expectation that things will be visceral, guttural, almost an assault upon the senses, yet still controlled and melodic. Instead, the senses are dulled, most probably because this is meant for a YA audience, therefore the mature scenes are skipped over or kept to a minimum, which is truly a shame because Jae Jones excelled at the small snippets that were there.

Jae Jones also does melancholic longing amazingly well. The prologue, aka Overture, broke my heart and it was just the short tiny prologue. She immediately is able to convey the dynamic between Liesl and the Goblin King, as well as their entire history and everything that would ever be. If the prologue were made into a book, I’m pretty sure it would destroy me. Yet, we jump in at the tail end of a romance with a character that is almost unrecognizable from the prologue.

And that’s where my main problem lies. What knocks the book down from what would otherwise have been an easy 5 stars, to 3 and a half. Liesl is so unbearably plain and passionless that it’s hard to care for her. She seems to lack a personality outside of music, outside of what she can do for others. This isn’t something that is remedied, even by the end of the book. I understand different heroines for different readers, but she just didn’t do it for me. She was too meek, too unlike the girl from the Overture. I can understand that life and responsibilities may have dulled her spark, but even while beside the Goblin King, she never truly seems to recover.

The Goblin King, on the other hand, is an amazing character that shines in all regards. He is well rounded, as light and fun as he is broody and melancholic. Compassionate and giving as he is cruel. Handsome and loving, readers love him before they even know him, which makes his pairing beside Liesl so uncomfortable for me.

Now, the reason I am overwhelmed with emotion, though which emotion I know not? THAT ENDING! It was expected and unexpected at once and just really makes you realize things about life and love and I want to talk more about it but spoilers and 🙁

Wintersong by S Jae Jones is a tremendous debut novel that has some real strengths. Even with the stumbles, it leaves you feeling emotional and way too invested. With a bit more direction and time on character progression in the future, Jae Jones is well on her way to becoming a five-star author, whether she chooses to remain in YA or delve out.

Quotes & Excerpts

“Lonely, yes. But does the king serve the crown, or the crown serve the king?”
– The Ugly Truth

About the Author

S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and the author of Wintersong, forthcoming from Thomas Dunne in February 2017.
Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for ten years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.
Wishful Endings – Review 
Storybook Slayers – Review 
 
 
Literary Meanderings – Interview
 
 
The YA’s Nightstand – Guest Post 
YA Obsessed – Review
 
 
Ink of Blood – Review 
Roadside Reader – Review 
A Reading Nurse – Review 
 
Gilded Cage by Vic James

Gilded Cage by Vic James

 Gilded Cage
by Vic James

Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Publication: February 14, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Gilded Cage by Vic James

All I can say is I need the second book ASAP! Gilded Cage by Vic James is an impressive first look into a new, grim world that feels oddly familiar and appropriate given the current state of affairs in the world. Society is broken up into the haves and the have-nots, as those with special powers they were born with (and are acquired through inherited birth by a few it seems) are in control of Great Britain, while the plebs without power all must endure a ten year period of slavery.

Characters are intriguing, especially those that are Equal. There is so much intrigue and family politics that we just don’t know and it drives me crazy! Silyen, the youngest of the Parva-Jardine family is the one with the most Skill, yet, the aristocracy isn’t Skill/merit based. It’s still handed down to the first born. Which puts emotionally unstable Gavar as next in line to rule one of Britain’s founding Equal fathers. James does something incredibly interesting when it comes to Gavar. She sets up an initial prejudice for readers, automatically framing him as an antagonist. Yet, for the rest of the novel, we see more than just the monster James paints in the prologue. We see there is a struggle there; he is volatile, yes, but he is loving too. He is extreme, and yet it is the reserved Silyen who gives off an air of detachment to everyone and everything, that proves to be the extremist. He is the one with the long game, though no one knows what it is, including readers.

There is a sense of heavy worldbuilding here as Vic James mentions how different parts of the world are split up between Equals and commoners. America split in two, an obvious nod to the Civil War, but also the current heavy rift in society and culture. Britain itself remains aristocratic and parliamentary, but it has become more of a joke, as those with the most power tend to be the most in charge; physical displays of Skill taking command. We also get a heavy sense of history behind everything, giving the world a gravity that draws you in.

I could talk about Gilded Cage by Vic James for hours. There are so many layers masterfully intertwined in a book that still remains firmly YA. Strong characters and solid worldbuilding make the political themes of the book flourish, giving readers a desire to make changes in their own world after seeing the inconsistencies and cruelties that are allowed to exist to the benefit of the empowered few.

Awaken by GR Thomas

Awaken by GR Thomas

 Awaken
by GR Thomas

SOME PEOPLE AREN’T DESTINED TO BE ORDINARY.
With a special gift held close to her heart, it was always going to be hard for Sophia Woodville to live an ordinary life.
As a 20 year old nursing grad, she thought she had her future all sorted.
However, destiny was about to intervene.
Her secret was not so secret. The gift she possessed was just a hint of something far beyond her wildest imagination.
Sophia will be pulled, kicking and screaming, into an unseen, ancient world that challenges all that she thought to be true of herself, her family and the origins of humanity.
Original sin, forbidden love and her life in constant danger.
Will Sophia survive this dark twist of fate?
Will the devil be her saviour?
Will an Angel be her downfall?

Book 1 of the A’vean Chronicles

Rated: ★½
Publication: October 21, 2015
Genre: Angels, Fantasy
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Awaken by GR Thomas

A great synopsis and a stunning cover had me drooling over Awaken by GR Thomas. Unfortunately, the reality was a bit more stark. There’s a good story there and solid characters, but the delivery leaves a lot to be desired. I think this might be Thomas’ first book and the nerves show.

There needed to be a better balance of show and tell. Unlike the faults I find with other books that simply tell, tell, tell, Thomas shows. She shows almost too much. Every minute detail is written about and shown. Whereas another story might make better use of the time to write a paragraph explaining how the protagonist spent a month training, Thomas instead actually chooses to stay with the protagonist that entire month showing the training every day (just an example). The stretch between action and inaction is too drawn out.

As I said though, the story is solid, as are the characters. The idea of an earth born angel sent to be the salvation of the watchers and nephilim is a good one. As is the backstory that starts the book off. Nik’ael is a great character and his angst should have propelled the story forward. Sophia’s innocence and desire to help/do good should have provided the conflict. Yet, the times I felt the push and pull was far and few between.

I’m sure plenty of people love this book and you might as well. Perhaps I’m simply being picky, and that could definitely be it. However, Awaken by GR Thomas simply did not engross me as it should have. The excessive day to day to day to day exposition of things that could have been summed up more succinctly brought me out of the struggle and conflict, leaving me wanting more.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

I grew up in Melbourne, Australia in the 1970’s when entertainment came in the form of sport or a good book. I chose both. An avid love affair with my pinto horse ensued as well as a healthy diet of any book I could get my hands on. English and history were always my favourite subjects so logically I studied to become a Critical Care Nurse! Books, particularly historical fantasy, have remained my number one go to for a healthy retreat from the craziness of the real world. After having a beautiful family and bringing a wonderful nursing career to a close, I finally took the time to write down one of the many stories that have been swirling around in my dreams for years. My dreamscape is rich with fantasy that both inspires and frightens me at the same time. I am pulling out those threads and spinning them into the type of stories I love to read. I’m finally letting out all my angels and demons.

The Perfect Tear by Connie Lansberg

The Perfect Tear by Connie Lansberg

 The Perfect Tear
by Connie Lansberg

Eleanor is a singer. Her songs keep nature in balance, but when they are stolen from her, a grey mist descends and her world fails to thrive. This timid orphan is thrust into a course of action she never asked for, nor envisioned. Set against a backdrop of abandonment, loss and betrayal, she must find her way through strange and dangerous landscapes in her desperate search for the Perfect Tear, a dark crystal which holds the future of her world. But, Eleanor is no savior. She is a simple girl with strong instincts and she must learn to trust them. Just like the notes of song must connect to create a melody, Eleanor must discover the connections needed to create the harmony required to truly save her world.

Rated: ★★
Publisher: Shooting For Success LLC
Publication:  December 15, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Coming-of-Age, Young Adult
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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The Perfect Tear by Connie Lansberg

A world created by song with divine beings described as frequencies, this is the universe in The Perfect Tear by Connie Lansberg. It feels a tad bit more sci-fi than fantasy, simply because of the frequency and experiment premise, also the lack of traditional fantasy staples such as fantastic creatures. Still, it’s an entertaining and original story.

Lansberg does a superb job of having readers connect with Eleanor (and Bella, my fave) by having the reader glimpse into her entire life. We see the troubled birth, the blessed and cursed childhood, and then a young girl’s heart’s desire before finally seeing her mature into adulthood and come into her trials. So when she has to undergo her journey, we’re with her and feel for what she goes through.

I wish the romance was explored more, since what little we saw of it made me think it was a great one. I mean hello, a prince was willing to throw away his title and family for this poor orphan girl! Who wouldn’t want to know more, see more of their struggle? But, I understand that this was not a romance. Eleanor has a task at hand that is much more serious than love. She needs to save the world from the unbalance one overzealous frequency has caused.

Sadly, I have to admit that Lansberg stretches herself a bit too thinly when she adds an extra adventurer to the mix of Eleanor and Audrey. Rosamar doesn’t seem needed and distracts from the scenes with her bad Spanish (I’m a native Spanish speaker, so some of those lines were just cringey). If she had a greater role or purpose, perhaps in a longer book, I would have been okay with it. But for the length we have, she was just pointless.

The Perfect Tear by Connie Lansberg is an enjoyable fantasy novel that is a pretty easy read and fairly light, for all its dark tones. It’s a good intro book into fantasy for teens I’d say that want to start slow.

Race Against the Dark by Jennifer Amriss

Race Against the Dark by Jennifer Amriss

Race Against the Dark
by Jennifer Amriss

Plagued by visions of poison green eyes, the name Ka’lei, and strange singing, Haylie knows she’s crazy. When she finds herself in the elf world, everything she thinks she knows gets blown away. Now, she’s a changeling come home, and her name really is Ka’lei.

Thrust into a battle of wills, Ka’lei struggles against the elfin Council to prove her adulthood and fight for the right to love whoever she chooses. Her birth mother’s attempt to kill her during the Council meeting then throws her straight into her ancestor’s ancient plot to destroy everything.

Looking exactly like her psycho ancestor, Ka’lei must get past her friends’ fears and somehow rally dubious allies for a race against the Dark. She battles not just to save two worlds. She fights to protect those she loves, and somehow hold onto the only place where she ever felt sane.

Kings of Kal’brath series book 1

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Magelight Press
Publication: February 28, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Race Against the Dark by Jennifer Amriss

This left me absolutely breathless! Possibly because I read it from start to finish in under four hours because Wow, was I sucked in! Race Against the Dark by Jennifer Amriss is an amazing intro to a wonderful new fantasy world full of magic and elves. Characters are all well-defined, pacing quick and steady, world rich and developed, there was simply so much to love!

The very beginning is interesting, leading readers to believe the romance will go down one route before quickly changing paths. And you know what? It went down the right path! There’s never any sadness that things didn’t work out on the reader’s behalf because things just click so well. I mean, there is one other match I would have loved for Ka’lei, but it came too late and would have created too much drama (which I would have LIVED for) and been too tragic (which I still would have loved). Each of the characters are clearly complete and complex characters that stand up in their own light. From the brooding tough man Morough, almost as morose as his name, to my beloved Tovran that is quick witted and absolutely great in general, to Ka’lei who is naive, innocent, but strong and stubborn. All have their own traits and their own stories, their own purposes. Albeit, Ka’lei’s immaturity does get a bit annoying at times, from her constantly calling Morough his pet name Momo, to calling his father Papa because his name is “too long.” Still, it’s a breath of fresh air to have a protagonist worry about real life things (such as her beloved cat) when being whisked away to another life.

The pacing is steady, but quick. We go from a car accident, to a new world, to fighting, to romance. Still, it isn’t so fast that you get confused or are unable to keep up. Amriss does a tremendous job of staying the action with cute personal moments that still tie into the main trajectory of the plot. The world felt developed, but we don’t get to see too much of it due to the action. The bits we do get are interesting and definitely left me wanting to know more. Hopefully the next two books will touch more upon the world.

Also, the sex is hot. Yup, there’s sex so rated MA for mature.

Race Against the Dark by Jennifer Amriss is a fantastic fantasy novel with rich characters, steady pacing, and steamy, sexy romance. Definitely a great first look at a sultry new fantasy series.

 

Eye of the Storm by Frank Cavallo

Eye of the Storm by Frank Cavallo

 Eye of the Storm
by Frank Cavallo

On a research mission in one of the most remote regions of the world, former Navy SEAL Eric Slade and Dr. Anna Fayne are caught in a mysterious storm. Catapulted through a rift in space-time, they are marooned on a lost world.

Struggling to survive and desperate to find a way home, they must confront the dangers of this savage land—a dark wizard and his army of undead—a warrior queen and her horde of fierce Neanderthals that stands against him—and a legendary treasure with the power to open the gateway between worlds, or to destroy them all: the Eye of the Storm.

Rated: 
Publisher: Dark Serpent/Ravenswood Publishing
Publication: August 10, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-fi
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Eye of the Storm by Frank Cavallo

I absolutely love the idea of Eye of the Storm. With space-time travel, ancient cultures, warrior queens and dark sorcerers, the synopsis alone was enough to draw me in. It seems like a mix of everything I love to read, so what could go wrong, right?

Unfortunately, while the idea is excellent the execution left a lot to be desired. I’m all for good world building, but a story cannot move forward on world building alone. You have to find some sort of balance between the world you’re showing the reader and the characters that drive your story. Most of the time it felt as though Cavallo was too busy trying to fit as of this world he created into the book and let his characters and the story itself definitely suffered for it. A lot of the time I was just plain confused, there was far too much going on and I never really got a good grasp on the universe itself. I thought I had, but then all of the sudden a random cyborg burst in and frankly at that point, my brain gave up on trying to understand seeing as nothing about the way the world worked up to that point had ever indicated that cyborgs were a thing, seeing as until then the world had been influenced on magic and magic alone.

And if the rules of the world were bad, the characters where definitely worse. Even after finishing the book, I could not possibly tell you what motivated any one of the characters, why they were the way they were or why they made the choices they did. The author spent far too much time on describing the environment in excruciating detail, from the smallest brick in a building to how the light falls in the area surrounding it and not nearly enough on developing the characters. The most significant character development even happened off page during a one year time lapse!!! I’ll be honest, when I read the one sentence that basically amounted to “it is now one year later” and realised just how much the characters were supposed to have developed during that time I nearly put the book down for good, especially when immediately after the author went into a three paragraph, excruciatingly detailed description of what the character was now wearing.

After finishing this book I was left terribly disappointed. It had so much potential and I was so ready to love it but unfortunately it just not live up to expectations.