Tag Archives: YA

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.

Chemistry by CL Lynch

Chemistry by CL Lynch

 Chemistry
by CL Lynch

Stella Blunt’s world is ending. Her parents have dragged her across the country, and she has to start over in a new school. This is a big problem, because she doesn’t make friends easily: she’s large, she’s loud, and she doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Within days, Stella has alienated half the school.

Only one person seems to like her: Howard Mullins, the shy geek in her Chemistry class. He’s the biggest loser in school, but he’s a great listener, he’s smart at science, and he loves her for her mind. Then again, he drinks brains from a thermos and walks with a lurch.

Now undead hordes are showing up at her door, and Howard Mullins might be to blame.

Can Stella manage the bullies, figure out her complicated love life, AND handle a chainsaw?

Readers who are tired of traditional tropes and purple prose will enjoy this girl-power twist on Twilight from C. L. Lynch, who thinks big girls and zombies deserve love too.

Book 1 of the Stella Blunt series

Rated: ★★★★
Publisher: One Tall Tree
Publication: November 23, 2016
Genre: Zombies, YA, Urban Paranormal
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Chemistry by CL Lynch

This was an AMAZING book! I could not put it down. Chemistry by CL Lynch is everything Twilight should have been. It is funny, empowering, and still romantic. It is extremely telling how quickly I devoured it considering I absolutely hate anything zombies.

Lynch does a tremendous job keeping true to Twilight and keeping opposite. We have new student Stella Blunt who is large and in charge. This was so freaking great, to finally have a protagonist that can be good looking and large at the same time. Not curvy, large. She even makes jokes about it which endears her even more. Then, we have the actual realistic new student scenario where instead of being worshiped as Bella was, she is ostracized because really, who moves to a new school in the middle of the year just to be warmly welcomed by the student body when they never were at their old school?

The dynamic between Howard and Stella is fantastic. They joke about him being creepy and her warning him he better not watch her sleep, another great nod to Twilight. Howard is old fashioned, but apologizes for it and is awkward. He isn’t the suave brooder Edward was, which really, would someone that refuses to talk to the rest of the population actually be Mr Popularity?

Chemistry by CL Lynch reads much more true to life than Twilight. It’s funny and quirky with great pacing and an engaging storyline. Please, if you’ve read Twilight, do yourself a favor and pick this up. It is amazing!

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

 The Alchemists of Loom
by Elise Kova

Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

Book 1 of the Loom Saga

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Keymaster Press
Publication: January 10, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

Ariana had a bomb, three bullets, two refined daggers, a mental map of her heist, and a magic winch-box. All she waited for now was darkness.

Those first two sentences alone sucked me into The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova. This was such a great fantasy book reminiscent of Six of Crows and Red Queen. With amazing pacing that never lags, characters that feel whole and real, and a world that is completely unique and amazing, this is definitely a fantasy novel I can recommend to readers.

Kova does not coddle the reader, thrusting you immediately into her brand new world which is brilliant and devastating all at once. You pick up meanings, customs, divisions as you read, but even without knowing the specifics, you feel like the author knows exactly what she’s talking about. The world has depth to it and doesn’t need to be explicitly explained for you to understand.

The characters are great and well-rounded. Arianna is especially fantastic as a main character that is strong-willed, bold, cunning, and non-heteronormative! Cvareh the Dragon (not a Smaug dragon btw) is her counterpart, arrogant and brash, more reaction than planned action. The glue holding them together is timid Florence. The three form a tiny little kinship to visit the Alchemists of Loom, each having their own reasons which they don’t necessarily share completely with the others.

If you’re looking for a new young adult fantasy that has solid grounding, an intricate plot, and characters that feel more like people than flat words on a page, please do yourselves a favor and pick up The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova. It is a great book that makes me want to pick up her previous books as I wait for the second in the series.

IF you pre-order the book and email proof, you can get some pretty nifty swag. More info on Kova’s website

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Quotes & Excerpts

Adulthood just meant finding the variety of crazy that resonated the most with you and doing it until you died or it killed you — whichever came first.
pg 177

But a soul driven by vengeance was a selfish soul. A soul driven by vision was a generous one — one that bore itself before others and put the needs of the many before the needs of the few.
pg 357

About the Author


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Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Air Awakens Series as well as the upcoming Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017).

Rise by Luis Almonte

Rise by Luis Almonte

 Rise
by Luis Almonte

Fifteen-year-old high school sophomore Alexia Wick is an ordinary girl, with extraordinary abilities. She attends the prestigious South Haven Academy for the Gifted and Talented, but unknown to the other students, she is an Alerium witch. The daughter of a High Priest and Priestess, Alexia must learn to navigate the pressures of high school, all while preparing for one of the biggest competitions of her life- the Annual Trials.

Skill, stamina, and loyalty will all be tested in Rise, the first installment of the Trifecta Series. In this debut contemporary fantasy novel, magic gets real as Alexia trains for the Annual Trials, which pits teen against teen, by focusing on her craft and pushing her magic and spell casting abilities to their absolute limit. When the handsome and confident Kaleb moves into town, he offers Alexia a welcome distraction from the Trials, but a dark secret could soon tear them apart.

In the trials arena, friendships will be put to the test, fears will be confronted head-on, and powerful spells will be unleashed. When Alexia is confronted with the ultimate game of chance, and is torn between her first real love and the allegiance that binds her to her coven, will she buckle under the weight of the pressure … or will she rise to the challenge?

Book 1 in the Trifecta series

Rated: ★★
Publisher: Theorem
Publication: August 27, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Paranormal, Witchy, Romance
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Rise by Luis Almonte

OMG WHAT A STORY! So, I was beyond confused at the start, not really caring for prologues that start at the end of the book. I was really worried that I had made a mistake picking up Rise by Luis Almonte. Then, the story switched to what happened before the prologue and just yessss! Read this in one sitting because it was that much fun!

Now, before you pick this up, do be aware that this is very much a young adult book. I don’t just mean it’s a book for young adults, I mean it reads like a book for teenagers, not like the other “young adult” books we might be used to that can sometimes pass for adult fiction (not the erotic kind). It’s cute and intense all at once.

Alexia is daughter to two of the most powerful witches in her coven and approaching her pre-trial, a time where young witches are given the chance to prove their prowess and finesse with the craft before moving onto Trials and then being recognized as an actual apprentice/student with potential. Of course, while this is all going on, she has school going on where her one-time bff no longer seems to be her friend, being from rival covens after all. Yet, there’s still the boy best friend from the rival coven, there for her. Almonte is great at side-stepping the potential one-sided romance here, shutting it down right after its implied to the reader. I loved that because we got the “angst” but without having it drawn out like it is in most YA books.

And the reason it gets shut down? Kaleb, yummm, the fantastic new student that’s also mysterious with his mysterious sister. I love him SO MUCH. Yes, the romance between him and Alexia is seemingly quick and sudden, but I didn’t care because I wanted it so badly. Then, we find out his secret (which I had already predicted woohoo) and it’s even better!

So, why three stars? I think mainly because it was fun, but it wasn’t the pinnacle of YA fiction. While it was fun, some parts were predictable and the writing was okay but not amazing. Still, Rise by Luis Almonte was extremely enjoyable and I would definitely pick up the second book in the series.

About the Author

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Author Luis Almonte is a writer and poet who resides in New York with his spouse, along with CJ, a Boston Bull Terrier, and Ralfy, a Siberian husky. Luis is an avid poker player, and enjoys traveling, cooking, reading, and spending quality time with family and friends.

Forget Me Not by Angela Parkhurst

Forget Me Not by Angela Parkhurst

Forget Me Not
by Angela Parkhurst

“I’ve never been to a ball or followed the yellow brick road, and I sure as hell never imagined myself living in a world of fairytale characters. Most of which want me dead. So when they come, because they will, I need to be ready.”

“And you think you could kill someone?”

“I know I could.”

When the academy in Nottingham burns down, sending in a new slew of fairytale classmates, Norah Hart comes face to face with new challenges, enemies and friendships. But the longer she is in this world, the more she realizes there is no getting out, leaving her with only one option–be prepared.

Book 2 in the Forgotten Fairytales series

Rated: ★★★½
Publisher: CreativeSpace Publishing
Publication: June 2016
Genre: YA, Fairytale, Retelling, Romance
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Forget Me Not by Angela Parkhurst

WOW! Did this book take me on a roller coaster of emotions or what! Forget Me Not by Angela Parkhurst is absolutely amazing and just continues to build on the amazing world she’s created in the first book, Forgotten Fairytales.

Norah is still reeling from the fall out over the events from the first book. Her sister still hates her, more now than ever. She has ptsd from dealing with Finn, who escaped any form of punishment for trying to kill her last year. To top all of that off, Cinderella’s on trial but likely to be acquitted for drugging Prince Charming and trying to kill her.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Norah now has to deal with failing classes and secrets that creep in between herself and Wolf, while a sexy newcomer arrives crushing on her. What I especially love about Forget Me Not is that, while there are many times it reminds you of just how much a teenager Norah is, Parkhurst never falls into that typical YA one love to rule them all trope, and that is amazing. Yes, Norah is in love with Wolf, but she also learns that she needs to love herself and put herself first.

Definitely want to say more about this (OMG THAT ENDING WHAAAAAAAAAAAT) but it’ll wait until the spoiler vlog this weekend!

This is actually a really great YA series that I wish would get more traction and popularity because the characters are so fantastic and the empowerment in them is great, especially in Forget Me Not by Angela Parkhurst.

 

Redemption by Jessica Therrien

Redemption by Jessica Therrien

Redemption
by Jessica Therrien

Lead Council member, Christoph, is dead by Elyse’s hand, and Descendants have begun to emerge, exposing their secret to the world. Some see this as the prophecy come to fruition, but the prophecy caries a heavy consequence. It was never meant to be as peaceful as most had hoped.

Humans and Descendants struggle to live together in a world that isn’t ready for such a change. America is divided. Those who glorify the supernatural race believe Descendants truly are the gods they claim relation to. Others see them as a threat.

When Elyse gives birth to the next generation oracle, she sees one final vision—war. The destruction of the country’s major cities, and the end of America as we know it.

After her daughter is born, Elyse finds herself without the ability she needs to predict the future. Desperate to save the world from such conflict, she puts her faith in the hope that Descendants are the key to survival. After all, they have the power to supply a broken society with the means to survive.

Only from the ashes can a new world be born.

Book 3 in the Children of the Gods series

Rated: ★★★½
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Publication: October 31, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Mythology
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Redemption by Jessica Therrien

The third, and final?, book in the Children of the Gods series, Redemption by Jessica Therrien is absolutely amazing! Best book of the series by far. Christoph is dead and Elyse thinks the prophecy fulfilled. Little does she know a new council rises and has its own plans for human/descendants integration.

The plot of book 3 is fantastic. It’s fast paced and heart wrenching and you keep hoping things aren’t as they seem but they are. There will always be casualties in war and things are no different here. Things happened in this book that I did not expect, that took my breath away and left me wondering what would happen next. I’ll talk about that in the spoiler vlog. This series has been amazing, more than I thought it would be. The characters are complex, well rounded, and grounded. The world is sound and makes sense. The plot and actual story kicks butt, giving you surprises but never feeling that they were undeserved or coming out of nowhere.

If you’ve read the first two, you are in for a damn treat with the third. If you haven’t read the series, why are you reading this review???? THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE FOR THE PREVIOUS BOOKS OBVIOUSLY! But still, go pick up the first book and you’ll love this YA series, especially Redemption by Jessica Therrien, the finale of Children of the Gods.

A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson

A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson

 A Bond of Venom and Magic
by Karen Tomlinson

The Wraith Lord is hunting; his prize, the key to unleashing darkness and Chaos upon the eight Kingdoms.

For Diamond Gillon the war raging in the south seems a remote danger until her home is brutally attacked. Having lost everything she holds dear, Diamond is catapulted into a terrifying new world in which legendary beasts arise, magic is condemned and half blood fae, like her, have no rights. Despite her growing feelings for her saviour, Commander Hugo Casimir, he remains a paradox – not only is he a heartless killer, he is owned by the cruel immortal fae queen; a queen who will murder her own people for magic.

As Diamond’s circumstances become ever more perilous she is drawn deeper into Hugo’s world and discovers the lengths to which he will go to save what he holds dear. Will Hugo become her friend, her protector, or – an enemy not worthy of her trust?

A Bond of Venom and Magic is a tale of two people bound by magic and secrets, but trapped in the complexities of love and betrayal. It is the beginning of an epic journey, one that will test Diamond’s resolve and determination to battle an evil that threatens not only her world but that of Eternity, the land of The Guardians and The Goddess.

Book 1 of The Goddess and the Guardians series

Rated: ★★★
Publication: October 14, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Romance

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson

Full of action and romance, A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson is fast paced and exciting. Characters are great and so is the story and lore. I absolutely loved this book and devoured it quickly because I needed to know what would happen next. I mean, heck, I even went and tweeted author Tomlinson because of what was going on in the story.

Protagonist Diamond will not be everyone’s cup of tea. I’ll start off by saying that. She isn’t reminiscent of other recent female YA fantasy protagonists who fight, sneak, or play games. Diamond, instead, is innocent and guileless. Overprotected by her father, living in a small town, she never learned how to fight or fend for herself. So, when she’s forced to fight, she can’t. It’s aggravating but also humanizing. I loved that she had anxiety and panic attacks, simply because it made her relatable as someone who also experiences anxiety and has had panic attacks. I mean, if you’re suddenly forced into battle after being coddled your entire life, panic attacks make sense!

Opposite Diamond is Hugo. Now, Hugo, Hugo, Hugo. I don’t know what to make of him. Part of me loves him. Part of me doesn’t. Most of me is reminded of Edward Cullen. He’s broody, overprotective, aggressive, possessive, etc. It makes sense in the context of the story, but still, it’s written so over-the-top that I was left wondering how anyone could ignore his feelings or be oblivious to them. It does get resolved towards the end, but it was still distracting.

So, you might be thinking, given the problems with Diamond and Hugo, how is this a four star book? Easy. It works. Diamond needs protecting and Hugo is over-protective. It just clicks and makes your heart flutter, which is surprising for me to say since I actually want to pair Diamond with human Prince Jack, who, given his limited page time, has me completely smitten. He’s the best and I love him and want to see more of him. I know end game will be Diamond/Hugo, but it doesn’t detract me from wishing for Diamond/Jack.

There is something that happens in the ending that did leave me disappointing. A character takes a turn, and it doesn’t really gel with everything that has happened up until that point. Usually, an author would leave tiny hints that could click into place when the turn happens, but I didn’t feel it with this book. It felt completely undeserved and really knocked a star off the rating.

A Bond of Venom and Magic by Karen Tomlinson has solid characters, but tentative lore. It feels like Tomlinson does know what she’s writing about, but hasn’t wanted to put anything in stone yet. That said, this was a fun read that I would recommend to fans of the Twilight series or the Sookie Stackhouse series, but looking for abstinent YA.

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About the Author

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Karen Tomlinson is the author of The Goddess and the Guardians series of Young Adult fantasy books. Book one A Bond of Venom and Magic will be released October 14th 2016.

Karen has always been an avid reader. Her taste in books is eclectic but she likes nothing better than an exciting fantasy, set in a new and magical world. She lives in Derbyshire, England, with her husband, twin girls and her dalmatian, Poppy. Karen trained as a nurse and currently works as a resuscitation and clinical skills trainer, this involves training a wide variety of health care professionals and medical students in acute patient care. In addition to writing, and reading whenever she can, Karen likes to keep active. She has been training at Shotokan karate since being thirteen, likes walking, mountain biking and (for something completely different) cake decorating. She is currently working on book two in The Goddess and the Guardians series.

About me!

As soon as I could read I spent hours getting lost in the new worlds books could give me. Spending my pocket money had to be done (obviously) but not on sweets, well, not many…I spent my money on books. Back then it was Enid Blyton’s Famous Five which sparked my young mind. I didn’t rest until I had the whole set, then I migrated to the secret seven…(there was no Harry Potter then) As a teenager I would trawl through all my mum and dad’s discarded books. It was probably highly inappropriate for a thirteen year old to be reading swoony Mills and Boon romances followed by Ian Flemming, Alistair Maclean and Wilbur Smith!
Because I read anything and everything I could get my hands on back then, I now have an eclectic taste in books. I will read anything that catches my eye and absolutely love illustrated book covers! In my late teens I discovered fantasy and that genre has stayed my firm favourite. I am and will always remain a complete sucker for a fantasy with kick ass characters and worlds steeped in magic and romance!

Uprising by Jessica Therrien

Uprising by Jessica Therrien

Uprising
by Jessica Therrien

Elyse has done everything she can to protect her friends from The Council’s reach. As long as they believe she’s dead, she has time to rest and train for war. And war is inevitable.

When Kara arrives with the news that Anna and Chloe have been captured, Elyse is faced with the realization that no one is safe until The Council is stopped and Christoph is destroyed. She doesn’t need a prophecy to tell her to lead an army. Christoph has done the one thing that ensures she’ll fight to the death. He’s threatened the people she loves.

It will take more than the words of an oracle to help them fight against the most powerful Descendant alive. To break The Council’s oppression and rise up against a plot so many years in the making, Elyse will need to get dangerously close to her enemy. So close, in fact, she may not survive.

Children of the Gods #2

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Publication: September 14, 2015 (2nd ed)
Genre: Young Adult, Mythology
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Uprising by Jessica Therrien

The second book in the Children of the Gods series, Uprising by Jessica Therrien keeps up the action from the first book. Elyse, now on the run with William and accepting her role as “the chosen one,” learns to fight and strategize war plans. The war begins to brew and pieces snap into place.

The pacing is great. We see that time passes as Elyse learns to defend herself so that when she does, it isn’t overnight or a surprise. BUT, at the same time, we don’t see the monotony of it, thanks to Therrien’s fantastic writing. What we do see if Elyse, though combat ready, continue trying to be the pacifist healer she was born to be. We see a prophecy come true.

I can’t go into the story too much without spoiling it but I absolutely loved it. It felt like a natural continuation to the first book and the ending shocked me. I have no idea where the third book will go from where we ended in this book. I have so many questions. I’ll probably try to do a spoiler vlog for it.

Definitely must read if you’ve picked up Oppression because Uprising by Jessica Therrien just continues to be excellent.