Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Dark Flame - Alyson Noel

Dark Flame is the fourth book in The Immortals series by Alyson Noel. It was published by Macmillan Children’s Books on 27th September 2010 and it is 336 pages long.

After not long being an Immortal herself, Ever is helping best friend Haven deal with the transformation. The power of being an Immortal is more than Haven truly understands though and is fully determined to make the most of her new found abilities but in doing so, she puts a massive strain on her friendship with Ever.

Friendship isn’t the only thing being strained as Ever’s relationship with Damon becomes even more complicated. As she delves a lot deeper into a world of magick that she doesn’t really understand, Ever manages to make things a lot worse than she ever thought possible. When she tries to cast a spell to take control over Roman and get the one thing she wants most in the world, it backfires, only to push them closer together. Too scared and embarrassed to turn to Damon for help, Ever spirals into a huge mess that she can’t get herself out of. The one person who can probably help her could also be the one person who pushes her further and further away from Damon.

What I thought
The Immortals is one of those series that even though I have certain problems with it, I am always really excited for the release of the newest book. Needless to say, I had this one on pre order and that doesn’t happen very much for me anymore.

As I just said, there are problems with this series as a whole. Maybe I should say problem because there is only really one thing that bugs me. Ever. I have had many conversations on Twitter about just how much she annoys me and why. It seems to me like Ever has no common sense whatsoever. She has had to make a lot of hard (and some not very hard at all) decisions throughout the series but no matter what, she always makes the wrong choice. In Dark Flame we see her making another stupid choice and not really thinking about what she is doing. After three books, I would have thought that she’d learnt from her mistakes by now. Damon is extremely reassuring when he says that he will always be there for her, no matter what, but does she listen? Nope! I guess I wish that Damon would either dump her already or Haven would give her a nice hard slap around the face.

Damon however, was just as lovely as he ever has been. Obviously I do think he’s being a little bit silly letting Ever getting away with being a complete crazy person all of the time. I guess you could say that he is the kind of boyfriend that girls would die for. Unconditional love. Always there for his girlfriend no matter what happens. Smoking hot! What more could you ask for apart from maybe getting rid of Ever? The thing is, no matter how many lives Damon and Ever have been through together, then are only in the current one now. Ever lies to Damon, goes behind his back and generally treats him like dirt. I don’t understand how he puts up with her.

When the third book in this series ended, Haven had just been turned into an Immortal due to a really hard decision that Ever had to make. As soon as I closed the book, I was dying to read Dark Flame to find out what was going to happen next with her. Haven is quite a feisty character anyway so add in immortality and you can bet that you are going to get one impossible teenager. As much as I wanted to slap Haven for being quite selfish for wanting to do as she pleased, I don’t really blame her. I would like to think that I could be sensible in her situation but I doubt very much that I could refrain from doing whatever I wanted.

Taking away my problems with the characters, I did really like this book. I felt like the twist of having Haven as an Immortal really shook things up a bit, instead of being all about Ever and which boy to choose. This new plot twist has set up the main storyline to be, what I think will be, much darker than what we have seen before. I really hope that this is the case as it will make book 4 stand out completely to the rest of the series. Haven went through an awful lot in Dark Flame and now has her life spread all over the place, not really having any stability so I think she could maybe end up going off the rails a bit and causing some trouble.

There were quite a lot of twists that I didn’t see coming at all and I loved where the plot was heading in certain areas. Getting to see Jude in different settings was one of my favourite parts and I’m hoping that we get to see more of this in future books. I think he is a really interesting character and has the potential to be someone amazing in this series. There is so much I don’t know about him that I would like to. The ending was a complete shocker and actually had me gasping. Overall, Dark Flame was entertaining throughout and I will still be waiting eagerly for the fourth book, Night Star.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Black Swan Rising - Lee Carroll

Black Swan Rising is the first book in a trilogy by Lee Carroll. Lee Carroll is actually a pseudonym for the writing partnership between Carol Goodman and her husband, Lee Slonimsk. It was published on 25th November by Bantam Press and the book is 400 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Garet is young, single and lives in New York but she has a far from an easy life. Her family has major money problems, their art gallery business is struggling due to the recession and her widowed father isn’t getting any younger.

On a weirdly misty day in New York, Garet finds herself not very sure of where she is. Deciding to ask for directions in an antiques shop could be the worst decision she ever makes. When the frail old shop owner asks Garet for help in opening a silver box that has been welded shut, she can’t say no. The box has the same crest as the one of the necklace that her mother gave her.

After taking the box home, strange things begin to happen, even if they are extremely hard to notice. New York is hiding a lot but Garet is different from everyone else. Opening the box unleashes a world of chaos and now Garet is stuck right in the middle of it all.

What I thought
I hadn’t heard about this book before receiving it for review but as soon as I read the press release, I knew that it was something that would interest me. The plot summary didn’t give away too much so I was pretty much going into this one blind, not really knowing what to expect. I got a lot more than I bargained for though with a complex plot, amazing characters and a fantastic mix of evil and fantasy.

Garet was far from perfect but those imperfections were a big part of what I liked about her. She wasn’t afraid to make mistakes along the way, even though deep down she knew she probably wasn’t doing the right thing. Not all of her bad choices were good though. She had a tendency to let people in too easily, people she really didn’t know very well, and that made me question her at times. On a positive note though, Garet had a fantastic sense of humour, was witty and fiery tempered. I think a lot of this was because she was an older protagonist than most in the YA genre and at 26, she had more life experience than teenagers as well as having a lot to deal with because of her family.

There were a lot of secondary characters to keep up with but the pace between meeting them was well done and I never felt like I was being introduced to too many people at once. Garet meets a lot of interesting characters along the way and they are all completely different to each other. Two of my favourites were Will, the vampire love interest and a little fairy that was extremely cute. Will isn’t your typical vampire though and is nothing like any other I have ever read about. Yes, he is still smoking hot and so smooth I don’t think anyone could resist him but there was something else behind all of that. There was something about Will that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, which helped add to the mystery in the rest of the story. I know I said he’s a love interest but the romance doesn’t overpower the overall story like it does in other YA books. I am hoping that this gets expanded on in the other books in the trilogy though.

I loved the amount of mystery in this book. As Garet has no idea what is going on herself, it always seemed as though I was right there with her, finding everything out at the last minute. Although this frustrated me a lot at times, I also really liked it too. The way that the story is told makes it possible to believe that anyone could be the good guy and anyone could be the bad guy. Black Swan Rising kept me on my toes throughout and I liked the how the suspense was kept up.

A lot of work was put into the history of what was happening as well as mythology. Characters from Shakespeare were involved as well as some extremely well known artists. This was something that I really loved about Lesley Livingston’s Wondrous Strange so I knew immediately that I was also going to love it in this book. I really enjoyed how these kinds of things helped fuse the story with the real world while keeping the fantasy aspects at the same time. It was very interesting to see how all of the different aspects fit together to make the overall story.

Black Swan Rising did take a little while to completely get in to but once I had, I was hooked and I couldn’t put it down. It is beautifully written but what else would you expect from a best selling author and a poet writing team. I cant wait to find out what will happen to Garet next.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Crescendo - Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo is the second book in the Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick. It was released in Hardcover in the UK on 14th October 2010 by Simon and Schuster and it is 432 pages long. The paperback will be released on 2nd May 2011.

Nora’s life is far from perfect. She has a fallen angel/ guardian angel as a boyfriend and recently managed to escape being murdered. Things aren’t getting any better either. Patch, her boyfriend, is beginning to shy away from her and distance himself from the relationship. What Nora can’t figure out is why. He’s either trying to protect her from something or he’s interested in her arch enemy, Marcie.

The mystery of Nora’s fathers’ death gets more and more complicated when she begins to see visions of him. Patch isn’t answering any of her questions and she begins to doubt everything he has ever told her. Without him to rely on, Nora turns to a mysterious newcomer and an old acquaintance. Is she trusting the wrong guy or was she right all along?

What I thought
After loving so much about the first book in this series, Hush, Hush, I was dying to read Crescendo but having to wait so long for it was a complete killer. Sometimes with sequels like this, I end up feeling a bit let down but that certainly wasn’t the case with this one.

I was so happy to get back to Patch. Oh how I had missed his brooding badboyness! Although he was missing from this story quite a lot more than I would have preferred, he more than made up for it when he was actually around. Sometimes I really hate how much I love the bad boys because if I was looking down upon him and what he was doing, I would have wanted to slap him…hard. Now, I never thought I would ever say this but…I really kind of felt sorry for Nora. Not all of the time though mind you. The reason I felt sorry for her was because she truly didn’t deserve to be messed around at all.

Nora goes through a lot of changes in Crescendo but it makes me wonder if it was too many. Her character went back and forth many times in relation to how she felt about different people and what she was going to do about things. It would have been nice to see her stick with one decision or one idea for longer than five minutes. I know I sound like I’m beating down on her a little bit too much here but I think she needed more sense knocking into her. Nora is slowly growing to be quite a strong character and I think she is really going to come into her own soon and really begin to believe in how she feels and what she thinks she wants. Best friend Vee was doing a pretty good job of trying to get that done though so I have to applaud her for her consistency and her ability to kick Nora’s ass into gear at times. I’m totally Team Vee!

The story barely has time to get started when there are some quite steamy moments between Nora and Patch. I was getting myself all excited when I thought I was going to be getting a sizzling YA book. Unfortunately, the passion doesn’t last for very long and the heat simmers down very quickly. I would have loved for this excitement to have been carried on throughout the story but I realise I can’t ask for everything. Even though the passion calms down very quickly, there was more than enough to keep me happy and I understood why the story had to be this way.

New guy Scott definitely gave Patch a run for his money in the bad boy department. Scott has just moved back to town but no one really knows where he and his mum have been or why they are really back. Scott’s return brings up a lot of questions and they’re mostly ones that he isn’t willing to answer. He has some of the same characteristics as Patch; arrogance and way too sure of himself at times. The difference with these two characters is that I was always unsure of whether or not Scott was putting on an act whereas I truly believe that Patch loves himself. Knowing a little bit about Scott as a child made me think of him as cute but misunderstood, making him extremely likable. I can’t wait to find out more about Scott in book 3. He had such a large presence this time around so I keep my fingers crossed that there are more good things to come from him.

What I loved most about this book was that it was so unpredictable. Crescendo has so many plot twists and characters that are extremely mysterious and this made me feel like I never knew what was coming next. Just when I thought I knew how I could trust and what was going to happen, something completely shocking happens and I end up right back at square one again. Hush, Hush had some massive shocks but Crescendo pushes everything to the limit.

I was really happy to see more of the Nephilim history brought into the story. I do love a good background and historical information added in so this aspect of the book was perfect for me. It was so interesting to find out more about the Fallen Angels and what had been going on behind the scenes. When The Black Hand appeared, it added much more mystery and depth to the story, with many possibilities as to who he really was. Along with The Black Hand, the hints at what really happened to Nora’s Dad were fantastic and a great addition to the plot. Although quite a lot was explained, I still feel like there is a lot more to come in book 3.

Becca Fitzpatrick knows how to write a bloody good cliff-hanger. I thought the ending to Hush, Hush was pretty awesome but this cliff-hanger blew the other one out of the water. I would never have seen this ending coming in a million years and I sat staring at the book for a good while after finishing it. I was in a little bit of a state of shock I think, wondering how Becca could have done this to us all. Trust me, you will not be prepared for this ending.

Crescendo is so superior to Hush, Hush that it is quite insane. I really enjoyed the first book but was 100% in love with Crescendo. It is a rollercoaster ride of emotion, throwing you in every direction possible with a heart plummeting drop when you least expect it. I’m a bit scared of thinking about what lies in store in Tempest (book 3) if I go by this one. Becca Fitzpatrick, you amaze me!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Giveaway! Arrow by R.J. Anderson

Thanks to the wonderful people at Orchard Books, I have 5 copies of R.J Anderson's newest novel to giveaway. Arrow is the third book in her Knife series which is due for release on 6th January. The Knife series has been a favourite of mine for a long time, and it was also the first YA series that I started reading. Below is the trailer for Arrow.

Here is the synopsis for Arrow:
Rhosmari trembled as the Empress walked over to her. ‘Oh, do not struggle. There is nowhere for you to escape,’ the Empress said, her voice silken and sweet. Then she unsheathed a small dagger from her waist. ‘This will only hurt a little...’

Rhosmari has lived her whole life on a sheltered chain of faery islands. But with the Empress's power growing, and her desire to enslave the entire faery race becoming a reality, Rhosmari knows she must fight back...

To enter, just fill in the form below. The giveaway is open to UK residents only and I will draw winners on Boxing Day. Winners have 48 hours to respond and then I will pick another winner. Good Luck!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Firelight - Sophie Jordan

Firelight is the first book in the trilogy of the same name by Sophie Jordan and it is her debut YA novel. It was released in hardback on 7th September in the US by Harper Teen and will be published in paperback in March 2011 by OUP. The paperback is 336 pages long.

From an early age, Jacinda knew she wasn’t like other girls, not even like her twin sister. Being a draki, a descendent of dragons, Jacinda knows that her every move is being watched and not always by her own kind. Hunters are constantly trying to get rid of the draki race and Jacinda knows that one wrong move could mean a whole lot of trouble. Not really thinking before she acts, Jacinda breaks the biggest rule and puts her life in extreme danger. A danger that a strange, beautiful draki hunter saves her from. Jacinda’s mother knows what kind of punishment the ‘pride’ are planning and decides that it would be best for the whole family to move away where Jacinda can begin to be 100% human.

Struggling to adapt to her new surroundings and deny everything she has ever known, Jacinda feels dejected. Then she meets Will, one of the hottest and most elusive guys in school. Will stirs something inside her and makes her feel more alive than she ever has done before. Jacinda knows she should stay away from Will because of how he makes her feel but she just can’t help herself. Something keeps drawing her to him. Unfortunately, Will has a massive secret that could threaten everything.

What I thought
As soon as I heard about this book, I was desperate to read it. After reading so many books this year on vampires and werewolves, I was ready for a change. I had never seen a YA book about dragons/ draki before so the initial plot summery drew me in immediately. Also, the cover is stunning and I’m a sucker for things like that when shopping for books.

I loved, loved, loved the protagonist, Jacinda. Very early on in the story, she is forced to abandon everything she has ever known to move away to the desert. Her mother doesn’t want her to be draki anymore but Jacinda refuses to let who and what she really is die. She really knew herself and I loved how sure she was of what she wanted and how she wasn’t going to let anyone get in the way of that. Jacinda had a lot of tough decisions to make and was often torn picking which way that she should go in. I felt like this was a pretty real way of dealing with things. I was thinking about what I would have done in her situation and I realised how hard it would have been to try to pick between being yourself and doing what you mum told you to. I don’t know if I would have been able to make the right choice either way.

Everyone who reads my book reviews know how much I love a bad boy or a boy who shows that he could be a bad boy. For Jacinda, Will is possibly the closest to bad boy that she is ever going to be able to get close to. If there is one person that she should be staying away from, then it should be him. I really enjoyed the twist on him, his family and made him different from everyone else. Upon meeting him early on in the book, I instantly knew that I was going to like him and that feeling didn’t go away throughout. It was made clear that Will had plenty of secrets and I thought that they were revealed at well paced intervals. I also liked how clear he was about his feelings towards Jacinda. He knew straight away that they shouldn’t be together and even warned her against coming near him but you know how things go in these books, the guy and the girl will nearly always end up together no matter what.

Secondary characters Cassian and Jacinda’s twin sister Tamra were just as fantastic. There was something about Cassian that I couldn’t quite put my finger on and I was never quite sure whether or not he had Jacinda’s best interests at heart. On one hand, I wanted to believe that he really did like her but then I also thought that he was just doing what the pride was telling him to. Tamra was interesting because she was the complete opposite to Jacinda in so many ways. Where Jacinda wanted to shy away and hide, Tamra wanted to excel at school and have a normal life for once. Although me and my sister are not twins, I could similarities to our own relationship.

Sophie Jordan completely transported me into the world of the draki straight from chapter one. I found it really interesting to see a mix of traditional dragon lore mixed in with this new draki race which I had never heard anything about. I loved finding out about why draki were so connected to the earth and why they did certain other things. A lot of effort and detail was clearly put into the origins of this story and race and that was plain to see in the writing. As Jacinda and her family move quite early in the story, not much time is spent with the pride. I would love to know more about how they operate and how their hierarchy system works. Maybe this will be something that will be explored in further books in the trilogy.

Firelight left me at a fantastic cliff-hanger and one that left me wanting a lot more. I am excited to see where Jordan will take the story next and how Jacinda, her family and Will can overcome all of the events from book one. I was slightly disappointed to see the action end quite so suddenly after it had begun but I think there is a lot more of that to come. Sophie Jordan had me hooked from page one and left me eagerly waiting for book two. If you fancy a change from the slightly overplayed vampire and werewolf novels then give this one a go.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Eternal Ones - Kirsten Miller

The Eternal Ones is the first book in a series by Kirsten Miller. It was published on 19th August by Puffin and the book is 416 pages long.

Haven Moore has always been different from everyone else she has ever known. At an early age, she began to talk about a place that she had never been to and a man she had never met. She has skills and talents that she never trained to learn. She also has visions of a completely different life and these visions cause her to black out. In the town where Haven lives, everyone is extremely religious and truly believe that her visions are a form of being possessed by a demon.

Haven’s visions are the result of reincarnation. The visions take Haven on a journey to New York, a place she can remember vividly to find Ethan, who now lives in the form of movie star Iain Morrow, the man from her past. Haven has to figure out who she really is and why she is so drawn to a man she has never met. Can she really trust what her heart is telling her or will she end up trusting the wrong man? One wrong move could land Haven in a serious amount of danger and a feud that has been going on for centuries.

What I thought
First off, a big thanks to Becky for giving me this book when we met at an OUP event in London. I had been dying to read it since I heard about it and had read so many good reviews for it. Even though my to be read pile is massive at the minute, I pushed this one up near the top as I had already waited a long time to read it.

Haven was such an annoying protagonist. She had me in two minds throughout the whole book. What bugged me the most about her was how indecisive she was. One minute she was completely in love with Iain and in the next, she didn’t trust him at all and went ahead to believe the worst possible things about him. Yes, she was somewhat sensible being guarded and trying to make rational decisions about what was going on around her. I did understand that she didn’t want to fully commit herself to Iain until she had answers to some serious questions and that maybe diving straight into a relationship with someone she could only half remember would have been incredibly stupid. The rationality behind her choices was what had me torn as to how I felt but in the end, the constant changing was just too much for me.

Iain wasn’t actually in the story all that much. There wasn’t enough characterisation for me to make a decision about him one way or another. Going back to Haven’s split decisions about him, I ended up feeling the same way. I didn’t get to see enough of him on his own or with Haven for me to choose between him being the good guy or him being a complete liar and a creep. If I do read the next book in this series, I hope that he will feature a lot more so that I can find out what kind of a man he really is. I get the feeling that he is really the good guy but I fail to see proof of this as of yet.

Considering Haven had been thinking about Ethan/ Iain for most of her life, the passion that should have been there wasn’t. There were a few moments where Kirsten Miller got my hopes up for something special but they were quickly squished and everything went back to being bland again. I think for me, a tale of a never-ending relationship, a tale of a love that will last forever should be passionate and exciting, especially if you can’t remember all of the details of the past. This may be something that is expanded upon in future books but for The Eternal Ones, this department was extremely lacking.

The beginning of the story was drawn out too much for my liking. It is nice to know about a protagonist’s history and their life, giving the opportunity to really get to know them but in Haven’s case, this wasn’t exactly what happened. A lot of the beginning of the book is about Haven’s visions and the people of the town in which she lives. There is a lot about religion here and this was part of the reason why I didn’t like it. I don’t think that this much time was needed to explain that everyone thought Haven was possessed by a demon. The time could have been put to a much better use by sending Haven to New York earlier and to have seen her have more time with Iain.

Something that I did really enjoy was learning about The Ouroboros Society, a society that helps people like Haven, people who have experienced reincarnation. There is a quite a lot of the history of the society explained and getting to learn about its past and present members was one of my favourite aspects of the book. A lot was covered about The Ouroboros Society and while I loved these parts, again, I think the time could have been put to better use. I always think that the first book in a series should be about setting the scene for the characters and really getting to know them, rather than focus on something else and end up not caring about the people you should.

Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough in this book for me to love. There were hints that it could be fantastic but most of it wasn’t original enough or believable enough, especially in the romance department. If I happen to acquire the sequel when it comes out, I will read it in the hopes that the story and characters get better but I wont be rushing out to buy it. Although there was a lot that I hated about this book, there were also things that I really loved so I'm putting it in Purgatory.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Guest review - The Lost Hero

Today I have a guest review from a fellow blogger. When Darryl asked about having a guest review on my site, I was excited to be able to post something different and to read something from a male point of view. You can find Darryl's details and how to find him at the bottom of the review.

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan was published by Puffin and available from all good book stores. The hardcover edition is 560 pages in length and was released on the 12th of October 2010.

Here it is, the eagerly anticipated sequel to the Percy Jackson and Olympians series by Rick Riordan. That series was HUGE (just forget about the unspeakable movie adaptation) and I have been waiting for this for months after working my way through the entire Percy Jackson series in about a month and a half. Probably, the only good aspect of a coming to a series is late is getting to wolf down all the instalments with little to no waiting.

As the story of a new hero opens, all is not well at Camp Half Blood. Percy has disappeared without a trace and things just seem to be getting worse all around with the repercussions of the last Titan war still being felt by the campers. Three new Demi-gods are ‘discovered’ but one has a past so mysterious even he can’t remember it. These three Demi-gods Jason, Piper and Leo are quickly catapulted off on their first quest, reeling from the knowledge that Jason, who was supposed to be Piper’s boyfriend and Leo’s best friend, is in fact a total stranger to them and their memories were created by the Mist (a special magic that prevents mortals from seeing monsters and other magical phenomenon).

As the quest continues, it appears that there is a secret that threatens the future of all Demi-gods and the world alike. Will the heroes stay alive long enough to figure out this secret, will Jason retrieve his memories, will Leo and Piper exorcise the demons of their past all will be revealed in the Lost Hero?

What I thought
The book was quite a read. Let me first go on record as saying I am a huge fan of the initial Percy Jackson series so this book probably didn’t have far to go to impress me. It surpassed by expectations though as an exciting read and expanded upon a universe that I already loved. This book also adopts the perspective of the three main characters, each taking two chapters in a row. I have noticed a lot of series adopting this approach, allowing you to properly delve into the mind of the characters. The Twilight series did this although it was only in one book of the series.

At first this new approach annoyed me as I expected this series to be the same as the Percy Jackson series it followed on from. I then realised that there is no point in standing still and I now appreciate that Riordan wanted to pull out all the stops and make this series unique and for it to offer something more than say, just another adventure from the first series.

The story is as intricate as those usually in the Olympians series but as always, you the reader, will make the connections a little before the characters themselves. There is an underlying secret that makes this series unique, which took me half the book before to figured out but you might do it sooner.

Jason Grace
The leader of the quest and struggling to deal with his amnesia and his destiny. I liked him but found him very different to Percy Jackson, which is reflected in their circumstances perhaps. You can tell that he does not want to be the man with that much responsibility but that he is prepared to do so for the sake of his friends. As his own back-story gets some light shed on it, you understand the trials that he has gone through and begin to see that he and Percy Jackson are similar characters.

Piper McLean
A girl with a rebellious streak and a need to constantly seek her father’s attention. The trauma of the disappearance of Piper’s godly mother has left its mark on both Piper and her father. I was also interested by her and her father’s struggle with their racial identity it was not something you expect in a YA novel.

Leo Valdez
At first I was very worried that Leo came across as the stereotypical Latin American but the character grew in my estimation as more and more chapters were devoted to the telling of his story and his truly tragic past. Both Leo and Piper also serve to show us the reader that not all of the demigods of a particular parent are the same which sometimes seemed to be the case in the original series it is nice to step away from the idea of stereotypical children of Hephaestus or Aphrodite.

So to sum up I highly recommend this book and the series it starts with one provision. Reading this before reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians would be a very bad idea as this series assumes that you have knowledge of the previous series and makes too many references back.

My name is Darryl and I have a blog at

Where I discuss US TV, books, anime and manga and a whole lot of talk around World of Warcraft. You can also follow my ramblings @shaftsword on Twitter.

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