Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: Between the Sea and Sky

This is the review of an uncorrected advance copy. Changes may be made in the final book. The cover shown below may be changed or altered before the book's release.

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Title: Between the Sea and Sky
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Cover Designer:
Age Audience: YA
Genre: Fantasy
Tagline: She comes from the sea; he comes from the sky. 
They'll fall in love somewhere in between. 
Summary: For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren—the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her.
Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood—a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people.
As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship...and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.

My Review:
Finally, a mermaid book that I can give a positive rating to! Do you know how happy this makes me? You probably haven’t realized this, since I haven’t liked any of the other mermaid book I’ve read, but mermaids have always been one of my favorite mythical creatures. I remember when I was 9 or 10 I believed that a clan of mermaids lived in a nearby lake (true story).

I liked how the author paid good attention to mermaid mythology, you could see it in the way the mermaids lived and their social standings. At first, I picured the winged people as looking a bit like angels, but the imagery later on showed me that I was quite wrong. I also loved how Alan was not a “mysterious new stranger”. He and Esmerine had known each other for years, so their romance had a lot of buildup.

Near the end of the book, when Esmerine had to decide where her loyalties lay, I was worried that she would make the wrong choice—or that either choice would be wrong! But I loved how things turned out. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.

And the best part? This wasn’t even a paranormal romance! Somehow I expected it to be, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out it was a fantasy. Now, I like paranormal romance just as much as the next person, but I love fantasy.

Also, the author said that she liked to think of this book as a cross between a Jane Austen novel and a Studio Ghibli film. I never thought of it before, but now that I do, this book would make a perfect Studio Ghibli fim! I think I’m going to call Mr. Miyazaki right now and ask him to buy the movie rights

Delightful and imaginative, Between the Sea and Sky is a charming novel that fans of romance, mermaids and fantasy will love.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday [15]

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

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
Emerald by Karen Wallace (release date July 7, 2011)
Emerald St. John is in trouble. She has been condemned to marry a man she hates. Her enemies are conspiring to have her pet bear Molly torn apart in the baiting pits, and the man she loves is far away on the high seas. And she has stumbled into a web of spies with a plot to poison Queen Elizabeth I.
To save herself and the kingdom, she must beat the spies at their own game - which means transforming herself from a country girl into a court lady. Can she do it in time?
Set against a detailed and vivid recreation of a great Elizabethan manor house, Emerald will bring to life a world where the most sophisticated rules of etiquette went hand in with brutality and superstition.
There is NOT enough YA historical fiction on the market today. There are what, four or five new YA historical fiction releases a year? Anyways, I really love historical fiction, so I'm looking forward to reading Emerald!

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: Where She Went

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Title: Where She Went
Series: If I Stay, #2
Author: Gayle Forman
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Publisher: Dutton
Cover Designer: 
Age Audience:
Summary: It's been three years since the devastating accident...three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future—and each other.
Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

My Review:
I don’t know how Gayle Forman does it! She always comes up with such beautiful titles. “Where She Went”. Those three words sound like lyrics from a sad song, don’t they?

This book takes place three years after If I Stay. Like its predecessor, the actual book takes place over a very short time, a few days in this case, but there are many flashbacks. Except this time, we’re reading from Adam’s POV. I was happy to be reading about the characters that I came to love in If I Stay again (actually, one of them had changed so much that they weren't the character I knew and loved—but I'll get to that soon). When Adam first saw Mia again, I was so excited that it was almost like I was the one meeting my long-lost first love after three years apart!

However, I’m sorry to say that I didn’t like this book as much as the first one.
You see, one of the things I liked the most about If I Stay was that it wasn’t very emotional. But in Where She Went, Adam was no longer the sensitive, supporting boyfriend and all-around great guy that he was in If I Stay. He was an angsty, heart-broken rock star. Between his flashbacks of missing Mia and his accounts of how horrible life as a rock star is, there was so much emotional whining in this book. This is dislike is more of a personal thing than an actual problem with the book. I’m sure most people won’t mind that aspect, but I minded Adam’s melodrama very much.

I was very happy with the ending. At first Adam began saying things that made me worry, but it all turns out well in the end. I’m so glad that Mia and Adam’s suffering is over, and they can be happy now. I’m also glad that Mia helped Adam rediscover his love for music.

While I did like Where She Went, If I Stay was better. If you don’t mind lots of emotion and angst, you’ll probably like this book better than I did. But even if you do, you should still read this if you’ve read If I Stay and you want to see what happened next.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In My Mailbox [12]

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we share books that we've received.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cover vs. Cover [5]

Cover vs. Cover is a weekly meme, hosted here, where I compare different covers of the same book. For more information, visit the Weekly Features page.

This week's competing covers are:

             The US Cover                                        The UK Cover

It's almost impossible to make a comparison between these two covers, because they're so different. I like how sinister the US cover looks, but the UK cover would have made me want to read the book too. It's a tie!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Follow (my book blog) Friday [17]

This Week's Question: In light of the Summer Solstice. Also known as Midsummer...let's talk about fairies. What is your favorite fairy tale or story that revolves around the fae?

My Answer:
I have a few favorites. "The Little Mermaid" is one of them. I first read it when I was 9 and received a collection Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales for Christmas. They were the straight, morbid, non-Disney versions. "The Wild Swans" and "The Snow Queen" are some other ones, which I also first read in said collection. I know I have more favorites but I can't think of them right now.

As for my favorite book with fairies...I think the Artemis Fowl books. I know they're more on the sci-fi-y side, but they do have fairies! And if they don't count, then Ash and Huntress by Malinda Lo.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: Wither

Title: Wither
The Chemical Garden trilogy, #1 
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Simon and Schuster
Cover Designer:
Lizzy Bromley

Age Audience:
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Summary: Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

My Review:
To be honest, I had HUGE expectations for this book. But for some reason, I put off reading for a long time. I don’t know why. But as soon as I started reading it, I was thinking things like, “WOW! Why haven’t I read this already?!?”

I was drawn from the first page, when the book opens with Rhine in the dark back of a van, captured by people called Gatherers who kidnap girls and sell them off as brides. Everything about this book was intriguing, from Rhine’s history to Housemaster Vaughn’s experiments to find an antidote for the virus. It got pretty creepy at times, but I thought it was a good kind of creepy.

I loved the relationships between the characters, especially between Rhine and her sister wives Cecily, Jenna and Rose. At first she doesn’t care about them at all, but she becomes friends with Rose, and later Jenna, and soon enough she thinks of them all as sisters. I found Cecily to be a little annoying in the beginning, but I warmed up to her as she matured. She was the youngest sister wife, and didn’t really know what was going on.
And then there was their husband, Linden. Rhine loathes him at first for taking her away from her home, but she almost starts to sympathize with him as she discovers that he is just as much of a prisoner as she is.

There’s one thing I want to point out, and it is that even though the summary makes it sound like there is a love triangle in this book, I wouldn’t say there was. Rhine becomes very good friends with the attendant Gabriel before she even starts to feel attracted to him, and she knows she doesn’t want to be like a true wife to Linden. Rhine wasn’t looking for a romantic relationship. Her purpose was to escape and go home to her brother Rowan.

The writing was very good. There were lovely descriptions, but they didn’t slow down the book and were not overly wordy. Come to think of it, Wither was actually quite slow-paced, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The slow pace let you take in the dystopian world better than you would have been able to if the book had been fast-paced.

This book easily could have gotten 5 stars from me, but here’s the reason it didn't: the scientific aspect didn’t make much sense. I know this is science fiction, but still. Why did the virus kill men and women at a different age? Unless there is a separate virus for each gender, it should kill them both at the same age. Also, the polar ice caps are huge! If they melted, not even North America would be saved from a watery grave.

Other than that one little criticism, I loved dark, suspenseful Wither. This is a book that I’m going to shove in all of my friend’s faces and say, “Hey! Have you read Wither? If you haven’t, READ IT. NOW.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

30 Books in 30 Days Challenge: Second Update

The 30 Books in 30 Days challenge is hosted by Cait from The Cait Files.

Books read since last update:Total books read:

Waiting on Wednesday [14]

Look, I'm using a different button now! I like it so much better than the default button.
"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (release date August 2nd, 2011)
The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.
If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.
And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.
This book sounds really really good. I love fantasy, and according to her Twitter account, Victoria is a pretty awesome person!

What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Clarity

Title Clarity
Series: Clarity, #1
Author: Kim Harrington
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Scholastic Press
Cover Designer:
Danielle Delan
Age Audience:
Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift. And a curse. When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case—but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother—who has supernatural gifts of his own—becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

My Review:
First of all, I don’t like the cover. It’s misleading. It specifically says in the book that Clare is a red-head, but the cover model has blonde hair. Even if not for that, I’d still say it’s quite generic.

I really liked the paranormal aspect of this book. Instead of being something not human, Clare and her family were just humans with supernatural abilities. Clare was a great character too. She was strong and sarcastic, but not rebellious. I also liked how both male love interests were 100% human—at least as far as I know—and Clare was unsure about her feeling for both of them.

The mystery was great. I’m usually very good at predicting, which is why I don’t often read mysteries. But in Clarity, the plot kept twisting and turning. You think you know who did it, then the evidence points to someone else. Although I came very close, I didn’t even predict who the murderer was!

But this book was not without its flaws. Why was Clare labeled as a “freak” and had no friends, but Perry, who had supernatural abilities too, was popular? Why did Tiffany have to be such a stereotypical mean girl? Can’t we have a unique, layered female antagonist for once? And why did Clare’s mother agree to let her teenage daughter investigate a murder? I know she wasn’t entirely your typical parent, but she seemed too sheltering to allow that.

Overall, Clarity was a quick, fun paranormal mystery. It’s not the next groundbreaker of the YA market, but I liked it. I don’t think the story needs to be continued, but since there were some questions left unanswered, I’m going to read Perception when it comes out in 2012.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In My Mailbox [11]

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we share books that we've received.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cover vs. Cover [4]

Cover vs. Cover is a weekly meme, hosted here, where I compare different covers of the same book. For more information, visit the Weekly Features page.

This week's competing covers are:

             The US Cover                                        The UK Cover

I like the font of the title on the US cover, but other than that, the UK cover is better. I love the city and the Brooklyn bridge in the background as opposed to the foggy nothing-ness of the US cover. I also like how the tagline is "If you had a second chance at first love....would you take it?" It's very fitting for the book.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Follow (my book blog) Friday [16]

This Week's Question: Genre Wars! What's your favorite genre and which book in that genre made it your favorite?

My Answer:
Oh...I can only pick one? I think I'm going to have to say Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The book that made me fall in love with fantasy is definitely Eragon. It's not the first fantasy I've read, but it's what made me love it!

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was the first sci-fi novel I ever read, and it made me start to like that genre. The Hunger Games was what made me fall in love with sci-fi!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

30 Books in 30 Days Challenge: First Update

The 30 Books in 30 Days challenge is hosted by Cait from The Cait Files.

I am *terribly* behind in this challenge. It's day 15 and I am currently reading my 10th book. I gave up on trying to list the books I'm going to read because I know it would keep changing.

Here are the books I've read so far:

Waiting on Wednesday [13]

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

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma (release date June 28, 2011)
Sixteen-year-old Maya and seventeen-year-old Lochan have never had the chance to be 'normal' teenagers. Having pulled together for years to take care of their younger siblings while their wayward, drunken mother leaves them to fend alone, they have become much more than brother and sister. And now, they have fallen in love.

But this is a love that can never be allowed, a love that will have devastating consequences...
I'm not at all a fan of books like this, but all over the blogosphere everyone's saying that it's really really good. So I have to read it, to see what I'm missing out on! I'm jealous of the people in the UK who got it first.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Girly" Covers

About a week ago, I was talking with a few teenage boys were going through the shelf of YA summer reading books at my library. They were complaining about how "there were no guy books here". There were actually quite a few guy-friendly books on the shelf. But...the covers. Almost every cover had a girl on it. If I were a guy, I definitely would not want to read a book with a girly cover. Which inspired me to write this post.

That incident proves that covers are important. Don't believe it if you don't want to, but they are. Admit it, everyone judges books by their covers. Especially teen guys, who are a lot more picky about their books than teen girls. Which is why I think that guy-friendly covers are important. Boys read YA much less than girls do, and this is not a good thing!

The cover of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, for example, I forgive for being girly. Even though it's far from chick-lit, I can't see myself recommending it to a guy.

Now, look at Prophecy of the Sisters. It is not at all a girly book. But I can just see teen boys glancing at the covering and muttering "Ugh, that's a girl book."


Rampant is another good example. It's about KILLER UNICORNS, for Pete's sake! But...there is an angsty-looking teenage girl on the cover. I really dislike covers that feature angsty teenage girls (if you don't know what I mean, look at the Vampire Academy covers). Ugh.

So, I think that for YA books that aren't chick-lit or romance, publishing houses should try to produce covers WITHOUT girls or flowers on them, so that boys will read those books. The said teenage boys at the library told me that the only YA books they've read are the Artemis Fowl series! (I absolutely love Artemis Fowl, but that's not the point.) Think of what they're missing out on!

What do you think? Should YA book covers become more guy-friendly?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Review: Brother/Sister

This is the review of an uncorrected advance copy. Changes may be made in the final book.

Title: Brother/Sister
Sean Olin
Release Date: June 9, 2011
Cover Designer:
Age Audience:
Will and Asheley have a troubled past. Their father left them when they were little, and their mother has just been carted off to an alcohol treatment center. Now, they have the house to themselves, and an endless California summer stretching out before them. Through alternating perspectives, they tell the story of how and why their lives spun violently out of control—right up to the impossibly shocking conclusion you'll have to read for yourself to believe.

My Review:
For some reason, when an ARC of this book was handed to me by the people at the Penguin booth at TLA, the first word that came into my mind was “incest”. I mean, doesn’t the title “Brother/Sister” sound at least a little suggestive? And the tagline was “Just give them a chance to explain…” That sounds quite suggestive too. But I wouldn’t say this book was incest-themed.

No, it was not incest-themed, but Will and Asheley did have a very close relationship. Maybe a little too close. At first, Will just seemed misunderstood to me. He got angry easily and was very antisocial, not wanting to be around anyone except Asheley. Considering that he and Asheley had had pretty rough lives, I didn’t blame him. But then…he just goes insane. Seriously insane. All rational thinking gone, just “Oh, that person pissed me off. I’m going to kill them!”

The book is told in alternating points of view. From what it seemed, Will and Asheley were telling their story to the police. At first I had trouble distinguishing their voices, but they became unique to me later on. Will is full of paranoia while Asheley is more innocent and trusting. As the book progresses, they start explaining the same events differently, so you start to wonder which one of them is right.

The summary clearly states that the ending was shocking. At first, I thought “Wait, there was no ending!” because the book ended mid-sentence. But then I re-read the last page a times, and I understood. Even now I haven’t quite absorbed the conclusion, because it means that everything I was led to believe earlier in the book was wrong.

While I was very intrigued, I can’t say I liked this book. Brother/Sister was not my cup of tea, but I still would recommend it to those who can handle the rough stuff. Also, I think that this book would be excellent if adapted into a made-for-TV crime movie.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

In My Mailbox [10]

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we share books that we've received.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I was busy this weekend, and I didn't schedule my posts. Sorry! Regular posting will resume on Sunday. Until then, I still might be lurking around on Twitter.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cover vs. Cover [3]

Cover vs. Cover is a weekly meme, hosted here, where I compare different covers of the same book. For more information, visit the Weekly Features page.

This week's competing covers are:

             The US Cover                                        The UK Cover

The UK cover model seems to have her back turned to us, but we see her Gallagher Academy patch. Why would her patch be on the back of her uniform? That makes me wonder. But this really is a hard decision. Both covers are cute, and both portray what the book is about perfectly (at least from what I remember. I haven't read this book in a while). I think I'll call it a tie!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Book Blogger Hop [9]

Book Blogger Hop

This Week's Question:
Share your favorite post from the last month and tell us why it’s close to your heart!

My Answer:
From last month, I think my favorite post was my review of Huntress by Malinda Lo. I don't usually enjoy writing reviews, but with that book I did, because I couldn't wait to write down how I felt about it!

My interview with Gabrielle Zevin comes in as a close second. It was my first author interview, and I was so excited to put it together!

Follow (my book blog) Friday [15]

This Week's Question: What are you doing to prepare for an upcoming zombie apocalypse and/or the return of Mel Gibson to the silver screen? (Both of which could be terrifying.)

My Answer:
For the zombie apocalypse....I'd get together a few survival backpacks, keep my metal baseball bat (and some sharp kitchen utensils, not my weapons of choice but in case I lose my bat) handy, and get a Kindle because I would not be able to drag stacks of books around with me if I was on the run (and I would surely be on the run, my house is not zombie-safe).
BUT if worst comes to worst, I'll go hide in a Sam's Club.
Why Sam's Club?
a). Concrete walls
b). Bulk supplies
c). You need a membership. So if the zombies don't have memberships...I am safe!
(but if they do have memberships, I will have to create a new worst-case scenario plan)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Review: Low Red Moon

Title: Low Red Moon
Ivy Devlin
Release Date: September 14, 2010
Cover Designer:
Danielle Delaney
Age Audience:
The only thing Avery Hood can remember about the night her parents died is that she saw silver—deadly silver, moving inhumanly fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed them, she can't, and there's nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together. Then Avery meets the new boy in school—Ben, mysterious and beautiful, with whom she feels a connection like nothing she's ever experienced. When Ben reveals he's a werewolf, Avery still trusts him—at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash inhuman silver. And she learns that she's not the only one who can't remember the night her parents died.Part murder mystery, part grief narrative, and part heart-stopping, headlong romance, Low Red Moon is a must-read for teen paranormal fans.

My Review:
First of all, why was it that every time the word “moon” showed up in the book, the text was red? I don’t see what it accomplished, and frankly, it annoyed me. Anyways, since I didn’t have very high expectations in the first place, I can’t say I was disappointed. But this book was not something to get excited over.

I wished Avery had been a little more fleshed out, but at least she wasn’t as bad as Ben. Throughout the whole book, all I knew about him was that he was beautiful, he was dangerous, and he wore moccasins. He didn’t have much of a personality. I also disliked how rushed their relationship was. Only days after they met, they were all “Oh, I’ve never felt this way before.” To me, that’s unbelievable. Even their chemistry was drab and flat.

I think that the author had too many story ideas in mind when she wrote this book. The paranormal aspect and the dull romance could have been taken out and we’d still have a whodunit murder mystery. And then maybe a little extra editing to make the mystery less predictable. I mean, I figured out who killed Avery’s parents almost right away.

The funny thing is, despite werewolves being the paranormal creatures of  this book, the word “werewolf” is not used even once. It was always “the wolves” or “the creatures”. Oh, and why are so many YA paranormal romances set in fictional small towns? It’s not that I don’t like that setting. In fact, I do like that setting. But it’s been used so many times, and it’s getting old.

Predictable, and maybe even a little generic, Low Red Moon was neither good nor bad. It was an okay book, and I don’t regret reading it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

30 Books in 30 Days Challenge: Introductory Post

The 30 Books in 30 Days challenge is hosted by Cait from The Cait Files. Basically, you read 30 books in 30 days. I'm really excited, because I'm going to have a lot of free time this summer and I've never read that many books in that period of time before.

Here is the list of books I'm going to read:
(subject to change without notice)
(not in any particular order)
(links go to Goodreads)
        (Yes, the list is incomplete, I will probably have the list finished by next week!)

        I will be posting an update every Wednesday (and will be updating much more frequently on Twitter). It's not to late if you want to sign up! Just head over to The Cait Files and enter the linky.