Review: Hello Lovelies! by Hayley DeRoche

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Release date: May 23, 2019

Publisher: Audible Studios

Narrator: Emily Bauer

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

For fans of Sophie Kinsella and Kevin Kwan comes a laugh-out-loud debut that takes listeners inside the cutthroat world of mommy blogging. 

Ruthie St. James – formerly a political communications strategist, currently a stay-at-home mom, and all of a sudden friendless after her daughter’s peanut butter cookie sends another toddler to the hospital – needs a break. And when she wins an all-expenses paid cruise vacation with her idol, the superstar mommy blogger Jesca Pine, she can’t wait to connect with other moms IRL. But the cruise is not the Instagram-worthy getaway Ruthie had in mind: firstly, the other bloggers aren’t here to make friends – they’re here to impress a major talent agent who’s been spotted on the ship, and they’ll do just about anything to get her attention. On top of that, someone aboard keeps leaking scandalous (and off-brand) stories to an unforgiving gossip site, and Jesca’s losing her followers as quickly as her sanity. All this leaves Ruthie walking on eggshells, and after a scandal of her own, she only has one more chance to salvage her vacation: using her political savvy to negotiate with the team of ruthless saboteurs behind Jesca Pine’s demise…Jesca’s own teenage daughters.

Hello Lovelies! is a joyous, irreverent debut about friendship, motherhood, and what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s digital world. 

Review:

I know that we have all heard of a beach read but what about a beach listen? I’ve never really thought about any particular audiobooks being perfect for vacation but while I was listening to this one I kept thinking that this would be ideal! It was the perfect blend of humor and lighthearted fun to make this is an incredibly easy listen and one that I enjoyed immensely.

I’m no stranger to online mommy drama, I’m not sure there is any way to avoid it if you’re raising young children today so that’s what initially caught my eye with this one. Throw in a cruise with influential mommy bloggers and my drama radar is beeping loud and clear! This poked fun at the mommy wars in a snarky way that seriously made me cackle. It’s over the top dramatic in the best and most fun way, I can’t even tell you how many times I was dying laughing.

The narration was fantastic, there were lots of excerpts from blog posts, podcasts and various social media sites and there were many fitting sound effects included to help keep things straight. It was a fun added touch that I appreciated and definitely helped to keep things from being confusing.

Overall I really, really liked this one and would most definitely read another book from the author, it was super fun and a really great listen!

Hello Lovelies! in three words: Snarky, Witty and Hilarious

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Nowhere Child by Christian White

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Release date: January 22, 2019

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Narrator: Katherine Littrell

Blurb:

Kimberly Leamy is a photography teacher in Melbourne, Australia. Twenty-six years earlier, Sammy Went, a two-year old girl vanished from her home in Manson, Kentucky. An American accountant who contacts Kim is convinced she was that child, kidnapped just after her birthday. She cannot believe the woman who raised her, a loving social worker who died of cancer four years ago, crossed international lines to steal a toddler.

On April 3rd, 1990, Jack and Molly Went’s daughter Sammy disappeared from the inside their Kentucky home. Already estranged since the girl’s birth, the couple drifted further apart as time passed. Jack did his best to raise and protect his other daughter and son while Molly found solace in her faith. The Church of the Light Within, a Pentecostal fundamentalist group who handle poisonous snakes as part of their worship, provided that faith. Without Sammy, the Wents eventually fell apart.

Now, with proof that she and Sammy are in fact the same person, Kim travels to America to reunite with a family she never knew she had. And to solve the mystery of her abduction—a mystery that will take her deep into the dark heart of religious fanaticism where she must fight for her life against those determined to save her soul… 

Review:

There are a rare handful of books that when listened to in audio format are taken to the next level and The Nowhere Child is most certainly one of those books. The combination of an incredibly well thought out mystery and top notch narration made this one a must listen.

While the premise itself doesn’t sound all that original I can say that I’ve never seen it handled in the way the author did. This flips back and forth between past and present; in the present Kim learns that her mom may have actually been a kidnapper, and what’s worse is that she’s been dead for years so answers are not easy to come by and in the past you follow the Wendt family in the days leading up to Sammy’s disappearance and after she’s gone. Both past and present were equally enthralling, I found myself riveted no matter what chapter I was listening to. You know just from the blurb that Kim was indeed kidnapped, so there’s no surprise as to the what, but the fun lies in the who and the why. Throw in a crazy, cult like church which never fails to intrigue me and you have a great recipe for a highly original mystery.

The narrator is Australian and I’m a sucker for an accent, but she also pulled off a really well done American drawl without sounding contrived. She was just excellent and like I said earlier, she raised the stakes with impeccable delivery and a smooth voice that was hypnotic. Highly recommended for audio fans!

The Nowhere Child in three words: Nuanced, Seamless and Tense.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Red Alert by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

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Release date: March 26, 2018

Publisher: Hachette Audio

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Narrator: Edoaurdo Ballerini

Blurb:

The richest of New York’s rich gather at The Pierre’s Cotillion Room to raise money for those less fortunate. A fatal blast rocks the room, stirring up horrifying memories of 9/11. Is the explosion an act or terrorism–or a homicide?

A big-name female filmmaker is the next to die, in a desolate corner of New York City. Detectives Zach Jordan and Kylie MacDonald investigate. But the crimes keep escalating as a shadowy killer masterfully plays out his vendetta–and threatens to take down NYPD Red in the bargain.

Review:

Though I’ve been a very long time fan of Patterson’s books, both his standalones and his many series (Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Lindsey Boxer, I’ve read them all) I made the switch from reading his physical books to listening solely on audio a couple of years ago. It kind of happened by accident, I was browsing Overdrive for a new listen and grabbed the latest Women’s Murder Club installment and realized what an amazing narrator January LaVoy is. All of that to say, having now listened to several of Patterson’s books I have to tell you guys that he has THE best narrators I’ve come across, and Ballerini is no exception. I say that because I know many people don’t enjoy audiobooks for various reasons but if you ever wanna give one a try just grab any Patterson one and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The Red series follows partners Zack and Kylie who work as part of the NYPD and their unique task force is assigned cases pertaining to the rich and famous. These two have a history that always seems to come in play at some point even though their past was several years ago, you never quite know what’s going on between them at any given moment. They have an undeniable chemistry and their banter is on point, it’s snappy and funny and lightens the mood in an endearing way.

Per his usual style the author(s) have included several subplots that keep things moving at a rapid pace. There’s a bombing at a high profile event, the murder of a controversial filmmaker and a robbery at a high stakes poker game among other things, plenty to keep you on your toes, I can’t say I was ever bored for one minute.

Again, Ballerini is an incredibly talented narrator, I don’t know if I would be enjoying this series as much as I have been if I was reading myself, he has an engaging voice that also demands to be heard, it’s fantastic!

Red Alert in three words: Explosive, Interesting and Exciting.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen @Fab_fiction @bookouture

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Release date: September 20, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Narrator: Alex Tregear

Blurb:

You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you’d kill for it?’

Be careful what you wish for…

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.

But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family…

Review:

I’ve been a huge fan of Louise Jensen and have read all of her books and loved them, but I think The Surrogate is my new favorite! I’ve also not had the pleasure of listening to one of her books before either and I absolutely adored the way this was brought to life by the fabulous narrator, Alex Tregear. It made the whole thing feel more real and was so much more sinister than just reading it myself, she’s amazing and has one of those voices you could listen to for hours.

This flips between the past and present steadily building tension and intrigue as you read further along. Kat was easy for me to warm to, all she wants is a child and though I never had to endure fertility treatments in order to have my kids, I can clearly remember how one month can seem like a year when you’re desperately wanting a baby. Lisa was a tricky one, I so wanted to believe that she had good intentions and wanted to help her old friend, but it’s a Louise Jensen book and you just know there’s way more than meets the eye. Oh man is there SO much more!

I’m not delving into the plot, it was deliciously twisty, dark and thrilling though and if you haven’t read one of Jensen’s books, can I recommend that you start here?! It has all the high marks of a superb psychological thriller, unreliability, shocks, complex plotting and an onslaught of twists that will leave your head spinning.

The Surrogate in three words: Multifaceted, Ominous and Wicked.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald @LindaMac1

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Release date: November 16, 2016

Publisher: Essential Music

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Narrator: Harriet Carmichael

Blurb:

“Edward Harvey. Even thinking his name made her tingle with half-remembered childlike giddiness. Edward Harvey, the only one from Brocklebank to whom she might write if she found him.”

When Marianne comes home from work one day to find her husband talking to a glamorous woman in the kitchen, insecurities resurface from a time when she was bullied at school. Jealousy rears its head and her marriage begins to fall apart. Desperate for a solution, she finds herself trying to track down her first schoolgirl crush: Edward Harvey. Even thinking his name made her tingle with half-remembered childlike giddiness. Edward Harvey, the only one from Brocklebank to whom she might write if she found him.

Meeting Lydia is a book about childhood bullying, midlife crises, obsession, jealousy and the ever-growing trend of Internet relationships. It will appeal to fans of adult fiction and those interested in the dynamics and psychology of relationships.

I’m delighted to be the stop on the blog tour for Meeting Lydia today!

Review:

This was a fascinating read, the type that explores relationships and human behavior and the reasons for our behavior. A number of things lead Marianne to try and contact her childhood friend, Edward including insecurity after her husband begins to show an interest in a younger coworker and basic conflicting (and all too common) midlife feelings and emotions. The appeal of connecting online is also a factor, she likes the anonymity that the internet provides and craves something she can call her own beyond motherhood and being a wife. I think women at any age could find something about Marianne’s journey they could relate to and MacDonald explores her issues in an interesting way.

Carmichael is a lovely narrator, she has a melodic and soothing voice but manages to hold your interest as well. I really like listening to audiobooks narrated by someone with an accent, I think it holds my attention better and there’s something charming about an English accent. I found myself caught up in Marianne’s life and was invested in the outcome and while it wasn’t the neat, tidy ending I usually prefer, I respect the way things were left and understand the authors intention.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

About the Narrator:

About the Narrator: Harriet Carmichael

I’ve always loved doing voices.  I grew up with Radio 4 being on constantly in the background. Somehow the voices and accents broadcast over the years soaked in. And now I do voices. Or if you ask my agent, I’m a “voice artist”.

For the last seven years I’ve spent most of my days in front of a microphone: as myself; as seven-year-old boys; talking baboons; angsty teenagers (usually American); androgynous talking cats; Glaswegian Grannies; the cast of The Archers

After university I trained at The Oxford School of Drama and then acted mainly with touring theatre companies – some brilliant, some not so… I had a lot of fun, but once I started doing voiceovers in warm studios with good coffee, being on the road lost some of its appeal.

And the voice can do much more than people think. Tone, timing, pitch and accent can all vary depending on the job. From commercials and corporates to cartoons, computer games and audiobooks, it’s a brilliant job and, really, I owe it all to Radio 4.

#Audiobook Review: The First One to Die by Victoria Jenkins @vicwritescrime @bookouture

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Release date: November 15, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Narrator: Katie Villa

Blurb:

Four friends. A house full of secrets. And a killer picking them off one by one…

She tried to break her fall, twisting desperately, but there was nothing to catch hold of, nothing with which she could stop herself. Her single scream cut through the night air.

Keira North falls to her death at a party. It initially seems like an accident, but Detectives Alex King and Chloe Lane suspect foul play: they are convinced they are dealing with a murder.

When the detectives start to investigate, they soon find that all of Keira’s closest friends have secrets that someone might kill to keep.

And as Alex and Chloe are fighting their own demons and struggling to stay on top of the case, Keira’s killer is circling the group of friends, who one by one find that their lives are in danger…

The First One to Die is a heart-stopping and shocking detective thriller that will have you gripped until the very last page. Perfect for fans of Patricia Gibney, Angela Marsons, and Val McDermid.

Review:

This is the second in a series following the dynamic duo of Alex and Chloe, I really enjoyed the first book The Girls in the Water and was eager to catch up with them again. I think one of the things that I love the most about this series is the fact that you have two strong women working as partners, it’s unique and I’m all about the girl power! I also enjoyed diving deeper into their personal lives and finding out more about what motivates them and seeing what Alex in particular is dealing with in her personal life was heartbreaking and really helped to explain some of her behavior.

The case they’re working is certainly intriguing, a group of friends seem to be harboring plenty of secrets and the further Alex and Chloe investigate, the more darkness they uncover. Though the list of suspects is on the smaller side I still couldn’t pin down a culprit, Jenkins definitely plotted this one well and kept me guessing and then second guessing over and over again. I found this to be set at a quicker pace than the previous book and I’m always down for a high speed, exciting story and this surely delivered.

Villa was an amazing narrator, her nuances for expressing various emotions or different characters was outstanding. I’m always enraptured by listening to someone with an accent and I swear Bookouture has the BEST narrators around, every single one of their audiobooks has a fantastic narrator as well as a fantastic story, so if you’re a fan of audiobooks I can highly recommend them!

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

#Audiobook Review: Broken Bones by Angela Marson @writeangie @bookouture

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Release date: November 3, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Narrator: Jan Cramer

Blurb:

They thought they were safe. They were wrong.

The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.

As three more sex workers are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.

At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what looks like a tragic abandonment turns even more sinister when a case of modern slavery is uncovered.

The two investigations bring the team into a terrifying world of human exploitation and cruelty – and a showdown that puts Kim’s life at risk as shocking secrets from her own past come to light.

Review:

This book has been out for more than a month now and despite my excitement about a new Kim Stone book, I held off on reading it as soon as I got my hands on it. I know that sounds weird, especially since this is one of my favorite series, but I knew as soon as I finished I would be desperate for the next book anyway so I decided to show some restraint for once in my life. My patience paid off because I ended up having the opportunity to listen to the audio version and it was outstanding, it definitely enhanced my experience, I absolutely loved it.

I think everyone has heard me rave about this series and Marsons talent as a writer several times before, so I’ll try and spare you and won’t repeat myself too much and just say that these books honestly just get better, sharper, and darker in each installment and are always intricately plotted and shocking.

Two things make this series standout among a hundred other police procedurals for me. First, Marsons always seems to have her finger on the pulse of society and addresses current issues in a compassionate and educational way while still managing to be exciting and fresh. This time Kim and team are dealing with immigration issues, prostitution and even slavery. Using extremely important issues in her novels lends an authenticity that is unmatched, it serves to bring a human connection to an otherwise grim plot. Secondly, she keeps her characters constantly evolving, she reveals new things about their pasts and who they are in each book and oftentimes surprises me with said revelations, which is difficult to do.

Cramer is the perfect narrator for this one, her voice is soothing and so easy to listen to. I know many people say that their mind wanders anytime they try and listen to an audiobook and my attention never strayed throughout this for a minute. Between Marsons riveting story and Cramer’s fluid voice I was utterly absorbed. It doesn’t hurt that I could listen to an English accent all day long either, but seriously read this book. Even better, listen to this book, I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: Let’s Just Be Friends by Camilla Isley @camillaisley

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Release date: October 13, 2017 (Audible version)

Narrator: Heidi Baker

Publisher: Pink Bloom Press

Genre: NA Romance

Blurb:

What if the man you’ve always loved isn’t the right one for you?

Rose Atwood has been in love with her best friend for years, and she’s tired of keeping her feelings under wraps for fear of getting hurt. Being Tyler’s best friend is becoming more difficult with every passing year and every new woman in his life—especially Georgiana Smithson, a snotty, beautiful girl who’s in Law School with them.

When Rose, dumped by her long-term boyfriend, moves temporarily into Tyler’s apartment, tension spikes. Georgiana wants Rose out of the house. Rose wants Georgiana out of Tyler’s life. And Tyler … well, he doesn’t really know what he wants.

As an unexpected argument brings Rose and Tyler closer than they’ve ever been, they must decide if there’s more to their relationship than being just friends. And they must do it quickly, as Georgiana is determined to do everything in her power to keep Tyler and Rose apart. After all, all is fair in love and war.

Will Rose make a leap of faith and trust Tyler with her heart? Will Tyler make the right choice, or will he be too late?

Let’s Be Just Friends is a fast paced, captivating novel that will keep you glued to the pages with humor, heartbreak, and romance. It’s a story about friendship, love, and the choices we make.

Review:

This is the first in a series that follows a group of college aged kids as they navigate adulthood, school and love. I actually read the second book, Friend Zone first but reading them out of order wasn’t an issue for me, but naturally if you’re new to the series I would recommend starting with book one.

This is told via multiple perspectives but you mainly hear from Rose and Tyler with a handful of chapters from Georgiana and her brother Ethan. Rose and Tyler swear they’re “just friends” but the only people who truly believe that are them, it’s so blatantly obvious they have feelings for each other to everyone else, they’re in total denial. Rose is single but Tyler has a girlfriend named Georgiana and she’s bound and determined to keep her man away from Rose. There is a whole lotta drama going on between these three and then when Rose meets Ethan things get even more sticky.

I love Isley’s style, she writes the type of books that you can get lost in and finish in a few hours, there’s nothing complicated, well besides the characters relationships haha! They’re not too heavy and the drama makes for some great entertainment which is just what I need from time to time. Heidi Baker was a really great narrator, she had a super warm voice that was engaging and made me feel like I was listening to a friend talk to me about her crazy group of friends. Cute, uncomplicated and flirty would be the perfect description!

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: 16th Seduction by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro @HachetteAudio


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Release date: June 1, 2017

Publisher: Hachette Audio

Narrator: January LaVoy

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb: 

Detective Lindsay Boxer faces a heart-stopping threat in the newest Women’s Murder Club thriller.Fifteen months ago, Detective Lindsay Boxer’s life was perfect–she had a beautiful child and a doting husband, Joe, who helped her catch a criminal who’d brazenly detonated a bomb in downtown San Francisco, killing twenty-five people. But Joe wasn’t everything that Lindsay thought he was, and she’s still reeling from his betrayal as a wave of mysterious, and possibly unnatural, heart attacks claims seemingly unrelated victims across San Francisco. As if that weren’t enough, the bomber she and Joe captured is about to go on trial, and his defense raises damning questions about Lindsay and Joe’s investigation. Not knowing whom to trust, and struggling to accept the truth about the man she thought she knew, Lindsay must connect the dots of a deadly conspiracy before a brilliant criminal puts her on trial. 

Review: 

The Women’s Murder Club series is one I turn to whenever I want to read a book purely to be entertained as I haven’t been let down by Lindsay and her girls yet! This series is highly entertaining and addictive and if you’ve never read anything by Patterson before, it’s a fantastic place to start. Whenever I grab one of these books I feel like I’m catching up with old friends because Lindsay, Yuki, Claire and Cindy are such realistic characters, even if their lives are far more exciting than mine, so it’s always fun to see what they’re up to now. 

After the events in 15th Affair, Joe and Lindsay’s marriage is on shaky ground. Things are tenuous at best and when they’re next door on a date when a bomb explodes, all hell breaks loose and puts them under even more strain. Simultaneously, there’s a crafty killer at large commuting murders in an almost undetectable manner so as always, the stakes are high and Lindsay turns to her friends. All three of them play a pretty active part in this book which always pleases me, I can’t get enough of them and miss when they’re given a role on the periphery. I feel like this series in general is classic Patterson and I’ve never really felt the lag in the middle like with some of his other work. Things are kept fresh and exciting with each installment and this was no exception. 

January LaVoy is an amazing narrator, I’ve listened to some of her other work before and she changes her voice on a dime, it’s incredible. I think I would be fascinated listening to her read the dictionary, she’s that good. I used to read this series myself, but after listening to the last few (all narrated by LaVoy), I’ll be following along with the audio versions, she just brings something special to her performance, it’s outstanding and highly entertaining. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy. 

Audiobook Review: The Futures by Anna Pitoniak @HachetteAudio


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Release date: January 17, 2017

Publisher: Hachette Audio

Narrator: Sarah Mollo-Christensen and Michael Crouch 

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb: 

A heart-wrenching debut novel about a young couple trying to find out what they really want in life–and whether or not that includes each other.Julia and Evan fall in love as undergraduates at Yale. For Evan, who grew up in a small town in Canada, Yale is a whole new world, and Julia–blond, beautiful and rich–is part of his vision for a successful future. After they graduate in 2008, they move together to New York city, where Evan takes a job at a hedge fund–another step forward in the life he imagines for himself.Julia, who has only known a life of privilege, graduates with an art history degree and no plan for her own future. She lands a low paying assistant job at a nonprofit, unsure about what she really wants, and wondering when everyone else figured that out for themselves. With the market crashing and banks failing around him, Evan becomes involved in an increasingly high-stakes deal at work, and begins to realize that the price of privilege may come with dangerous strings attached. Meanwhile, Julia reconnects with someone from her past–someone who offers her a vision of a different kind of life.Told in alternating perspectives, The Futures is a vivid story about love–falling in and out of it–betrayal, and the burning desire to be valued. 

Review: 

Told from both Julia and Evan’s point of view, The Futures is a tale of that awkward period in ones life immediately after college where the transition from the carefree days of school to work begins. Both Julia and Evan struggle to adapt to adulthood in different ways and there is an underlying sense of uneasiness and dread throughout as you know something is going to happen to throw them off course. 

I liked the setting of NYC in 2008 during the Great Recession as I remember those days clearly. Evan seems to have found his spot in the city when he lands a highly sought after job at a hedge fund. Julia however struggles to find her place and a wedge is quickly driven between the couple. Resentment and hostilities surface and betrayals are committed against each other. Both of them make the typical mistakes that the young and naive so often do and both are also pretty self absorbed and privileged but they’re still oddly likable and endearing. 

Pitoniak has a strong writing style with a very polished feel that was brought to life by the fantastic narrators. Both did an excellent job at portraying their characters and conveyed the emotional and evocative feel beautifully. The ending was open ended which isn’t my favorite thing, but it did work well here. 
Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Hachette Audio for my review copy.