Audiobooks: How to Get Into Them

As I said in my first post about where to find audiobooks, I was not always an audiobook reader. I didn’t think I could absorb books in the same way if I was listening to them as opposed to reading them with my eyeballs. And yet, last year I listened to 70 books. So how did I go from zero audiobooks in 2015 and 3 in 2016 to 70 in 2018? Well, that’s what I’m going to go into in this post. What worked for me may not work for you. But hopefully these tips at least give you a place to get started.

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August Wrap Up: Part Two

Well, y’all, with a little bit of bending the rules and also not following my TBR, I survived my NEWTS and can become an Auror! Woo! So, let’s get into the books that I finished in the second half of August.

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Well Met by Jen DeLuca: A Spoiler Free Review

Well Met by Jen DeLuca is a Renaissance Faire set rom-com that hits all the right notes. Emily is in a small Maryland (I think) town (that is extraordinarily homogeneous, aka it’s all white people) because her sister, April, was in a bad car accident and needs help getting to appointments and taking care of her teenage daughter, Caitlin. Emily could put her real life on pause to help April because she just got dumped by her lawyer boyfriend, for whom she dropped out of college to support him through law school. Anyway, when Emily is taking Caitlin to the high school for Ren Faire sign ups, she discovers that she is obligated to stay and volunteer herself so that Caitlin can participate. Leading the Ren Faire is Simon, the buttoned up high school English teacher who embraces his pirate persona at the Faire, but first he has to lecture on all things history. Simon is also dealing with grief over a death in his family.

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Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore: A Spoiler Free Review

Wow, it feels like it’s been forever since I’ve sat down and written a full book review. The brain power just hasn’t been there. Hopefully it’s been less long for those of you reading this because I would like to get a review posted for The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai before it’s publication date. But today is June 22, 2019 and I wanted to send Bringing Down the Duke off to Dani and Dani’s Bookshelf today, but I needed to write this review first! Bringing Down the Duke hits shelves on September 3, 2019, which should be two days from now if I timed this correctly!

So if you’ve ever wondered who out there is winning those giveaways on Goodreads, I am happy to exclaim that I won one of the giveaways for an advanced copy of Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore! I had to send it to my parent’s house because they refuse to send books to post office boxes for some unknown reason that is epically unfair to those of us who don’t have a physical mailing address.

Anyway, when I arrived home for Father’s Day weekend, I opened my package, squealed about how gorgeous the cover is and then went to bed because I didn’t get home until late. Saturday morning though? I started this book and was the worst daughter because I basically didn’t want to do anything until I’d finished. I found Bringing Down the Duke to be compulsively readable and I absolutely adored it.

For those of you who love Managed in Kristen Callihan’s VIP series the best because you love seeing buttoned up Scotty unraveling because of Sophie, you’ll probably love this book. The Duke of Montgomery gave me slight Mr. Darcy vibes and describing him as buttoned up feels generous. He is uptight and in rigid control. His personal feelings do not get to factor into his decisions because his goal is to regain his family’s ancestral home and to restore his family’s name to where it “should” be. He’s more or less accomplished the latter part of his goal, but his ancestral home remains just out of reach.

When the Queen tells him to win the election for the Tories (the party adamantly opposed to progress) and she’ll get her son (nephew? Idk) to sell his house back to him, he knows just what he has to do. Of course, when he keeps running into Annabelle, the suffragette specifically tasked to convince him to vote for women’s suffrage, he thinks he can just put her in a box and keep her there. Never mind his fierce attraction to her. Genuinely, watching him unravel is the best!

Now, Annabelle is our heroine and I think she’s absolutely wonderful. Overly educated for a woman of her time, she’s thrilled to be able to attend Oxford in their first class of women (sort of). She has to manipulate her cousin, who has guardianship of her or whatever because WOW did women really have no rights back then, and her paragraph about this is fantastic.

Annabelle lowered her lashes. She knew it would look demure, and demure placated her cousin best when he was all in a fluster. Of all the types of men she had learned to manage, the “ignorant yet self-important” type was not exactly the most challenging. Then again, when her very fate lay in the hands of such a man, it added insult to injury. Gilbert would snatch the chance of a lifetime from her here in his cramped little study and go straight back to admiring his freshly pinned butterflies in the display case on the desk between them.

*Note: The above quote is subject to change from the ARC version.*

She does manage to go off to school and finds herself having to do so much. She has to work to pay Gilbert two pounds a month, which her stipend doesn’t cover, she’s got to study, and because her stipend comes from a society aimed at getting women the vote, she also has to attend meetings and work to advance the cause. Everyone is flabbergasted when she approaches the Duke of Montgomery to hand him a flyer about women’s suffrage and she develops a reputation in the Society as The Woman to get things done, essentially.

I don’t want to spoil anything about the plot and how the Duke and Annabelle are ultimately forced together, but I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I did feel like something was missing at the end, just because it felt so abrupt to me. I think this is a fine line in romance and I’m usually the person jumping up and down screaming because how dare you end the book there? I’m sure for many the end will be totally fine. Oh! And for anyone wondering, the heat level of this book felt like a Tessa Dare style, maybe Sarah MacLean. The anticipation scenes are like… Wow. But there aren’t very many actual sex scenes (maybe three? four?).

Before I wrap this up, I do want to talk briefly about how much I adored the side characters! I thought the women in the Suffrage group becoming a found family was absolutely marvelous. The group of women are all a little different and I cannot wait to meet them for real in each of the spinoffs. (I’m assuming we’re getting at least four books in this series. *crosses fingers*) The next book is going to be a hate to love/second chance, I think, and I am excited but nervous. I didn’t really like the intro of this male lead and I’m apprehensive about whether I will truly be able to find him forgivable.

Are you going to pick this book up? Are you excited about it? Let me know!


Most Anticipated Fall Releases

Fall is my favorite season for so many reasons, one of which is that I finally get to break out my favorite clothing items: sweaters and boots. Of course, in NC, Fall is still a long time coming, but you know, pumpkin spice lattes are back! (I don’t particularly like them, but it’s one step closer to snickerdoodle hot chocolate being back on the menu so I’ll be less reliant on finding a worker who knows how to make it year round!) Anyway, what Fall also means is that there are some extremely exciting books coming out in the next few months. So let’s jump into my list of books I am so excited for!

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Audiobooks: A Discussion of How to Find Them

I never expected to love audiobooks as much as I do. Last year, they were such a huge part of my reading and it caught me off guard when I did my end of the year stats. So Dani asked me to give my opinion on the different services for audiobooks and that’s what I tried to do in this post, but I make no promises this will be helpful to you in any way.

I thought I would just make a quick post about my tips for increasing your audio listening if that’s something you’re interested in and then also talk about where to find audiobooks so you don’t go broke.

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August Wrap Up, Part One

This wrap up is late, but honestly, I’m not even surprised by myself anymore as far as that goes. But, on the bright side, I’m getting it up before the end of the month so I DO have time to squeeze in a non-wrap up post before I’m done, I think.

Continue reading “August Wrap Up, Part One”

Pairing Songs from Lover with Romance Novels (The Second Nine)

I’m back with the second half of the album and I’m going to try and be kind to myself so I don’t wind up recommending a million books per song, but that’s to be determined honestly. Anyway, let’s get into it!

Death by a Thousand Cuts

Key Lyric: My body, my love but it wasn’t enough, it wasn’t enough, no, no

So this is definitely a break up song, but it gives me Kiss of Snow vibes hard, just Kiss of Snow has a for sure happy ending and who knows where Death by a Thousand Cuts goes? (Just so we’re clear, it turns out this song is inspired by that movie on Netflix that I haven’t seen yet, but apparently should watch.) Anyway, Kiss of Snow is my favorite in the Psy-Changeling series as you may well know by now. Hawke and Sienna forever. But because of the age gap and some other things, Hawke is very much like, “nope, no, this can’t happen” but he wants Sienna and it’s SO good, y’all. Anyway, I love this book the most.

London Boy

Key Lyric: But God I love the English

I mean, literally everyone, including Casey McQuiston is now aware that this song has STRONG Red, White, and Royal Blue vibes. Like, Taylor needs to read that book if she hasn’t. If you’ve missed the fervor, Red, White, and Royal Blue is about First Son, Alex, and Prince of Wales, Henry, having to pretend to be friends because publicity and then oops, they fell in love. I absolutely adore this book. I think it’s hilarious and wonderful, but here are a couple of reasons you may not like the book so don’t at me if you try it and hate these things: (1) Henry should not have the title Prince of Wales, (2) the political AU is weird, (3) it is incredibly odd to read third person present tense, and (4) CW: unwanted outing. Here are reasons you may love this novel: (1) the perfect amount of Harry Potter references, (2) the texts are EVERYTHING, (3) the characters are wonderful, and (4) the turkey scene.

Soon You’ll Get Better

Key Lyric: What am I supposed to do if there’s no you?

Okay, so this song is just about grief. Specifically, Taylor’s mom (Andrea) is sick and this song is what Taylor wrote because it’s how she feels and it’s very real and honest. So I’ve got a range of books here because grief is something Romancelandia tackles with pretty regular frequency, but the most on point recommendation if you want to cry is The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lorde, which was a devastating YA contemporary with romance. The overarching themes in The Names They Gave Us though is that her mom is sick and she’s being sent off to be a camp counselor at a different camp than the Church Camp her parents run. I thought it tackled religion really, really well without ever feeling too preachy, but I’m sure that’s a YMMV kind of thing. There is a romance in here that I absolutely adored, but mostly this book is about grief and fear about what’s going to happen with her mom. It’s honestly so good. I don’t have words. Anyway, in adult land, both Trade Me and Hold Me by Courtney Milan have scenes with an important family member in the hospital that hit at that same sensation. Romancelandia in general would absolutely be able to help you if you want to work through your grief with a book, but to be honest, I tend to avoid books with grief as a major plot point because I do not cope well with grief.

False God

Key Lyric: We were crazy to think this could work.

Okay, I know I’ve made my obsession with Psy-Changeling very clear, but let’s be honest, Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh reeks of False God energy. Riaz has met his mate, but she’s human and happily married, so he returns home and he and Adria keep clashing. They are peek angst, honestly (plus, so much Hawke and Sienna, it’s great!) and just really, False God energy. It’s also kind of hard not to think of Sinner by Sierra Simone considering Zenny is literally trying to become a nun and then she asks Sean to basically show her everything she’ll be missing. It’s… delightful. Also, also, Max and Gina from Troubleshooters? Omg. Okay. I need to stop because now I keep thinking of people, because like, I think this song is basically my favorite concept when done by Suzanne Brockmann because wow, Sam and Alyssa and Jules and Robin

You Need to Calm Down

Key Lyric: But you would rather be in the dark ages…

Listen, there’s this scene in Still by Kennedy Ryan that knocks it out of the park with putting racist assholes in their place. I absolutely adore the Grip trilogy and I think it’s basically tied with Block Shot as my favorite Kennedy Ryan work. Anyway, the Grip trilogy starts with Flow and you should definitely start there. Grip and Bristol meet in Flow and they have this intense connection. Grip is a black man from a poor neighborhood outside of LA who met Bristol’s brother when he got a scholarship to this magnet school for the arts. He’s an aspiring rapper–or he is a rapper, but he hasn’t MADE it yet, so whatever you want to consider that. And Bristol is this WASPy white lady from the East Coast, but they just… connect. And then it all goes wrong and I swear the angst almost killed me. Anyway, the mood isn’t necessarily right, but the social commentary is on point and brilliant. CWs may be necessary for the series, so feel free to reach out if you need them.


Key Lyric: Fighting with a true love is boxing with no gloves

So I struggle with this song, because I know that what it actually is, is Taylor talking about how her anxiety keeps her in her head a lot and she withdraws sometimes instead of actually talking about her problems. But like… there are definitely some lines in this song that has my domestic violence focused brain sending up some alarms. That said, anxiety is (obviously) super real and I absolutely have similar bad instincts sometimes when my anxiety flares and decides that everyone hates me. I think American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera tackles some of those relationship anxieties in a very real way and how sometimes we hurt people when we don’t mean to and despite the fact that we love them a lot. I also think Untouchable by Talia Hibbert hits on some of this pretty well too. Both Hannah and Nathaniel can struggle with communication sometimes and they want their relationship to work so it sucks when things get in the way. And… Finally. A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole also has some of this. Nya’s dealing with a lot of guilt about her father’s actions in A Princess in Theory and Johan is just…. Oh my sweet precious baby. He’s got a lot going on in that head of his. Anyway, anxiety gets in the way of a lot sometimes, doesn’t it? Okay, I’m coming around to loving this song the way I think I should. Lol


Key Lyric: I know that I’m a handful baby

Did I use Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating yesterday? I did. But I shouldn’t have because wow, does Hazel give off major Me! vibes. I love her so much. Anyway, since I DID use that yesterday, let me take a minute to recommend Hook Shot by Kennedy Ryan. I feel like I always talk about the other books in the Hoops series, but actually I love Hook Shot. Lotus is such a babe. She’s sworn off men, except, well, Kenan can be her friend, fine. (If you’re like, hey that sounds like “I hate accidents except for when we went from friends to this”, you are RIGHT and can consider this book also a rec for Paper Rings.) She works for a fashion designer and is just so HERSELF that it’s really incredible. CW for prior sexual assault, a suicide attempt, and a car accident. In case you can’t tell from today’s recommendations, I love Kennedy Ryan. Lol

It’s Nice to Have a Friend

Key Lyric: 20 questions, we tell the truth

Alright, here’s a throwback and also I’m only recommending this YA romance so sorry if that’s not your jam. But as soon as I heard this line, I got the BIGGEST Wes and Macy vibes. The Truth About Forever is my favorite Sarah Dessen novel and there are some things you should know going in. One, Macy’s dad died and she feels like it’s her fault. Two, her boyfriend is off to smart kid camp for the summer. Three, she starts working for this catering company and then her whole direction in life changes. I love this book so, so much. I did read it for the first time as a high schooler, so idk how adult me would feel about it, but high school me was like WOW. Anyway, Wes and Macy play truth and it’s just really, really good. Maybe I should go re-read this…


Key Lyric: You gotta step into the daylight and let it go

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes is not technically a romance, but it’s actually perfect for this song and it is a romance in accordance with our one TRUE genre convention. Evvie Drake is now a widow. In fact, she was widowed on the very day she was going to leave her husband. She’s kind of adrift in life right now and then her best friend, Andy, says he has this friend who needs a place to lie low and would it be okay if he rents her apartment in her house. Evvie agrees and then she and Dean, former professional baseball player, strike up a friendship that slowly turns into more. This book doesn’t follow typical genre conventions, which is why I say it’s not technically a romance, but it’s really lovely and quiet and just good.

And there you have it! Another nine songs (thank you, Taylor) and a whole lot of books to go with your favorite song! If anyone else has done something similar, and I know there are a few already, please feel free to leave them in the comments because I’m obsessed. Also, please leave your favorite songs below!


Pairing Lover Songs with Romance Novels (The First Nine)

In case you didn’t know, Taylor Swift is my favorite musician ever and there is nothing I love more than talking about her. So what better thing to do than pair the first half of her latest album (arguably her best, but I’ll throw down for Red and Speak Now too), Lover. Right now my top four songs are Cruel Summer, The Man, The Archer, and Paper Rings. Have you listened? If so, what are yours? (Oh and don’t worry, the other nine songs will be up ASAP with their book pairings!)

I Forgot That You Existed

Key Lyric: I forgot that you existed and I thought that it would kill me but it didn’t

So I really wasn’t sure where to go with this song. It’s a fun and upbeat number that presumably in the arc of a romance novel would come toward the beginning. But the majority of second chance romances are pretty angsty, so I decided this could go one of two ways and therefore I have two recommendations for you.

First up, we have my true favorite second chance romance, Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai because Livvy and Nico are basically everything. Olivia Kane and Nicholas Chandler broke up in the aftermath of family tragedy, but have gotten together every year on her birthday for an epic sex session, until this year (the tenth year). This book is angsty af, but they do both try to pretend that they’ve forgotten the other and their impact outwardly to everyone else in their lives. And for 364 days of the year. And now Nico isn’t convinced Livvy hasn’t forgotten him. Ugh. So good. *chef’s kiss* Anyway, this song doesn’t exactly fit the lighthearted atmosphere of this song, so…

My second pick is Fumbled by Alexa Martin because truly the last thing Poppy Patterson was expecting was for the father of her so and NFL star, TK Moore, to waltz back into her life while she was at work. So maybe she hadn’t totally forgotten he existed, but!! It’s truly been years since the two were together in high school and the tone of this book is much less angsty than Hate to Want You. It does, however, tackle the dangers of CTE and football and I really appreciate the authenticity Martin brings to sports romance. (If you weren’t aware, Martin is herself a wife to a (former?) NFL player.) Anyway, you can’t go wrong with either of these choices!

Cruel Summer

Key Lyric: I don’t want to keep secrets just to keep you

Okay, so again, I have issues choosing just one book, but in my defense, this song is truly top notch and I think that’s just going to be a theme. I truly cannot think of a fun rompy forbidden style romance, which is what the lyrics remind me of, unless I go with brother’s friend or friend’s brother or whatever it is. So instead of giving you a lot of detail about these books, I’m just going to be quick so I can give you more than two.

So first up we have Priest by Sierra Simone because talk about Forbidden! Poppy Danforth is new to Tyler Bell’s parish and she is ridiculously attractive to him. This is super forbidden and super steamy and I adored it. If the Catholic Church sex problems are going to get in the way of your enjoyment, that is absolutely understandable. If you can get past that? This book was really good! Then we have Sin & Ink by Naima Simone, which is super angsty because Knox and Eden used to be in-laws, until Knox’s brother died fighting (MMA, I think) and now his mom blames him for his brother’s death. But Eden and Knox’s chemistry?? Omg. Light me up, tbh. So good.

Okay, less angsty, but somehow still made me cry, we’ve got Best of Luck by Kate Clayborn, which is top notch excellence in every way. And! Alex and Greer team up for the summer so it’s really perfect. Alex puts on a front that he’s kind of this badass photographer who goes into war zones (which is true), but he’s having pretty bad panic attacks lately. And if I start talking more about this book, I’m not going to stop, so let me just say read the whole series, okay, bye! And my final recommendation is One and Only by Jenny Holiday because speaking of people grinning like the devil… Meet Cameron Mackinnen, the future brother in law of our bridezilla and the man Jane is assigned to baby sit. She wasn’t supposed to fall for him, but oh does she. This book is SO good!


Key Lyric: Have I known you 20 seconds or 20 years?

And now we finally move on to one of the most overtly romantic songs on the album and I still have multiple choices for you. I’d apologize, but really, is that such a bad thing?

So, here’s the thing, I feel like this lyric works really well for basically every book in Kristen Callihan’s VIP series and here’s why. In Idol, Killian just crashes into Libby’s yard and they’re soon super into one another and it does feel like they get each other on that level where you just get why Libby’s willing to uproot her life for him. And then in Managed? First of all, Grumpy Scotty is caught totally off guard by how much and how quickly he comes to love Sophie Darling AND he literally can’t sleep without her!!!! Is there anything better? Oh dear, so many books I now feel like I need to re-read right now. Okay, and finally, Fall is book three and Jax and Stella connect so well that I really just couldn’t help but see their connection and I love how it built. There is mental health representation in each of these books and if you need CWs, feel free to reach out to me.

The Man

Key Lyric: I’d be a fearless leader, I’d be an alpha type

This song is a feminist anthem and I cannot wait for my t-shirt to be here. Anyway, who else could I choose for this song besides Akira?? Oh wait, jk, another Alisha Rai character too, Rhiannon from The Right Swipe stole my heart and I’m ready to come for people talking about how she doesn’t show enough vulnerability. Anyway, we’ll tackle these in order.

A Gentleman in the Street by Alisha Rai is a lady billionaire who is shamed for just about everything by people in her life, from the way she dresses to her sex life, and she gives very little credence to what the world thinks of her, but she really wants Jacob Campbell to just give in to her. This book is top notch excellence and I love it and Alisha so much. Akira is just… aces, tbh.

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai follows Rhi, a dating app creator of an app I think I might be willing to use, which is a big thing, tbh. Anyway, it also follows Samson, who is my precious sweet gentle giant and in a lot of ways, I do feel like this book flips some gender scripts in who is more open emotionally and plays with that a bit. I loved the way Alisha did that.

The Archer

Key Lyric: Who could ever leave me darling… But who could stay?

I’m going to be good and limit this one to just one book comparison because I thought of May almost immediately. Speakeasy by Sarina Bowen is such a great book and, I think, is Sarina Bowen at her best. May walks into the house she shares with her girlfriend and finds her girlfriend with another woman. Fortunately, Alec is there to kind of help her out, but the problem with Alec is two fold. One their families aren’t necessarily overly fond of one another and two, Alec’s space he’s offering to May is above a bar and May is a recovering alcoholic. This book is truly so, so good and I just love May so much.

(Okay, kind of cheating, but also if you’re interested at all in The Diviners, this song has Evie written all over it!!)

I Think He Knows

Key Lyric: I think he knows when we get all alone, I’ll make myself at home

American Fairytale by Adriana Herrera fits the vibe of this song so well, I think. It starts off with a bang (or a blow job, technically) at a charity gala and then both Milo and Thomas think that’s the end of it. Fortunately for us, that is not the case. Thomas is looking to donate money to the domestic violence shelter/agency that Milo works for and Milo is assigned to be the liaison for the project. As an aside, I desperately wish that more shelters had programming like Milo’s. I know one of the shelters in my district does things that are supposed to be fun occasionally, but I wish they could have a regular dance class like the one in this book. Anyway, the romance is great! The world building is just even better.

Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince

Key Lyric: Voted most likely to run away with you

So this song has two layers. If you listen to the words and don’t ever learn what it’s about, it feels like an angsty high school song and if you like that level, I would really recommend Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon because that book captures Appalachia and some angst so well. (To the best of my recollection, this book ends well, but there are two girls and I really only remember the ending for one of them.) But it turns out this song is one Taylor wrote about how frustrating the political situation in America is, so what better choice here than any of the Rogue anthologies? I need to read more of them and I think this song might be what prompts me to do so.

Paper Rings

Key Lyric: And I hate accidents except when we went from friends to this

I’m not trying to sit here and list all of my favorite friends to lovers romances, but there are just a few that really have to be mentioned. One is the super fun rom com, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren, which I absolutely adore. Josh and Hazel decide they’re going to be best friends (or more accurately, Hazel decides that and wears Josh down) and they start setting one another up on joint blind dates. And, well, things go from there. And the other is Wanna Bet? by Talia Hibbert, which is one of my absolute favorites of hers. Wanna Bet? follows Jasmine and Rahul who are friends because Jasmine refuses to mix friendship with more even though Rahul has been in love with her for years. This book is much angstier than Josh and Hazel’s, but it is SO good, y’all. Jasmine has to move in with Rahul because of flooding in her apartment (this is a shared plot point, weird) and things kind of… well, they go places. And I liked it.

Cornelia Street

Key Lyric: Playing games I thought you were leading me on

Okay, so, this feels unfair to say because Sapphire Flames doesn’t come out until Tuesday, but just like… Listen to this when you finish it and then come back and tell me if it doesn’t give you Catalina and Alessandro vibes.

Let me know what you think of any of these pairings or if you have suggestions I didn’t mention!


Trope Talk: Marriage of Convenience

I kept putting off writing this post because I was determined I was going to read a couple more books with this trope to fully flesh out this post, but I got tired of waiting. So we’re going to talk about five marriage of convenience books today that I would recommend and then a couple of books that are on my TBR still. Before we get started I want to note that this trope is more prevalent in historical and, from what I’ve seen, also tends to be pretty m/f in nature. However, I do have a sapphic recommendation with this trope, so let’s get to it!

Continue reading “Trope Talk: Marriage of Convenience”
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