Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Contemporary #Fiction BEYOND THE YEW TREE by @RachelJWalkley

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Beyond the Yew Tree by Rachel Walkley

Whispers in the courtroom.

Only one juror hears them.

Can Laura unravel the truth by the end of the trial?

 

Laura is a sensible, well organised young woman. Setting out for her first day of jury service she is well prepared with a flask full of coffee.

“Laura preferred a predictable, uneventful day to exciting unplanned crises or emotional meltdowns. No surprises, no sudden happenings.”

So, she hopes for structured, uncomplicated days at the law court next to Lincoln castle.  But listening to the barristers, she is aware of a hissing noise, of soft whispers disturbing her concentration. And then when she returns to her empty home at night, her sleep is disturbed by distressing dreams of a woman imprisoned in a Victorian gaol.  It can’t be the fraud case which is causing her dreams, but strolling through the castle she spots the gravestones of those who had been executed for murder. Needing answers, Laura seeks the help of the museum curator, Sean.

Laura is also distressed by the long absence of her lover, Marco, who has been visiting his family in Italy for some time while maintaining very little communication with her.  Determined to seek out the source of her nightmares and come to a fair judgement on the court case, Laura’s calm demeanour conceals deep guilt about an event in her past.

Having endured jury service personally, I found Laura’s experience locked in a room with 11 disparate people very familiar.  Keeping alert during a complex case can be difficult and barristers are often very persuasive.  Luckily Laura’s intelligence and financial background help her detect weaknesses in the evidence, but does she have the confidence to speak up?

The threads of guilt and justice entwine between the present day and the past and as the trial comes to an end, Laura must also decide the path her life should take. A very rewarding read.

Book description

In an old courtroom, a hissing voice distracts reluctant juror, Laura, and at night recurring nightmares transport her to a Victorian gaol and the company of a wretched woman. Although burdened by her own secret guilt, and struggling to form meaningful relationships, Laura isn’t one to give up easily when faced with an extraordinary situation.
The child-like whispers lead Laura to an old prison graveyard, where she teams up with enthusiastic museum curator, Sean. He believes a missing manuscript is the key to understanding her haunting dreams. But nobody knows if it actually exists.
Laura is confronted with the fate of two people – the man in the dock accused of defrauding a charity for the blind, and the restless spirit of a woman hanged over a century ago for murder.
If Sean is the companion she needs in her life, will he believe her when she realises that the two mysteries are converging around a long-forgotten child who only Laura can hear?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of A Lexie Wyatt Murder #Mystery THE WORST LIE by @ShaunaBickley

The Worst Lie (A Lexie Wyatt murder mystery, #2)The Worst Lie by Shauna Bickley

4 stars

The Worst Lie is a crime fiction mystery set in England. Lexie is a freelance journalist and has been friends with fellow school mum Helen for a few years. One day Helen is anxious about an old university friend who has been in contact and is coming to stay. Helen is worried that the past might be dragged up, so she asks Lexie for her support.

Eden Sandiford never believed that her best friend committed suicide. She plans to reunite her university friendship group and flush out the murderer.

What lies under the surface of friendships and relationships? Lexie is about to find out as she is invited along to a reunion weekend to help unravel the truth about what happened ten years ago.

This is a story for those who enjoy the amateur sleuth theme. I liked Lexie’s methodical investigating and the writing style made me feel involved in all her research. I would describe this as a medium-paced mystery with some lovely village settings.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Madelaine had everything she wanted.
Friends, a successful film career, and a loving boyfriend.
Then she was dead…

Lexie’s friend Helen was part of a close-knit group at university. Now, ten years later, Helen is fearful when another of the group reappears and suggests a reunion.

Lexie contrives an invitation to the weekend get-together at one of England’s ancient stone circles where one of the group admits they believe their long-dead friend was murdered.

Lexie discovers each of the group has secrets and each has lied, but could they also have committed murder?

There is another death at the stone circles, and Lexie uncovers information that may connect the two crimes… and implicate her good friend.

Is someone targeting the former students, or is the killer one of the group?

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Rosie’s #BookReview Of #HistoricalFiction THE FRENCH CARPENTER by Stephen Phillips

The French Carpenter (The Pitt Family Saga Book 1)The French Carpenter by Stephen J. Phillips

3.5 stars

The French Carpenter is historical fiction and is set on the coast of Sussex. Gervase, a young French carpenter, was shipwrecked in a storm. He was discovered half-drowned on the beach and was offered shelter and work by a local family. His skills as a carpenter got him specialist work for the Templar monks and a local Baron, but Gervase got caught up in a dangerous plot to cause trouble for the Templar order.

I liked this story particularly because it was based around several real characters. I also have a fascination with the Templar Knights and I thought that the author made a good attempt at mixing fact with fiction. I would describe the story as slow paced, but I felt that it reflected the era in which the book was set.

Overall, a good start to a series.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

In AD1200, a young man – Gervase Pitt – is found half drowned on a Sussex beach by the teenaged Joan. Their meeting will lead to an adventure involving lords, clergy, the (so-called heretic) Cathars and infamous Knights Templar.

Together with Nick, the autistic child they adopt, they must discover how the nearby Priory is trying to discredit the Baron for whom Gervase works and, more importantly, prove it is false.

Their investigations cover much of Sussex and Surrey, before Nick’s photographic memory comes to their aid.

The French Carpenter is the first in a series of books covering the Pitt family’s adventures during the first decades of the thirteenth century. It includes many real-life characters, who become embroiled in the machinations of evil-minded and ambitious people.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #Contemporary #Romance WE STILL LIVE by @saradobie

We Still Live by [Bauer, Sara Dobie]

We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer

4.5 stars

We Still Live is a contemporary romance set around the survivors of a shooting incident in the United States.

Isaac Twain has just joined the English teaching staff at Hambden University. The move was rather rushed; Isaac replaced a teacher who wasn’t returning to the scene of the shooting, and Isaac had his own reasons for taking the last minute job.

During the shooting incident, John Conlon stood in front of the gun wielding student and was the last person to speak to him before the boy turned the gun upon himself. The media made John out to be a hero but he refuted this and just wished to be left alone. He was a popular man; liked by friends students and staff he made an impression wherever he went. On the outside he was fun-loving, a protest leader, minority supporter and openly gay, but the experience he went through affected him badly.

This story had plenty of drama as it dealt with some serious mental health issues caused by the shooting. However, the beautifully created main characters made it enjoyable to read. The romance between John and Isaac worked well and the growth of their relationship was endearing to watch. I was impressed with the book, the writing flowed smoothly and the narrative will be one of those that will remain with me for a long time.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Running from a scandal that ruined his life, Isaac Twain accepts a teaching position at Hambden University where, three months prior, Professor John Conlon stopped a campus nightmare by stepping in front of an active shooter.

When John and Isaac become faculty advisors for the school’s literary magazine, their professional relationship evolves. Despite the strict code of conduct forbidding faculty fraternization, they delve into a secret affair—until Simon arrives.

Isaac’s violent ex threatens not only their careers, but also John’s life. His PTSD triggered, John must come to terms with that bloody day on College Green while Isaac must accept the heartbreak his secrets have wrought.

***WE STILL LIVE is a standalone M/M friends-to-lovers romance featuring detailed adult content, graphic violence, hurt/comfort, and mental illness.***

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We Still Live by [Bauer, Sara Dobie]

Rosie’s #BookReview #Team #RBRT #Horror Novella NIGHT SERVICE by @john_f_leonard

Today’s team review is from Robbie, she blogs here https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Robbie has been reading Night Service by John F. Leonard

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I love the way this author writes. He uses short and sharp sentences and paragraphs which make you become part of the action and the horror. He also uses marvelously descriptive verbiage to bring his scenes alive and it definitely works for me. Some examples from the first page of what I mean in this regard are as follows:
“A few steps and everything changed.” – the first sentence. “They left the main drag and the night unfurled.” I love these short and punchy lines.
“The sort of place where getting hurt was to be expected, just an unavoidable consequence of being there.” and “There was nothing but a lonely field of darkness, fragranced with the unsweet smell of desertion.” For me, I had the chills just from reading the first page and a clear expectation of what was coming.

Luke and Jessica have been on a date which he expects to progress to an overnighter, but they need to get to her place. They decide to take the night bus as neither want to waste money and, after all, public transport is reliable and easy to use, barring the trawl through the neighbourhood to get to the bus stop and the wait.

Luke finds himself having some misgivings about using the bus and nearly decides to call a taxi, but Jessica convinces him that the bus is fine for their purposes. He agrees and that turns out to be a very bad decision.

His feelings of unease increase as other travelers gather at the bus station. A strange young woman with a baby, who seems quite out of context in the circumstances, a heavy-weight who appears drunk and disorderly, three tough-looking members of a band and a most annoyingly chatty elderly gentleman, who, on reflection, is also out of context in the setting. Luke has misgivings, but the bus arrives and he gets on. His journey to hell begins.

This book is not long so the author has limited time to build his world and bring the plot to its culmination. I thought he did a great job of creating this alter and creepy world which exists in parallel to the human world and which is real, but somehow not real.

The descriptions and world building gave me the same creepy and eerie feeling as The Langoliers by Stephen King, a short story I read as a young teenager, but which I have never forgotten. The monsters reminded me of H.G. Well’s morlocks, with the horrible tainted feeling you get when you read about them in The Time Machine. They is a disgustingly slimy suggestion to their looks and behaviour which gave me the shivers.

I really enjoyed this book and its interesting and unusual, but highly appropriate style, and think lovers of clever horror will enjoy this book.

Book description

It’s been a great night, but it’s getting late. You need to make tracks and cash isn’t king.

No worries… all aboard the Night Service. It could be the last bus you ever catch.

Every journey is a journey into the unknown, but this trip is an eye-opener, unlike anything that Luke and Jessica have ever experienced. They’re going to learn a few important lessons. Being young and in love doesn’t grant immunity from the everyday awful… or the less ordinary evil that lurks in the shadows.

There’s no inoculation from the horror of the world – it’s real and it’s waiting to touch you.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Thriller LOUD PIPES SAVE LIVES by Jennifer Giacalone @ryderswriters

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs here https://barbtaub.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading Loud Pipes Save Lives by Jennifer Giacalone

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My Review: 5 stars out of 5

During filming of the Bogart/Bacall classic, The Big Sleep, the plot was so convoluted that neither the director nor the cast knew who committed at least one murder. A cable was sent to author Raymond Chandler, who told his friend Jamie Hamilton in a March 21, 1949 letter: “They sent me a wire … asking me, and dammit I didn’t know either”. It didn’t matter. It was the chemistry and banter between the lead characters which made it a classic detective noir. 

That’s how I feel about Loud Pipes Save Lives. Despite the fact that the large cast lives in New York City along with roughly nine million other people, their lives intersect constantly. Girl motorcycle vigilantes rub shoulders with the mayor whose chief of police knows the newspaper publisher whose sister is a detective who is being manipulated by the district attorney who has a big beef with the deputy mayor who knows where the bodies are buried and whose brother is friends with the brother of the girl motorcycle ganger…

Don’t worry if you missed any of that because it doesn’t matter. The banter is so much fun, the pace so rollercoaster, the characters so very flawed, that I raced through the book in one caffeine-fueled late night session. Author Jennifer Giacalone had me with her first quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. She cemented my love with her characters’ joyful embrace of the variety of relationships that every New Yorker encounters before they get their first coffee of the day—gay, multi-ethnic, asexual, stupid, smart, handicapped, cross-religious, and of course, liberally laced with obscenities.

And she ensured her automatic-buy place in my book-heart with her combination love affair with New York—“The city didn’t care. It lay serene as they all loved and teemed and scrambled and strove. And then it was morning.”—and just plain wonderful writing. “The lights had been lowered in the room to that level where everything looked like it was covered in a layer of honey and everyone was twice as attractive.” 

So sure, this book has all the tropes of any damaged detective/police procedural. There is the cop who naturally distrusts her superiors, journalists, and politicians. She’s got a past full of trauma, a family who are frankly even more messed up than she is, and a city to clean up. The villains aren’t all bad and the good guys are pretty flawed. But just as with Bogey and Bacall in The Big Sleep, none of that matters. Because… women motorcycle vigilante gangs, a LOT of leather, Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance quotes, New York City, the kind of True Love that ruins your life and the kind that saves it, and serious amounts of world-class snark. Hell, yeah!

If you’d like a fresh voice with attitude, great writing, flawed characters, and a completely convoluted story I’d recommend Loud Pipes Save Lives.

Book description

New York City Detective Lily Sparr is stunned when she is inexplicably moved to the very same precinct that once upon a time handled her own father’s murder. There, she is assigned to the case of a women’s motorcycle club which has been committing acts of violence all over the city. Despite missing her former partner, Miri, and fighting the ghosts of her past, Lily dedicates herself to the case, unaware that her own sister is mixed up in the swirl of violence and chaos.

After secretly reopening the file on her father’s death, Lily slowly unravels  threads of history, discovering that both cases lead to corruption and betrayal at the highest levels.

Featuring an ensemble of characters as diverse as its New York City setting, Loud Pipes Save Lives is a thriller-mystery with a twist of queer representation.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalRomance THE WINTER COMPANION by @MimiMatthewsEsq #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Sandra, she blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

#RBRT Review Team

Sandra has been reading The Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews

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The Winter Companion is the fourth and final book in the Parish Orphans of Devon series. This is Neville’s story. I had only read the previous book, A Convenient Fiction, but will now go back and read the first two to get a more rounded picture. You could read this as a standalone but would be missing so much backstory.

Justin, Tom, Alex and Neville are together for the first time since they left the orphanage; back at Greyfriar’s Abbey (Justin’s home) in Devon for a traditional Victorian Christmas. The other three all have their wives with them so Neville is feeling a bit isolated. He prefers to be in the stables with the horses and dogs anyway; a childhood accident left him with a speech problem, and he prefers the company of animals.

Clara has come along as the companion of Mrs Bainbridge, the aunt of Alex Archer’s wife Laura. She is accustomed to blending into the background, but bonds with Neville over their mutual love of animals. She has an elderly pug called Bertie with her, and seeks out Neville to look after him before she knows whether he is welcome in the house or not. Because of his problem with speaking, especially among strangers, Neville is often wrongly thought to be a bit simple. Clara can see that he is actually very intelligent, and they slowly open up to each other; he explains about his childhood accident. She tells him how she is supporting her brother through university, and hopes to work as his secretary when he graduates. There is a secret in her past that we only discover much later in the book. Her desire to be educated, and frustration with the restrictions placed on women in Victorian times, makes her an unusual heroine, and highlights how women were only supposed to want marriage and children to fulfil them. It would be another few years yet before women were allowed to go to university.

The Devon landscape is vividly described, and the stormy weather plays a large part in this story; at times the rain and wind seem overwhelming, and there is a lot of mud! There is not a lot of humour which is a shame as it would have lightened the sometimes gloomy atmosphere. The Christmas traditions of gathering greenery to decorate the house, making homemade decorations, cutting down the huge tree and all of them helping to decorate it add authenticity; the period detail has obviously been well researched. The inclusion of the extract from Tennyson’s Ulysses is very moving (the same lines quoted by Judi Dench as M in Skyfall).

Without giving anything away, I loved the ending; it brings the whole series to a satisfying conclusion. Neville and Clara have come a long way and, in trusting and opening up to each other, have overcome their fears and can move forward confidently into the future together.

Thanks to Mimi Matthews for a copy of The Winter Companion that I review on behalf of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT #thewintercompanion #mimimatthews

Book description

A winter reunion for the orphans brings romance for Neville Cross in Book 4 of Mimi Matthews’ USA Today bestselling Parish Orphans of Devon series.

She Needed to be Seen…

As a lady’s companion, Clara Hartwright never receives much attention from anyone. And that’s precisely how she likes it. With a stormy past, and an unconventional plan for her future, it’s far safer to remain invisible. But when her new employer is invited to a month-long holiday at a remote coastal abbey, Clara discovers that she may not be as invisible as she’d hoped. At least, not as far as one gentleman is concerned.

He Wanted to be Heard…

Neville Cross has always been more comfortable with animals than people. An accident in his youth has left him with a brain injury that affects his speech. Forming the words to speak to his childhood friends is difficult enough. Finding the right things to say to a lovely young lady’s companion seems downright impossible. But Miss Hartwright is no ordinary companion. In fact, there may not be anything ordinary about her at all.

During a bleak Devon winter, two sensitive souls forge an unexpected friendship. But when Clara needs him most, will Neville find the courage to face his fears? Or is saying goodbye to her the most heroic thing he can do?

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Horror #HIGHLAND COVE by @dylanjmorgan Set On A Scottish Island

Today’s team review is from Teri, she blogs here https://teripolen.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Teri has been reading Highland Cove by Dylan Morgan

HIGHLAND COVE: a ghost story by [Morgan, Dylan J.]

After reading several books by this author, I became a confirmed fan. But then he disappeared for a while. When I learned he had a new release on the horizon, it took me about tenth of a second to request an ARC.

A group of ghosthunters, including some non-believers, spend two nights in an abandoned sanitorium during a vicious storm. Where lots of people died. And it’s on an island. What could go wrong here? Most folks, believers or not, would likely pass on the offer. Luckily for the reader, these characters think it’s an amazing opportunity. Some of them assume nothing will happen and figure they’ll edit in effects to the film later. Right. But then, it wouldn’t be much of a horror story if characters made wise choices.

This author possesses an incredible talent for setting a tone – something he immediately did when the group first set foot on the island.  With such vivid imagery, I felt as if I walked the dilapidated halls of Highland Cove along with these characters. Chills tingled down my spine when a wheelchair moved of its own accord. Shadows danced in every corner. During one scene, I cringed repeatedly – and I’ve been reading horror for decades. That doesn’t happen to me very often, so kudos to the author.  Trust me when I say parts of this aren’t for the faint of heart.

It’s difficult to mention this without giving away spoilers, but a couple things near the end didn’t come together for me. I had suspicions, and maybe I missed a crucial piece of information early in the book, but I felt part of the puzzle was missing when all was said and done. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this atmospheric tale, but still – some questions niggled at my brain.

I’m thrilled to see another book from this author and hope I don’t have to wait as long for his next one. If you’re a horror fan, this is a writer you need to get to know.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Rosie’s Book Review Team. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Book description

Highland Cove Sanatorium sits abandoned on a desolate island one mile off the Scottish mainland. It’s a dark, foreboding place, filled with nightmares. Even darker are the asylum’s secrets: a history of disease and mental illness, macabre experiments and murder.

The tales of ghostly appearances are said to be more fact than fiction, but no one has ever documented the phenomenon. Codie Jackson aims to change all that. Arriving from London with his small independent film crew, they plan to make a documentary that will forever change their lives.

But when one of the crew disappears, things begin to spiral out of control. A storm closes in to ravage the island, and in the darkness Highland Cove’s true horrors are revealed. Now lost within the institution’s labyrinthine corridors, Codie and his team realize that their nightmare is only just beginning.

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HIGHLAND COVE: a ghost story by [Morgan, Dylan J.]

Rosie’s #Bookreview of #HistoricalRomance THE COLONEL AND THE ENCHANTRESS by @PaullettGolden

The Colonel and The Enchantress (The Enchantresses #4)The Colonel and The Enchantress by Paullett Golden

4 stars

The Colonel And The Enchantress is book four of the Enchantress series of historical romances. This book can be read as a stand alone, but to get the best from these stories, I would suggest reading them in sequence.

Mary first fell in love with Duncan when she was just fifteen, but she had to wait until he returned from army service before he made his feelings for her official. In those years they had both matured.  However, their hopes for a future together remained the same.

When Duncan left for the army, he believed that he had to prove himself worthy of Mary for her family’s sake, but a near fatal accident had him questioning their future together. But it was a mutual love of horses that provided the hope they needed and a purpose for Duncan to recover from his ailments.

This was another good story in this series. I liked the horse training theme and I learnt something new having never given any previous thought to the significance of dressage in horse skills. The only part which left me slightly disappointed was the epilogue; set ten years later it introduces a mass of potential characters for new romantic adventures, but I wasn’t convinced that it added anything to the rest of the story.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Lady Mary Mowbrah, daughter of a duke, fell in love with a man beneath her station. When he leaves for war, determined to earn her hand as a hero, she promises to wait for him, never dreaming the man who returns will be different from the man who left.

Colonel Duncan Starrett returns from war with honors, accolades, and a debilitating injury. As much as he still loves Lady Mary, he fears a future between them is now impossible.

​This is the love story of Mary and Duncan as they forge a future from the shadows of the past.

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Rosie’s #BookReview of #WW2 #HistoricalFiction MADAM FIOCCA by Suzy Henderson

Madame FioccaMadame Fiocca by Suzy Henderson

3.5 stars

Madame Fiocca is a World War Two historical fiction based on the true story of Nancy Wake.

Nancy was born in New Zealand, but she lived in Australia. She left home at a young age and trained first as a nurse and then as a journalist. During the build up to the second world war, Nancy found work based in Paris. She met and married French industrialist Henri Fiocca and for a short time they lived together in Marseille.

Here Nancy supported the allies where she was part of important escape lines, then later towards the end of the war, in her Special Operations Executive role, she coordinated bands of local resistance fighters. Her bravery was recognised and she was awarded several war medals.

I enjoy reading stories based on the real lives of the brave men and women throughout history and I easily read the first half of this book in one sitting. However, I wasn’t so convinced by the second half of the book. I enjoyed the story of Nancy’s life but I didn’t get as much sense of the atmosphere as I did in the first part. I felt that the real fear and danger was missing from the narrative. So, overall, I liked Nancy’s story but some of its deliverance didn’t quite hit the spot for me.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

A gripping tale of love and espionage in Occupied France, based on true events.

February 1933: When her aunt gifts her two hundred pounds, twenty-year-old Nancy Wake embarks on a world cruise. Afterwards, she becomes a journalist and finds work in Paris. The city is glamorous, brimming with journalists, artists, and refugees.

While travelling across Europe on assignments, she catches the eye of wealthy industrialist Henri Fiocca, and destiny intervenes.

But as clouds of war swarm over Europe, German troops are on the march. Horrified when she witnesses Nazis whipping Jews on Vienna’s streets, Nancy vows to stop them if she ever has the chance.

When Paris falls, an encounter with a British officer draws her into the heart of an escape network. Soon she is caught in a deadly game of espionage.

As the iron fist of the enemy tightens, Nancy and Henri face a heart-breaking decision.

What happens when doing right is the road to ruin?

A must-read gripping adventure based on the true story of Nancy Wake, Gestapo’s most wanted in World War Two France.

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