About Me I am a retired librarian and I now support books and authors through my reviews.

I have always loved to read and I was able to share that love through my work as a public librarian for 22 1/2 years. I now promote literacy by reading, and then writing reviews. I love to support authors by sharing my reviews with others!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady by Sharon J. Mondragón: Review & Giveaway with I Read with Audra Blog Tour


A knitting group’s change of scenery changes lives in unexpected ways
Margaret, Rose, Jane, and Fran had a good thing going: meet every week in the quiet of their peaceful chapel and knit prayer shawls. No muss, just ministry. That is, until their pastor boots them out of the church in his last-ditch effort to revive the dwindling congregation.
Uptight Margaret isn’t having it. Knitting prayer shawls where people can watch is the most ridiculous idea she’s ever heard of, and she’s heard plenty. Prayer belongs in the church, not out among the heathen masses. How are they supposed to knit holiness into these shawls if they’re constantly distracted by the public? But with no choice, the others embrace the challenge. They pack their knitting bags and drag Margaret—grumbling the whole way—to the mall with them. She can’t wait to prove them all wrong when it fails miserably, and show the pastor that she always knows best.
Without the familiar mold the group has been stuck in, their own losses, pain, and struggles rise to the surface. And the people and situations they encounter every time they try to sit quietly and knit are taking them a lot further out of their comfort zone than they ever imagined. Can they find the courage to tackle the increasing number of knotty issues they learn about in the community--or will the tangle be too much to unravel?
Sharon J. Mondragon’s debut is warm and delightful, full of real laughter, grief, and personality. It beautifully illustrates the power of women across generations to reach people for Christ.
To read an excerpt of The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady click here.


On the fateful Wednesday morning the final battle was engaged. "It's time somebody stood up up to Mrs. I-Run-Everything Benson before she runs the church right into oblivion!"

These first words, and the intriguing title, are just a sample of what's inside this gem of a book! Pastor Pete McIlhaney believes that a change needs to be made, and he's ready to challenge Margaret Benson and the ladies of Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry. What follows is a delightful story that will have you either laughing out loud, or wiping the tears from your eyes! It may also leave you searching your heart about your own Christian actions. Do we allow our desire for success to override our initial good intentions? Are we trying to control God's Plan, instead of letting God be the One in control?

Author Sharon J. Mondragón completely captures the friendship among this group of ladies, and she perfectly describes each of their strengths and weaknesses. Seeing their prayer lives deepen and their faith increase is a joy to read, and an inspiring message for all of us.

This is Mondragon's debut novel and I look forward to reading more of her efforts. Five stars for The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications. There was no obligation for a positive review. These are my own thoughts.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Sharon J. Mondragón
 writes about the place where kindness and courage meet. Her debut novel, The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady (originally titled The Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry) was the 2017 winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis award in the Short Novel Category, and she has also been recognized by The Saturday Evening Post where her short story, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” was an Honorable Mention Awardee in the 2014 their Great American Fiction Contest.
Mondragón has been active in prayer shawl ministry since 2008 and currently serves as facilitator for the prayer shawl ministry at her church, St. Paul Episcopal in Waxahachie, TX. She also knits with the Circle of Healing at Red Oak United Methodist Church. She is a Level 2 Certified Knitting Instructor through the Craft Yarn Council and teaches beginning knitting at a local yarn store.
Mondragón is the mother of five grown children and has four grandchildren. After 26 years as an Army wife, she has settled in Midlothian, TX with her hero/husband, her laptop, and her yarn stash.
Visit Sharon Mondragón’s website and blog at www.sharonjmondragon.com and follow her on Facebook (Sherry Mondragón) and Twitter (@SJ_Mondragón).


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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Wanda E. Brunstetter's Amish Friends Baking Cookbook: Nearly 200 Delightful Baked Goods Recipes from Amish Kitchens by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Wanda E. Brunstetter's Amish Friends Baking Cookbook: Nearly 200 Delightful Baked Goods Recipes from Amish KitchensABOUT THE BOOK

Delightful Baked Goods from Dozens of Amish Cooks

Fresh-baked buns or cookies waiting for a child’s after-school snack is a delight many of us remember from our own mothers’ and grandmothers’ kitchens. You can now share the joy of baking for and with your own family through dozens of recipes provided by Amish bakers. Ideas for breads, rolls, cakes, cookies, and more will keep you busy taste testing and sharing all the goodies. Also included are step-by-step instructions, baking tips, and anecdotes from Amish bakers. Encased in a lay-flat binding and presented in full color, home bakers of all ages will be delighted to add this cookbook to their collections.
This is a must-have cookbook for anyone with a soft spot for baked goods, from New York Times bestselling author of Amish fiction, Wanda E. Brunstetter.


I'm always excited when there's a new Amish Friends cookbook and this new one doesn't disappoint. Wanda E. Brunstetter has once again gathered recipes from Amish cooks and compiled them into an attractive cookbook, and this time the recipes are for baked goods. There are almost 200 recipes and Brunstetter also shares stories, pictures, and inspirational quotations. An added plus is that it's so easy to use, with its two indexes and spiral bound cover!

I've already tried a delicious pie recipe submitted by an Amish cook from Indiana, and I look forward to the other tasty recipes waiting inside the cover. Wanda E. Brunstetter's Amish Friends Baking Cookbook is a wonderful addition to this series, and it would be a great gift for Christmas or that new bride who is learning to cook. Just don't forget to get a copy for yourself!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. These are my own thoughts.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. With over 11 million copies sold, Wanda's stories consistently earn spots on the nation's most prestigious bestseller lists and receive numerous awards.

When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and family ties. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

To learn more about Wanda, visit her  Website  Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest

Check out my reviews for these other Amish Friends Cookbooks.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Under the Texas Mistletoe: A Trio of Christmas Historical Romance Novellas by Karen Witemeyer

Under the Texas Mistletoe: A Trio of Christmas Historical Romance Novellas

Spend Christmas in Texas this year with these charming holiday novellas from bestselling historical romance author Karen Witemeyer, whose writing is spiced with her signature blend of humor, thrilling frontier action, and sweet romance.

In this 3-in-1 novella collection, Witemeyer presents the new story "A Texas Christmas Carol," where a town's wealthy, Scrooge-like bachelor finds his world invaded by a woman set on earning his donation for helping the local poor, and the penetrating questions of three mysterious visitors. It also includes, for the first time in print, "An Archer Family Christmas." When the Archer clan gathers for the holiday, they encounter an unexpected request for help that will require all their effort and a Christmas miracle to see them through. In previously published "Gift of the Heart," a widow uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local resort owner. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love this Christmas.


I never tire of Christmas and I have a list of books and movies that I love to revisit each year during the holiday season. I now have a new book by Karen Witemeyer to add to that list! Under the Texas Mistletoe is a collection of three novellas that are set in Texas during the 1890s, and they carry the Witemeyer trademarks of humor, romance, family, and faith. I found myself smiling and laughing, but there were also moments of tears. Memories of past Christmases with my family are often bittersweet, and these stories of Christmas and family filled me with the same emotions.

Each novella is a joy to read, and I love Witemeyer's mission to share the true meaning of Christmas in each of them. 'A Texas Christmas Carol' has a Texas banker who thinks like Ebenezer Scrooge but is capable of causing heart palpitations; 'An Archer Family Christmas' introduces a tiny baby who promises to bring love and joy to the Archer family; and 'Gift of the Heart' features a widow who must sacrifice a family heirloom so that she can secure shelter for her and her daughter. All three are lovely, heartwarming tales that allude to treasured Bible stories, and there are three added bonuses. Who wouldn't like two Christmas recipes, a look at some American Christmas traditions of the 19th century, or an inspiring devotional about the greatest gift ever given?

Under the Texas Mistletoe
is an absolute delight and I recommend it to all who enjoy historical romance and Christmas-themed stories. Reading it will surely put you in the Christmas spirit!

I received a copy of this book from the author and Bethany House Publishers. There was no obligation for a positive review and I am voluntarily sharing my thoughts.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



After growing up in California, Karen moved to Texas to attend Abilene Christian University where she earned bachelor and master's degrees in Psychology. It was also there that she met and married her own Texas hero. He roped her in good, for she has lived in Texas ever since. In fact, she fell so in love with this rugged land of sweeping sunsets and enduring pioneer spirit, that she incorporates it into the pages of her novels, setting her stories in the small towns of a state that burgeoned into greatness in the mid- to late1800s.

Winner of the HOLT Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, National Reader's Choice Award, and a finalist for both the RITA and Christy Awards, Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She also loves to reward her readers. Every month she gives away two inspirational historical novels to someone from her newsletter list and offers substantial bonus content on her website. To learn more about Karen and her books, or to join her subscriber list, please visit http://www.karenwitemeyer.com. Learn more at  Facebook   Goodreads   Bookbub

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Dangerous Amish Showdown by Mary Alford: Review & Giveaway with Celebrate Lit

About the Book

Dangerous Amish Showdown

Author: Mary Alford

Genre: Amish Suspense

Release date: August 24, 2021

Under siege in Amish country…

She must fight for their lives.

Gunshots shatter Willa Lambright’s placid Montana evening—and that’s before she discovers on-the-run lawman Mason Shetler on her doorstep. Willa hadn’t glimpsed her childhood friend since he’d turned his back on Amish country years before. Now the US marshal’s returned with an injured partner, a young witness he must protect at all costs…and vicious Mafia agents dead set on making sure none of them survive.

Click here to get your copy!


Imagine a little girl who has witnessed her parents being murdered, and is now being pursued by the killers. Throw in two US Marshals who are unsuccessful in finding her safe shelter, because there's a mole who keeps revealing where they are. The first pages of this book set the pace, and that pace is 'hold on to your hats'! Dangerous Amish Showdown is filled with non-stop action, constant danger, and questions with no easy answers, as Mason Shetler returns to the place where he grew up. Would Mafia hitmen think to look in Amish country for two US Marshals and a six-year-old girl? Mason and Willa Lambright once enjoyed a childhood friendship in their Amish community, and now, Willa and her mother may be their last chance. Are these Amish women willing to put their own lives at risk to help someone who had walked away from his Amish upbringing?

"No matter what happens here, you are an admirable man, and you are doing what Gott wishes you to do to protect this precious kinna. And us."

These very wise words from Willa's mother Beth remind Mason of the belief that he had once possessed, and a big part of this story is his return to faith in God. Author Mary Alford also shows the renewal of his friendship with Willa. Is it possible that there could be a second chance at romance.

Dangerous Amish Showdown
is a heartwarming story that you won't want to miss. Fans of romantic Christian suspense, this book is for you!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Celebrate Lit. There was no obligation for a positive review, These are my own thoughts.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling author Mary Alford loves giving her readers the unexpected. Her titles have appeared on the USA Today list, Publisher’s Weekly bestseller list, and have finaled in the Daphne Du Maurier award of excellence in mystery, The Beverly, The Maggie, and The Selah Awards.

Mary is an avid reader. She loves to cook, can’t face the day without coffee, and her three granddaughters are the apple of her eye. She and her husband live in the heart of Texas in the middle of 70 acres with two spoiled cats and a dog who thinks he owns the place.

More from Mary

When I first heard of the title for my latest Love Inspired Suspense, I smiled. Dangerous Amish Showdown reminds me of the old westerns where the good guys face off with the bad guys and always win. As a child I loved watching them, mostly because my dad loved them so much, and yes, a big draw for me besides sharing the time with him, was seeing the good guys win. It’s what I try to put into every single book I write, and it’s exactly what happens in Dangerous Amish Showdown.

Lately, I find myself reminiscing a lot about childhood things such as watching old westerns with my dad, and smiling at those simpler times.

In Dangerous Amish Showdown, it takes coming back to his simple childhood Amish community for Mason Shetler to realize how special that life once was for him. Through the courage found in a little girl who has lost everything, and the strength of a woman whose future is uncertain, Mason discovered what he had been searching for all along.

I truly hope you enjoy Mason and Willa’s fight to protect young Samantha and the love they find along the way. And I hope their happy ending leaves you with a smile on your face, and maybe takes you back to a simpler time in your life.

Blessings always,

Mary Alford

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 22

Maureen’s Musings, September 22

Hebrews 12 Endurance, September 23

The Avid Reader, September 23

Genesis 5020, September 23

Texas Book-aholic, September 24

Vicarious Living, September 24

Inklings and notions, September 25

Blossoms and Blessings, September 25

Betti Mace, September 26

For Him and My Family, September 26

Lighthouse Academy Blog, September 27 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

deb’s Book Review, September 27

Older & Smarter?, September 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 28

Bizwings Blog, September 28

For the Love of Literature, September 28

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 29

Living the Good Life, September 29

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 30

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, September 30 (Author Interview)

She Lives To Read, October 1

Bigreadersite, October 1

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 2

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, October 2

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, October 3

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 3

Mary Hake, October 3

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, October 4

Simple Harvest Reads, October 4 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, October 5

HookMeInABook, October 5


To celebrate her tour, Mary is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


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Sunday, September 26, 2021

His Amish Wife's Hidden Past by Mindy Steele

His Amish Wife's Hidden PastABOUT THE BOOK

Becoming an Amish wife is her only option…

Englischer Hannah Raber will do anything to protect her children when they are sent into witness protection—even marry her late husband’s brother. Learning to be an Amish wife is a big adjustment, especially since she’s determined to keep an emotional distance. But as her girls bond with Daniel, Hannah can’t help but wonder if strangers from different worlds can turn a convenient marriage into a forever love…


What a story! Magnolia Reynolds and her daughters are in grave danger and they need a safe place to hide, but who would expect an Amish community to be the answer, and why would an Amish man be chosen to be their protector? Oh, we readers soon learn that there was a close relationship between Daniel Raber and her late husband, but Magnolia and her little girls have no idea. Can this Englischer mother and her little girls accept their new identities and remain in this community? Will they discover that Daniel has a secret motive for helping them?

Mindy Steele has already proven her talent for writing Amish fiction, but this book shows her ability to write mystery and suspense. His Amish Wife's Hidden Past has danger, intrigue, and many questions needing to be answered about Micah Reynold's murder, but it also has romance...sweet and thrilling romance! Daniel admires Hannah (Magnolia) for trying to adapt to a lifestyle so different from what she's known, and Hannah realizes that Daniel is truly sincere in his efforts to provide a home for her family. It's apparent that there's a strong chemistry between them, but are they brave enough to acknowledge it?

His Amish Wife's Hidden Past is a heartwarming story of love, devotion, and family. I highly recommend it to all who enjoy Amish fiction and romantic suspense novels.

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher. There was no expectation of a positive review. These are my own thoughts.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Raised in Kentucky timber country, Steele writes Amish Romance peppered in humor, using rural America and the residents as her muse. Steele strives to create realistic characters for her readers and believes in engaging all the senses to make you laugh, cry, hold your breath, and root for the happy ever after ending. A hopeless romantic, with a lyrical pen, her readers will find something of themselves within her pages.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram

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Friday, September 24, 2021

Jalopy by Wes Verde: Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Jalopy by Wes Verde

Publication Date: May 9, 2021
Paperback & eBook; 499 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

New Jersey, 1928.

All her life, Etta Wozniak has toiled on her family’s small farm, located on the outskirts of a lake resort town. After losing her mother and siblings to one misfortune or another, life has fallen into a rut of drudgery and predictability. That is, until the day she discovers something in an unlikely place; an old car. Energized by the prospects of a world beyond the one she knows, she decides to make this her last summer on the farm. However, disaster is not through with Etta yet, and there will be consequences for her upcoming departure.

Art Adams, a recent college man, arrives in town for a family reunion. After years of moving from one city to another and avoiding conflict whenever it tries to find him, he becomes enamored with the lake. However, there is another reason for Art’s visit. He is to marry a woman he has never met before; an arrangement that was made on his behalf and without his knowledge. More comfortable around numbers and machines than people, Art is reluctant to confront his parents on the matter. But if he decides to do nothing, he risks losing who and what he has come to love.

In a small town of farmers and firemen, musicians and moonshiners, bossy parents and barn parties, two people will come to understand what they must give up in order to have the chance to build something new.



What Will He Do When I’m Gone?

In the first piece of good news, the stove was hot by the time she returned inside. Coffee was one of the few luxuries that even Papa would not do without. In the past month, Etta had skipped more than a handful of meals, but not one cup of coffee. The noise from grinding the beans was loud in the dark, but Papa never complained.

Fishing a chipped mug out of the cabinet, she was careful not to make too much noise. The door had worked itself loose sometime over the past year, and the motion of opening it produced all manner of bumps and squeaks as it shifted in place. It was just one of many things around the farm that suffered from neglect.

The table wobbled and moved as she leaned on it. With quick hands she managed to save the steaming contents of the mug before they sloshed out. One of the rare times she would be sitting today, Etta spared a few minutes to savor the piping hot cup. A splash of milk would have been nice, but none had been delivered this morning. It came as little surprise. At least the drink was hot, and banished some of the worse mental cobwebs.

A creak and thump called her attention to the ceiling. A moment later, Papa descended the stairs.

Dzien dobry,” he said through a yawn while rubbing his eyes. Jakob Wozniak tended to revert to Polish when half-awake or in times of stress. Both Etta's parents had come from a village outside of Warsaw before she was born. While her mother, Lena, was fluent in English prior to immigrating, Jakob was a slower learner. For years, the family spoke a mixture of English and Polish in the house. When Etta was still a child, she remembered it being a huge source of pride when Papa finally went a full week without leaning on his native tongue.

“And good morning to you,” Etta returned in English. She placed a gentle emphasis on “good” and “morning”, so as not to embarrass him.

She waited until Papa had poured his own cup of coffee before she said, “The water pump is leaking.” It was often the case and worse in the spring. For every one part of water that made it to the bucket, two parts typically splashed the ground at her feet. Even so, it was worse than in years past. Her wet foot could attest to that.

Jakob grunted in response. While Etta had come to embrace the early morning hours, like her mother once had, Papa and the rest of the family only accepted them grudgingly. As such, she knew that she would get little from him for the next few minutes. Still, she pressed on. “Also, there was no milk delivery today.”

“I know,” he replied, to her surprise. “The tax bill is due this month, and I had to stop the milk delivery again.” Sneaking a quick sip from his coffee, he moved the coat that had been haphazardly draped over his chair. He might have simply chosen a different seat, but old habits are hard to break. Besides, the others were taken, despite being empty.

Jakob continued, “Also, try to leave the lights off if you don't need them.” Only after he said it did he notice that the electric lights were, in fact, already off. Regarding the kerosene lamp hanging from the ceiling, he nodded with approval.

Etta frowned. “How long must we go without milk this time? Or bread for that matter?” Some heat edged into her voice.

Papa peered over the top of his cup. His half-lidded eyes grew more alert at her tone and intent expression. He smiled weakly and raised a placating hand.

“We will have bread, of course. We can get milk again in a few weeks.” He sighed. “You know, it never used to be like this. Then, one day, a man comes to the door and asks for money. 'What for?' I say. 'For your civic duties,' he says.” Papa shook his head. “The Russians made levies as well, in the old country.”

Etta made no response, having heard this all before. Jakob fell quiet.

“Are you going to lose the house, Papa?”

Etta bit her lip. That had been a mistake.

“No,” he said quickly and with assurance. He looked around the room bathed in the golden light from the lamp. “This is a good house. I will make sure that we keep it.”

This is an empty house, thought Etta. Full of ghosts and memories. She said nothing, but breathed a quiet sigh of relief. Her slip had gone unnoticed.

They finished their coffee in silence, as they usually did. Mama had always been the talkative one. Etta and her father had something of a complicated relationship. Instead of pulling them together, their mutual losses only caused the both of them to withdraw.

Every so often, one or the other would attempt a foray into conversation, but by and large, they hardly spoke. That is, about anything besides the farm and what work needed to be done. Even so, he was her father, and she could not shake the feeling of guilt that came with the knowledge that she would soon leave him.

What will he do when I'm gone?


Jalopy is set in 1928, as the Depression era is about to begin, and even though the setting of this book is New Jersey, it could easily have been my home state of Kentucky. I've heard my grandparents speak about the hard times during this period in our nation's history, and I imagine that there were times when they wished they were someplace other than the farm they lived on. Author Wes Verde paints a vivid portrait of two very different people, who aren't satisfied with the lives that they're living. Etta is a young woman who can't wait to leave her home and the life that she's come to resent, as she and her father struggle daily to save the family farm. She feels trapped, and her only comfort comes from slipping away to sit in an abandoned car, to dream of what it would be like to live in a big city. Etta's chance meeting with Art and their eventual friendship offers her a glimpse of what could be, and Art finds the elusive peace he's been searching for. Will they both realize that New Jersey is exactly where they need to be?

Etta and Art are well-defined and likeable characters, but I was especially drawn to Etta. Back-breaking work and bouts of hunger may be her fate, but she doesn't give up her dreams of New York City, where music is ever present! I enjoyed seeing her friendship blossom with Art, and I could only hope that a deeper relationship might occur. Verde has a special way with words, and I recommend this intriguing story to all who enjoy historical fiction.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. There was no obligation for a positive review. These are my own thoughts.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Wes Verde is an engineer by trade, a busybody by habit, and a lifelong Jersey boy.

Writing has been a hobby in one form or another since 2006 when he started drawing 3-panel comics. When he is not putting words down, he is picking them up; the "to-read" pile only seems to grow larger.

A fan of nature, he spends as much time outside as possible.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 20
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Tuesday, September 21
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Wednesday, September 22
Excerpt at Hoover Book Reviews

Thursday, September 23
Interview at Bonnie Reads and Writes

Friday, September 24
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Review + Excerpt at Older & Smarter

Saturday, September 25
Excerpt at Bookworlder
Excerpt at The Cozy Book Blog

Sunday, September 26
Review at Girl Who Reads

Monday, September 27
Review Rajiv's Reviews

Tuesday, September 28
Review at Novels Alive

Wednesday, September 29
Feature at I'm All About Books

Friday, October 1
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink

Saturday, October 2
Review at Bookoholiccafe


Enter to win a paperback copy of Jalop by Wes Verde!

The giveaway is open internationally and ends on October 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.